Authors: Lauren Gallagher
Tags: #canada, #Torfino, #movie stars, #actress, #contemporary erotic romance, #erotic romance, #Hollywood
"If you're not comfortable, I'll understand." He paused. "But, you're welcome to stay here again tonight."
Simone's tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.
I shouldn't be doing this. I
shouldn't, but God, I want to
. Finally, she said, "I should probably bring a change of clothes with me if I do."
He smirked. "I don't know that you'll
them . . . ." She laughed in spite of the knot that tightened in her gut.
This is a bad idea.
Such a bad idea. She shouldn't. But she wanted to. Hell, in two more days, she would be back
in California, rested and ready to get back to normal . . . whatever that was. Then she could forget all of this. And no one would ever know.
Once she was safely away from Jason's house, Simone let the guilt come bubbling back up into the front of her mind.
Continuing with Jason was a mistake. A huge mistake. A fun, sexy, bed-shaking mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.
On the other hand, it was her private life. She was an adult. She had every right to enjoy some fun with another consenting adult in private. What business was it of anyone else if she decided to take a lover?
Of course, she was not a private person anymore: She existed in the merciless fishbowl of Hollywood, and her most intimate affairs were subject to the media's relentless exploitation. Sooner or later, this would get out. Someone was bound to catch on. And when they did, the fallout would not be pleasant.
Gregory had threatened to take her back to court and sue for full custody if she didn't get her act together. She knew he meant it; he could get over being humiliated in the papers, but he would not have his daughter subjected to seeing her mother's sexual irresponsibility flaunted all over the news again.
Her career rested on thin ice and her name was mud amongst producers and directors. Anne-Marie would probably end their business relationship, and likely their friendship as well. Simone owed it to them to get her head together and stop jumping into messy affairs. And Lord, did her affairs get messy.
Indeed, the last thing she needed was another lover to add to her reputation as a whore.
"Fuck," she muttered, rubbing her forehead. Three days in Tofino, and already she'd broken both of Anne-Marie's rules. Her shoulders slumped as her mind drifted back to the promises she'd made to herself the day she arrived.
No more alcohol.
No more flings.
No more throwing my career away.
I need to focus on my career, my daughter, and myself. And if that means sleeping
alone—for a while, then so be it.
I can do this.
"Shit." She sank into the chair beside the bed, rubbing her eyes. A week in Canada to clear her mind, straighten herself up and get some rest, and what does she do? Drink herself senseless, then hop into bed with a man she just met. All in the first two days.
She'd convinced herself the drinking was a mistake, and she'd put a stop to it. Now she needed to do the same with Jason. She needed to call it off, go back to L.A., and forget about him. The last thing she needed to do was spend another night tangled in the sheets with that amazing man and his hands and his tongue and—
"Stop it, Simone," she ordered herself.
She stared at the phone, debating whether or not to call him, to break things off now before they grew complicated. On the other hand, she'd only be there a few more days. She'd get him out of her system and be done with him. No one would ever know. What happens in Tofino, she told herself on the way out the door,
Jason sank into the leather chair at his desk. He glanced out the window to watch for Allyson's car, but she wasn't there yet.
For a long moment, he chewed his thumbnail and stared out the window, an uncomfortable tightness gnawing at his gut. Finally, he took a deep breath and opened the bottom desk drawer.
He stared at the framed picture, lying face down on a stack of file folders. Don't do this, he told himself.
Don't go there. Just don't
. But instead of listening to common sense, he grabbed the picture and set it on the desk, still face-down. With a growing knot in his gut, he gingerly turned the picture over.
It was a picture of him and Paula, smiling for the camera on the deck of the cruise ship that had taken them to Alaska.
On their honeymoon.
He clenched his jaw and slammed the photo onto the desk again. Christ. His illfated marriage had ended long ago, but the memory still hurt. He ran a hand through his hair and cursed under his breath.
He glanced at the driveway again. Allyson was due to arrive any minute. His fingers drummed the desktop.
This was a mistake.
He hadn't dated much since Paula. Hadn't had any inclination to. After everything he went through with her, he was more than content to be alone rather than risk that kind of heartache again.
But Allyson surprised him. She wanted him like he couldn't remember any woman ever wanting him, and she had awakened something in him that he thought was long dead.
But was it too soon?
He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Too soon for what? It was just sex. He wasn't in love with her. Was he? He barely knew her. A few conversations and a night of sex. The hottest sex he could remember, but it was
sex. He wasn't in love with her.
She'd be gone in a few days anyway. What was the harm?
Still, he couldn't help but wonder if it was too soon.
"Too soon hell," he muttered. It had been four years. If he wasn't over Paula now, he never would be. He stared at the facedown picture frame.
He couldn't go through that again. He couldn't deal with that kind of pain again. Then again, he had been in love with Paula, and he'd known her for more than a couple of days. He sighed.
It wasn't that he didn't think he could love again, he just wasn't sure if he could
again. He'd trusted Paula, and she'd taken advantage of that trust. He'd trusted her so much that when the penny finally dropped, he was the last to know. His stomach turned as he remembered the humiliation, the pain, the devastation. Was he really willing to put himself in that position again?
But this was just sex. A few days of mind-blowing sex, and then it would be over. No strings. No attachment. No heartache.
A flicker of movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he turned to see Allyson's car pulling into the driveway. His heart raced. Too late to reconsider, she was there.
He carefully put the picture back in the drawer, gave it one last look, then closed the drawer and went to greet Allyson.
Jason put a movie in the DVD player while Simone took a seat on the couch. He dimmed the lights, sat beside her, and put his arm around her shoulders. As he clicked the remote to start the movie, she pulled her feet onto the cushion next to her and sank against him. The soft leather creaked beneath her when she shifted, and it occurred to her then that the couch looked suspiciously like the one in the nude photo she saw earlier. She wondered what else had happened during that photo shoot, if Jason had done to the model what he did to her last night on this very couch. Her stomach tightened with an unexpected pang of jealousy.
Oh stop it, Simone
. What a ridiculous thought; whatever happened with that model, it was probably long before she met him, and she hardly owned him. Besides, he
was a professional. He probably made the model feel as comfortable and at ease as he made her feel,
sleeping with her.
Her loss, Simone thought, remembering everything he did to her last night. And afterward, in his bed. And during the night. And in the shower. Something tingled deep inside her, like the lingering aftershocks of an orgasm.
Definitely her loss
. Jason pulled her closer as the movie started. She slid her hand over his thigh, smiling to herself as his breath caught.
His fingertips drifted down her arm, drawing light circles on the inside of her elbow, making her shiver. He laughed softly.
, she thought. She turned to say something, but he met her with a brief kiss. A brief kiss that turned into a longer kiss. A longer kiss that melted into a deep, passionate embrace. His hand slid from her chin to the side of her neck, then into her hair, bringing a sigh from her lips.
"We're going to miss the movie," she murmured.
"What movie?" he said, and kissed her before she could say another word.
This is wrong. It's a mistake
. Her fingers ran through his soft, spiky hair.
But it'll be
over in a couple of days
. His hand drifted to her breast and cupped it through her shirt.
What's the harm
? He pulled her into his lap.
What happens in Tofino . . . .
He lifted her shirt over her head.
Stays in Tofino
Simone's last couple days in Tofino were a blur of sex and conversation, and before either of them knew it, she was leaving. They lingered beside the open door of her car in his driveway, stealing 'just one more kiss' a few dozen times. His hand rested on the small of her back, his other touching her face. "I'd love to see you again."
She swallowed. "Give me some time. I don't know when, but . . . I want to come back. Soon."
But hopefully the trip back to L.A. will give me enough time to convince myself
not to come back. I can't do this, Jason, I'm sorry
"You know where to find me," Jason said with a smile, his voice tinged with sadness.
"I have your number."
I can't promise anything. I shouldn't be doing this
. She kissed him again. "I'd better get going."
"I know," he whispered. He pulled her close and kissed her, a long, sweet kiss that weakened her knees.
You're not helping me forget you, she thought.
I could stay here forever
. At long last, she climbed in the car and started down the driveway, paying more attention to the rearview than the road until he was out of sight.
Jason watched until the car disappeared into the distance. As he started toward the house, that empty, sick feeling returned. He stopped and sat on the front steps, chewing his thumbnail and thinking.
He had no right to expect any more from her than what she'd given him—time and time again—over the last few days, but he couldn't shake the way he felt about her. He tried to tell himself it was physical attraction, that it was all sex. He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He wanted her again. Desperately. But he was afraid to see where this would go if she did come back, if he let it take the course it was tugging him down; he
going to fall in love with her. He couldn't. He didn't want to give her the chance to be Paula, to put him through that kind of grief again. Then again, he didn't know that he could stop himself.
Maybe she would forget him. Maybe she wouldn't call. Maybe she would stay away long enough for him to come to his senses.
"It's just sex. Nothing more."
He took a deep breath. He hoped he never saw her again. He hoped she turned that car around and came careening up the driveway and into his arms. He hoped she didn't call. He hoped she did.
"Fuck, Allyson," he muttered. "What are you doing to me?"
On the winding highway from Tofino to Victoria, Simone gave in to the guilt of what she had done and the dread of what lay ahead.
Everyone was waiting for her in L.A., expecting her to come back from Tofino refreshed, relaxed, and focused, ready to work and be a responsible adult and parent. The last thing she needed to do was come back lovesick and distracted. Love? No way. It was just sex. Just. Sex. Then why the knot in her stomach? The sick feeling that only got worse the farther she drove away from him? Why did she seriously consider turning around each time she approached a U-turn lane?
It was just
But "just sex" never kept her awake all night or took her breath away every time she looked at him. "Just sex" had never made her seriously consider calling Henry Wall and extending her vacation by another day—or another week—regardless of what it could do to her career.
"Shit." She didn't need this. There was too much at stake. She glanced at the wrinkled note sticking out of her purse, the first couple of digits of his phone number taunting her. She could end it now. Call him, tell him she couldn't do it. Or she could crumple up the note, throw it out the window, and leave it—and him—in the dust. Now, before she got too attached.
She snatched the note out of her purse and balled it up in her hand. She rolled down the window and gritted her teeth.
The crumpled piece of paper lay heavy in her palm. If she got rid of it now, she had no way to contact him again.
Do it now. Leave him behind. Forget about him and move
No more Jason. No more heart-stopping sex on his couch. No more losing herself in the masterful way his tongue circled her clit while his fingers beckoned one, two, three orgasms out of her.
She shouldn't. She couldn't. But resisting Jason was rapidly proving to be a much taller order than resisting any other man. With a frustrated sigh, she shoved the paper back into her purse and rolled up the window.
"What are you doing to me, Jason?"
The return to L.A. jarred her nerves more than she'd anticipated. The noise, the chaos, the traffic, the heavy air choked with smog. She barely recognized the place after just a week of breathing in the peaceful, clean air of Tofino. On the way to the studio that morning, she found herself longing to be back in Canada, for more reasons than just Jason. She hadn't realized just how peaceful the place was until she came back here. Then again, what could be more peaceful than an afternoon of lazy sex in a secluded cabin?
"Stop it, Simone."
A feeling of dread rose within her as the throngs of paparazzi gathered outside the studio gates came into view. They parted just enough to let her pull through. Simone's skin crawled as camera shutters snapped and barking voices demanded answers about her whereabouts for the last few days.