SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Shocked to the core,Jayden wondered if this was what it felt like at that vital moment when you realized you just might die. The world stopped, or perhaps time, the world, and everything in it ceased to have meaning for him.

The richness of the Sheraton's Ambassador Suite surrounded him as it had for the last three days, but he saw none of it. The Victorian-style decor, the luxurious furnishings, and the majestic views of Hyde Park and Sydney Harbor all faded from sight. The air, once heady with the scent of fresh roses and vanilla, now stank of betrayal. He felt a queasy sickness in the pit of his stomach as the bouquet of perfect red roses slipped from his grasp and scattered across the plush Persian carpet.

He watched, unable to tear his gaze away.

On the king-sized four-poster bed, two sweat-soaked naked bodies writhed in ecstasy—intertwining, touching, and heaving with exertion. As he stood transfixed, a female face swam into focus. It was Sarah Taylor, her long blond hair in wild disarray, her face flushed with passion, and her head pressed into the shoulder of her bedmate. Her eyes flashed open, and she gasped, pushing the man aside.

"Jayden, you're back!" she shouted, her voice a heavy mix of shock, fear, and anger.

Jayden glanced at the man who was disentangling himself from the embrace of Sarah's long, tanned legs. Kyle Shore, a man he treated like a brother, looked like the proverbial cat with the cream, a smug and knowing smile playing across his face.

Hurt, betrayal, disgust—empty words for the emotions churning within him, twisting and burning, a white-hot pain inside. Violence and agony surged through his trembling muscles as a million questions filled the air like a flock of frightened birds.

Why are you doing this? When did it start? What did I do wrong? Why Kyle? Why? Why?

His hand clenched the door handle, his knuckles white, his face a mask of confusion and anger.

"Happy anniversary, Sarah," he said, his voice lost in the boom of the door slamming shut.

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