A Harlan Coben Classic—now back in print!
No sooner had supermodel Laura Ayers and Celtics star David Baskin said "I do" than tragedy struck. While honeymooning on Australia's Great Barrier Reed, David went out for a swim—and never returned. Now widowed and grieving, Laura's search for the truth will draw her into a web of lies and deception that stretches back thirty years...
Laura opened the window and felt the gentle tropical breeze refresh her naked body. She closed her eyes as the palm trees' cool wind made her skin tingle. The muscles in her legs still quaked. She turned back toward the bed and smiled at David, the man who had put her legs in this precarious position.
"Good morning, Mr. Baskin."
"Morning?" David repeated. He glanced at the clock on the night table, the day silent except for the crashing of the waves outside the window. "It's well into the afternoon, Mrs. Baskin. We've spent almost the entire day in bed."
"Are you complaining?"
"Certainly not, Mrs. B."
"Then you won't mind a little more exercise."
"What have you got in mind?"
"How about a swim?"
"I'm spent," he said, sprawling back against the pillows. "I couldn't move if the bed was on fire."
Laura smiled seductively. "Good."
David's eyes widened with awe as she slowly strode back toward the bed, remembering the first time he had seen that body, indeed the first time the world had seen that body. It was almost a decade ago and a full eight years before they met. Laura had debuted as a seventeen-year-old cover girl on Cosmopolitan wearing a—Ah, who the hell saw the dress? He had been a junior at the University of Michigan at the time and he could still recall the way the mouths of every member of the basketball team dropped when they saw the issue on a newsstand in Indiana before their Final Four game.
He feigned panic. "Where are you going?"
Her smile grew. "Back to bed."
"Please, no." He held up his hand to ward her off. "You're going to put me in the hospital."
She kept walking.
"Vitamin E," David pleaded. "Please."
She did not stop.
"I'm going to scream rape."
His voice was barely audible. "Help."
"Relax, Baskin. I'm not going to attack you."
His face registered disappointment. "You're not?"
She shook her head, turned, and began to walk away.
"Wait," he called after her. "Where are you going?"
"To the Jacuzzi. I'd invite you to join me but I know how tired you are."
"I feel a second wind coming on."
"Your powers of recuperation are truly incredible."
"Thank you, Mrs. B."
"But you're still out of shape."
"Out of shape?" David repeated. "Playing against the Lakers isn't this exhausting."
"You need to work out."
"I'll try harder, Coach. Really I will. You just tell me what to do."
"To the Jacuzzi," Laura commanded.
She threw a silk robe over her shoulders, partially covering the gorgeous figure that had made her the world's highest-paid fashion model up until her early retirement four years ago at the tender age of twenty-three. David slid out from under the satin sheets. He was tall, a shade under six five, which was on the short side for a pro-basketball player.
Laura eyed his naked physique admiringly. "No wonder they say you've revolutionized the game."
"Your ass, White Lightning. Women come to the game just to watch it wiggle downcourt."
"You make me feel so cheap."
David filled the circular tub with hot water and turned on the jet streams. He uncorked a bottle of champagne and lowered his muscular frame into the water. Laura loosened her robe and began to take it off. Talk about paradise. Everything was perfect.
The phone rang.
Laura rolled her eyes. "I'd better get it," she said reluctantly, retying the silk cord and heading back into the bedroom. David leaned back, his legs floating in the water. He felt the warm streams massage his aching body. His muscles were still sore from the rugged play-offs even though they had ended almost a month ago. He smiled. The Celtics had won, so it was a good ache.
"Who was it?" he asked when she came back in.
"Nobody called us in Australia?"
"It was just the Peterson Group."
"The Peterson Group?" David repeated. "Aren't they the company you've been trying to get to carry the Svengali line in the South Pacific?"
"The company that you've been trying like hell to set up a meeting with for the past six months?"
"You got it."
"So they want to meet with me today."
"When are you going?"
"I told them I couldn't meet with them while I was on my honeymoon. My husband is very possessive, you know."
David sighed out loud. "If you blow this opportunity, your husband is going to kick your ass. Besides, how are you going to support him in the style to which he's become accustomed if you blow big opportunities?"
Laura's robe fell to the floor, and though he had seen her body so many times since they fell in love two years ago, he still found himself gaping. She joined him in the tub, her eyes closing as she released a long breath. David watched the water surround her breasts. Her black hair cascaded down her shoulders, framing that incredible European-exotic face.
"Don't worry," she said, opening her sparkling blue eyes with flakes of silvery gray. She gave him a look that could slice through solid steel. "I promise you'll be well taken care of."
He shook his head. "What happened to that business-first bitch I fell in love with?"
She placed her foot between his legs, probing. "She loves it when you talk dirty."
"Forget it, Baskin. I'm not leaving my husband for even a moment."
He groaned. "Look, we have three weeks together. If I spend twenty-four hours a day with you for three weeks, you'll drive me nuts. For my sake, go. Go to the meeting. You're already getting to be a pest."
"Smooth talker. No wonder I fell for you." She leaned forward and massaged his powerful legs. "Did I ever tell you that you have great legs?"
"Frequently. And what's with all the compliments? You trying to give me a swollen head?"
Her foot circled and then rested against him. "Feels to me like I already have."
He looked properly shocked. "That kind of language from last year's businesswoman of the year? I'm stunned, ashamed… and aroused. Mostly aroused."
She moved closer to him, her full, firm bosoms pressing against his chest. "Why don't we do something about that?"
"Only if you promise to meet with the Peterson Group afterward."
Her lips found his ear. "Sometimes I don't understand you," she whispered. "Men are supposed to feel threatened by a woman with a career."
"A very successful career," he corrected proudly. "And if I was one of those men, you would have dumped me long ago."
"Never," she said softly, "but if I do go, how will you keep yourself occupied while I'm gone?"
He cupped her buttocks in his strong hands and lifted her on top of him, his lips inches from her nipple. "I'll shoot some hoops," he said. "Like you said before, I'm out of shape. Do you promise or not?"
She felt his breath on her skin. "Men. They're always using their bodies to get their way."
His hardness was just below her. She ached for him, her body quivering. She was barely able to nod.
He lowered her onto him. She gasped and then cried out, wrapping her arms around his head. Her body rocked back and forth, her fingers digging into his hair, clutching his face to her breasts.
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