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Holly McCartney stepped out of baggage claim at LAX International Airport and came face-to-face with a sea of people, cameras and flashing lights. It took all of five seconds to realize the media circus was here for her.
Every nerve ending in her body stood on edge. As Hollywood's darling, this was the existence her sister had chosen. Daisy loved the limelight and had built a life on being the center of attention for as long as Holly could remember.
Holly couldn't think of anything worse.
Sucking in as much oxygen as she could inhale in one deep breath, she tightened her grip on her laptop bag and suitcase. Then, she lifted her chin high, pushed her shoulders back and prepared to walk through the crowd like she had no inkling that all the frenzied attention was focused on her.
And let's face it, she could be wrong. This was Los Angeles. Actors, rock stars, agents, producers, any number of starlets could have been on the plane and she, having no interest in such things whatsoever, would have been completely oblivious.
She flexed her toes in her comfortable travelling shoes and put her best foot forward. Immediately the crowd "ahhed," more lights flashed in her face and the people behind the lenses pushed even closer to the barricade. She gulped. Froze. Felt like the most popular exhibit in the zoothe one everyone wanted to get their hands on.
Someone shoved a tiny microphone in her face. "How did you feel about your sister's death?"
"Is it true you hadn't spoken to her in three years?" Another face, another identical microphone. These people were good. They'd dug deep for their facts, but how could they justify making a living in such a manner?
Holly blinked as another camera flash almost blinded her.
What was it they said in the movies? No comment?
"Which designer created your dress for the awards night?"
She almost laughed at that question. She'd like to see their faces when she told them she hadn't given a thought to what she'd be wearing should Daisy win a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actress. But hysterical laughter made way for sheer panic.
Perhaps stupidly, she hadn't anticipated any of this. When her parents had convinced her to come, she hadn't imagined for one second anyone would be interested in the plain, boring younger sister of Daisy McCartney. Not when Hollywood was filled with bevies of near-clones of Daisy. Skinny, blond, beautiful, bubbly glamazons.
Everything Holly was most definitely not.
"Perhaps she's mute," yelled a voice from the hoards. Cackles of laugher followed, making her feel about the size of an ant.
She had to say something but right nowafter a fifteen-hour plane flight from Sydney during which she'd sat next to a know-it-all neurologist who spoke nonstop about his successesshe was struggling to recall any of the questions. While Holly racked her brain for something to say, anything to get this unexpected and unwanted welcome off her back, a commotion erupted in front of her.
She peered through the tightly-knit wall of people to see a tall, dark, curly-haired head making waves in the crowd. A moment later the man had pushed through the photographers and come to a stop directly in her line of vision. Her heart skipped a beat. She reminded her lungs to pump. And tried damn hard not to stare. She'd never been big on movie starsnot the type of teen to wallpaper her bedroom in celebrity postersbut this man had to be someone famous. The kind of famous who inspired heartthrob status.