The VIP Doubles Down
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“I don’t want you to remember me at all,” she said. “Start with a clean slate.” Maybe if he was gone, she could do the same.
“I thought you loved me.”
“I’m not going through this again.” Upset to find herself shaking, she walked into the kitchen and wrenched open the refrigerator door. She stood there for a moment, hoping the cold air wafting out would cool her rioting emotions. Picking up the champagne, she noticed it was an expensive brand. So typical of Troy to spend money he didn’t have.
Returning to the living room, she held out the bottle, her hand steady by sheer force of will. “Take it to LA. Celebrate your first television gig there.”
He jerked the champagne out of her hand. “You used to be a nicer person.”
No, she used to be a doormat, trying to soothe his mood by letting him hurl ugly words at her. She’d thought that’s what a loving wife did, but Troy kept escalating the emotional abuse until she’d nearly lost all sense of herself as a person. Thank goodness, she’d found the gumption to file for divorce before she disappeared altogether.
Allie sucked in a deep breath. “Let’s just say good-bye like civilized people.” She held out her hand, but he stepped back, his face a mask of anger.
“Civilized people cheer each other’s successes.” He spun around and headed for the door.
“Troy! I want my key back.” She turned her palm up. She couldn’t afford to change the locks.
He rummaged in his pocket and pulled the key out, throwing it on the braided rug at her feet. “I’ll never set foot in this place again.” He stalked into the hallway.
“Nice exit line,” she called out just before the door slammed.
She raced to the door to throw the dead bolt. Tottering back into the living room, she sank onto the couch, shivering with anger and regret. The regret was for the memory of the two foolhardy kids who had said “I do” before they knew each other—or themselves—well enough to handle the pressures of failure together.
As she stared at the cracked plaster ceiling, she felt the weight of soft cat paws on her lap. “Did you come to comfort me?” she asked, stroking Pie’s satiny fur. The little cat’s purr calmed her jangling nerves. “I wish I could have just hidden under the bed like you when Troy was in one of his moods.”
Now she regretted giving her ex the champagne. Even though it was before noon, she could use a drink. After all, she had no place to go today.
Damn Gavin Miller for refusing her help, especially when she could see that he needed it. And she needed the money.
“But he’s really hot, Pie. Which would be kind of a problem.”
She’d worked with actors, models, and athletes before without ever feeling a moment’s attraction. Why would she feel this tingle of awareness around the writer?
“Maybe it’s because I’m a divorced woman now. Gavin Miller is my rebound.” The idea of the rich, powerful author as a short-term fling made her smile.
She gave the purring cat a few soft strokes before lifting her off her lap. “Okay, Miss Pie, it’s time for me to send out more résumés.”
Morning sun seeped through the blinds to paint stripes of light and shadow on Gavin’s blue comforter. He groaned and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Another night of tossing and turning. He gingerly rolled his head from side to side. Then he did it again.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he said, tilting his head to various different angles. “The stampeding ants worked.” The decrease in pain sent relief flooding through him.
He needed to get Allie Nichols and her machine back to keep the magic going.
Swiping the cell phone off his bedside table, he hit speed dial for his agent. “Jane, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get to say, ‘I told you so.’”
She snapped out a short laugh. “I’d gloat, but I’m not sure which piece of my excellent advice you’ve decided to take.”
“The physical therapist. I attempted to throw her out, but she convinced me to try some electrical gizmo. This morning I can move my neck again.”
Jane sighed. “So you’re not going to buy out the contract.”
“No.” Gavin was definitive. “But I want the physical therapist to come back.”
“I hired her for five sessions this week.”
“Yeah, but I fired her.” Gavin allowed himself to smirk as he said, “However, I told her you’d pay her anyway.”
“So that was my punishment for presuming to know what’s good for you when you don’t.”
“I need her phone number.”
“I’ll text it to you. And now here comes payback . . . I told you so.”
He knew Jane was putting every ounce of smug satisfaction she could into her last four words. “You enjoyed that entirely too much.”
“I deserved to.” Her tone turned serious. “I’m glad you’re letting someone help you.”
“My plan is to buy one of those machines and get her to show me how to do it myself.”
“Now you’re just jerking my chain.”
“One of the many gold ones you own,” Gavin said, but he felt surprisingly buoyant at the thought of another session with the red-haired PT.
Allie practically danced up the steps to Gavin Miller’s front door, barely feeling the weight of her loaded duffel bag. She’d thrown in every therapy aid she thought might tempt the writer to sign on for more sessions.
She just had to keep her unprofessional reactions under control.
Ringing the bell, she waited for the housekeeper to open the door. The paneled mahogany swung inward to reveal Gavin Miller himself framed in the doorway, his dark hair neatly combed, his powerful shoulders outlined by charcoal wool, and his legs looking long and muscular in worn black denim. “Ms. Nichols, come into my parlor.”
He reached for her bag, but she swung it behind her legs. “No chivalry yet,” she said.
He raised an eyebrow but gestured her inside.
“Thank you for reconsidering,” she said, following him into the spacious entrance hall, her rubber soles squeaking on the deep green marble floor. The lowering February clouds had spit needles of frigid rain as she walked from the subway, so her shoes were wet. But the nasty weather couldn’t dampen her mood after she’d gotten Miller’s phone call requesting her return.