Los Angeles. Christmas Eve.
Sunny Alvarez boarded the Air France flight to Paris. It had taken all her precious air miles and a great deal of money but if she was going to be unhappy she was going to do it first class. In style. And alone.
She wore no makeup, not even her trademark brave red lipstick. Tinted frameless glasses helped disguise her eyes, swollen from crying. Tall, slender with a fall of dark hair that swung over her face, she looked younger than her thirty-six years and somehow vulnerable. She wore narrow jeans stuffed into tall black sheepskin UGGs, a black cashmere turtleneck, a black peacoat that she now flung off and handed to the waiting steward, before flinging herself into the comfortable leather seat that could be made to recline, so that later she might sleep stretched out full length. If she could ever find “sleep” again. The flight was a long one. Eleven hours.
Eleven hours without Mac Reilly.
Her fiancé was TV’s famous detective with his own program, Mac Reilly’s Malibu Mysteries, handsome in his own slightly worn, casual, confident, way. . . . No dammit! Mac was more than that. He was sexy, good looking, blue eyes that looked into hers with passion when he made love to her—No! Change that to when they made love together. Because making love with Mac Reilly, the feel of his hands on her body, the way his skin smoothed under her own hands, the way her own skin seemed to melt under his, the electric shock his lips on hers always gave her, hot-wiring her, sending tremors through her until all she could think about was sex, sex with him . . .
She had met Mac at a press party for his TV show. He’d told her he’d noticed her across the room. “How could I miss you, in that outfit?” was what he had actually said.
She had on a black turtleneck and a tiny white mini skirt and her tough-girl motorcycle boots because she’d ridden there on her Harley. Mac tapped her on her shoulder and she found herself looking at this rugged guy in jeans and a T-shirt, whose deep blue eyes were taking her in like she was the best thing he had seen all night.
He asked her name, she’d said she knew his. Neither was drinking because they were driving, but both had that elated feeling of being on another planet where even the noise of the party seemed suddenly muted. Later Mac told her he noticed her clunky boots first, and she told him she’d noticed his muscular arms and had wanted to be wrapped in them right there and then, she didn’t care who saw.
Of course they were total opposites: Mac, dragged up by his bootstraps from the streets of Boston and the Miami crime scene to the Private Eye and TV personality he now was. And she, the half-Latina wild child brought up on a ranch, beautiful and brainy and ditzy, but with a business degree from Wharton and the determination to be her own woman.
It had been, as they’d told each other so often since, love at first sight. Eyes across the room—or maybe a bit closer.
And that was the way it was. And had been. Until now.
Stop it! Sunny sat up straight in her airline chair, pushed back her long dark hair, skewered it in a ponytail and accepted the glass of champagne the steward was offering her.
She stared at the glass in her hand, not really seeing it. She was Mac’s fiancée no longer. They had been together four years and were to have been married next month but he’d changed his plans yet again. Mac had also agreed they would get married last year, and a couple of times preceding that. Every time it got close something else came up. Another mystery he simply had to take on. He couldn’t say no. Except, it seemed, to Sunny.
This time was the last straw, she had even bought the dress—cream—white didn’t look so good in winter. And lace, although she was not usually a lace girl. Sleek, fitted to her rather good body, because even though she said it herself, it was a good body. A great body, Mac had always said that.
Sunny stuck out her long legs in the comfy sheepskin knee-high UGG boots, staring at them, but again not seeing them. She was seeing the heart-shaped pink diamond engagement ring she had left on Mac’s pillow, with a little note telling him goodbye. I’m leaving your life, she had written. There is no room for me, only for your work. Good luck. She had signed it simply with the initial S.
A whine came from the Vuitton dog carrier. She looked at the small Chihuahua, peering mournfully out. Tesoro weighed all of three pounds. “A fiend on four paws,” Mac called her, and he was right, the Chihuahua had sunk her teeth, and her claws, into Mac many a time, as well as intimidating Mac’s own dog, the one-eyed, three-legged ragamuffin he adored and whose life Mac had saved, and who went by the name of Pirate. It was Tesoro’s feud with Pirate that had kept Mac and Sunny from living together, though now Sunny thought maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Leaving a home they had shared, Mac’s funky little cottage on the shore in Malibu, would have been twice as hard.
They braced for takeoff. She strapped Tesoro in her carrier into an adjacent seat, leaned back, felt the thrust as the plane lifted off. It was over. She was gone.
A tear trickled down her cheek. She was on her way to Paris. Alone.
Excerpted from It All Began in Monte Carlo by Elizabeth Adler.
Copyright 2010 by Elizabeth Adler.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.