My Highland Mate

Page 25

A lump grew in her throat as resentment filled her. His rejection had changed her entire life course. How could he pretend nothing had happened?
“You rejected me,” she snapped, unable to hold her tongue for an instant longer. “I approached and informed you we were mates, but you spurned me.” Fury pumped through her as the memories swamped her.
He froze, his toothy smile stuck in place. His eyes bulged, and a wolfish growl scratched up his throat, emerging in clear agitation. She glowered when he continued to eye her as if she’d arrived from another planet.
“What? No comment?” Anita leaped to her feet and prowled across the clearing to ease the restless angst punching her mind, her body, her feline. She shot him a glare, shocked yet not surprised either by his non-reaction. He possessed a lot of his managing grandmother in him, or at least that was the way it appeared to her. Well, she refused to let anyone direct her ever again. She’d had that with Rory’s grandmother, her parents, and then her husband. Anita enjoyed her freedom and giving it up for an arsehole who’d suddenly decided they were mates was nowhere on her agenda.
“What are you talking about,” Rory demanded.
When she shot him a scowl, she spotted his knitted brows, his frown.
Rory rose and crossed the grass to reach her. “When did I reject you?”
“You didn’t even have the guts to face me, to speak to me. Instead, your grandmother hustled me from the castle, and a week later, we were moving south and my dad taking a job in England. Two weeks after that, I was a married woman and on my way to New Zealand.” The hot words spilled from her while she observed him through narrowed eyes.
He clasped her hand, and her traitorous heart flip-flopped. Her pulse quickened when his fingers tightened on hers. She tried to wrench free, but he held her fast.
“Please explain. When did this happen? My grandmother has never mentioned it.”
Anita’s eyes rounded. “You were there. Don’t tell me you weren’t because I spoke to you. It was dinner, and everyone was in the Grand Hall. When I told you of our mate status, you stared at me as if I were something nasty on the bottom of your shoe. Your grandmother took over and kicked me out. My parents lost their jobs.”
“Who were your parents?”
Anita gaped, momentarily speechless. At first, she thought he was kidding because how could he not recall the confrontation? But he didn’t laugh. He didn’t sneer or say the joke was on her. He genuinely didn’t remember the pivotal moment that had changed her entire life.
“Your parents?” he prodded.
“Ross and Blair Lennox. My father worked on the estate as a gillie, and my mother worked in the castle as the housekeeper.”
“Lennox. I remember them,” Rory said slowly, his brow furrowing. “They left to take up a new job.”
“Your grandmother forced us from the castle.” Anita wrenched her hand from his and stormed over to pick up her daypack. She compressed her lips and kept her nasty responses internalized when he remained silent. She shrugged into her pack and turned to him. “I’m returning to the gathering.” With that, she stomped from the clearing and strode along the path that led back to the castle.
A woman could only take so much rejection.