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“Me? Yeah. I’m fine.”

“You look a million miles away.”

She tried to compose her face so he’d believe her. “Guess my mind was wandering.”

As they turned the corner she saw a posted ad on a bus stop.


Pride swelled in her chest. Clara and Warner sure had made a name for themselves. She was so proud of her. She wondered if she was in town and perhaps they could have lunch. When she got home she was going to call her. She really missed her.

But then, again, reality took hold.

Clara was Christian’s sister. She couldn’t just be the sister-in-law Victoria pretended, in her head, that she was. But she and Clara were close, why should that stop? After all, she was one of the women to buy her the dress for the wedding—which had turned Christian’s head.

“You know I was a little giddy when I got to meet Clara Wright,” Scott said pulling her out of her trance. “At the wedding.” He nodded toward the bus stop to acknowledge he’d seen the ad.

“Clara? Why?”

“I really enjoy their music and to think you knew her when.”

Victoria smiled. That’s right. She knew her when.

She thought about the night she met Clara—the night she met Christian. It was a benefit for his Aunt Simone’s charity. She’d been Christian’s blind date. Nothing in her life had been the same since that night.

“I heard they’re going to be opening for someone at Bridgestone. Think we can get tickets?”

That brought a wide grin to her lips. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll call Clara and ask.”

“Really? You don’t seem like the kind to use your friends.” He nudged her jokingly.

“She loves to be used like that. Besides, I miss her.”

“Just because you don’t date her brother doesn’t mean you can’t be friends.”

Victoria considered him. He was so perfect, why didn’t she feel the same way around him as she did around Christian?

“It wouldn’t bother you if I saw Clara?”

“No. You’re content in your life. Why would I worry about that?”

Because I’m a big fat liar, she thought as they turned the next corner and headed home.

Chapter Eleven

Office doors were supposed to offer privacy, but when you worked with your brother that wasn’t the case. Ed nearly flew through the door in one of his raw, angry moods. He walked right up to Christian’s desk and threw down a new razor and a pack of unopened blades.

“What the hell? You think you can barge in?”

Ed plopped himself down in a chair in front of his desk and kicked his feet up on Christian’s desk.

“You look like shit. You haven’t shaved in almost three weeks. You don’t look like you slept either.”

“And this bothers you?”

“Yes. You’re an embarrassment to the company.”

“And that’s what you’re worried about?”

Ed dropped his feet and leaned his arms on the desk. This was more brotherly, Christian thought.

“No. I’m worried about you. I know this is all about Tori.”

He wanted to argue with him. He wanted to stand up and punch him in the jaw, but Ed was right.

Christian sunk into his chair. “I thought I had her back. I thought that night we spent together was going to mend everything and just like that,” he snapped his fingers, “I’d have her back.”

“So what didn’t work?”

“My big mouth. I guess when I asked her up to the room I specifically asked her for just one night.”

“And you left it at that?”

“No. I went to her house. I took flowers. Then she reminded me she was dating that guy and I reminded her she’d slept with me.”

“Real smooth.”

He stood up from behind his desk. “I know. Listen, I’m not good at this. And I drove by last weekend and his car was there, again. I’m done. What else can I do?”

Ed stood. “Shave.” He turned and walked to the door. “Clara will be up here in a few hours.”

Christian shrugged at him. “Why?”

“She’s meeting Victoria for lunch. She figures she’ll have plenty of things to say to you when she’s done.”

Ed walked out of the office and shut the door. Well, wasn’t that perfect? His sister could still be part of Tori’s life, but he couldn’t? That didn’t even seem fair.

He picked up the razor and looked at it. His brother-in-law Warner would know where they were going for lunch. Suddenly, he was getting hungry.

Lunchtime on Music Row was an eclectic mix of music professionals and tourists trying to catch a peek. It was a good thing Warner told Christian right where to go. Bella Napoli was a hidden gem, but a good one.

He’d heard his sister’s laughter before he even saw her. Her back was to him and her lunch date was obscured by the waiter.

Christian walked slowly toward them, not sure of what he wanted to say when he got to them.

The waiter moved just as he neared them, and it was the first time he’d looked at Victoria in almost three weeks.

Something was wrong and she looked sick.

A million things ran through his mind. She had a cold. The kids had been up all night. She was dying.

Her hair had lost that luster it always had whether styled or drawn up. There were dark circles around her eyes and he was sure she’d lost ten pounds in the past few weeks.

The moment she looked up at him he forced a cunning smile, one he used when playing ball and the fans beckoned him to be photographed with them. Her eyes grew wide and that forced his sister to turn.

“What are you doing here? Oh and good, you shaved.”

He kept his smile, but he didn’t like his sister’s reaction.

She stood and hugged him, rubbing his bare cheek. “A goatee? I like it. I really like it,” Clara said.

He shifted his glance back to Tori, who looked up at him and smiled. “Hello, Chris.”

“Hi.” He was suddenly at a loss for all the words he wanted to share with her.

Clara looked around. “Let’s get you a chair. We just ordered coffee and dessert.”

Good, they were almost done. “Oh, I don’t know. I was just walking by and…”

“You’re welcome to join us,” Tori said softly.

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