Chapter 45 : Safe

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Raul

"I thought you were throwing me a surprise party."

Those are the first words Nico says after I just confessed what I'd done. How I lied to Yandra, baited her. Which was why she manipulated him into a relationship and, consequently, an engagement.

His tone is wry, as though he's still too busy processing it all to be angry.

"Your birthday was months ago," I say.

"It could have been an engagement party. This is a pretty nice boat for it." We're on the yacht Tia Carmen convinced me to buy from her after she realized she didn't enjoy it as much as she thought she would. "I did wonder why you weren't too enthusiastic about the engagement. I'd chalked it up to disapproval at how quickly we got engaged." He gave out a short humorless laugh. "In a way, I was right."

"Did Yandra not say anything to you today?" I'm a little confused as to why he seems to be genuinely hearing all this for the first time. "She knew I'd be ... talking to you about this tonight."

"She said..." He closes his eyes as though finally realizing something. "She said that whatever you tell me today is the truth."

"I thought she'd tell you more than that. I'm not sure why she didn't. "

"You and Yandra ... Is it over?"

"Yes. I haven't seen her in years. Not until she showed up in April."

"You could have told me."

"She was engaged at the time to Rafael de la Camara."

He snorts. "You were— what? Protecting her virtue?

"In a way, yes. But I think I was just ashamed of the part I played in her infidelity. I still am. At the time, there didn't seem to be a reason for anyone to know. Which is why I gave her time to talk to you. I thought it would be better if you heard it from her."

"Does it even matter?" He says the sentence flatly, more like a statement than a question.

Yes, it does. At least for me. Because if Yandra had come clean, begged for forgiveness — even tried to charm it out of him— it would mean she cared, even just a little. But apparently she doesn't care what my cousin thinks of her, doesn't give a fuck that he might hate her.

"I'm sorry, primo," I say. "I was manipulative and thoughtless. It's not an excuse, but all I could focus on was who was trying to get me fired from the company. Everything else seemed like a distant concern."

"You always get like this. You latch on to one obsession and just run with it. If not for Kate..." He trails off. "Does your wife know?"

"She found out eventually. Yandra told her."

"What did she say?" Again, his tone is flat. Resigned.

I sighed. "She moved to one of the guest rooms a couple of weeks ago."

"Huh. I'm not going to feel sorry for you."

"Will you forgive me, at least?"

"We'll see." He gets up. "Is that all? I have to go figure out how to bring up the end of the engagement to Mama."

I get to my feet. "Yeah. But you can punch me if it makes you feel better."

He snorts. "With that hard head of yours, I'll probably break my knuckles."

"Tell me what I can do."

My cousin doesn't reply, just gives me a tight-lipped smile and a wave as he walks away.

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