After a year of practice at being Michael Wolfe’s wife, Karen didn’t hesitate when he walked up behind her, slid his hands around her waist, and kissed the side of her neck.
“There you are.”
She smiled up at his gorgeous face and sighed. He really was one of the most beautiful men she’d ever met. Too bad he was g*y.
“I’m not hiding,” she said and leaned into him for the benefit of those watching.
“The caterer is going to serve in thirty minutes.”
They did the domestic part really well, better than most married couples who were actually into the vows for the long haul. “I’ll go check and make sure everything is ready.”
He kissed the top of her head before she excused herself from the small gathering of friends she’d been talking to and headed back inside the house. Karen circulated through her and Michael’s one-year anniversary party and greeted Hollywood’s royalty by name. She couldn’t help but wonder if the same crowd would be present in six months at their divorce party. She knew, without a doubt, that her name would be removed from the automatic invite list while Michael’s would remain in stone. That’s what happened when you were scheduled to divorce one of the most sought after names in the business. Of course, only a handful of people in the room were expecting the divorce. Everyone else would hear about it via a tabloid or entertainment newscast when the time arrived.
The Spanish-influenced home sat in Beverly Hills with amazing views of the city. There were over two hundred guests at the party, testing the limits of the house. Thankfully, the Southern California weather graced them with a mild evening and allowed guests to mingle inside the home and out.
Karen weaved around the guests, paused to accept a fake Hollywood hug or two, and made her way into the kitchen. The catering manager stood in the center of the chaos giving orders and shuffling her staff around with quiet tones and an evil eye. “Vera, how is everything running?”
“Everything is set for the top of the hour, Mrs. Wolfe.”
Karen never corrected the use of her husband’s name, though she’d never legally changed hers to match.
“And the wine?”
Vera lifted her chin and offered a smile. “Just as your husband selected.”
“However, we had a slight problem with quantity.”
Karen frowned. It didn’t matter to her, but Michael’s preferences were discriminating.
“Did you check the substitute with Michael?”
Vera kept smiling, but her eyes fluttered with what Karen thought were nerves. “He wasn’t available. Perhaps you’d like to see what I selected?”
Karen walked behind Vera as they stepped out the back door of the house to the catering supply truck, where Vera instructed one of her staff to open a wooden crate. Inside sat six bottles of Pinot Noir all elegantly labeled and presented as expected. But if there was one thing Karen had learned after living with a wine connoisseur for a year, the covers of these books didn’t always match the insides. She knew Michael’s taste and didn’t hesitate in making a decision for him on this account.
“I don’t recognize the label.”
Vera gave a quick shake of her head. “No worry.” From her apron, she removed a corkscrew and made quick work of removing the plug from the wine. Vera made a grabby motion of her fingertips, and one of her employees handed her a glass.
With a flourish, Vera poured the wine and handed a small sample over for Karen to taste.
During the time Karen and Michael had spent in France, she’d learned enough about wine to pass a simple tasting. She swished the wine around the glass and didn’t notice any problem with the color of the liquid. In truth, she had always felt this part of wine tasting was the second most useless. Red wines were red, and white were always white. Karen lifted the wine to her nose, scented a little citrus and berry, and then let the wine hit her tongue.
Full-bodied and sweet. No need to spit it out. Spitting out the wine was the most useless of wine tasting practices in her opinion. Spitting out perfectly good wine defeated the purpose. “This will be fine,” she told Vera, who appeared to hold her breath as Karen gave her opinion. “Be sure that the first bottles served are what Michael ordered.”
Vera gave a swift nod and a motion of her hand while others moved around them to place the wine inside the house. They both turned to walk inside when a lone figure approached from behind them. “Mrs. Wolfe?”
With a practiced smile, Karen turned around and forgot to breathe. The hair on her arms stood on end as a mixture of sensation traveled over her skin. There was something familiar about the six-foot-three man with dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes. His jaw was as rugged as Michael’s and held a day’s worth of stubble, something Michael sported for some of his roles but preferred to shave off at first chance.
Thinking of Michael brought his image to her mind, and the realization hit that the man in front of her could quite possibly be his double. Only this man didn’t have the laughter in his eyes or the easy smile on his face. No, there was something hidden behind his gaze that made her pause. This man was gorgeous, and if she were one to believe in instant attraction, her body responded to him with a fierceness she didn’t think possible. Maybe this was what the women gazing at Michael experienced that she did not. This wild thrill of discovery that led to possibilities only the big screen could fulfill.