To Have and to Hold (The Hold Series Book 3)(3)

By: Arell Rivers

Thankfully, Jayson ignores my raspy voice. “My co-workers are covering for me. Plus, I’ve been getting a lot of work done remotely. Lucky for me, my big brother has state-of-the-art electronics for me to use.” He walks back to the stove and dumps pasta into boiling water. He adds about half of the grated cheese to the sauce.

“Besides, I pimped you out. Promised my boss you’d let our firm redecorate your NYC penthouse and consent to a massive photo shoot.”

I chuckle. “That all?”

“I might have mentioned we’d have carte blanche.”

Shaking my head, I grab plates and set the table. “Can’t wait.” Task completed, I check my cell. Shari’s email catches my attention. The subject line is “World Tour Itinerary.”

Sitting at the table, I review the very detailed schedule for this leg of the tour, which runs to Christmas. Jayson cranes his neck around. “Whatcha got there?”

“Email from Shari.”

He stirs the pasta. “How’s she working out?”

“She’s . . .” I swallow over a lump in my throat. “Russell was right to advise me to keep Gruesome’s PR firm after the . . . wreck. Shari’s following the plan Rose had mapped out. At least I got to dump that dingbat Kimmie.”

Due to timing for the world tour, Russell thought it was best for me to keep working with Gruesome. It took some major convincing on his part, but it was the only way I could follow through on Rose’s plans. It didn’t hurt that I got to work with Shari. She knew—and approved—of my relationship with Rose, and in an ironic twist of fate, her boyfriend was the ER doctor on call when Rose and I were airlifted to the hospital after the crash. Not to mention the fact that Gruesome somehow managed to keep Rose’s name out of the media after the accident. Suited her own purposes, of course.

Jayson tastes a piece of spaghetti. He stirs the water and sets the timer for one more minute. Softly, he says, “Give her a chance. She’s hurting, too.”

She’s trying. We all are.

The timer goes off and soon Jayson joins me at the table and serves us his homemade meal. I dig in. It’s really good. Childhood memories of eating this dinner with my family on the weekends make it taste even better. I stuff more into my mouth.

He takes a sip of red wine. We eat in silence for a minute, then Jayson says, “I visited Wills today.”

My finger traces the stem of my wineglass. “How is he?”

“Pretty good. His shoulder is still really weak, but physical therapy is helping. He should be back to work, at least on a limited basis, by the end of the year. Maybe earlier.”

“That’s good. He was really frustrated when I saw him last week. I told him that he should be grateful Starr had bad aim.” The bullet hit muscle only. It was a clean shot that went through the outside of his right shoulder. Lots of blood, but it missed the artery.

Jayson raises his eyebrows. “I bet that made him feel better.”

The delicious meal loses its appeal, and I push it away like a sulky child. Sighing, I reply, “I’m fucking awful company.”

He stands and takes both plates to the sink. “We all get it, bro.” As he rinses the plates, he says, “Hey, Em was with Wills today.”

“I bet he liked that.”

“Yeah. But she told him she’s leaving next week for a shoot for Vogue in Barcelona.” He loads the dishwasher.

“Shit. Her ex-boyfriend, Rinaldo, is the star of Barcelona’s soccer team. What did Wills say?”

“Nothing. What could he say? But, he obviously wasn’t happy.”

“That sucks. I’ll be sure to visit him before I leave.” Jayson pierces me with a look that reminds me of Mom. “I promise I won’t say anything about Rinaldo.”

He closes the door of the dishwasher and pulls out containers for leftovers. “When are you going to meet up with Em on tour? I presume you will, since you’re still linked to her in the media.”

Scrolling through my email from Shari, I spot her name. “Later this month. Looks like I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with her family in Paris. Of course, the press will be informed.” I take a long sip of my wine.