He was heading for the catering trucks when the door of Rachel's trailer opened and she walked out at the same moment Zack passed the steps. Their eyes clashed, conversations ground to a taut halt, heads swiveled, and expectation crackled in the air like heat lightening, but Zack merely moved around his wife and continued on, pausing at the catering truck to talk to Tommy Newton's assistant and to exchange pleasantries with two of the stuntmen. It was an Academy Award performance on his part, requiring a supreme force of will, because he couldn't see Rachel without remembering her as she'd been last night when he returned unexpectedly to their suite at the Crescent Hotel and found her with Tony Austin…

Earlier in the day, he'd told her he intended to have a late meeting with the camera crew and assistant directors to go over some new ideas and that he planned to sleep in his trailer on the set afterward. When the crew gathered in his trailer for the meeting, however, Zack realized he'd left his notes at his Dallas hotel, and rather than sending someone for them, he decided to save time by inviting them all back to the Crescent with him. In an unusually lighthearted mood because the end was finally in sight, the six men had walked into the darkened suite, and Zack flipped on the lights.

"Zack!" Rachel cried, rolling off the naked man she was straddling on the sofa and grabbing for her peignoir, her eyes wild with shock. Tony Austin, who was costarring with her and Zack in Destiny, jackknifed into a sitting position. "Now, Zack, stay calm—" he pleaded, leaping to his feet and scurrying behind the circular sofa as Zack started forward. "Don't touch my face," he warned in a rising shout just as Zack launched himself over the back of the sofa. "I'm in two more scenes and—" It took all five crew members to pull Zack off him.

"Zack, don't be insane!" the head gaffer cried, trying to restrain him. "He can't finish the goddamned picture if you ruin his face!" Doug Furlough panted, holding Zack's arms. Zack flung both the smaller men off, and with icy, deliberate calculation, he broke two of Tony's ribs before they could restrain him again. Panting more from rage than exertion, Zack watched them all help the naked, limping Austin out of the suite, forming a circle around him. A half-dozen hotel guests were standing in the hall beyond the open doors, drawn, no doubt, by Rachel's screams at Zack to stop. Stalking forward, Zack slammed the door in their faces.

Rounding on Rachel, who'd wrapped a peach satin peignoir around herself, he started forward, trying to control the urge to do physical violence to her, too. "Get out of my sight!" he warned her as she backed away from him. "Get out or I won't be responsible for what I do to you!"

"Don't you dare threaten me, you arrogant son of a bitch!" she shot back with so much contemptuous triumph that it checked him in midstride. "If you lay one finger on me, my divorce attorneys won't just settle for one-half of everything you have, I'll take it all! Do you understand me, Zack? I'm divorcing you. My attorneys are filing the papers in L.A. tomorrow. Tony and I are getting married!"

The realization that his wife and her lover had been screwing each other behind his back while calmly plotting to live on the money Zack had worked so hard to acquire snapped his control. He grabbed her arms and shoved her hard toward the living room door. "I'll kill you before I let you take half of anything! Now get out."

She stumbled to her knees, then stood up, her hand on the doorknob, her face a mask of jubilant loathing as she fired her parting shot: "If you're thinking of keeping either Tony or me off the set tomorrow, don't bother trying. You're just the director. The studio has a fortune wrapped up in this film. They'll force you to finish it, and they'll sue your ass off if you do anything to delay it or sabotage it. Just think," she finished with a malicious smile as she yanked open the door, "either way, you lose. If you don't finish the picture, you'll be ruined. If you do, I'm going to get half of what you make!" The door crashed into its frame behind her.

She was right about finishing Destiny. Even in his infuriated state, Zack knew it. There were only two more scenes left to shoot, and Rachel and Tony were in one of them. Zack had no choice except to tolerate his adulterous wife and her lover while he directed their scene. He walked over to the bar and poured himself a stiff Scotch, tossed it down, and poured another. Carrying his glass, he walked over to the windows and stared out at the glittering Dallas skyline while the rage and pain he'd felt began to subside. He'd phone his attorneys in the morning and instruct them to proceed with divorce negotiations on his terms, not hers, he decided. Although he'd amassed a sizable fortune as an actor, he'd multiplied it many times over through astute investments, and those investments were carefully guarded by a series of complicated trusts and legalities that should protect most of his assets from Rachel. Zack's hand relaxed its death grip on the glass he was holding. He was under control now—he would survive this and go on. He knew he could—and would. He knew it, because long ago, at the age of eighteen, he had faced a far more agonizing betrayal than Rachel's, and he had discovered that he possessed the capacity to walk away from anyone who betrayed him and never, ever look back.

Turning from the windows, he went into the bedroom, pulled Rachel's suitcases out of the closet, and stuffed all her clothes into them, then he picked up the telephone beside the bed. "Send a bellman up to the Royal Suite," he told the switchboard operator. When the bellman arrived a few minutes later, Zack thrust the cases with her clothing dangling out the sides at him. "Take these to Mr. Austin's suite."

At that moment, if Rachel had returned and begged him to take her back, if she'd been able to prove to him that she'd been drugged out of her mind and hadn't known what she was doing or saying, it would have been too late, even if he believed her.

Because she was already dead to him.

As dead to him as the grandmother he'd once loved and the sister and the brother. It had taken a concentrated effort to eradicate them from his heart and mind, but he'd done it.

Chapter 5

Pulling his mind from recollections of last night, Zack sat down beneath a tree where he could see what was going on without being observed himself. Drawing his knee up, he rested his wrist against it and watched Rachel walking into Tony Austin's trailer. This morning's newscasts were filled with lurid details of the scene in the suite and the fight that followed it, details that were undoubtedly provided by the hotel guests who'd witnessed it. Now the press had descended on the area where they were shooting, and Zack's security people had their hands full trying to keep them at the gate near the main road with promises of a statement later. Rachel and Tony had already given statements, but Zack had no intention of saying a single word to them. He was as icily indifferent to having the press at his "doorstep" as he was to the news he'd gotten this morning that Rachel's attorneys had filed for divorce in Los Angeles. The only thing that was tearing at his control was the knowledge that he had to direct one remaining scene between Tony and Rachel before they could wrap tonight—a steamy, violently sensual scene—and he didn't know how he was going to stomach that, particularly with the entire crew looking on.


Tags: Judith McNaught Second Opportunities Billionaire Romance
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