Authors: Terri L. Austin
Pix ran her scarlet nail around the rim of the cup. “I met Paolo while I was vacationing
in Cianciana. I was visiting friends, he was waiting tables in the hotel. Very Shirley
Valentine of me I know, but darling, you only live once.”
Karen appeared, pulled out her chair, and murmured an apology. Her face was a little
splotchy, like she had been crying. Now Allie felt worse than terrible. She tried
to give Karen a reassuring smile, but the older woman refused to meet her eyes.
Allie refocused on Pix. “Who’s Shirley Valentine?”
The sisters’ laughter filled the air.
“Oh my, you’re so young,” Pix said.
Mags sobered. “You’re right though—you do only go around once. I’ve made so many mistakes
in my life. Failing Trevor being the biggest, of course. But leaving Nigel was a terrible
Pix laid her hand on Mags’s arm. “Don’t you remember the horrible rows? You and Nigel
would have killed each other had you stayed together. And Trevor is fine.”
Allie wouldn’t go that far. He definitely carried the scars of his parents’ messed-up
marriage—make that marriages.
“No, Trevor’s not fine.” Now Mags began tearing up. “He’s been very unhappy, very
angry. I wish I had been a better mother, more nurturing. And Nigel was always the
one. I’ve always loved him.”
Karen remained silent and winced when she took a drink. Allie wanted to reach out
to her, but what would she say?
Yes, forget my fifteen-year-old sister? Go be with my dad, never mind that Brynn is
? What an endless night. Allie wanted the comfort of Trevor’s touch and his dry humor
and naughty jokes so badly, she almost ached with it.
“So, when is it your turn, Allie dear?”
Allie blinked at Pix. “What?”
“I’ve noticed the way Trevor looks at you, like he’s ready to pounce on you the moment
you enter the room.”
Allie’s cheeks infused with heat. “You have it wrong. Trevor and I…we’re just…” She
“Don’t put Allie on the spot, Pix. She and Trevor will figure things out in their
own time,” Mags said.
“Really though, I thought Trevor would never fall in love. He’s always been so commitment
phobic.” She turned to Mags. “Is that the phrase?”
Mags sighed. “Yes, just more evidence that Nigel and I ruined him.”
“He’s not ruined,” Allie said a little too loudly. Feeling embarrassed by her outburst,
her gaze flashed around the room, and she lowered her voice. “He’s just…in pain. And
I really don’t feel comfortable talking about him like this.” She grabbed the sake
and took a long swallow and, thanks to the coughing fit that followed, regretted it.
“That chap is becoming tiresome. Doesn’t speak a word of English. Don’t know what
Pix sees in him.” Nigel puffed around a fat cigar, a drink in one hand and his eyes
roaming over the semiclad ass of the cocktail waitress who walked by.
Trevor raised a brow. “Really?”
“Can you believe your mother and I are getting married again?” Nigel nudged Trevor’s
ribs. “She was always the love of my life, you know.”
“Did your four other wives know that?” Trevor let the waitress take his drink and
refused a refill. He had to drive home since Simmons was escorting the women tonight.
“I fooled myself into thinking I was content. But it was all an illusion.”
Trevor glanced at the roulette wheel. Paolo lost another bet. He watched as the younger
man mopped his brow, then Trevor glanced at his father. “Your cock didn’t seem to
notice the difference.”
“My heart did, Trev.” Nigel patted his chest.
“Unless you want Pix and the Italian Stallion to become your physical dependents,
I’d stop him from placing another bet if I were you. This asshole is running through
Pixie’s money like he inherited it himself.”
Nigel sighed. “Oh, bugger.” He walked to the table and grabbed Paolo by the shoulder.
Trevor rolled his eyes. How much longer until he could go home? He liked his home.
It was comfortable there, cozy. And the thought of Allie in bed had him smiling. He
loved sleeping with her. With her back to his chest, she’d curl up like a sleepy cat,
press that tight ass against his cock. He sighed and looked at his watch.
Paolo and Nigel threaded their way over to him. Nigel tipped his head at the younger
man. “Lost a barrelful, this one.”
Paolo plunked down on a stool, propped his elbows on the bar, and buried his head
in his hands. Then his head popped up. “Pix, will, how you say, kill my body.” He
slid his thumb across his throat.
“We’ve all lost our shirt a time or two, mate. And better she chop off your big head
than your little one.” Nigel slapped him on the back.
“I say we call it a night,” Trevor said.
Nigel frowned. “It’s not even midnight, Trev. What’s say we go to see some tatas?
Yeah?” Nigel cupped his hands in front of his chest for Paolo. “Tatas. Tits. Breasts.”
Paolo’s face lit up. “
“Yeah, see, Trev?” He pointed his cigar at Paolo.
“Take a cab.” He started to walk off, only to have Nigel pull his sleeve. Trevor looked
down at his father’s hand and scowled. “Let go of me, old man.”
Nigel clenched his jaw. “I told you not to call me old man.”
“If the two of you tossers want to ogle topless women, fine, but I’m going home.”
“Ah, I see what this is about.” Nigel grinned and nodded. “You miss Allison. Granted,
she is a lovely girl. Cheers, Trev. Very pleased for you.”
Paolo’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “
“Hold your horses,” Nigel said.
Trevor jerked his arm from his father’s grasp. “I don’t know what you’re on about.”
“You and Allison, Son. You’ve finally got hit by Cupid’s arrow, eh? Love is a beautiful
Trevor’s face became void of emotion. “I’m leaving.” He strode out of the bar, through
the casino. The laughter, chatter, and sounds of slot machines faded into the background.
Nigel was clearly a mental case. Trevor wasn’t in love with Allie. He didn’t believe
in it—silly, sloppy emotion. Just another word for wanting to shag someone. And that’s
what he wanted to do with her, shag. That was all. She was just a girl, really. A
beautiful girl with an amazing smile and a spectacular pair of
, but just a girl.
He rubbed his chest as he stalked out of the casino. He didn’t love Allie. Period.
Allie kicked off her shoes and made her way up the stairs. Tonight had been exhausting.
Mags was a handful, but add Pixie into the mix, and they became unhinged. Karen was
a quiet, dark cloud who would have cast a pall over the evening if Mags and Pix hadn’t
been so enamored of their waiter—a young student named Matt. They fawned over him,
quizzed him about his girlfriends, and Pix groped his ass. The sake had gone straight
to her libido. Paolo had better be up for the challenge.
Allie went to her own room first, a little disappointed that Trevor wasn’t already
naked and in bed, waiting for her. She tugged off her dress and slipped into a sexy
nightgown and robe before she headed to Trevor’s room.
When she heard the shower running, she stepped into the bathroom. A wet room with
no doors, her view was unhampered. He stood facing her, his head tossed back, his
eyes closed as streams of water ran over his broad shoulders, down his muscled chest
to his lean hips. His legs stood slightly apart, his cock jutted out, long and hard.
Allie grew damp and aroused just watching him.
His gray eyes popped open. Her heart thundered at the sight of naked, beautiful Trevor.
“Come here.” He held out his hand to her.
Entranced, she untied the knot on her robe and slipped it off. Her nipples hardened
as his eyes raked her body. Slowly, she brushed the straps from her lacy nightgown
down her shoulders and let it flutter to the floor.
Trevor’s chest heaved as he took her in, his gaze lingering on her breasts. His stormy
gray eyes traveled to her face. “Allison.” His voice, deeper and huskier than usual,
shot a bolt of desire right through her.
Without hesitating one more second, she walked toward him. He scooped her up, pressing
her back against the wall, and kissed her. The warm cascade of water hit her from
all sides, and soon she was slick with it.
Wrapping her legs around his waist, Allie kissed him back, bit his lip, sucked his
tongue, thrust her own in his mouth as she grabbed a handful of his sopping hair.
She pulled back and looked into his eyes. His eyelashes, even darker when wet, spiked
together and framed his fierce eyes.
“I don’t love you,” he said through clenched teeth. “Do you understand? I don’t love
anyone.” He thrust inside her, hot and hard. His fingers dug into her hips as he ground
himself into her. “Allison, oh God, Allison.” With each thrust, he chanted in her
Allie buried her face in his neck, her tears mingling with the water.
She awoke in his bed the next morning. She knew without having to look that he was
gone. After his declaration of unlove, he’d finished inside her. It was the first
time they hadn’t used a condom. Then, carefully, as if she might break with the slightest
pressure, he dried her off and carried her to bed. Not a word was spoken between them
as he curled his body around hers, one hand holding her breast, his leg thrown possessively
over her own.
He didn’t speak in the middle of the night when he stroked her body to orgasm before
sliding into her. Nor earlier in the morning, when he woke her by flipping her over
and burying himself inside her as he leisurely fucked her senseless.
Now she lay in sheets that smelled like him, a clean, crisp scent that made her grab
his pillow and inhale deeply. When she realized how pathetic she was, she tossed the
pillow aside and sat up.
Plunging her hands through her long, still-damp tangles of hair, she sighed. He didn’t
love her. Why did he say it? Did he suspect her feelings? Had she revealed herself
somehow? Oh God, how humiliating.
With a hurting heart, she climbed out of bed. Her nightgown and robe had been folded
on the small bench at the end of Trevor’s carved bed. She quickly dressed and went
to her room to take a shower.
Allie stepped into the en suite, and as she shrugged out of the robe and nightgown,
the outer door clicked. With a towel clutched to her chest, she poked her head out
of the bathroom. Trevor stood, dressed in a dark, expensive suit, a bright blue tie
perfectly knotted at his throat. Hands thrust in his pockets, he leaned his back against
“I went to my room, but you were gone. How are you this morning?”
Her fingers tightened on the towel. What was he really asking? If she understood that
he didn’t love her, didn’t care about her, that it was still just about sex? Or did
he really want to know how she felt this morning? All the progress they’d made over
the last few weeks, all the closeness had fallen away, and she was back to square
one. A fuck toy.
She shrugged. “Fine.” Her eyes rose to meet his.
They stood in silence for some moments. “I’m going to get a shower,” she said, biting
her lip to keep herself from bursting into tears.
“Yes, of course. I’ll get out of your way.” He was acting weird and formal.
When he left, she sank to the cold, tiled floor and sobbed. She cried until she didn’t
have any tears left, then attempted to pull herself together.
After she’d showered and dressed, Allie crept downstairs, hoping like hell she didn’t
run into Trevor again. She couldn’t handle the awkward tension between them. And she
was determined not to fall apart in front of him.
Once she was in the foyer, she heard voices raised in the drawing room. Allie ran
toward the commotion and met Frances running through the hall from the opposite direction.
Together, they stood in the doorway and watched Mags storm around the room.
“I can’t believe you, Nigel. You are
believable.” There were no
to punctuate her sentence. She must really be angry. And she was repeating herself.
“Darling, I don’t see what the problem is.” Nigel stood next to the drinks cart, a
quizzical look on his face. He watched her roam about the room.
Mags, her agitation growing by the minute, began walking faster and waved her hands
over her head, like Mussolini. “Of course you don’t, you stupid git.”
“Watch yourself, love.” He wagged a finger.
Mags threw her head back and laughed. “Watch myself. You should watch yourself, you
“I’ll not put up with your name calling, my dear.” Nigel crossed his arms, and his
face took on the same cold, expressionless mask that Trevor assumed when he became
“I’m not your dear. How dare you invite that woman to my wedding?”
“We’re mates now, love, that’s all.” Nigel held up his hands in a pleading gesture.
“Please be reasonable about this.”
All of the fire seeped out of her and her body, rigid with anger a moment before,
became relaxed. “Reasonable?” She raised a brow. “How’s this for reasonable?” She
picked up a small bronze statue of a goddess and hurled it at Nigel’s head.
He shifted to the side, narrowly escaping the projectile. “Now, Mags, that was Aphrodite.
Not the thing, ducks.”
She gave him a scary smile. “You’re right, darling, I’m sorry.”
“I should say so.” Nigel dusted his shoulder. “Don’t know what all the fuss is about.”
“All the old jealousies are in the past,” she practically cooed.
Nigel smiled. “Quite right.”
“So if you invite Rebecca, I should invite Miguel. He and I are still on the best
of terms. How very modern of you, darling.”
“What did you say?” The smile turned to a scowl in the blink of an eye. “You will
do absolutely no such thing. I forbid it.”
“Oh no, we’re in for it now,” Frances whispered in Allie’s ear.
Allie turned back and looked at the maid. “What do you mean?”
“Mrs. Mags just brought up Miguel. That’s like waving a red flag at a bull, it is.”
Allie turned back in time to see Mags lift her chin to the ceiling. “You don’t own
me, Nigel Blake. I’ll do whatever I please.”
He strode across the room and grabbed her by the shoulders. “You will not mention
that man’s name in my presence, Margaret, do you understand?”
She broke free of his hold. “Miguel, Miguel, Miguel.”
“You are living very dangerously, woman.” Nigel’s face turned purple. Allie was afraid
he might stroke out.
“And while I’m at it, I may invite Francois. He asked me to move back to France just
last month, you know.”
“Fine,” Nigel ground out, “then I’ll ask Tanya. She got her boobs redone. She’d love
to show them off at a wedding.”
One of Mags’s eyes narrowed, making her look slightly cockeyed. She strolled across
the room, picked up a bottle of gin, and threw it at him. “You are disgusting.” The
bottle hit the wall. The strong-smelling liquor made a stain on the pale blue paint,
and glass tinkled to the floor.
“That was a new bottle.”
“Well, this one’s not.” She chucked whiskey at his head. She wasn’t even in the ballpark.
“You’re aim isn’t what it used to be, dear,” he said in a bored voice.
“I guess I’m out of practice.” She picked up a white vase with hand-painted flowers
and held it over her head with both hands.
Allie felt hands on her hips and was lifted to one side. Trevor took two steps into
the room and grabbed the vase from Mags’s hands before she could hurl it at Nigel.
“If you’re going to give him a concussion, I must insist you destroy your own property
to do so.”
Mags’s lips thinned in a straight line. “Your father wants to invite his second wife
to my wedding. What do you think about that, Trevor?” Her eyes never left Nigel and
his red face.
“I don’t care whom you invite. I don’t care if you get married at all. But if you
break one more thing in this house, I’ll toss you both out on your asses.” He turned
and left the room.
Allie gave Nigel and Mags one last look before trailing after him. “Trevor.”
He stopped and glared at her. “What do you want?”
She flinched. “Sorry, I didn’t mean…”
He rubbed his forehead. “Apologies, Allison, I didn’t mean to snap at you. Those two
drive me barmy.” He thrust his hands in his pockets. “What can I do for you?”
For some reason, his formal question hurt more than his harsh words. She shook her
head. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
Bitterness tinged his laughter. “I’m brilliant.” He pivoted and went back toward his
Allie stood in the hallway, feeling bereft. She loved him so much, she ached with
it. She knew he was going to cut her loose. And she wasn’t sure how she was going
As she lingered in the hallway, Mags pushed by her with a sob.
That night, dinner was painful and the arctic atmosphere made Allie shiver. No one
said much of anything. Trevor was withdrawn and quiet. Mags and Nigel were frigidly
polite to one another.
After dinner, Trevor retreated to his office. Allie knew he didn’t want to be disturbed,
so she hit the media room, curling up on the couch beneath the cashmere blanket, and
watched TV for a few hours. As she sat, her mind drifted. What would it have been
like to hear her parents fight like that? Trevor must have been a confused little
boy, new people entering his life and leaving it just as quickly.
Finally, exhausted at nine-thirty, she hit the power button on the controller. But
instead of going to her own room, she went to Trevor’s. The angels stood guard as
she shimmied out of all her clothes and curled up under the sheets. She pulled Trevor’s
pillow close, inhaling his scent. Despite the pain of his callous treatment earlier,
she wanted to comfort him, soothe him. She knew he was hurting. The little boy in
him never got over his parents’ abandonment or their manic relationship.
She woke when the bed dipped and felt Trevor try to gently pry the pillow out of her
hands. She rubbed at her eyes and looked at the clock on the bedside table. “It’s
after midnight. Have you been working all this time?”
He plumped the pillow and crawled into bed, curling himself around her. “Yes. And
I’m sorry I was abrupt earlier.”
“It’s okay.” She stroked the arm wrapped around her waist. “They still love each other,
you know, even when they fight.”
“Shhh,” he said against her hair. “Go back to sleep.”
“Trevor?” She wasn’t even sure what she wanted to say, maybe she just wanted reassurance
“Go to sleep, Allie.”
She stroked his arm until she felt him breathe deep and rhythmically next to her.
She was wide awake now. Her mother always fed her hot milk with vanilla and cinnamon
when she couldn’t sleep.
Allie crawled out from under Trevor’s embrace and scooted to the edge of the bed.
She looked back to make sure she hadn’t awakened him, but when she saw he still slept,
she quickly redressed and slipped quietly from the room.
She made her way to the kitchen and discovered Mags sitting at the granite counter,
toying with a mugful of something. Her eyes were sad. She looked older and a little
“Hello, dearest. You couldn’t sleep either?”
Allie rubbed her arms and shook her head. “No, I thought I’d make myself some warm
milk. You?” She grabbed a sauce pan from the rack above the island and crossed the
room to the fridge.
“Hot tea with whiskey.” Mags took a whiff of her cup then sipped at it.
“Do you know where the cinnamon is?” Allie opened the small cabinet next to the range.
“Allison, I’m sorry you witnessed Nigel and me arguing this morning.”
Allie shrugged and poured milk into the copper-bottom pan. She added a cinnamon stick
and decided to forget about hunting down the vanilla. “Frankly, Mags, it upsets me
that Trevor saw that growing up.”
Mags winced. “Yes. We’ve been dreadful parents. And now that the wedding’s off, I
suppose I’ll leave. Probably head back to England with Pix and Paolo.” She peered
into her tea cup.
“What do you mean the wedding’s off? Because of one fight? What about Nigel being
the one that got away?”