He was getting nowhere this way. He tried a different tact. “What about your daughter?”
Marissa bristled and the hair tingled on the nape of her neck. She squeezed the doorknob tight as her stomach roiled. For some reason, she didn’t want to talk about Miranda like she usually did. Under normal circumstances, her bragging rights would have kicked in and she’d be singing her praises to anyone who would listen.
But not to this man.
“My daughter is of no concern of yours. I would like for you to leave now.”
To hell with it, he decided. He’d play his trump card and see what happened.
“I have a daughter, too. Her name is Cassidy. She’s seven years old, be eight in April. The 28th to be exact.”
Guthrie drew out his wallet and pulled the latest picture of Cassidy from the plastic sleeve he kept it in. He stared down at it a moment and smiled at the image of the daughter who could tie him up in knots and had him wrapped so tight around her little finger he’d never get loose, nor did he want to.
Marissa was shocked at the transformation of Guthrie’s features. Gone were the hard edged set of his mouth, the coarse lines that traversed his face, the glint of steel in his eyes. All this was replaced by an affec-tion that Marissa was hard pressed to believe that could even exist in the heart of the man who exuded cruelty from every pore in her opinion.
Marissa grasped the picture in her right hand that Guthrie held out to her. She frowned at the first glance. Then it dawned on her that a total stranger was carrying around a photo of her daughter in his wallet. What kind of pervert was he anyway?
“What the hell are you doing with a picture of my daughter?”
Guthrie gave Marissa a direct look. A knowing one that had her stomach ready to heave. Surely a man of his stature wouldn’t dare hurt a child?
“Ms. Harrington, the photo that you’re holding is a picture of my daughter, Cassidy.”
Marissa’s vision grew dark and she willed herself to hang on to the door to keep from ending up at Guthrie’s feet. She didn’t want to think about what he was suggesting. There was no hope for it, though, she felt herself begin to sway.
She needed to sit down but knew she’d never make the first step. She sucked in a breath but it didn’t seem to make a difference in the way she was feeling. She felt the last of the color drain from her face and knew without a doubt, she was going down.
She felt his arm surround her, even leaned on him a little as he helped her to the couch. She needed all the support she could get, even if it was him. She felt his hand on the back of her neck and he pressed it down between her knees.
“You’re pale as a ghost, Marissa. Keep your head down and I’ll get you a glass of water.”
She drew in ragged breaths as she heard the water running. Within minutes, he raised her head and touched her lips with the rim of the glass, urging her to drink.
“Is there anyone I can call? I don’t want to leave you like this.”
A thread of guilt pressed in on Guthrie as he realized her reaction was totally opposite of what he intended, of what he would’ve ever guessed. She’d gone stark white in a matter of seconds and nearly collapsed at his feet.
The image of his grandfather swam before his eyes and shame washed over him. He knew exactly what that old man would say about his behavior. Something about he was raised better than that, he was sure.
The water helped. Just the action of swallowing brought everything together again and Marissa’s guard went up at full speed. Her head began to clear and she could speak again. “I, uh, I have Nora. She’s my housekeeper. She’s out shopping but I’m fine now.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” she stated more firmly, anger taking hold now that her thought processes were beginning to function again. “I think you have some explaining to do, Mr. Cavanaugh. What kind of joke are you trying to pull? And for what reason?”
He took a gentler tact. For some reason, he didn’t want her to go through this experience again. He’d get his daughter, he decided but he’d opt out for a gentler way to bring her back into the fold of the Cavanaugh family where she belonged.
The silence lengthened as she waited for an answer. Not long on patience, she decided she didn’t have to wait for him to make up his mind. This was her house and she’d be damned if someone was going to intimidate her in her own house with a bunch of crap like this.
Marissa jumped up from the couch where she was sitting, frantic now to get rid of Guthrie Cavanaugh. She stepped briskly to the door, grabbed the knob and swung it wide with trembling hands.
“Get the hell out of my house, Mr. Cavanaugh. Don’t ever contact me again with this absurd nonsense!”
Guthrie turned in the doorway and studied Marissa’s features with cool indifference.
“Oh, you will hear from me again, Ms. Harrington, there’s not doubt about that. I just found out a few days ago that I have another daughter, a twin to my Cassidy. And I mean to have her. Rest assured, I will do anything it takes to get my daughter back. Anything. And if that means bringing you down in the process, believe me, I won’t think twice. One way or another, I will have my child.”