Vengeance is a dish best served…hot.
Elle gave up so much in life to focus on her relationship—too bad her fiancé didn’t feel the same dedication to her. So when he takes off to Antigua to be with another woman, Elle follows, wanting, no, needing answers and retribution.
Eirik’s ex-lover tried to heap humiliation on him and his family with the help of Elle’s ex-fiancé. So when Eirik finds Elle spying on them, she seems like the perfect accomplice for some revenge. The plan is easy enough—pretend to be a couple to antagonize their exes…and perhaps have a little fun of their own.
But what happens when reaching for his hand becomes second nature and kissing her becomes a need that’s all too real? Can a relationship with its roots in cold vengeance ever blossom in the heat of love?
Giselle Suttikul tramped across the hot sand, kicking the scalding grains out of her flip-flops as she single-mindedly stalked toward her prey.
“I’m telling you, I think I just saw them,” she huffed into her phone.
“And I keep telling you, he’s not worth it! Forget him and move on, Elle. Preferably onto someone big and handsome who can totally rocks your socks in bed.”
Elle held her phone away from her face so she could look at it incredulously before pressing it to her ear again. “Do you ever have a thought that originates from a spot that’s not between your thighs, Angie?”
“It’s not my thighs I’m worried about. You need someone to sweep you off your feet. To ring your bell. If only for one night. You don’t know how good this is for you! God, I wish you’d told me what you were doing so I would have come with you.”
“I don’t know how you can think that Greg leaving me is a good thing.” Distracted, Elle stumbled on a rock and swore. “I’ll call you back in a bit.” Having her friend hounding her while she was pursuing her wayward fiancé somewhat covertly wasn’t helping.
“You’ve got to realize, losing Mr. Boring is a good thing! Find yourself a local hottie and get under him! It’s the best way to get over a breakup, seriously.”
“That’s got to be the worst advice you’ve ever given me.”
“It’s not! Now get your groove on! Do the nasty! Go to pound town! Slam the ham! Polish the porpoise!”
Can a call get any more embarrassing? Elle rolled her eyes. “Bye, Angie.” Hanging up, she then shoved the phone back into her pocket.
When she should have been losing herself in the breathtaking scenery and absorbing the glorious Antiguan sunshine, Elle focused on the beach. Not the beauty of the shimmering blue water or pristine white sand but searching for a familiar figure.
What on earth had possessed her to get on a plane and fly around the world just so she would have definitive proof that her fiancé was indeed cheating on her? Not only was cheating but had left her?
Do I really need to see it in person? What kind of masochist am I?
All while she had been completely oblivious until after the fact.
Anger, shame and embarrassment combined into an acid that burned in her veins.
All that Elle knew for sure was that he was with another woman and she needed to see it with her own eyes. Then the next thing Elle knew, she had crossed the ocean and was checking into the same resort.
And now she would get him back.
Or she would murder him.
She wasn’t quite clear on that point yet.
The one thing that Greg Henning needed to know was that no one cheated on Giselle Suttikul and got away with it.
Especially not for some wannabe model he had met on Instagram then traveled all the way to Antigua to meet.
He wasn’t able to spare a moment to pick her up from the dentist when she’d had work done and needed his help, but for this blonde he’d fly around the world.
It was crazy. Who did that?
But if he was crazy, then she had to be just as insane for following him.
Cursing her impulsiveness, she stayed the course, determined to do what she was there to do. See. Confront. Destroy.
She had half-expected—hoped—that she would arrive to find it had all been a big misunderstanding. That this was a surprise for her benefit. All the sacrifices she had made for him over the years had been noticed. That she had meant something to him.
Everything fell away as she stumbled to a stop, staring up the beach to see what only could be described as Greg and his new love frolicking in the shallows.
Elle pulled out her phone and took a photo then sent it to her friends and his. They were right. He wasn’t away on business. Instead of the dull trip that he had talked her out of because ‘he didn’t want to make her suffer through another boring business function’, Greg was on a tropical island living it up with some other woman. While Elle had no clue. Not the slightest suspicion that he’d wanted out of their relationship.
Or that he had been in one with someone else at the same time.
In fact, up until a few weeks ago they’d been planning out their future together. At least, she’d been under the delusion that forever was where they were headed. Though when Elle thought about it, and she had at length on the flight over, she realized she had been the one making all the plans. He had just gone along with her.
Betrayal gnawed at her gut as she watched them. What pierced her with an inexplicable dagger to the heart was longing. By all accounts, they looked like a couple in love. Greg wasn’t scowling. Far from it. The weight that had always seemed to have been dragging him down had been lifted. As much as she hated to admit it, he looked happier with the new woman than he ever had when he’d been with her.
If that wasn’t enough, the other woman was gorgeous. Cascading blonde hair, a killer body that didn’t have a single flaw Elle could see…
Stomach cramping, Elle wished she’d worn something more flattering than cut-off shorts and a T-shirt, but she had wanted to fly under the radar. The last thing she needed was to be spotted by them. She tugged the wide brim of the sun hat down farther, pushing the bug-eye sunglasses up at the same time with her other hand.
Her phone pinged with what were sure to be responses to the photo. Ignoring the impulse to deal with it, Elle shoved the device into the back pocket of her shorts. Right now, for better or for worse, she wanted to get a closer look at the woman who had replaced her.
With a callous heart, Eirik Mikkelsen sipped his drink as he watched Celina and the little bastard who she had run off with. To be completely honest, he felt absolutely nothing but the itching need for vengeance while he observed them.
He had already begun to tire of her only a month into their relationship. Her incessant chatter, her blatant self-absorption—it had all irritated him. He had been about to break it off with her, but Celina must have sensed it coming to have beat him to the punch.
On top of everything else she had done, that was just the icing on the cake. He was always the one to end things. No one walked out on him.
He had been caught off guard when Celina had questioned him about his intentions toward her after having spent only a few weeks dating. To him, the question simply underscored that it was time for her to go—not that he’d said anything of the sort. Nor did he encourage her to think there was a long-term future for them. She obviously didn’t want to wait around or try to change his mind.
So, without the quiet dignity his other lovers had possessed, Celina had walked out on him and had left a smoldering wreck in her wake.
Celina had preferred to get into an argument over their relationship in the middle of a dinner party, doing her best to shame him in her final attempt to lock him down. If she’d thought that embarrassment would get him to commit to her, she’d miscalculated. Greatly.
So, he had ended their relationship in front of everyone, after which she’d retaliated by stealing whatever she managed to grab on her way out.
The worth of what she’d taken was inconsequential, for the most part. A car, a sculpture, a painting and the few things he’d actually bought her meant nothing in comparison to the humiliation she tried to heap on him by getting someone to try to tank stock in his family’s company.
When Eirik heard that she had hooked her claws into a new man and was now in Antigua, he couldn’t help but follow with retribution on his mind.
When he’d first found out he wondered if she had hooked this guy after she left him or had they been carrying on for a while? Celina seemed like the type who would want a backup.
After reading through the reports from investigators who had retraced her steps for the past few months his hunch had been proven correct. She had already been working the new man even before they’d broken up.
Eirik had kept a close eye on them from the moment he’d arrived, even taking the villa next door to them, though they had yet to notice since the gap between villas was quite large. From all accounts, they looked like a typical couple on holiday. Relaxed. Blissful.
He finished his drink.
All that’s going to change.
Her unwitting new man was going to find out exactly what kind of woman he was dealing with. Eirik imagined the little fool thought himself the luckiest man alive to have found himself a gorgeous woman like Celina. She’d probably clouded his mind with sex, something she had attempted to do to Eirik. And probably many others.
Eirik almost pitied him. The worm would soon find out that beneath the glamorous veneer was a grasping, devious snake. A woman out to get whatever she could without a care for the damage she left behind. Eirik was unwilling to allow her to wreak all that harm and let her get away with it.
Watching them now, so happy and sure that they were safe, Eirik wanted to crush them both.
So many scenarios flitted through his mind. How would he do it? Should he walk right up to them and confront her? Eirik didn’t want to give her the satisfaction he knew she would find in convincing herself that he’d come for her. It would be easier to just let things take their natural course. Celina would show her true colors eventually, but he wasn’t patient enough for that. Not right now.
He studied them a moment longer before looking at the file open on his tablet. There wasn’t much to know about the new man she was with.
Greg Henning was a hedge fund manager. He led a completely regular life, from what Eirik could see. A regular and very dull life. He understood why someone like Greg would be enamored with Celina. She was beautiful and alluring and everything about the woman screamed sex. It was easy to envision that all she had needed do to convince him to manipulate stock prices was bat her lashes. A move so simple but with repercussions that might have ruined Eirik’s family.
It was also well known that Henning had a long-term girlfriend whom he had all but abandoned for Celina.
Eirik lingered over the photo attached to the next file. Giselle Suttikul. The woman who smiled back was beautiful and petite, almost elfin, with hair dark as a summer night, flawless milky skin, dark, almond-shaped eyes and lush lips. He attributed her features to her being half-Asian on her father’s side, who was apparently a blue-collar type who had married up. He and his wife, a British heiress, had one daughter who had been ignored somewhat but who had become a stellar cellist and who had dropped out of the limelight a few years ago, just when she had begun to gain a following.
He imagined it was Henning’s influence that had changed her trajectory.
Destined for fame yet saddled with a louse.
At the very least she was free of him.
The longer Eirik stared at her face, the more intrigued he became. How did someone so lovely and talented get involved with a cretin like Henning in the first place? And to throw everything away for someone like him? It was a pity she had wasted so much time and aptitude.
Where would she be now?
While he scanned the scene once more, Eirik imagined her living up her newfound freedom. Maybe somewhere like this.
Wherever Giselle was, she was better off without Henning.
Especially now that Eirik had made it his mission to destroy him along with Celina.
He took a long deep breath of the sultry sea air. This was the perfect place to mix a little business and pleasure. Not only had it been a long time since he’d taken some time off, it had been even longer since he’d visited somewhere like this. All white sands, blue-green water and palm trees. Eirik wished it was possible for him to just kick back and relax.
He let his gaze drift toward the couple again. This time, however, he noticed a small figure making a beeline toward them. At first he thought it might be a teen, perhaps some member of staff at the resort showing up for their shift. But the way they seemed fixated on Celina and her man had him thinking otherwise.
The youth, obviously female from the way she moved, even pulled out a phone and took a photo or two of them before putting it away and continuing on her winding journey.
What is she up to?
Intrigued, Eirik put his drink down and headed down the path from his villa to follow the tracks in the sand.