Read Caitlin's Choice Online

Authors: Kat Attalla

Caitlin's Choice

 

 

 

Caitlin’s Choice

 

by

 

Kat Attalla

 

ISBN:
978-1-77145-072-0

 

PUBLISHED BY:

 

Books We Love Ltd.

Chestermere, Alberta

Canada

 

http://bookswelove.net

 

Copyright 2013 by Kat Attalla

 

Cover art by: Michelle Lee Copyright 2013

 

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) wi
thout the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.


 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Andrew Sinclair circled the room like a caged tiger. He tried to relax, but one look at the bed and he felt a stab of guilt so deep it made
him physically ill. He wanted to punish himself, so he gazed again at the delicate lines of her naked form outlined beneath the white sheet. The morning sun cast an ethereal glow over her face that made her look like an angel. He brushed a strand of hair off her cheek. Her skin felt like satin.

He wanted her again.

He should have told her the truth before asking her to spend the night. Omission might not be the same as lying, but it was damned close.

He certainly hadn’t planned to have her in his bed this morning, sleeping off an incredible night of lovemaking. He hadn’t planned any of what happened the night before. But would she believe him? A painful knot tightened in his stomach. He had gone to the restaurant the night before to speak to an unsuspecting Caitlin Adams about their respective siblings’ engagement. To be specific, he had gone with the intention of putting an end to that engagement. The conversation never made it that far.

He’d realized when he introduced himself that she had no idea who he was. Flattered by her unmistakable interest, and drawn to her as to no woman before, he never found the words to tell her.

During dinner, she drank French champagne like it was water. She laughed at his jokes and flirted shamelessly while they danced. He felt an instantaneous attraction to the sensuous, green-eyed beauty, and he would swear that she felt the same. If her sister possessed one tenth of Caitlin’s allure, he could easily understand how his brother had lost his head and his heart.

How could he have been so stupid? He had always credited himself with being levelheaded, even cautious, where women were concerned. Love at first sight was a myth perpetuated by the female species, who didn’t want to admit to feelings of lust. Or so he’d always believed. Yet just one look at Caitlin had taken his breath away. Would she choke the life out of him when she learned who he was?

 

* * * *

 

Caitlin stretched her arms above her head. Every muscle ached. She peered through heavy eyelids at the unfamiliar ceiling. She hadn’t felt this exhilarated in a long time. Her mouth curved up in a satisfied half smile.

She probably should feel guilty. Never in her twenty-seven years had she spent the night with a man she had known such a short time. But something about Andrew Sinclair had been too compelling to refuse. Tall, dark, and dangerously handsome—every woman’s fantasy. Didn’t it just figure she would meet the man of her dreams the night before she was being transferred overseas?

He had come to her rescue yesterday on several levels. She had been so excited about seeing her sister after a nine-year separation—and so let down when Maggie failed to show up. When Andrew asked if he could join her, Caitlin welcomed the company. She found herself instantly drawn to the witty, golden-eyed charmer—and he seemed to feel the same. Would he be willing to wait a year for her return, or had she read more into his sweet words than she should have?

She closed her eyes and sighed. Waking up in a strange hotel room, even a first-class one, was an alien experience, and she had no idea what to do. She must have missed that chapter in Emily Post’s book on etiquette.

“Are you awake?”

Her eyes flew open. She sat up slowly and wrapped the sheet around her body in a display of modesty that was eight hours late in coming to her rescue. Andrew was leaning against the window, looking like he had a lot on his mind and none of it pleasant.

“Good morning,” she muttered, unable to meet his penetrating stare. What had she done wrong?

“Would you like to have breakfast? I need to talk to you,” Andrew said. His words sounded ominous.

“All right.” She scrambled off the bed, tripping over the bottom of the sheet as she gathered her clothes.

Several minutes later, she returned from the bathroom dressed in her skirt and blouse from the night before, slightly wrinkled from the wear. As she sat on the edge of the bed to slip on her sandals, she felt as if she had stepped into The Twilight Zone. The man positively scowled. What had happened to the funny, caring, sexy man she had met last night? Was he upset with her or with himself?

“Are you ready?” he asked.

Caitlin glanced at the phone and back to him. “I have to check my machine first.”

He nodded and folded his arms across his chest. His serious expression left her fearing that he was about to give her a kiss-off. With trembling fingers, she dialed her answering machine and turned her back on the brooding Mr. Sinclair.

Thank goodness there was a message from her sister. Caitlin jotted down the number on a paper napkin in her purse. A souvenir of last night, she thought. Her heart thumped painfully in her chest. Did she want to save it after all?

With an apologetic shrug, she lifted the receiver again. “Sorry. I have to return an important call.”

Andrew raked a hand through his thick auburn hair and nodded again. He poured himself a glass of water and leaned against the dresser while she made her call.

“Hello?” a male voice grumbled into the phone.

Caitlin moaned. She hadn’t stopped to think about the out-of-state area code. She might be calling the west coast at five in the morning.

“I’m sorry. This is Caitlin Adams. Is Maggie there?”

Andrew’s muttered expletive made Caitlin jump. She spun around quickly. Before she could question the cause of his displeasure, her sister’s bubbly voice came through the phone line, catching her attention.

“Caitlin! What happened to you last night? I’ve been trying to reach you forever.”

“What happened to you? You never showed up.” And I’ve obviously made a complete fool of myself in your absence, she silently added.

“I got married last night. Erik and I tied the knot.”

Caitlin cupped her fingers around the phone and whispered into the receiver. “What do you mean, you got married? I thought the wedding was next month. I figured I’d get to meet the guy before you married him.”

“We decided to elope. I am now Mrs. Erik Sinclair.”

Caitlin lowered her head. Sinclair? Sinclair? Oh, no. The same surname as Andrew. Please God let this be one of those bizarre coincidences, she prayed, but deep inside she knew she wasn’t that lucky.

“Caitlin?” Are you there?”

“Yes. I’m here.”

“Anyway, Erik’s big brother was giving him a really hard time about marrying me.”

She felt her hackles rise in defense of her sister. “Why?”

“I’m not from the right kind of family, I guess.” Maggie’s voice was pitched with sadness. “Anyway, when he sent Erik to Las Vegas on business, we decided to get married here on our own. I only wish you could have been here.”

Caitlin felt her blood run cold. Maggie’s words brought her out of The Twilight Zone and back to earth with a resounding thud. Erik’s older brother was the disconcerted stranger across the room.

“That’s wonderful, Maggie. I wish I’d been there too. I’ll call you tonight. I was just on my way out the door.”

“When are you leaving?”

“Tomorrow night.”

“Oh, Caitlin. I wanted to see you before you left. A year is such a long time. I just found you after nine years.”

“I really have to run now. I’ll talk to you later.” Caitlin hated cutting her sister off, but if she didn’t get out of that hotel room soon she would be sick. Worse, she might do something violent.

Her meeting with Andrew Sinclair had been no act of fate. He’d known exactly who he was looking for; the sister of the woman he didn’t think was good enough for his brother. What had he hoped to prove by seducing her? Last she’d heard, being a fool where a man was concerned was not genetic. She snatched her purse off the bed and gathered all the dignity she could muster.

“It’s been interesting, Mr. Sinclair. You might want to call your brother and congratulate him on his marriage, since it’s too late to do anything about it now.”

As she walked past him, he reached for her arm. “You don’t understand.”

She laughed bitterly. “I understand, all right. Your family blood is a bit bluer than ours. That makes us good enough to sleep with but not good enough to marry.”

“That’s not true.”

“You’re going to talk to me about truth? All those pretty words you spoke last night about fate and kismet were nothing more than lies, and I was stupid enough to fall for them.” Tears pooled in her eyes and she paused to take a calming breath. She would not cry in front of him. “Let me leave you some money for the hotel, since the pleasure was obviously all mine.”

Andrew jerked his head up indignantly. “Don’t be absurd.”

“This entire experience has been absurd. Let’s not change the script for the finale.” She wrenched her arm free of his grasp and reached into her purse. “Oh, and don’t judge my sister by my foolish actions. She has more brains than I do. And, hopefully, better judgment in men.”

She tossed a hundred-dollar bill on the bed and waltzed out the door with her head held high.

* * * *

Andrew made no attempt to stop her. For someone so angelic looking, she was one tough lady. He glanced at the crumpled money on the bed and winced. How many times had he done something similar in his arrogant youth?

Not only had he wrongly tried to interfere in his brother’s impending marriage, he had hurt Erik’s sister-in-law in the process, a double insult to a brother he professed to love. Yet he knew instinctively Caitlin had more class than to mention the incident.

“Caitlin,” he muttered with a trace of regret. She was the most exciting woman to cross his path in years. He had finally met a woman he could share his life with and had just blown any chance of a relationship.

 

* * * *

 

Caitlin sat in the lounge at J.F.K. airport and checked her watch again. Another fifteen minutes. She hated the overseas restrictions that required her to check in two hours prior to takeoff. She was left with too much time to kick herself in the backside for last night’s folly. To spend the night with a stranger went against all her principles. Worse, she would likely meet up with Andrew again, since they were now related.

Not in the next year though, she thought in relief. Her contract with a design firm tied her to Singapore for the next twelve months. She couldn’t have run any further from the problem if she had planned it.

“Caitlin?” Maggie’s excited v
oice called across the lounge.

Caitlin turned in amazement and gazed at the sister she hadn’t seen in nine years. “What are you doing here?”

Maggie sprinted across the long hall and into her arms. “I flew back early. I had to see you before you left. Oh, you haven’t changed a bit”

“You have,” Caitlin said with a touch of sadness. Her sister had been a child when she had left. Now Maggie was all grown up and a married woman.

“I’ve missed you so much. I can’t believe I’m going to lose you when I just found you again.” Her eyes spilled over with tears.

Caitlin had long since come to terms with the fact that her parents had disowned her when she left home in disgrace. Only Maggie had believed in her innocence. When she’d come in search of Caitlin, Maggie had been forced to choose between her oldest sister and the family she had left behind.

“You’re not losing me. I’ll be back in a year. And you can call me anytime.”

“I wanted you to meet Erik before you left,” Maggie moaned sorrowfully.

Caitlin glanced down the corridor. “Is he here?”

“No. He had business in Las Vegas, remember? His brother Andrew drove me.”

Caitlin gasped and dropped her purse on the floor. “What?”

“Erik arranged for Andrew to meet me at Newark airport and drive me over here. He’s parking the car. I made him drop me off in front so I wouldn’t miss you.”

Panic gripped her. She couldn’t face Andrew again. Not yet. “I have to go now, Maggie. They’re calling my flight.”

She collected her purse and flight bag and walked quickly toward the departure ramp, with Maggie at her side. At the gate, she stopped to hug her sister. She hated good-byes, especially when she hadn’t even had a chance to say hello.

“Don’t you have ten more minutes?” Maggie pleaded.

“I wish I did. I have to go. I love you.” Caitlin shouldered her bags and gave her sister one more hug. She was almost home free.

“Caitlin. Please wait.”

Andrew’s voice stopped her in her tracks. She lowered her head and took a deep breath. Hadn’t he been content with the damage he’d already done? Gathering the few remaining shreds o
f her battered pride, she turned back for a brief second.

“I have to talk to you,” Andrew said.

She refused to acknowledge his expression of sorrow. “Go to hell.” Without a backward glance, she boarded her flight to Singapore.


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