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Diego grabbed Elise around the waist and pulled her close. "I love you, damn it! I've always loved you. Why don't you love me back?"
Elise nearly cringed. Diego's breath reeked of day-old blood and cheese. For a vampire, he had interesting culinary choicesa combination that made her stomach churn. But being the professional that she was, she spoke her lines with indignation that was not in the least bit faked. "Because you don't deserve my love. You are a petty, insignificant man. And I hate you for what you've done."
Truer words couldn't have been spoken, Elise thought. She pushed out of his hold and moved away from him. But Diego grabbed her arm before she got too far.
"I won't let you go. You belong to me."
Elise stared down at his hand wrapped around her wrist. He was squeezing just a little too hard, a glee-filled look in his eye. Oh, he was a bastard through and through. Why had she ever agreed to this?
"I belong to no man." She lifted her hand and slapped him across the face, hard.
The impact sent him sprawling sideways. "What the hell?" he yelled.
"Cut!" Reginald, the director, exploded out of his chair.
Rubbing his red cheek, Diego stalked over to Elise. "What's your problem? That wasn't in the script."
"I was improvising. Wasn't that what you were doing when you were trying to break my wrist?"
His eyes narrowed, and Elise could see the anger brimming there. She'd always known there was fury inside Diego, but she'd never realized just how much until now. He'd been cast perfectly for the role as the jealous jilted lover bent on revenge.
Reginald stepped in between them, most likely sensing the animosity brewing there. By the shining look in his eyes though, he was thrilled at the opportunity to get it all on film. Diego Martinez and Elise Leroy's tumultuous affair and breakup was legendary.
Elise ground her teeth. She was going to give her agent, Rory, an earful later. She should never have allowed him to talk her into doing this movie. A period film, the script had been beautiful and Elise had fallen in love with the main character, Catherine, but she should've known working with Diego again would result in disaster. Rory had been very persuasive though and in the end she'd agree to take the role.
"I can't work like this, Reggie," Diego whined. "She is constantly messing up the scenes."
"Me? You're the one that changes the lines in the middle of a scene."
"I was merely going with the moment."
She lifted her lips in a sugary smile. "Well, so was I."
Reginald raised his hand. "I'm sorry that she hit you, Diego, but I have to go with Elise on this. It looked fabulous on film." He grinned. "I'm telling you, I can see Oscar on the horizon."
Elise didn't care. She'd been the first Otherworld actress to win an Oscar, so the prospect was lost on her. She'd had her glory. She didn't need more, especially if she had to continue to work with a man she absolutely despised.
"Let's break for lunch, everyone. Back here in an hour and a half." Reginald clapped his hands together and shuffled off to wherever he went during breaks. Probably to pore over the last shots. Reginald was a meticulous director. That was another reason Elise had agreed to do the film. She had a lot of respect for him and his skills as a director. She liked him as a person, as well. He'd had a long and interesting life that he drew from to make his movies. Rumor was he'd been a drinking buddy of Bram Stoker's. Supposedly he'd been the one to encourage the author's romanticizing of the vampire myth. She was always wondering if Bram had known that Reginald was the very thing he'd been writing about.
Turning, Elise walked off set toward her trailer. This was the third break they'd had today. She'd be surprised if the movie was on schedule, or on budget for that matter. Unfortunately, she couldn't pull out of it at this late date. She'd never breached a contract before and she wasn't about to start now. Diego couldn't run her off the set, if that was what he was trying to pull. It wouldn't surprise her. The man was as petty as they came. But she had to admit, even if she loathed doing it, he could act. He was one of the premier Otherworld actors around. He, too, had won his fair share of accolades and awards. It was just a pity that his talent was wrapped in such a repugnant package.
Lily, her assistant, trailed behind her as Elise marched across the lot to her trailer. Thankfully, after filming she could escape and go home. Finally, her real home, not a hotel. They'd just returned to Nouveau Monde from a six-month shoot in Paris. It wasn't that Elise didn't like the City of Love, she did, enormously; she'd simply had enough of being away from her own environment. She wanted desperately to curl up in her big canopied bed and sleep for the rest of the day.
Glancing up at the sun glaring down at her, she wondered if that was just her vampire side speaking. Although ultraviolet rays weren't damaging to her, as they were to full-blooded vampires, they did at times make her wish for a comfy place to bed down for a few hours. Putting a hand up to hide her yawn, Elise stepped up to her trailer, opened the door and went in. Lily came in after her. Maybe a hearty meal consisting of very red meatshe had to satisfy her lycan sideand a thirty-minute meditation would do the trick. Being a sangloup, or blood wolf, was sometimes trying, especially since a person had to comply with both genetic quirks.
Sighing, Elise collapsed in the lounger she'd had put in and curled her feet up under her. She set her head on the back and closed her eyes, taking in a few deep, cleansing breaths.
"Can you believe that Diego?" Lily went to the small refrigerator, opened it and came away with a bottle of mineral water. After unscrewing it, she handed it to Elise. "He's such a jerk."
"Yes, I knew that going in." She took a long drink, reveling in the way the cool liquid quenched her dry throat.
"Well, you're a more tolerant woman than I am, that's for sure. I can't stand being around him for more than five minutes."
"I know, Lily. And I appreciate your tolerance." Elise smiled at her young assistant. She was a witch, with incredible skills including organizing and planning. The girl had managed to plan Elise's entire itinerary down to the last minute for the next year, and she didn't need her BlackBerry to track it. She had it all memorized. It was impressive. She'd be lost without her.
Elise was about to tell Lily that, when Lily's cell phone buzzed. She plucked it from her pocket and answered it. "Lily May Jones speaking."
Elise drained the rest of the water and set the bottle on the table next to her. She stretched her body, working out some tense kinks starting to settle. She needed a full-body massage. Maybe she'd get Lily to book her one for later.
"That's unacceptable, Antoine. Ms. Leroy can't wait until the morning." Lily nodded, then smiled. "Thank you, Antoine. You're a doll." She snapped her phone shut and slipped it back into her pocket. "Your massage is booked for eight this evening."
Elise laughed. "I don't know how you do it. But you're always one step ahead of me."
"That's my job. To make sure every need is seen to, even those needs you didn't know you needed."
She laughed even harder. Lily joined in, and they continued until they both had tears running down their cheeks. The tension of the day dissipated like vapor.
When they were able to breathe again, Lily said, "I'm going to find the caterer and see if I can rustle you up some red meat."
"And a spinach salad if he has it."
"Will do. You rest for a bit, and I'll be right back." She opened the door and jumped out of the trailer, shutting the door behind her.
Elise stretched out on the lounger and closed her eyes. She'd take these few minutes to unwind. Never had filming for a movie made her so tense, so out of sorts, but working with Diego was like giving blood and pulling teeth all at the same time. Not a fun way to spend eight months.
Thankfully not all her scenes had been with Diego. He wasn't the hero of the story, but they'd had their fair share of screen time together. Enough that she vowed never to work on another film with him anywhere near it. This would be her last.
The filming in Paris had gone well, exceptionally so despite Diego's efforts to derail her, but they had been long days and nights. She had been happy to be home, back in Nouveau Monde, where she could relax. Once filming was over for the day she could escape to her gated house and lock herself way from everything and everyone.
Although Elise loved her work, she didn't enjoy the other aspects of being a movie star. She guarded her privacy but that wasn't always possible with the paparazzi lurking around every corner. She went to few events, usually to film openings and charity dinners, and preferred to live her day-to-day life as normally as possible. Acting was her job, not her identity. Or at least she tried to make it that way.
But her plan hadn't always been successful. There were some people who refused to separate her as a person from the parts that she played on screen. Such was the curse of being in the limelight all the time.
She opened her eyes just as the door to her trailer opened and Lily stepped in, carrying a covered tray. The heavenly scent of rare beef floated to Elise's nose on a puff of air. She inhaled deeply.
Eagerly, she sat up and pulled the table closer to her. Lily placed the tray on top, and pulled off the lid. "Your dinner is served," she said with a flourish.
"Oh, I nearly forgot." Lily reached into her pocket and brought out a folded white envelope. She unfolded it and handed it to Elise. "This came for you at the front gate."
Elise took the letter, curious. "What is it?"
"I'm not sure. I guess it arrived by courier."
Elise opened the envelope and the letter slid out. Nerves were now starting to fill her belly. She'd received letters before. Lots of fan mail, but recently she'd been receiving "other" types of letters. Ones she'd been trying to ignore.
She unfolded the white piece of paper, and instantly her heart jumped into her throat.
He'd found her again.
Hands shaking, her fingers couldn't keep hold. The letter fluttered to the floor.
"What is it?" Lily reached down to pick up the letter. "Bad news?"
Lily held the paper up, and Elise's gaze fell to the small dots marking the pristine white. The small red dots that she knew, by scent alone, were blood drops.