Read an Excerpt
I told him I’m coming back to Crawford because I want to see him.
Jade smoothed her hands over her satin jacket and squared her shoulders. Men never got to Jade Weir, movie star. It wasn’t an option. She held control...except when it came to the copper-haired deputy with eyes the colour of tropical ocean water. Just the thought of Deputy Marlon Cross made her thighs heat. They’d shared one quick kiss when she’d said goodbye at the sheriff’s department but, good grief, how the kiss had stayed with her. The memory of the rasp of his beard abraded her cheeks and kicked her desire up a few notches. She fanned her face. No matter how many sexy text messages and double entendre emails they’d shared, a handsome man like him wouldn’t be on the market for long.
The lights flickered in his living room. That was a pretty good indication he was home, right? Shit, was he alone? She folded her hands in front of her mouth and peered around the lot. Three cars sat outside his apartment. His? A girlfriend’s? Pain seared her chest in the vicinity of her heart, making her gasp. God! Here she sat in a car pining for a man who probably had a woman in there with him.
Glancing in the rear view mirror, she ran her tongue over her teeth to remove the stray lipstick and rubbed the sleep smudges from under her eyes. “I look like I’ve been on a bender,” she muttered, “rather than clean for six months.”
Driving sixteen hours straight wasn’t her best idea, but it had got her the rest of the way to Crawford, Ohio. Would Marlon recognise her without the heavy mask of makeup? Finger-combing her hair, she considered pulling the strands back into a clip. The last time she’d seen him, the colourist had insisted she looked best with platinum highlights.
With a final look at her makeup—modest by Hollywood standards—she opened the car door. No one recognised the slightly dented Benz or the Topher Azad jeans and hoodie she wore under the jacket. Not exactly glamorous, but not awful. Her phone buzzed as she slid out of the seat. She glanced at the screen before flicking open the phone.
“Hey, Bobby. Yeah, I’m in town, so keep an eye out in case they came, too. We’ll meet up tomorrow.”
“Yup,” came the reply just before the line went dead.
Jade closed the car door with a snick and forced herself towards Marlon’s front door. She shoved her phone in her jacket pocket. Each noise, each little movement, put her on edge. A gale of laughter and shouting came from the neighbouring apartment. She nibbled her top lip as her high heels clicked on the pavement. Please don’t let any of Daddy’s goons or the press be on my tail.
From his open living room window came the gentle sounds of his television, accompanied by soft groans. What the heck was he watching? More importantly, was he alone?
She closed her eyes and took a long breath, letting it pass slowly between her lips on the exhale. I’m visiting a friend. Opening her eyes, she inched forwards. No one knows where I am and I can blend in. Her heart hammered against her ribs. Don’t turn back. She stopped at the bottom of the short set of stairs and held on to the wrought iron railing. I can do this. Thumps came from the other side of his door. Fear and revulsion coursed through her veins as she crept towards the porch. The soft thumping grew louder.
He did have someone there with him. Had to. Hot guys of his calibre weren’t alone for very long.
Her hand hovered over the doorbell. Had he just called her name? Shaking her head, she blew off the word she’d heard. A man like Marlon didn’t yearn for a woman like her. He probably fantasised about the old Jade, the Jade who took her clothes off to get attention. The Jade who ate drugs for dinner and passed out at parties. The old Jade no longer existed.
The new Jade, with thirty extra pounds, rounder cheeks, filled-out hips and honey-blonde hair, had taken her place. The Jade she’d become was the Jade she’d always been on the inside—Jaden Marie Haydenweir. Sure, she still wore designer and insisted her hair be in a perfect tousle. No need to go totally off the deep end.
Her father’s parting words rang in her ears. “You can’t make it on your own. Men want the ideal. Without the gloss, you look like the girl next door and not the ones on television. Men want fantasy, not your boring reality. You’ll see I’m right.”
Taking one more deep breath, she fisted her hand.
Had he seen her? Without thinking, she spoke. “I’m out here!” Her eyes widened and she slapped both hands over her mouth. Oh God, had she just answered him? What would his girlfriend say?
Turning around, she stepped off the small concrete porch and retreated to the parking lot. The click of her heels echoed in the silence of the evening. No, he wouldn’t see her beg or embarrass herself again. When they’d kissed in the parking lot of the airport, her blood had heated. Her mind had spun. Words she’d only spoken in jest before had flowed from her lips, I love you. She shivered. Love at first kiss wasn’t possible. Well, not in the real world—only in movies.
When she reached her car, she gripped the door handle and rested her forehead on the cool frame. Tears of mortification pricked her eyes. She had never seen another woman, but he couldn’t be alone. Maybe he’d found someone else named Jade.
“Who’s out here? Jade?”