Kat Avery is out of options. She's going to have to smile and sell this acting job to make the fans believe she's still with Jake, the guy who just days ago publically humiliated her. It’s an act—a means to an end—but the disdain in Micah’s eyes every time Jake touches her slays her, and all she wants to do is tell him the truth.
Between Scenes is a stand-alone spin-off from the Between the Raindrops Series, and the next book by Susan Schussler.
MY PHONE BUZZES and I swipe left, ignoring him for the millionth time. I wouldn’t talk to him if he were the last man on earth. With my silenced phone in hand, I step around the corner from the elevator and freeze as I spot them.
Oh…hell. When is this going to end?
“There she is,” a voice shrills from down the hallway in front of my hotel room.
The pack of paparazzi rushes toward me like I’m the last item for sale on the eighty percent off table. My heart races as I jerk back into the elevator, and frantically tap my keycard against the access pad. I’m going up rather than down into the media circus I escaped minutes ago. How did they find me? How did they get on this secure floor?
I shake my head to push back the tears budding in my eyes. This is so unfair. Jake’s the one who deserves their questions. Why are they chasing me? I don’t even know what to tell them. The door closes, and as the floor lifts my stomach lurches. I take in a quick breath, trying to calm my brain and my stomach.
When the elevator door opens on the twenty-third floor, I step off and peer out of the cove. I hope the hallway is clear. Immediately, the muscular backside of a guy returning from the pool catches my eye. He carries a towel and an oversized bottle of water. A small tattoo peeks out of the top of his swim trunks on his side. I can’t tell what it is from this distance, but it doesn’t look menacing. This could be good, or it could be a disaster. The shirtless man could hide me and help me sneak out of here. Or, he could be a really hot serial killer. I’m terrible at reading people. I don’t know why I try. But I know one thing for sure. I’m out of options.
As I near his room I spot the plastic keycard on the floor just outside the door. He must have dropped it. I pick it up to return as an offering, hoping to soften him up. But when I raise my hand to knock, the elevator dings and I change my mind. I press the card against the keypad, and the light turns green. I’m going in.
The door clicks closed behind me as I press my ear against it, listening for the vultures to pass. I can’t catch my breath. Am I hyperventilating? I listen to them walk by, talking about how I would never escape because they were working as a team to find me. I can’t believe Jake did this to me. I hear them pass a second time and I turn to assess my situation.
Modern with charcoal and white walls, the luxurious suite fills me with the calm of déjà vu, somehow welcoming me. It’s identical to mine downstairs. Large draped windows flank a massive TV screen on either side. At least the drapes are closed. Finally feeling halfway safe, I draw in a deep breath, and the aroma from the fresh calla lilies arranged on the table near the door fills my lungs.
I scan the suite for the guy I followed in, realizing I’m going to need to explain myself. That’s when my eyes lock with the brightest sapphire-blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Shirtless pool boy cocks his head at me without blinking. He doesn’t look irritated I’m in his hotel room. He looks bored as if girls slip into his room all the time.
“If you’re looking for Tom, he won’t be back tonight,” he says, glancing around, before picking up the TV remote.
“I’m not looking for Tom.” I twist the ring on my finger, not sure how to spin this conversation into a plea for help.
“If my brother sent you for me, tell him I’m not interested in his cast offs. You are clearly not my type.” His face is stone cold sober. He means every word he says.
What is his problem?
“Really? I thought I was every guy’s type.” I have never had a guy tell me I wasn’t his type. Who does this guy think he is? I don’t see any supermodels in his room. Sure he’s hot, but he doesn’t have to put me down. I don’t deserve this after the day I’ve had. What did I do to him? He spreads out on the couch, propping his feet on the table in front of him as I approach, my jaw dropped in disbelief.
“Oh, god... Did he pay for you? He doesn’t know when to stop, does he? Just go. Tell him I had a great time. You rocked my world…wahoo. Tell him whatever you like. You’ll still get paid.” He runs his fingers through his wavy, dark hair. “I can get girls on my own. I don’t need him to buy me hookers.”
“I am not a hooker!” I can’t believe he thinks I’m a hooker. He doesn’t recognize me. With all the press lately, I didn’t think there was anyone left in the world who doesn’t know who I am.
“Call girl. Whatever. I didn’t mean to insult you. It’s just not my thing. I don’t pay for sex.” His nose scrunches before he turns away from me and flicks on the TV.
“I am not a call girl, either.”
“Sorry, I just assumed. Like I said, Tom’s not going to be back today. I might not see him until Sunday. I can let him know you stopped by if you give me your name.” He points to the hotel notepad and pen on the desk.
“What kind of guy buys his brother hookers?”
“He thinks he’s doing me a favor. You know what he’s like,” he says meeting my eyes again and sitting forward. “But I’m not like him. I’ve never had an STD, and I plan to keep it that way.”
“Tom has an STD?”
“Forget I said that. I just mean, with all the girls he sleeps with, he could get one. I like to know where a girl’s been before we swap fluids. You know what I’m sayin’?”
Did he just say that?
“I know what you mean,” I say. “Honestly, I don’t even know your brother, and I’ve definitely never swapped fluids with him.”
“Wait a minute. You don’t know my brother? Who gave you a key to our suite? You need to leave.” His voice elevates as he stands and steps back away from me.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” I say as my eyes glide over his toned form. I can’t help myself. He’s so damn cute. “I found the card on the floor in the hall. I planned to knock on the door and return it, but then the paparazzi found me and I made the snap decision to escape them by coming in. I was going to ask if I could hide out for a couple of hours until they give up looking for me. That’s all.
“Who are you?” he asks knitting his eyebrows as if he doesn’t believe me.
I hold out my hand. “I’m Kat. Katya Avery.”
His hand wraps around mine. “Micah Fallston,” he says.
“No. No. No!” I shake my head as I pull my hand back. I can’t believe it. “Why? What are the odds I would end up in Tom Fallston’s hotel room? Damn it. F.M.L.” He’s Jake’s best friend. I cover my face with my hands as I plop onto the couch, trying to gain control of my emotions. I can feel Micah’s eyes on me. I’m going to have to figure out a way to get through this. I look up and meet his gaze, and he’s smiling down at me. He’s got an extremely sexy smile, and that makes it worse.
“It’s not that I hate your brother… okay, yeah, it is. I can’t stand your brother. Can I still stay here? I’ll get slaughtered by the paparazzi if they find me coming out of Tom Fallston’s suite.”
He laughs and sits back down on the couch. “I don’t like my brother either. You can stay if you tell me why the paparazzi are after you. I mean, I’ve never heard of you before, so you’re not that famous. You must have done something crazy. What did you do?”