The VIP Doubles Down
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As the enthusiastic fan stepped away from his table, Gavin glanced around and caught sight of Allie. The smile that flashed across his face hit her like a medicine ball to the stomach. It wasn’t the author smile he’d had on earlier. It was an I-am-over-the-moon-glad-to-see-you smile. She pressed her hand against her chest to slow the crazed flipping of her heart. His gaze flicked down to register her gesture while his smile took on a wolfish edge.
He beckoned her toward him before saying something to the customer standing in front of him. As Allie walked forward, he pushed back his chair and stepped away from the table. At the same time, a tiny blonde woman in a crimson sheath dress approached him and put her hand on his arm. Allie hesitated, but Gavin once again waved her nearer as he and the blonde moved away from the crowd into a private space between the bookshelves.
“You’re here,” he said. His green eyes skimmed over her and lit with something stronger than gratitude. “Your hair is glorious.” Then as if he hadn’t just said something personal, he glanced back at his table. “It’s a bit of a madhouse right now, but don’t leave. It will die down.”
Allie considered the line snaking through several rows of bookcases. “In about three hours.”
“You don’t give me enough credit. I’ve done a few of these before.” He turned her to face the blonde. “Jane, this is the brilliant physical therapist you sent me. Allie, Jane.”
“Ms. Dreyer,” Allie said, offering her hand and a smile of gratitude. “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to work with Mr. Miller.”
The agent shook Allie’s hand, her stack of gold bangles chiming softly. “Gavin says you’ve worked miracles, so I want to thank you. Since Gavin’s tied up at the moment, let me get you some wine.”
“Oh, gosh, I’m fine.” Allie didn’t want to bother Gavin’s agent.
“I insist. I want to hear about how his treatment is progressing. We can talk in the VIP room in back.”
Allie cast a questioning glance at Gavin. He nodded. “You have my permission to answer her questions about the therapy. She has a vested interest, after all.” He touched the back of Allie’s hand, sending a shiver of delight up her arm. “You’ll stay until the bitter end?”
Another smile that eased the tension in his face and made her feel as though her presence meant something to him. He leaned down to whisper beside her ear. “I may need a massage by then.”
“I brought my tools.” She held up her hands. Was that really why he wanted her to stay? Her gratification fizzled out.
Gavin returned to his seat while Jane led Allie back through the bookcases to a cozy room where it appeared a private gathering was taking place. Two tall men stood talking by a table spread with sandwiches, wine bottles, and cupcakes, while two women chatted on a brocade-covered love seat. Allie nearly gasped as she recognized Luke Archer, the newly retired superstar quarterback of the New York Empire. If he’d come to Gavin’s book signing, they must have gotten over their quarrel.
Jane proceeded to the buffet table. “Red or white?”
Allie was having a hard time not staring at the quarterback. The man’s golden blond hair and ice blue eyes were even more striking in person. And he was so tall. “Wh-white, please.”
Jane handed her a glass and turned to the two men. “Allie, meet Nathan Trainor and Luke Archer.” Jane had a little twinkle of humor in her eyes as she introduced the legendary athlete. “Nathan, Luke, this is Allie Nichols, Gavin’s physical therapist. She’s doing great things for him.”
Luke held out his huge hand. “I’ve worked with my fair share of PTs, so I know how hard your job is. I imagine Gavin isn’t the easiest patient.”
Allie nearly laughed as she remembered his attempt to throw her out the first day. “Once he got used to the idea, he was fine.”
“A pleasure, Allie,” Nathan said, giving her a firm handshake. “We’re all friends of Gavin’s, so we’re glad he’s found someone to help him.”
The name Trainor was nagging at her brain, and then she remembered. This was the CEO of Trainor Electronics and the inventor of the battery used in virtually every laptop in the world.
The two women joined the group and were introduced as Miranda Archer and Chloe Russell. Allie smiled wistfully when the two men slid their arms around the women’s waists with obvious affection.
They chatted for a few minutes, although Allie mostly just listened. Everyone was very pleasant, but she felt overawed. Then Jane said, “I’m going to steal Allie away for some private conversation.”
Jane hooked her arm through Allie’s and drew her aside to a quiet corner holding two mismatched upholstered Victorian chairs and a Moroccan-inlay occasional table. The agent surveyed it and said, “I think it’s supposed to evoke Sherlock Holmes’s study.” They sat, and Jane leaned in, fixing her blue eyes on Allie. “Tell me how Gavin’s therapy is going. He seems better.”
“He’s making good progress now that’s he committed to the treatment. We’re still working on relaxing the muscles, but soon he’ll be able to start exercising them, too. That should prevent this from happening again.”
“I’ll be honest,” Jane said. “I thought he would refuse to do it.”
Allie made a wry face. “It was close.”
“Dr. Benson said you were good with difficult patients.” Jane leaned in a little more. “Gavin mentioned that he’s talked to you about his writer’s block.”
“I didn’t bring it up until he did,” Allie was quick to say. “He found out that I’m a fan of the Julian Best books. That’s why he invited me here.” She decided not to tell Jane that she’d used that information as a last resort to keep him from firing her.
Jane shook her head. “Gavin wanted allies tonight. He considers you one.”
Allie remembered Gavin’s smile of greeting and dared to hope Jane might be right.
“Has he discussed Julian Best with you?” Jane asked.
“A little.” Allie wasn’t sure if Gavin wanted her to talk about this part of their sessions. “We’ve been focusing on his physical issues.”