Authors: Lauren Gallagher
Tags: #canada, #Torfino, #movie stars, #actress, #contemporary erotic romance, #erotic romance, #Hollywood
She ignored them and went on to the studio. As she parked, she took a deep breath. This was it. The moment of truth. She glanced at her own reflection in the rearview, and hoped no one else saw the dark shadows under her eyes.
Anne-Marie slipped into the soundstage area. She tried not to hang around the set, but she needed to see how Simone was doing, if the week in Tofino had done her any good. She folded her arms across her chest and watched apprehensively as Simone
walked onto the set. The actress looked miles away, her eyes glazed with a distant daydream. Oh shit, Anne-Marie thought.
"Quiet on the set!"
Everyone fell silent. Anne-Marie's heart thudded in her ears. She had hoped to see Simone earlier, to get a feel for her
she went in front of the cameras—and worse, Henry Wall—but traffic and a half dozen urgent phone calls from some of her less nerve-wracking clients had kept her away. Now she was too late, and Simone looked like hell.
Anne-Marie's heart jumped into her throat, and she watched, powerless to intervene if Simone didn't have it together.
With the snap of the clapboard, something came alive in Simone's expression. She slipped into character and delivered her lines flawlessly, living and breathing her character's sorrow as if it were her own. At the end of the scene—a heated argument between two lovers—when the actors kissed, Simone melted into him. The sparks flew and Henry let Simone and Kevin linger in their embrace several beats longer than the scene required.
At last, he yelled, "Cut!", and they separated. Her co-star stumbled back, wideeyed and speechless, but Simone only smiled. That distant look was back. Henry leaped to his feet. "Perfect!" he cried, squeezing Simone's shoulder. "
is the Simone I knew I hired."
Anne-Marie released her breath. Her cell phone vibrated in her pocket and she stepped out of the studio to take the call. When she returned, Henry had called a break on the set, and Anne-Marie went straight to Simone's trailer.
When she entered, Simone looked at her over the rim of a coffee cup. Her expression was distant, but there was something else. Something in that grin Simone couldn't quite hide behind her coffee cup.
Anne-Marie crossed her arms and exhaled sharply. "You got laid, didn't you?"
Simone dropped her eyes, a guilty shade of pink washing over her cheeks. "You were right, I needed a break." She slid the cabin key across the table. "Thanks." Anne-Marie flopped down across the table from Simone and took the key. "I send you to the middle of nowhere, and you
manage to find something worth fucking." She rolled her eyes.
"Did I ever." Simone pressed her thighs together to try to still the maddening tingling. As she shifted her weight, her hips ached. She couldn't remember the last time a man had fucked her so many times she still felt it two days later. She smiled. "I guess you never know what's lurking around Tofino."
Anne-Marie's eyebrows lifted again into a curious expression that suggested she wanted all the details, but her face quickly hardened into a disapproving scowl. "Girl, you promised me: No men."
"I know. I know. But—"
Anne-Marie held up her hand. "No, don't even try to tell me this is different. Or he's different."
"Fine. I won't."
"Simone, you looked great out there. The Simone I am supposed to represent is back." Anne-Marie scowled. "But you know as well as I do that if you start getting distracted by another flavor of the month fuck, sooner or later, things are going to get messy."
"I know." Simone sighed. "I've been coming down on myself about it for days; I don't need you to add to it."
"I'm just worried about you."
"You're worried about your career."
"I'm worried about both."
"Look, he's up there, I'm here, it's done. Over with. I got it out of my system." She bit her lip behind her coffee cup, and her eyes looked even more distant than before.
"I swear, it's done."
"Is that why you keep thinking about him?"
Simone's head snapped up. "What? You're a mind reader now?" Anne-Marie scowled. "I know a distracted, lovesick woman when I see her." Simone snorted. "It's not love."
"Are you sure?"
"So it's just another fling to put yourself in the headlines and make you drink like a fish until you kill your career? Or yourself, this time?"
"No one knows about it but you." Simone set her coffee cup on the table. "And aside from a couple of glasses of wine, I haven't had shit to drink in the last week."
"That's because he hasn't dumped or humiliated you yet."
"Then why are you still looking all dreamy every time you think about him?"
"I'll get over him."
"See that you do." Anne-Marie's voice softened. "Look, I understand. I need to get laid as much as you do. But
of all people can't afford anymore bad press. You're on thin ice with everyone in the known universe."
Simone drummed her fingers on the sides of her coffee cup. "I know." Anne-Marie pursed her lips. "Just . . . ." She sighed. "Just be careful."
"I will." Simone looked at her. "You won't tell anyone, will you?"
After Anne-Marie left, Simone closed her eyes and rested her head against the wall behind her chair.
Anne-Marie was right. She really
stop thinking about Jason. But in spite of her objections, this really
like the others. It
different. Whatever it was, it was something. The numbness that had weighed her down was gone. She didn't quite know what she felt, but for once, she felt
. It was like she'd been sleepwalking for the past few years and had finally awakened.
She let her mind drift back to Tofino. It wasn't just the sex that drove her to distraction. She'd never felt butterflies before with anyone.
. But all Jason had to do was look at her with those devilish-innocent eyes and her stomach fluttered. When she remembered the touch of his fingertips on her skin, when he caressed her arm while he thought she was asleep or while they watched a movie, she trembled the same way she did when she remembered past men giving her orgasms. The effect he had on her—
so effortlessly—boggled her mind. He made her feel like a giggling schoolgirl, a lovesick Juliet, and a beautiful, sexy woman, all at once.
She wondered what went through his mind, what he thought of her. She laughed as she recalled the way his hands shook when he didn't think she was looking, and the way he blushed the first time she caught him watching her sleep. She remembered the way his breath felt against her ear as he rode her from behind, the way he'd pushed himself as deep as he could inside her when he came, the—
No, no, just don't go there. Not now
Too late. She squirmed in her seat and shivered at the memories. She grabbed a shooting schedule from a file folder beside the table. Over the next couple of weeks, she had some long days on the set, but next week, she had a few days off. She bit her lip. Did she dare?
She folded the shooting schedule in half and slipped it in her purse. She'd think about it.
For now, she had a scene to finish.
Jason snapped out of a daydream and stopped in his tracks in a grocery store aisle. He remembered getting to the store, remembered coming in to get a few things on his list, but hell if he remembered a damned thing after he walked through the door. He looked around, wondering how he'd even gotten to this aisle. In his daze, he'd walked right past everything he needed in the previous three aisles. Cursing under
his breath, he backtracked. Something—he couldn't remember what—had triggered his memories of Allyson, and off he'd gone into his own little world. It must have been the hundredth time he'd done that since she left.
She's not coming back, get over her
She said she wanted to come back, but she hadn't called. He hadn't heard a word from her. Maybe she was just being polite when she said she wanted to see him again. Maybe those few days together were great for him, but not worth another trip for her. He wasn't sure whether to be angry, hurt, disappointed, or just plain frustrated. Though he hadn't seen or heard from her since she left, he'd spent plenty of time with her in his mind. After three days, his wrist was starting to ache almost as much as his cock. She had
idea what she was doing to him.
"Hey, Jason." An all-too familiar voice stopped him and snapped him back out of another daydream.
He turned around and forced a smile. Mary, a petite blonde with a longstanding crush on him, worked in the grocery store and never wasted an opportunity to flirt with him. Sometimes it was endearing, sometimes it just set his teeth on edge. In spite of his sour mood, Jason tried to be polite with her, as he always did. "Hey, Mary. How's it going?"
"Great," she said. "You?"
"Fine." Again he forced a smile, but he was sure it didn't look much more sincere than it felt.
As they made small talk, he tried as hard as he could not to look anywhere but her eyes. Her outfit pushed the envelope on the store's dress code, as usual. The blouse she wore covered only slightly more than her red apron, and her skirt left little to the imagination. Jason swallowed. Horny and frustrated over Allyson's absence, he was sorely tempted to take Mary up on her less than subtle overtures. Another memory of Allyson flashed through his mind, and he shivered. Mary was certainly attractive, but there was no way she could satisfy him, not now. Not with
the craving Allyson had left. She could arouse him beyond rational thought with little more than a glance and a smile. Mary just didn't have that effect on him. Besides, it wasn't that he needed to get laid. It wasn't just an itch to be scratched by just any woman who happened into his bed.
He wanted Allyson.
As Mary went back to work and Jason finished his shopping, he berated himself over and over for letting himself get so hung up on Allyson. She was
. It was
"It" was nothing more than a fling, and he needed to let her go.
* * * * *
Simone stared at the crinkled note beside her purse. For three days, she'd hemmed and hawed about calling him. Her body ached for his touch, and that need for him was very quickly silencing her rational mind's insistence that she needed to just let him go.
Every time she met someone, she told herself it was different, that he was better in bed than the last, that he was interesting outside of the bedroom. And every time, it turned out the same. If her track record was to be believed, a fling with Jason would be—and end—absolutely no differently than any before it, and she would be wise to pretend she'd never met him.
But she honestly couldn't remember a man who'd left her physically aching for more. The longer she stayed away from him, the more she wanted him. She'd never even craved alcohol the way she craved Jason Connor.
Good or bad, there was
different about him. She couldn't deny that.
"Maybe I just need to get him out of my system," she said into the silence. She sighed and rubbed her eyes.
Finally, she picked up the phone and dialed his number.
Don't do it
It's just going to end badly
Her thumb hovered over the 'end call' button.
His voice sent a flutter through her stomach.
"Jason? It's—" She bit her tongue. She'd damn near called herself Simone. "It's Allyson."
Pause. "Allyson, hey!" Was that relief she heard? "It's good to hear your voice."
"Likewise." She paused. Did she—?
"I'm glad you called. I'd really like to see you again," he said quickly. She thought she heard him curse under his breath.
"I have a few days free next week. I wouldn't be able to stay long, but—" She chewed her lip. "I'd love to come back up and see you."
"My schedule is wide open. You're welcome anytime." Was that more relief?
"Excellent." She paused.
"Is something wrong?"
"I," she started. "No. No, everything's fine."
"Okay." He didn't sound convinced. "Well, it'll be good to see you again."
"Definitely," she said. "I'll let you know when I've made my travel arrangements."
He paused again. "You can call me whenever you want between now and then. It's always good to hear your voice."
No, don't say that, don't say that, or I swear to God I'll be calling you every five
. "I'm going to be working some long days between now and when I go up, but .
. . I'll try."
"Good enough for me," he said.
She could hear that sweet, beautiful smile in his words.
* * * * *
After they hung up, Jason set the phone down and stared at it for a long moment. He couldn't believe she'd finally called. She wanted to come back! But something about the call unsettled him. There was something else in her words, something unspoken that she wanted to say.
He wondered about her long hours and her cryptic pauses. Was she married?
Was she using him and hiding him from the rest of her life the way she hid the rest of her life from him? Was he going to be the last to know again? He chewed his thumbnail.
No, no, she's not Paula. She isn't that type
"It's only for a few days, baby, then I'll be back."
Cecily, Simone's eight year-old daughter, pouted in the backseat. "You said you were just going to be gone that one week."
Guilt stabbed Simone in the heart. What could she say? Mommy is an idiot who needs to fly off to Canada to get laid and hopefully no one will find out about it like they always do? Mommy's in the middle of screwing up her life again and doesn't want to drag you along for the ride?
"Why can't I come with you?"
Simone looked at her in the rearview mirror. She sighed. "I'm sorry, baby." She forced a smile. "But Mommy needs a little time to rest."
Yeah right. I'm going to need a rest
after Jason's done with me
. A shiver ran up her spine.