|Home > Bella Andre > The Look of Love|
It was good to get out on the open road. Sure, thought Chase Sullivan, his windshield wipers were barely making a dent in the driving rain from this freak late-May storm, but it had been long past time to get out of his mother’s seventieth birthday party.
All eight siblings together under one roof meant lots of laughs, plenty of ribbing…and at least a couple of major arguments. It didn’t help that Zach’s date for the evening had gone out with Gabe a couple of months ago.
Throw six brothers between the ages of twenty-seven and thirty-six together and things were bound to get messy. But since it was obvious that neither of his brothers was serious about the girl, there was a zero percent chance that they were going to come to blows over her other than as an excuse to blow off some steam with their fists. Besides, as soon as Smith showed up, the girl had become so starstruck she hadn’t paid any attention to anyone else in the room.
Chase always laughed at the way people lost it around his movie-star brother. Smith was just as normal as the rest of them. Well, maybe owning a 150-foot yacht and filling it with stars wasn’t exactly normal.
In any case, the real reason the party had been on the verge of implosion was that his twin sisters weren’t speaking. Hell, they hadn’t needed to say a word, not when the evil glances they were shooting at each other across the room spoke volumes.
Long ago, he’d christened Lori and Sophie Naughty and Nice. Were it not for the fact that they were physical carbon copies, Chase wouldn’t believe for a second that they were related to each other. Strangely, at the party it had looked like Nice was the one intent on murdering Naughty. If he wasn’t mistaken, Lori had actually been hiding from Sophie at one point.
Good thing he’d had a reason to get out of there before the hair-pulling started, he thought as he rounded a curve in the narrowing road that led to the Sullivan Winery in the Napa Valley wine country.
For the next four days, Chase was doing a photo shoot at his brother's winery for Jeanne & Annie, a quickly growing fashion house that combined haute couture with homegrown style. The models and crew would be staying in town, but Chase was going to be staying in Marcus’s guest house.
A bolt of lightning lit up the sky and if there had been enough of a shoulder on the road, Chase would have pulled over to take some shots of the storm. He loved the rain. Big weather changed the way things looked, could transform an ordinary field into a marsh full of a thousand birds making an impromptu pit stop. Conditions that sent most photographers into a tizzy—especially if they depended on the perfect sunset to nail their pictures—were exactly what got him going.
It was in those moments, when everyone was cold and nothing was going “right,” that magic would happen. The models would finally drop their guard and let him see all the way past their put-on beauty to who they really were. Chase believed there needed to be a true emotional connection with the camera for real beauty—along with the beauty of the clothes or jewelry or shoes that they were wearing—to really shine through.
Of course, early on in his career, being around all that physical beauty had made Chase just as big a player as every other straight guy in the business. At first that had been one of the bonuses of his job, but then when he hit his late twenties and realized that his flavor of the night hadn’t made it a full eight hours but his photographs were forever, he’d slowed down some.
Between his recent trips in and out of Asia and the fact that there hadn’t been anyone who got his motor going, he’d abstained for the past month. He was planning on breaking his dry spell tonight with Ellen, one of Marcus’s head managers whom he’d met briefly while setting up details for the shoot. A strings-free night of naked fun was just what the doctor ordered.
Anticipation had him almost missing the flickering light off on the right side of the two-lane country road. In the past thirty minutes, he hadn’t passed one car, because on a night like this, most sane Californians—who didn’t know the first thing about driving safely in inclement weather—stayed home.
Chase slowed down and turned his brights on to see better in the pouring rain. Not only was there a car stuck in the ditch, but there was a person walking along the edge of the road about a hundred yards up ahead. Obviously hearing his car approach, she turned to face him and he could see her long wet hair whipping around her shoulders in his headlights.
Wondering why she wasn’t just sitting in her car, dry and warm, calling Triple A and waiting for them to come save her, he pulled over to the edge of his lane and got out to try and help her. She was shivering as she watched him approach.
“Are you hurt?”
She covered her cheek with one hand, but shook her head. “No.”
He had to move closer to hear her over the sound of the water hitting the pavement in what were rapidly becoming hailstones. Even though he’d turned his headlights off, as his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, he was able to get a better look at her face.
Something inside of Chase’s chest clenched tight.
Despite the long, dark hair plastered to her head and chest, regardless of the fact that looking like a drowned rat wasn’t too far off the descriptive mark, her beauty stunned him.
In an instant, his photographer’s eye cataloged her features. Her mouth was a little too big, her eyes a little too wide-set on her face. She wasn’t even close to model thin, but given the way her T-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin, he could see that she wore her lush curves well. In the dark he couldn’t judge the exact color of her hair, but it looked like silk, perfectly smooth and straight where it lay over her br**sts.