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Matt undressed as if everything was fine, as if he did not notice her rigid backbone, her silence, and her carefully cultivated brooding air. She turned and locked her dark eyes on his lighter ones.

She asked, “Where were you?”

Matt shrugged and said, “The gallery opening ran later than the owner thought. She really had to drag this one out. Some billionaire collector was perusing, and she needed to make a sale.”

He slid under the silken sheets of their bed, the fumes from his breath assaulting her nostrils. She had heard a dozen variations of his excuses for being out so late. Either he claimed he was at his art studio downtown, a new show opening, or chasing his muse.

All were veiled lies that he used to cover his meetings with his real muse.

She wondered why he even stayed with her, and why she stayed with him. Her heart cramped and pounded at the thought of his leaving her alone in this steel jungle.

She had nowhere else to go.

She turned back to admire the drumming rain, already defeated. With Matt, you could never quite get your hands on the slippery semblance of truth but she would perform the fruitless labor to ease her own heart. She had to at least try to defend herself against his constant assault of lies.

Abira said casually, “So this gallery opening was so fascinating that six hours flew by? Six hours in which you did not bother to contact me?”

Matt feigned a look of pain when she glanced back to gauge his reaction. “I’m sorry. But if you expect me to keep you in this luxury, I have to be seen at all these functions. The art world would leave me behind if I didn’t give my all.” He hiccuped low under his smugness and slid closer to her.

Abira whipped her head around to glare at him. No man kept her.

She arched a thin eyebrow and tried to stay calm. “I see. Yet you insist I not attend any of these important gallery openings. I am forever told that they are too dull.”

“They are very dull. The wine is mediocre and the company pretentious.”

Abira ground her toes into the lush carpet and willed her tone to be neutral. She said, “You went to Anthony's show, right?”

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