again; she was tormented by jealousy and doubt. Who did he really want – Belle or her? Or was he only interested in having an affair? He’d seemed so into her and she’d believed him when he said he wanted her. She checked her phone; there was a text from him asking her to come to his flat.
    In spite of everything she was still tempted, but somehow she found the willpower to text back no, and couldn’t help adding,
heard you had a good night with Belle, what’s going on?
She sent the message then threw her phone on the bed in frustration. God, she needed a cigarette. She grabbed her bag and went down to the bar where she bought a pack and ordered herself a double vodka. The cigarette hit the spot, but the alcohol increased her longing for Max. She wanted him so much. She had never felt like this about anyone before. What the hell was she going to do?
    Half an hour and three cigarettes later she went back upstairs. She checked her phone. No messages. She wandered aimlessly round the room, pulling out clothes from her wardrobe, trying to decide what to wear for the morning. She should have been thinking about the interviews, but she couldn’t concentrate on anything. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Wondering who it could be at this time, she went over and opened it. There, leaning against the doorframe, and looking more wickedly handsome than ever was Max.
    ‘What are you doing here?’ she exclaimed, terrified that someone would see him.
    He walked in, closing the door behind him. ‘Why do you think, Crystal? I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.’
    Crystal shook her head in disbelief and took a step backwards. Max walked towards her.
    ‘I know you’ve missed me too, babe.’
    ‘Oh yeah, you missed me so much that you spent last night shagging Belle,’ Crystal said angrily.
    He shrugged. ‘What else could I do? She’d have thought something was going on if I hadn’t. It was a mercy fuck really. I didn’t want to.’
    ‘Couldn’t you have thought of an excuse?’ Crystal demanded.
    ‘What? Like I had a headache? Get real, Crystal, it didn’t mean anything and I didn’t want her getting wound up before the final. Sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture and keeping Belle happy at this moment in time is important – I want you girls to win.’
    Crystal wasn’t convinced. Max seemed too able to switch off his emotions – she couldn’t imagine shagging someone just to stop them suspecting something, when she was in love with someone else. Max didn’t seem to be taking her feelings seriously. She moved further away from him. As if sensing her mood, Max changed tactics and lost the arrogant edge to his voice. Sounding heartfelt and sincere he said, ‘I’m really sorry, Crystal; I feel like a complete shit, I would never do anything to hurt you. Can’t we just forget Belle? You’re the one I want.’ He paused for a beat and said, ‘I love you.’
    She stood frozen to the spot.
He loved her?
Now Max crossed the room and pulled her into his arms. ‘It’s true, babe, I love you,’ he murmured and leaned down to kiss her.
He loved her? That changed everything, didn’t it?
She found herself putting her arms round him and kissing him back. Then he was pulling her on to the bed next to him, running his hands over her body. And instead of saying no, she was whispering, ‘I’m yours, fuck me’, hopelessly lost in her desire for him.
    It was back to reality with a vengeance the next day. By four o’clock the girls had been interviewed by three tabloids and two celebrity mags and now it was Hadley’s turn for the TV show. For once, Crystal was glad of his upbeat, boyish attitude – the journalists from the tabloids had all done their best to trip the girls up, make them say something sensational or bitch about each other. They had stuck to their story andto Crystal’s surprise Tahlia had been brilliant. Instead of her usual nervousness, she had spoken confidently. Yes, she

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