Just To Be With You (Page 46)
“You’re a very powerful man, Ian. And you might be able to control companies and industries through your will and determination and brilliance. But even you can’t make someone become a total bitch. You can’t turn someone with true warmth inside of her into a glittering, self-absorbed block of ice. I get that maybe Chelsea was a softer version of herself when you first met and started dating, but I can guarantee that cold, hard part of her was already there, just waiting to spring out.”
“I would have seen it.”
“Or maybe you didn’t want to see it. Maybe you were in a place in your life where you were ready to share it with someone and create a family the way your parents did with each other, so it was easier not to see it. Especially if she was trying her best to make sure you didn’t.”
Tatiana could see him turning her suggestions around in his head, and maybe if he were anyone else, she would have kept pushing, kept trying to make him see things her way.
But Ian Sullivan wasn’t a man anyone would ever be able to push around. And because it was yet another one of the reasons she loved him so much, she simply said, “Having seen you in action all week long, I know not only how hard it is to change your mind, but also that I’m not going to do it tonight. So since I don’t want to begin and end today fighting with you, I’m going to say good-night now.” Before he could stop her, she went up on her toes and kissed him. One soft, sweet, gentle kiss into which she poured her entire heart. “I’ll see you on Monday at your office.”
And then she made herself walk away.
Ian was sitting in his home office staring blindly at his computer screen early Saturday morning when his phone rang. His first thought, before he could stop it, was Tatiana. But it was his brother Dylan’s name that popped up on the screen.
“Hey, looks like a good day for a sail. I could use a crew.”
Ian had lost countless productive hours this week. He needed time to focus on the eAirBox deal he’d put two years of work into. When Flynn accepted his offer on Tuesday, Ian needed to be ready to move forward immediately.
But he couldn’t concentrate on anything but Tatiana. He’d known plenty of beautiful women, had even married one, but he’d never had such a hard time keeping his hands—and worse, his thoughts—off one.
Tatiana wanted love, wanted the happily-ever-after, wanted someone she could count on through thick and thin. And in his weakest moments, Ian wanted to be all those things for her. But even caught up in her spell, he knew better, knew he’d only hurt her worse if he were stupid enough to think love could change who he was at his core.
Work had always set him straight, and at this point, Ian could have worked for the next forty-eight hours and only barely caught up to where he needed to be. But there was no way he was going to get one damned thing done sitting here, rolling everything over and over in his head, like a teenager caught up in his first crush. What had happened between him and Tatiana was way past a crush, a million times bigger than a no-strings night of hot sex. She thought she loved him, believed it with a faith so fierce that, frankly, it awed him. And scared the shit out of him, too.
So instead of blowing off his brother’s invitation, Ian slammed the screen shut on his laptop.
“I’ll meet you at the harbor in fifteen.”
* * *
The speed, the cold air, and the water spraying over him helped to clear his head. Ian and his brother didn’t say much to each other during the sail, but they didn’t need to. Not when they knew each other so well that they were, as always, a perfect team out on the Sound.
It had been way too long since he’d done this—not just the sail, but hanging out with one of his brothers. Sure, he’d seen them at the recent Sullivan weddings he’d flown in from London to attend, but there hadn’t been time to really talk to any of them.
Suddenly, he couldn’t lie to himself any longer by trying to claim it was because his schedule was out of his control. Sullivan Investments was his company, and as Tatiana had pointed out earlier that week, he’d built it up to the point where he had plenty of trusted people working for him to whom he could pass more responsibility.
So it wasn’t that he didn’t have time if he wanted it.
He simply hadn’t made the time for his family. And now, for the first time, he forced himself to ask why.
At first, his single-minded focus on business had been all about saving his family so they wouldn’t lose their house, and so that his brothers and sisters would have enough money to go to college and follow their dreams. But then, by the time his family had been taken care of, he’d been wholly caught up in the game, the thrill of winning, and of always reaching for more. Not because he’d been turned into someone else. It was more that he’d uncovered, or discovered who he really was. He’d never meant it to come at the expense of everything else.
Or had he? After all, wasn’t it easier to keep them all out then it would have been to let them in? Especially when all of this emotional turmoil with Tatiana was the perfect example of what happened when he let anyone get too close?
A couple of hours later, they were back in the harbor taking down the mainsail, when Dylan said, “So, how was your week with Tatiana?”
The halyard slipped in Ian’s hands. “Fine.” He cursed as he barely kept the rope from getting away from him. “I don’t know if I’ve been much help to her, though. She still seems frustrated by her role.” And, definitely, by him.
Dylan gave him a look that Ian couldn’t quite read. His youngest brother had always been so quick to grin, and to make a joke, that people often missed the depth that was just as much a part of him. Ian had always known it was there, though, even when Dylan was a little kid.
“I’m sure she’s working on it, and that she’ll figure it out,” Dylan said. “She’s never struck me as the kind of person who gives up easily.”
Thinking that Dylan had no idea just how right he was, it was the affection in his brother’s voice as he spoke of Tatiana that caught Ian’s ear.
“Why haven’t you asked her out?”
Dylan’s eyebrows shot up. “Tatiana?”
“Yes, Tatiana. What are you waiting for?”
“Dating her would be like dating my sister. Don’t get me wrong, she’s gorgeous and fun, and it’d be great if things were different. But that’s just not what’s between us. Never has been. Besides—” Dylan paused, grinned. “—she only has eyes for you. So I think a better question is, why haven’t you asked her out? Or,” he said as his gaze sharpened, “have you?”