Authors: Terri L. Austin
“Yes, I thought so too.” She gave Allie a wistful smile.
“So, that’s it?” Allie felt an irrational anger rise to the surface. “You’re not even
going to fight to stay together?”
“There’s been entirely too much fighting, Allie.” She sighed. “You don’t understand,
darling. Pix was right. Nigel and I would never work.”
Allie breathed out a laugh. “Trevor had you pegged from the start. The two of you
are complete fuckups. Do you know how hard my mom fought for her life so that she
could stay with us? Do you have any idea how painful it was to watch her die a little
bit every day? You have a second chance at happiness, a second chance to show Trevor
that you’re not a flake.”
Mags looked stricken. “Allison.”
“He’d have been better off if you hadn’t come back. But you guys had to turn the knife
one more time. You couldn’t just leave him alone.” She grabbed the pan and poured
the milk down the sink and tossed the pan in too.
“It’s not that simple, darling.”
Allie whirled around. “Nothing worth having is ever easy. God, don’t you get that?”
She swept out of the room and ran back to Trevor’s room, craving his arms around her.
He may not love her, but she loved him. And she wasn’t going to give up on him. She
knew he cared about her. Maybe that could be enough.
She entered his room and shucked her clothes, leaving them on the floor. As she pulled
back the covers, Trevor stirred. “You all right?” he asked, his voice faint and sleepy.
Allie lay on her side facing him, one hand resting on his hip. She rained light kisses
down his chest, her tongue swirling around his nipple. Trevor groaned and dragged
her on top of him.
Allie straddled him and braced her hands on his wide shoulders as she leaned down
to kiss him. She groaned when her lips met his. Trevor reached between them and held
back the curtain of her hair. Her nipples hardened as they brushed his smooth chest
and her lips clung to his.
Pulling back, she fitted herself over his shaft and slowly lowered her body, taking
him in as deeply as she could. He helped her by pistoning her hips up and down his
cock. “Trevor,” she gasped. She reached down and rubbed her clit, and as she came
she threw her head back and lost herself in the sensations.
Trevor increased the pace. Allie’s breasts jiggled as he slammed up into her. “Yes,
Allison. Oh God.” He clenched his eyes shut as he came, then his grasp on her hips
Allie collapsed on his chest, breathing hard. Her hair fell over him, and he smoothed
it with one hand.
“Why did you get out of bed?” He petted her hair, slowly brushing the strands back
from her face.
“Couldn’t sleep and I went to the kitchen for milk.” She turned her face and planted
a kiss on his chest. “Trevor.” She raised her head. He looked so peaceful, so content
in the afterglow, she didn’t want to tell him about his parents.
She smiled. “Nothing.” He’d find out soon enough tomorrow. Allie rolled off his chest
and laid her head in the crook of his arm.
He kissed her temple. “Think you’ll be able to sleep now?”
“Um hmm.” She closed her eyes and drifted off.
The next morning she found Trevor in his office. She bypassed breakfast when she saw
he wasn’t at the table. She stuck her head in the door, watched him for a moment tapping
away on his computer.
“Hey, sorry to interrupt.”
He glanced up but continued fiddling with his keyboard. “What is it, Allison? I’m
busy this morning.”
If he thought that would put her off, he was fooling himself. She’d dealt with two
teenage girls who had the leave-me-the-hell-alone-or-I’ll-cut-you vibe down pat. She
walked into the room. “I take it you’ve heard about Mags and Nigel?”
His fingers stilled. “I knew all about Mags and Nigel before they ever got here. I
told you it wouldn’t last. Hope you’re not too disappointed.”
She approached his side of the desk, leaning against it, and placed a hand on his
arm. “I’m so sorry, Trevor.”
“Huh.” He shook her off. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not a child, and I haven’t had
any illusions about those two since I was a very young boy. I don’t need your sympathy.”
Allie clasped her hands and took a deep breath. “I understand your skepticism and
He threw his head back and laughed then—not a laugh filled with humor, but a hard
laugh tinged with bitterness and anger. “Do you? Well, that’s such a relief. Am I
meant to share all my angst over those two bloody morons?” He pushed back from the
chair and stood. He moved over and wedged himself between her legs. “I never thought
for an instant those two would remarry, and I believe I told you so on numerous occasions.”
His voice was calm and pleasant, and he wore that blank mask she’d grown to hate.
She placed her hands on his chest. “Trevor, marriage, love, it doesn’t have to be
like that. My parents—”
“Your parents were an anomaly and probably only stayed together because of you and
your sisters. That and your dire economic straits. Don’t kid yourself that they had
some kind of fairy tale, Allie. Fairy tales don’t exist, and you women think if you
shag someone, it means you love him. You can’t bear the thought that you simply like
fucking, so you make it romantic and put a name on it. It’s all bollocks.” He leaned
down, placed a hand on the back of her head, and gave her a savage kiss. “That’s real.
What we have when I’m inside you, that’s real. Don’t wrap it in a bow and think it’s
She pushed his chest to try and force him away. He didn’t budge, but he let go of
her head. “Don’t talk about my parents that way, Trevor. My mother lay there, dying,
and my father was so broken up about it—”
“That he got himself a girlfriend six months later. Oh yes, darling, he was very committed.”
Allie wanted to lash out at him, hit him, hurt him like he’d just hurt her. “Believe
what you want. But love does exist, Trevor, because I love you. Yeah, I know you don’t
want to hear it and I know you won’t believe it, but there it is. I’m in love with
you. And it’s not just fucking wrapped in a bow, it’s consuming and scary and wonderful.”
He dismissed her with a look, his lips pressed together in a straight line. “I told
you, I don’t need your sympathy, so take your declarations of love and get out. I’ve
got work to do.” He stepped away from her and sat down in his chair, shutting her
She should have expected his reaction, especially given his mood. Nevertheless, she
felt bruised, wounded. Dazed, she moved from the desk and, with heavy feet, walked
out of the room.
She stood at the end of the hallway, her fingers rubbing her still-tender lips, unsure
what to do next. Should she pack up and leave? Everything in her wanted to stay, despite
Trevor’s harsh treatment of her just now. She knew he was hurting—probably even more
than she was—knew it in her gut. Everyone in his life had left him. Was she going
to do the same? That’s why he pushed people away, so they would leave on his terms
and not blindside him, like his parents had done time and time again.
She left the office and went to Mags’s room, where she found her fluttering like a
moth around a light, darting between the closet and the bed with armfuls of clothes.
“Oh, Allie dear, I’ve shopped so much, I think I need a new suitcase.”
Allie turned to Frances. The normally cheerful, talkative maid was quiet and her forehead
wrinkled into a V shape. “Good morning.”
“Frances, do you think I could have a word with Mags?”
“Yes, of course.” She laid a dress on the bed and squeezed Allie’s shoulder as she
Allie waited until the other woman left then she watched Mags, who was still in perpetual
motion. “Mags, where’s Nigel?”
Mags held up two dresses, one blue, one green. “Gone, dear. Which do you think I should
wear on the plane?”
“Well, I can’t very well go naked, now can I? Although, with those perverts at security,
I might as well be.”
“Where did he go?”
She dropped both dresses on the bed and flitted to the dresser. “I need to send my
jewels back by courier. I don’t like to travel with them. Go call Frances, dear.”
Mags did glance up at her then. “Sorry?”
Allie shoved all the dresses to one side and sat down on the blue silk bedcover, curling
one leg under her. “So that’s it? You’re just going to leave him again?”
“Well…” Mags swallowed, her eyes shifting to the floor. “Nigel and I are over, Allie.
I’m sure Trevor wants me out of his hair.”
“So all that talk about staying in Vegas to make amends, all that was just bullshit?”
Mags tilted her head and gave Allie a disapproving glance.
“You’re leaving him again.”
With a sigh, Mags gathered up the dresses and moved them to a chair. Half of them
slid to the floor, but she didn’t bend to pick them up. She sank down on the bed next
to Allie. “He doesn’t want me here, darling. He told me so this morning.”
“He’s been telling you to leave for weeks, Mags. And you’ve decided to listen to him
“Well…” She waved her hands helplessly.
“You’re afraid he’s going to give you a hard time for breaking the engagement?”
“My son hates me, Allison. It’s time I faced that. Why keep butting my head against
a wall, darling? It’s painful, and it dulls the senses.”
Allie took one of Mags’s hands in both of hers. “He doesn’t hate you. But if you keep
abandoning him, he will. And yes, he’s going to give you hell, I mean, have you met
Sniffing, Mags gave a little laugh.
“He needs you in his life. He’s always needed you. Maybe this time, you can be there
“I don’t know.” Mags’s gaze drifted toward the door.
She glanced back at Allie. “He’s staying at the Bellagio.”
Allie left the room. She made her way out of the house and toward the garage, where
Simmons polished the side mirror on the limo.
“Can I help you with something?” he asked.
“No, I’m good. Just going for a ride.”
Trevor ran a hand over his face. Allie said she loved him. Poor girl didn’t understand
that he never expected a happily ever after—for his parents or himself. Mags and Nigel
were like two children playacting. As soon as things got boring, they moved on to
He’d said some very hateful things to Allie, caused her pain again, and he hated that,
hated seeing that wounded look in her eyes. But he stood by it all. Love was a fantasy,
a dressed-up word for passion.
Maybe it was simply time to end it. He rejected the idea immediately. No, he wasn’t
through with Allison Campbell. And as long as she understood that whatever they had
was temporary, they would be fine.
Of course he was fond of her. And yes, he loved being inside her, tasting her, touching
her. Her response to him was like a drug, left him craving more. He liked the way
she bit her lip to study the chessboard while she contemplated her next move. The
way she smelled and the way she laughed and the way she cared about her family. But
that wasn’t love. Far from it. That was appreciation for another person. To muck it
up with talk of love was beyond ridiculous. And she needed to understand that.
He stood from behind the desk and stretched his arms over his head. He needed more
coffee. Actually, he needed a swim. It would clear his head and maybe he could think
of a way to clear the sadness from Allie’s eyes.
He checked his computer one last time and made his way up the stairs. Once he hit
the landing, Mags walked toward him. “I thought you’d left with the other one.” He
brushed by her and walked in the opposite direction toward his room.
Mags trotted along behind him. “I want to talk to you.”
“No time,” he said, looking back over his shoulder. “I’m busy today. If you need a
ride to the airport, have Simmons take you.” Walking into his room, he shut the door
in Mags’s face.
He shed his jacket, tie, and shirt, and had just started working the button on his
trousers when the door opened and Mags strolled in. “Excuse me,
, I’m in the middle of something.”
She waved a hand in his direction. “Nothing I haven’t seen before, darling.” She walked
to a chair next to the fireplace and sat, crossing one leg over the other.
With a sigh of resignation, Trevor rebuttoned his trousers and grabbed his shirt from
the floor, slipping his arms into it. “What is it you want?”
“Shall we eat in the garden tonight?”
“I thought you were moving out?”
“No, dearest, I’ve decided to stay.”
Gritting his teeth, he clenched his fists. “For how long?”
“Well, that rather depends on you.” She rose from the chair and stepped toward him,
patting his cheek. “Until you forgive me.”
His face became immobile. “No worries then. I forgave you years ago. Feel free to
Mags smiled. “I’m not going anywhere, darling. You may as well get used to it.” She
left the room in a cloud of sweet perfume. Goddamn Allison. This little ploy had do-gooder
stamped all over it.
Allie knocked on the door of the suite. Nigel answered wearing a thick terry robe
with the hotel initials embroidered on the chest. His eyes were bloodshot, and he
hadn’t combed his wavy hair. “Allison, my dear, now is not a good time.”
She edged past him. “Yeah, yeah.” She glanced around the living room. “You don’t have
a woman in here, do you?”
“Only you. Did Mags send you?” He waved her inside.
“Um, Nige, why don’t you get dressed?”
He looked down at his bathrobe and grinned. “Don’t want a repeat performance, eh?”
No, she really didn’t. One glance at little Nigel and she was still scarred. “Go pants
With a sigh, he stepped around a large entertainment unit that stood in the center
of the room. He came back a moment later in old jeans and a golf shirt. “So, if Mags
didn’t send you…”
“I want to talk about Trevor.”
“Ah. We should head down to one of the restaurants. I need a drink for this discussion.”
He snagged his room card off the side table, slipped it in his pocket, and opened
the door. “After you, love.”
They rode the elevator to the seafood restaurant, and because it was early, they were
quickly shown to a table. Nigel held out her chair and made sure she was comfortable
before they ordered.
When his martini arrived, he nodded. “All right, love, what’s this about Trevor?”
Allie plunged once again into waters that were none of her business. “I think you
should stay in Vegas.”
“What makes you think I was leaving?” Nigel stirred his drink with two speared olives.
“You mean you’re going to stick around? But Mags was headed back to England.”
“Was?” His eyes sharpened. “Have her plans changed then?”
“I don’t know, but I told her she should stay too. For Trevor’s sake.”
“Oh.” His gaze shifted to the table and he took a sip from his glass. “I thought she
meant to stay for me. That she’d had a change of heart.”
“Look, Nigel, I shouldn’t butt in—”
“No, it’s all right, Allison.” He sighed deeply. “I talked to Rebecca a few weeks
ago—she was wife number two—anyway, we’ve remained friendly all these years. I married
her on the rebound from Mags, and it was a terrible mistake. Didn’t last more than
a year, but I think Mags and I might have worked things out if I hadn’t jumped into
it with Rebecca. In retaliation, Mags married her number two, that damn Spaniard.”
“So, why did you invite Rebecca to the wedding, knowing how Mags felt?”
“Rebecca’s married to an old chum of mine. Went to school with Clifford. Damn fine
shot on the golf course. He once shot a birdie—”
“Nige, back to the guest list.”
“Oh, quite. Well, I thought we could put the past behind us, and once they were here,
Clifford and I could play a few rounds. But you saw how Mags went barmy.”
“So, why not just uninvite them?”
He looked a little sheepish. “Don’t like to back down. It’s my wedding too, you know.”
Allie closed her eyes for a second. “Trevor nailed it, the two of you are morons.”
“I say, Allison.”
“No, I mean it. You and Mags have found each other again, after all this time. You
say you love each other, you want to make amends with Trevor, but the minute you don’t
get your own way, you cut and run. What is that about?”
Suddenly, Nigel sat up straight in his chair and became very starchy. “Not that it’s
any of your concern—”
“I know it’s not. But sometimes you have to make compromises to be happy. And if Mags
doesn’t want your ex-wife at her wedding, I think that’s a pretty reasonable request.
Now, what about Trevor?”
Nigel drained his glass and motioned to the waiter. “What about Trevor? I’m staying
in Vegas for the time being.”
“Have you told him you’re sorry? Have you asked him how he felt when the two of you
left him and got married a zillion times?”
Nigel shifted uncomfortably. “We’re British, dear. We don’t sit around and talk endlessly
about our feelings. Besides, he’s still upset about Anna.”
Nigel glanced at the waiter. “Keep them coming, please. I have a feeling it’s going
to be a long afternoon.” He gave Allie a look as dry as his martini. “Trev didn’t
tell you about Anna?”
Her stomach fell fourteen stories and kept dropping. “No.”
“Trevor dated her a few years back. Nothing serious, but she was my fifth. Wife that
Allie blinked. “You married Trevor’s ex?” No wonder he hated his father.
Nigel popped an olive in his mouth. “It’s not like he was serious about her. They
casually dated for a couple months. I apologized.”
Nigel straightened. “She wasn’t his girlfriend at the time. They’d broken up, you
“That doesn’t make it okay,” she hissed.
“What do you want me to do? I’ve tried to get him to play a round of golf, but he’s
“You think bonding over a round of golf is going to fix this?” Did Trevor still care
about this Anna? No wonder he didn’t believe in love. There was no hope for them.
She’d known it all along, but she’d let herself believe.
Her phone rang, breaking her train of thought. She groped in her bag and pulled it
out. “Sorry, it’s Brynn.”
“Take it, dear.” He sipped at his drink and glanced around the room.
“What’s wrong?” Allie said in lieu of greeting.
“I’m in trouble, Al.” Brynn sniffed a few times. “I got in a fight.”
Allie’s body froze. “Are you all right? Are you still at school?”
“Yeah, can you come and get me? Dad’s out on a job, and I’m in the principal’s office.”
“I’ll be right there.” She hung up and looked at Nigel. “I have to go. Brynn’s been
in a fight.”
Nigel hopped up from his seat and pulled out his wallet, throwing a few bills on the
table. “I’ll go with you, my dear.”
She didn’t waste time arguing but fled the restaurant, Nigel at her heels.
She and Nigel checked in at the front office and sat on stiff chairs, waiting to see
the principal. Allie nervously clutched her bag in her lap.
Nigel reached over and gave her hand a squeeze. “Brynn’s a good girl, Allison. Everything
is going to be all right.”
It seemed like everything had gone haywire today. Brynn didn’t get in fights. She
didn’t like conflict of any kind.
Allie glanced up at Nigel. For some reason, his casual, nonchalant air was calming.
A middle-aged woman with a short, wispy hairstyle moved toward them. “Mr. Campbell?
I’m Mrs. Stanford, Assistant Principal.”
Allie stood up and held her bag in front of her. “I’m Allie Campbell, Brynn’s sister
and emergency contact. This is—”
“Nigel Blake.” He rose and shook the woman’s hand.
“I can’t believe Brynn got into a fight,” Allie said. “She’s a straight-A student.
Maybe she mentioned that?”
“Step into my office, please.”
Nigel stayed behind as Allie followed the vice principal. Her little sister sat in
one chair, facing the desk.
Allie dropped to the other seat, her eyes scanning Brynn “Are you all right? Are you
Brynn kept her gaze on her lap and shook her head. “I’m okay, Al.”
“Miss Campbell, your sister and another girl had a heated exchange and Brynn threw
a punch. The other girl managed to duck and tackled Brynn to the floor. A teacher
broke it up before things could escalate.”
“Is that what happened?” Allie asked.
Brynn studied her fingernails and shrugged.
Allie glanced at Mrs. Stanford. “Do you know what this was about?”
“I believe one of our staff, Ms. Castor, is dating your father?”
“Oh, great.” Allie slouched in the chair and covered her eyes with one hand.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for violence in this school. Brynn will spend the
next two weeks on in-house suspension and this will go on her permanent record.
“Starting when?” Allie asked.
“Tomorrow. You can take her home now.” She stood, crossed the room, and opened the
“Come on, Nigel’s waiting.”
Brynn got to her feet and shuffled out of the office. “Sorry, Al,” she whispered.
“Hello, my darling.” Nigel enfolded Brynn in his arms, and she hugged him back. He
held her hand as they headed outside into the bright sunshine.
“What were you thinking?” Allie asked after they all climbed into the car.
Brynn shrugged again.
“Enough with the shrugging. That Stanford woman said you threw the first punch.”
“Layla Anderson said some crap, and I just lost it.”
She refrained from asking anymore questions on the ride home. When Allie parked in
front of her old house, she turned to Nigel. “Do you want to take the car back to
“Oh no, I can take a taxi.”
Inside the house, Nigel made himself at home on the saggy, ripped couch. He picked
up the remote and flipped through the channels. “Where’s the golf channel, Als?”
“We don’t have cable, Nige.”
“Oh.” He looked a little forlorn.
“I’ll be right back. Do you want something to drink or eat? We never did get lunch.”
Nigel waved her off. “No, darling, I’m fine.”
“Brynn, go get started on your homework and I’ll make you a snack.”
Once in the kitchen, Allie called Trevor. He answered on the first ring.
“Where in the bloody hell have you been?”
“Can Simmons come and pick up your dad?”
“What the … Where are you?”
“At your father’s house, then?”
“Yeah. Brynn got into a fight and is suspended.”
“Where does my father fit into this picture?”
“I was having lunch with him when I got the call from Brynn.”
She heard him take a deep breath. “Allison, listen to me. Those two nut jobs are not
worth the effort.”
“What? You…break…up…send…Sim…” And she hung up. She didn’t want a lecture right now,
she just wanted to make sure Brynn was okay until her father got home.
She threw together sandwiches for Brynn and Nigel, along with cookies and glasses
of iced tea. She put everything on a tray and carried it to the living room. Nigel
sat back, his legs crossed, engrossed in a talk show that had turned into a free-for-all
with the audience members.
He hopped up when he saw her, took the tray, and set it down on the coffee table.
He pointed to the screen. “Turns out, he’s not the father of her child after all.
They just released the DNA results and all hell broke loose. You Americans.”
She reached over and flicked off the set. “What are you going to do about Mags? About
He took a long sip of iced tea and winced. “I don’t know, Als.”
“Do you love Mags, Nigel? Really love her?”
“I do. I desperately love her. But it’s too late. She’s already taken me back once.
There’s not going to be a third act, love.”