Tainted Love

Caitlyn Willows

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They had it all and each other until one of them walked away.Rock star Quentin Nash walked out on the loves of his life five years before and regretted it instantly. Pride and fear have kept him away. But lost, lonely, and burned ...
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Full Description

They had it all and each other until one of them walked away.

Rock star Quentin Nash walked out on the loves of his life five years before and regretted it instantly. Pride and fear have kept him away. But lost, lonely, and burned out, he's come back, and he's praying they can forgive that he tainted their love.

The music world was a hell on earth for Mel and Tasha Keane. They left while they still had their sanity. Now it's back on their doorstep in the form of the one man they'd lost their hearts to years before. There's always been a place for him with them, but can they help Quentin find his way without losing their own?

  • Note: This book was previously released by another publisher.
Excerpt
Quentin Nash slowed his rental car at the top of the winding palmed canyon. Peace had sifted into his blood on the drive up. He’d turned off the air-conditioning, rolled down the windows, and slowed his speed in order to hear the two creeks that paralleled both sides of the road. Nature’s music soothed his fractured soul.

Winter rains had filled the oasis above to overflowing and blessed the landscape with water, spawning a profusion of wildflowers in this desert canyon. Birdsong reached him from the towering palm trees and dense vegetation. If he was lucky enough, he might spot a small herd of bighorn sheep. Tourists crowded Palm Canyon Drive and every golf course, never realizing true wonder was in the mountain canyons that shadowed Palm Springs.

He wanted to weep at the beauty of it. Or was it fear that made him teary-eyed? Or exhaustion? Or the weight of people everywhere he turned taking pieces of them for themselves? He knew it was the latter. Fans clawed their way through crowds to reach him, to touch him. Agents, managers, and record producers wanted their pound of flesh as well. Everyone loved whatever they could get from Reno and didn’t give a shit about the real man behind the rock star.

He swallowed the heavy lump in this throat as he stared at the resort ahead. Diversions was off the beaten path. Only a small sign on the main road pointed the way to it. If a person didn’t know to look, they might not have noticed that. It was very exclusive. Their only advertising, other than a website, an article the year before in Travel Temptations, and a hit song Mesquite had in honor of the place, was a trifold brochure that promised to indulge the visitor in every luxury and assured no request would be denied. He knew from past experience the place was booked in advance. He’d also been told there would always be room for him.

Those words, given five years ago, had hovered in his mind. At first, they were his safety net. Now they’d become his lifeline.

Tears drifted down his cheeks. Success was hollow without Tasha and Mel. He had all the money in the world and had never felt lonelier. Everyone took what they needed from his Reno self, and Quentin got nothing in return except for more money, more work, more demands. He was Reno and everyone wanted him…now.

Tasha and Mel were the smart ones. They’d gotten out of the business years ago. Phoenix and Diego, Tasha’s and Mel’s personas in the group they’d called Three, had ceased to exist. They’d taken over the ownership of Diversions from Tasha’s parents, married, had each other.

Quentin wondered if they’d missed him as much as he’d missed them. If their invitation to stay was always open as they’d promised. Did they still look the same? Tasha with her waterfall of black hair. Mel with those ocean blue eyes that made you want to dive in? Did they crave him in the night as he did them? Did they curl into each other’s arms and miss the third body pressed to theirs? Had they replaced him in their hearts and lives? He didn’t think he could bear that, even though he’d tried that very thing over the last five years. He never lacked for willing partners. Those attempts had left him as empty as everything else in his life. If Mel and Tasha had found another… If they rejected him…

He smeared the tears from his face. Sitting here staring at the place wasn’t helping, and he knew he couldn’t turn around and leave. If for no other reason, Quentin needed the peace Diversions offered. He needed to heal his fractured soul before he jumped back into the fray. Leaving the music industry wasn’t an option for him. The legal ramifications alone would ruin him. He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to think about any of it.

Pulling in a deep breath, Quentin put the car in motion. The place reminded him of an old mission—white stucco, deep arches for windows and doors, red tiled roof. There was even a bell tower at the far edge of the red-cobblestone drive. The wide entrance circled around a statue of a couple caught in a coital embrace. It was the first of many statues scattered throughout the Eden-like grounds.

A valet greeted him with a smile and a wave the instant Quentin’s car came into view. Quick on his heels was Charles, the head of Butler Services at Diversions. The man was a constant who comforted Quentin. It seemed the man never aged. He looked as tanned and fit as he had the first time Quentin had seen him fifteen years before. Charles’s obsidian gaze flickered with recognition. Quentin thought—hoped—they sparkled a little as well.

The valet reached for the car door as soon as Quentin stopped. Quentin offered him a smile he didn’t feel. “A moment, please. I don’t exactly have a reservation.”

Charles stepped forward. “Indeed you do, Mr. Nash. A standing reservation as per Mr. and Mrs. Keane’s instructions. There is always a place for you here. Diversions is ready to wrap you in comfort.”

More tears welled up. All Quentin could do was nod and relinquish the car to the valet, while a bellman darted forward to retrieve his luggage. Nothing in their actions gave away that they knew he was famed rock star Reno. His real name had always afforded him some anonymity…until his face was plastered all over television and magazines. Still, he’d gotten this far in his trip without intrusion. Maybe Diversions was already working its magic.

Charles gave a slight bow. “This way, sir.”

Quentin followed without hesitation. Through the Spanish tiled foyer lined with potted plants. Down the flagstone path that twisted through the lush garden. Past more statues of lovers caught in orgasmic bliss. And when they walked beyond the main conclave of suites, awareness of their final destination nearly brought Quentin to his knees.

How many times had he traveled this route with them, all three wrapped in each other’s arms? How many times had they tangled themselves in the sheets of the suite ahead, or bathed in the hot tub, or soaped each other to heaven in the huge shower? Fed one another in the cloud-soft pile of cushions? Laughed, loved, planned a future that never came to be?

They’d once had a great love, unusual by most people’s standards, but it had worked well for them. Until he tainted it all with his greed and lust for more of something they’d already had plenty of—fame and fortune.

The first sight of the stand-alone cabana stabbed a pain of longing through Quentin’s heart. It looked as fresh as the first time he’d seen it. The Jungle Hut, appropriately designed to look like one on the outside. It had always been their room.

The bellman trotted up the three steps to the deep porch and opened the door. Did Tasha and Mel know he was here? If not, Charles would let them know as soon as he saw Quentin settled.

He paused at the bottom step, staring into the dark interior ahead. From the porch, Charles turned his way, his eyebrow lifted ever-so-slightly in question.

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather go in alone,” Quentin somehow managed to say.

“As you wish, sir.” The man stepped down to his level. “Please let us know if there is anything you need.”

“Thank you.” Quentin barely heard the words over the emotion strangling him.

Charles nodded and walked away. The bellman was seconds behind, not even pausing so Quentin could tip him. No one here would have their hand out. No one here would take pieces of him. The concept of peace and quiet was hard to grasp.

Heart pounding, he walked into the cabana, shutting the door behind. Ambient light filtered to him from the corners, like the sun coming into a forest canyon. Deep greens and muted browns greeted him. Quentin closed his eyes and leaned into the door. He didn’t have to look to know the big bed was hidden behind a veil of faux vines and leaves. Or that the living area was a sunken bed of cushions with the hot tub tucked into a jungle grotto niche beyond. A sliding glass door led to the private patio screened with bamboo. The bathroom contained a shower-tub combination made for love.

He didn’t need to see to know it was all the same. He didn’t need the reminder of the love he’d tossed aside, yet he needed the sanctuary it offered.

He sank to his knees and sobbed.

Copyright © Caitlyn Willows

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