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Imogen

There is no way we can still love and cherish one and other.

When I married Theo Walsh, the rough, bearded townie who worked construction on my family’s summer house, I’d found my happily ever after.

That was before the fighting.
Before the jealousy.
Before the infertility.

We’ll be divorced long before death does us part.

But to secure my place in the family dynasty, there is just one more hoop I have to jump through. And I need him to do it.

Faking the marriage we once thrived in will gut me.
Especially with the secret I’m carrying.

Theo

I would have sacrificed for her until the end of time.

My job.
My home.
My happiness.

I’d given it all up to marry her. That’s how much I loved Imogen Weston, the daughter to one of the world’s richest families.

From the day we met, I’d done nothing but try to live up to the man she expected to be with. And now, I was done.

Sure, I’d complete this one final ask of hers, even if it destroyed me.

But I’ve made her promise the one thing that might save me. She swore that after she got everything she ever wanted, she wouldn’t look back.

I made my wife vow to leave me forever.


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Carrie Aarons

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Excerpt

In our whole marriage, had he ever been happy with me? The sadness crept in, partly because we were also going to end up like every other emotionless couple in this room. It wasn’t supposed to happen to us … we were in love. We didn’t cheat or travel eight months out of the year. We didn’t loathe the company of each other, and we had wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to us. But it was.

“I did it for you.” His eyes are the color of a tornado, swirling with destruction.

Theo twirls me in time with the music, and my stomach lurches.

Stopping us, and pressing a hand to my gut, I tried to inhale. “Ugh …”

“What’s wrong?” His hand touched my elbow and the lustful simmer that had always ignited between us burned my skin.

Even when I was green in the face, he could make me come undone. “I just feel a little light-headed. It’s probably because I haven’t eaten.”

Ever my hero, Theo doesn’t say a word as he escorts me off the dance floor with a hand at the small of my back. He seats me at our table and breaks a dinner roll in half, buttering and salting it just the way I like.

My stomach rolls again, and it takes everything in me not to vomit as I bring the bread to my lips.

“You need to take care of yourself. I …” Theo’s mouth turns down as he looks away.

He was about to say that he won’t be here to do it. I swallow the indecision and push away the desire to call this whole thing off, to ask if we can just go back to how it all was before.

But we can’t. Too much has happened between us.

“I will. Don’t worry about me. This will all be over soon. You can live your life away from this spotlight.” A tinge of bitterness fills my voice.

Because I know that even if he’s done this for so long, for me, he’s breathing a sigh of relief that he won’t have to do it soon. That thought disappoints me. I only ever wanted to give us a beautiful life, and my family’s money can help with that.

Theo just stares at me, right into my soul. He probably knows I’m thinking the last part, the part I don’t say out loud. Just like I know that he’s thinking that I never gave his way of living a try.

Like I said, too much history has gone down between us, and there is only so much water that can go under that bridge before it begins to collapse.

An hour later, we’re in the car on our way back to our house. Or … Theo’s house. It’s not my house anymore.

“Will you be needing me again this week or next?” Theo’s looking out the window as he talks to me.

My heart wars with itself. Remain cold. No, you love him.

“There is a luncheon next weekend to celebrate the launch of some application my father has invested in.”

“So he’ll be there?”

I bite my lip. “Yes.”

“That’ll be nice for me. Seeing him gloat,” he rumbles, and I watch as his fingers dig into the fabric of his suit pants.

“He won’t—”

Theo cuts me off, his voice snapping, “Don’t pretend that just because you’re going back to them that they aren’t who they are. I was married to you for four years, Immy … I know what your family is like. I know how they hurt you, I was the one whose shoulder you cried on. I was the one who loved you unconditionally. So don’t cover up for them, not with me. Not when you know that I know better. I’ll grin and bear it, just like I always have, but don’t start lying to me. Don’t start being a Weston until you completely walk away from being a Walsh.”

My throat is closing around the knot of emotion that’s risen in it, and the prick of tears in the corners of my eyes is heavy. I want to disappear, have the earth open up and swallow me whole. Theo was right, of course, I was trying to be a Weston. Glossing over any sign of conflict was our superpower.

The town car pulls into the driveway at that moment, and Theo doesn’t bother saying goodbye as he opens the door, slams it, and stalks up to the house.

I don’t get out, either, to try to apologize. It’s better this way. If he hates me, it’ll make it easier.

So why do I look back as we pull out onto the street? Why do I curl my knees up onto the seat and stare out the rearview window?

And why, when I do, is Theo standing on our front porch, staring back?

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