Play My Game (Stark Trilogy, #3.7)(10)

I clap my hand over my mouth, certain I’m going to be sick.

“Hey,” Jamie says. “Hey. He didn’t send this. You know he didn’t send this.”

I nod, numb, as Jamie closes my laptop.

“She’s that supermodel, right? The one Damien screwed around with back in the day?”

I nod. “I saw her again not too long ago.”

“Really?” Surprise laces Jamie’s voice. “Where?”

“Damien’s hotel room in Munich.”

“Wait. What?”

I shrug, going for nonchalant. In truth, just the memory makes me edgy. “We came back to the room and she was waiting there. All ready to get down and dirty with Damien again. Apparently, she was on a standby list when he traveled to Europe.”

“Nikki …” Her voice trails off into sympathy.

“I know. I’m fine.” And I am. I’m not even jealous. Not really. Except I am. I’m jealous of every woman who had time with Damien. Not because I think he still wants them, but because I covet those lost hours that could have been mine.

I mutter a curse and reach to open the laptop again, but Jamie stops me. “Dammit, Nikki, don’t do this to yourself.”

“I’m not.” My voice is shaky, and I take a deep breath to steel myself. “You’re right—Damien didn’t send this. I want to know who did.”

“And looking at that f*cking picture is going to tell you?”

I shake my head, then open the lid and maneuver my finger on the trackpad to click on the sender. “There,” I say, when the full email address pops up. It’s his name, all right. But it’s not from Stark International or any of Damien’s companies.

No, the domain that this email came from is WiseApps.

Jamie lets out a low whistle, and I nod my head in agreement. WiseApps Development is the name of a company that threatened me with litigation just a few weeks ago, effectively putting a nasty gray cloud over my honeymoon. As it turned out, the company—and the lawsuit—were bullshit. A stunt pulled by Damien’s batshit crazy childhood friend, Sofia.

“I thought she lost internet privileges,” Jamie says.

“I thought so, too.” When I say “batshit crazy,” I mean it in the literal sense. Sofia is currently locked away in an institution outside of London, and after the fiasco with the threatened lawsuit, the security around her was amped up and her privileges were knocked down. But Sofia is as brilliant as she is crazy, and if anyone could figure a way around an internet ban, she’d be the girl.

“This picture must be years old,” Jamie says, as if to console me.

“I know. Don’t worry, James. I can handle this.”

“Damn straight you can, Nicholas. But you don’t have to handle it alone. For that matter, you shouldn’t. Someone is f*cking with you. You need to tell Damien. Hell, you need to tell Ryan.”

I tilt my head up to look at her. “Ryan?”

“He’s Damien’s top-dog security dude, right?”

I nod.

“I may not know Damien as well as you do—”

“I certainly hope not.”

She snorts, but otherwise doesn’t falter. “But I do know that Damien’s not the kind of guy who would consent to that sort of picture. And I doubt that he would have been any different half a dozen years ago.”

I nod. She makes an excellent point. “Someone hid a camera, and then bided their time for years. Sofia?”

“She’s in London, right? And has been for a while? Look at the coffee table.”

Needless to say, I hadn’t noticed the furnishings on first glance. Now I see that she’s right. A copy of the London-based Financial Times is on the table, along with a magazine called London Today that looks like an in-house hotel publication.

“Like I said,” Jamie says, “you need to tell Damien. Go.”

I do, but not before giving her a hug and telling her to break a leg at her audition.

Then I’m out the door, shouting to Mrs. Crane that I won’t be back until tomorrow.

As I race to my car, I think about the cupcake and the message that sent me to it: what is sweeter than Love?

I sigh. This isn’t the day I expected, not by a long shot. But at least I’m heading toward Damien. And with him at my side, I know I can handle whatever is coming.

Chapter 4

I race downtown in Cooper, my still new Mini Cooper, and ignore the parking garage in favor of the valet parking service in front of Stark Tower. I toss the valet my keys, then race inside.

Joe waves from his perch behind the information desk. “Good to see you, Mrs. Stark.”

“Hi, Joe, sorry, Joe. In a hurry!” I jab my finger on the button, then rush up to the nineteenth floor and the reception area for Stark Applied Technology.

As soon as I walk off the elevator, I see Preston Rhodes step out of the closest conference room.

“Nikki,” Preston says. “Good to see you. I was just telling Lisa we need to have you two over for drinks so we can hear all about Paris.”

“We’d love that,” I say. “But right now, I really need to talk to Damien. Do you mind if I borrow him for a few minutes?”

His mouth quirks with irony. “I’d like to borrow him myself.”

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