Authors: Lauren Gallagher
Tags: #canada, #Torfino, #movie stars, #actress, #contemporary erotic romance, #erotic romance, #Hollywood
"Are you sick?" Cecily's huge blue eyes were round with worry in the rearview.
Yeah, you could say that
. "No, baby." She smiled again. "You're going to have a great time at Daddy's this week. He's already said he's got big plans." Cecily's eyes brightened, but her mouth was still tight with worry. Simone tore her gaze away from the rearview and watched the road. Poor baby, she thought. Cecily had been through enough with the divorce, with her father's
remarriage, everything. The last thing she needed was to be caught in the middle of her mother's self-destruction again. And maybe this time it was different. Maybe seeing Jason would be good for Simone, would help her get back on track. Just like every man before him, of course.
"Stop it," Simone muttered to herself.
She pulled in to the curving driveway in front of Gregory's palatial home and parked beside the elaborate fountain. Cecily leapt out of the car and ran for the door. Simone followed, her legs heavy, dreading the look she knew Gregory would give her. She could already feel the tension between them. No wonder she always dreaded talking to him, especially when she left Cecily with him during the weeks when she was supposed to have custody.
Rita, the housekeeper, ushered them in. Gregory stepped out of the living room and swept Cecily up in his arms. She squealed with delight, and Simone couldn't help but smile. She missed watching them together.
After he greeted Cecily, Gregory looked at Simone. His smile fell. He turned to his daughter. "Cecily, dear, why don't you follow Rita into the kitchen? I'm told there are cookies baking in there somewhere."
Rita took Cecily's hand, and together they skipped out of the foyer. Simone and Gregory faced each other, the silence between them echoing in the white marble hallway.
"What's going on, Simone?" he asked finally.
Simone swallowed. "I just need some time away."
Gregory raised an eyebrow. "Again?"
I doubt this will be the last time
"What's going on?"
I'm having the most incredible sex of my life and I need more before I come completely
. "I'd rather not discuss it."
He eyed her. She tried to look him in the eye, but the intensity of his stare caused a thick knot of guilt to coil in her stomach.
"Simone, is everything all right?"
"I just need some time to myself."
With Jason. In his bed. Oh my God, tomorrow can't
get here soon enough, I need—
"And it can't wait until next week?"
It can barely wait until tomorrow, Gregory. Trust me
. "It's only for a few days."
days." Gregory glanced down the hall in the direction Rita had taken Cecily. "You can't just keep avoiding her."
Stung, Simone dropped her eyes. "I know. I promise, I'm getting things together."
Right. Of course I am
"I hope so."
The condescension in his voice set her teeth on edge, but she dared not show it. That was one of the things she'd always hated about him. He was sometimes more like a father than a husband, and even now, treated her like a child. "I'll be fine."
"If you need anything—"
"I can take care of myself." The words were sharper than she anticipated, but she didn't apologize.
"I know you can," he said, with just enough venom to let her know he was
aware that she didn't need him.
"I'm sorry," she said then. "I didn't mean—"
"I know. I didn't either. Look, just take care of yourself, okay?"
"Where will you be?"
She hesitated. "Canada."
Gregory raised an eyebrow again. "Canada?"
"At a friend's cabin, just like last time."
A different friend this time. One who will be
doing—Stop it, Simone
. She quickly added, "
." He pursed his lips. "And if I need to reach you?"
"You have my cell."
"Am I going to see you in the tabloids again?"
Simone glared at him. "No."
Not as long as I'm safely hidden from the world in Jason's
bed. Oh my God I can't get there soon enough.
Gregory pursed his lips. "And you'll be back when?"
He set his jaw.
She clenched her teeth. Finally, she exhaled and said, "I'll be back in a few days. In time to pick her up for my week."
For a long moment, they looked at each other, but neither spoke. Then she said, "I'd better go."
He nodded and showed her to the door. As she started down the steps, he touched her arm and said, "Take care of yourself, Simone. I worry about you." She shrugged out of his grasp and kept walking, hoping he didn't hear the doubt and self-loathing in her voice. "I'll be fine."
On the drive home, Simone thought about Gregory.
He must hate me
. And why shouldn't he? She'd put him through hell for the past few years and she wasn't exactly up for any Mother of the Year awards right then. He must have thought she was immature and irresponsible, and he'd be right. When they first married, everyone they knew cautioned them about the twenty year age gap between them, but Gregory and Simone had insisted they were in love, and that was all that mattered. Looking back, it wasn't the twenty years between them that killed the marriage; she was hardly more mature now at twenty-eight than she was at barely twenty. Gregory's new wife was two years younger than Simone, and she had a good head on her shoulders. Those two were soulmates if Simone had ever seen any, and she envied them for the happiness they shared.
As Simone's marriage to Gregory nosedived toward divorce, she found what she thought she needed elsewhere. Maybe she would have gotten away with cheating on him if they hadn't been such public figures. But the paparazzi had their ways of discovering things, and when they did, the resulting photos adorned every tabloid,
magazine, gossip column, and news site. The scandal, so close on the heels of her two film flops, nearly destroyed what was left of her career.
Her cheeks burned at the memory. Even now, three years later, she couldn't escape her past. Whenever her name was mentioned—whether because of her new movie, or because of some other boy toy she'd been busted with—the reporters were sure to mention she'd cheated on Gregory and destroyed their marriage and every relationship she'd had since.
Her thoughts drifted to Jason. She wondered what would happen with him, but really, how could it be any different? She'd been down this road before. Different names, different cities, same outcome.
This is going to turn out the same way it always does, she thought. But still, she couldn't resist going to see him just
more time. She physically ached for his touch, craved him in ways she'd never craved anything before. Nothing in a bottle had ever had this kind of hold on her, and she'd certainly never wanted a man like this. She hadn't touched a drop of alcohol since she returned to L.A. Simone Farrell had a new addiction.
That night, as Simone packed for her trip, the phone rang, startling her out of a daydream about Jason. She glanced at the caller ID, and scowled when her sister's name appeared on the LCD screen. Bad enough being roused from a sexy fantasy about Jason, but to add insult to injury, it just had to be her sister calling. She debated letting it kick over to voice mail, but knowing Carolyn, she'd leave voice messages every ten minutes until Simone answered.
She took a deep breath, and answered. "Hi, Carolyn."
"Hey. What's up?"
"Not much." She gritted her teeth.
Just getting the hell out of town and not really
wanting to talk to you
"I have tomorrow afternoon off. Do you want to grab lunch?"
"I can't, I'm—" She hesitated. Did she really want Carolyn to know?
"What?" Carolyn's voice hardened. "You're not going out partying again this weekend, are you?"
"No, I'm . . . ."
A party for two, maybe
. She bit her lip. "I'm going out of town."
"Please. You never travel alone."
"I am this weekend."
I'm not traveling
him. I'm traveling
him. And I can't get
there fast enough
"What's going on, Simone?" Carolyn demanded. "You just came back from a trip."
And I don't need to explain myself to you, dear
. "I know; I'm just taking a vacation."
"I see." Bitterness tinged her voice.
Simone rolled her eyes. Carolyn was more than a little jealous of her success and wealth, no matter how rocky the last few years had been for Simone. Going on vacation on a moment's notice was a luxury Carolyn couldn't afford, and clearly anyone who
afford to do such a thing couldn't possibly be stressed enough to
to. If you only knew, Simone thought, but she didn't tell Carolyn
she was going out of town. She rubbed her forehead and changed the subject back to lunch. "We can get together when I get back. I'll be home in a few days."
Carolyn huffed. "Well, I work on Thursday and Friday. Saturday, then?" Simone hesitated. Just what she needed after a few days of decompressing with Jason: lunch with Carolyn. Talk about counterproductive. She sighed. "Sure. Fine. The usual place and time?"
"Bernelli's at eleven."
"I'll be there."
They hung up and Simone sat on the bed. Christ, did everyone need to know every goddamned detail of her life? Gregory pried, Anne-Marie demanded every detail,
Carolyn never backed down until she knew every last tidbit, and, of course, the press had their ways of digging. But her relationship with Carolyn was strained, as it had been for many years. Only in the three years since Simone's divorce had she and her sister begun really speaking again, mostly because of concerted efforts on Simone's part. Carolyn was bitter that her own acting dreams were cut short before they started, and watching Simone live out that dream was enough to drive them apart. But still she pried. It was like a race with the press to find out what was going on in her life, whether for her own vindictive satisfaction or to be the first to put it in print. Simone was as loathe to share her personal life with Carolyn as she was with the press. The only one who didn't pry into her personal life was Jason, simply because he had no idea who she was. As far as he was concerned, she was probably little more than a booty call, and that was fine with her. He also lived a million miles from anywhere, hidden in a place where she could escape her notoriety and pretend Simone Farrell, the
'Movie Star', didn't exist.
Simone shoved another shirt into her bag. More than ever, the idea of being in the middle of nowhere, away from anyone and everyone except Jason—
Jason—made her salivate. Her mind wandered back into the fantasy Carolyn had interrupted earlier.
Jason drummed his fingers on the counter. He glanced at the clock above the stove. Seven thirty-two.
An eternity passed.
He looked at it again.
"Jesus Christ." He picked up his drink and took a sip, grimacing as the Jack Daniels burned its way down. Anything to calm his nerves at this point.
He wasn't nervous, per se, just anxious. She'd be there any minute. Any minute. His fingers drummed the countertop again. It hadn't even been two weeks, but it may as well have been years since he'd seen her. He needed her. Craved her. Ached for her. He wondered if this was what a drug addict felt like after jonesing for a hit and finally being so close, so fucking close, to getting that fix. She may as well have been a drug, for all the sleep and sanity he'd lost since she went back to her own world. He glanced at the clock again.
He groaned as he let his head fall back against the cabinet.
Simone tapped her thumbs on the steering wheel. "Come on, come on, come on," she muttered at the highway that just refused to pass by fast enough. Her headlights washed over a faded sign.
She gritted her teeth. Less than half an hour to go—and she accelerated to shave a couple of precious minutes off even that—but still long enough to drive her insane. Shifting in her seat, she cursed under her breath. The week leading up to this trip had been difficult enough. The flight from L.A. to Victoria was excruciating. But this drive, the homestretch before she was in his arms again, was maddening. Less than half an hour and she'd see him again. Her mouth watered in anticipation of his kiss, of the taste of his skin. Little pulses of lightning radiated from her clit as if his tongue was already working its magic.
Less than half an hour.
Less than half an hour.
She glanced at the clock.
A tremor rippled through her and her foot pressed harder on the accelerator.
Jason swallowed the last of the Jack Daniels in his glass and put the bottle away. It hadn't done a damned thing to settle his nerves, but he didn't dare drink too much. Not with everything he needed to do to her as soon as she walked through that door. Though, as horny as he was, he could probably have polished off the entire bottle and still gotten a hard-on.
But still, no more. There was no way he was taking a chance that he wouldn't be able to remember every last detail.
Thinking about her was only going to make the wait that much worse, but he couldn't get her out of his mind. That smoldering kiss on the pier. The first time he fucked her on the couch. His mouth watered at the memory of the way she tasted, the way she tightened around him when she climaxed.
He closed his eyes and exhaled.
In his mind, he went back to that first incredible night together. Waking up in the middle of the night. Holding her. Kissing her. Almost unconsciously, his fingers bent against the counter, moving the way they had when he slid his fingers in and out of her while she came against him.