Unexpectedly Yours (Page 28)

“But it’s beneath you.”

I laugh. “C’mon, I’m not Brad Pitt.”

“Not yet. And you won’t be, not if we don’t pick the right parts for you. I’m trying to help you.” His voice turns pleading. “You’re on the edge of breaking out, but one wrong move could end it all. Trust me, stick to the plan and you’ll be the biggest new name in Hollywood come next year.”

I pause. Acting has always been my dream, and I’ve been working my ass off for ten years to make it happen. Embarrassing commercials, tiny theater gigs, two-second blink-and-you’ll-miss-me roles on TV—I did it all, and never seemed to make it any further. I was about ready to give up when my big break arrived, the day I turned twenty-five: I landed the lead in a massive action alien-invasion movie. It was a big deal, for an unknown like me to get the part. Suddenly, I had people lining up who never gave me the time of day before. Managers, agents, publicists, all swearing they can make me the next Ryan Gosling, the new Jonny Depp—but only if I pick my next moves carefully.

Plenty of guys get one shot in this game, but not many keep working, building a career to be proud of.

I pace, torn. “The director’s a buddy of mine,” I tell Josh. “And I have time in my schedule next month…”

“It’s a low-budget indie movie that doesn’t even have a location anymore,” Josh replies bluntly. “Didn’t you get the scripts I sent?”

I think of the pile of cookie-cutter action movies and thrillers stacked in the guest room upstairs. Guy with gun on a quest for vengeance, end of story. “I want a change,” I protest, “I spent three months playing to a green screen, pretending to fight robot aliens. Look, Dash does great work. It’s small, but credible.”

“Credible?” Josh snorts. “You want credibility, you go back to making a hundred bucks a day in the theater. You want to be a fuck-off movie star? You pick the projects I tell you to pick.”

I can feel my frustration rise, so I cut him off before we can both say something we regret. “Look, I appreciate the advice. Let me think about it. I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

“Sure thing.” I can hear partying on his side of the call too. He’s probably at some big bash in the Hollywood Hills full of A-list talent. It was a big thing for him to sign me, and although we might disagree over some things, Josh understands this game better than anyone.

“You know I’m right,” he adds as a parting shot. “Don’t screw this up.”

He hangs up, leaving me out on the deck with a major decision on my mind.

What the hell do I do next?

I always thought, once I got my break, things would come easy, but now it feels like everything is harder. There’s more at stake. It’s easy to dive into a project when you’ve got nothing left to lose, but now I’ve had a taste of success, I’ve got so much more riding on my next move.

“Hello, stranger.”

I turn at the voice and promptly stop dead. The woman in front of me is a vision of slinky black silk, all luscious curves, red lips and glossy blonde hair. I blink in disbelief.

“Zoey?” I ask, not processing what I’m seeing. The last time I saw my younger sister’s best friend, she was gawky and casual in jeans and tortoiseshell glasses. Now, she looks like she just stepped off a runway—and out of every man’s fantasy. “Holy shit, what happened to you?”

Zoey arches an eyebrow. “Good to see you too,” she smirks, sashaying over to kiss me on both cheeks. “Sorry, Paris,” she says as an explanation, reaching to wipe away a smudge of lipstick. As she leans in close, I catch a breath of perfume, something spicy and intoxicating that wraps itself around my senses and makes me think of late nights, and intimate dinners, and the slide of silk on naked skin.

I struggle to focus. “Uh, hey, welcome back. Is it just a vacation visit?”

Zoey gives me a mysterious smile. “It depends.”

“On what?” I blink, still feeling like someone smashed me over the head with an anvil. This is Zoey, she’s been running around with Tegan since they were teenagers, she’s like a little sister to me.

At least, she used to be.

Now, I can’t help my gaze from drifting lower, over the tight slinky dress she’s wearing, and the sexy curves of her body, all the way to her shoes: red peep-toe sandals that lace all the way up her calves.

They’re the sexiest shoes I’ve ever seen.

“Uh, depends on what?” I drag my attention back up to her face, and find Zoey watching me with a curious smile.

“You’ll see,” she says cryptically. “But, yes, I’m back.”

“Tegan will be happy, I know she missed you.” I steer the conversation back to a safe topic: my sister.

“Me too,” Zoey smiles. “I missed all of you,” she adds. Her eyes meet mine, an unreadable expression in her gaze.

I find my mind is blank; I try and think of what to say. She’s been out in Europe for over a year now, working at some magazine. Tegan reports back, but I never paid much attention to the details.

Now, I wish I had.

Zoey takes a place beside me, leaning out over the railing to watch the dark beach, and the ocean crashing beyond. I try not to notice how her body arches, giving me a heart-stopping view of her low-cut neckline.

“So what’s your resolution?” she asks, a flirty note in her voice.