By: Skye Jordan

“You're too handsome for your own good,” Becca said with a half pout, “you know that?”

He just chuckled. In fact, he did know, but only because he hadn't been all that attractive in his youth. He'd been skinny, struggled with acne, and worn the male equivalent of a perpetual bitch face. So the frequency of women's attentions over the last four or five years continued to surprise, flatter, and amuse him. And for the last few weeks, he'd have to take any flicker of amusement he could get. Now, he found solace in the fact that his role in the film was almost over. He could move on to the next project, where Giselle wouldn't push her way into his every waking moment.

A woman emerged from the shadows of the alley, turned toward the strip, and fell into step with the crowd. The fact that she was alone in a sea of couples and groups caught Troy's attention first, but her hair was what held it-a spill of fat golden curls to the middle of her back. A deep, shiny gold. Not blonde, not wheat, not red. A true, rich gold. The rare but natural color of Giselle's hair.

The woman was alone, dressed in black, wearing a felt hat, and walking with purpose. She'd come from the direction of the Mirage's rear entrance, where all the loading docks and backstage doors lived.

He cut off the little “Is that…?” floating through his mind before it could invade his common sense, and tried to smother the tingle of awareness burning in his belly by reminding himself he would not run into Giselle on the strip in a city of over half a million people. The color of the woman's hair probably had more to do with the Vegas lights than reality. Besides, she'd never go anywhere in this insane city alone. She was too famous, too recognizable, and her show that night had ended barely an hour before. She'd be soothing her strained vocal cords with a steam bath in one of the Mirage's penthouses right about now, with a staff of thirty to fulfill her every need. Probably had a handful of boy toys fanning her with fucking palm leaves.

The sidewalks were packed. People moved in two main swarms, one in each direction, a standard crowd for a Vegas Friday night. But Troy couldn't let his gaze pull from those curls bouncing gently against the woman's back…


This was becoming a real goddamned problem.

Troy purposely slowed his step, letting Goldilocks drift into the sea of people ahead and disappear. And without that little spark of hope, his chest went dark again.

Casey and Becca paused in front of the Bellagio to watch the water show, but Troy couldn't stand still, so he paced along the edge of the crowd.

When he found himself at the alley leading to the club, he peered down the dark, quiet walk. The unmarked purple door was illuminated by a single light and guarded by one big man in a simple tan suit.

The promise of oblivion made Troy's mouth water like a Pavlovian dog.

He turned, searching the crowd for Becca and Casey, but the body count was too high. So he continued toward the club, head down, wondering just what it would take to get Giselle out of his head. Out of his heart. When would he finally be able to put her behind him?

He paused at the discreet entrance and displayed his ID.

“Welcome, sir.” The man pulled a royal blue satin half mask from his pocket. “Enjoy your night.”

“I have two guests,” Troy said, taking the mask. “They stopped for the water show next door. Brunettes. Their names are Becca and Casey.”

“I understand.” He gave a single nod. “Please, stay near the lobby so you can identify them when they arrive.”

Troy agreed, secured the mask, and entered Rendezvous. He lingered in the lobby, waiting for the ladies. The seating areas of the main salon were crowded but not full. From where he stood, he couldn't see any more than various corridors leading to other areas of the club, spaces designed to suit a variety of fetishes and fantasies.

Rihanna's voice pumped out “S&M,” and the rich sounds pulsed through Troy's body, releasing a little stress. He wandered into the large room holding the main stage and took in the act playing out there, a live display of erotic dominance. But his gaze glazed over the edgy scene of a woman on her knees, the man standing behind her gripping the end of a leather strap looped around the woman's throat.

He wondered if Z was right. If seeing Giselle now might help him finally let go. Maybe seeing how she'd changed, seeing how completely she'd sold out for fame, would kill his romantic memories. Maybe showing her how well he'd done for himself despite her abandonment would give him that elusive power to cut the last lingering tie she held on his heart.

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