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"I want your body."
Callie Matthews jerked around to see her boss, her very sexy Hollywood-plastic-surgeon boss standing only a few feet away in the foyer of his office. When he reached behind his back, the lock to the front door slid into place with a quick flick of his wrist.
"Excuse me?" she asked, thankful the office was now closed.
A naughty grin spread across Noah Foster's face, showcasing that killer smile that never failed to make women weak in the knees as their panties were dropping. Granted, her panties had always remained in place, but still
Mercy, she was so shallow, because if he so much as crooked a finger for her to follow him into the break room and.
"Hear me out," he said, holding his hands up. "I know you want to catch your big break by acting"
O-kay. So they obviously weren't having the same thoughts about him wanting to tear off her underwear in the break room. Such a shame.
"But," he went on, oblivious to her naughty thoughts, "I have a proposition for you."
Those last three words were like music to her ears. That break-room fantasy might come true after all.
"I have an upcoming ad campaign I'd like you to model for."
She shook her head. "I'm sorry. What?"
Model? The chubby teen that still lived inside her nearly laughed. But Callie had long since left that girl behind in Kansas.
Noah moved toward her, never taking his gaze from hers, never breaking that signature smile. "I'd like you to do the modeling for the ad to launch my new office across town."
Callie came to her feet and moved around the desk. "Obviously, you haven't thought this through."
He raked his eyes down her body, sending all kinds of yummy thoughts swirling through her overactive imagination. "Oh, but I have. And it's you I want."
Oh, baby. If only those words were used under different circumstances.
"You have tons of clients you could use," she told him as she turned and marched down the hall to the lounge to retrieve her purse. "Besides, I've never modeled."
Like most transplants to L.A., Callie had come eager to be the next actress that would make Hollywood directors and producers sit up in their chairs and take notice of her remarkable talents. Unfortunately, her agent couldn't get her any auditions that weren't embarrassing. So far she'd done a commercial for zit cream and one for STD meds. Yeah, not the claim to fame she'd been hoping for. But she had to start somewhere, right?
Wait, maybe that whole STD thing was why Noah wasn't so interested in seeing her outside the office. He did know that was purely acting didn't he? She was free and clear in that department, especially considering her lack of sexual experience. Not that she was a virgin, but she might as well be for the two pathetic encounters she'd had.
"I just want a few pictures of you, Callie." Noah followed her and rested an impressive broad shoulder against the door-jamb. "The ads we're going for will showcase the natural side of surgery, how to stay young and fresh."
Callie mimicked his action and crossed her own arms over her chest and leaned against the counter. "But other than that minor chin scar you did microdermabrasion on, I haven't had anything else done. Isn't that false advertising?"
"Not at all," he argued. "If you had never been a client, then that would be false advertisement. But you're perfect, Callie. You're beautiful, the camera will love you, and you'll be on billboards across town. Tell me you don't want that kind of exposure."
Well, this was a giant step up from zit cream and STDs.
"You think this will help with my acting?" she asked.
He shrugged. "It can't hurt."
There was a role coming up in an Anthony Price film that she would give anything for, and her agent had yet to get her an audition. But maybe if she had the right connections
"I have a proposition to throw back at you," she countered.
Dark brows drew together as his eyes narrowed. "You make me nervous when you get that look. Last time you had a lightbulb moment we ended up with a cappuccino machine in the break room that shot mystery liquid all over the walls and the floor."
She waved a hand through the air. "Minor technical difficulty."
He sighed. "Let's hear it, Callie."
"You talk to Olivia Dane about getting me an audition for this upcoming film of Anthony's and I'll pose for you."
If Noah called the Grande Dane of Hollywood, who just so happened to be their number-one client and mother to the hotshot producer on the new film Callie was aching to get a part in, Callie would forever be grateful.
"I'm not asking you to have her give me a part," she went on when he was silent. "I just want an audition to show them what I can do."
God, she hated to sound as if she was begging, but, well she was. She'd come to L.A. to pursue a dream, not to get this close and have a door slammed in her face.
Callie believed in fate and it was no coincidence she worked for the same plastic surgeon who catered to all of the needs of the most recognized woman in Hollywood.
"Please," she said, offering a sweet smile.
His brows tipped down as he tilted his head. Damn, he had that George Clooney sultry look down pat.
"Your agent can't get you an audition?" he asked.
Callie shrugged. "She claims this isn't the right role for me. But I can't prove myself if I don't get the chance."
He reached out, placed those large, masculine hands on her shoulders and all sorts of happy tingles spread through her. Mercy, she wanted those hands on her without the barrier of clothing.
One dream at a time, Callie.
"Your agent has been in this business for a while," he told her, his voice softening as if he were trying to explain something to a toddler. "Maybe she knows what she's talking about."
"I don't see how it would hurt," she insisted. "If I don't get it, I'm no worse off. But there's that chance I could land this and launch into something I've been dreaming of my entire life."
Dark gray eyes searched her face. "I can't call her. I know how bad you want this, but I couldn't live with myself if I threw you into a lifestyle that isn't as glamorous as you think it is. You haven't been in town that long, Callie. Why don't you ease into this? Anthony Price is a big deal."
No matter how sexy Noah was, she refused to let him ruin her dream. "Fine. I'll get this audition my own way."
He dropped his hands and placed them on his narrow hips. "Let your agent do the grunt work, Callie. Stars weren't born overnight.
"You're a beautiful woman. You won't have a problem getting attention."
Something very warm spread through her at his declaration. To think a man like Noah Foster thought she was beautiful, a man who created beauty for a living, was one of those compliments she'd keep locked away in her heart forever.
"I'll give you fifty thousand dollars to pose."
Callie froze at his abrupt offer. "Fifty thousand? Are you out of your ever-lovin' mind?"
He chuckled. "You know, when you're shocked, your accent becomes really strong."
"I don't have an accent," she told him. "And get back to that offer. Are you kidding me?"
His smile faded. "I don't kid about business or money."
Fifty thousand could go so far. Her parents needed a new roof desperately and she could buy them a second car, something reliable. God, how could she turn down this offer?
As she ran through the pros and consand there were definitely more prosNoah's eyes studied her in that way that always made her nervous. For one thing, he was a Hollywood surgeon to the stars and she always felt as if he was analyzing her. Another reason was because, well, she found her boss drop-dead, curl-your-toes-into-the-carpet sexy. Why on earth the man was still single was beyond her.
Maybe he slobbered when he kissedthat was a total turn-off. Or maybe he was terrible between the sheets.
As she studied him, she knew there was no way a man like Noah Foster would be a slacker in the sack. The man exuded sex appeal, and he looked so amazingly perfect with clothes on she couldn't even imagine what he did to a birthday suit.
Noah offered that killer, dimpled smile as if to reassure her of her future. He was not fighting fair with those damn twin dimples, and she had a feeling her resolve was going to crumble about as fast as her panties would drop if he'd offer that break-room fantasy of hers.
Yeah, she knew she couldn't turn down that money. As much as she'd wanted him to talk to Olivia, she was grateful for the fact he had so much confidence in her to offer such a large amount.
"I'll do the ad," she told him. "If you're sure my look is what you want plastered on billboards."
Crazy thought, but whatever he wanted. He was the one paying.
"You're exactly the look, Callie. I want to capture that youthfulness, that innocence."
Callie laughed. "I'm not that innocent."
"You moved here less than a year ago and you grew up in the Midwest." His lids lowered slightly over those dark eyes as he leaned forward just enough to get into her personal space. "You're practically still a virgin."
Callie's mouth went dry because the word virgin instantly brought to mind sex, and the word sex hovered in her mind while Noah stood this close with his bedroom eyes locked onto hers.
"I assure you, I'm not a virgin."
Shut up, Callie.
"Good to know," he told her with that cocky grin. "But I'm glad you've given in to the pictures."
"Have you ever had to fight for anything you want or do you just flash that smile?" she joked.
Something dark passed over his face; his smile faltered, and he swallowed. But just as quick as it came, it passed. "You'd be surprised by what I've had to fight for and what I've lost."
None of her business, she told herself. Everybody had a past, and just because he was a rich, powerful surgeon didn't mean he'd had it easy. But this was the first glimpse she'd had of any kind of pain hidden behind that billion-dollar smile.
She wasn't a virgin.
Noah inwardly groaned. Callie Matthews might not be a virgin in the sexual sense, but she was certainly very innocent because if she had any clue where his thoughts traveled when he thought of her, she'd be suing him for sexual harassment.
He refused to be so cliched as to date his receptionist, but damn if he didn't want to see her on more personal, intimate terms. He'd played with fire when he'd cornered her two days ago in the lounge. When he'd moved in closer to her, he'd noticed her bright green eyes widening, the way she kept nervously licking her lips those sexy, naturally full lips that begged to be kissed. His female clients paid a small fortune for a mouth like Callie's.
Noah eased back in his office chair. She'd be coming in any moment and he intended to keep their relationship professional. No more touching, no more getting pulled under by her hopeful eyes and childlike dreams.
If Callie had any idea what she was in for in this Hollywood wannabe-actress cycle, she'd run back to that cornfield she came from. It wasn't all glitz and glamour. There was no way in hell he'd see another woman he cared about fall to the dark side of Hollywood.
The scars from his fiancée were still too fresh, too deep.
And between the house they'd shared that he had to go home to every day and her ailing grandmother he cared for, Noah had a sickening feeling those wounds would never heal.
And Callie reminded him so much of Malinda sometimes it hurt to even think of the bright way his fiancée used to light up over her future career. Callie was Malinda all over again only this time he refused to get attached.
He raked a hand through his hair, trying to rid himself of the nightmare that still plagued him.
His fiancée had meant everything to him. He'd have done anything in his power to save her. But he'd failed. He'd failed the one woman he'd loved with his whole heart, the one woman he'd wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Noah refused to ever let his heart become entangled again. He honestly didn't think he could afford another crushing loss.
So there was no way he could talk to Olivia about this role for Callie. He was actually using the modeling as a way to keep her from slipping into a darker world that Callie had no clue about. If he could keep her satisfied with the money, the attention from modeling, perhaps she'd reach those stars in her eyes. Maybe she'd let go of this movie-star fetish.
He had to intervene and do something. And no, he didn't care that he was being devious. He couldn't stand by and watch another innocent woman fall victim to the ugly side of the industry.
Because he already had a nugget of worry where his beautiful, naive receptionist was concerned. He knew what he paid her, but he also knew she was always scraping by. Those few commercials she'd done surely hadn't sucked her into the dark world he wanted to keep her from had they?
Cynicism had never been part of his life until he'd lived with an addict, and he hated that negative vibe that always seemed to spread through him.
The back door to the office opened and shut. He heard heels click down the tiled hallway, then slow at his office. Noah smiled at the vision that stopped just outside his door.
"Everything okay?" Callie asked, clutching her purse to her shoulder and her lunch bag with the other hand.
"Of course. Why wouldn't it be?"
She gave him a sideways look and a half grin. "Because you're never in the office before me."
That vibrant blue dress hugged her body in a professional yet sexy way, and Noah had to force himself to keep on track and not think about what it would be like to peel that garment down her body or to think of how she managed to fit anything beneath it. She either had on a thong or nothing. If she was going commando God, he couldn't go there.
"I had some things to do before my first client showed," he told her, trying to stay professional. "There's a little boy who was recently scarred due to a house fire and might be referred to me. I actually just hung up with a colleague about some options for this boy."
"I remember that referral." Callie smiled wider. "That's what makes you an awesome doctor. I was so excited when you agreed to take on his case."
Noah didn't want her to look at him like some type of savior. And he sure as hell didn't want to get emotionally involved with a child. Children were vulnerable creatures by nature and he worried that his heart simply couldn't take that level of commitment again.
"The boy's aunt is a good client and she asked if I'd look at him. That doesn't mean I can make him perfect. I just have to wait a few weeks because his wounds are still fairly fresh."
"You're at least giving him a chance and hope," Callie told him, still smiling and still looking at him as if he was more than just a doctor. "That in itself is so much, Noah. Don't downplay your talents."
"I'm not, but I'm going into this realistically. There may be nothing I can do, but I'll do everything in my power to help."