The VIP Doubles Down
Page 51

 Nancy Herkness

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She started when Gavin’s phone chimed.
He swore, and she turned to see him throw down the pen and roll his shoulders. “Time for class.” He grinned at her. “I haven’t been this annoyed about having to teach class in months.”
“You’re happy to be annoyed?”
“Grumpiness is my default setting, as you should know.” He pulled a black leather briefcase out from under his desk, his expression becoming sober. “It’s like the cell phone. I wanted to be interrupted then. Now”—he flexed the fingers of his writing hand—“I want to keep working.”
He walked over to her and set down the briefcase. “And I want you to remember me while I’m gone.”
He twined his hand into her ponytail, moving it aside so he could put his lips against the back of her neck. He touched the exposed skin with the warm, moist tip of his tongue, sending shivers of pleasure racing through her body. He moved to just behind her earlobe and repeated his seduction.
“Gavin,” she breathed, as the warmth of his touch seemed to froth through her veins.
He leaned down beside her ear. “I want to do the same thing between your legs, but I wouldn’t be able to stop, and I’d hate to leave a whole roomful of budding writers without a leader.”
She let her head loll over the chair’s back. Now his mouth came down on hers, his tongue plunging in and out until her hips rocked in the same rhythm.
“That’s right, sweetheart,” he said against her lips. “We’ll be dancing together just like that tonight.”
And then he straightened away from her, leaving her a boiling mess of unsatisfied need. “You’ll come for dinner?” He emphasized the word come.
“Or I might just use my vibrator at home.”
He smiled. “That will make you nice and wet for me.” Picking up the briefcase, he flicked her cheek with his finger. “Dinner is at seven.”
And then he had the audacity to walk out on her while whistling a cheery tune.
Allie raced up the front steps of Gavin’s house at 7:10. She’d refused a ride from Jaros, and the subway had been fouled up. Ludmilla answered the door without her usual cheerful smile. “Mr. Gavin not here,” she said.
“Not here?” He’d been adamant about her returning for dinner.
“Something happen. You talk to Mr. Hugh.” Ludmilla led her to a comfortable, masculine den where the actor stood by the window, drinking a beer.
He turned, and Allie again experienced that weird shock of seeing a fictional character in the flesh. Once she got past the Julianness of him, she saw that Hugh appeared even more worried than Ludmilla did.
“I’m afraid Gavin’s gone,” he said.
“So I heard.” Allie sat in a wing chair. She was darned if she was going to stand just because Hugh was. “Where?”
“Probably to the Bellwether Club. That seems to be his bolt-hole these days. Although no one knows with certainty. He just walked out of the house without a word.” Hugh swallowed the rest of his beer in one gulp. “It’s my fault, I’m afraid. I brought him bad news.”
“What kind of bad news?”
Hugh walked over to the chair opposite hers with the same coiled energy he projected as the super spy. Dropping into it, he swiped up another bottle of beer from the coffee table. “All the actors who were signed for the next Julian Best movie were released from their contracts today. That means the producers have decided there won’t be another movie in the foreseeable future.”
So they’d given up on Gavin just as his creativity seemed to be returning. He would feel that like a physical blow. “He’d just started to expand the Christmas novella into a full-length novel.” Allie was furious on his behalf. “He must be devastated.”
Hugh took another swallow of beer. “He’s not alone in that.”
Allie stood up and paced to the fireplace and back, unable to sit still when she was so concerned about Gavin. He would plunge back into that dark void again, back to the place where he had no control over his world. She couldn’t let that happen. She turned to Hugh. “Where’s the Bellwether Club?”
“You can’t get in there. It’s for billionaires only, and they guard their privacy fiercely.”
“Can’t Gavin let me in the club?”
“He’s gone off to lick his wounds alone, so he might not be receptive to that.”
“I have to try. Do you know where the club is?”
“No, but Jaros does.”
Allie headed for the door. “I’ll text Gavin when I get there.”
“What if he refuses to see you?”
“I’ll sit on the front steps of the Bellwether Club until he changes his mind.”
“I owe you an apology,” Hugh said from behind her. “You’re a better friend to him than I.”
Ludmilla thought the plan was a good one, so Allie was quickly ensconced in the back of the Bentley en route to Gavin’s club.
Allie stared at her phone, trying to figure out what words would make him agree to see her. Finally, she typed, Are you at the Bellwether Club? Ludmilla is worried.
The Bentley slid smoothly between crazily veering taxis and buses spewing clouds of exhaust as she waited. Finally there was a ping from her phone.
I’m fine.
Not helpful. Allie texted back, You didn’t wear a coat so she thinks you’re freezing to death on the streets.
Yes, I’m at the club.
She could practically hear him growling as he typed. That’s a relief. Glad you’re warm and cozy.
There was another pause before he responded. Is Hugh being a polite host?
She decided not to tell him she was on her way there. Maybe she could talk her way in. The West Virginia accent sometimes helped with that. I came to see you, not Hugh.
I’m not good company right now.
I think I should be the judge of that.
“Miss Allie, we are here,” Jaros said as he guided the car to the curb.
Allie peered out the car window to see a tall brownstone with a massive stone staircase leading up to a door painted a solid, forbidding black. Carved gargoyles jutted from the building’s corners and cornices. The shadows cast by the dramatic up-lighting made them seem to sneer down at her. The only indication of what the mansion housed was a small plaque by the door, on which the initials BC were painted in gold curlicues.