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Now two days before Christmas the paparazzi is camped out on her doorstep. Out of choices she flees to her family's cabin. Only the cabin no longer belongs to her family.
When Cole Evan returns from a trip to the store he finds non other than his ex-girlfriend/ex-client Angel on his couch he has a decision to make. Does he send her on her way or try to repair their mistakes by doing what he should have done back then. By teaching his little angel an old fashioned lesson in minding her temper.
Angel Davis, known to the rest of the world as Angelique, was having the worst year of her life. The funny part was, it had started out as the best year, and only gotten worse with every month that went by.
Thank God the year was almost over. It was December 23rd, just two days shy of Christmas, and her 25th birthday. Normally, she would be busy ringing in the holidays with lavish upscale parties full of A-list celebrities, fine champagne, and gourmet food. And then disaster struck. The old adage about finding out who your real friends were in tough times was apparently one hundred percent true. When the dust had settled, Angel had come to the shocking realization that as far as true friends went, she had none.
It was a bleak reality, and she knew that the fault was her own. She had gotten, as her father would have said, much too big for her britches when the fame and riches hit, and left the few people who did care about her back in the dust. Who needed them anyway, she had told herself. Just reminders of the girl she used to be.
So now, she was at her lowest point, and she had nobody to pick up the pieces. Her father had passed away last year, and she hadn’t even made it home for the funeral. She had been working on a shoot in the Philippines at the time, and her confusion and devastation over his unexpected death had muddled her brain. She had made excuses, telling herself and everyone else that getting away would have meant breaking a contract, and would have been impossible. The only person she had fooled with that line had been herself. Bridges burned, she told herself, blowing the hair out of her eyes as she squinted in the dark trying to find her turn off.
She couldn’t even recall the last time she had been behind the wheel of a car. She was lucky she had never been able to bring herself to get rid of this one. The old mustang had surely seen better days, and had been sitting for years, but it had still purred when she turned the key in the ignition, and it would get her where she needed to go, which was anywhere but here. The past few years, there had always been a limo and a driver. There was way too much to do on the way to events to even consider driving herself.� But her latest scandal had come with serious repercussions. It seemed that Alejandro, her beloved agent, had been scamming her for years. He had taken off last week with all her money, and of course, he was nowhere to be found. Tears welled up in her eyes as she remembered the moment it had all come to light, and everything that had happened since. She had been such a fool, blindly trusting Alejandro to take care of her, never taking in interest in her money or investments, as long as the checks came rolling in on time. It had made her the perfect target.
The money being gone wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part had come when she had been thrown in jail. She wasn’t the only model Alejandro had been swindling, and somehow, he had managed to implicate her in the whole thing. Her name and status had been enough to get her a good lawyer, even though she wasn’t able to pay for him at the moment. Christopher Bale, attorney to the stars. It had been easy enough for him to pull the necessary strings to get her out of jail, but that was all he had been able to do. Her credit cards were frozen, and her bank accounts were empty.� Her contracts had all been reneged, and the paparazzi were camped out outside her L. A. home. She needed a quiet place to get away, to regroup in peace outside the scathing eyes of the media.
She owned properties, several of them, but she wasn’t allowed to leave the state. So that was out.� With no money or credit cards, she couldn’t hide out the way she usually would, by renting a private villa somewhere, or at the very least, a luxurious penthouse suite in some swanky hotel. No doubt the paparazzi would find her no matter where she went anyway.
She was out of options. There was only one place she could go, and she was almost there, she realized. Her family’s cabin just outside of Tahoe, at Lake Holly, was her only hope. She hadn’t heard anything about it since her father’s death, but that only meant he had left it to her brother, Mason. It made sense that he would have done that. Mase loved that silly little cabin.� Angel had good memories there too, of course, but she didn’t love it the way Mase had. She would have to call her brother tomorrow and let him know where she was, and that she was okay. Maybe, if she called early enough, she would get his voicemail, and not have to actually talk to him. That would be best. She hadn’t spoken to Mase since after her father’s funeral. She didn’t want to talk to him now, when her troubles were laid out across the front page of every gossip rag in the country.
Luckily for her, she had a spare key to the cabin in her wallet. Three years ago, the last time she had been home for Christmas, her father had given her one, insisting that she take it, so that she would have a place to stay if she ever needed a vacation, or as he put it “a time-out,” from the glitz and glamour of her career.
At the time she had scoffed at him, insisting that if she needed a vacation, she would go somewhere a lot nicer than a beat up little cabin in the woods. She recalled the hurt look that had settled on his features at the same time she recalled the thrashing her boyfriend, Cole, had given her over it later that evening.
Cole. That was another reason she had never gone home after that fateful Christmas. Cole had been her boyfriend, her high school sweetheart, and at one time her manager. Cole was old-school, a throw back from another time. Faith and family and values. He had managed her career, and her ego, with a firm hand. He considered his main job as her manager to be “keeping her grounded,” even if it meant at times he actually grounded her!
That was the year she had dumped him�that fateful Christmas had been the end, and she had spent every Christmas and birthday since trying to forget. This year would be no different in that regard. But, it would be harder without the champagne flowing, the music blasting, and the millions of people surrounding her. This year, it would be just her, whatever ancient bottle of her father’s scotch she could rustle up in the abandoned cabin, and her memories. Including those of Cole.
Those memories always hit her harder at Christmas anyway, and it would be much more so this year. If she could pinpoint the exact moment her life had taken a wrong turn on the road to disaster, it would be the last Christmas she had spent with her family, and with him.
Shame washed over her at the memories as she turned down the long gravel road that would lead her to the log cabin at the lake.
* * * * *
Cole Evans read the headlines to the gossip rags as he stood in line at the local mercantile, and shook his head. He was surprised Old Man Percy even stocked such crap.� He fought the urge to rip each and every one of them off the shelves, and buy them up so that no one else could. If Angel’s father was still alive, Cole knew he would have done just that to save the man who was like a father to him the pain of having to see the atrocious lies being written about his only daughter.
Instead, he laid the meager contents of his shopping cart out on the conveyor belt, and bit his tongue.� Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, but to him, it was just another day. Gone were the lavish family Christmas celebrations of the past. He'd never had a family to celebrate with, until he met Mason Davis when he was ten years old. Hearing that his grandfather didn’t celebrate the holiday, Mason had dragged him home to celebrate with his family. The Davis clan had become his second family, and he had celebrated every Christmas with them for sixteen years, until Will died last year.
Sure, Mase was still on him, inviting him to spend the holiday weekend with him and his wife, Becca, but Cole was noncommittal. He fully intended to call Mase with an excuse, just as soon as he could come up with a good one.
He was yanked from his musings by the gravelly voice of Old Man Percy. “Cole Evans! Back for another Christmas with the Davis family, I take it?”
Cole sighed. He came to the market here once a month, and had this same conversation every time. Old Man Percy was ninety if he was a day, and a sweet old soul, but his memory was failing.
“No, Mr. Percy,” he reminded the man patiently. “Will died. He left the cabin to me, remember? I live there now.”
Old Man Percy regarded him with a blank stare, and muttered under his breath. Cole held back a chuckle as he picked out the words “crazy youngsters,” as well as a few other choice phrases.
Then Percy turned his gaze solemnly back to Cole, and his next words seemed almost lucid. “Damn shame about Lil' Angel. Media always turning things around to make a buck or two. Old Will would be turning over in his grave for sure with this latest scandal. Reckon that’s why she came up here for the holidays this year. Needed to hide from the media and them ol’ paparazzi.”
Cole just nodded to Mr. Percy and gathered up his bags, leaving the store after bidding a Merry Christmas over his shoulder. There wasn’t much else he could say to a man who was clearly muddling past and present. Angel Davis hadn’t been back to Lake Holly in three years, and Cole was certain that she would never return.
In his eyes, she was too much of a coward to face the music from the people she had hurt when she left. Not to mention the reckoning that he would surely give her if he ever laid eyes on her again.
Cole counted walking away when she lashed out as the biggest mistake he had ever made. He should have laid her out and burned up her bottom until she came to her senses. Maybe then their lives wouldn’t have gotten so messed up.
But her words had cut him to the quick, and he had been young and stubborn, and determined to give her what she thought she wanted. He should have known better.
Cole whistled to himself as he drove back up the mountain to his cabin in the woods. Yes, sir, Angel Davis knew better than to come anywhere near him, that was for sure. The day she came back into his life would be the day she paid for her mistakes, and the pain they had been causing everyone every day since.
To this day, he dreamed of going back to that fateful night, and having a redo. And every single time, his redo involved her over his knee, while he striped her bottom red with his belt, until she came to her senses and started acting like his Angel again.
For the woman the world knew as Angelique,� Cole Evans knew as a little girl with pigtails and skinned knees, and a baby doll that went everywhere with her. And, later a young woman, who danced with him at her sweet sixteen. His first kiss and his first love.