Paradise By Judith McNaught

paradiseGoodreads Synopsis:

Corporate raider Matthew Farrell had come a long way from the poor, scruffy kid of Indiana’s steel mills. A long way from the country club where, feeling like an outsider, he had dared to fall in love with a beautiful blonde named Meredith Bancroft, and known a once-in-a-lifetime passion and betrayal that still haunted his memory… Now world leaders courted him, the media watched his every move, and he was ready to move in on the Bancroft empire.

A cool, poised executive in her family’s legendary department store chain, Meredith had once defied her father for the sexually magnetic, intense Matt Farrell — and their brief, ill-fated marriage was the disastrous outcome. Now, as the Bancroft firm is threatened by a hostile takeover, Meredith is forced to confront Matt. As tensions build between them, bittersweet memories rise to the surface, leaving them suspicious, restless, and uncertain. Will they be able to believe in each other — and grasp the tender miracle that is before them?

Goodreads Rating: 4.31/5

My Rating:  Image result for magenta heart Image result for magenta heart Image result for magenta heart Image result for magenta heart Image result for magenta heart


Brought up without a mother and taught to live according to her father’s wishes, Meredith Bancroft has only one dream. Two really. First and foremost, to, one day, be the President of Bancroft and Company, a departmental store chain. Secondly, she wants to marry Parker Reynolds, a man she had had a crush on since he was a boy.

Her father had never told her one way or the other whenever she had mentioned her desire for the Presidency until she turned 18.

Now, at eighteen, she already had a general knowledge of things like workers compensation problems, profit margins, merchandising techniques, and product liability problems. Those were the things that fascinated her, the things she wanted to study, and she was not going to spend the next four years of her life taking classes in romance languages and Renaissance art!

When she told him that, he had slammed his hand down on the table with a crash that made the dishes jump. “You are going to Maryville, where both your grandmothers have gone, and you will continue to live at home! At home!” he reiterated. “Is that clear? The subject is closed!” Then he’d shoved his chair back and left.

Lo and behold, her father not only does not want her in the President’s office he wants her to have nothing to do with the stores she has come to think of as her stores.

Now this is the day where she goes to this club where she will meet Mathew Farrell who has not yet had any significant presence as such. The only thing come to light about him is the fact that his father is a drunk and he has a lot of pride.

“Either I pick you up at your front door tonight, or you’d better make other plans for the evening.”

“But what will I tell Daddy when he sees your pickup in the drive?”

Coldly impervious to her stricken look, Matt said sardonically, “Tell him my limousine is in the shop for repairs.”

Back to where Meredith will meet Matt for the first time, but did I mention that Parker tells her that he is almost engaged to another? I guess not. He did that and also informs her that her crush on him was never a secret. What is she to do but pretend that she is over him. And that is what she does.

At the club, Matt is invited by Jonathon, son of the industrialist for whom Matt will work, not to a start a friendship but to spite his own father who believed that Jonathon should have been like Matt.

Meredith’s father’s presence at the time of his introduction becomes quite humiliating for Matt which he bears without any outward signs of the same. When ordered to get rid of Farrell by her father, Meredith decides to spend some time with him instead as she sees in him kindred spirit.

Their silly games lead to the one of the most romantic moments of their lives when they kiss for the first time.

His attention had shifted to her mouth, and his hands were sliding up the sides of her neck to tenderly cradle her face.

“What are you doing?” Meredith whispered inanely as he began slowly rubbing his thumb over her lower lip.

“I’m trying to decide if I should let myself enjoy the fireworks.”

“The fireworks won’t start for another half hour,” she said shakily, knowing perfectly well she was going to be kissed.

“I have a feeling,” he whispered, slowly lowering his head, “they’re going to start right now.”

And they did. His mouth covered hers in an electrifyingly seductive kiss that sent sparks exploding through Meredith’s entire body.

As the duo is busy enjoying each other, reality comes back to them in form of Meredith’s father’s intrusion where he gets Matt thrown out of the club and Meredith ordered to go back home. But the rebellious streak is not yet finished.

To get back at her father for all the restrictions imposed on her, and at Matt for suggesting that she may have given some reason to her father for being distrustful, she decided on the spur of the moment to lose her virginity and lose it to Matt himself. A spur of the moment decision that changes both their lives.

To deal with the consequence of their time together, they get married. Doing the right thing as they think but how do you plan to live your life together with a complete stranger when you know nothing about the other person. Not even like an arranged marriage where at least a few facts are known and almost all the time the two individuals tying the knot have a similar background as something common amongst them.

But this being a romance novel, things had to pan out this way.

As Matt once thought to himself about fate never being merciful to the Farrells; his marriage come to an end in very unwanted circumstances with the baby that brought them together no more. Though it was a miscarriage, Matt is made to believe that Meredith aborted the baby. And who informs him? His father-in-law, of course. The point is why should he even believe what that man said. He should have done something to have a face to face confrontation before they went forward with the divorce. But then again, if all logic would have been followed, this novel would have ended way too earlier and I would be the first to complain then. Irrespective of a cop intervening with a stay order, he should have known better.

The story then takes a giant leap of eleven years. Eleven year when no one knows about the marriage of the two people – who in their present – are celebrities in the business world. Both succeeding to make a name of their own.

Eleven years apart and in a matter of saying both had trouble moving forward in their lives. Meredith finally getting engaged to Parker – the man she had her first crush on and believed she still loved (though deep down I believe she knows better than that as she had never been in love with Parker; instead it had been Matt, and only Matt, who had evoked those feelings in her – and Matt considering and reconsidering marrying again as is evident in the following passage.

He’d never seriously considered remarrying because he’d never been able to duplicate the feelings he’d had for Meredith—that violent, possessive, insane need to see and touch and laugh with her, that volcanic passion that controlled him and couldn’t be sated. No other woman had looked up at him and made him feel humbled and powerful at the same time—or ignited that same desperate desire to prove that he could be more and better than he was.

Their meeting again after eleven years is pretty intense though. He, almost forgiving her the abortion of their baby under her father’s dominance and then going ahead with a divorce, and, she, for abandoning her when she had miscarried his child and asking her to get a divorce.

I hated Philip Bancroft like anything at that particular moment. It is not as if I liked him at any place in the story, but…

What’s more? After the cut direct (that is more like a historical, right) at a social event, Meredith finds out that she is still legally married to the same man she had married eleven years ago to legitimize their baby. But Matt is in no mood to help her out of her corner so that she could marry Parker Reynolds (he still believes she aborted his baby).

To have a talk about interfering in her business, she decides to talk to Matt and finds out that he has gone back to the farm. The same farm where they had consummated their marriage and spent a few of the best days together after and before their wedding. She also finds out the lies that have been told by her father. The need to tell Matt the truth, forces her to leave for the farm immediately but the man is sick as hell and she plays nursemaid, the loving wife. When her company becomes too much and Matt decides to make her leave, she finally tells him the truth. I’ll be putting the entire scene here. It is one of my favourites. Beautiful and painful; at once.

At noon she went downstairs. They had sandwiches for lunch, and although Matt wasn’t friendly, at least he answered her questions and comments with aloof courtesy, and she took that as an encouraging sign that his mood was improving. When she’d finished cleaning up after lunch, she gave a final satisfied glance at the gleaming kitchen, then she walked into the living room, where Matt was methodically packing books and knick-knacks into boxes. She paused in the doorway, watching the way his chamois shirt stretched taut across his broad, muscled shoulders and tapered back whenever he lifted his arm. He’d taken off the jeans that had gotten damp while he was searching outside for her keys, and in their place he was wearing a pair of gray slacks that molded themselves to his hips and the long length of his muscled legs. For one hopeless moment she actually considered walking up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist, and laying her cheek against the solid wall of his back. She wondered what he’d do. Push her away, probably, Meredith decided dismally.

Mentally, she braced herself for a rebuff and stepped forward, but after a half day of enduring his unpredictable temper, her nerves were scraped raw and her own temper was strained to the breaking point. She watched him taping the last box of books shut, and said, “Can I do anything to help you?”

“Hardly, since I’m already finished,” he said without bothering to turn.

Meredith stiffened, her frayed temper sending bright spots of warning color to her high cheekbones. With a last effort to sound polite, she said, “I’m going up to Julie’s room to pack some things she left behind. Would you like me to fix you a cup of coffee before I do?”

“No,” he snapped.

“Is there anything else I can get for you?”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” he exploded, swinging around. “Stop acting like a patient, saintly wife, and get out of here!”

Fury blazed in her eyes, and she clenched her hands into fists, fighting back tears and the simultaneous urge to slap him. “Fine,” she retorted, trying valiantly to hold on to her shattered dignity. “You can make your own damned dinner and eat it alone.” Turning on her heel, she stalked up the stairs.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” he demanded.

She turned on the landing, looking down at him like an angry, haughty goddess, her hair tumbling over her shoulders. “It means I think you’re rotten company!”

That was such an understatement that Matt would have laughed if he weren’t already so furious with himself for wanting her—even now as she stood up there, glowering at him. He watched her turn her back on him and disappear down the hall, then he wandered over to the window. Bracing his hand high on the sill, he stared out across the drive. The plowed drive. Dale O’Donnell had evidently come while they’d been having lunch. For several minutes Matt stood at the windows, his jaw clenched, fighting against the impulse to go upstairs and discover for himself if Meredith actually wanted the Houston property badly enough to climb into bed with him. There were worse ways to spend a wintry day and night—and no better revenge than to let her do it, then send her on her way, empty-handed. And still he hesitated, held back by some vague scruple … or sense of self-preservation. Shoving away from the window, he got his jacket from the closet and went back outside, absolutely determined to find her car keys this time. He found them only inches away from where he’d stopped looking before.

“The drive is clear,” he announced, walking into Julie’s room where Meredith was putting old scrapbooks into a box. “Pack your things.”

Meredith lurched around, stung by his icy tone, her hopes for a reprieve, for a return to the mood of yesterday, dying. Gathering her courage, she slowly finished wrapping the last scrapbook. Now that it was time to tell him about her miscarriage, she fully expected him to react with the equivalent of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Just thinking of that possibility made her seethe with anger. After a half day of enduring his sarcasm and frigid silence, her nerves and her temper were strained to the breaking point. Carefully, she put the wrapped book into the box, then she straightened and looked at him.

“Before I leave, there’s something I have to tell you.”

“I’m not interested,” he bit out, striding forward. “Get going.”

“Not until I tell you what I actually came here to say!” she said, then cried out in shocked alarm when he grabbed her arm.

“Meredith,” he snapped, “cut the crap and get moving!”

“I can’t!” She burst out, jerking her arm free. “I—I don’t have my keys.” He saw it then; the small suitcase lying beside the bed. Matt wasn’t clear on much about the night she arrived, but he sure as hell would have noticed if she’d been carrying a suitcase when she got out of that car. The shock of seeing it would have registered on him. Her car was supposedly locked, but she’d managed to get a suitcase out of it!

Turning on his heel, he yanked her purse off the dresser, turned it upside down, and unceremoniously dumped the contents out. A set of car keys landed on top of her wallet and makeup case. “So,” he said in a silky voice, “you don’t have any keys?”

In her panic and desperation, Meredith unthinkingly put her hand on his chest. “Matt, please listen to me —” She watched his gaze rivet on her hand, then it slowly lifted to her face, and when his eyes met hers, there was a distinct change in him, though she was unaware that it was the intimacy of her gesture that caused it. The rigidity left his jaw, his body relaxed; his eyes were no longer hard and indifferent, but lazy and speculative; even his voice was different—smooth, soft, like satin over cold steel. “Go ahead and talk, sweetheart, I’m hanging on to every word.”

Meredith’s mind rang out an alarm as she looked into those heavy-lidded gray eyes, but she was too desperate to speak to heed the warning or even to notice that his hands were slowly gliding up and down her arms. Drawing a quick, steadying breath, she launched into the speech she’d rehearsed all morning.

“Friday evening, I went to your apartment to try to reason with you—”

“I already know that,” he interrupted.

“What you don’t know is that your father and I had a raging argument.”

“I’m sure you didn’t rage, sweetheart,” he said with thinly veiled sarcasm. “A well-bred woman like you would never stoop so low.”

“Well, I did,” Meredith said, shaken by his attitude but determined to forge ahead. “You see, your father told me to stay away from you—he accused me of destroying our baby and newly destroying your life. I —I didn’t know what he was talking about at first.”

“I’m sure the fault was his for not making himself clear—”

“Stop talking to me in that condescending way,” Meredith warned with a mixture of panic and desperation. “I’m trying to make you understand!”

“I’m sorry. What is it I’m supposed to understand?”

“Matt, I didn’t have an abortion—I had a miscarriage. A miscarriage,” she repeated, searching his impassive features for some sign of reaction.

“A miscarriage. I see.” His eyes dropped to her lips and his hand slid up her arm, curving around her nape. “So beautiful. . .” he whispered huskily. “You always were so damned beautiful.. .”

Stunned into blank immobility by his words and the husky timbre of his voice, she stared at him, not certain what he was thinking, unable to believe he’d accepted her explanation so easily and calmly. “So beautiful,” he repeated, his hand tightening on her nape, “and such a liar!” Before she could summon a coherent thought, his mouth swooped down, seizing hers in a kiss of ruthless sensuality, grinding her lips apart. His fingers shoved into her hair and twisted, forcing her head back and holding her captive as his tongue drove insolently into her mouth.

The kiss was intended to punish and degrade her, and Meredith knew it, but instead of fighting him as he obviously expected her to do, she wrapped her arms around his neck, pressed her body to his, and kissed him back with all the shattering tenderness and aching contrition in her heart, trying to convince him in this way that she spoke the truth. Her response made him stiffen in shock; he tensed, as if he intended to shove her away, and then with a low groan he gathered her into his arms and kissed her with a slow, melting hunger that demolished her defenses completely and drove her mad with helpless yearning. The kiss deepened dramatically, his mouth moving urgently, persuasively, on hers, and against her, Meredith felt the rigid pressure of his aroused body.

When he finally lifted his head, she was too dazed to immediately grasp the meaning of his caustic question, “Are you using birth control? Before we get into bed so you can show me how badly you really want that Houston property, I want to be certain there won’t be another child from this encounter—or another abortion.”

Meredith lurched back, staring at him in stunned anger.

“Abortion!” she choked. “Didn’t you hear what I just told you? I had a miscarriage.”

“Damn you, don’t lie to me!”

“You have to listen—”

“I don’t want to talk anymore,” he said roughly, and his mouth captured hers in a bruising kiss.

Frantic to stop him, to make him listen before it was too late, Meredith struggled and finally managed to tear her mouth from his. “No!” she cried, wedging her hands against his chest, burying her face against his shirt. His hand clamped against the back of her head as if he intended to force her head up again, and Meredith fought with a strength born of terror and panic, shoving his hands away and tearing out of his grasp. “I didn’t have an abortion—I didn’t!” she cried, backing up a step, her chest rising and falling in sharp, shallow breaths, her words spilling out with all the pent-up pain and fury she felt. Gone was the carefully rehearsed speech she’d planned, and in its place came a torrent of anguished words. “I had a miscarriage, and I nearly died. A miscarriage! No one will perform an abortion when you’re nearly six months pregnant—”

Minutes ago his eyes had been smoldering with desire, now they raked over her with savage contempt.

“Evidently they will if you’ve given an entire wing to the hospital where it’s performed.”

“It’s not a question of legality, it’s too dangerous!”

“Apparently it was, since you were in there for almost two weeks.”

Meredith realized he’d already considered all this long ago, arrived at his own logical, if erroneous, conclusions, and that nothing she said was going to make any difference. The realization was shattering, and she turned her head aside, brushing at the tears of futility starting to spill from her eyes, but she could not stop talking to him. “Oh, please,” she implored brokenly, “listen to me. I hemorrhaged, and I lost our baby. I asked my father to send you a telegram to tell you what happened and to ask you to come home. I never imagined he’d lie to you, or stop you from getting into the hospital, but your father said that’s what he did …” The dam of tears broke loose, flooding her eyes and shattering her voice as she wept. “I thought I was in love with you! I waited for you to come to the hospital. I waited and waited,” she cried, “but you never did.”

She bent her head, her shoulders jerking with sobs she couldn’t suppress any longer. Matt knew she was crying, but he was rendered incapable of reaction by a memory that had started screaming through his brain when she mentioned her father—a vision of Philip Bancroft standing in his study, white-faced with rage: You think you’re tough, Farrell, but you don’t even know what tough is yet, I’ll stop at nothing to get Meredith free of you! After that tirade, after Bancroft’s rage was spent, he’d asked Matt if they could try to get along for Meredith’s sake. Bancroft had seemed sincere. He’d seemed to accept the marriage, albeit reluctantly. But had he really, Matt wondered now. I’ll stop at nothing to get Meredith free of you . . .

Meredith raised her eyes to his then, wounded blue-green eyes. In a state of paralyzed uncertainty, Matt looked into those eyes, and what he saw nearly sent him to his knees: They were filled with tears and pleading. And truth. Naked, soul-destroying, unbearable truth. “Matt,” she whispered achingly, “we—we had a baby girl.”

“Oh, my God! he groaned, and he yanked her into his arms. “Oh, God!”

Meredith clung to him, her wet cheek pressed against his shirt, unable to stop the outpouring of grief and sorrow, now that she was in his arms. “I—I named her Elizabeth for your mother.”

Matt scarcely heard her;his entire being was tormented with the image of Meredith, lying alone in a hospital room, waiting in vain for him. “Please, no,” he pleaded with fate, clasping her tighter to him, rubbing his jaw against her hair. “Please no.”

“I couldn’t go to her funeral,” she whispered hoarsely, “because I was so sick. My father said he went… you d-don’t think he lied about that too, do you?”

The agony Matt felt when she mentioned a funeral and being sick almost doubled him over. “Oh, Christ!” he groaned, holding her tighter, running his hands over her back and shoulders, helplessly trying to heal the hurt he had unwittingly caused her years before. She lifted her tear-drenched face to his and begged him for reassurance: “I told him to be sure Elizabeth had dozens of flowers at her funeral. I told him they had to be pink roses. You … you don’t think he lied to me when he said he sent them?”

“He sent them!” Matt promised her fiercely. “I’m sure he did.”

“I couldn’t—couldn’t bear it if she didn’t have any flowers …”

“Oh, please, darling,” Matt whispered brokenly. “Please don’t. No more.”

Through the haze of her own sorrow and relief, Meredith heard the anguish clogging his voice, saw the ravaged sorrow on his face, and tenderness poured through her, its sweetness filling her heart until she ached with it. “Don’t cry,” she whispered, her own tears falling unchecked as she reached up and laid her fingers on his hard cheek. “It’s all over now. Your father told me the truth. That’s why I came here, you see … I had to tell you what really happened. I had to ask you to forgive me—”

Leaning his head back, Matt closed his eyes and swallowed, trying to clear the painful lump of emotion that was clogging his throat. “Forgive you?” he repeated in a ragged whisper. “For what?”

“For hating you all these years.”

He forced his eyes to open and he looked down at her beautiful face. “You couldn’t possibly have hated me as much as I hate myself at this moment.”

Meredith’s heart lurched at the naked remorse in his eyes; he’d always seemed so completely invulnerable that she’d thought him incapable of deep feeling. Or perhaps her judgment had been clouded by her youth and inexperience. But whatever the case, she thought nothing of trying to comfort him now.

“It’s over. Don’t think about it,” she said softly, leaning her face against the hard wall of his chest, but it was a hopeless suggestion because in the silence before he spoke again, that was all either of them could think about. “Were you in much pain when it happened?” he said finally.

Meredith started to ask him again not to think of it, but she realized in some part of her mind that he was asking her to share with him now the things that would have been his right to share with her long ago. At the same time, he was offering her the belated chance to turn to him for the comfort that she’d needed from him. And Meredith slowly realized that she wanted that, even now. Standing in the circle of his arms, she felt the slow, soothing strokes of his hand against her nape and shoulders, and suddenly she wasn’t twenty-nine anymore; she was eighteen, and he was twenty-six, and she was in love with him. He was strength and security and hope. “I was sleeping when it started,” she began. “Something woke me up —I felt strange, and I turned on the lamp. When I looked down, the blankets were soaked with my blood. I screamed.” She stopped, and then made herself continue. “Mrs. Ellis had just come back from Florida that day. She heard me and woke up my father and someone called an ambulance. The pains started coming, and I begged my father to try to call you, and the paramedics arrived. I remember them carrying me out of the house on a stretcher, and they were running. And I remember the sound of the siren screaming and screaming and screaming in the night. I tried to cover my ears to block out the sound, but they were giving me an injection and the paramedic held my arms down.” Meredith drew a shuddering breath, not sure she could go on without starting to cry, but Matt’s hand was drifting down her spine, holding her pressed against the solid strength of his body, and she found the courage to finish.

“The next thing I remember was the sound of a machine beeping, and when I opened my eyes, I was lying in a hospital bed with all sorts of plastic tubes attached to me and a machine monitoring my heartbeats. It was daylight, and a nurse was there, but when I tried to ask her about our baby, she patted my hand and told me not to worry. I asked her if I could see you, and she said you weren’t there yet. When I opened my eyes again, it was night and there were doctors and nurses all around the bed. I asked them about the baby, too, and they said my doctor was on his way and everything was going to be just fine. I knew they were lying to me. So I asked—no,” she amended with a sad smile as she tipped her head back and looked at him, “I ordered them to let you come in because I knew they wouldn’t dare lie to you.”

He tried to smile back at her but it didn’t reach his tormented gray eyes, and she laid her cheek against his chest. “They told me you weren’t there, but that my father was, and then my doctor arrived, and my father came in, and everyone else left the room….”

Meredith stopped, cringing from the memory of what came next. As if Matt sensed what she was feeling, he laid his hand against her cheek, pressing her face to the rhythmic beating of his heart. “Tell me,” he whispered, his deep voice ragged with tenderness and sorrow. “I’m here, and it can’t hurt as much this time.”

Meredith took his word for it, her hands sliding up his chest to his shoulders, instinctively clutching them for support, but fresh tears were flooding her eyes and clogging her voice. “Dr. Arledge told me that we’d had a baby girl, and that everything humanly possible had been done to save her, but they couldn’t because—because she was too little.” Tears raced down her cheeks. “Too little!” she repeated on a heartbroken sob. “I thought baby girls were supposed to be little. Little is such a—a pretty word … so feminine…”

She felt Matt’s fingers digging into her back, and somehow the suppressed force of his reaction gave her strength. Drawing a long breath, she finished, “Because she was so little, she couldn’t breathe properly. Dr. Arledge asked me what I wanted to do, and when I realized he was asking me if I wanted her to have a name and a—a funeral, I started begging him to let me see you. My father was furious at him for upsetting me, and he told me he’d sent you a telegram, but that you weren’t there. Dr. Arledge said I couldn’t wait for days to make these decisions. And so I—I decided,” Meredith concluded brokenly. “I named her Elizabeth because I thought you would like that, and I told my father I wanted her to have dozens and dozens of pink roses. And I said I wanted all the cards to be from us and to say, ‘We loved you.’”

Matt’s voice was raw. “Thank you,” he whispered, and she suddenly realized the wetness on her cheek was not only from her tears, but also his.

“And then I waited,” she told him with a ragged sigh. “I waited for you to come, because I thought that somehow, if you were there, everything would start to be better.” Within moments after she finished, Meredith felt a sense of relief, of calm sweeping over her.

When Matt finally spoke, he, too, had gotten control of his emotions. “Your father’s telegram reached me three days after he sent it. It said that you’d had an abortion, and that you wanted nothing more from me except a divorce, which you were already instituting. I flew home anyway, and one of your maids told me where you were, but when I got to the hospital, they informed me you’d specifically said you didn’t want me allowed up to see you. I went back the next day with some half-formed plan of getting past the security guards at the desk of the Bancroft Wing, but I never got that far. A cop was waiting at the doors to serve me with a signed court injunction that made it a criminal act for me to go near you.”

“And all that time,” she whispered, “I was in there, waiting for you.”

“I promise you,” he said tightly, “that if I’d thought there was a chance you wanted to see me, no court order, no force on this earth, would have stopped me from getting to you!”

She tried to reassure him with a simple truth: “You couldn’t have helped me.”

His body seemed to stiffen. “I couldn’t?”

She shook her head. “Everything medically possible was already being done for me, just as it had been for Elizabeth. There wasn’t anything you could have done to help.” Meredith was so relieved to have the truth out in the open at last that she abandoned her pride and took it one step further. “You see, despite what I had put on the cards with the roses, I knew in my heart how you really felt about the baby—and about me.”

“Tell me,” he said gruffly, “how did I really feel?”

Surprised by the sudden terseness in his tone, Meredith tipped her head back. With a soft smile to prove she meant no criticism, she said, “The answer to that is as obvious now as it was then: You were stuck with both of us. You slept one time with a silly eighteen-year-old virgin who did her best to seduce you, and who didn’t have sense enough to use birth control, and look what happened.”

“What happened, Meredith?” he demanded.

“What happened? You know what happened. I came looking for you to give you the glad news, and you did the noble thing—you married a girl you didn’t want.”

“Didn’t want?” he exploded, his harsh voice in complete opposition to the poignancy of his words. “I’ve wanted you every day of my godforsaken life.”

Meredith stared at him, mesmerized, doubtful, joyous, shattered.

“And you were wrong about something else too,” he said, his expression gentling as he framed her tear-streaked face between his palms, his fingers brushing the wetness away. “If I’d been able to see you in the hospital, I could have helped.”

Her voice dropped to a shaken whisper. “How?”

“Like this,” he said, and still cradling her face, he bent his head and brushed his lips over hers. The exquisite tenderness of his kiss, the caressing way his fingers slid over her face, destroyed Meredith’s defenses completely, and fresh tears welled up just when she thought she had cried them all. “And like this—” His mouth slid to the corners of her eyes, and she felt the touch of his tongue on her tears. “I’d have taken you home from the hospital with me, and held you in my arms—like this—” he promised achingly, drawing her against his full length, his breath against her ear sending shivers down her spine.

“When you were well enough, we’d have made love, and later, when you wanted me to, I’d have given you another baby—” He didn’t say “like this,” but when he shifted her backward onto the bed and followed her down, Meredith knew that was what he meant.

Meredith chickens out after that and is adamant that she loves Parker and will marry him.

Come on woman, you are not only being unjust with yourself, you’re shattering Matt’s heart into tiny pieces and I hate you for that. And Matt won’t let you go (I knew that beforehand).

Matt plans it all in a way that makes her think that he is simply avenging himself for all the hell he had been put through which is not true. With the passage of time she realises what she had always known. She Loves Matt. And cannot marry Parker. Parker is not left alone though. Our dear Lisa Pontini, Meredith’s best friend, has always been in love with him and is there to console him after his broken engagement.

Even after all this stupid Meredith finds it hard to trust her husband. I really wanted to kill her then. But she did develop a spine and told the board of Bancroft&Company to go to hell and that she would stood by her husband’s side.

And as he had promised, he gave her Paradise.

2 thoughts on “Paradise By Judith McNaught

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