Getting her back will be the toughest deal they've ever negotiated.
On the night of her fifth anniversary, Catherine Cullen-Wellesley intends to break the news to the two men in her life. She's pregnant with their child. It'll be the perfect preamble to the vacation they've promised her: Two weeks on a Jamaican beach. No cell phones, no emails, no business.
But when Logan and Rhys blow off the trip for yet another "business emergency", Catherine faces some difficult truths. She hasn't come first in her busy husbands' lives in a long time. Defiantly, she packs her bags for her long-awaited vacation--alone. It'll give her a chance to figure out what the hell she's going to do with the rest of her life.
When Logan and Rhys come home to an empty house, they realize two things: One, it was a mistake to take Catherine for granted. Two, they're not willing to just let her walk out of their lives.
Winning her back will be the most difficult battle of their lives--more important than any business deal they've ever negotiated.
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May 05, 2008
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Excerpt from Stay with Me by Maya Banks
Catherine let herself into the apartment and kicked off her shoes before trailing across the living room toward the balcony. She was already packed for their trip, so she had nothing else to do with her evening except wait for them to come home.
She consoled herself with the idea that they'd probably gotten caught up with last-minute details. It had seemed a miracle when they'd agreed to the two-week trip to Jamaica. No phones, no email, no business, just the three of them on a tropical beach.
God, she missed them. Missed touching them, talking with them, snuggling into their arms after lovemaking. She touched her stomach again. She was three months pregnant. Three months ago had been the last time either man had made love to her. Before that? She couldn't even remember.
She'd hoped that tonight, and their impending vacation, would go a long way in recapturing what was lost in their relationship. Somewhere along the way to making their business a success, Logan and Rhys had sacrificed themselves--and her--in the process. She knew it, had known that things could only be allowed to go so far, but now that she was pregnant, it seemed the most important thing in the world to gain that reassurance that she still came first with them, that their child would come first.
She was about to open the sliding glass door when the flashing red beacon on the answering machine caught her attention.
Her heart sped up, and she cursed the fact that she was so willing to forget and forgive at the mere idea Logan or Rhys had called to leave a message. They had her cell phone number, damn it, and if they'd left a message here, it just showed them for the cowards they were.
She blinked in surprise when the phone rang. She stood, staring at it, refusing to cross the room to answer. After four rings, the answering machine picked up, and her own voice filtered across the room.
She held her breath as Logan's voice sounded.
"Catherine? Baby, pick up the phone. You must have let your cell phone go down again. I've been trying to call you."
She vaulted for the phone, simultaneously reaching into her purse for her cell. As she yanked up the receiver, she fumbled with the cell, turning it over in her hand to see that it was, indeed, dead.
"Logan?" she said as she punched the on button.
"Logan, where are you?" she asked.
"I'm in the car. Something came up." A long silence descended over the line, and she heard him suck in his breath. "About the trip, Catherine..."
Oh no. No, no, no. He wouldn't.
"I'm afraid we're going to have to postpone it. Rhys and I have to fly out. Why don't you see if you can reschedule it. We'll go wherever you like as soon as we get back."
Numb to her toes, she stood, hand gripped tight around the phone. She began to shake, and she gulped back the sob in her throat.
"Catherine, are you there?"
"Y-yes. Of course. I'll see what I can do."
She thought she heard him sigh in relief. "I love you, baby. And I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you. Just a minute. Rhys wants to talk to you."
She closed her eyes as Rhys' deep voice came over the line.
"I'm here," she whispered.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. This deal has us by the balls. We'll be back soon. I promise."
She couldn't even respond. She didn't want to hear yet one more promise she now knew wouldn't be kept. She murmured something appropriate, and then he said he had to go.
She eased the phone from her ear, sliding her thumb over the off button. Then she let it fall with a clank onto the table.
Not one word of their anniversary dinner that they'd blown off. They'd only called to cancel their vacation. The two-week trip she'd painstakingly planned, so excited that they'd agreed to go.
Her hands flew to her face, covering her eyes as tears seeped down her cheeks. Oh God, what had happened to them? She sank to the floor, the expensive wood hard against her stocking-clad knees.
It was time for her to face some hard facts. Her marriage was a mess. A disaster. And worse, she couldn't fix it. God knew she'd tried. The problem wasn't her, or lack of effort on her part. The problem was husbands who placed more importance on everything else in their lives but her. Husbands who took her complacence for granted.
She dragged herself to her feet and stumbled shakily toward the bedroom. When her gaze alighted on the trip itinerary on the nightstand, she closed her eyes and shook her head.
The trip was their last chance. One last effort on her part to put things right between them. To somehow capture something long missing in their relationship. She wanted so desperately to go back to the time when all that mattered was that they were together. In her mind, if she could just get them away for a few days, they would see how far off course they'd gone. And maybe they'd realize that they missed her as much as she missed them.
She went to the large walk-in closet and hauled out her packed suitcase, tossing it on the bed. She blinked and stared down at it. What was she doing?
I'll tell you what you're doing. You're going on that trip. Without Rhys and Logan. I doubt they'll even notice you're gone.
She glanced again at the itinerary. Maybe some time away was exactly what she needed.
She stepped over to the nightstand and picked up the sheet of paper with her flight and hotel reservations. With a sigh, she sank onto the bed, the words blurring in her vision.
She couldn't do this anymore. Pretend that everything was okay. When a wife didn't see her husband more than a few hours a week, when that husband never remembered important dates, cancelled every plan they had together, it was time to face the truth. Her marriage was over. It had been for a very long time.
The paper shook in her hand. She wasn't typically a hysterical ninny. She wasn't prone to overreaction. She'd spent the last five years sucking it up and smiling while on the inside she ached. She'd played the understanding wife to the hilt.
Now looking back, she realized what a huge mistake she'd made. She had no one to blame but herself. But damn it, that didn't mean she had to suffer any longer for it.
Galvanized to action, she stood and tugged her suitcase. She'd spend tonight in an airport hotel and catch her flight in the morning. Two weeks on a Jamaican beach sounded like a perfect amount of time to figure out what the hell she was going to do with the rest of her life.