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A Match Made In Maui

Written by Nina Singh

Chapter Nine

She didn’t exactly deny it.

Tessa hadn’t offered so much of a shake of her head just now when he’d declared that she must hate him. But at least they were talking. He could say all he’d traveled so far to say. He couldn’t ask for more than that. Afterward, the ball would fully be in her court.

“You didn’t finish your drink,” he reminded her. “Do you want to go back in?” He pointed behind him to the café.

“No. Maybe a walk instead.”

That idea suited him just fine. He’d have her full attention without any prying eyes or the potential of a mutual acquaintance entering the establishment.

“You were telling me about your business deal,” Tessa began as they started walking along the meandering path between the beach and line of resort buildings. “Yet, you mentioned nothing of it that week we met.”

“I couldn’t, Tessa. Even my parents or siblings didn’t know. I’d signed a confidentiality agreement and nondisclosure documents. For market stability reasons, the deal had to remain under wraps until a public announcement could be made.”

“Makes sense. There was a lot of money at stake.”

Jason released a sigh. “It was about more than just the money.”

“In what way?”

He owed her the truth, all of it. Though this wasn’t the easiest conversation to have with the woman he loved, to basically explain that his parent viewed him as a major disappointment. “I needed to prove I could make an undisputed success of the company I founded.”

“To who?”

“My father. He never got over my not becoming an attorney and joining his firm.” Jason rubbed a hand over his face.

She turned to him, her face full of concern. “I’m sorry about that, Jason. I really am. You deserved better. But it doesn’t change anything between us now.”

Her words cut right through him. “I wanted to tell you all of it as soon as I could.” Only by then, things had gone horribly wrong between them. Tessa had wanted nothing to do with him those times he’d finally been able to reach out to her.

She humphed a small laugh that held no humor. “Instead you just kept telling me it was a bad time. That you’d get back to me when you could.”

No use in pointing out that was exactly what he’d done. He hadn’t expected things to take so long. The acquisition deal had hit one snag after another, so many little fires to put out before all the documents were signed.

“I wanted to contact you as soon as things were finalized. Once I had more to show for myself than a small software company that took up all my time and energy.”

Tessa was silent for several beats. “I see.”

He really hated it when she said that. It never boded well. “Please tell me what you’re thinking, Tessa.”

“All right. I’m thinking that you didn’t trust me enough to share, even in the most general of terms, the reasons you chose to stay distant and unreachable.”

Jason released a weary sigh. Her summation wasn’t accurate at all. He’d simply needed time. Until he’d had a chance to wrap his head around what had happened between them in Maui and what it would all mean for them in the future. His professional life and the turmoil with his father had only further complicated things. Why could she simply not see that fate had managed to throw them together at a really bad time?

She stopped walking and turned to face him. The sunlight brought out the golden highlights in her hair. Her sparkling blue eyes were the exact color of the pristine water of the sea behind them. His fingers itched to touch her, he longed to take her in his arms and hold on tight this time. Was that so wrong? Was what he’d done so unforgivable? Her next words provided an answer.

“I deserved more than the little you gave me, Jason.”

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