“No, it didn’t,” Cassie whispered now, wishing she could replay that argument again, could convince her sister that despite their deep rivalry and their petty jealousies that had started when they were teenagers, she loved her. She blinked hard and felt a lump fill her throat. If she could live her life over, she swore, she wouldn’t have been so wrapped up in herself, her own needs, her own damned pride.
Sure, Cass. Don’t delude yourself. Allie was right; she knew that you always felt the need to prove that you were the better sister.
With an effort Cassie shoved the nagging voice back into the dark hole where she kept it and turned her attention to Allie’s apartment again.
This penthouse unit had come furnished as Allie had only intended to inhabit it during the filming in Portland. Though she snapped the blinds open the apartment felt lifeless, the bedroom reminding Cassie of an upscale hotel suite decorated in the same tone-on-tone shades of gray. The bathroom and walk-in closet were bare. The place had been cleaned and all of Allie’s personal items had been removed either by the police or Jenna.
There was nothing here to see, not even a solitary picture of Allie.
It’s like walking through a tomb.
Her skin prickled as she made her way to the front door. Her cell rang as she reached for the handle and she nearly jumped out of her skin. Glancing at the screen, she saw it was her mother.
Then she noticed the text. Again from Jenna: Call me.
“Okay, okay.” Walking out of the apartment, she glanced down the corridor as she locked the door behind her. It was empty, but she couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. She carefully looked all around. No one was walking the hallway or waiting for the elevators or at the wide spot in the hallway where two side chairs, a table with a lamp, and a potted palm with bristling fronds created an alcove for sitting or reading, or catching a glimpse of the Portland skyline through tall floor to ceiling windows. The chairs were unoccupied and no one was lingering nearby.
Cassie was alone, yet she had the sensation that someone was silently observing her.
Your imagination. She slapped the elevator call button and was startled when the doors opened immediately, as if someone else had pressed the button before her.
No one was in the car and she gratefully sped down to the lower parking lot without the car stopping on any other floor. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, though, of course, she had to call her mother. Jenna was worried about her or, Cassie thought, she might even have news about Allie. Unlikely, but maybe.
She winced as a stabbing pain cut through her skull, a headache that was nearly blinding and sometimes preceded a loss of time. She was aware of the symptoms and fought them. She’d find a dark room, maybe some coffee or a cola, something with caffeine, pain reliever, and food, yes . . . that’s what she needed.
Ouch! Another jab that made her blink. If she could just get home before . . . “Oh, God.” The edges of her vision began to blur and her heart pounded. She leaned against her car for support and waited.
The pain would pass.
It had to.
She had too much to do to be compromised or incapacitated.
“Not now,” she whispered and took in long breaths as the blackness threatened and the pain sliced through her brain. “Not now.”
Cherise Gotwell slipped out from between the sheets. She hazarded one last look at the smooth back of the man in the bed. What was his name? Ryan? Or Riley? Or Reed . . . something that started with an R.
She was pretty sure.
The guy, whom she’d picked up in Vintner’s House, a Portland bar Allie Kramer had been known to haunt, had found her beautiful. (Of course.) Interesting. (No surprise there.) And witty. (Well, that was a bit of a stretch.) But then he’d learned she’d worked for Allie Kramer and he’d been hooked.
How sick was that?
He probably pretended the whole time they were screwing that she was actually Allie. It had happened before and yeah, there was some resemblance. But it always left her feeling a little empty inside and like now, as she picked up her clothes to put them on in the living area of his bachelor pad, she knew she’d been playing the game as well.
Didn’t Ryan or Riley or whoever look a little bit like Brandon McNary, who just happened to be her new boss? Okay, so yeah, it was all a little sick, head games if you will, but she didn’t mind.