“Mika,” I hiss, “I’m in no mood for a lecture on how badly I’m doing as a parent and provider, so just skip to what you want to say and get out.”
Mika held up his hands. “Whoa, whoa, easy there, I’m not here to lecture or argue.”
“Then what are you here for? I doubt there’s anything here which will catch or keep your interest,” I snap.
“Bella,” he said crooned in the tone he uses when he wants something but is trying to hide the fact. “Cut me some slack, please? I know you hate me and I don’t blame you. What I did was selfish. But for the sake of our children-our childrenâ€”I do want to remain friends. Is that possible, because it means a lot to me.”
“Excuse me while I barf,” I turn away and grab the kettle. I want a cup of tea to help settle my nerves, though I’m not going to offer him one. “It meant a lot to me to keep you in my bed but that didn’t happen, so why should you get what you want? Oh, that’s right, because you always get what you want.”
Mika looks stunned but makes an effort to compose himself. “I understand.”
“Like hell you do,” I fight to keep from shouting. Here is his opportunity to apologize and he doesn’t. The nerve.
He folds his hands as if in supplication or trying to find the right words to say. But nothing he says will be right, I decide. “So what did you come here for?” I ask, wanting to get the ordeal over with. I slam the kettle on the burner and turn on the gas.
Mika slowly approaches. “I came here because of all the fuss that’s being mad about the engagement party. Bella,” he places a hand over his heart, “I am mortified that your family expects you to be there. When I learned that, all I could think was how selfish they were being. I know you and I knew you wouldn’t want to come and I’ve tried to talk Tiresa and Mama Rose out of it, but they wonâ€™t listen. Then I overheard Tiresa when she said she’d buy you a dress for the engagement party.”
He stops one pace in front of me; I’m back up against the stove. I can smell his cologneâ€”Obsession. He wore it back when we first dated. His unshaven scruff now boasts a few grey hairs, which only makes him sexier. Yes, Mika definitely got better looking with age. Then he smiles and I hope he can’t hear my heart beat faster. We hadn’t been this close in years. He must have realized that, too, because as I looked up, something hot and sensual shimmered within the green depths of his eyes. An unwelcome tingle spreads through my body.
“I knew you’d laugh at the offer.” He shakes his head. “Sometimes Tiresa can be so vain, so arrogant. She’s not like you.” He places a hand on my shoulder. “She doesn’t yet know where true beauty comes from.”