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Dominick scowled his displeasure as the intercom on his desk buzzed, totally interrupting his train of thought. He should have told his secretary he didn't want to be disturbed for a couple of hours. After four months of careful planning, he was now on the brink of achieving his goal, and had been sitting behind his desk in his penthouse office overlooking the Thames, relishing that thought in peace and solitude.
Four months. It had seemed longer. Much longer. But to have rushed in four months ago, without giving the problem his usual careful attention, wouldn't have made the revenge he was now planning half as sweet.
Revenge, he had once been told, was a dish best eaten cold. He was cold now, icily so, and intended savouring every minute of the downfall of the man who had wounded his pride four months ago, when he had taken Kenzie from him.
Dominick turned his chair from the magnificent view outside to press the intercom, the irritation audible in his transatlantic drawl. 'Yes?'
'Mrs Masters on line one, Dominick,' Stella, his stalwart secretary informed him, totally unconcerned by his obvious impatience with her interruption.
His mother was phoning him?
Although why the hell she still called herself Masters, when she had been marriedand divorcedtwice more after divorcing his father thirty years ago, Dominick had no idea!
'Tell her I'm busy,' he rasped.
'I did,' Stella came back unruffled. 'But she says it's urgent.'
He sighed his annoyance. 'Remind me to forget your Christmas bonus this year,' he muttered, cutting off Stella's knowing chuckle as he accepted the call. 'Mum,' he greeted tersely. 'Whatever it is, can you make it quick? I have'
Everything stopped. Movement. Breathing.
Just his name, uttered in that sexily husky tone, was still enough to bring his wellordered world briefly to a halt.
He hadn't seen or spoken to Kenzie in four months, and he had no idea why she should be telephoning him now. Although the coincidence of it, when he was so close to exacting his revenge, didn't escape him
Not his mother, after all.
But the woman whom until recently, he had called his wife. Who was still his wife. Even if she had left him to be with another man. The man Dominick was so relishing bringing to his knees.
He drew in a sharp breath, and his dark gaze narrowed. 'Kenzie,' he acknowledged abruptly.
Kenzie easily recognized that coldly forbidding tone. The ice man was what she had called him during the argument that had preceded the end of their brief marriage.
No, there hadn't been an argument, she acknowledged heavily, only Dominick's coldness and her own disbelief at his accusations.
Her hand tightened defensively about her mobile. She hadn't wanted to make this call. She would rather have done anything than make the first move after these months of silence, aware that Dominick had hated her when she'd left, and knowing him well enough to realize that his hatred would only have increased during that time.
'Well?' he snapped his impatience with her silence.
It was the same old Dominick, she thought. He was always impatient, always caught up in some business deal or other, never having the time to listen, to even try to understand her.
Her shoulders tensed before she quickly shook off these negative thoughts. There was no point in going there. Nothing had changed. She hadn't. And Domi-nick certainly hadn't.
She hadn't been absolutely sure when she'd made the call that he was in London at the moment, but she could picture him now, sitting behind the glass-topped desk in his luxurious ultra-modern office. The building he worked in was sumptuous recognition of the highly diversified multimillion-pound Masters empire Dominick had made. As well as owning his own airline, a television company and a casino in the South of France, he also had exclusive hotels in all the major capitals of the world.
Yes, she could picture her husband now, with his dark, slightly overlong hair, brooding brown eyes that could turn black during strong emotion, arrogant slash of a nose, and fine chiselled lips above a squarely determined jaw. His wide shoulders, tapered waist and long, long legs would be dressed in one of the expensively tailored suits he bought from Italy, while his shoes would be handmade from the same country.
Just thinking of the way Dominick looked was still enough to make her heart beat erratically and the palms of her hands become damp
'Either tell me why you called, Kenzie, or get off the damned line; I have work to do,' Dominick barked uncompromisingly.
'So what's new?' she retorted.
'Well?' His impatience was barely suppressed now as he refused to respond to her sarcasm.
But hearing Kenzie's voice again like this, completely out of the blue, was not conducive to pleasant conversation.
Not that there had been any chance of that anyway where Kenzie was concerned. None of his emotions had ever been lukewarm where Kenzie was involved. Fierce desire the first time he looked at her. Cold fury when she walked out of his life into the arms of another man.
'Ineed to talk to you, Dominick,' she told him quietly.
His mouth twisted. 'Isn't it a little late for talking? I received the divorce papers a month ago,' he added harshly.
He had received them, and put them away in his desk drawer unanswered.
But maybe that was what she wanted to talk to him about.
Was she really in so much of a hurry, so desperate to legally end their marriage, that she was even willing to speak to him personally in order to get a positive response?
Because she already had husband number two lined up.?
Jerome Carlton, of course, the man she had left him to be with, who was no doubt willing to give her everything Dominick couldn't. Was Kenzie actually thinking of marrying another man before the ink was dry on their own divorce papers?
He should never have actually married her, having never thought marriage was in his plans for the future at all until he met her.
After witnessing the mess his parents had made of their own marriage, plus their subsequent ones, Dominick had never considered getting married himself, and had certainly never wanted to bring a child into that minefield of emotions. His own childhood had been a nightmare of pseudo stepfathers and stepmothers, none of which had lasted very long.
But around fourteen months ago he had met Kenzie at a party in London to celebrate the opening of yet another Masters hotel, and it had taken just one look at the tall, beautiful, internationally famous model for him to decide he was going to have her in his bed. Her beauty was dazzling, her sensuality enough to send his pulse racing and, as a woman reputed to remain aloof from any sort of affair, she had been a challenge.
Dominick had wined and dined her, becoming more and more intrigued by her every time he had seen her. As he had got to know her betterand desire her to the point of madnesshe had also come to realize the reason for her lack of physical involvements. Despite Kenzie's glamorous, high-profile lifestyle as one of the highest paid models in the world, underneath it all she was still just the girl from the small village in England where her parents still lived and Kenzie and her three sisters had been born and grown up. The sophistication was just a facade, and what she believed in, and was waiting for was that elusive happy-ever-after.
It was a fact that had been completely borne out when he had tried to make love to her and discovered that she had still been a virgin, and saving herself for Mr Right. She had had no intention of becoming involved in a short-term affair, with him or any other man.
Quite what madness had possessed Dominick when she'd told him this, he still wasn't sure. Perhaps it had been a need to possess, to have someone who was unique in his previous world of transient relationships that meant nothing to him or the women involved, a need to know that no other man had had, or ever would have, Kenzie. All he knew for certain was that the burning need for Kenzie to be his had intensified to the point that even his business had suffered from his lack of attention as he had seemed to think of taking her to bed day and nightsomething he had never allowed to happen before!
It had been a situation he had known couldn't continue.
Which had left him with one solution. Marriage.
Why not? he had reasoned once he'd got over the initial shock that he had even been considering such a move. He would never be stupid enough to fall in love, and so leave himself open to the pain and disillusionment his parents had inflicted on each other over the years of their marriage and since.
He was thirty-seven years old, he had reasoned at the time, and taking a wife, especially a beautiful and accomplished one like the international model Ken-zie Miller, as well as putting her in his bed, could also be an astute business move. The fact that he wasn't in love with Kenzie, and that he was determined never to love any woman, had never come into his calculations.
It was something he had come to regret only nine months after they were married when Kenzie had left him for a man who obviously could give her what she wanted!
For her part, Kenzie was glad this conversation was taking place over the telephone, relieved Dominick couldn't see the pallor of her face, and the strain about her eyes and mouth created just from talking to him again.
She had taken one look at Dominick and fallen in love with him, and had been completely knocked off her feet when he had returned that interest. The two of them had been inseparable for the next few weeks, before Dominick had totally surprised her by whisking her off to Las Vegas in his private jet and marrying her.
She had felt a momentary flash of regret at the time that her parents and sisters couldn't be at the wedding, knowing that her family would be disappointed too. She was sure her parents had always thought she would have a similar traditional white wedding, to those her two younger sisters had had when they married.
But she had been so much in love with Dominick, and had secretly longed to be his wife, that she had quickly forgotten those regrets in the wonder of having her dream come true as they had spent two weeks completely alone on the Caribbean island that he owned.
What she had failed to realize for some months after they were married was that although Dominick had asked her to marry him he didn't actually return her love. He had only fallen in lust with her, and considered her a business asset as much as anything else.
And none of these painful memories was helping her situation now!
'I didn't call to talk about the divorce, Dominick,' she told him softly.
'No?' he came back scathingly. 'It's been four months, Kenzie. Haven't you persuaded Jerome Carlton into proposing yet?'
She flinched at his sarcasm, wondering how she could ever have fooled herself into believing this man was in love with her. But she also had no intention of getting into any sort of slanging match where Jerome Carlton was concerned; Dominick had refused to believe in her innocence four months ago where the other man was concerned, and from his tone of voice now she knew he still didn't believe her.
'I'm still married to you, Dominick,' she reminded him wearily.
'Only just,' he reminded her tersely.
Only just, yes. Once those divorce papers had been signed and witnessed, and there was a legal recognition of their parting, maybe she might be able to once again get on with her life.
Although that idea certainly didn't involve marrying anyone else.
How could she when she had never stopped loving Dominick?
She loved him but knew she was unable to live with him when he could never feel the same love for her. As his wife she had only ever been an ornament in his wellordered life, an accessory.
'I need to talk to you properly, Dominick, and I can't do it over the telephone'
'You aren't suggesting the two of us meet?' he snapped, the derision clear in his voice now.
Kenzie sighed, feeling no more eager to see him again than he obviously was her. It would be so painful to see Dominick again and know that he never had loved, and never would love, her in the way she loved him.
But she knew Dominick's reluctance to see her again was vastly different from her own. She represented the one failure he had had in his life. And failure, as she knew only too well, was something Dominick Masters refused to recognize.
In fact, she had been waiting the last four months for some move of retribution on his part for her ever having dared to leave him!
When it hadn't happened she had decided that perhaps his inactivity was his retribution, with Dominick quite capable of imagining her apprehensionand relishing the fact!
'I need to see youto ask yousomething,' she amended carefully. Despite their situation, she ached to see him, but not the coldly distant man, the ice man, of their last meeting, the man she could tell, just from the tone of his voice, that he still was. 'I need toask a favour, Dominick,' she expanded slightly breathlessly, wincing at the admission.
'From me?' Dominick couldn't keep the surprise from his voice.
He clearly remembered Kenzie assuring him, on the day she walked out of his life, that their marriage was over, and she would never ask him for anything ever again!
Except for a divorce, of course.
His mouth tightened. 'You have a damned nerve thinking that you can just waltz back into my life after four months and ask me for anything'
'Noyou please!' he cut in forcefully. 'You walked out on me, Kenzie. On our marriage. Straight into the arms of another man! And now you want me to do you a favour?'
'I did not leave you for another man!' she came back just as strongly, knowing he didn't believe her, that he never had, but determined never to stop claiming her innocence.
'I happen to know differently,' Dominick rasped.
'You don't know the first thing about me, Dominick.' She sighed. 'You never did.'
The first shock of hearing from her had passed now, her conversation such that Dominick was pretty sure this call was just a coincidence. After all, Kenzie had no idea that the sword of Damoclesa blow entirely of Dominick's devising!was about to drop on her lover's head.
'I'm notthe favour I have to ask isn't for me, Dominick,' she came back sharply. 'Well not really,' she amended impatiently. 'Maybe,' she muttered uncomfortably.
'Perhaps you had better let me be the judge of that, Kenzie,' he decided tersely. 'Tell me what it is youneed, from me' he used the word deliberately 'and I'll tell you if I'm willing to give it.'
'Not over the telephone,' she insisted determinedly. 'I need to explain a few things to you first, to help you understandDominick, could you meet me for lunch?'
His brows rose at the suggestion. Talking to her on the telephone was one thing, but actually seeing her again, being close to her long-legged beauty, was something else. 'Today?'
'Well, of course' She broke off her impatient response. 'Yes, today,' she resumed more reasonably. 'If that's possible,' she added abruptly.
Dominick looked at the open diary on his desk-top, unnecessarily so, already knowing that he was free for lunch today.
'I'm afraid it isn't,' he told Kenzie smoothly, totally ignoring the blank space in his diary. 'But I am having dinner at Rimini's at eight o'clock this evening, if you would care to join me there?'
Kenzie winced her dismay at the thought of having dinner with Dominick, tonight or any other time. It meant none of the informality of a crowded lunchtime restaurant that she had been going to suggest, but instead dinner at one of the exclusive restaurants that they had quite often gone to together as husband and wife