“There’s no landline,” Reese told her, not bothering to get up from the couch. “And your phone is in the hot tub.”
“Then I’ll use your phone.”
“It’s in my pants.” He grinned. “Guess where those are.”
“In the car?” she asked weakly, then slumped on the corner of the couch opposite from him. “This is a nightmare.”
“Hey, look at the bright side. You have pants.”
Audrey rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Will you shut up for five minutes? Please! You’re driving me mad!”
“Audrey?” Daphne’s thin voice came from the stairs. “I thought I heard someone talking. Is everything okay? Did you get them to leave?”
Audrey stared at Reese in horror and then bolted from the couch, running for the stairs. She had to get to Daphne before Reese saw her.
To her intense frustration, Reese dashed after her and nearly skidded into her back when she halted at the base of the stairs.
Daphne stood on the steps, her hand to her forehead. Her thin face was ghost pale and her fingers were trembling, her eyes sunken. She stared at Reese for a moment, then focused back on Audrey again. “Who’s that?”
“One of Cade’s friends,” she said, forcing a bright smile to her face. “It’s all right. He’s promised not to say anything about you being here. Cade will take care of it.” And she leaned in and pinched Reese’s arm, hard, as if daring him to say anything to the contrary.
“That’s right,” Reese said. His voice had taken on an oddly gentle tone, very different from the constant obnoxious teasing he sent her way. “I’m staying a few days, but your secret’s safe with me. No worries.”
“Thank you,” Daphne said quietly. Her fingers brushed her forehead again. “I think I’m going to take a nap, Audrey. I’m not feeling so hot.”
“All right,” Audrey said. “Do you need anything? A glass of water? Aspirin?”
Daphne shook her head, turning and heading back up the stairs. “Just want to sleep.”
“Just yell if you need anything,” Audrey called after her, and remained where she was until Daphne disappeared. As soon as her twin was gone, she turned to Reese, grabbed him by the arm, and dragged him back toward the living room. To her satisfaction, he didn’t fight her. When they were a safe distance away, she dropped his arm and whispered, “You cannot say a word of this to the papers.”
Reese gave her an odd look. “So you’re that Audrey. Gretchen’s sister Audrey.” He was looking at her as if seeing her for the first time.
Her face burned. She knew what he was referring to. Last month, Gretchen and her new boyfriend, Hunter, had given a dinner party. Audrey had been invited but Daphne had showed up at Audrey’s apartment at the last minute, high as a kite and upset about the cancellation of her latest tour by her label, who didn’t think she was healthy enough to perform. Audrey’d had no choice but to take Daphne with her to Gretchen’s party, and all of Logan Hawkings’s rich and powerful friends had been there—including Cade Archer and Reese. At the party, Daphne had drank copious amounts of wine and embarrassed the hell out of herself—and Audrey.
It wasn’t surprising that Reese hadn’t remembered her until he’d seen her with Daphne. She was a pretty forgettable sort. She didn’t dress flashy, didn’t call attention to herself. Still, the fact that he remembered now and was thinking of that party? Humiliating. Audrey’s cheeks burned in memory. “Gretchen’s sister Audrey,” she affirmed. “And you can’t say a thing about Daphne being here. If the paparazzi get wind of this, she’ll get more stressed than she already is.”
“She’s not stressed. She’s strung out. Didn’t you see how her hands were shaking? She needs a doctor, Audrey.”
Her hands clenched all over again. The last thing she needed was a bossy jerk butting into their business. “Don’t you think I know that? She won’t see one. This is the only thing she’ll let me do for her.”
“Stop asking her and just do it. She clearly isn’t in a position to make decisions for herself.”
“You don’t understand. She’s my twin. If I betray her, she’ll never forgive me.” Daphne had cut Audrey out of her life once, for a year, and it had been awful. She’d been worried sick for Daph the entire time. If staying in Daphne’s life meant giving in on certain things, then Audrey would. If she wasn’t in Daphne’s life at all, she couldn’t help her.
He shook his head, then rubbed a hand through his wet hair. “She needs rehab more than she needs a vacation. You’re not doing her any favors here.”
“Look, will you please just go? Just forget you saw us here. I’ll call you a cab and you can go back to chasing after Tiffany and her father’s money.”
“Camilla, and I’m staying.” He headed back to the couch and lounged on the end of it, locking his hands behind his head. “She’s going to need a few days to cool down and it’s time I had a vacation. Besides, you’re going to need my help.”
“I don’t need your help.”
“You will if she’s looking that bad already,” he cautioned.
“Cade’s going to be here soon,” she said desperately. “He’ll help me with things.”
He looked at her, then shrugged. “Still not going.”
“There aren’t enough rooms.”
“There are three. One for me, one for Cade, and you and your sister can share.” He wagged his eyebrows at her. “Or you and I can share.”
“Or you can leave,” she snapped. When he put a finger to his lips and pointed at the ceiling, indicating that she should be quiet for her napping sister, she had to bite down on her lip to keep from screaming.
This man was going to drive her absolutely insane. Where, oh where was Cade when she needed him?
It was, quite possibly, the longest afternoon she’d spent in quite some time. With her twin upstairs napping and no one around except for Reese—who she didn’t want to talk to—Audrey sat on a corner of the sofa and drummed her fingers, waiting for Cade to arrive.
She couldn’t go upstairs and unpack at the moment. Daphne looked exhausted and Audrey didn’t want to wake her. She could have read one of her romance novels, she supposed, but Reese was lurking in the too-small lodge and she had no wish to hear smirky commentary from him about what she was reading. So she sat and waited, drumming her fingers on the arm of the couch. If she’d had her phone, she could have gone through work email and routed it to the temp covering her job. But her phone had been thrown into the hot tub and was completely and utterly destroyed.
Reese had disappeared and reappeared some time later in what must have been Cade’s clothing—a T-shirt that was a few sizes too small and a pair of pajama pants that looked to be about four inches too short. She’d almost laughed aloud at the sight—almost—except that when he turned, that tight T-shirt displayed every single muscle in his well-defined body, including a pair of the most sculpted arms she’d ever seen. When his hand slid over his stomach, idly scratching at his skin, her gaze had followed, riveted.
It suddenly hadn’t been a laughing matter anymore.
She’d gotten up and went outside, admiring the view that the cabin offered. They were perched in the trees and atop a hill, but behind the cabin she saw a dirt path leading to a small dock and a crystal clear lake surrounded by trees. This was by far the prettiest vacation spot she’d ever been to, and she supposed that money could buy just about anything after all.
Someone came up behind her as she gazed down at the lake. “So,” Reese said, leaning on the wood railing of the balcony. “You avoiding me or are you planning a secret skinny-dipping rendezvous later?”
She took it back. Money couldn’t buy a personality for Reese Durham. Audrey cast him a scathing look. “Don’t you have a rock you could crawl back under?”
He chuckled, amused by her irritation. “Hey, if you didn’t want me here, you shouldn’t have ran my date off.”
She ignored him. It seemed to be the best policy at the moment. Instead, she focused her attention on the lake and the lovely weather. It was brisk but clear, and there was no snow (for which she was thankful for).
Inside the cabin, a male voice called out, “Hello?”
Cade was here!
Audrey’s heart pounded in her chest and she jerked upright. Automatically, her hands went to her hair and she smoothed a few stray locks down, then bit her lips to plump them. She glanced over at Reese and noticed he was watching her with great interest, one eyebrow raised.
She ignored his inquiring look and headed into the house, her heart pounding with excitement. Cade was finally here.
Standing in the doorway, looking just as gorgeous as the last time she’d seen him, was the man she was in love with.
Audrey gave a small little sigh of pleasure at the sight of him, noticing the fine cut of his gray suit and the matching tie. Cade wasn’t as tall as Reese or Logan, but he was well built and oh-so handsome. Dark blond hair clung to his elegant skull and his blue eyes brightened at the sight of her.
He held his arms out in greeting. “Audrey! Look at you. You look terrific.”
She rushed into his arms, feeling the blush heat her cheeks and didn’t care. She clung to him, enjoying the warmth of his arms around her, smelling the fresh dry cleaning scent of his clothing.
He pulled her away and smiled down at her upturned face. “I’m so glad you and Daphne decided to come to the cabin.”
“Well, you know Daphne,” she said, delighted at his obvious pleasure. “Once she gets an idea in her head, she won’t let go of it.”
“She’s not the only twin like that,” Cade said easily, then glanced around the room. “Speaking of twin, where is yours?”
“Sleeping,” Audrey said with a small grimace. “She wasn’t feeling so well.”
His sparkling gaze turned somber. “Is she . . . all right?”
Audrey nodded. “For now. She says this time she’s going to change. She promised.” She didn’t add that Daphne had promised that many times before, and then just as quickly broke her promises. This time, Audrey vowed, it’d be different.
Cade nodded. He rubbed Audrey’s arm as if to reassure her. “Well, it’s going to be good to have all three of us together again. Just like old times, eh?”
“Just like,” she said, and was horrified to hear a girlish giggle escape her throat. God, was that pathetic sound coming from her?
Cade didn’t seem to notice it, though. He continued to smile at her. “How have you been? It feels like forever since we’ve seen each other.”
“We saw each other last month at Gretchen’s party,” she told him, then grimaced. “Briefly.”
“Mmm.” His face fell a little and his smile faded a bit as they both recalled Daphne’s actions at that party. Once again, Daphne hadn’t listened to a thing that Audrey had said, and Cade had come to the rescue, scooping Daphne into his arms and removing her and Audrey from the party.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com