the Vandervilles, lies a dangerous web of secrets and a twisted tale
of passion, and suspense.
destroy them one by one.
the deceitful precarious States Attorney of California and his wife
Regina, reigning queen of the fashion world.
Vanderville and Chloe Matthews.
grip you and captivate you right from the start…
Good, she was by herself. Everyone else seemed to have gone to lunch and a handful of women milled about at the far end, near the other entrance.
I stopped by the archway and looked at her. The last time I was here she was only a fashion assistant assisting the creative team. Now she was part of it. Taylor had filled me in on her little friend’s achievements, oblivious to my fascination with Chloe.
I allowed myself a moment to appreciate her wild beauty that always captivated me. My eyes roamed leisurely over her figure, making up for the five years I missed out on. She looked better than I remembered, with her dainty features, flawless bronze skin, slender body, and slim hips.
I’d always loved her rich, golden blonde locks and had had the privilege of seeing it at different lengths and in a variety of styles over the years. It was long now, just the way I liked it, and hung in graceful curves over her shoulders. The wall lights bounced off it making the smooth strands look like lustrous glass tumbling carelessly down her back. I could see myself happily spending the day running my fingers through it.
She was the only woman I’d ever fantasized about, and I didn’t fantasize about anyone or anything. When I wanted something, I took it; I didn’t yearn for it or wonder what it would feel like to have it. I usually skipped past all of that and took whatever it was I desired, whether it was a woman or a thing.
However, I’d declared her off limits, unobtainable.
I continued to watch her, appreciating the way her straight-legged beige pants showed off her long, sculptured legs and the silky texture of the cream-colored camisole enunciated the full curves of her breasts. I admired the confidence she exuberated. It was the kind that radiated from someone who had the complete package and didn’t care what effect they created. Unlike most women who used their assets to lure and charm you, Chloe didn’t need to try.
Her charm and lure were just symptoms, something that came naturally to the perfect woman who didn’t have to work hard to get attention.
I didn’t know how the hell I could have blown my chance with her. How could I have rejected her willingness to be with me? How I could have said no?
I must have been crazy, despite my good intentions.
As she turned and saw me she jumped, startled by my presence. It made her drop the clothes.
“Jesus, what are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack?” She frowned at me.
I looked over the delicately carved bones in her flawless oval face, her full mouth that displayed generously curved, parted lips, and the dusty rose of her cheeks that grew rosier as her frown deepened.
Looking at her, I could see there was one person who wouldn’t be shedding any tears of joy for my return.
She gathered up the clothes, scooped them over her elegant wrists, and glowered at me with those sharp brown eyes that reminded me of autumn. I’d only ever seen colors like that in Japan. Vibrant in the tones and hues. Enchanting to captivate you and entice you to stare. Her lashes swept down across her cheekbones as she narrowed her eyes at me.
“Taylor’s friend,” I teased. “Look at you all woman sized.” The taunt widened her eyes and seemed to infuriate her.
Ours was a relationship that was always a bit all over the place. When she was little, she followed me around like a love-sick puppy. Literally like she worshiped the ground I walked on.
She looked nothing like that girl now.
“Can I help you with something?” she asked.
“Oh, I just came by so you could tell me how much you missed me.”
Her brows shot up, and she pursed her sparkly pink lips together in distaste.
“I’m sorry, did you leave? I wasn’t aware,” she retorted in cold sarcasm. She was the only woman who spoke to me like that.
Chloe couldn’t stand me. She was right to be on her guard. I was the worst kind of guy for a girl like her. Always was, and while I might have taken her infatuation with me into my own hands years ago and most assuredly broke her poor heart, it didn’t stop me from thinking about her.
Now more than ever since I’d sorted myself out. I’d never be the candy-coated, classic-movie kind of guy I pictured her with, but I’d kicked the bad stuff. I thought it gave me permission to see what chance I might still have with her.
“Ouch, doll, you’re hurting me.” I feigned injury to my heart and laughed. She didn’t like that.
“What do you want?” Her lips puckered with annoyance.
“I just told you. Also, I was hoping for another offer to rock my world.”
Her face colored fiercely, and her eyes blazed just like they did in the past.
“Jump up my ass, Wade,” she fumed, tossing the clothes on a nearby table and placing her hands on her hips to square off with me.
“Baby, is that an invitation? Because doll, I’d love to. Your ass looks great today.”
Her mouth dropped, and she glowered at me. “Don’t speak to me. Ever.” She shook her head and walked away towards the stock room.
I laughed as I watched her storm off, and I stared shamelessly at her fully rounded ass that looked even better than the last time I saw it. She made me hunger to know what secrets hid inside her soft, tempting body. My fingers yearned to touch her, and my mouth to taste her. Looking only reminded me of when she’d twirled around for me wearing nothing but a pink lace thong.
That was a long time ago now, long enough to brush under the rug and file as an act of youth. But I didn’t want to forget.
Looked like I’d chosen the perfect time to come back. I smiled to myself as I walked away.
ex-girlfriend turns up desperate to destroy what firm ground the two
have forged. Wade’s love for Chloe has grown so deep that he’ll
do anything to protect what he has with her – even if it means
spinning a new web of lies.
barely regains her feet… only to fall in love all over again with
her cheating lover. The attraction is so strong she can’t stop
herself, even though she knows she must.
give all the help she can but… Ben is scheming to use Runway to
financially back his bid for Governor. Will her struggles to keep her
family safe come at the expense of her daughter?
shouldn’t. But she’s dead and the cops finger him as the killer.
Only the real killer is still on the loose and hunting…
He’d woken me up to check on me to see if I was okay. Then he started searching through the house. When I asked him what he was looking for he said it was nothing to worry about.
Then he started looking at the CCTV and decided he’d get a new system because the cameras inside the house weren’t good enough.
He was outside now with a guy who’d come to look at the place and install a new system. All that and it was barely eight a.m. I didn’t even know how he got that man to come out so early. I supposed though that he probably paid him quite a lot.
I wasn’t sure what was going on so I decided to wait in the living room until he was finished, then I’d head out for work. I wanted to get in early so I could leave at lunch time and be at the hospital for visiting hours.
Yesterday I tried to call my parents to let them know what had happened to Taylor. I was actually hoping that one or both of them would come back.
If there was anyone who could make me feel better it was my mom.
Yesterday when I called their home in France I was told that they’d gone to Africa for a mini safari holiday. Then I couldn’t get through to the place they were staying at.
I just decided to try again and got put through to a man called Tunde.
“Hi I’m trying to reach Felicity and Philip Matthews. They could be down as Flick and Phil.” My parents loved telling people to call them that. My mother said it had a certain ring to it that she liked.
“Oh yes, Flick and Phil,” he said in a rich African accent. There was a hint of a smile in his voice. “They’re going to be out on the reserve for another two days but I can get a message to them.”
“Thanks so much. Could you possibly let them know there’s an emergency in L.A. I’m Chloe, their daughter. If they could call me that would be great.” I thought that was the best way to put it so they’d know that there was an emergency, but hopefully not panic too much.
“Sure thing Chloe. I’ll make sure they get the message.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.”
I sighed with frustration when I hung up. It was just like my parents to do something so extravagant. Who went on a safari holiday in the middle of April? Easter was two days away, most people just rested. But no, my parents were probably riding lions across the Sahara.
I sighed with frustration, annoyed that they hadn’t told me they’d be in Africa. They didn’t usually tell me when they went off on one of their getaways but it would have been nice to be kept in the loop. Particularly during times like this. It would be good for me if they were here, but I needed them too. They’d know exactly what to say to give me the strength I needed, and they’d offer their support.
I sighed with annoyance and stood when I looked over at the clock on the wall and saw the time. I was hoping to have breakfast with Wade, but I had to leave now if I wanted to get all that I had planned done and get to the hospital to stay with Taylor.
Wade came into the living room holding a receipt. I glimpsed the figures on it and thought I saw what looked like ten thousand dollars.
“Did you get your parents?” he asked.
“No, and I won’t any time soon. They’ll be practically out of reach for another two days. I can’t believe they didn’t tell me they were going to be in Africa.”
“Baby don’t get worked up.”
“I just wish they were here,” I frowned. “Sometimes I feel like they stopped being my parents when I turned eighteen.”
“That’s no bad thing.” He chuckled then walked over to the window and looked it over like he was checking it worked.
“Wade, what is going on? You’ve been acting weird all morning.”
“I’m having the place checked out.”
“For what? And what are you expecting, an army of thieves?”
He narrowed his gray eyes at me. “Baby, safety is a priority. You girls leave your house on show for everyone to come through.”
“It isn’t that bad.”
“Yes, it is. It’s terrible. Three women and a cat in a house with the windows and doors open scream come and attack me, or rob me.”
“I forgot how crazy you can be.”
He grimaced at me and frowned when I picked up my bag. “Where are you going?”
“Work,” I replied.
“No, no. Call in sick. Stay with me today and then we can go together to the hospital.”
“Wade, I’m the creative director, I have a lot of work to do and even more because I want to spend some time with Taylor. I can’t just call in sick.”
“Okay, I’ll come with you then.” If that wasn’t weird I didn’t know what was.
“No. I’m fine. You stay here and sort out whatever it is you’re sorting.”
He was already shaking his head before I could finish. “I’ll get the keys. We’ll take the car.”
I watched him go upstairs. I was about to continue the protest, but stopped myself. As annoying as it was that he was super protective of me, it was nice. I had never had anyone take care of me like that. He was just showing me that he loved me, and I appreciated it.
When he came back down he took my hand and led me to the car.
catching up with him. Will anyone in this family emerge from the
Wade’s innocence. The deeper they dig the more the shocking truth
becomes visible. Will they discover the man behind the drama? What
happens if they do?
unleashes more trouble. As always Regina is caught in the middle, but
this time it’s worse. She doesn’t know where she’ll begin to
the world with the fresh clear eyes that only forgiveness of a
betrayal can give? Will she be able to trust again?
romantic love they so richly deserve?
She didn’t deserve to die.
She was a nice person.
Her family would be devastated. I could just imagine the tears and the heartbreak. They may never get over her death.
I understood. I’d never been able to get over my mother’s death.
Time never healed me; it only made my loss feel worse. Every day was worse. Maybe it would have been different if my mother had died of natural causes. Maybe I could have accepted that and tried to move on.
Murder was different; it meant she had a chance to live, but someone else took it from her.
They called me a psycho. Maybe I was. I certainly thought like one, but they made me that way. Benjamin Vanderville made me this way, so they could all thank him.
Admittedly I no longer saw the boundaries that existed to keep right and wrong separated. I just saw revenge; everything else was details. However, I did feel for Merissa because of all she’d been through with her involvement with Wade Vanderville and the loss of their baby.
I’d been on the fence for a long time on her part in this game. In the end I’d decided that her death was necessary.
Merissa was a sacrifice for a cause. A necessary sacrifice.
My cause might not have been her cause, but she served her purpose well.
It was time to speed things along and really get my plan in motion. It was time to get serious and up the game.
The time for simply scaring them all was over.
I answered my phone and pressed it to my ear as it rang.
“What’s next boss?” said my truly psychotic partner in crime.
If people thought I was a psycho I wondered what they would think of my friend. This man had no heart and could kill without blinking an eye, or having any form of afterthought.
Life and death were nothing to him.
Our stories were similar: both were products of revenge. Merissa’s was, too. Revenge was the essence of what we had in common. That was why they were so easy to recruit for this grand scheme.
However, only this guy could have killed Merissa so effortlessly. There was something soulless about him that didn’t care about right and wrong. He’d offered straightaway to kill her without any thought to it at all.
“Come back here, we have things to do,” I said into the phone and lowered it back to the table when my friend hung up.
On the flat screen TV before me the press were having a field day.
Wade Vanderville arrested for murder.
That was the headline, and boy was it on every single channel. I’d flicked through a few minutes ago and yes, every channel was reporting the latest Vanderville scandal.
I’d timed it perfectly with Taylor’s little tryst a few days ago. That had been for fun more than anything, but still timed perfectly. People like them did themselves in. I’d gotten to know their personalities and behavior over the time I’d watched them so knew what they were likely to do even before they thought about their actions.
That made me one step ahead of the game. Admittedly, Wade was a wild card because I never anticipated his return and that everything would play out so well.
I wondered what they’d all think now. Their precious Wade, arrested for murder. The guy had no alibi, no witnesses, nothing. My friend had left the knife right by Wade after he covered the thing with his fingerprints.
It was funny. And comforting. This plan couldn’t have gone better, even the mishaps were working in my favor.
My years of waiting were paying off dramatically, and finally I was beginning to feel some form of justice. It would never help with my loss, but it was something.
I could still remember the day when my mother was taken away from me.
That was always clear in my mind, as if it had only just happened.
I sat back in my chair and rested my head against the padded leather of its back. Images of her flooded my mind.
Images of her life.
Images of her death…
Next month would be twenty years since she was taken from me. Twenty long years.
She’d never had justice, never even had a proper funeral. Her family never got the chance to lay her to rest properly and say their goodbyes. She deserved so much more than that.
Aaron. That was my name. That was the name she gave me.
I’d gone by so many names since then that Aaron just seemed like another alias. Another alias for that time in my life when I’d been the talented son of Rachel Dean and the fallen marine Kennedy Bryce.
I remembered what it felt like to be their son. The same as I remembered that awful day of her death. As if it was happening right before my eyes.
The tenseness in the atmosphere. The smell of anticipation in the air. And… uncertainty…
The day she died would always be burned in my memory.
I’d just turned seventeen and was studying extremely hard for my SATs. I was en- route to going to Harvard to study medicine. I wanted to be a surgeon.
That day she came home in a heated fluster. I was in my room going over some mathematical equations when I heard her come home. She would normally call out to me when she arrived but that time she didn’t. It was me that had to go to her. I found her in her room packing.
I closed my eyes and remembered it all…
husband, two kids, and three crazy ferrets.
and ice skating.
chocolate, or hanging out with her family and friends.
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