She nodded succinctly. “I understand that this is an inconvenience, but I’ve taken extra precautions to ensure that your schedule is not interrupted. I talked with Cathy in personnel, and she’s agreed to send a temp for me to train on daily duties.”

“It’s fine.”

“I’ll make sure she’s prepared before I leave. I’ll have my phone with me so you can contact me—or she can—if you need something. And I’ve made sure that your address book and calendar are up to date. The meeting next week—”

“It’s fine, Audrey. Take the time you need.” He folded the magazine and offered it back to her. “I take it you’re getting her some help?”

She took it from him, her fingers trembling with a rush of relief. “She refuses to go to rehab, but she’s agreed to go away for a time if I go with her. No parties, no drugs. I’m basically going to chaperone and try to get her to sober up.” She hesitated. “It might be a few weeks. It might be longer. If that’s a problem—”

“It’s fine.”

“If you need personal errands run—”

“I said it’s fine, Audrey.” Now he was getting annoyed with her. She could tell by the set of his eyebrows. “If I have personal errands, I’ll ask Brontë to step in and help. It’s not a big deal. Take the time that you need. Your family comes first.”

Words that she’d never thought she’d hear billionaire Logan Hawkings say. His fiancée must have mellowed him quite a bit. She nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Hawkings. I’ll make the arrangements with Cathy.”

“Close the door when you leave.” He turned back to his computer and began to type again.

She quietly exited his office, then shut the door behind her. Only when it was shut did she allow herself to lean against it, the breath whistling out of her in relief.

That had gone much better than she’d anticipated. Mellowed out, indeed. Two years ago—heck, six months ago—Logan would have given a few thinly veiled hints that if she’d valued her job, she’d find a way to make things happen. He paid her very well, after all, and if she couldn’t find a way to perform her job to his satisfaction, he’d find someone who could.

Of course, that was BH—Before Hurricane. And before Brontë. Still, Audrey hadn’t relished asking him for the favor. Logan knew she was twins with Daphne; he’d met her at a rather unfortunate dinner party once. Most people didn’t know she had a twin, and Audrey didn’t volunteer the information. She’d learned the hard way that the conversation usually went in one of three directions:

Scenario one: Oh, my God. You’re related to Daphne Petty? The Daphne Petty? The singer? Can you get me her autograph? Free tickets? A visit to my kid’s birthday party?

Scenario two: Daphne Petty? Really? You don’t look anything like her. She’s so thin and glamorous. You’re . . . not.

Or Scenario three: Daphne Petty? You poor thing. Is she really like that?

Scenario one was simply annoying, but she’d learned to deflect it a long time ago. No, she couldn’t get free swag/tickets/CDs of Daphne’s latest. No, she couldn’t have Daphne show up at someone’s birthday party. She kept business cards of the manager of Daphne’s fan club and handed them out when pressed.

Scenario two was irritating, but again, she’d learned to deal with it a long time ago. Stage Daphne dressed in wild, colorful outfits and thick makeup. She never left her car without six-inch heels, a thick fringe of fake eyelashes, and her hair dyed some trendy shade. She’d gone Hollywood thin years ago at her label’s suggestion (though secretly Audrey suspected drugs more than a healthy diet) and it was just another way that Audrey no longer looked like her twin.

Audrey’s hair was straight, smooth, and a pale orange-red that hadn’t faded when childhood did. Her skin was still lightly freckled, which was only obvious when she didn’t wear makeup. She never wore much, either because it would have looked out of place with her conservative business suits. And she was several sizes larger than Daphne. Where her twin had been a svelte size two, Audrey was soft, curvy, and just this side of plump. She didn’t wear false eyelashes or six-inch heels. She looked like Daphne, but only if one squinted hard and compared photos.

She was used to being insulted about her looks and being asked for favors. But worst of all was scenario three: the pity. The look she’d come to recognize all too closely in the last two years. The look on someone’s face as they recalled one of the more recent tabloids with Daphne’s escapades splashed across them, her stints of jail time, her public fiascos, the rumors of drugs, alcohol, men, and excess. The train wreck that bright, wild Daphne Petty had become.

And Audrey hadn’t been able to do a thing about it. She’d stood by, helpless, as her headstrong twin pushed her away and embraced all that her fast-paced lifestyle had to offer.

It was killing her. And that was why Audrey hated the pity more than anything else. Because she desperately wanted to do something about it, and now she had the chance. Daphne had called her last night at three in the morning, crying, from the back of a squad car. She’d called Audrey instead of her handlers, and though she’d been in LA instead of someplace that Audrey could have actually helped out with, her sister’s misery had broken her heart.

Daphne was reaching out to her. She wanted help. Not rehab, she said, because that would be all over the tabloids and she’d already been to rehab twice, without success. Just a chance to get away and reconnect with her old life, with Audrey’s assistance. This time, Daphne swore, it was going to be different. This time she’d leave behind the drugs and alcohol, if Audrey would just help her. She didn’t trust anyone else.

And so Audrey had promised to help. She’d go away with her twin. Put her life on hold and come to Daphne’s aid once again. She’d soothed her weeping twin on the phone, and then quietly contacted Daphne’s management about the most recent visit to the police station. Like most of Daphne’s incidents, they were able to make things disappear and Daphne was released from custody and flying to New York in the morning.

And then Audrey would start the slow process of finding Daphne again. Hopefully.

***

Audrey nibbled on a pretzel stick, flipping the pages of the latest romance novel she’d picked up at the supermarket. She checked the clock, then sighed and dug back into the pretzel bag. It was late and she was in her pajamas. Daphne’s plane was supposed to have landed hours ago, and she had promised—promised—to come straight to Audrey’s apartment from the airport. Audrey had volunteered to meet her twin, but Daphne had demurred, laughing it off and claiming she knew her way around New York just fine.

Except that the later it got into the night, the more positive Audrey was that her twin had made a few pit stops along the way. And it made her furious.

Some time after one a.m., she heard a knock at her door, and then a giggle. Stifling her irritation, she headed to the door and checked the peephole. Sure enough, there was Daphne, along with a stranger. Audrey unchained the door, flipped the lock, and flung the door open to glare balefully at Daphne and her companion.

Daphne leaned heavily on a tall, skinny man wearing black clothes and enormous plugs in his ears. He had several brow rings, neck tattoos, and a bright green faux-hawk. Daphne was, as usual, a disaster. Her jeans and T-shirt were stained, her hair was in a messy braid that hung over one shoulder, and the small suitcase at her side had shed clothes all down the hall. They both listed to the side and couldn’t stop giggling despite Audrey’s clear displeasure.

They were drunk. Sloppy drunk.

“You were supposed to be here hours ago, Daphne,” Audrey told her. “Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick.”

Daphne shrugged, pushing her way into Audrey’s apartment. “The flight sucked and made me all tense, so Stan and I went out for a nightcap.”

Audrey eyed Stan as Daphne staggered past her. When her date tried to follow, Audrey put a hand on his chest, stopping him. She gave him a polite smile. “Thanks for bringing her home.”

He grinned, showing a gold tooth. “Don’t I get to come in, too?”

“No, you don’t.”

He looked as if he’d argue, but then began to head back to the elevator, too wasted to even realize he’d just abandoned his famous hookup. Audrey quickly shut the door and re-bolted it, then turned to glare at Daphne.

Her sister was passed out, face down, on Audrey’s couch.

“I don’t believe you, Daph,” Audrey said. “Drinking? Weren’t you coming out here to clean up?”

“Tomorrow,” Daphne mumbled from the couch cushions, not bothering to get up. “I’m starting tomorrow. Quit yelling.”

“I’m not yelling!” Audrey bellowed, then winced when the neighbor pounded on the wall in response. Frustrated, Audrey grabbed Daphne’s suitcase and hauled it to the bedroom. Fine then. Daphne wanted to be like that? Audrey wouldn’t give her a choice in the matter. She’d simply have to take control—again—and save Daphne from herself.

Tossing the suitcase on her bed, she returned to the living room to grab Daphne’s purse. On the couch, her sister snored, oblivious to Audrey’s movements. Audrey snagged the purse, returned to the bed, and dumped the contents out.

The usual clutter fell onto the bedspread—half a protein bar, three lipsticks, a few pens, hair clips, and credit cards. Several prescription bottles fell out as well, and Audrey bit her lip, frowning as she read the names. Two of them weren’t even Daphne’s prescriptions.

She flushed those, along with the small baggy of white powder she found. Daphne would be pissed when she woke up, but Audrey didn’t care. Next, she searched the luggage and found several more pill bottles under different names, more drugs, and a thick packet tucked into the liner of her suitcase. It all went into the garbage, and with every item tossed, Audrey grew more and more determined.

Daphne wanted Audrey’s help in getting clean? She was willing to help, all right, but she was pretty sure Daphne wasn’t going to appreciate it. And that was too damn bad for her twin, because Audrey was in this for the long haul.

She returned to the living room and watched Daphne, snoring, on her couch. Makeup was smeared across Daphne’s delicate features, and her mouth hung open, slack, as she slept.

Audrey would get her twin back. No ifs, ands, or buts. Daphne would be furious and threaten her, but it didn’t matter.

Audrey had to do this once and for all, because it felt as if she’d already lost Daphne.

Chapter Two

Daphne was still seething with outrage, even twenty-four hours after she’d woken up and found that Audrey had gone through her things and rid them of any whiff of drugs.

That was just fine with Audrey. She didn’t care if Daphne was mad. She suspected Daphne was going to get a lot madder before they returned from their mini-vacation. A month in the family lake house? With no one around but the two of them? No drugs and no alcohol? They were bound to butt heads, and that was fine with Audrey. She expected it.

***

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