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The many styles of love
Model Bailey Hamilton made headlines when she was kidnapped and then rescued. Now, TV documentary producer Micah Jones has made her an offer she wants to refuse: a candid interview to stop wild rumors that threaten her career. Micah's tempting Bailey to let down her barriers and give in to passion.
The last person to interview Bailey before she was taken, Micah blames himself for what happened. Determined to make amends, he's blindsided by his desire for the exotic Manhattan model. Speculation about her disappearance thrusts Bailey into the eye of the storm again, and their affair could be over before it begins. Will Micah uncover the truth and avoid the media circus that could cost him his future with the woman he loves?
About the Author
Farrah Rochon hails from a small town just west of New Orleans. She has garnered much acclaim for her New York Sabers football series for Harlequin's Kimani Romance imprint. Farrah has been nominated for the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America and the RT BOOKReviews Reviewer's Choice Award. She can usually be found on Twitter or at a Broadway show.
Read an Excerpt
Bailey Hamilton sat in pensive silence in the backseat of the black Mercedes S600 as it rolled down Columbus Avenue. She practiced the deep-breathing techniques she'd seen a character in a movie use once as a means of calming her nerves. She had no idea if she was doing it correctly. If the butterflies fluttering in her stomach were any indication, that answer was a resounding no.
She clasped her hands together in her lap, trying her best to stop the anxious fidgeting that had plagued her all morning. That wasn't working, either.
The car stopped at a traffic light and a sea of pedestrians flowed past it, all of them going about their day as if this was a normal Tuesday afternoon. For most of them, it probably was. She, on the other hand, had to think long and hard to remember what normal felt like. Her biggest fear over these past few months was that normal was destined to become nothing more than a memory.
I will not let that happen.
Bailey had made that promise to herself before leaving her family-mandated exile in the Virgin Islands last week. She'd existed in a bubble of uncertainty for the past two months. She would not allow another day of her life to be dictated by the actions of the lunatic who'd robbed her of so much already. Today was the first step on the road to normal, and she was more than ready to get there.
Yet with each inch of asphalt the tires traveled, her stomach knotted with growing nerves. She shut her eyes tight behind oversize sunglasses and rested her head against the seat back, apprehension rushing through her despite her efforts to curb it.
She was the one who had insisted on this press conference, which would bring her face-to-face with the media after nearly two months of seclusion. At this point, it was a necessity.
She was fed up with the wild speculations being tossed about by the press, rumors that were becoming more outlandish by the day. The more her family tried to shield her from the outside world, the more rabid the media became. It was time she faced them.
The car pulled into the parking garage on 65th Street underneath Lincoln Center. Bailey's chest grew tight as her heart started the emphatic pounding that signaled a panic attack. She'd learned to recognize the signs over the past couple of months.
Bailey willed herself to calm down, focusing on filling her lungs with deep gulps of air.
"You can do this," she quietly declared.
It had taken a full-fledged campaign to convince her family that she was emotionally strong enough to confront the media. She refused to show even an ounce of weakness. She'd even insisted that the press conference be held at the very site where she had been abducted two months ago, just hours before she was to take to the runway during Fashion Week as the lead model for her family's fashion label, Roger Hamilton Designs.
But as she remained rooted in the backseat of her brother's car, mere yards from that stark basement where she had been found unconscious, Bailey questioned her previous bravado. She should have taken her sister, Brianna's, advice and held the press conference at RHD's studio in SoHo. Maybe facing the pressand her demons at the scene of the crimewas taking on too much, too soon.
"No, you can do this," Bailey reiterated.
"Yes, you can," her brother Daniel said from the front seat.
Bailey's eyes connected with his in the rearview mirror and she smiled. Thank goodness for her family. As much as she begrudged their zealous overprotectiveness, she would not have survived this ordeal without their support.
Bailey sucked in one last cleansing breath as Daniel got out of the car and opened the back door. She clasped the hand he held out to her.
"Look, Bailey." Daniel hesitated, his eyes darting to the garage's exit. "I meant what I said. You can do this. But remember that you don't have to. Just say the word and we're out of here."
"Backing out is not an option." She gave her brother a firm nod. "I'm ready."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive." She squeezed his hand. "I need to do this, Daniel. I'm done hiding. I want to show the world that I'm not broken."
Especially the person who attacked me who is still out there.
Bailey couldn't ignore the streak of alarm that raced through her body at the thought that her attacker was still at largeand possibly even among the reporters gathered.
Calling on the resilience she used in the cutthroat world of modeling, Bailey put her fear in check and took a moment to check her appearance in the car's gleaming exterior. The pleated chocolate slacks and cream-colored turtleneck underneath her favorite belted, rust-colored peacoat from RHD's fall collection suited her personality much more than the glammed-up fashions she wore when strutting across a runway.
Satisfied with the image reflecting back at her, she turned to her brother.
"Well, let's get this show on the road," she said with an overly bright smile. She could tell by the tension bracketing Daniel's mouth that he saw right through her false optimism.
They started for the plaza at Lincoln Center, where a collection of reporters and cameramen waited. A podium had been set up in front of the fountain, with the Metropolitan Opera House as the backdrop. There was a hum of excited energy buzzing around the courtyard, which only served to ratchet up Bailey's nerves.
Before the incident back in September, she'd thrived on dealing with the press, always ready to flash them a smile as they covered her rise to stardom. But now trepidation pebbled her skin at the sight of them gathered there. She resented the vulnerability the press exposed within her, the outright terror she felt at having to face their questions.
Her entire family stood just to the right of the podium. A lump formed in Bailey's throat at their show of support, ready to act as a wall of defense between her and the media.
Her mother, former fashion model Lila Hamilton, broke away from the pack, striding across the plaza in her signature six-inch heels and a chic cashmere sheath.
"How are you feeling?" her mother asked, rubbing a soothing hand along Bailey's arm. "You don't have to do this, you know," she added, not giving Bailey the chance to answer her question.
"I already tried that," Daniel said. "She's determined."
The concern on her mother's face nearly did Bailey in, but she couldn't allow it to deter her. She gave her a peck on the cheek. "I'll be okay," she reassured both her mother and herself.
Still holding hands, they continued the last few yards to where the others were gathered. Bailey nodded to her father, patriarch of the family and head of Roger Hamilton Designs, who they'd all agreed would be the one to read the prepared statement to the press. He stepped up to the podium, which had at least a dozen microphones attached to it.
"Thank you all for coming," her father began. "The purpose of this press conference is to clear up the misinformation that has flooded the media since Fashion Week. As you all know, my daughter Bailey was meant to be the lead model for Roger Hamilton Designs this year. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she was unable to model during RHD's show. There has been much speculation over the cause of her absence, but I want to assure"
"Bailey, have you been in rehab?" one reporter called out.
Instant rage flashed across her father's face. Bailey put her hand on his shoulder, halting his retort. "Let me answer them."
"Absolutely not," he said with a firm shake of his head.
"Bailey," her eldest brother, Kyle, warned. She turned to her family, noting the concern on the faces of her mother and her sister, Brianna. Daniel and Kyle both looked as if they would relish doing bodily harm to the reporters.
Bailey turned back to her father. "Remaining silent won't do me any favors. They won't be satisfied until they hear directly from me."
It was more than evident that her father would rather face a den of hungry lions than let her face these reporters, but he reluctantly stepped aside.
Bailey surreptitiously dried her clammy palms on her wool coat before gripping the sides of the podium. Cameras flashed in rapid succession, making her happy that she had kept her sunglasses on. But Bailey refused to hide behind them any longer. She refused to hide behind anything.
She took off the sunglasses and placed them on the podium.
"First, I would like to thank you all for coming." Her voice was strong and didn't waver, a mark in the plus column. "When I suggested this press conference, the original plan was to have my father read a prepared statement. But you all are not here to listen to a prepared statementyou're here to ask questions."
The reporters started, but she held both hands up.
"However, let me first say this. I have heard a number of theories about my 'sudden disappearance'" she made air quotes with her fingers "during Fashion Week. Everything from entering rehab for drug and alcohol addiction to going to South America for plastic surgery. Let me assure you that I have never used an illegal substance in my life, and the one time I tried to drink anything stronger than champagne I became sick to my stomach."
"What about the plastic surgery?" asked Nathan Porter, a columnist who had covered RHD's fashion shows for years.
It stung that a man she'd known since she was a teenager hanging around the RHD studios had the audacity to ask such a question. She pasted on her most flattering smile as she directed her answer to him.
"Forgive my conceit, Nathan, but there is nothing a plastic surgeon could do to improve this face."
She knew her self-important rejoinder would garner laughs. Bailey had a reputation of being one of the most unpretentious models in the industry. That praise had been delivered by some of the same fashion writers, bloggers and photographers standing before her. These people knew her; they'd helped her get to the brink of superstardom, where she felt herself teetering precariously. She wouldn't go as far as to call them friends, but when you saw the same faces at every fashion event, you couldn't help but form an amiable kinship.
The camaraderie Bailey was feeling dried up with the very next question from a contributor to New York's most popular fashion and beauty blog.
"What about the bag of cocaine that was reportedly found on you the night you disappeared?" the man asked.
"Yes, what about the cocaine, Bailey?"
"How long have you been using?"
"Is it true that you almost overdosed?"
"Why did you stay away for so long?"
"Have you been in rehab?"
The barrage of hostile questions smacked her in the face, causing her to take a step back. Fingers of panic clawed up Bailey's throat with every ugly inquiry hurled her way. Was suffering from exhaustion," she stammered, using the excuse her family had decided upon while she was hidden away in the Virgin Islands. "Who's your supplier, Bailey?"
"I don't have a supplier," she said. "I have never used drugs in my life!"
"Then what about the cocaine?" asked the reporter who had initially brought up the drugs. "Where did it come from?"
Her father stepped up to the podium. "We understand that there are still many unanswered questions, but because there is still an ongoing police investigation, we cannot share anything specific about the case. However, I want to stress that Bailey was not involved in any type of criminal activity."
"Do you use the drugs to help you stay so thin?" asked a writer from a major paper, completely ignoring her father's statement.
"Are you being treated for anorexia, Bailey?" another called.
"This press conference is over," her father stated, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and guiding her away from the podium, into the fold of her family, who quickly surrounded her.
Bailey couldn't control the tremors coursing through her body. She knew she should stay and finish the press conference. Walking away now would only feed the frenzy.
But Bailey was too shell-shocked to care, too disoriented by the deluge of antagonistic questions to give a damn that she looked as if she was making a quick escape.
The past ten minutes had served as a reminder that the media was not her friend. It didn't matter that some of those writers had been reporting on her family's fashion empire since Bailey was in pigtails. They would turn on her in a hot minute if it meant a juicy headline.
Flanked by her two brothers, Bailey retreated to the parking garage, the sound of the reporters' questions still ringing in her ears as the brisk November air stung her face.
Her entire family had cautioned her against making a public statement so soon after returning to New York. In fact, they'd wanted her to remain in St. Thomas until the person who'd abducted her had been apprehended. After what had just transpired, Bailey was starting to think that maybe she should have listened to them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wow, what a way to end a series. I want more of this family.
Gtgtb bbt bc of school bleh
"No.....i....i...i..i..."*she collapses unconcious