Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

Previous: Chapter Eleven
Next: Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Twelve

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I’m safe.

Alexandra hugged her arms around her and turned away from the windows of her father’s study. It seemed almost impossible to believe that over two months ago, she’d been abducted by her crazy ex-boyfriend who’d wanted to hold her for ransom. He was preparing to face life behind bars but that was the least of Alexandra’s concerns.

She heard her father quickly end his call before rising from his chair and walking up to her. Alexandra tried not to think it was like déjà vu. Merely over two months ago, she’d been called to this very study to receive the announcement that her father had hired her a personal bodyguard.

It felt like a lifetime ago now.

Everything had been a blur after the van doors had opened and Cane had been standing there. She remembered being covered by a blanket, and Cane holding her tight and kissing her, whispering that she was safe. Much later there had been the paramedics and the cops and the statements. But she’d been in too much shock to be of much use to anyone. Once it was decided that she had only a few bruises and cuts, she was seen to and then allowed to go home. Cane had never been far from her side, she remembered that much as well. There’d been a kind of sling on his arm from his shoulder, which she later learnt had been grazed by a bullet. Her relief in knowing that he’d escaped any real danger almost surpassed her own happiness that she was safe. He followed her in back of the police car, his hand tightly wound around hers. She noticed they were headed for her father’s house, and when she turned to him in surprise Cane explained quietly, “Your father was notified about the attempted kidnap and he was worried sick. I assured him he didn’t have to come over, that I’ll see to it that you’re brought home to stay with him for a while.”

Alexandra had frowned in confusion, but he’d simply rubbed soothingly on her hand, and kissed the side of her head. She’d sighed, laid her head against his shoulder, and drifted into an exhausted doze.

It took a day or two after that for her to get over the trauma of what she’d experienced. Now back in her family home, she saw hardly any glimpse of Cane, as her father cancelled all his other work commitments to focus on her. There were nurses, maids and cooks to see to Alexandra’s every need as she recuperated. Malia had also been so marvelous and attentive, coming round the house and even stayed over whenever she could, keeping Alexandra company and brightening her spirits after her ordeal.

“All this time, we were thinking it was someone from your business transactions, while all the while, my getting into danger was my fault,” Alexandra told her father guiltily now, as he came up to where she stood by the window and took her by the shoulders.

Her eyes were misty as she looked up at him. “I’m sorry dad. I should have listened to you. Getting involved with Lamar in the first place was a big mistake.”

“We all make them; and I’m sure somehow, I’m more to blame than you might think,” her father said with a heavy sigh. “I pushed you away with my workaholic lifestyle. I should have been your best friend, your confidante, not someone who just paid your bills or simply wore the label of ‘father’. I was never really there, was I?”

“You’re here now,” Alexandra said softly, giving him an affectionate smile, and the older man nodded gratefully, his smile just as warm even as Alexandra’s heart ached for another person she couldn’t help wishing she could also say was right there with her, but he wasn’t.

The last time she’d seen Cane, he’d been let into her room by the hired nurse over a week ago. It had been her old bedroom when she’d still been living at home, and she couldn’t help beaming when Cane appeared. The sling was gone but she could tell that underneath his impeccable looking dark suit and tie, his shoulder was covered in bandages.

“You look great,” he’d said with a slanted smile once the door closed behind the nurse and they were alone.

“So do you,” she said softly, drinking in the sight of him and wondering how she could still look at him without melting completely to pieces. She did melt, but somewhere deeply hidden from knowing eyes.

He sat on the chair by her bed and then leaned forward, tucking her hair behind her ear. She caught his slight grimace as he used his injured hand which he drew back carefully. Alexandra’s eyes filled with concern.

“Does it hurt?”

He grinned at her worried look, shaking his head. “Only when I forget and move it too quickly. It’ll be fine.”

The air stilled as the moments ticked by in silence. She watched him, he watched her. There was a rueful look on his face that filled her with dread even before he began, “Alexandra...”

“Don’t tell me. With the threat taken care of, I don’t need a personal bodyguard anymore, do I?”

He sighed deeply. “That’s up to your father to decide. But for now, he sees no reason to continue with the security arrangements contracted with the firm I work for. But that’s not what I came to tell you. The thing is...I’m off on another assignment.”

If Alexandra thought her heart couldn’t sink any lower, it did now. “What? But...your injury...”

“It wasn’t much more than a nick,” he told her quietly. “And besides, I’m to act mostly in an advisory role. I’ll be leaving the country in two days.”

Alexandra hated that her lips were trembling. She hated that she felt so weak and helpless. She’d been through a lot when she’d been taken but it didn’t account for her being bed-ridden and weak. But the doctors had advised her to rest after the strain she’d suffered in those harrowing hours. And yet all the drugs and pills must have got her feeling all emotional and vulnerable, which showed in her words as she breathed, “Why are you still mad at me?”

Cane stared at her in stark surprise. “Why on earth would I be mad at you?”

She was breathing hard, holding back the sobs but unable to keep the tears from spilling from her eyes. “For leaving the house on my own. Disobeying your instructions. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been outside alone when Lamar attacked. I almost got myself and you killed and I know you hate me...you fucking hate my guts...”

“Oh my God, Alexandra, I don’t hate you,” he growled, shooting forward and grabbing her face, making her look deeply into his eyes. “How can you even think me capable of that?”

“Then why are you leaving?” she moaned.

A ragged sigh escaped him, and he rested his forehead against hers for a moment. Then he raised his head to look into her eyes. “I don’t hate you,” he repeated clearly, his clear green eyes pinned to hers. “But I can’t...Alexandra, I can’t give you what you want.”

“Why? Because I’m a billionaire’s daughter and you’re a just a bodyguard?” she spat, eyes filled with hurt and pain. She regretted her words immediately and wanted to take them back, but he was nodding.

“You could say that. And now, I have another job to do. So I’m off to do it. That’s who am I, Alexandra. It’s all I am. And I can’t expect you to have to deal with that. But for what it’s worth, I’m happy you’re safe.”

“And I guess I should say thank you now for rescuing me,” she said bitterly, her heart crumpling as he pulled away.

“Your father has already done that, many times. Besides, protecting you was my job, so I really don’t need you or anyone thanking me for doing what I was assigned to do,” he said calmly.

“Still...I appreciate what you did,” she told him softly, her eyes downcast as she clenched her hands on the bed covers.

“I know you do,” he said in a tone just as gentle, and her gaze lifted to find him looking fixedly at her face as if to memorize every feature. Alexandra’s heart pounded and suddenly, she was reminded of Cane’s kiss, and how the earth had shifted when his lips touched hers. It was one sensation that had stuck with her of all the things she’d been through that day.

“You’ll be fine,” Cane suddenly said with a small smile. “You’re graduating in a few weeks, and before you know it you’ll start your dream job designing wedding dresses that look like they came out of a fairytale.”

“Too bad my fairytale couldn’t come true though, huh?” she said with an unsteady smile that didn’t hide her pain. He stared at her for a few moments but before he could say another word, the nurse reappeared and said it was time for Alexandra’s lunch and then a nap. Alexandra wanted to scream at the woman that she wasn’t a fucking invalid, but didn’t want to act that way in front of Cane. Not that it mattered anymore what he thought; she’d probably never see him again.

When he was gone, she could barely get half-way through the lunch served in her room before she waved the dishes away and asked to be left alone. And spent her ‘nap’ crying soundlessly into her pillow as she remembered the sight of Cane walking away without a backward glance.

Previous: Chapter Eleven
Next: Chapter Thirteen
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