“Do you always decide what other people should want?” Banks asked. The guy didn’t sound mad, just faintly curious.
“When I l—care about someone, I try to make them happy,” Dominic shot back, horrified by the near slip of the tongue. No L words here. Just a habitual response to an argument he’d had plenty of times in the past, usually with his sister. When that lame justification did nothing to calm the churning in his belly, he changed topics.
“She’s not unreasonable,” Dominic muttered. “If I can just get her back in here, she’ll listen.”
“You know her better than I do.” Banks’s lips twitched. “I never observed a tendency toward reason and amiability growing up with her, but it has been a few years.”
Yanking the door open, Dominic paused to stare at the guy. “You’re cracking jokes?”
He hadn’t even realized Banks had a sense of humor. Of all times to show it off, he chose now? Dominic glanced toward the window, wondering if ice was on its way from hell freezing over.
He shook his head, giving Banks another dark look before turning to go after Lara.
“A word of advice,” Banks said softly.
Impatient, brows arched, Dominic looked back.
“Lara’s right. We’re not what you’d call family, not by most definitions. But if you go after her, do so carefully. You hurt my sister, I might have to take steps.”
“Jokes and threats?” Dominic observed, suddenly grinning. “You two really are alike.”
His smile disappeared when he reached the elevator, finding its doors wide-open and no Lara. Scowling, he stared at the empty space and considered the options.
Was Banks right? When he found Lara, was she going to be reasonable? History didn’t lend itself to that idea. She was the most exciting woman he’d ever known, but she was also the most difficult. He’d only had a woman run from him twice in his life, and both times it was Lara. It was enough to give a guy a complex.
Or tempt him to look elsewhere.
* * *
TIRED OF WAITING for the elevator, Lara had hit the stairwell. She figured stomping her way down twenty flights of stairs was better than beating her laptop against the elevator wall.
What the hell was wrong with her?
If a guy wasn’t loser, he was a liar. If he wasn’t a liar, he was a charming control freak with commitment issues and sexy dimples.
Lara had to stop at the last landing to catch her breath and wipe her face. She’d be damned if anyone, even a hotel bellboy, was going to see evidence of her heartbreak. A quick dash of her palms over her cheeks, a couple of soothing gulps of air and she was ready to go again.
She slowly made her way down the last couple of dozen steps, fiercely holding all negative thoughts at bay.
So she didn’t have any money.
She’d find a bank, pull the rest of her savings to get her home.
So she didn’t have a home.
Christi had already offered her couch.
She’d be fine.
She’d be miserably unhappy, living a sexless life for the rest of her existence, but dammit, if that’s what it took, fine.
Bottom line, this time nobody was ruining her damned life.
Not even her.
Lara wrapped her hand around the doorknob to the lobby, sucked in a deep breath and pulled it open.
And walked right into Castillo.
“What’d you do, put a homing device in my purse?”
“Actually, if I was going to fit you with a tracking device, I’d put it in your laptop. You never go anywhere without that.”
She pursed her lips, not about to be dragged into cutesy banter. Instead, she waited. He’d come running after her; he obviously had a reason.
“I think you misunderstood my intentions,” he finally said, his smile engaging those lethal dimples.
Yep, she did.
She’d thought he was as crazy about her as she was about him. She’d thought he understood her, that he got her. She’d thought, for the first time in her life, that someone respected her. All of her. Her body, her mind, her dreams and her heart.
She’d been too busy misunderstanding that to have a clue about his intentions.
“I don’t think I misunderstood that you ignored my explicit requests and very detailed explanations of what I wanted,” she told him as calmly as she could.
“So you’re going to throw this away out of stubbornness?”
Chin quivering, Lara pressed her lips together, wishing desperately for anger. Or better yet, numbness. She’d give a lot not to feel right now.
“I don’t think I’m throwing anything away,” she said when she was sure her voice wouldn’t shake.
“Sure you are. Because you didn’t like your past, now you’re going to ruin your future?” He shook his head as if he couldn’t understand her at all. Since Lara figured she’d been the one fooling herself to think he could, she couldn’t fault his gesture.