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Authors: Terri L. Austin

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BOOK: His Every Need
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“That’s not true, Allie. I do care, and I could never replace your mother. Never.”

“May I say something?” Karen stood in the doorway, dressed in a skirt and blouse,
her glasses gone, her hair combed.

“No,” Allie all but snarled at her.

“Yes,” her dad said.

Karen stepped into the room. “It’s very normal to feel anger when a parent moves on.”

Seriously, a lecture about feelings? This strange woman stood her ass in Mom’s kitchen,
then had the nerve to talk about moving on?

Allie stared at the rooster clock and fought for calm. She pressed her shoulders down
and took a deep breath, held it for a couple of seconds, then turned back to the woman.
“Karen, if you don’t mind, I’d like a private conversation with my father?”

“She can say what she likes. This concerns her too.” Her dad suddenly looked down
at the burning pancake. “Shit.” He grabbed the pan, tossed it into the sink, then
reached over and flipped the stove switch.

“It doesn’t concern her, it concerns the family.”

“Allie’s right, Brian.” She walked toward him and kissed his cheek. “Call me later.”
She smiled at Allie. “It was nice meeting you.”

Allie remained silent until she heard the front door close. “You are unbelievable.
You’ve known this woman a week and suddenly she gets to pop off about our family?
What are you going to do about Monica? And Brynn? Or are you too busy sexing up your
girlfriend to worry about them?”

Ignoring the dig, he leaned against the counter and folded his arms. “What do you
want me to do about Monica? What can I do? And I was going to call you about Brynn
today. It’s time she came home.”

Allie shook her head. “Forget it. She’s not coming back if you’re letting that woman
sleep here.”

His expression closed down. “I’ll do what I like in my house, Allison. And Brynn is
my daughter. First, you want me to act like a father, then you veto my decisions.
And you’re right, it’s past time I started pulling my head out of my ass. Brynn comes
home today.”

“That’s before I knew you were having sex with
. Can’t you see how messed up that is?”

“This won’t happen when Brynn’s here. I want her home by tonight. She has school tomorrow.”


“It’s not open for discussion.” He gave her his back and hit the taps, filling the
sink with water.

Allie felt like she’d been sucker punched. She had done everything she could for him,
for their family. And now he was dismissing her.

She watched his tense movements for a moment as he scrubbed at the pan. When he refused
to look at her again, she left.


Trevor stood at the window, staring out at the garden. He had more than enough work
to keep him occupied, but he couldn’t maintain his concentration this morning. What
did she think of the car? Was she pleased? He didn’t know why she would be, it was
a piece of rubbish, and no matter much paint they applied, it was still an eyesore.

Allie knocked on the door and leaned into the room. “Sorry to bother you again.”

He turned to her and smiled. “No bother.” She looked worried. She always did after
a go-round with her family. They put too much on her, expected more than they should.
Her father seemed something of a cockup since Allie’s mother died, and it all fell
on her slender shoulders. “Want to take a walk?”

He held out his hand. As she moved forward, he watched the slight sway of her hips,
her pretty, long legs. Even her sandal-clad feet were lovely, the tips painted pale
pink to match her dress. He obviously needed to get laid. Badly.

She placed her hand in his, and they walked through the French doors and around the
side of the house toward the roses. “I take it things didn’t go well with your father?”
He wove his fingers with hers as they made their way to the stone path.

“How can you tell?”

He glanced down at her. “What happened?”

“He spent the night with Karen. She was still there this morning, barely dressed,
and he was making after-sex pancakes. He wants Brynn home today.”

He led her to a shaded bench. She sat next to him and blew out a breath. “Brynn doesn’t
want to go back. She doesn’t like Karen, and after seeing her wearing my father’s
T-shirt, I don’t like her either.”

“It’s where Brynn belongs, love. At home with your father.”

“What if she runs away again?”

Trevor slid his arm across the back of the bench and pressed her head to his shoulder.
She felt rather nice there. And her hair smelled fresh and citrusy. He rested his
cheek on top of it. “Well, I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. But you’ve talked
to your father, you’ve played mother to your sister, even though that’s not your job.
And you’ve attempted numerous times to save Monica from being an idiot.”

Allie lifted her head and glowered at him. “Thanks for the wrap-up. I know what I’ve
done, but none of that has worked. What am I supposed to do now?”

“How about nothing?” He stroked his thumb along her bare shoulder.

She placed her hand on his thigh and twisted her body toward him. “I’m not following.
What does that mean? I can’t just sit around and twiddle my thumbs.” When he opened
his mouth to speak, she pointed a finger at him. “And I don’t want to hear about twiddling
your dork.”

He scoffed. She knew him too well.

“Second of all, I can’t just do nothing. I’m not a do-nothing type of girl. I’m a
fix-it type of girl.”

Trevor nodded and gathered a handful of her hair. He ran his fingers down the length
of it, released it, and started the process all over again. “All right then. Fix it.”

“Yes, that’s what I’m talking about.” She patted his leg. “How?”

“First—and this is the important part, darling, so pay attention—you must have a proper
magic wand. Then, you wave it over your disgruntled family…”

She slapped his thigh. “You’ve got nothing? No ideas, no magic bullet, nada?”

“You see what a roaring success I’ve had with my own family.”

She pressed her lips together. “Point taken.”

“Maybe things will work themselves out.”

“Uh-huh. When was the last time that happened?”

“There’s always a first time for everything, love.”

With her mouth pulled to one side, she peered up at him. “By the way, thanks for my
car.” She leaned toward him and kissed his cheek.

“You’re welcome. And it’s still ugly.”

“This doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven you,” she said. “Not completely.”



Allie strolled back to the house. She needed to tell Brynn it was time to go home.
She left Trevor on the bench and a smile crept over her lips when she thought about
him sitting next to her, stroking her. He was always touching her, rubbing his hand
across her shoulder, twisting a strand of hair around his finger—very tactile, and
she liked that.

As she stepped into the hallway outside of Trevor’s office, she ran into Mags. “Is
he in a better mood or still shirty?”

“If shirty means cranky, then I think he’s better. He’s out in the garden.”

Mags’s brows lifted. “Really? Doesn’t he have important work to do?”

“I don’t know, but we spent the past thirty minutes outside.”

“Well done. Now, let’s reconvene in the foyer in twenty minutes. We have so much to

She sashayed toward the main part of the house. Allie shook her head and watched those
hips glide from side to side as Trevor’s mother walked away. Maybe Mags could teach
her how to do that. It was an art form.

Allie found Brynn in the kitchen, rolling pie crust with Mrs. Hubert. Hands on her
hips, the older woman watched Brynn’s movements with a critical eye.

“You need to build some muscles, girl. Put some elbow grease into it.”

Brynn stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth and pressed down, rolling the
dough, making it thinner.

“Brynn, can I talk to you for a second?” Allie asked.

Mrs. Hubert glanced up and nodded. “Go on now. We’ll make an omelet tomorrow.”

Brynn grinned and wiped her hands on a white dish towel. “’Kay, thanks.”

Allie followed Brynn out of the kitchen and into the foyer. “What’s up, Al?”

“Dad wants you home tonight.” Allie winced as Brynn stomped her foot.

“What? That’s not fair. I want to stay here.”

Well, Brynnie was certainly breaking out of her shell. She would have run to her room
and sulked a week ago. Today, she behaved like a toddler. Allie reached out to pat
her shoulder, but Brynn slapped her hand away.

“So Monica gets to stay here, but I have to go? Why? Why does she do the bad stuff
and I get punished? I’m making straight As, you know. Maybe I didn’t mention that?”

“You did mention it, and you’re not being punished, Brynn. You have to live at home
and go to school. Just like everyone else.”

“At least I go to school. What does Monica do all day? She’ll get to lounge around
by the pool and take tea with you and Trevor. I want to take tea.”

“There’ll be no tea taking, okay? I have a feeling Mon’s not going to be here for

Brynn shook her head. “This is so unfair.”

“I know, honey. If I could keep you here with me, I would.”

She frowned at Allie. “Really?”

Allie pulled her into a hug. “Really.” When she kissed the top of her sister’s head,
Brynn didn’t pull away this time. “Still want to go find a dress for the wedding?”

“Uh, yeah,” she mumbled against Allie’s shoulder.

“Mags wants to leave in twenty minutes.”

Brynn pulled out of Allie’s arms. “I need to go wash the flour off my hands.” She
spun on her heel and ran up the steps.

Chapter 17

“What about this one?” Brynn ran her hand over a silver metallic cocktail dress with
a plunging neckline.

“I think it’s amazing. If you were thirty.” Allie took the dress and hung it back
on the rack.

“Darlings, how about this?” Mags held up a red satin dress by the hanger. It was ruched
on one side and would barely cover Brynn’s underage butt.

“Absolutely not. That’s totally inappropriate. Brynn’s only fifteen, Mags.”

“No, sweetest, it’s for me.”

It was totally inappropriate for someone Mags’s age as well. Allie took the dress
and handed it to the hovering saleswoman. “We are shopping for Brynn today, not you.
You have bought approximately sixty-two dresses in the last few days.” Trying to keep
these two on track was next to impossible.

“You’re a spoilsport, Allison.” Mags jutted her lower lip.

“Yeah, I’m a real buzzkill. Now, let’s try to remember why we’re here, ladies. Brynn
needs a dress.” She turned and looked at her sister. “An age-appropriate dress, one
that hopefully will not break my bank account or get you arrested for indecent exposure.”

“Allison, my pet, don’t be ridiculous. You’re not paying.” Mags whisked up a glass
of sparkling cider from the tray. “Nigel is.”

Brynn grinned as she sipped from the champagne flute. “This is so cool. I want to
shop here all the time.”

Brynn was headed for a rough landing once she collided with reality. This wasn’t the
real world. This was like Disneyland for really rich British people or high rollers.
Eventually, she and Brynn would return to their normal lives. Their normal, Trevor-less
lives. Allie’s landing was going to be bumpy too.

Mags grabbed dresses left and right while Allie made herself comfortable in what was
becoming a very familiar chair. Then Mags thrust an armful of garments at the saleslady.
“Fashion show time. Try them all on, Brynn, my pet, and then come out so Allie and
I can see.”

A few minutes later when Brynn stepped out in a red halter dress, the realization
that her baby sister was almost grown hit Allie over the head. In a couple of years,
she’d be off to college, their dad would probably be remarried, and Monica would be
a jaded twentysomething. Where did Allie fit in?

“No, I don’t like the red. Allison?”

Allie reined in her thoughts. She stared at Brynn then scrunched her nose. “No, not
that one.”

“Next,” Mags said and sipped her sparkling cider. She winced slightly. “Not the same
as Dom, is it darling?”

“Thanks for doing all this, Mags. Brynn’s loving every minute of it. Sometimes she
gets lost in all of Monica’s drama.”

“Well, I never had any daughters of my own. Unless you count my three stepdaughters,
and I don’t. This is quite fun.”

A few hours later, Brynn had narrowed it down to four dresses—one deep blue, two black,
and one white. She lined them all up on a rack and with her hands on her hips, stared
at them. “What do you two think? I just can’t decide.”

Mags raised her brows. “No, it’s quite impossible. We should just get them all.”

“Mags, no,” Allie protested.

But she couldn’t be heard over Brynn’s whoop of excitement. The girl ran and threw
her arms around Mags’s shoulders. “Thank you so much.”

“No, Mags, it’s too much,” Allie said.

“Nonsense. I’ve decided to wear seven dresses on the big day. Four seems almost paltry.”
She smiled at the saleswoman. “Ring them up, dearest.” Then she walked to the front
of the store, leaving Allie and Brynn alone.

“I can’t believe I get four dresses.” Brynn grinned and took another sip of cider.
“I’m so excited.”

“And ready for your next dance. Or three.”

“She’s so nice, Allie. When you and Trevor get married—”

Allie held up her hand. “Whoa, what? Trevor and I aren’t getting married, Brynn. I
have no idea where you came up with that.”

“Sorry, Al. I didn’t mean anything.” Brynn looked a little wounded.

“No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. But Trevor and I aren’t a couple.”

“You guys live together. I know you don’t really work for him, Al.”

Allie scrambled to come up with something. “But I do. I’m his assistant.” It sounded
false to her ears, but she was sticking with it.

Brynn looked at the floor. “I’m not a little kid. You don’t need to keep lying to
me. It’s kind of insulting.” Pressing her hand to her stomach, she trailed after Mags.

Allie glanced up and saw her reflection in the three-way mirror. She was such a liar.
But how could she admit the truth when she could hardly look herself in the eye?

“Darling, come along,” Mags called from the front of the shop.

In the limo, Allie rode to the mansion in silence as Brynn and Mags chatted about
the wedding. Staring out the window, she watched the throngs of people walk along
the strip, mostly tourists with cameras and phones in hand, but some had the weary
air of crash-and-burn gamblers. She could relate. Being in debt to Trevor made her
feel like one of those desperate souls who risked their last chip on the roll of the
dice. And came up snake eyes.

“You’re very quiet, dearest.”

Allie pasted on her best customer service smile. “No, I’m fine. Now, we have to think
about shoes for Brynn.”

Mags slapped a hand over her chest. “How silly of me to have forgotten.” And she was
off, discussing the merits of various designer shoes.

Allie stared out the window once more.

As soon as they reached the house and stepped inside, Monica, who’d been gripping
the rail on the second floor, pounced on Allie. “Where have you been?” Her hair flew
back as she jogged down the stairs. “I’ve been waiting for you for like, hours.”

Mags patted Allie’s arm as she left the foyer.

“Hello to you too.” Allie glanced at Brynn. “Get your stuff together and I’ll run
you home.”

“Seriously, Al,” Monica said. “I need to talk to you.”

“So talk.” She watched Brynn meander toward the staircase.

Monica threw her hands up in the air. “My life is shit, Al.”

Yeah, this was familiar. Crisis time. She turned her attention to Mon. “Tell me what

“Never mind. You don’t care. You’re too busy hanging out with Mags.” She reached out
and tapped on the suit of armor, causing the hollow ring to fill the room. “This is
your life now.”

Allie’s well of patience had run dry. She’d spent the afternoon with two adolescents,
Brynn and Mags, and she’d had her fill. “I’m not going to beg you, Monica. Tell me
if you want, but if you don’t, I need to drive Brynn home.”

Monica’s brow rose. Usually, Allie would coax and cajole her sister into spilling
her guts. Then she’d try to fix it, give advice. Look how well that turned out. No,
this time, she was going to treat Monica like an adult. She was going to follow Trevor’s
advice and do nothing.

“Don’t you even care that I had a huge fight with Brad? You’re probably glad about
that. You never liked him and you don’t even know him.”

Allie’s eyes grew wide. “Why are you mad at me?”

Monica stepped toward her. “You live with Trevor now, so you don’t care about the
rest of us. You have designer clothes and go shopping all day with his mom. I heard
Frances say he fixed your car. You’re just fucking him so he’ll buy you shit. You’re
a gold digger.” She spun and ran up the stairs. A few seconds later, Allie heard a
door slam.

God, she wished her mom were here to deal with this. She sighed. No, that wasn’t true;
Allie wished her mom were still alive because she missed her so damn much.


Later that evening, when she stepped unnoticed into the drawing room, she was ten
minutes late. She caught Trevor checking his watch, a look of irritation on his face.
He probably just didn’t want to be alone with his parents one minute longer than he
had to.

Nigel, drink in hand, held court next to the fireplace. “Shot an eighty-two today,
Trev. I dare you to beat that score, Son. We should get a round in sometime this week.”

“I have a little habit I perform during the day. It’s called work.”

“Nonsense, dearest, you work too hard.” Mags sipped on something pink and, when she
lifted her head, noticed Allie. “Oh, tell him.” She waved Allie into the room. “Tell
my son he works too hard.”

Allie rubbed her hands along her silk-covered hips and walked toward them. She felt
like a fraud. She needed to remember she wasn’t here as a guest or as a part of the
family. She was the hired sex help. “Sorry, Mags, but it’s not my place to tell Trevor

He narrowed his eyes. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Let me get you a drink, Allison.” Nigel mixed up a cosmo and handed it to her.

Allie felt the weight of Trevor’s gaze as she sat on the sofa. “I don’t know if Monica
will be down. She was pretty upset this afternoon.”

“She’ll come around,” Mags said. “I’ll check on her later. By the way, rose is a very
lovely color on you, Allison. We’ll keep it in mind when we go shopping tomorrow.”

Allie felt her cheeks heat and took a deep, uncomfortable breath. “Okay.”
. She shouldn’t be shopping with Mags, making friends with his mother. When would
she get it through her head that this was all temporary? And as soon as Allie got
used to it, Trevor would get bored, and she’d be back in her North Las Vegas house
with its peeling paint and whiny refrigerator, wondering what happened.

Trevor stalked over to the sofa and sat down next to her, almost on top of her, completely
invading her space. She knew he didn’t like being ignored and would force her to acknowledge
him. He was so damn pushy. That’s one of the things she loved about him.

Who said anything about love? No, not loved—liked. One of the things she
about him.

“I thought you bought a dress already?” He stretched his arm along the back of the
sofa, his fingers skimming her shoulder.

She fought against pulling away from him—fought against resting her head on his shoulder,
the way she had earlier in the garden. “Mags decided against that one.”

“How was Brynn?” he asked, angling toward her, his face almost touching hers.

“She didn’t want to go home and was freely sharing that opinion about every two minutes.
But she and Dad had a long talk.”

His eyes swept over her face. “She’ll be all right, darling. What about you? Did you
and your father work things out?” The concern in his voice melted her heart.

“No.” The sting of betrayal was still strong where her father was concerned. But he
had promised Brynn that he’d move more slowly with Karen. Allie wondered what slowly
meant in his world, but she’d bit her tongue for Brynn’s sake.

Arnold stood in the doorway, as if he’d suddenly appeared. The man was one stealthy
butler. “Dinner is ready.”

Trevor took Allie’s arm and hauled her up next to him. Walking behind his parents,
he slowed his pace and, leaning down, whispered, “You’ve taken such good care of them,
darling.” He kissed the side of her head.

She glanced up at him, at his gorgeous eyes, his sometimes cruel mouth, which was
now tilted in a smile. Struck dumb, she faltered.

. She was in love with Trevor Blake. The realization ran through her, filling her
with panic.

Shit. When had this happened? And how did she make it stop?

Immediately, Trevor halted beside her. “What’s wrong, love? Are you ill?”

She blinked and tried to wipe what must be a horrified expression off her face. “No,
sorry. I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? You’re quite pale.”

“I’m fine.” She tugged at his arm, and they resumed walking to the dining room.

Allie didn’t say much as dinner progressed. She tried to act normally, but she wasn’t
hungry and ended up pushing food around on the plate.

What if he figured out her feelings? Would he ridicule her, pity her? Or would he
simply shrug, tell her it was her problem to deal with, and pretend like it didn’t

Allie felt empty as she sat next to him. Her stomach was a little queasy and an overwhelming
tide of hopelessness enveloped her. They would never work. They were too different,
and he was too cynical.

And even if Trevor wasn’t completely disillusioned by his parents and their failed
marriages, he and Allie would never be able to build a relationship on the foundation
they had now. She was a paid mistress and he’d never see her as something more.

It took forever before the dessert course was served. When Allie declined, Trevor
did too.

He pushed away from the table and glared at her. “Let’s go.” He pulled back her chair,
took her hand, and dragged her out of the dining room.

She glanced back at his parents, but Mags just smiled and waved with her spoon.

Allie had to jog to keep up with him. “Slow down, Trevor.”

He didn’t. When he reached the library, he yanked her inside, shut the door behind
them, and locked it. Then, leaning against it, he folded his arms across his chest.
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you? You’ve looked shocky all evening.”

Allie debated with herself: tell him what was bothering her—not all of it, not about
how she loved him, God no—or lie. But Trevor could sniff out lies like a dog on a
hunt. She decided to go with the truth.

“Brynn and Monica said something today, and it made me feel…” She raised her shoulders.
“Weird, I guess. That’s all. I’m fine.”

“What did they say?”

Allie wandered around the room. She ran her finger over a row of books—Shakespeare.
“Did you inherit these from your grandfather as well?”

“Allison,” he said pleasantly.

Oh no, she was in serious trouble if he was being pleasant.

“Are they old? They look old.”

“We’re not leaving this room, darling, until you tell me all of it.”

Allie sighed and walked to the wooden chess table. Carved pieces of ivory and onyx
stood in formation. She picked one up and studied it. The knight was heavy in her
hand. “Trevor, it’s nothing. I’m just being sensitive.”

BOOK: His Every Need
5.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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