She nodded. Chef Durand and Mrs. McKenzie had been kind enough to search for her, even though she hadn’t actually been missing. It was nice to have a little reminder during the holiday season that there was still kindness in the world. Her work at a company like Prescott could be cutthroat. Being around warm, kind people was soothing some of the ache she was carrying in her heart.
Allyson glanced at her husband and realized he was silently studying her.
“You hung up pretty quickly,” he said.
“What?” She did her best to keep her tone light. “What do you mean?”
Dane crossed his arms and his blue eyes narrowed. “When I found you on the beach you said you’d been talking to people at work. But you hung up so fast. Like you didn’t want me to hear what you were saying.”
She started to wring her hands. Of course, he had noticed. Her husband was so observant. The truth was, it had always been difficult to hide things from him. “I was just startled is all.”
“You were speaking very quietly,” he pointed out. “Why you were worried someone might hear what you were saying?”
Her hands started to shake as she wracked her brain for a good excuse. Finally, she squared her shoulders, lifted her chin and said, “Look, Dane, if you aren’t going to trust me, why don’t you just check my phone?”
She prayed Dane didn’t see she was bluffing.
He kept his hard stare on her, holding her gaze. Finally, he sighed. “I’m sorry. Of course, I trust you.”
Allyson exhaled, breathing a deep sigh of her own. Relief washed over her. He wasn’t going to check her phone and discover she had been lying. Her secret was safe. For now.
She crossed the room to sit down on the large bed. “I’m sorry I worried you by wandering off.”
When they had been trying to solve the embezzlement case, Dane had been forced to witness Francesca Barnes attacking her with a baseball bat. Disappearing tonight had probably brought back those memories for him.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “What matters is that you’re safe.”
“Thanks for coming to look for me,” she said softly.
Dane gave her a strange look before kicking off his shoes and climbing into bed. “You don’t have to thank me for that. I’m your husband. Protecting you is my job. My number one priority.”
“I know.” She smiled ruefully. “I guess I haven’t exactly made things easy for you this year, have I?”
His eyebrows furrowed. “Honestly, I feel guilty.”
“What? What do you have to feel guilty about?” she asked with a gasp.
“You had to call work on your vacation,” he said. “That isn’t fair to you. This is supposed to be your time off.”
“Dane, I’ve seen you take working vacations,” she reminded him.
“I don’t know if I’d call it being overworked,” she said slowly.
“You’ve been dealing with a ton of projects, planning Christmas, and all this after you were almost framed for embezzling funds,” he said. “Even I think that’s a hell of a lot of work.”
“But that isn’t your fault,” she said.
“I’m the one who pushed you into taking a senior position in the first place,” he said. “I pushed you too hard and this is the result. You’re miserable, and Christmas is only a few days away.”
“Oh, Dane, I know I was hesitant to take the job at first, but I love working at Prescott,” she said.
“You didn’t have to work this hard when you were my assistant,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, you still worked hard, but not like this. Plus, when you were my assistant we were always together.”
What had she done to deserve a man like him? Many of the high-society men resented having to spend time with their wives. They would rather lose themselves in work. Not Dane. What he wanted most was to spend time with her. That touched her heart. Cheered her despite everything she was keeping inside.