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In Pursuit of His Wife

By:Kristi Gold

In Pursuit of His Wife
Kristi Gold

       One

Seated in a wicker glider on the mansion's stately porch, Nasira  Edwards admired the beauty of the Wild Aces, the ranch her brother,  Rafiq, had bought his beloved bride-to-be, Violet. Nasira appreciated  the way landscaped lawns gave way to green pastureland. She relished the  warm May breeze, the climate so different from London this time of  year. When she had originally traveled to Royal, Texas-home to the  legendary Texas Cattleman's Club-she had done so to prevent Rafe from  exacting revenge on his friend, Mac, for a mistake she had made over a  decade ago. She had come to clear the air, right past wrongs, and  fortunately she had succeeded. Yet that had not been the only reason  behind the journey. She yearned for the peace this place could provide,  yet peace had not come. The lingering pain of loss was simply too  overwhelming.

In response to the memories, she withdrew the bracelet from the pocket  of her dress and studied the tiny silver rattle charm she had received  upon confirming her pregnancy. A surprising gift from a husband who had  not embraced fatherhood. Still, she had viewed the welcome gesture as a  symbol of hope for a bright future, until the day all hope had been  splintered like shards of fragile glass.

Her palm automatically came to rest on her abdomen, now as barren as  her life had been for a while. The baby she had so desperately wanted,  and tragically miscarried, had changed her completely. Odd how she could  miss someone she had known for such a brief time. And strange how badly  she missed Sebastian, though he had been emotionally absent for the  past six months. She had had no choice but to continue to put physical  distance between them in an effort to reassess their future.

When the door opened to her left, Nasira expected to find her brother,  Rafiq, checking on her welfare. Instead, Rafe's friend, Mac McCallum,  stepped outside and gave her a pleasant smile. "Are you doing okay?"

She did not deserve his good humor or respect after what she had done  to him in the distant past. "I've been enjoying the Texas sunset."

"Looks to me like that old sun has been gone a while," he said. "My  sister sent me out here to tell you dinner will be ready in a few."

Food held little appeal in recent days. "I appreciate Violet's hospitality, but I am not very hungry."

"Suit yourself, but if you keep going this way, you'll be blown to New Mexico if the wind picks up steam."

She smiled reluctantly and stood. "I suppose if that is a possibility, I  should attempt to eat something. Are you staying for dinner?"

"Not tonight. I'm meeting up with Andrea."

Nasira suspected Mac had feelings for his personal assistant that went  beyond the boardroom, even if he could not admit it to himself,  according to her future sister-in-law, Violet. "Is this business or  pleasure?"

He frowned. "Business, of course."

"It's rather late in the day for that, is it not?"

"Unfortunately it comes with the territory of McCallum Enterprises."

When the discussion lulled, Nasira saw her chance to verbally make  amends for past mistakes. She studied the wooden planks beneath her feet  for a moment before regarding him again. "I wanted to extend another  apology for what I did to you all those years ago. The guilt has been  unbearable."

Mac lifted his shoulders in a shrug. "Hey, you were young. We were both  young. You were just trying to get out of an arranged marriage to a man  twice your age."

That ill-fated visit to the university to stay with her brother had set  a horrible course that had led to Rafe's need for revenge. "Yet I was  wrong to use you to achieve that goal, especially when I climbed into  your bed for the sole purpose of having my father discover us. And  because our father blamed Rafe for not looking after me, that led to his  determination to seek revenge on you. I shudder to think what might  have happened had I not come here to intervene."

"It all turned out okay," Mac said. "He's no longer trying to buy up  the town to get back at me, he's going to marry my sister, and we're  going to be one big happy family."

Nasira was happy for them all, but still... "Even after Rafe's torture  and confinement for years due to my errors in judgment, he has forgiven  me. I suppose I need to know if you will forgive me as well, though I  would understand if you would not."                       
       
           



       

"Consider it done, Nasira. That's old water under the bridge now that  Rafe knows I didn't really sleep with you. And since he's marrying my  sister, I consider us all one big happy family."

Relief washed over her, though she couldn't claim to be happy over the  state of her own marriage. "I so appreciate your understanding."

"No problem. Mind if I ask you something?"

"Not at all."

He raked a hand through his dark blond hair. "Don't take this wrong,  but I'm wondering what the hell your husband was thinking when he let  you get away?"

The course of the conversation made her somewhat uncomfortable. "It is  rather complicated. Sebastian is complicated. After ten years of  marriage, at times I wonder if I know him at all."

"One thing I do know. When a man doesn't realize the value of his wife,  that's borrowing trouble. I just hope he comes around soon and realizes  what he'd be giving up."

If only she could believe Sebastian had the capacity to be transformed  into someone who would fight for their relationship. "I truly appreciate  your concern and understanding, Mac."

"You're welcome. Guess I'll be heading home to the Double M now." He  started toward the steps but paused and faced her again. "Before I  leave, I'd just like to say it's fairly clear you don't need another big  brother, but if you ever want a sounding board, you know where to find  me."

How nice to come upon such a benevolent man. She certainly had not  received so much compassion from her own husband in quite some time.  "Thank you."

Mac returned to her and rested his palms on her shoulders. "Keep your  chin up and keep standing your ground. You deserve the best."

Until six months ago, she had believed she had been blessed with the  best of everything. Almost. "For the sake of clarification, Sebastian is  not mean or cruel. He is simply too controlled and at times, distant. I  have often wished he would lower his guard and demonstrate some sort of  emotion, but I've accepted that it will most likely never happen-"

"Unhand my wife, you bloody bastard!"

Nasira barely had time to comprehend what she had heard before her  estranged husband rushed onto the porch, drew back his fist and hit Mac  in the chin, knocking the rancher backward against the brick wall.

When Mac gave Sebastian a menacing look, Nasira returned to reality in  time to step between the men. "What are you doing, Sebastian?"

He pointed at Mac and sent him a menacing glare. "I'll not allow another man to grope my wife."

Never had she'd seen Sebastian act this way, and as much as she  deplored violence, and despite her shock over his sudden appearance, she  was pleasantly surprised, albeit somewhat mortified. "Oh, for goodness'  sake. He is only a friend and he was not groping me."

Mac pushed away from the wall, rubbed his chin and glared at Sebastian.  "If I didn't think so highly of your wife and her brother, I'd invite  you to take this out into the yard and finish it, you jackass."

Sebastian balled his fists at his sides. "I would be glad to finish this."

Nasira spun on her husband. "Stop this right now, Sebastian. No one  will be fighting if I have any say in the matter, and I do." She turned  back to her friend and sent him an apologetic look. "Mac, I am so very  sorry for my husband's behavior. I assure you he's not normally so  impulsive with total strangers. And if you would not mind, I would like a  few moments alone with him."

"No problem," Mac said before turning an acrid look on Sebastian. "I'm  going to give you a pass, Edwards, and only because you're Nasira's  husband. But don't push your luck by trying something like that again."

Sebastian straightened his tie and smirked. "If I find you touching  Nasira again, I cannot promise there won't be a repeat performance."

"Just take better care of your wife and you won't have to worry about me."

After Mac disappeared into the darkness, Nasira prepared for a  confrontation. "What were you thinking, and why on earth are you here?"                       
       
           



       

Sebastian opened and closed his fist. "I wasn't thinking, only reacting  to a man with his hands on my wife. A man from her past, no less. And I  have come to escort that wife back to London."

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