A Summer to Remember
Author:Elle Chardou

Chapter One

I don’t believe in love or happy endings but I do believe in lust.

Call me cynical at the tender age of twenty-four but after having my heart broken by my first love and college boyfriend, Kevin, I no longer allowed myself to get involved in relationships.

However I wasn’t dead and my libido was still quite active. That annoying, sexual part of me was the reason why I studied the latest piece of eye candy with interest the moment he’d stepped into my gallery, Maison des Artistries. Yes, I owned my own art gallery in the luxurious bohemian district of Tribeca because my parents were incredibly wealthy beyond belief and my older brother worked for one of the top Wall Street firms that didn’t take a hit during the downturn. His firm, CDG Investments, also didn’t have to beg one dime from the Federal government because they’d covered their asses and preferred their clients invest in blue-chip stock instead of starter-up companies that had decided to go public.

Jude tried to hold my attention but my eyes were glued to his “actor friend” he had brought to my gallery.

“Hello, earth to Jerrica? Brandon really needs your assistance in acquiring some pieces that would suit the brand new mansion he purchased in L.A.”

I silenced my brother with an icy glare and he smirked at me.

The Brandon in question was hot new actor, Brandon Wilkinson, and he was older. Not old as in late thirties old but he had to be at least twenty-eight or twenty-nine. He and my brother, Jude, had gone to Princeton together and he’d left a few credits shy of his degree to try his passion for acting.

Princeton had given him his degree in Business Administration when he’d won an Oscar for best original screenplay; the film he’d also starred in had swept the award show season that year and he’d been in demand and a sex god ever since.

Jude and Brandon could have passed for brothers since they both had blond-streaked brown hair, cobalt blue eyes, lightly tanned skin, tall with lean, muscular bodies and were not only handsome but sexy as well.

However, I had grown up with my brother and although I was told by all my friends he went well beyond just sexy and good looking, personally, I couldn’t see it. He would always be plain old Jude to me.

Not that it had stopped him from going after every one of my best friends and for that I could have killed him. He shattered my best friend’s heart in Academy so bad, her parents’ pulled her from the school and she finished her high school education in a fancy Swiss boarding school. Meanwhile, my brother’s punishment was spending his senior year at an all-boys boarding school in Massachusetts.

I wasn’t friendly with anyone I attended high school at the Academy in Connecticut because while most of my friends chose Princeton, Yale, Harvard or Stanford to attend—along with a few who had opted for Cambridge or Oxford in England—I had decided on Vassar College long before my junior year was over.

My parents thought I was crazy and so did my brother but from the moment I visited, I knew it was the university for me. Had I not gone there, I wouldn’t have met my three best friends: Talia, Savannah or Autumn.

They were all so different and we all came from such different corners of the States—with the exception of Talia Viaro-Stewart because I’d known her at the Academy. Her beautiful yet working-class mother had married a wealthy man though she was originally from South Boston. Autumn Jensen was a Gold Coast raised Chicagoan on her mother’s side while her father was originally from Wisconsin. Savannah Becker was from an upscale neighborhood in northern Virginia near Washington, D.C.

It was funny because while my mind was concentrated so deeply on my friends, I was able to show Brandon several pieces by up and coming artists he thought would be perfect for his new L.A. pad.

“What are you doing here anyway?” I inquired as soon as my brother got an emergency phone call and had to take it away from us.

“I’m sorry?” He honestly looked perplexed by my question and his cobalt blue eyes stared deeply into mine.

“What are you doing here in New York?” I rephrased quickly before I allowed my lips to part with warmth.

Brandon immediately relaxed and smiled back at me. “Oh, I’m filming a movie up in New England but it doesn’t start until next week so Jude invited me to spend a few days at his pad. I was happy to oblige. Your brother is a great guy though I can see why he never introduced his kid sister to any of us.”

If it was possible for me to blush, I would have but I had a pretty high self esteem about myself despite everything that had happened in my life so far.

My hair, naturally mousy brown and quite plain, was dyed honey-blonde with subtle highlights which made it look completely natural since I also made sure my professionally done eyebrows matched. Unfortunately, “the curtains didn’t match the rug” which is why I had my pubic hair waxed, Brazilian-style. It was also great because I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like in a bikini.

My brother possessed the most gorgeous blue-green eyes, a gift from our mother, but I had inherited our father’s blue-gray eyes and they were one of my best features along with my pert nose and slightly full lips. I was tiny, barely 5’3” but I compensated by wearing lots of high heels courtesy of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo et al.

My wardrobe was also classic New York: lots of silk blouses and knit skirts, beautiful dresses in all kinds of fabric and every kind of shoe—from the strappy sandal to the knee-length boot—decorated my closet. Although both Jude and I had been born and raised in Connecticut, our father worked in New York City and our mother went to more charity events there than my brother and I could count on all our fingers and toes. Some people might have found it strange but to Jude and I, buying a loft together seemed like a great idea.

It was a spacious and beautiful penthouse in the Tribeca area and we both loved it. He had his side and I had mine; the only time we met up was in the kitchen. Jude stayed out of my love life and I stayed out of his. The situation was absolutely perfect and fit our lifestyles because we both worked such sporadic and long hours, we barely saw much of one another.

“So, that means you’re staying at our pad?” I questioned with more than just a little interest.

I hadn’t gotten laid in what felt like months and I could definitely use the company.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I only brought a duffel bag because all my other stuff has already been moved to Boston where the film takes place.”

“Interesting,” I said though I left it at that as Jude rushed back to us.

“Listen, I have to go. There is a mini crisis at CDG but rest assure, Brandon, my sister will take great care of you,” my brother announced before he speed-walked out of the gallery like his ass was on fire.

“In more ways than one,” I murmured to myself more than to Brandon.

Three hours later, Brandon and I lay beside one another in my California King bed. It had been a great workout and fabulous sex but something was missing and I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly.

The attraction between the two of us existed but there wasn’t anything else. No love, warmth or genuine affection and I think that was more of a problem for him than it was with me but I could feel his immediate emotional distance.

He sat up and moved toward the edge of the bed as he swung his legs to the floor. “I’m sorry. This was a mistake. I mean…you’re a terrific woman and you have a hell of a gallery but you and I…” he trailed off.

“There is no you and me, Brandon.” I sat up, unashamed of my body which was in perfect shape thanks to my workouts five times a week and my strict diet which mostly consisted of vegetables and seafood though I ate what ever I wanted when I was on vacation. “Listen, it was just sex and you don’t have to feel bad or make up excuses. I don’t expect you to call me and proclaim how much you miss me once you leave for Boston. I feel wonderful…it’s been a long time since I have had sex so satisfying.”

He turned toward me and his cobalt blue eyes shined hard like diamonds. “You mean…you don’t expect a commitment of some sort?”

“For what? We had a one night stand for God’s sake and I barely know you. Why would I expect a commitment?”

“We barebacked and…we enjoyed each other in every way there is to receive satisfaction from one another.”

I pulled my hair back away from my face and sighed softly. I hated having to play the “guy” all the time. “Listen, we just had mind blowing sex. I understand you are going through some issues…everyone knows about your breakup with Camilla Castillo but I’m not looking for a relationship, Brandon. I’ve had my heart broken once and it isn’t going to happen again.”

I crawled toward him and slipped my arms around his neck as my bare breasts caressed his naked back. “I am not the one for you. I don’t do happy endings and false proclamations of love. I am a single woman living her life. Hell, I am only twenty-four and I am not looking to marry anyone at the moment. I am just enjoying my life and I don’t kiss and tell. What happened between us will stay between us and no one has to know, Jude included.”

Brandon turned my way but all I could see was the outline of his profile. “Are you happy? Don’t you believe you deserve to be happy?”

My arms fell away and they crossed against my nude breasts in a defensive stance. “Who the fuck ever said I wasn’t content living my life the way it is now? What is it with you guys who think all women want roses and Swiss chocolate? Sorry to disappoint but all I wanted was a hot fuck and you managed to deliver. Congrats. Perhaps you’ll find your perfect woman in Boston because she sure as shit isn’t me.”

I knew I’d hurt his feelings and it was a purposeful act. I didn’t want his pity or sympathy because I didn’t and couldn’t bring myself to have a relationship.

Brandon stood reluctantly, grabbed his clothes and the last I saw of him was his perfectly muscled ass as he left my bedroom and closed the door quietly behind himself.

The next morning, my bags were packed and I spoke on the phone to my mother who sounded extremely delighted.

“I don’t mean to bother you, especially since you work so hard, dear, but could you do your father and I a favor? Is it too much to ask for you to check on our summer home in Southampton?” she inquired between sips of tea.

My mother was determined to stay as youthful and beautiful as she could. She did not partake in alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks or coffee. Instead she lived on green tea and a micro-biotic diet that would have made Madonna jealous.

“Uh, that’s where I thought you and Dad were. I am packing my bags as we speak. I’m tired of the City and my assistant is taking over while I am gone. I need to get away and I thought Southampton would be perfect.”

Mother laughed out loud. “You know your father, sweetheart. He surprised me with a brand new fabulous condo in Nice and it is absolutely stunning! We’re spending the summer here in France. You would love it but since you plan to get away for a while, you should invite the girls to join you. I bet they would love to spend some time in the Hamptons with you.”

“Mmm, that isn’t a bad idea, Mom. I will get on the phone and track them down. Thanks for the idea.”

“In the meantime, I’ll make sure the place is immaculate so when you all arrive, it will be perfect.”

“Okay. Love you and talk to you soon.”

“You too, sweetheart.”

My mother ended the call and I started going down my list, starting with Talia. She lived the furthest away in L.A. and although I considered Savannah and Autumn best friends as well, Talia was my absolute favorite. I enjoyed her spunk and she had a similar wild streak and lust for life the same as I did.

She answered after a few rings with a distracted, “Yeah?”

“Hey, girlie, it’s me, your best friend. Is that any way to answer the phone?”

“Sorry,” Talia began and sounded slightly winded. “I am writing for some of the biggest assholes in the music business at the moment and I am not in a good mood. What is it?”

“The Hamptons…on my folks? You know: sun, sand and endless fun?”

Talia sighed out loud. “Are you kidding me, Jerrica? I couldn’t escape now even if I wanted to. The music label would have a shit fit. I am a resident music writer which means I have to be available at any given moment. Unlike you, I don’t own my own company and I can’t just up and leave when ever it strikes my fancy.”

“Fine,” I began, “I’ll have Jude call Dominic Stenfeldt at Introspect Records and let him know you need some R&R. He’s a major client of my brother’s and he will give you the time off.”

She gasped out loud. “Are you serious? You would do that for me?”

“Of course I would.”

“Oh my God, Jerri, you’re the best.”

Talia was the only person in the world who could get away with calling me Jerri therefore I let it slide. “No problem.”

We ended our call shortly afterwards and that is when my brother decided to put in an appearance. Jude was dressed immaculately as usual and looked good enough for any female to swoon over but I merely acknowledged him wordlessly while flipping through my Ulysse Nardin to call Savannah.

He made himself a cup of coffee, black, and sat across from me at the table.

“Listen, we have to talk.”

“About what?” I wondered out loud before I pressed Savannah’s number.

He took the phone away from me and told one of my best friend’s I would call her back.

“Listen, you gotta stop sleeping with every available guy I bring home. It’s starting to get downright embarrassing. Brandon left so fast it made the Airbus seem slow and I can only guess why,” Jude explained in a no-nonsense manner.

I rolled my eyes. “Listen, you act like I raped the guy or something. Believe me, he was a very willing participant.”

“I know that, Jerrica, but still…you’re my sister and it really does hurt me that you are behaving like a slut just because of what Kevin did to you.”

“Wow.” I glared at my brother with cold eyes before I stood and walked over to the state-of-the-art power press coffee machine and poured myself another cup of coffee. “What the hell do you think I am doing? Mom told me to check on the Southampton guest house and that is exactly what I plan to do. However, since it is empty, I am inviting Talia, Savannah and Autumn along. We haven’t seen one another in ages and I can get out of your hair. Happy, dear?”

“I guess…if that’s what is going to make you less likely to jump the bones of every available guy friend I have.”

I turned toward him as I leaned against the spotless marble countertop. “It will. I need to get out of the City and get my life straightened out…somehow. I know the path and where I am heading isn’t healthy. I can’t stop feeling guilty about what happened between Kevin and me yet I know it wasn’t my fault. None of this is…I just need some time on my own with my friends.”

Jude finished his coffee in record timing before he stood and began to rearrange the document folders in his briefcase. “I’ll try to make it out there for a weekend or two but work is crazy busy at the moment. I won’t promise anything but…take care of yourself, all right?”

I smiled slightly though it never reached my eyes. “I always do.”