Page 13 of Lavish Loving

“Wow, this is beautiful!” London lifted from the case a platinum wine stopper topped with Swarovski crystals in the shape of a large grape. “You got this in the gift shop?”

“It’s not available there. This is something that was created for the Drake companies’ largest buyers and A-list clients, a very limited-edition piece.”

“Wait! They’re my family. How’d you get on the inside for a limited edition?”

“I have skills.”

London’s eyes glided from the wine stopper to Ace’s face. “That you do.”

Three words, but they cut through the easy banter and casual chitchat to what was on both of their minds. That weekend in London. Literally and figuratively.

“I have something else for you.”

London eyed him up and down. “I’m ready.”

Ace chuckled, flattered and flummoxed at the same time. “Dinner will be here in ten minutes. Would you like an aperitif?”


Ace walked through the dining room into the kitchen. London followed him, taking in the sophisticated charm of the two-bedroom bungalow with its formal dining room and a stunning galley kitchen that featured brick backsplashes, copper counters and black stainless steel appliances.

“I still can’t believe you’re here, at my cousin’s resort.”

“And I can’t believe you’re here, in my bungalow. I chose this place specifically because of the privacy it afforded.”

“Guess our meeting was meant to be.”

She watched as Ace pulled a beautiful bottle from a shiny square box. The frosted glass sparkled in the dim lighting, and while it wasn’t as beautiful as the wine stopper Ace had given her, the top on the bottle was a luxurious design.

“What’s that?”

“Another limited edition. This is Drake Wines’s newest creation. It hasn’t even been released.”

“Okay, which of my cousins do you know? It has to be family giving you this type of access.”

“Dexter. When you got called back to your family, I went on a tour of the winery. He was my guide. I told him we were meeting for dinner. He thought we’d enjoy his latest creation.”

“Dexter is good people. I can see you two getting along.”

“Absolutely. He likes my clothes.”

“I can see that.” Ace reached for two goblets from a glass-front cabinet. “This is wild, man. I can’t believe you’re here.”

“Ditto. It’s been, what, three or four years since we’ve seen each other?”

“More like five. That’s how long I’ve been away from modeling full-time.”

“What happened? One minute you were on top of the modeling world and the next minute you’d quit and gone to college? And what made you decide to become a designer? Had that always been your plan? How’d you even know what to do? I have so many questions.”

The brass door knocker sounded. “That’s our dinner.” He moved to walk by her. “I have questions, too. Before the night is over, we both might get answers to them all.”

Normally the waitstaff stayed and served the meals brought to the bungalows. But Ace and London wanted privacy. After the young man had set the table, placed the entrées in a warming oven and served the appetizer, Ace tipped the grateful waiter and sent him on his way. The lights had been dimmed. Tapered candles in glass bowls at the table’s center sent shadows dancing against the silk walls. The flowers in tall corner vases were gorgeous and real. The aroma from the warming food wafted into the room. Ace reentered, too. He stopped in the doorway, watching London study the painting that had caught his attention earlier.

“Pretty cool, huh?”

“Yes. I think I’ve met this painter. Funny that his work would be on display here.”

He picked up their goblets and handed one to her when he reached her side. “I say we toast to coincidence.”

London laughed as they clinked glasses. “Cheers.”

“Let me get your chair.”

“Thank you.”

They sat, Ace at the head, London beside him. “You look beautiful tonight. Did I tell you that?”

“No. You were too busy berating me for being late.”