Toby cleared his throat and looked me in the eye. “Mate—for years I haven’t said a word about all your follies—but what in God’s name are you doing? I see you’re hurting—but you won’t talk about it. You’re drunk most nights and frolicking with different women. What the hell happened with Sienna? Lucy and Chad are clueless too—no one is talking and we’re all wholly baffled.”

Fuck, I knew this was going to come.

When Toby moved in a few days after Sienna left, he never said a word about it. He simply dodged the whole subject, but I knew he was giving me time to come to terms with my problem—my pride—but now time’s up.

Never once had I retained any reservations when it came to talking to Toby—this bit with Sienna—where do I even begin? It was a bloody calamitous disaster. Now my best friend is staring me down, waiting.

Blimey, this is bloody difficult…just start with a cleaner version, less hassle…less questions.

“She found out about Camilla. I promised I would take care of it and I did. She obviously was gutted about it—I understood that—but I couldn’t lose her—so I proposed—she turned me down and went to LA with that cretin named Kyle. End of story.”

“Wait—you proposed? Like marriage?” His face was disbelieving.

“Yes! Exactly that! End of discussion.” I roared at my friend’s face which he unfortunately didn’t notice.

How the heck does he know how this feels like? He’s so smitten with Lucy.

“Mate—I knew you were/are still enamored with her—but you proposed marriage…you’re that in love with her? Wow, I get it now—all these clamoring different women….” He trailed off shaking his head, “—but mate—you can’t f**k your way out of this one.”

“We’ll see about that,” barely hearing my own murmur because I simply doubted it myself. I have a slim chance in hell getting over that woman who unequivocally bewitched me. But I have to try at least and try I will.

I can’t keep living like this—like my insides—like my soul is being sucked out of me—it’s frightening. Surely there are tons of broken people who move on quite easily, why couldn’t I be one of those people? I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t at least try—even if my method is “fucking my way out of it.”

“She’s back you know. Why don’t you go see her?” Toby eyed me with those knowledgeable blue eyes.

“Fuck no! I’m not going to crawl back and beg again. Once was humiliating enough. I’m sure Matthews got her now.” The thought of her being with Matthews is killing me. She needs to get out of my head and make camp somewhere else. It’s like having insanity running havoc in your head.

“Yeah ’cause her being with Matthews is what you really want,” he finished his beer and slammed it down on the counter.

“Listen—she didn’t want me. There’s no why or how—she just doesn’t. Do you not think I berate myself enough for not telling her about Camilla? I do—but my apologies were shrugged off and dismissed without consideration. If she doesn’t want to be with me—then what is the point with begging again for her to come back? I’m convinced that I was just a little jaunt to get over her hurt from the cheating wanker.”

“You both did start dating quite quickly after Kyle. You probably have a point—Luce did mention you were the second man she dated after him. And I suppose you two being close friends helped your cause. So, if that theory is true…being used as a rebound by Sienna shouldn’t be so bad, I take it? It is Sienna we’re talking about…I know a few mates who are captivated by her but I doubt they can hold against Kyle or you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about her and Kyle, mate. She used to talk about being married to him before you even came in the picture.”

“You did—and I didn’t pay heed. I couldn’t—I wanted her.”

“There were times I saw her look at you in a certain way—like conflicted somehow—but the way her eyes looked—I thought she was in love.”

“She doesn’t… she never did.” Painful but it’s the truth. Idiot me thinking I’ve found the one.

“What happened with the Clayworths then?”

“They were understanding and said they wanted me to be happy. Camilla was shattered of course. She already had her dress drawn out and ideas where the wedding was to be held. I like Camilla, she and I are compatible—and she loves me. But I fell in love with Sienna. I wanted it to be like the usual blasé I went for—but she was different—she rocked my world and left me in shambles.”

“Anyone with eyes can see how Camilla is so smitten with you, mate. You always treated her differently than your usual conquests. You took her on holidays and such—then again you needed that to get to know your wife-to-be. I think Camilla is a great woman—but I’m biased because I love Sienna and you’re my friend—so I want you two to be together. But since you’ve categorized that subject as rubbish and you’re done fighting for Sienna and handing her over to Kyle —why don’t you want to date Camilla? You do like her and you two seem quite compatible actually. All these different women Blake—surely it’s taxing? Think about it.”

“I’m really starting to hate Sienna. My whole life is out of order.”

“Doubt that but sure, whatever you say. I’m off to bed. See you in the morning.” He took his laptop with him and left the kitchen.

Damn him. He knew how much I hated Kyle Matthews and he kept rubbing it in. Every night I’ve been tortured with thoughts of them together. It’s no wonder I drank myself to sleep most nights.

I left the kitchen towards the stairs and headed to my room. I needed to shower and clean myself of any traces of Maria on my body.

Can I really consider dating Camilla? I have to be sure because Camilla’s an excellent woman and I don’t want to hurt her, again.

Turning the dials on my steam shower, I dwelled on my thoughts. Sienna, you really crippled me. I thought abhorrently.

I have to rein my feelings before this whole disaster affects my work. I can’t let down grandfather. This company is my legacy. My children will inherit this someday and their children’s children. Hell, the thought of kids turns my stomach into acid. A little girl that looked like Sienna floated around my head.