Chapter 19 : Trap

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"Did you miss me?"

I eye Yandra warily. The woman I've known since we were kids has only gotten more beautiful since the last time I'd seen her four years ago — she's filled out her curves and her mouth is slightly wider, with fuller, perfectly shaped lips begging to be kissed.

I take Yandra's hand and pull it away from my leg. "No, Yandra, I didn't," I say, unable to hide the disgust in my voice. She knows I'm a married man; she's met Kate. That she is trying to seduce me despite this tells me she either thinks too much of her appeal or too little of my integrity.

She grabs my arm as I get to my feet. "I don't believe you," she says, looking up at me, clinging to my forearm as though her life depends on it. "You and I were so good together. I cheated on Rafael to be your lover. Does that mean nothing to you?"

Anger stirs in my chest. Not with her, but with me. For the part I played in her betrayal of her fiancé. I take a deep breath to calm down. I should be able to put all that behind me. I've learned my lesson and moved on. It's all moot anyway because the engagement was called off. But it didn't mean I never wondered if it was our affair that caused the break between her and Rafael. "That was a mistake. You were better than that." I wasn't. Not back then. But that isn't her problem.

Gently, I try to loosen her hold on my arm. But instead of letting me go, she gets up and wraps her arms around my waist. "A mistake?" She looks genuinely hurt. "You talk about our... relationship as though we didn't deserve to be happy. We were happy, weren't we, mi amor?"

"You do deserve happiness, Yandra," I say with an exasperated sigh. This time I don't bother to be gentle as I take her by the wrists and push her away. "But not with me."

She twists her arms but I keep my grip firm, holding her wrists up between us. "Surely you can't be in love with that... that..."

"That what?" I growl, my fingers subconsciously tightening around her wrists.

"That secretary!" She spits out the last word as though it tastes foul in her mouth. Her pretty lips twist in distaste. "It's obvious why you married her. Someone so plain she'd take you any way she could. She'd be happy to let you continue living your bachelor ways so long as she gets to stay married to you."

I stare at her in dumbfounded disbelief. Is she talking about my Kate? The woman who turned me down flat when I proposed, and only agreed to marry me because she wanted me to keep my position in the company? If anyone is getting the short end of the deal, it's her.

Yandra's expression of disgust turns into a triumphant smile. "But that's okay," she says. "She won't feel too hurt if you and I become lovers again. She knows she's not your type. You know she expects you to satisfy your desires with other women.

My patience snaps and I tighten my grip on her wrists once again to give her a small shake. "Let's get one thing straight," I say, my voice cold. "You don't know anything about me or my wife. And if you wish to remain in my good graces, you'll refer to Kate with nothing but respect. Do I make myself clear?"

Her eyes grow wide at my display of anger. Dimly, it occurs to me that she's never seen me angry before. I give her another shake, more gently this time. "Do I make myself clear?" I say again.

"Please don't hate me, Raul." She moves closer, her chest brushing up against mine. "I can't help being jealous of Kate, even if I know you don't love her. But I still have feelings for you and I know you still feel something for me. It's not right that we have to sneak around just to spend time together."

I clench my jaw in irritation. She's just not getting it. I'm not interested in spending any time with her, not now. Not anymore. "Yandra, listen —"

Her gaze shifts to her left. "Nico!" she gasps.

Dread spreading in my gut, I follow her gaze to where my cousin is standing in front of the door, staring at us in shock. Then a dark flush suffuses his face. "I, uh, left my phone," he says. "Sorry, I didn't know you were coming by, primo."

I bite back a curse. How long has he been there? And what exactly has he overheard?

"Nico," I say, turning my body to face him. It's only then that I realize I'm still holding Yandra's wrists. I drop them quickly. I give her a hard glare, noting the way her robe has slipped over one shoulder, exposing it. She looks disheveled and flushed. I suspect it's exactly how she planned it. I turn away in disgust. "Are you saying you didn't ask me to come over?"

He frowns, looking confused. "No."

"I see." So it must have been Yandra who used his phone to ask me to come over. And now I know why. "Grab your phone, I want to talk to you."

"Raul, I'm sure Nico—" she starts to say but I interrupt her.

"Leave us, please," I say, not bothering to look at her.

"Now look here," Nico stammers out, stepping forward. "You can't talk to her like that. She's my guest."

"It's okay Nico," she says, going to him. His arm instinctively goes around her waist. She lays a reassuring hand on his chest. "Raul was just leaving."

His expression softens and he takes her hand in his. "Are you all right, Yandra?"

"I'm okay, now that you're here."

She's facing away from me so I don't see the expression on her face. But I could hear her voice tremble ever so slightly. So, she's playing the victim. And from the look on Nico's face, it seems he's completely bought into it.

In all the years I've known this woman, I never suspected this manipulative side of her.

"Nico," I say. "I need to talk to you. Alone."

The look he gives me is more bravado than defiance. "I think it's better if you leave now," he says.

I clench my jaw to tamp down the anger I felt. I don't know what game Yandra is playing, but it seems my cousin is playing right into her hands. Was she trying to make him jealous? It seems rather unnecessary, considering how much he already seems to like her. All she has to do is say the word and Nico would be hers.

Or is it me she's trying to make jealous?

My eyes narrow in suspicion as I take in the sight of Nico now with both his arms protectively around Yandra. Her head is turned to the side but her eyes are downcast and she's not looking at me. Whatever it is she's trying to do, I don't like it. But as much as I need to talk sense into my cousin, now isn't the time.

"I'll see myself out."

Neither of them say a word as I walk toward the door.

When I get back to the car, I instruct Santino to take a detour at a flower shop. I know Yandra's cruel tirade against Kate shouldn't bother me, but they do. Were those the words of a spurned woman or were other people thinking the same about my wife? Either way, I feel the need to show Kate that I appreciated her. Flowers will do for now. I can think of something more ... creative later.

As the car pulls into the road, I make a call. The person at the other end doesn't bother with a greeting or small talk. Neither do I.

"Mr. Marin. What can I do for you?"

"Yanda Lopez, from Matanzas. Allegro Lopez's daughter," I say. "I want to know why she's really in Boston." I pause. "And find out why she broke off her engagement to Rafael de la Camara."


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