Actress Emily Springer is miserable. Trapped at the mercy of her controlling mother, she turns to costar Landon Hughes for help. The older man is at first reluctant, but soon embraces the idea of rescuing Emily from her situation. All she has to do is seduce Landon, and all he has to do is give her a baby. If they happen to find a happily-ever-after in the process, that’s just a bonus.
This is a QuikRead and the perfect length to finish during the morning commute or while waiting for an appointment. No cliffhangers!
The words on the script blurred as Landon Hughes tried to commit them to memory. Like so many things, what had once been easy in the past was now a struggle. He’d been out of acting for too long, and too messed up from years of self-destructive alcoholism, to find memorization easy these days. He could use the teleprompter, which some actors relied upon, but it always looked so fake to him. He hadn’t really wanted to do this movie, but now that he was here, he wanted to give it a genuine effort.
A soft tap on his trailer door drew his attention from the script, and he smothered a groan. He sincerely hoped it wasn’t his assistant, because Denise had made little effort to hide her interest. The last thing he needed was a fling to steal his focus—what little there was of it, he thought with a small snort as he got to his feet.
He left the script by a steaming cup of hot coffee, glancing down with a start to realize it was actually a cold cup now. He had forgotten all about it in his memorization endeavors. The knock came again, and he sighed as he prepared to deal with Denise, crossing the small distance from the tiny living room to the door.
He opened it with a polite smile, eyes widening at the sight of Emily Springer standing on the ground in front of him. He arched a brow, wondering what his costar was doing there. A quick glance over her shoulder revealed Hillary Springer was standing a few steps behind, clearly in mother-bear mode. “Hello, Emily.”
She gave him a cheery smile. “Hello, Landon. I’ve come by to rehearse the lines as we discussed earlier.”
His memory wasn’t as sharp as it used to be, of course. It wasn’t as easy to memorize lines anymore, but he wasn’t at the stage where he would have forgotten making plans with the young woman in front of him. Still, he couldn’t resist the pleading in her eyes, and he nodded as he opened the door wider. “Of course. Come on in.”
Emily waved at her mom, giving her a strained smile. “I’ll be back in a while then.”
Hillary ignored Emily, looking straight at Landon instead. “You walk her back to her trailer in an hour, won’t you?”
He found himself nodding in the face of the overbearing command, not missing the fact that she was giving her daughter an hour curfew. Holy shit. He was glad he didn’t have to deal with that woman on a regular basis. Having worked together with her in the past, at least having her on set when he had starred with Emily in a show a decade ago, he remembered what a fierce, bossy, domineering woman she was. It was amazing Emily wasn’t crushed under her heel.
“Of course.” He made the concession because it was obvious she wasn’t going anywhere until she had it. With a stiff nod, she turned and strode back toward the larger trailer she shared with her daughter while they were shooting this movie on-location.
Poor girl, he thought to himself as she slipped inside, brushing against him in the process. He cleared his throat and pretended like he hadn’t felt a response to the younger woman. Closing the door a bit harder than necessary, he reminded himself once upon a time, he had played her father in a sitcom.
Of course, that had been ten years ago, when she was a little girl, and she was certainly not a little girl any longer. “We didn’t actually have plans that I’ve forgotten, did we?” he asked with a small twitch of his lips.
Emily shook her head, sending blue-black waves of hair cascading around her face. He had the strangest urge to reach out and grab a handful of it, to see if it was as silky smooth as it looked.
“No, but thank you for covering for me. My mother is trying to suffocate me.”
He indicated she should have a seat on the couch, and she sat down in the place he had been occupying. He took a seat beside her, since there was a marked lack of furniture in the smaller trailer. Thankfully, there was at least a cushion between them, giving the appearance of propriety. “How old are you now, Emily?”
He arched a brow, speaking his mind before he thought better of it. “Don’t you think it’s time to cut the cord?”
Rather than be offended, her lips twitched. “Honey, if I could have, I would’ve chewed my way through it out of desperation years ago. She’s driving me fucking insane.”
Hearing profanity from America’s sweetheart, the ideal of young womanhood idealized, her image carefully nurtured, was shocking. He couldn’t deny it was a bit arousing too, though he hated that reaction.
He was nineteen years older than her, and certainly old enough to control himself. It had been a few years since he’d been back on the Hollywood scene, but he’d never experienced a shortage of young women who admired him. Even the months he’d been in rehab, there had been more than one hookup opportunity with fellow addicts, and even a counselor.
He wasn’t proud of that time, but sex had been one of the ways he had broken free of alcohol addiction, finding a way to blunt his need for the drink in pleasure. Fortunately, he’d realized he was about to trade one addiction for another and had stopped cold turkey.
It had been two years since he had been with a woman, and two-and-a-half years since he’d had a drink. No wonder he was reacting so strongly to her proximity.
“I’d love to break free of her, but she has me tied up in knots. Financial knots, I should say.” Her lips pursed, and true anger showed in her pansy-blue eyes. “She has all my money tied up in a trust, and I don’t get any of it unless I follow all of her stupid rules, or I get married or have a baby. She’s pretty much made it impossible for me to date or get knocked up, and I’m getting desperate.”
He arched a brow as he patted her leg in a show of comfort. “Do you know why she’s so controlling?” That was the nicest phrase he could think of which came even close to describing the she-beast.
“Oh, yeah.” With a snort, she reached for his cup of coffee, the one he hadn’t even taken a sip from, and downed half the cold contents in one long swallow. “Damn, I was hoping that had something more than coffee in it.”
“Haven’t you read the tabloid trash, Emily? I don’t drink anymore. They like to think I do, and they tend to drag my mistakes out every few months when there isn’t someone more interesting upon whom to focus, but I’ve been trying to keep a low profile.”
She nodded, giving him an understanding smile. “I know you have, and I appreciate you coming out of retirement to shoot this movie with me.”
It had only been at her personal request that he’d agreed to do this, having decided when he was in rehab that he had to get away from Hollywood if he was going to stay sober and sane. Still, when the sweetest young thing in American pop culture asked you to play a role in her movie, and you had history with her, you didn’t deny her. “I appreciate the opportunity.”
“Liar,” she said softly, but with a grin to take away any sting. “I know you did this as a favor to me, so I feel bad asking for another favor.”
Landon frowned. “What can I do for you, Emily? I’ll help you any way I can.”
She took a deep breath, clearly gathering her courage, before turning sideways on the couch to look at him. “I need you to ruin me, Landon.”