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A love triangle that will leave you reeling…
In other ways, I was unordinary. I’d dust off the sand and step into Stewart’s limousine. Zip up my evening gown and slide into my other life. Champagne and maid service. Orgasms and my businessman.
My life was a tide, pulling me back and forth between the two men. Soothing. Peaceful.
Then the undertow came, pulling my lives together, my men colliding, my breath shortening, arms flaying against the current, my heart breaking in its strength.
I should have known it would never work out.
*This story was originally published in 2013 under the title Sex Love Repeat. It was a 7x Book of the Year nominee and a USA Today Bestseller. This keeps the same storyline.*
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The heart is stubborn. It holds onto love despite what sense and emotion tells it. And it is often, in the battle of those three, the most brilliant of all.
I hear my name, but I cannot open my eyes. I try, pushing and pulling with the weak muscles of my eyelids, but there is no movement. Nothing to minimize the blackness, nothing to pull me from this rabbit hole of darkness. But I can hear. I have emerged into awareness with only one sense, and I grab onto it and pull upward, trying to raise myself into life through the elements of sound alone. I hear my name, hear Paul say it, crystal clear, his voice thick with emotion. I strain for more, worried he has left, tensing and pushing every muscle I have, trying for movement, trying to reach out with my hands and grab his skin, his shirt, anything.
Then I pause on my journey, all my efforts freezing, stalled in their worthless attempts, because a second voice has joined the first.
A voice I love—his deep, authoritative tone one that traditionally makes my breath quicken and my knees weak. But here, in this place, it makes my heart drop. His voice should never be heard in tandem with Paul’s, their presences should never be intersected, much less raised in what sounds to be an argument.
And I know, as my mind closes off—pushes me deeper into the black hole of oblivion, my subconscious fighting tooth and nail as I am pulled down, down, down—I have failed. All of my attempts, my careful lives of separation …
“Madison.” I hear my name one last time, but it is so faint, I cannot tell which man it comes from.
THREE MONTHS EARLIER
I am nosy. A meddler. Mom used to say it would be my downfall. She was probably right. It certainly got me in enough trouble early in life, my matchmaking skills often falling flat, my snooping ending disastrously. As an adult, I should know better. I should keep to myself—keep my curiosity to a minimum.
I haven’t seen Stewart in three years. Ever since we had a big blow up over Thanksgiving dinner and his inability to have time for anything but work. I now regret that fight. It was valid, and I was in the right, but it wasn’t worth the silence. Silence that stretched a week, then a month, then years, each passing holiday a reminder of my loss. I don’t know the reason for his silence. Is it stubbornness or the fact that his busy schedule has pushed thoughts of me out of his mind? I don’t know what’s worse—intentionally being snubbed or being forgotten about completely.
On my end, it was initially stubbornness, our commonalities peaking in that one trait: pride. And since I, after all, was right, there was really no reason for me to break first—to weaken and reach out when he was the one in error. Now, it doesn’t really matter whether I was right. I just want him back. Sadly, my point has been proven even more by his silence. He doesn’t have time for me. He only has time for work. And for her, that blonde who holds his busy heart in her hands.
I first saw them in the Los Angeles society pages, his hand tight around her waist, her smile bright and natural, affection in her eyes as she beamed at him. He is so rarely photographed, never having the time for the premieres or charity galas that most men of his position flock to like obedient animals. He doesn’t lunch at the Ivy or stroll through Beverly Hills. He takes the elevator down from his condo, walks four buildings west, and rides a different elevator up to his office. Work. Sleep. Repeat. At least that was his life when I knew it, when I had a small part in his heart. Maybe things are different now. Maybe he takes weekends off, has dinner dates, movie nights, and tropical vacations, and takes that ray of California blonde right along with him.
But I doubt it. My online stalking has shown no such habits. Best I can tell, he is the same Stewart—she is the only change.
I haven’t yet figured out if she’s a passing fancy or a long-term possibility, but I’ll find out. I moved here, in small part, to become a part of his life again, whether he wants me to or not. So, I’ll find out more about her. Soon, I’ll know how much of a role she plays in his life. I’ll sit back, watch, and gather information.
He’s certainly too busy to notice me watching.
I don’t know what it is about a wealthy man that women find appealing, but I’m victim to it along with the rest. And Stewart wears wealth as well as any man I know.