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Home > Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(6)

Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(6)
Author: Beth Kery

She hardly thought about her automatic, certain reply until later. Naturally she and Ian would be here together later.

They would be in each other’s arms, where they belonged.

Chapter One

SIX MONTHS LATER

“Nothing is certain, is it? Nothing,” Francesca said bleakly as she set down the investment and finance section of the morning paper, the headlines exclaiming over the faltering Japanese economy. Her gaze lingered on one headline: Japanese Conglomerate Hires Investment Banking Firm to Sell. She bit her lip nervously, jumping slightly when her housemate, Davie Feinstein, touched her shoulder.

“Some things are certain,” Davie said with a significant look she endeavored to ignore. She accepted the steaming cup of tea he offered her and gave him a smile as he sat. He started doling steaming pancakes onto their plates.

“Like taxes and your weekend breakfasts. Like your friendship?” Francesca asked, forcing her voice into an airy tone because they were skimming a sensitive topic, and she refused to go there on this bright December morning. The sensitive topic: Ian’s abandonment of her a half a year ago following his mother’s death. But not just his mother’s unexpected death, also the discovery of the poison truth about his biological father . . . a truth that had been revealed by Lucien Lenault after Francesca and Ian had made love so intimately that summer evening. One moment, their future had been secure and bright. All of that changed in a matter of seconds by the slashing knives of truth.

And doubt.

She knew Ian had been fearful his entire life that his unknown father had at the very least taken advantage of his mentally ill mother, at worst, raped her. The identity of his biological father had remained a mystery to him, however, until that evening six months ago. That fateful night when Lucien and Elise had come to dinner, Lucien had known he’d been providing a shock by telling Ian they were half brothers, but that wasn’t the worst of it. He’d also revealed that their common parent, Trevor Gaines, had been a rapist and serial reproductionist—a man who got a sick fascination from impregnating as many women as he could. The impact of that revelation, along with his mother’s sudden worsening condition and death, had had a decimating effect on Ian.

Francesca didn’t like to think of that other issue that she’d suspected had been yet another crack in Ian’s well-being, the bizarre coincidence that Ian had asked to videotape her during sex the very night he found out his criminal father got his kicks out of taping his conquests and victims. She suspected Ian had made some self-condemning judgments after that, but he’d never given her the opportunity to assure him he was a far, far cry from being remotely similar to Trevor Gaines.

She’d wanted nothing more than to comfort and ease his suffering, but he’d left . . . disappeared without a word to her or a personal message. Gone. The man she had meant to marry, whom she loved more than life itself.

As had become the custom, she and Davie were avoiding the fact that the man she’d been the most certain about in the world had disappeared off the face of the earth, and was determinedly refusing to be found.

“Taxes and my friendship are definitely certain. As for my weekend breakfasts, I’ll make them as long as somebody comes to eat them,” Davie was telling her, passing the syrup.

“I miss Caden and Justin the most during weekend breakfasts,” Francesca said.

“Actually, Justin said he’d try to stop by after going to the gym this morning.”

“Really?” Francesca asked hopefully. Davie nodded.

Why did everything have to change? Davie, Justin, Caden, and she had been tight friends and roommates for years. But then she’d met Ian, and her life had taken a course she’d never imagined. She’d spent more and more time in Ian’s luxurious downtown penthouse and planned to move there permanently when they married. As one of the wealthiest, most influential men in the world, Ian had taken her to places she’d only dreamed about before and exposed her to movers and shakers not only in the art world—her world—but from all walks of life, from business leaders to politicians and celebrities. He’d introduced her to challenging lovemaking, taught her the power of submission . . . turned her body into a honed instrument for experiencing distilled pleasure. He’d transformed her into a more confident woman who was sublimely comfortable in her own body, a woman who fully owned and took pride in her accomplishments and sexuality.

But then tragedy had struck. Ian had willfully vanished. Justin and Caden had both prospered at their jobs and moved into their own homes. When she’d returned to live with Davie full-time in his Wicker Park townhome, so much had changed. She herself had altered; the free-spirited, gauche young woman she’d once been had disappeared, and a more sober, contained, sad and bitter woman had taken her place. Davie had always been there, though, a solid, reassuring pillar in her life. He’d been there to help her stanch her wounds, encouraged her to focus all her energy on finishing her master’s program and her painting. Thanks to Ian’s prestige and patronage, her reputation had grown in the art community. She was at no shortage of commissions for her work, and had even turned down a few lucrative ones.

Still, sometimes it felt like her life had come to a shrieking halt. She was still disoriented, her brain quivering from the jarring impact of abrupt loss.

She poured the syrup on her pancakes, her attention once again drawn to the newspaper and the news about Tyake Inc. selling because of the Japanese financial crisis. Davie noticed her preoccupation when she began to drown her pancakes. He touched her hand. She blinked and lifted the syrup bottle.

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