Authors: Lauren Gallagher
Tags: #canada, #Torfino, #movie stars, #actress, #contemporary erotic romance, #erotic romance, #Hollywood
"Whatever," Simone said with a laugh.
"So are you in love with him or not?"
At this, Simone balked. She was delighted to be talking to her sister like this again, but she wasn't sure how
she trusted her. "No, it's nothing like that." Carolyn eyed her skeptically. "So Mr. Dreamy is just an international booty call?"
No, I actually do have feelings for him, feelings I can't even begin to understand, but I'm
not quite ready to admit that to him, let alone to you
. Simone shrugged. "Basically." They laughed aloud. It felt good to laugh with her sister again.
"So what does he look like? You don't have a picture, do you?"
"No picture. But he's absolutely gorgeous." She took a quick drink before gesturing wildly with her glass. "And, oh the horrors, he's got
." Carolyn snorted. "What is he, some kind of biker? A rocker?"
"No, he's not a biker." She paused to think about Jason's incredible body, all the things he did to her, that mesmerizing way he looked at her like she was the only woman on the planet. "He's . . . just trust me, he's gorgeous."
"Where did you find him, anyway?"
"Canada. I already told you that."
Carolyn gestured with her wine glass and gave an exasperated sigh. "I may have failed high school geography, but last I checked, Canada's a pretty big place." She pointed at Simone, raising that accusing eyebrow again. "And not one that
go sauntering off to every chance you get."
"My agent sent me up to her cabin in Tofino," Simone said casually. Instantly she regretted it, wishing she could take back the words.
Too much! Damn it
! "I, uh, I met him on my way back. When I was in Victoria."
Good save . . . idiot
"Well, if he's that incredible, I can see why you've been so much more relaxed."
"Everyone's been saying that, that I seem more relaxed."
"You are. Definitely. My God, Simone, you're usually a ball of nerves."
like a ball of nerves right now."
"Are you sure you aren't in love with him?"
No, I'm not sure at all. In fact, I'm beginning to think I might just be in love with him,
but you don't need to know that right now, thank you very much
. "I'm not in love with him."
Jason absently fingered the stem of his champagne flute. All around him, voices buzzed and cameras flashed, but his mind was a thousand miles away. One more day. One more day and she would be back in his arms. He chewed his lip nervously. An elbow nudged his arm. "You look like you need more to drink." Before Jason could object, Sean topped off his champagne. His brother eyed him. "What is wrong with you tonight? Are you going for the 'brooding, depressed artist' look, or what?"
Depressed? Oh my God, brother, that's the farthest thing from the truth. Nervous.
Scared to death. Confused. Horny. But not depressed
. Jason shook his head and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "No, no, I'm just—"
Sean raised an eyebrow and watched Jason over the rim of his own drink.
"Someplace else, that's what. What's going on?"
"Just . . . ." Jason hesitated. He shook his head. "Just thinking." Sean rolled his eyes and gestured at the crowded gallery. "Save your thinking for tomorrow's hangover. We've been working on this for months; it's time to celebrate a bit."
Jason took a sip and looked around. Dozens of people swarmed around the prints on the wall, discussing composition and lighting. Sean was right; they had been working toward opening this new gallery for a long time. It was a huge step for their business.
But all he could think about was Allyson. Of the afternoon on the island, watching her disrobe one button at a time, posing for his camera, the way the sunbeams off the water danced in the shadows of her cleavage, the—
"Jason, Jesus Christ," Sean said, waving a hand in front of his face. Jason shook his head to snap out of it. "Sorry."
"Seriously, man, what is wrong with you? I've
seen you like this, least of all at a gallery opening."
"Who says it's a person?"
Sean rolled his eyes. "I doubt it's a Cuisinart." He shook his head and laughed.
"Whoever this mystery woman is, she's got quite the hold on you."
You have no idea
. Jason cleared his throat and changed the subject. "Why don't we mingle with our guests?"
Sean clapped Jason on the shoulder, but didn't press for more details. Together they joined the guests gathered in front of framed prints of the brothers' work. Eventually, Jason managed to focus on the prints, discussing their art, their various projects in progress. The director of a prestigious gallery in New York City dropped more than a few hints about showcasing some of their work. Sean paused to discuss specifics with him, but Jason, confident his brother had everything under control as always, continued mingling with the crowd.
"Mr. Connor? Leo Carson." A gentleman with an Irish accent shook Jason's hand. He nodded toward a series of three black and white seascapes along one wall. "That's a limited edition, right?"
Jason nodded. "One hundred prints of each."
Carson nodded, taking a sip of his drink and rolling it around in his mouth for a second. "I'll be orderin' a few for my office. Probably my home as well." His eyes flicked toward the prints, then back at Jason. "I assume you'll ship to the UK?"
Jason sipped his champagne. "You'll have to check with my brother on that one." He gestured with his chin toward Sean, who was engrossed in another conversation, and shrugged. "I just take the pictures."
The Irishman laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "Sounds like a dream job." He lifted an eyebrow. "Christ, if I had a job like that, I think I'd be pointin' my camera at somewhat . . . ." He paused, watched a busty brunette walk by, before he looked back at Jason. "
Jason swallowed hard.
If you only knew
. He smiled, trying to stay professional.
"I've been known to do some portrait work."
Leo eyed him, then shook his head and laughed. "Lucky bastard; bet the ladies love a man with a camera."
And the camera loves a certain lady in particular, now that you mention it
. "It's a living," Jason said.
Leo laughed again and excused himself to go talk to Sean.
A woman grabbed Jason's arm and gestured toward another print. "Mr. Connor, this is exquisite. Where was it taken?"
Jason paused to look at the picture in question. A chill trickled down his spine. It was the crescent-shaped island, his favorite place in the world. It was practically sacred to him, a place of solitude and peace, that he had always gone to alone until Allyson came along. And now that she had been there with him, it was even more sacred to him.
He looked at the woman. "It's—" Did he really want anyone to know where it was? On the off chance they could find it and tread on the beach where he'd spent such an intimate, perfect day with Allyson? He took a breath. "It's off Vancouver Island. Somewhere." He gestured dismissively with his champagne glass. "I don't think I could find it again if I tried."
"It's lovely, Mr. Connor. Absolutely lovely."
"Thank you," Jason said. The woman and her companions moved on, leaving Jason staring at the print. He took a sip of champagne, barely tasting it.
He stared at the island, remembering. Something in him stirred. Yes, that was where it had happened. On that beach. Somewhere during that shoot—as he watched her through his camera lens, watched her take off layers of clothing and inhibitions to pose nude for him in spite of all her fears and insecurities, until they just couldn't wait anymore and had to be in each other's arms—at some point something in him had shifted. Sometime between the moment when her fingers released the first button of her shirt and the moment when he'd called out her name in the throes of a breathtaking orgasm, he had fallen in love with her. Completely, totally, undeniably, irreparably, in love with her. A hand grasped his wrist. "I leave you alone for five minutes and now you're a shaking mess." Sean eyed him. "Are you
you're okay?" Jason looked down and realized his hand had begun to shake. He glanced back at the photo of the island, then at his brother. "I'm fine." Sean didn't look convinced. "I'm beginning to wonder." He glanced at the print.
"You've never been one to get emotional over a damned landscape, for Christ's sake."
Oh, you have no idea, Sean. You just don't even know
. He took another sip of champagne.
Sean rolled his eyes and shook his head. He tugged on Jason's upper arm. "Come on, we've got some buyers that want to talk to both of us." Jason took one last lingering look at the island. He wanted to go back there, wanted to be there again with her. Without her there, the island was just a strip of sand and rocks in the middle of a narrow strait. Whatever was so sacred about it before paled in comparison to what he felt now.
Yes, he had to take her there again.
He cast one last look at the island, and followed Sean.
Jason chewed his thumbnail and glanced out the kitchen window for Allyson's car. Any minute now, she'd be—
The ringing phone startled him.
"Christ," he muttered, reaching across the counter for the phone. Momentary panic flooded through him. What if it was her? What if she was cancelling again? No, she wouldn't have waited this long. Her flight had landed hours ago. What if she was in an accident?
He shook his head and answered the phone. "Jason Connor."
"Hey, bro." Sean's voice simultaneously aggravated him and made him release a relieved breath. It wasn't Allyson calling to give him bad news. But it also wasn't Allyson.
"What's up?" Jason asked.
"I was calling to ask you the same thing."
Dude, not now. Seriously
. "I, um, okay. What do you mean?" Sean snorted. Probably rolled his eyes. "What the hell was the matter with you at the opening the other night? I have never seen you like that before." Jason closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
I was completely distracted
by the woman I'm currently waiting on? I'm a lovesick idiot who can't see straight right now
"Man, I don't know. I guess I was just . . . ." He exhaled. "I have no idea."
"Right. I think I have a pretty good idea."
As do I. And she's on her way here right this second, so I'm lucky I can remember how to
. "Fair enough."
Silence. "You really are wrapped up in this girl, aren't you?"
"Something like that."
"Did you ever find out if she's married?"
Jason blew out a breath. "As far as I know, she's not."
"No angry husbands on your doorstep yet, then?"
"So far, so good."
"That's always a plus. You really don't want to fuck with an angry husband."
Jason scowled. "I'd rather not be on either side of that coin again, thank you." Pause. "Shit, sorry man, I didn't mean to go there."
"Honest mistake. Don't worry about it." Jason drummed his fingers on the counter. "Anyway, no, I don't think she's married."
"I'll take your word for it. But seriously, after the other night, I just wanted to make sure you hadn't gone off the deep end or something."
Maybe I have. In fact, I probably have. I am so far off the deep end with this woman, I
don't know which way is up
. "Yeah right, you just wanted to be the first to call Mum if I had."
Sean chuckled. "Okay, you got me."
His brother laughed. "Look, anyway, while I've got you on the phone, we made some great connections the other night. That gallery manager in New York is seriously considering showcasing some of our work. You might—"
"—hang on, hang on, you gotta hear this, Jason. Top of the line gallery, serious potential for money. I'll send you the details, but—"
"—and holy shit, that Irish guy? You should
the order he placed, he—"
"That girl? The one that's scrambling my brain?"
Sean laughed. "Later, bro."
"Later." Jason clicked off the phone and was halfway to the door before the receiver hit the counter.
Simone's heart fluttered when the front door opened and Jason came sprinting down the porch steps. By the time she was out of the car, she was in his arms. They kissed desperately, grasping hair and clothing and breathing each other in. On the agonizing, never-ending drive from Victoria, all she'd been able to think about was fucking him. She needed his cock inside her
. But now that she was in his arms, she just felt strangely . . .relieved. Relieved just to be touching him again. When they broke the kiss, neither moved to go in the house or remove clothing. They just pulled each other close and held each other.
"God, I missed you," he whispered, stroking her hair gently and kissing her forehead.
"I missed you too." More than ever, she realized her insatiable hunger for him wasn't just physical.
The hand stroking her hair went to her neck and he lifted her chin to meet his kiss. It was a long, tender kiss, but as his tongue gently parted her lips, he pulled her body closer. Her hands grasped his shirt tighter.
"Let's go inside," he said, breathless.
He took her hand and they hurried into the house. Down the hall. Into the bedroom. Though the hunger between them was palpable in the air, this went beyond anything she'd felt for him before. This went beyond getting just enough clothing out of the way to fuck on the nearest flat surface. This was the kind of unbridled passion that couldn't be contained in a wild fuck against the car or a quickie on the kitchen table. Simone shivered as they crossed the threshold into Jason's bedroom. Even before he kissed her, the intensity between them raised goosebumps on her arms. They undressed each other slowly, carefully. The only sounds between them were the whisper of clothing drifting over flesh and the occasional catch of breath when skin met skin. When there was nothing left between them but electrified air, Jason put his arms around her and kissed her, the gentleness of his mouth against hers reminding her of the way he'd kissed her the very first time on the pier, and she shivered.