Authors: Kathleen Brooks
“Yes, I know her . . .
The man’s smile just widened in response to Finn.
“Yeah, so do I. Nate Reece.” The man held out his hand, and Finn shook it automatically.
“Baby, stop talking to this nobody. There’s the photographer for
,” the woman whined.
Finn watched as Nate’s hand went to her knee, his arm wrapped around her shoulder, and he leaned in to whisper in her ear. The actress blushed and laughed. This guy was a womanizer if he ever saw one, and now he was asking about Allegra. Finn gritted his teeth as his mind went in directions he didn’t want it to go.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” Allegra whispered in his ear, causing him to jump.
“Where did you come from?”
“Backstage. I wanted to wish David and Josh good luck. I missed you.” Allegra leaned over and kissed him. His anger disappeared and neither the lights dimming, the crystal waterfall flowing, nor the models stomping by could draw his attention from the woman next to him.
“I’m so glad you’re here. I was stuck talking to your ex-boyfriend. I can see why you broke up with him.” Finn was taken aback at how fast Allegra changed. Sure, he shouldn’t bad-mouth someone she’d dated, but he wasn’t expecting her to go white and her grasp to tighten on his hand.
“Harry?” she gasped as she looked around.
“No, Nate Reece,” Finn told her. Color rushed back to her face and her hand loosened its grip.
“Oh, Nate!” Allegra leaned forward and waved. Finn clutched his jaw when the bastard blew her a kiss. “He’s great, isn’t he?”
Allegra’s eyes widened in surprise. “Well, yes, but how did you know?”
“Oh,” Allegra laughed, “nothing.”
“Wait, who’s Harry?”
Finn saw the reaction immediately. She lost her glow. “He’s who I’ve needed to talk to you about. He’s the reason I couldn’t tell you how I felt. But, it’s a talk for another time . . . tonight, when we get home.”
Finn wrapped his arm around her and felt her nuzzle in closer to him. Nate Reece could kiss his ass. He had Allegra now, and he’d never let her go. Ever.
Allegra stood up and cheered as David and Josh walked the runway with their models. They’d done it. Their show had been astonishing. She watched as editors and advertisers typed feverishly, posted pictures, emailed offers to the models, and ordered Bellerose clothing.
Finn stood stiffly next to her as Nate made his way over and kissed her cheek.
“Oh my God, what a hunk,” Nate whispered in her ear and Allegra tried to hide her laugh.
“I know.” She was sure the press was writing it up that Nate was hitting on her in front of her boyfriend.
“How’s the other problem?”
Allegra felt her face tighten into a forced smile. “He’s here.”
“Did you call the cops? What does Finn say about it?”
“There’s security right behind me pretending to be my driver. I’m telling Finn about it tonight.”
“You need to tell him,” was all Finn heard Nate whisper into Allegra’s ear. What was going on? Was Nate making his move? Finn felt his heart tighten in his chest. He was about to lose the best thing to ever happen to him.
“Come on, sweetheart. Let’s go congratulate the guys.”
Nate smiled at them both. “Tell them it was a great show. I’ll meet with them at the after-party. Tell them to bring their best offer.” Nate kissed her cheek. “Call me if you need me—anytime. Promise?”
“Promise.” Allegra smiled kindly as she squeezed his hand. Finn knew he was bordering on acting like a toddler in the middle of a tantrum, but he didn’t care. He pulled Allegra away.
“Did you enjoy the show?” he asked.
“I’m so proud of them. They outdid themselves. But, Finn, I only want to stay for a little while. There are things we need to talk about.”
Finn nodded. He couldn’t speak. He knew what she was going to say. She was choosing Nate Reece.
Finn sat back against the leather seat and closed his eyes. Allegra had been different all night. She’d been flustered, fake, and distracted. She was avoiding something—most likely him. When he heard the partition rise, he knew the speech was coming.
“Go ahead. Say it,” Finn challenged her without opening his eyes.
“I have this ex-boyfriend,” Allegra started to say before taking a deep breath. “He won’t leave me alone.”
Finn’s eyes flew open, and he sat up in his seat. “Nate won’t leave you alone? I’ll kick his ass.”
“No, Finn. It’s not Nate. I dated this guy named Harry Daniels. I met him online. When I met him in person he wasn’t anything like he was online, but I thought he was funny so I gave him a chance. We started dating and things were fine until we, um, had sex.”
Finn swallowed the comment he was going to say. Allegra was clearly upset. She had started to shake. He needed to be supportive, not jealous and obsessive. “Go on, sweetheart.” He wrapped his arm around her, and she laid her head on his chest. He’d protect her. He’d take care of her. No matter what this asshole did.
“He started slowly—telling me I was stupid, telling me I couldn’t do anything myself. That it was good he was there to tell me what to do or I’d likely kill myself. He said I was horrible in bed. I wasn’t sexy. I wasn’t even pretty. I became so self-conscious about everything I did, from what I wore, to my own designs, and even wondering if I was ordering pizza right.” Allegra let out a long breath. “I finally broke up with him. My sisters all said
I told you so
. They had been trying to get me to break up with him for months. So, my confidence couldn’t handle it when he started to stalk me. I was scared to go to my sisters. Between him and their
I told you so’s
, I felt worthless and stupid.”
“What did you do?”
“Nothing at first. But then I tried to meet with him and tell him it wasn’t going to happen. I told him we could be friends. All the usual lines.”
Finn held back his comment about her being too nice. Her sisters had been right about that. He’d heard Elle talk to Bree about it many times. They worried she wouldn’t be able to stand up for herself. It was one of the reasons Finn had asked her if she wanted to join him to work out in the mornings. That, and he wanted to be near her.
“About six months after we broke up and I had that talk with him, everything got better. He hadn’t called, hadn’t emailed, and no longer stopped by my house. I thought he’d moved on. That’s when you and I started going to the gym together and, um, working together more. It’s when I started falling for you. But then I started getting these anonymous texts and emails threatening me.”
“How were they threatening?”
“They said I was his and his alone. That I was a whore if I looked at another man, and he’d have to punish me if I left him. I was afraid of what he’d do. I was afraid he’d hurt you.”
Finn fought the anger coursing through him and ran a gentle hand over her hair instead. She needed his support. “One asshole isn’t going to scare me away. I love you too much to just walk away.” This jackass had no idea the type of man Finn was—what he’d done, seen, and was prepared to do to keep the woman he loved safe.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you before. I was embarrassed I couldn’t handle it on my own. I confronted Harry a month ago, and things have been quiet. But those flowers that were delivered to me this morning, they were from him. He called me a whore. He must have known you were with me. And then today, I received another note reminding me I was his. Somehow he knows I’ve moved on, and now I’m scared he’ll do something rash.”
“Have you called the police?”
“Yes. That’s actually an off-duty SWAT officer driving the car. And I called Damien. He’s trying to track down who sent the flowers and is working with the Georgia state troopers to find Harry. So far they haven’t found him or his car. All his information has been handed over to the police up here.”
“What about Mallory? Why isn’t she here or someone from her firm?” Finn asked. Mallory Westin was Elle’s best friend and basically another sister to Allegra. She was a socialite-turned-security expert and would fit in perfectly at Fashion Week.
“I haven’t told anyone in my family. I just can’t. I’m tired of the pathetic looks and being treated like a baby.”
“Okay. I won’t tell them, but I’m glad you trusted me enough to tell me. Kane wrapped up his commercial shoot today. All I have are some meetings over the next couple of days, but I’m free every night. I don’t want you alone until this guy is caught.”
“I won’t be. I’ll have the protection detail. Thank you for listening and not telling me I handled this all wrong. I know I did. I should have filed a restraining order after the first email, but I was so embarrassed.”
Finn knew how much Allegra liked to please people. She was the one who always brought peace to the bickering siblings or the one who smoothed over upset investors. She was the nice one. Elle was the bossy one, Bree was the scary one, and Reid was the laid-back one. Although, he’d learned, it was always the nice ones you had to look out for. You never expected their bite.
“Is that why you went to Tigo’s every morning?”
“You knew about that?”
Finn chuckled. “I introduced your family to my gym in the bad part of town. Don’t you think I’d know if you were still going there? Tigo told me.”
“It was so cool. He taught me all this self-defense.”
“Good. That was really smart of you to do. There’s a time to be nice, and then there’s a time to fight for your life.”
“I’ll remember that. I’m determined to move on with my life. He almost made me lose you once, but never again.”
The car came to a stop, and the officer opened the door for them. “Don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas on how we can take your mind off him,” Finn whispered as they made their way to her condo.
His fingers dug so deeply into the palms of his hands he felt the warmth of his own blood dripping to the concrete sidewalk. He watched Allegra lay her head on that man’s shoulder and disappear through the lobby. She didn’t take his warnings seriously. Well, he’d show her. She’d be begging him to forgive her by the time he was done with her.
* * *
Allegra lay in bed as she watched Finn get ready for the day. The past two days had flown by, and tonight was her party. It was also the day Finn was the busiest. He was meeting with two companies interested in hiring Kane to be their spokesperson. She had two fashion shows to attend and then would be running over to NITE to make sure it was ready for the crush of people she was expecting for her after-party.
She’d get going soon enough, but she was really enjoying the view. Finn wasn’t self-conscious at all as he walked around naked. He sat at the end of the bed and slid his shirt over his head. “I got you something today. To celebrate with tonight.”
Allegra sat up, letting the sheet fall from her bare breasts and pool in her lap. “Really? What did you get me?”
“It’s a surprise. But it’s for tonight after we get home.”
“When do I get it?” Allegra asked excitedly. She was a sucker for gifts.
“When I decide it’s the right time. Besides, you’re cute when you’re this excited.” Finn stepped into his pants and tucked in his shirt.
“Fine,” Allegra teasingly whined. “I’m going to take my shower. I have my last shows, and then I’ll come back here to change for the party. Will I see you here or at the party?”
“Probably at the party. Keep the officer with you. I know it’s been quiet, but Damien said they haven’t found Harry yet. You shouldn't take any chances.”
“I won’t. Now come kiss me goodbye.”
“I think I can manage that.” Finn smiled as he crawled up the bed. He didn’t stop until his hands were beside her head and his hips were pressed against hers.
He lowered his head and captured her lips in a kiss meant to leave her desperate for more. Then he pulled away and smiled down at her. “Have a great day. I love you.”
“Uh!” Allegra threw a pillow at him. “You leave me in a state like this and tell me to have a good day?”
Finn laughed as he headed out the door.
He waited as the bastard left his condo. That was
wife. Why did he want to marry such a whore? But he’d teach her. He’d been planning their marriage since before they even met. He’d seen her pictures online and knew she was the one.
. Then he met her, and he knew he’d chosen wisely. She’d submit to him. She’d beg him. He’d had their whole life planned out when she rejected him, and this trash moved in on him.
He thought he’d won her back when he sent her those emails and texts. And she had stopped seeing Finn, just as he knew she would. She
. But just like every good woman, she needed to be broken. He looked down at the white box he held in his hands. It was the first of her lessons.
The doorman closed the door, but he didn’t need to go in the front. He walked along the side of the building and waited. Sure enough, the building super was coming in and out carrying supplies. He waited until the supervisor turned his back and walked right in the side door and pressed the button to the penthouse.
Stupid cops. They were sitting in the lobby as if that would keep him from his wife. He pulled out a key to their condo and slid it into the door. He heard the shower running and felt his erection grow with need. Soon, he promised himself. He walked confidently into the condo. He knew where everything was. It wasn’t the first time he’d been there. He smiled at the picture of Allegra with two long pigtails and missing front teeth that hung on the wall. Someday their daughter would be just as cute.
He paused outside her bedroom door and listened to her singing in the shower. He stepped in and frowned. His grip almost broke the box he was holding. The bedding was scattered, and the room smelled like sex. Whore! He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself. Once he regained control, he silently stepped closer to the bathroom.
Steam and the soft smell of her shampoo reached him as he entered the bathroom. She was right there. So close to him he could reach out and touch her bare breasts, currently being caressed by the warm water. She was so beautiful as she sang with the music coming from the waterproof speakers. Her breasts bounced, her hips shook, and he saw himself there with her. Forever.
Instead of stripping down and joining her, he set the box on the counter and took a step back. Soon she’d do all of this for him whenever he told her to. Soon he’d be the one making the bed sheets fall to the ground in a tangled mess. Soon . . .
After all, it was their destiny.