From This Moment On - Bella Andre Page 0,2

of her.

“Goodbye, Jill.”

The song switched from a hard-driving beat to a slower melody and rhythm as Marcus resurfaced from his dark memories. He had planned to pick up Jill for Chase and Chloe’s engagement party earlier that evening, but he’d gone alone. What an idiot he’d been, waiting two years for Jill to make up her mind. Waiting for her to be “ready” to commit all the way to him and the life he envisioned for them.

Marcus knew love existed. He’d seen it between his mother and father. He saw it in every look Chase gave Chloe, in every touch between his brother and his new fiancée.

Still, that didn’t mean Marcus was up to trying for it again anytime soon. A good long break from emotion was what he needed. From his plans. One day he still hoped he’d find a woman who would make him a good wife, a good partner, a good mother to the children he wanted.

But not right now—or for the foreseeable future.

Tonight, he was only in it for pleasure. For a long night of mindless, emotionless sex with someone who didn’t want to know his hopes, his dreams. A woman who didn’t want to know about his family any more than he wanted to know about hers.

Hell, if neither of them even learned each other’s names, that would be perfectly fine with him.

Couples ground against each other in the dark space where sweat and alcohol and sex were all coming together. Marcus moved deeper into the darkness to stand on a rise overlooking the dance floor and scanned the crowd with a clinical eye.

* * *

Nicola Harding stood in the window of her penthouse suite looking down on San Francisco’s Union Square and watched the people walking below.

She was young and single. She should be out there with them. Six months ago, she would have been eating dinner at some glitzy restaurant, surrounded by people who were flattering her and trying to make her laugh, trying to make her like them. But she’d learned the hard way that it wasn’t her they were interested in.

Nicola Harding, who liked Monopoly and building sand castles, was an inconsequential nobody. They all wanted a piece of Nico. They wanted to say they’d hung out with a pop star. They wanted to take pictures of her on their cell phones to text to their friends.

She stepped away from the window and turned back to the huge suite.

It was too big for one person, but her record label thought putting her up in a place like this for a video shoot and concert was treating her right. No one would ever know how alone she felt, one small person in an oversized suite that could have housed her entire family with room to spare.

And the truth was, if she were a stranger reading her press, she certainly would never come up with the word alone to describe herself. Party girl would be closer. Because, somehow, every single event found her photographed with another famous man. She’d wake up in the morning and turn on her computer to learn that she was systematically screwing her way through not only the Top 40 charts, but through Hollywood, too.

Her record label and PR people and management team had told her “any press is good press” enough times that she’d stopped protesting her innocence to them. Besides, she knew they didn’t believe her, not after seeing the pictures that had leaked over the holidays last year—horrible pictures that still seemed to turn up whenever she thought they were finally buried.

After working nearly twenty-four hours a day for years to try to get people to listen to her music, she’d been overjoyed to see her work pay off with her first number one hit last summer. Although everyone had warned her that the business would chew her up and spit her out if she wasn’t careful, she’d believed it was different for her, that she was smart enough to surround herself with good people.

Until the day she trusted the wrong one.

Kenny had been so charming, so sweet at first, that she’d fallen for him hook, line, and sinker. But he’d used emotions like barter and she’d soon realized the only way to keep him happy—and to be sure he still loved her—was to give in to some of the things he wanted her to try.

Stupid girl.

A thousand times since then—no, more like a million—she’d asked herself how she could have been so naive. Naive enough