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Fake Christmas Lexy Timms 2022/8/3 13:45:43

“It’s not the same,” she said, shooting him down. “There’s nothing like Christmas. Now it’s ruined. This whole day has been a disaster.”

He stabbed his food with a fork and forced down a bite. It might as well have tasted like sand. Things weren’t going according to plan, but it hurt like hell knowing she’d rather not be here with him. She was acting like finally getting time alone together was the worst she could have gotten. How had they drifted so far apart so quickly? Exasperation gripped him.

He scowled. “So, being alone with me is a disaster?”

“You’re twisting my words,” she cried.

“Am I? Because right now it looks like you can’t wait to get the hell away from me,” he said. “You talk about wanting to be with family, while forgetting that I’m your family, too.”

“That’s not fair,” she said.

The suspicion that he had bottled up and locked away was rising to the surface. He could feel it. “Considering how much you’ve been hiding from me, I shouldn’t be surprised that spending Christmas with your own husband is the last thing you want to do.”

“That’s not true and you know it.” Furious, she tossed her napkin onto the table and shot to her feet. Without a second glance she spun on her heel and stormed out of the living room, leaving him alone to stew in his anger.

After she’d stormed off, Dane had given her space to cool off. She rarely got angry enough to leave in the middle of an argument, so he had figured it was best to give her space. But now that he was back in their bedroom, realization hit him. She wasn’t in the villa.

He didn’t know how, but he could tell she wasn’t inside. Which was obviously crazy. The fact that he couldn’t sense her presence probably should have shown him that he was losing it, but he just knew. Maybe he was so connected to his wife because he loved her so much.

Grabbing his cell phone from his pocket, Dane called her number. After several rings, the call went straight to voicemail. He left a curt plea for her to call him and hung up. Swearing under his breath, he dashed out of the bedroom.

Desperate to find her, he started searching all the rooms in the villa. The living room, the dining room, the game room, the laundry room, all five bedrooms, even the private terraces and balconies. She wasn’t there.

The kitchen was the last place he checked. “Have you seen my wife?” he breathlessly asked Chef Durand and Mrs. McKenzie, who were clearing away dishes.

Mrs. McKenzie’s dark brown eyes grew huge with concern. “No, Mr. Prescott. Where did you last see her?”

“In the dining room,” he replied. “She sort of... stormed out.”

“Well, if you had a quarrel maybe she went outside to calm down,” Chef Durand suggested.

“At night, all by herself?” Dane’s chest tightened painfully. The pool was outside. What if she had fallen in? Or worse. The ocean was beyond the pool. What if Allyson had slipped into the ocean and been dragged away?

Crazy thoughts flashed in his head. He wasn’t the kind of man to panic, but with his rising suspicions about her behavior coupled with the intense year they had spent together... anything could have happened to her.

Just recently she had been attacked in the middle of the night and almost killed. On top of all that she had almost been sent to prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Terrible things were possible. For a man like him, his status meant that there was always going to be a target on his wife’s back.

“I’m going to check out back,” he said quickly.

“I’ll search for her out in the front of the villa,” Chef Durand said. “Perhaps Mrs. McKenzie can stay inside in case Mrs. Prescott returns.”

“Good idea.” Dane raced out of the kitchen and headed outside.

His eyes fell on the hot tub outside. Nothing. Heart slamming in his chest, his eyes scanned the infinity pool outside. It was empty. Thank goodness. But that meant she was still missing.

“Allyson!” he called loudly.

He listened for a response, but all he heard was the whisper of the wind and the crashing of ocean waves beyond the palm trees. She wasn’t out here. Which meant he had to venture further out. Into the darkness on the beach.