Chapter Twenty-six

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"I'm telling you so you understand."

"You're clearing up the lies, but none of that explains why it happened."

"Summer always felt the odd man out. She's always longed to be one of the Summerhill sisters. Somehow, in her mind, having a piece of the estate meant she belonged." He took her hand. "I was definitely wrong in going along with Summer's scheme. I kept urging her to come out and tell you who she was."

She pulled her hand away. "But apparently you weren't convincing enough."

"She's bloody stubborn." He stared at her steadily. "It's a Summerhill trait that runs true."

He could see she wanted to deny that Summer was related, but she couldn't. He smiled sadly. "Family and love are complicated."

"Summer isn't family," she declared, her mouth set firm.

That was what it came down to, wasn't it? He nodded though he didn't agree. "Okay."

She frowned. "You don't believe that's true."

He brushed a finger against her cheek. "No, but you don't either."

Rosalind stood up abruptly. "I need to go."

"Will you think about what I said?"

"How can I think about anything else?" She speared him with a look that broke his heart. "You hurt me by deceiving me with this. How can I ever trust you?"

"I'll help you find the will," he said, standing up.

She held her hands out. "And then what?"

"And then you can do with it whatever you want," he said without hesitation.

She shook her head, confused. "You'd betray Summer?"

"No, I'd trust you."

"If only you'd trusted me before." She turned and let herself out of his house.

As much as he wanted to go after her, he knew he had to let her go-for now. He'd come up with a way to make it up to her.

He had to.

He walked out of the elevator to the reception for Summer's office.

The pretty woman he'd met before sat at the desk, taking a call. She looked less bright and peppy than she had the last time.

Join the club.

She studied him as she ended the call. "You're Summer's brother."

"Stepbrother," he corrected, not feeling generous. "Is she in?"

"I'll call her." The woman punched a couple buttons, murmured into the receiver, and then nodded at him. "She's waiting for you in her office. You know where that is?"

"I'll follow the smell of sulfur." Saluting the receptionist, he went to find Satan's spawn.

She sat at her desk, writing on a pad of paper. She wore her traditional black dress, but over it she had on the colorful gypsy scarf Rosalind had given her.

He felt both sad for her and angry at her, but his anger took over. "Rosalind knows," he said without preamble, closing her office door behind him.

Summer frowned. "Knows what?"

"All of it."

"How did she find out?" She blinked, touching the scarf. "You told her?"

He sat in a chair and rubbed a hand over his neck. "Is how she found out more important than the fact that she knows we lied to her?"

"Was she angry?"

"What do you think, Summer?"

At least she had the grace to wince. "Did she say anything about me? Or the will?"

"Tell me you aren't more concerned about the will than you are about your relationship with Rosalind."

She lowered her gaze. "The will is important, Nick."

"The will isn't important. Your place with the Summerhills is, though, and you've compromised that." He reached across the desk and took her hand. "Rosalind didn't deserve being deceived. She cared for you. You should have seen the pain in her eyes."

Summer looked stricken.

"I just thought you should know so you can grovel, too. Maybe she'll be willing to talk to you."

"She's not talking to you?" Summer asked, eyes widening. "But she loves you."

"What?" His attention sharpened on his sister.

She nodded. "Rosalind told me she loves you. It was a few days ago when we had tea."

Something in his chest twisted. "That may have changed since she found out I betrayed her."

"You didn't betray her. I did," she said, remorse heavy in her voice.

"I went along with your mad scheme. I knew better, and now I'm paying for it."

Summer stood up with him. "It wouldn't have worked anyway, because you'll eventually go back to racing and she'll go back to the States."

He shook his head as he stood. "I've been thinking of staying in London and managing endorsements with Jon."

"You didn't think that Rosalind would stay here with you, did you?"

"Why not?" he asked. "She has family here."

"She didn't care before."

"No, but maybe she's realized how important family is, too." He crossed his arms. "That aside, Rosalind gave you friendship, and what have you given her in return?"

Summer slumped onto her chair, playing with the edge of her scarf. "I made a mess of things, didn't I?"

"Yes."

"I'm sorry, Nick."

When he looked at her he saw the little girl she used to be and his anger softened. He went to her, slung an arm around her shoulders, and tugged her to him. "I'm sorry, too."

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