Path To Passion. Nana Prah
couldn’t help laughing. She may have matured into an alluring woman, but her honesty and forthrightness of speech hadn’t changed. He appreciated it more than she’d ever know. “Before I agree to anything, I have some questions for you.”
How her whole body proceeded to stiffen even more was a mystery. Maybe she needed some time to get accustomed to him. He picked up his water and took a sip before resting his elbows against his desk in as relaxed a manner as he could convey. “How does a computer-science major who barely socialized in college because she was studying so much come to own a nightclub?”
At her loud gulp and widened eyes, he swore she’d jump up and sprint out the room. Her eyes then turned sad enough to clench his heart, and he knew that the next words out of her mouth would shake up his world.
Even if Tanya had analyzed every picture she could’ve found of Miguel on the internet, she still wouldn’t have been ready to meet him again live and in person. His persona claimed the space, swallowing her into his charm. She felt overwhelmed and drawn in at the same time. Only it wasn’t where she wanted to be.
When she’d been sitting comfortably behind her desk at her nine-to-five computer-programming job, she’d found absolutely no joy in her work, but at least it had paid her on a weekly basis. She’d never appreciated money coming in at a steady rate as she did when it was no longer happening. When had things gone so horribly wrong in her life?
The moment Miguel had rejected her during her senior year of college. That’s when she could pinpoint it to. The irony of coming full circle wasn’t lost on her. Once again, he could turn her away, only this time she’d go without breaking apart.
Since he wanted an explanation before providing his much-needed assistance, she’d give him the truth. After living with the illusion of having a perfect marriage with her ex-husband, she was done with hiding. Besides, she doubted such a busy man would make the time to help her when he had a whole marketing department to run. How was he even able to party as much as the media claimed?
Her heart thumped hard as she assessed him. Miguel hadn’t changed and yet he had. She thought he’d been hot in college. She’d been wrong. His body had filled out and his face had matured to the point of being devastating. The full head of curly hair she’d rubbed her hands through once, eliciting a moan of satisfaction from him, still beckoned her. Why had she listened to her brother? It had been a ridiculous idea to meet with him.
She picked up the notebook and jammed it into her bag, unable to be in the same room anymore without the memories flooding back and once again trampling her heart. To stop thinking about him, she took in the space of his office again. A dark expensive-looking desk, classic leather chairs and couches, all set off with a light peach–colored wall. The area was the total opposite of the waiting area and she wondered at the difference. Which one represented him?
Did it matter? She squirmed in her seat as unease refused to release its hold. She’d made a mistake coming to him and now she had to go. She’d exonerate her debt to the bank by selling her four-bedroom Victorian house that she’d paid off before the divorce.
Making it on her own sounded better than being slapped with the past every time she looked at him. Miguel should’ve been the man she’d ended up with; instead, she’d fallen into the arms of Broderick. Her ex-husband had set up the perfect marriage by making her lack for nothing. Not support, pampering, nor what she’d thought had been love. It had hurt to realize he’d used her. Her heart throbbed at what her life could’ve been if Miguel had claimed her in college.
Standing, she clutched her bag to her chest, hoping to suffocate the pain. “I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time, but thank you for agreeing to meet with me.” She pivoted and walked toward the door. Before she could reach it, Miguel had sprinted across the room to block her path.
“What’s wrong?” A shiver rolled down her spine. His voice had always been able to dig deep into her, eliciting a reaction.
She stared at his chest so he wouldn’t be able to decipher her lie. “Nothing. I just figured out a way to get the club back into the black.”
He hooked one of his elegant fingers under her chin and lifted her head until she looked into his eyes. His touch held her spellbound as her heart pounded with longing. Remembering who she was dealing with, she stepped out of his grasp and held on to the back of the chair she’d vacated so her weak knees wouldn’t buckle and land her in a heap at his feet.
“Have a seat,” he ordered.
She bristled. Who did he think he was? “No. I’m leaving.”
“I don’t think so.” Miguel strode to his desk and made the leather chair squeak under his weight. “Are you aware of how much Josh told me about your situation?”
Her legs decided they didn’t want to support her anymore, so she rounded the chair and collapsed. Her brother wouldn’t have divulged everything.
The neatly trimmed goatee made a bristling sound as he rubbed it. “Josh mentioned you were at risk of losing the club you and Broderick had purchased together.” His eyes narrowed the slightest bit. “You helped him and his partner, Jordan, to purchase the club by allowing him to use your house as collateral.”
Was he judging her for wholeheartedly supporting her ex-husband’s dream?
His light gaze held hers. “Under Broderick’s management, The Palace thrived. I even went there a couple of times.”
Her jaw dropped open.
“Why are you so surprised? We were on the same football team in college.”
Her ex had kept a lot of things from her, but what did it matter if Miguel had come to the club? Maybe Broderick had remembered how she’d cried on his shoulder after Miguel had blatantly rejected her and didn’t want to dredge up the horrific memories. It wouldn’t have mattered because the memory was always a heartbeat away, tormenting her, even after all this time. She couldn’t figure out why she’d never been able to get Miguel out of her mind and had stopped fighting it. Ten years was too damn long to hold on to someone.
Miguel opened a folder to reveal a graph with colorful squiggly lines. He pointed to a low dip and tapped on it. “He’d kept the club in the black within four months of opening it and then six months ago things went south. What happened?”
Her gaze flittered to the hidden refrigerator as her mouth dried. Why hadn’t she said yes to the water he’d offered earlier instead of letting her pride direct her answer? She didn’t want anything from him, so if she could deny whatever he offered, other than his help to get her out of this muddle, then she’d decline.
May as well come clean about her shoddy ownership skills. Air filled her lungs with her deep inhale before she released it. “We got divorced and the club and house went to me.”
His brows crinkled together and his voice lost a bit of its bass when he asked, “Why?”
Was the question regarding the divorce or the settlement? Did she need this embarrassment? Walking out would be easier. If she ran fast enough, he wouldn’t be able to catch her, but she liked her home and wanted to continue living in it for the foreseeable future. “Because the house belonged to me. I had purchased it in my name long before we got married three years ago. When he wanted to start up the club, I believed in him and used the house as collateral.”
He flipped his large hands over. She remembered the heat they’d elicited in her as he’d caressed her skin that night back in college. She shoved the thought away. “I don’t understand. Couldn’t he have paid you off? Or at the very least, you could’ve sold the club and split the profits.”
Clasping her hands together until a knuckle cracked did nothing to remove the nervous flutter from her belly. What would he think of her? That she was a loser. A little white lie wouldn’t hurt. “He insisted I keep it.” Of course