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Authors: HelenKay Dimon

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Victoria's Got a Secret

HelenKay Dimon

VICTORIA’S

GOT A

SECRET

HelenKay Dimon

VICTORIA’S

GOT A

SECRET

Health Communications, Inc.
Deerfield Beach, Florida

www.hcibooks.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

HelenKay Dimon.
   Victoria’s got a secret / HelenKay Dimon.

      p. cm.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7573-1557-2
ISBN-10: 0-7573-1557-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-7573-9182-8 (e-book)
ISBN-10: 0-7573-9182-6 (e-book)

I. Women television journalists—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3604.I467V53 2011
813'.6—dc22

2011002606

©2011 Health Communications, Inc.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

HCI, its logos, and marks are trademarks of Health Communications, Inc.

Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442–8190

TRUE VOWS Series Developer: Olivia Rupprecht
Cover photo
©iStockphoto
Cover design by Larissa Hise Henoch
Interior design and formatting by Lawna Patterson Oldfield

Contents

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Three

Twenty-Four

Twenty-Five

Twenty-Six

Twenty-Seven

Twenty-Eight

Twenty-Nine

Thirty

Epilogue

Prologue

T
HIS TIME WAS DIFFERENT
. She made the decisions and set the boundaries. The days of acting out someone else’s fantasy faded into the shadowed past. Her new life focused on
taking
control.

Her body. Her mind. Her choices.

She could stay or leave, and she chose to stay. The new office, complete with the impressive title and growing responsibilities, proved that. So did the thick stack of papers sitting on the edge of her desk.

Without thinking, she traced her fingertip over the signature line of the employment contract and didn’t fight the smile. The blue ink had dried days ago but the unspoken statement she’d made still pounded in her brain.

She’d spent the first part of her career with Naked News building an image and creating a persona. Becoming
the
Victoria Sinclair. In interviews back then, she spoke about how women taking off their clothes as they delivered the news was the perfect mix of pretty women and information.

She had believed the words, the concept, and most certainly in the people who ran Naked News. She had used her numerous talk show appearances and private dinners to plead her case to those she knew and those she didn’t. But in some ways she’d only said the words. Now she lived them.

Victoria Sinclair went from a role she played to something more. A piece of the whole. The part that found strength from within and knowledge from life as well as the pages of books. She’d once hidden behind the persona, then she repressed it. Now she would nurture it, understanding the power and the need to harness it.

Her grandmother, known to the family as The Duchess, taught her to respect her body and use her mind. The Duchess insisted a woman could be anything and didn’t have to give up part of her soul to accomplish her goals.

The Duchess was right.

One

You don’t choose love. Love chooses you.

—Grandma Gladys, The Duchess

S
HE’D
SEEN HIM AROUND
S
T
. CL
AIR’S
S
ECONDARY
school. Blondish-brown hair swept long over his ears, giving him the look of a sexy brooding musician despite his wide smile. He was the guy who got along with everyone, moving from the jock crowd to the popular crowd to the artsy crowd with ease.

His name was Paul, and he was a year older. A touch of mystery surrounded him, which made him all the more attractive. Nothing like a guy with a bit of experience and access to a car to make him interesting. Being cute didn’t hurt either.

Jennifer pegged him as charming with a bit of the devil in his sparkling green eyes. But touching him was the memory that stuck with her. Lean fingers and a firm hold. The moment came from ninth grade when the gym teacher paired them up in square dancing.

Jogging over to her, he wore a leather vest and faded blue jeans that hugged his thighs and showed off his love of sports and physical activity. His arm slipped through hers and her stomach bounced. She’d kissed a boy at camp once, but this, the skin against skin contact, sucked the air right out of her.

With Paul, swinging around in a circle didn’t seem silly or embarrassing. The world whirled around her as they clapped and stepped. She wanted the dance to last forever.

But this meeting months later was different. No laughing students or dumb music. They were alone in his room.

Her big sister Heather usually agreed to have her tag along on social stuff, but this time Heather had wanted to be with her boyfriend. It was New Year’s Eve, after all. Being dumped would have sucked for Jennifer if Heather hadn’t done a little matchmaking and arranged for the dumping to happen at Paul’s house.

Snow fell outside as cold air blew off Lake Huron and wrapped around Sarnia, the harbor city in southern Ontario where they lived. Pink Floyd echoed off the walls of the dark basement.

After hours of talking about his most recent hike and the bands he liked best, of her talking about her offbeat family and its focus on learning and reading, they took a long breath and looked up. Hours had passed as they sat locked together, hands touching and heads bent in conversation.

She knew he was different from the boys at school. He listened, looked at her like her words mattered, and seemed to understand her better than any boy she’d ever met.

To break the spell she felt weaving around her, she glanced around the sparse underground space. No one had bothered them. No parents to separate them or demand she head home. If this were her house, her dad would have checked in more than once by now. Probably would have lingered around until he scared Paul off.

But nothing about the room or the moment reminded of her of her usual life. She lived in a house with books stacked in every corner and on every shelf and a piano at its center. Her days were filled with music and heated discussions where she took one side and her mom took another.

Paul’s surroundings carried a note of loneliness. Quiet and dark. Stuffing peeked out of the frayed edges of the pillows. The rug was worn through to the cement below in a several places. The stacked stereo looked like it cost more than everything else in the room combined.

“Where is everybody?” she asked.

“Out.”

A typical Paul response, short and a bit cryptic but spoken with laughter in his voice. “That’s specific.”

“Meaning?”

“You’re here by yourself?”

“No.”

“Really?”

He gave her a you’re-losing-it look. “You’re here.”

“Oh, right.” Her gaze lingered on the bed before returning to his face. “Your parents let you sleep down here?”

“Yeah.”

“Alone?”

“I like privacy,” he said, not really answering the question.

“What’s this?” She stood up and went to the odd assortment of treasures lined up on top of his dresser. Her fingers brushed over each item.

“Nothing.”

She grabbed his sleeve when he started to turn away. “No, really. Tell me.”

He shrugged. “Do you really care?”

As if there was anything about him that didn’t matter to her. She doodled his name in her notebook, and just seeing his face in the halls at school made her stomach bounce around with excitement.

Yeah, she cared. Like, couldn’t stop thinking about him cared. “Just tell me.”

Still he stayed quiet. He bit his lip. Even frowned at her. Finally, he cleared his throat and started talking. “It’s all the stuff that matters.”

“Oh.” She hesitated, then shook her head. “Yeah, I don’t get it.”

He picked up the stone chips and fingered the dried rose with a reverence that made him seem years older than sixteen. “From Marie’s grave.”

Pain washed through his voice as he talked. His usually sunny face pulled tight with a grim line across his lips.

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