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For the first few minutes, she skied down at full speed, breathless and exhilarated as her skis glided over fresh, powder-soft snow. It was only when other skiers began to pop up at the second half of the trail that she was forced to slow down, and Sarah’s mind began to drift aimlessly. She found herself thinking about Hardy and reminded herself to give him a call-—


She knew right away she hadn’t her phone with her and had left it charging in her room.

Dumb move, Sarah Jeanne. But not as dumb as…

She slammed on her mental brakes, but another thought had already fully formed itself in her remind, and this morning’s shameful little interlude began playing back before her eyes.

Shit, shit, shit!

She could see it so clearly, like a translucent image superimposed over the wintry scenery. She was flat on her back, body still shaking, while Damian stared down at her, blue eyes turbulent and fierce as he said I love you those words.

Even the memory was too much, and Sarah had to fight back against the temptation to start hyperventilating.

He didn’t mean those words, she tried convincing herself. That was just his dog-in-the-manger attitude rearing its ugly horns, and all because he thought she was having an affair with a married guy.

If only Colton hadn’t said that stupid lie, she thought waspishly. But since he had been doing it for Beth, she couldn’t really blame him, and in a way, he had also been right when he told her that the lie was even better than being in a fake relationship, especially after Damian overhearing that damning call she had with Hardy.

After reaching the end of the trail, Sarah absently made her way to the chair lifts, mind still busy trying to figure out her next move. Damian loving her was just too good to be true. She had to tell him—-

Sarah could feel herself paling when a breeze came out of nowhere to tickle her cheek. It felt strangely familiar, like a heavensent…no, no, no! She shot a glare towards the skies, which were now more grayish than blue. I’m so over the serendipity B.S.—-whoa!

Damian suddenly appeared out of nowhere, arm around her shoulder and dragging her to the lift chair. The next thing she knew, they were seated together, safety bar locked into place, and then they were off, with no possibility of Sarah escaping for the next fifteen minutes.

Shit, shit, shit!


Damian’s edges were still raw even though it had already been over a few hours since Sarah had gone running out of his office. His first thought had been to go after her, but he kept seeing the look of devastation on her face, and the memory arrested his movements. Every time he told her he loved her, she would look at him as if he was breaking her heart.

And so he decided to give her space, both of them really, even just for a few hours. He had dragged Tommy out of the kitchen and forced his PA to work alongside him for an hour. After that, he had joined Josiah in a luncheon meeting, and he had even indulged Naomi’s request to join her and her friends for a quick ride that would allow for several interesting wildlife sightings.

He had done all that and yet in the back of his mind thoughts of her refused to go. He kept seeing her face, kept seeing the way the words refused to leave even as her lips moved, and the way her eyes…God, they had been so dark and bright all at the same time, and every time he thought of those eyes, it was just all too fucking clear, how much he had hurt her all those years.

His gaze strayed back to his laptop, its screen showing the last page of the background report he had ordered from his security chief. Five pages in total, but it all amounted to a single thing: no fucking clue to prove or disprove the identity of any Hardy in Sarah’s life.

He would’ve liked to believe this meant Sarah had simply made the man up, thinking it would keep him away, but his guts told him otherwise. Even if Damian were to discount Colton’s words, Sarah’s fear had been genuine when he threatened to tell their parents about her involvement with a married man. The man existed alright, and if Damian didn’t figure out a way to win her back this weekend…he would never have her again.

Damian poured himself a shot of whiskey and downed it all with one gulp. The liquid burned down his throat, its fiery sensation parallel the hellish fear that had resided in the pit of his guts, ever since he had found out about Sarah being involved with another man.

Sarah was still an old-fashioned girl at heart, and there were some rules that he knew she would rather die than cross.

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