Authors: Lauren Gallagher
Tags: #canada, #Torfino, #movie stars, #actress, #contemporary erotic romance, #erotic romance, #Hollywood
Camera Shy Copyright 2010 Lauren Gallagher
Cover Art by Fiona Jayde
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without written permission from the publisher. Contact Noble Romance Publishing, LLC at PO Box 467423, Atlanta, GA 31146.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The characters are products of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.
What happens in Tofino,
Scandal-plagued actress Simone Farrell thinks she’s found the perfect fling: He’s hot, he’s a thousand miles away from her fishbowl existence in Hollywood, and the best part? He doesn’t know who she is. Jason is the perfect escape from the losing end of a custody dispute, a career that’s on life support, and an alcohol-blurred string of affairs. What Simone doesn’t realize is that the only thing staying in Tofino is her heart. What’s more, when Jason falls in love with her, he’s giving her something that’s been painfully taken for granted in the past: His trust. When Simone's lies unravel and her two lives converge, there may not be any second chances . . . in Hollywood
Los Angeles, California
Simone Farrell's cheeks burned beneath the bright lights and heavy make-up. Kevin stared at her, a devastated expression frozen on his face as he anticipated the words that were now lodged in her throat.
She opened her mouth to speak, but the words refused to budge. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. The corner of Kevin's mouth twitched. Anger flickered across his face. Simone swallowed, her heart pounding in time with the dull throbbing in her head.
The director's voice sent a shiver of dread and shame up her spine. The tension in Kevin's shoulders released as he threw his hands up. He rolled his eyes, sighing with loud exasperation. "Come
!" He gestured sharply at Simone before he stormed off the soundstage. "I'll be outside. Someone come and get me when the princess has her focus back." Bright light from outside flooded into the studio and then vanished with the slamming of the door behind him.
"What the hell is the matter with you, Simone?" Henry Wall, the triple-chinned director, barked in her face.
"I don't . . . I just lost my focus, I'm sorry," Simone rubbed her aching forehead and dropped her gaze to avoid his furious eyes. The angry stares of the rest of the crew threatened to burn holes into her back.
? How many times are you going to ‘lose your focus' before I have to fire your pathetic ass and bring in another actress who's just a little bit more professional?" Simone bit her tongue. She couldn't meet his eyes. She wanted to beg him to give her another chance, but her chances with him—with anyone, for that matter, in
out of Hollywood—were pretty well spent.
"Everyone take a break," he shouted to the rest of the crew. The soundstage came alive with footsteps and voices. Henry stepped closer to Simone. "Look at me." She did, shrinking back from him like an ashamed prodigal child. His bushy white eyebrows lowered to narrow his big eyes into menacing slits. His nostrils flared with rage.
"My patience is wearing thin," he said. "All it will take is one phone call, and you're out of here. I'm done with this. All of it."
"I know," she croaked, her throat dry. "I'm sorry. I'll get it together."
"See that you do." He pointed an emphatic finger in her face. "I took a gamble with you, Simone, and I'm well past the point of questioning that decision. There will
no more chances." With that, he turned and stomped away. His heavy footsteps rattled the stage and sent vibrations through her that set her teeth on edge. Simone took a deep breath as she watched him go. He wasn't joking. Henry Wall was a man of his word, and he'd fired bigger name actresses than her in the past and for far lesser offenses. She was lucky he'd given her this many chances. She was lucky he'd given her a chance at all.
Simone shuffled off the soundstage and out into the blinding Los Angeles sunlight. She considered taking a walk to the park just outside the studio, but a glance toward the gate revealed throngs of paparazzi. They waited like circling buzzards for the first chance to jump on her and eat her alive if she got anywhere near them. A few crew members lingered near the gate, smoking cigarettes and talking. Dread twisted her gut; all it took was an overheard conversation or a, "Hey, have I got a scoop for you," and her latest misbehavior would be all over the media. Again. She sighed and went to her trailer.
Sinking into the chair beside the table, she rubbed her aching temples. She needed to get laid. She needed a drink. She needed a drink to forget the fact that she needed to get laid.
A bottle of Smirnoff on the table taunted her, but she dared not go back to the set with alcohol on her breath again. Though a little "hair of the dog that bit you" might
take the edge off her headache—and the other insatiable ache that drove her to distraction—she wasn't going to hand Henry another reason to fire her. Simone needed this job. She
to make her comeback. It was now or never. Another flop like
, and she was finished. But here she was, blowing it before the film was even in the can.
Her gaze shifted from the bottle to the untidy pile of tabloids across the table. An uncomfortable knot sank deeper in her gut as she put her head in her hands and sighed. She didn't need to look at the magazines. The headlines and captions adorning the damning photographs were seared into her memory:
Simone Farrell: From Oscar to Ticking Time Bomb.
Simone—Busted Cheating Again!
Simone Farrell—You Won't Believe What Our Cameras Caught!
". . .
downward spiral continues . . . .
". . .
out of control . . . .
". . .
cheating . . . .
". . .
drunk again . . . .
". . .
". . .
flash in the pan . . . .
". . .
again . . . .
Tears of shame stung her eyes, but she swallowed hard. No crying. Not today. Returning to the set with ruined makeup would do nothing to help her. She took a deep breath, trying to force back the tears.
The door flew open and in walked Anne-Marie Bates, Simone's agent. Her presence didn't lift Simone's spirits in the slightest. You know you're in deep shit when your agent is hanging around the set to babysit you, she thought bitterly. Anne-Marie glared at Simone, her thin eyebrows arching sharply into angry upside-down Vs that reminded Simone of the cartoon characters in Japanese anime films. Usually that thought made her laugh, but not today.
Anne-Marie put her hands on her hips and said, "What the
was all of that?"
Anne-Marie's lips tightened. "Simone, this is getting out of control." She huffed.
"It's long past out of control."
"I know." Simone rubbed her temples. "I don't . . . I . . . ." She shook her head.
"Shit, Anne-Marie, I just don't know what to do."
"You need to get your head out of your ass is what you need to do." Anne-Marie dropped into the other chair. "You're going to get
of us chased out of this town."
"I know." Simone didn't know what else she could say. Her shoulders slumped.
"I don't even know where to start." She followed Anne-Marie's gaze to the Smirnoff bottle.
Her agent scowled. "I thought you were easing up on the sauce."
"Then what's that?" Anne-Marie nodded toward the bottle.
"I said ‘was'. Past tense." She exhaled sharply. "Christ, I think I just need to get laid."
"No," Anne-Marie snapped. "That's the last thing you need." Her gaze darted toward the Smirnoff bottle. "Maybe second to last."
Simone glared at her. "So now you're my moral authority?"
"No, but I have watched you make more of a mess of your life every time you
get laid. I'm thinking maybe you need to back off the man-candy as much as you need to back off on the liquor."
Easy for you to say, Simone thought, chewing her lip. Anne-Marie wasn't the one who couldn't even form a rational thought, let alone speak a scripted line, because she was horny to the point of madness.
Anne-Marie's voice softened. "What's really going on?"
"I need a drink, and I need to get laid."
That eyebrow lifted again. "To escape from what?"
"What do you mean?"
"What are you trying to distract yourself from?"
"Are you my new therapist or something?"
Her agent let out a heavy sigh. "Look, I'm trying to help you. Do you really want the tabloids telling the world when you go to the Betty Ford Clinic?" Simone laughed, but there was no humor in her voice. "I think that's the least of my problems."
"Come on, Simone, tell me what's going on." She paused. "Is it Gregory? Cecily?" Simone shook her head. Her ex-husband and daughter were only part of the long messy string of insanity in her life. "No, they're fine."
"What is it, then?"
"I just . . . ." Nothing came out. She didn't even know what the problem was. Her personal life was a sick joke, her career was falling apart, her drinking was out of control. But why? When did it all happen? It was like she woke up one day in the midst of all of this mess with no idea how she got there, and even less of an idea of how to get out.
"You need some time off," Anne-Marie said in her "don't argue with me" voice. Simone blinked. "How? I've got another three months left shooting this film." She eyed Anne-Marie, and then shook her head. "I can't quit, I
this. If I quit, no one will ever cast me again."
"And you think anyone will want to cast you now with all the albatrosses you have around your neck?"
"I wasn't going to suggest that you quit. You just need a break." Anne-Marie stood. "Stay here."
"Where are you going?"
"To talk to some people."
The door slammed behind her before Simone could say anything. She sat beside the table, staring at the door, all of her questions and objections hanging in the air, unspoken. Not like Anne-Marie would listen anyway. Though she was just Simone's agent, she acted like her mother sometimes too. She also ran interference between
Simone and her directors when the tensions flared, and had gotten her out of more than one screw-up that could have—and probably should have—cost her dearly. Simone leaned back in the chair. She wondered if even Anne-Marie could get her out of
She hadn't forgotten her lines, even though she had frozen up dozens or more times in just two weeks of shooting. She just wasn't
. Instead of getting into character as she had effortlessly done in her early years, when she truly felt everything her character felt, right down to the raw emotion, now she was just Simone, standing there mouthing lines and making gestures that belonged to some fictional character. She felt . . . nothing, and it showed. The lead in a fourth grade Christmas pageant could act circles around her right now.
Hollywood was willing to forgive her for her sordid personal life when she could still act. But when she tried to act, and all she could manage to produce were a few mediocre performances, Hollywood wasn't so forgiving.
She ran a hand through her hair. Maybe the tabloids were right. Maybe she
just a flash in the pan. It wasn't like she'd had just one successful film: Academy Award nominations for each of her first three films, an Oscar for the third. Critical acclaim. Directors and producers falling all over each other to hire her. She had Hollywood wrapped around her finger.
Hollywood wrapped around her finger.
She drummed her nails absently on the table, her eyes flicking back and forth from the Smirnoff to the tabloids. Anne-Marie was absolutely right. If the liquor didn't drive her over the edge, her love life probably would. Her life was just one alcoholblurred affair after another. Maybe, just maybe, she could get her head together if she didn't have the paparazzi chasing her everywhere. Her life was complicated enough without a camera lens popping over a produce display at the supermarket, or a car full of snapping cameras cutting her off on the interstate. She couldn't blame them for where her life was, but they weren't helping.
The trailer door flew open again and Anne-Marie entered. Before the door even slammed behind her, she said, "You're taking a vacation. A week. At my cabin in Canada."
Simone blinked. "What?"
"I talked to Henry and calmed him down. He's pissed about changing the shooting schedule, but if it means not having to find a new lead actress—and having to admit that hiring you was a colossal mistake—he's willing to do it." Her left eyebrow slanted sharply up, letting Simone know she was dead serious. "Don't you
screw this up. This is your—