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Page 35 of Be Mine (Holland Springs 6)

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Massively stupid. All he had to do was take a train to Berwick-upon-Tweed to see her. She hadn’t been all that far away. But had he? No. Because his pride was hurt. His stupid pride.

“And did I take her in my arms when fate all but dumped her in my lap?” he asked the man beside him. “Did I take one look at her beautiful face and say ‘I’m sorry’?”

The man shrugged.

“I did not. I ran away like a bloody Englishman.” He had. He’d made some dodgy excuse to Sebastian, and bolted for the front door.

His barstool mate made a face.

“Exactly, lad. Exactly,” he muttered into his glass.

“You look like shite.”

Liam turned, more than a little shocked to find his ex-fiancée sitting beside him. “You look like a magazine cover.” It wasn’t a compliment, and she knew it.

“Fake and overblown,” he added, just in case she didn’t.

Verity gave him a thin smile. “You used to love the way I look.”

He held up a finger, and it blurred. “Used to being the most important part of that statement.”

“Hmpf,” she said.

The barkeep poured him another glass. “Keep them coming.” Getting pissed was a time-honored tradition amongst men who’d been left by their wives, or so he’d overheard whilst drinking.

“I heard you got married,” she said.

He held the glass up to his lips. “Your hearing is most excellent. Have you ever considered working as a spy? They like your kind.”

She gave him an affronted look. “My kind?”

“Liars. Pretenders. Usurpers of the heart,” he called out in a loud voice.

“Hear, hear,” his companion said, toasting him.

“Good God, Liam, you’re drunk.”

“Keen observation, that. You’re a shoo-in.” He fumbled for his phone. “I’ll make a few calls and you can be on your way to… ah, someplace else.”

She covered his hand with hers. Her bony, cold damn hand that was now missing any kind of wedding ring. “Liam, you poor boy. I feel awful for driving you to this.”

He snorted, staring into the bottom of his now-empty glass. “You needn’t feel awful.”

“You’re sweet,” she said with a beatific smile. One that not so long ago, he would have enjoyed looking at. But not now.

Never again.

“Because you didn’t drive me anywhere.” He set his glass down and turned to her. “Isabella did.”

“You’ve taken up with a Spaniard?”

“American.”

Verity sniffed. “Worse.”

“Conservative. Evangelical Christian. Missionary. Argumentative,” he said as he began to name Bella’s worst qualities. “Sweet to everyone. Kind to my mother and sister. Sexy as hell. Mother of my child. Intelligent and funny. Honest to a fault.”

Fingernails bit into his arm, and he winced. “Hang on. Mother of your child?”

“Aye.” His child. How stupid was he for sending her away?

She laughed. “Is it even yours?”

“Of course.”

“How do you know?”

“She told me.”

“Right,” Verity said with a huff of disbelief. “More like she saw dollar signs.”

His Bella seeing dollar signs? Doubtful. She had flat out told him she didn’t need his financial support. She only wanted to give him the option of having something to do with his child.

But could he say the same of Verity? “Is that what you saw?”

Verity’s blue eyes widened. “How can you say that? We were together for years before your grandfather died.”

“We were on the verge of breaking up before he died,” he reminded her.

“Was I supposed to leave you in your time of need?” she pointed out, but he noticed she didn’t deny it. Or profess her love for him. Had she ever?

It struck him then, that Verity hadn’t been around all that much in his time of need. Verity hadn’t been around much at all, and it had suited him. He didn’t have to invest much into their relationship because it was never required, and they both were content with that. They were content with long distances, weekend sex, and the occasional event.

“Why did you stick around?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“Because we were perfectly matched.”

“Yet, you cheated on me.”

“Sometimes life needs to be spiced up,” she said, no apology in her tone whatsoever. “It wasn’t the first time I got bored on location.”

“I never got bored,” he said.

She shrugged. “Anyway, I’m here to have some fun. With you. Your butler told me where you were.”

“What makes you think I want to have anything to do with you?”

“I’m good in bed, like to watch sports, and I don’t care for cuddling.”

“You also lied, cheated, and ran off with another man right before we were to be married,” he all but shouted.

“And now I’m back, without that man or any other,” she said with a sexy smile, as if that made everything right again.

“Good for you,” he said, wishing he’d never come to his favorite pub. He should have stayed at home and brooded like a good Scot, by walking along the shoreline of Loch Nairn.

“I’d like to give us another try.”

“I’m married, and you’re bloody mental.”

“So?”

He stood. “Good-bye, Verity.”

“You’ll regret this.”

“No, I won’t. I don’t regret you at all. You don’t hold that kind of power over me,” he said flatly. But Bella did. And he regretted every unkind thing he said to his wife. He regretted their last conversation. Their last text exchange… everything, but getting her pregnant and marrying her.

After paying his tab, he left the pub, lightheaded from the buzz of his numerous drinks.

Too bad his heart was still as heavy as when he’d first come in.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Liam paced, as he always did, when something was bothering him. More precisely, his wife’s silence was bothering him. She’d been texting fairly regularly with updates about her health and the baby’s health, but over the weekend, she’d not contacted him once.

And when he tried to call, it went directly to voice mail.

“Sit down,” Sebastian barked.

Liam grunted and continued to pace. “When your wife goes missing, then we can talk.”

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