With an impressive list of blockbusters under his belt, Guy is looking for something more than another ticket to stardom. He's heard the rumors about the trail of broken hearts the ambitious diva has left behind. Once he's tasted Dahlia's passion, he vows to be her one and only. Yet when they are tested by jealousy, betrayal and a secret that binds the powerful Boudreaux and Stallion families, will Guy be able to prove to Dahlia that she's the only leading lady for him?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Dahlia Morrow could not have been happier as she stepped out of the limousine in front of the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard for the Eighty-Fifth Academy Awards. The paparazzi were desperate for her attention as cameras f lashed around her and complete strangers screamed her name as if they were old friends.
"We love you, Dahlia!"
Dahlia stood in the requisite pose at the beginning of the red carpet, one hand perched pristinely against the curve of her hip. She smiled sweetly as her gaze skated over the landscape of actors and film critics, photographers and television hosts who were out in full force.
Being front and center was typical for the long list of film personalities present, but few filmmakers had ever received the kind of attention that Dahlia was receiving. Dahlia Morrow was an exception to the iconic rules; her fame had grown to significant proportions despite her best efforts to stay out of the limelight. From the start of her career to that very moment, the attention lavished on her had been formidable, as if she'd been the face in front of the cameras and not the brain trust behind them. And all because of her very brief romantic connection to one of the film industry's biggest stars; the majority of it had been headline fodder for the tabloids. Recognizing an opportunity, Dahlia had fostered the public's fascination with her into a highly recognized brand. Turning that moment of cause cele-bre to her advantage now made her accomplishments instant news success.
Dahlia continued her slow stroll down the red carpet, pausing for snapshots and interviews. All of her hard work for the past two years had culminated in this one evening and she wanted to savor every moment of it. She paused in reflection, the moment captured for posterity as cameras continued to flash around her. Her brilliant smile dazzled her admirers.
Her first film project had been a two-minute short, a senior project in college. Her film teacher had submitted the assignment to a nationwide competition, and when Dahlia's had been selected best overall, winning her an internship with one of the largest film studios on the West Coast, her career in the movie industry was born.
And tonight her talent was being acknowledged by the industry with her latest film, Victory's Daughter, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Reviewers, pundits and bookies were predicting Victory's Daughter would sweep the Oscars, and Dahlia was betting on herself, as well.
This was her night, and Dahlia imagined that the only thing that could have made the moment more perfect was if she was walking the red carpet with a man she was head over heels in love with. Walking the red carpet with Drake Houston, however, would do. The renowned actor and playwright reveled in his own notoriety. Besides, he looked good with his windblown blond locks and ocean-blue eyes. Side by side they made a handsome couple. It would play nicely on the entertainment news and the cover of Variety magazine, Dahlia thought.
She beamed as one of the top radio personalities and television hosts rushed her with a microphone in his hand. In her classic Christian Dior couture gown and Christian Louboutin red-bottomed heels, she looked absolutely stunning. And her face radiated joy.
"Ryan, it's great to be here!" Dahlia exclaimed.
"Well, you look great," the host declared. "How does it feel to be the center of attention tonight?"
Dahlia smiled sweetly. "Well, I can tell you that I'm immensely proud that Victory's Daughter has gotten the many accolades it has. I loved the story, and I loved being able to tell it on film. I have to acknowledge the amazing cast and crew who helped to make it such a success. I couldn't have done it without them, and I'm confident that Brad, Hillary and Halle will all walk away with Oscars tonight for their stunning performances."
After fielding a few more questions, Dahlia continued to make her way down the red-carpeted path, posing for pictures and doing short interviews for the other major networks until she and Drake made their way to the building's entrance and were whisked inside and escorted to their seats.
Once inside she expressed her annoyance with her escort. "Drake, dear, you are going to wrinkle my dress with all the hugging. I need a little breathing room, my friend."
Drake chuckled warmly. "Can you blame me for wanting to hold tight to you, beautiful? You know how much I adore you, Dahlia!" He leaned to kiss her closed mouth but was met with her cheek instead.
The woman rolled her eyes, taking a deep inhale of breath. "Drake, you know I adore you and I consider you one of my closest friends, but you and I don't roll like that. And I hate having to say that over and over again. I don't want us to become bad friends, so please" she paused momentarily "please, cut me some slack!"
Drake heaved a deep sigh and nodded. "I had to try, Dahlia. What kind of man would I be if I didn't?" he asked with a slight shrug and a wry smile.
Dahlia chuckled softly, reaching up to give him a light kiss on his cheek. "I still love you, but you'll need to find someone else to take home to bed tonight."
Laughing, Drake gave her a quick wink. "You won't be disappointed if I do?"
She shook her head. "Not at all! But for now I need to go freshen up my makeup. Why don't you go say hello to Eastwood? He looks like he wants to speak with you," she said as she turned. She tossed him a quick look over her shoulder. "And don't worry if I don't come back. I'll make sure there's someone else here to take my place." She sauntered in the opposite direction.
"Take care of that for me!" Drake laughed as he blew her a kiss.
Out in the lobby, she gestured for one of the Academy pages. The young woman smiled excitedly at her. "Yes, Ms. Morrow? How may I help you?"
"I absolutely love my dress," Dahlia whispered as she leaned in conspiratorially. "But it's not the most comfortable thing to sit down in." She giggled softly. "Would you please send a seat-filler to my spot? I plan to stay in the greenroom until it's my turn to present."
"Yes, Ms. Morrow. Will Mr. Houston be joining you?"
Dahlia shook her head. "No, don't disturb him. He'll be fine. Just send someone very, very pretty to sit beside him," she said as she headed down the corridor toward the back of the stage, where there was a holding area for performers and those who were presenting.
As she rounded the corner, Dahlia ran smack into Owen Kestner, one of the evening's nominees for Best Supporting Actor. A former NFL professional, the rough-and-tumble linebacker smiled at her excitedly.
"Dahlia Morrow! Aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" the handsome man exclaimed.
"Owen, how are you?" Dahlia said sweetly.
"Just a little nervous. How about you?"
Dahlia nodded. "Nervous, too, but excited." She met his gaze evenly, taking note of his good looks and muscular frame. There was a mischievous gleam in his eyes as he stared at her intently. "So who's your date this evening?" she asked coyly.
The man chuckled warmly. "I'm riding solo tonight," he said, tossing her a quick wink. "But I saw you came with Drake Houston."
Dahlia smiled as she took a step closer to him. She drew her fingers against the front of his shirt, adjusting his bow tie and the front of his tuxedo jacket. She tilted her head to stare up at him. "I did come with Drake, but it doesn't mean I'll be leaving with him," she said, her tone dropping to a seductive whisper.
Owen smiled, his eyes brightening with interest. "And I imagine you'll be hitting all the A-list parties after the ceremony?"
Dahlia grinned. "If that works for you?" she said, sensing that her A-list access was all that he would be looking for.
"Would you mind if my friend Charles tagged along?" he queried, his eyes wide with anticipation.
Dahlia laughed. "Not at all."
Owen nodded eagerly, his smile bright. "My limo or yours?"
Dahlia laughed, winking her own eye. "Yours. I don't want to leave my friend Drake stranded."
"But it's not like you had tickets?" Mason Boudreaux said, eyeing his younger brother with confusion. "Or did you have tickets?"
Guy Boudreaux cut his eyes skyward, annoyed by his older brother's question. He nodded his head, the long length of his dreadlocks waving against his broad shoulders. "Of course I had tickets. Good seats, as a matter of fact. And invitations to the best Oscar parties. You can't beat that kind of networking, brother!"
Mason nodded his understanding. "Well, I appreciate you giving up the Oscars to make it to my wedding."
"What are best men for?" Guy said, beaming widely as he looked from his brother to his new sister-in-law.
The newly minted Phaedra Boudreaux smiled back. "So, what will you do when you do get back to California?" she asked, snuggling close to her new husband.
"I'll be filming a commercial next week. I'm now the spokesman for the new Chanel for Men cologne."
Having a lightbulb moment, Guy suddenly leaned forward in his seat. "Hey, by the way, Phaedra, I could really use some new head shots. Do you think you can hook me up?"
Mason rolled his eyes. "That means he wants a family discount!" he said as he hugged Phaedra tightly.
"No," Guy protested. "That means I want it free."
Phaedra, an award-winning professional photographer, laughed. "I think we could probably work something out."
Guy winked. "I'd like that," he said, laughing easily, his magnetic smile beaming brightly.
Mason shook his head. After a lengthy holiday abroad he was ready to be off a plane and back on land. He'd needed to resolve some unfinished business in Thailand, and the past week had been a test of his fortitude. He was thankful to finally be back in the United States and headed home.
After whirlwind visits to Asia and France, he and his family had stopped in London to refuel and again in New Orleans to drop off his sister Kamaya and her twin, Kendrick, at their parents' home. Now they were headed to Dallas, Texas, to spend time with the Stallion family, Phaedra's newfound kin, four brothers who shared her bloodline. Guy would be continuing on to Los Angeles by his lonesome. And Guy was anxious to get back.
"My money's on Victory's Daughter to win Best Picture," Guy was saying. He and Phaedra were knee-deep in a conversation about movies.
"I absolutely loved Victory's Daughter" Phaedra exclaimed. "And it has to get an award for Best Cinematography. The imagery was spectacular!"
"Have you ever thought about doing films?" Guy asked, remembering that his new sister-in-law was renowned for her skills as a photojournalist.
Phaedra shook her head. "Not really. I love still photography. I can't imagine myself doing anything else."
"I understand that," Guy said. "That's how I feel about acting."
"So, who else do you think will win tonight?" Mason interjected.
Guy paused for a minute. "I'm betting on Dahlia Morrow for Best Director, and Halle stole the show with her performance as Victory, so she's my bet for Best Actress."
"Do you know Dahlia?" Phaedra queried.
Guy shook his head. "No, but I've been looking for an opportunity to meet her. I would love to be in one of her films."
Phaedra smiled. "Well, I'd love to introduce you two. Dahlia and I are sorority sisters. We've been good friends for years," she noted casually.
Guy nodded excitedly, gesturing with two thumbs pointed skyward. "That's what I'm talkin' about, another hookup! I am truly loving you, sister-in-law."
What People are Saying About This
Interesting storylines and passion-fueled love scenes will keep readers' attention" -RT Book Reviews on FOREVER A STALLION