When paparazzi catch her movie-star boyfriend Jake Gorboni cheating on her, Katya Avery realizes breaking up with him isn't an option. He holds the strings to her first movie deal, and without him, she will never make enough money to get her brother the treatment he needs. If she could forgive Jake's cheating, all her problems would disappear. But she never counted on falling for the sexy cartoonist, Micah Fallston and if she can't keep her feelings for him under control, she will lose everything.
Living in his famous brother's shadow, Micah never had his own identity. He was always Tom Fallston's little brother. With women, with anyone he met, and even with his parents, Micah was the backup. He only mattered in his brother's absence. But playing back up to Jake Gorboni was not something he thought he would ever be willing to do, not after what Jake did to him two years ago. Now, Micah has to choose between getting even with Gorboni, and hurting Kat, or keeping his mouth shut and falling for a girl he may never get to keep.
Between Scenes is a stand-alone novel 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 yells shrilly 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? One of them must have bought a room.
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 alcove. I hope the hallway is clear. Immediately, the muscular backside of a guy returning from the pool catches my eye. He carries a towel, swim goggles, and an oversized bottle of water. His hair is wet, probably from doing laps. He looks like an Olympic swimmer, lean and well-built. This could be impossibly good luck, 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 when he entered the room. 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. Paparazzi. I can hear them laughing at my expense. 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 will never escape because they’re 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.
Decorated in a modern style with charcoal drapes and white walls, the luxurious suite fills me with the calm of déjà vu, somehow welcoming me. It’s identical to mine downstairs. Large windows flank a massive TV screen. 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 lookirritated 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 probably 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 castoffs. 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’ve never had a guy tell me I wasn’t his type. Who does he 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. AsI 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 justmean, 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 never swapped fluids with him.”
“Wait a minute. You don’tknow 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 your keycard 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?” FML! Tom is Jake’s best friend, and if he were here right now, he’d call Jake and tell him exactly where to find me. I cover my face with my hands as I plop onto the couch, trying to gain control of my emotions. Tears well in my eyes, and I can feel the weight of Micah’s gaze on me. I’m not going to cry. I can’t . . . I’m strong. I’ll figure a way out of this. I look up and meet his stare, and he’s smiling down at me. He’s got an incredibly 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. He’s so arrogant, as if he’s better than everyone. 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?”
Copyright 2018 Susan Schussler - All Rights Reserved.
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