Lover Undercover
Author:Samanthe Beck

Epilogue


Ten months later…

“Kylie, this is the most bee-yoo-ti-ful studio ever! I can’t wait for the first class,” Lee Ann gushed in a slightly tipsy twang as she closed in for a hug. Ginger moved quick and intercepted Lee Ann’s champagne flute before the Southern belle’s sloppy hug splashed the contents all over Kylie’s strapless black cocktail dress. When Lee Ann drew back, Ginger raised the half-empty glass and toasted Kylie. “You done good.”

Ariana nodded. “Yes, Kylie. You make us proud.”

“Thanks,” Kylie replied. Her own pride welled up as she glanced around her brand-new yoga studio, Nirvana on Ninth, and took in the high ceilings, gleaming bamboo floors, and for tonight’s grand opening party, the champagne fountain and tables overflowing with hors d’oeuvres. Friends, family, and students chatted and circulated. Her gaze landed on Trevor, ridiculously gorgeous in his dark suit and silver-striped tie. He stood by the door, talking with Vern and Ian. At the sight of him, her heart did its predictable little flutter. He turned and gave her a long look loaded with not-so-hidden messages, and a whole lot of other parts started fluttering, too.

With some effort, she dragged her attention back to the girls. They were quite a sight decked out in their mile-high heels and short, tight outfits. “It means a lot that you ladies came to help celebrate the grand opening.”

“We wouldn’t have missed it,” Ginger assured her, “and not just because of the free-flowing champagne.” The redhead leaned in and gave Kylie a quick squeeze, then tugged Lee Ann toward the door. “C’mon, Country. Time to call it a night.”

“Me, too,” Stacy said, looking every inch a star in her silky ivory gown. “I’m so thrilled for you, Ky, I want to party ’til sunrise, but—”

“But the new, responsible Stacy knows she has to be on the set at 5:00 a.m.,” Kylie finished with a grin. Stacy had struck gold with her TV show. The network had picked up the series on the strength of the pilot, and now, a month into the first season, critics and fans alike declared it a breakout hit.

“Right,” Stacy smiled back, but it didn’t reach her eyes, and Kylie didn’t miss how her twin’s attention strayed across the room to where Ian stood. After being joined at the hip for the past several months, Ian had suggested they move in together, and Stacy had abruptly pulled the plug on the relationship. Kylie couldn’t help thinking her twin had a heaping dose of cold feet…and regret, if her expression tonight offered any hint of her feelings.

“Talk to him,” Kylie urged.

Stacy frowned and shook her head. “No. We’ve already talked everything to death. He wants commitments and promises. Christ, he even mentioned the ‘M’ word.” She shivered and released a humorless laugh. “That’s so not what I’m looking for. My career demands all my focus. I spend fifteen-hour days on the set, and the rest of my time learning my lines, doing publicity, and meeting with my agent about new projects.”

“But you love him—”

“No!” The denial flew out of Stacy’s mouth on wings of panic, and told Kylie her sister was running scared. “You know me better,” Stacy went on. “I don’t do love. Lust? Sure. Sex? Hell, yes. But nothing more.”

Kylie remained silent. Rather than argue, she leveled a patient, who-are you-trying-to-convince look at her sister.

Stacy ran a hand through her flawless cascade of blond waves. “Look, Ian’s an amazing guy. He deserves a sweet girl who wants to make him the center of her universe.” Her eyes drifted to the other side of the room, where Ian stared back with an expression that warned he might either kiss her senseless or strangle her in the next five seconds.

The look apparently wasn’t lost on Stacy. She flushed and mumbled, “I’ve got to go. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Kylie forced a lid on her frustration as she watched Stacy leave. Now wasn’t the time or place to excavate her sister’s fear of commitment, but Kylie intended to dig in very soon. Not out of a compulsion to step in and rescue her twin from a bad decision—they’d both finally outgrown that habit—but because she wanted Stacy to expect, and fight for, love with the same determination she used to pursue her career.

Soon, Kylie silently vowed as she stood in her shiny new space while the last of the guests said their good-byes and wandered out into the starlit evening. The Santa Monica mountains rose in the distance, framing a huge, round moon as full of portent as an ancient Celtic blessing coin.

She felt blessed, and her blessings extended beyond having friends and family on hand to celebrate the realization of her goal. Between the loyal students she’d cultivated over her years instructing at other yoga studios, and the new members she’d picked up via word of mouth, her classes were booked to capacity. The biggest blessing of all, however, stood by the door, arms folded across his chest, watching her.

She walked over to him. He smiled the slow, crooked smile that always sent her pulse skyrocketing, and centered himself between her and the door. “Sorry,” he said, sounding anything but. “Hope I’m not in your way.”

Trevor had been by her side since the day she’d been released from the hospital, but never, ever in her way. While helping her do everything from create her business plan to pick paint colors, he’d slowly taught her the all-important difference between being able to depend on someone and being dependent. He’d shown her that sharing her heart didn’t mean subjugating her dreams.

“No,” she replied, unable to help the husky note in her voice, “you’re not in my way.”

“Good to know.” He reached behind him clicked the front door lock closed.

“Just the opposite, really. I couldn’t have done this,” she gestured around the studio, “without you.”

“I don’t know about that, but I suppose I am pretty handy to have around at times.” He winked, and with a flick of his fingers over the wall panel, dimmed the lights to a soft glow.

Unwilling to let him brush off her words, she laid her palm on his chest, over his heart. “Trevor, I mean it. Your belief in me, your support…” She shook her head. “Not to mention setting up spreadsheets, or spackling and painting. I don’t have the words to describe what everything you’ve done means to me.”

He lifted her hand from his chest and kissed it. “I’m versatile. Thing is”—releasing her hand, he stepped away and lowered the rattan blinds over the big, street-facing windows—“I don’t think you fully appreciate how versatile I am.”

Though his expression remained playful and his voice teasing, Kylie suddenly worried he really didn’t understand how much he meant to her. “I do,” she promised. “I appreciate everything about you.”

“We’ll see.” He drew her back into the main room, pulled one of the rented, slipcovered chairs away from a table, and positioned it in the center of the open area that had served as the dance floor for the evening’s festivities. “Take a seat.”

Oh, no, what was this? Were they going to have a talk? Her heart clutched. “Trevor—”

He slipped over to the sound system, hit a couple buttons on the remote, and then walked back around until he stood in front of her chair, facing her. “Now, about my versatility…”

Music started, an instantly identifiable guitar riff, followed by an equally identifiable voice—“Kiss,” by Prince. Trevor flipped his jacket off his shoulders and let it slide down his arms to land on the floor. Then he inched closer, leading with his hips, which were doing a mouthwatering bump-and-grind in perfect time with the pulsating beat of the song.

“Oh my God,” Kylie gasped, and clapped a hand over her mouth.

Off came the tie, which he draped around her neck. She giggled. “My own private dancer. I can’t believe I thought spackling was your secret, hidden talent.”

“I spackle, too. But I figured I owed you at least one dance, and I wanted to make it memorable. How am I doing so far?”

Kylie could only nod like a bobblehead.

“Okay.” Not missing a beat, he flicked open his cuffs. “Since I’ve taken an oath to protect and serve, I’m duty-bound to warn you to shield your eyes for this next part.”

“Huh?” Uncertain what he had in mind, she raised her hand, fingers parted so she could still see him. As Prince demanded her extra time and her kiss, Trevor tore open his shirt, sending buttons flying, baring his truly amazing chest and chiseled abs.

Holy smokes. This act of his was going to melt her panties right along with her heart. True, she knew his spectacular body almost as well as she knew the back of her own hand, had seen, touched, and had her way with him hundreds of times, but familiarity didn’t diminish the impact of watching him strip for her.

He turned around, tugged his shirt the rest of the way off, and flexed his delts and lats until her mouth went dry. With his hands behind his head, he turned to face her again, arched his back, and offered up his fly. “Care to do the honors?”

“Are you kidding?” Eagerly, she undid the clasp of his trousers, but when she went for the zipper, he pulled his hips back. “Uh-uh. Not so fast.” With a slight twist of his waist, he shifted closer again. “Reach into my pocket. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

She laughed, despite the wave of frustrated desire swirling through her. “The old ‘reach into my pocket’ routine?”

He merely shrugged and prompted her with a little hip shake. She reached in and tunneled her fingers down, enjoying the feel of his granite-hard thigh through the slippery lining. Her fingertips brushed something small and cool at the bottom of his pocket. Curious, her eyes sought his.

“Find something interesting?”

“I don’t know.” She closed her fingers around the tiny object and drew it out of his pocket while Prince wound his song down with a frenzy of kisses and funky guitar. When she opened her hand and saw what she was holding, the air backed up in her lungs. A beautiful diamond solitaire sat in her palm. Her pent-up breath escaped with an audible whoosh into the sudden quiet.

“Surprise,” he whispered.

“Oh…”

He dropped to his knee and took her hand, folding her fingers around the ring. “Marry me, Kylie. I love you. I want to spend my life with you. Hopefully you know by now that I’ll never stand in the way of your dreams.”

She took a shaky breath and looked up at him through tears.

“Ah, Jesus, don’t do it. Please.” Gently, he swept his thumb over her cheek.

“I can’t help it.”

“Because you’re so happy, or you’re completely freaked out? Spell it out for me, Ky.”

Laughing, crying, she flung her arms around his neck.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” And then he was kissing her. A long, deep kiss that set her soul soaring even as her body went up in flames.

“Yes,” she echoed when they finally came up for air.

“I’m holding you to that,” he whispered, and slipped the ring on her finger. “Forever.”