Ethan had saved people all over the world on his secretmissions, but could he save their son? His arms gavestrength and comfort to Rebeccathe woman he'd neverstopped lovingbut their life together wouldn't be worthsaving if they lost Jesse. Frantic, trapped in a nightmare,Ethan had to focus. But time was running out, as darknesswas descending .
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Jesse hated the dark.
Rebecca Matalon had learned to hate it, too. Her five-year-old son's cry in the night had woken her the evening before, and she'd spent hours trying to convince him that no monsters lurked in the shadows.
The insufferable sudden blackout that had hit Boston last night had continued into the day. So had Jesse's crankiness.
She stared outside through the fifth-story window of the Ritz-Carlton, stunned that it was already 2:00 p.m. and the power still had not been restored. Never had she seen the city such a madhouse of chaos and ill tempers. Useless air conditioners, accidents due to nonfunctioning traffic lights and vandalism had turned normal decent people into irritable, aggressive, paranoid, violent citizens.
If she were in L.A., she'd be at work reporting the mess.
Instead, she was trying to keep her five-year-old son entertained and happy without the joys of television, electronic games or his father.
Ethan hadn't even been able to go to the Red Sox game with her and Jesse yesterday. And Ethan and Jesse's common love of baseball had assured her they'd always remain close.
In spite of the fact that she'd moved thousands of miles away.
She dressed in the coolest linen skirt and cotton blouse she'd packed, swept her long blond hair into a chignon and clipped silver loops in her ears. A simple assessment in the mirror assured her that she looked fine. Not that she was primping for this dreaded rendezvous with Ethan, her soon-to-be-ex, but she hated to face him looking like a bedraggled sleep-deprived maniac. After all, she was the mother of his child and had been his lover.
And they had had a solid marriage once. Truth be known, they still remained friends. They just couldn't live together.
Memories assaulted her, launching her back to a time when they'd first met. They'd shared an instant attraction, fallen in love overnight and married a year before he'd enlisted in the military. She'd survived the separation, but when he'd returned he'd been wrapped up in building his now-megamillion-dollar computer software company. On top of that was the covert work he did for Eclipse. Secret missions that he couldn't talk about. Dangerous jobs that sent him all over the world. She'd never quite known if he'd come home dead or alive.
Her heart raced at the realization that she had liked that dark, dangerous side of Ethan. The mystery, excitement, suspense had been a turn-on. But it was no way for a family to live.
Besides, she'd put her own career aspirations on hold for too long. After having Jesse and practically raising him alone, then working in menial jobs, she hadn't been able to turn down the L.A. job. A TV journalisther life's dream.
In a bicoastal marriage, she and Ethan had drifted apart till she'd filed for divorce.
Now it was time to sign the damn papers and finalize the end of their marriage.
Rebecca's heart squeezed at the sight of Jesse's big brown eyes staring up at her. Ethan's eyes.
Could she really do this todaysign those longawaited papers and put Ethan out of their lives for good?
No, Ethan would always be a part of Jesse's life. Just not hers.
"I'm hot." Jesse shoved his hand through his short blond hair, which was sticking out in a thousand directions. In his other hand, he held the glow-in-the-dark lighted wand that she'd bought him at the ballgame. Jesse had held on to it for dear life during the night, using it for light when he'd awakened in the dark.
"I know, sweetie. Maybe the electricity will be restored soon."
"I don't wanna stay in the hotel anymore. I wanna go play."
Rebecca knelt in front of her son. She hadn't explained about her meeting with Ethan yet, but eventually she'd have to. Jesse would be upset.Apparently half the kids at school came from divorced homes, and Jesse had already announced quite vehemently that he didn't want to be one of them.
His declaration had broken her heart. "Tell you what." She took his hand and guided him to the window, then lifted him so he could see outside. "See over there in Boston Common. That's Frog Pond. There are a lot of kids out there. Would you like for Miss DeeDee to take you wading in the pond while I'm at my meeting?"
"Uh-huh." He bobbed his head up and down, and she gave him a hug. Outdoor exercise would do him good. Maybe put him in a better mood and help him expend some of his restless energy.
She had to tell him the truth when she returned. She just prayed that one day he'd forgive her for tearing apart their family.
THE PAST NIGHT AND MORNING had been a virtual nightmare.
Ethan Matalon let himself into his prized Beacon Hill brownstone, wiping sweat from his brow and cursing the damn blackout that plagued the city.
At 9:00 p.m. the night before, life as Bostonians knew it had crashed to a halt. Then chaos had reigned.
Ethan had spent countless hours fending panicked calls about the problems with security systems related to computer software he had designed. Major businesses and high-end clients who felt unprotected without the modern edge of technology to keep the evil-doers at bay had turned to him in their hour hoursof need and he had done his best to comply. His technical skills had earned him millions of dollars, and helped him reach the pinnacle of success he enjoyed today.
Only that money didn't keep him warm at night. And it certainly didn't assuage the pain of knowing that he'd failed at other areas in his life.
He glanced at his watch and cursed. At least work had distracted him from his meeting today. The one he'd stalled for the past two years.
The one with his wife.
His estranged wife. Rebecca. The one woman he'd loved with all his heart. The one he'd married in good faith. The mother of his child.
The woman who'd finally called and insisted that they meet to sign the divorce papers.
Pain knifed through his chest, and he climbed the plush carpeted steps to his bedroom, his breathing labored. Closing his eyes to shut out the image of his son's small face and the disappointment that had shadowed his eyes the last time they'd spent the weekend together and he'd said goodbye at the airport, Ethan shucked his sweaty clothes and jumped into the shower. The cold water revived him physically, but mentally he was a damn basket case.
Five years ago, he thought he'd finally overcome the haunting remnants of his past, of his childhood. He'd believed he had it all. A beautiful wife who loved him. A new son. Fortune. The prestigious address in Beacon Hill he'd always dreamed of. And the hottest company in the United States.
Then Rebecca had left him.
He scrubbed his body, wishing he could wash away the memories of their time together. But they were embedded as firmly in his head as her touch was im laughing when they'd gone sailing in the harbor. Her golden skin glowing with water droplets when they'd skinny-dipped in the bay. The graceful way she'd moved like a ballerina when they had danced in the moonlight. The smile lighting her eyes the night he'd proposed. The romantic honeymoon in Nepal.
Rebecca's silky honey-blond hair spread across his chest. Her sultry hazel eyes, eyes that turned smoky when they made love. And those mile-long legs wrapped around his waist.
His body hardened with desire at the mere thought, and he cursed again. How the hell was he supposed to get through this meeting today? How was he supposed to get over her?
And why now, after two years of separation, was she insisting on this meeting? Determined to finally sever their marriage?
Suddenly, the grim possibility that she'd met someone else, that she was ready to move on, that another man had ensconced himself in her life, and maybe in her bed, hit him like a fist to his gut.
He leaned against the counter and stared into the mirror at his bloodshot eyes. He'd always known the possibility existed that she'd find someone else, but he'd shoved the thought into the back of his mind, choosing to live in denial.
Today he had to drag his head out of the sand and face reality. Rebecca was not only devastatingly beautiful and sexy, but interesting and damn smart. And her job as a TV journalist certainly had given her exposure across the U.S. Half the men in the world probably ogled her from their living room while she reported the news.
So whom had she met? Who had interested her enough to make her insist on finalizing the divorce?
Someone from TV? Another journalist? Some
L.A. producer who'd swept her off her feet? Or maybe a Hollywood star?
He groaned and forced himself to dress. She would probably be waiting when he arrived at the Ritz-Carlton for their meeting. Would she be alone? Or would her lover accompany her? Would they sip champagne afterward and celebrate the end of him, and the beginning of them?
He balled his hands into fists and had to bite down on one to keep from slamming it into the mirror and breaking the glass.
If she had found someone else, what did his son think?
A choking sound erupted from deep inside him. The thought of losing Rebecca hurt. But he would handle it. After all, he'd grown accustomed to being alone the past two years. His business and the missions he did for Eclipse kept him occupied. He had a full life.
Dammit. He did.
But the thought of another man playing father to Jesse nearly drove him to his knees.