Home > The Perfect Woman

The Perfect Woman
Author: Nicole French

Prologue

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018, 9:10 AM

Subject: Last Night

 

 

Nina,

 

 

I know I don’t have to say it again, but I feel like I should. There is too much on the line. You know it. I know it.

 

 

Last night can’t happen again.

 

 

Matthew

 

 

From: Nina de Vries

To: Matthew Zola

Date: May 29, 2018, 9:21 AM

Subject: RE: Last Night

 

 

Ever?

 

 

Nina

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018, 9:23 AM

Subject: RE: RE: Last Night

 

 

Come on, doll. Don’t make me feel worse than I already do.

 

 

From: Nina de Vries

To: Matthew Zola

Date: May 29, 2018, 9:26 AM

Subject: Remorse

 

 

I’m sorry.

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018, 9:31 AM

Subject: Remorse? Why?

 

 

Sorry for what? This isn’t your fault. None of it is.

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018, 10:25 AM

Subject: Where did you go?

 

 

Nina?

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018, 10:57 AM

Subject: Starting to feel like a stalker…

 

 

Duchess?

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018 11:39 AM

Subject: Begging now…

 

 

Baby, please. Have a little mercy.

 

 

From: Nina de Vries

To: Matthew Zola

Date: May 29, 2018 11:52 AM

Subject: It hurts

 

 

I’m sorry I need you like I do.

I never wanted to make your life so difficult.

 

 

From: Matthew Zola

To: Nina de Vries

Date: May 29, 2018 11:55 AM

Subject: So damn much

 

 

A life not knowing you isn’t worth living. No matter what happens, believe that.

I have no regrets.

 

 

From: Nina de Vries

To: Matthew Zola

Date: May 29, 2018 11:57 AM

Subject: At least there is that…

 

 

I love you, Matthew.

 

 

Goodbye.

 

 

Nina

 

 

Prelude

 

 

May 2018

 

 

Matthew


I stared at the last email for what seemed like hours. The last email, maybe, I’d ever get from Nina de Vries. Technically, her name was Gardner, but she didn’t use it on this account, which I had a feeling she had set up for me. Just as I used my personal account to communicate with her. I hated thinking of her that way anyway, bearing the shitty name of a man no better than gum on the bottom of my shoe. As the tall, stunningly beautiful daughter of one of the oldest and richest families in New York, Nina was royalty in nearly every sense of the word. Her family’s name fit her better than that rat bastard Calvin Gardner’s ever would.

I swallowed hard, staring at the last few words of her final missive. The truth was, I didn’t want this to be the end. I was already halfway to grabbing my phone and dialing her number. Telling her to meet me back at the Grace Hotel in the Lower East Side tonight so we could continue what we’d started last night.

Her text had been short and simple, but one I couldn’t ignore, even though less than a week ago we’d decided to stop whatever this was between us in its tracks.

I need you.

Fuck me. I needed her too, and I’d have given her the world if I could. But life doesn’t give most people a happy ending, and in our case, it had given us a straight-up tragedy.

Five months ago, I’d walked into a bar on a gloomy January night, wondering what the hell was missing from my life as a Brooklyn prosecutor, dutiful brother, and occasional philanderer. Well, I’d gotten my answer, I’ll tell you that. It came in the form of an angel on a barstool, drinking a glass of red wine with her pinky raised in the air.

We’d taken that one night together, and then she’d disappeared. Three months later, I’d found her again as I took on the hardest case of my career—a secret investigation into one of the biggest human trafficking kingpins this city had ever seen. John Carson made Jeffrey Epstein look like Ned Flanders. As of last week, Carson was dead, but the case was far from over. Two other men had been photographed at the safe house in Brooklyn just a few weeks ago. One, Jude Letour, was safely awaiting trial at Rikers without bail. The other had been indicted and released.

He also happened to be married to Nina de Vries. Which, as of three weeks ago, meant that not only did the love of my life belong to someone else, she was also the one woman on the planet I could truly never have.

It was simple.

There was no one in the world who could prosecute this case but me. And these guys needed to be in jail. They needed to be locked up where they could never hurt anyone. Ever. Again. But the prosecutor shacking up with the defendant’s wife, even after the trial was over? Definitely grounds for a mistrial. Hell, it was grounds for disbarment.

In five short months, being with Nina de Vries had become as essential as breathing. But being together would spell my ruin, and probably hers too.

I couldn’t have that. Not for me. Not for either of us.

Even so, my heart felt like a fifty-pound anvil in my chest as I stared at her name and the blinking cursor beneath it, awaiting my response.

I love you.

She had said that the night before the world went to hell too. Until then, I hadn’t really known if this feeling went both ways. She had shown up at my doorstep the night John Carson died by her cousin’s hand. Frantic, alone, and out of breath.

And then she had done the impossible. The most perfect woman I could have ever imagined for myself jumped into my arms and told me she needed me. Begged me to throw caution to the wind and spend the rest of our lives together, social mores be damned.

For a few hours, we didn’t care that she had a kid or a ring on her finger.

We didn’t care about the scandal.

We didn’t care about anything but what lay between us.

Need.

Lust.

Love.

And not just any love. The kind that goes beyond the grave. The kind that your kids and their kids tell stories about when you’re gone. The kind that lasts for generations.

And then I’d gotten that fucking phone call and done the last thing I’d ever wanted to do. I’d sent Nina back to her husband. I wanted to keep her name out of my office’s mouth. I couldn’t protect her from this trial, but her husband could, goddammit. Spousal privilege would prevent her from having to defend his sorry ass. And then, when it was all over, she could leave him.

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