Sandra Bunino and I have collaborated to bring you a FREE holiday blog serial that runs in 18 parts of usually less than 1000 words for each post—easy reading on your lunch break.
Prefer to read on a Kindle or Nook? No problem, just head over to Smashwords every Wednesday to download last week’s (parts 1 – 4) and this week’s (parts 5 – 9) volumes, FREE! I also post the volumes on ARe on Thursdays. Really, there’s no excuse not to read this serial!
And now, PART 13 of Second Chance Layover (Click title to read a quick summary of the story.)
Duncan was going to kill me, but I didn’t care. I’d take any punch or blow and beg for more to keep Charli.
I gazed at the slumbering form next to me, a hot mess of tangled hair scattered over her pillow, lips full and pale, slightly parted. A warmth grew in my chest and expanded outward. She wasn’t just his sister, not any more. Oh sure, they had the same parents, but the woman beside me was no longer Duncan’s responsibility. Though logic told me Charli needed no one to babysit her, I couldn’t help the swell of protectiveness. Was lust or affection the source of the warmth?
The sheets had slipped below her breasts now presented in an appealing manner by an arm crooked beneath them. Those delectable curves roused me. I fought the urge to lean over and take a rosy nipple into my mouth, to drag her body against mine and press flesh against flesh. She seemed so small and vulnerable.
I didn’t want to wake her, but nature called.
I extricated myself from the bed sheets and slithered out of the bed. If Charli woke, she’d no doubt laugh at my maneuvers. Fortunately, she didn’t.
Tiptoeing into the bathroom was the easy part. Dodging the discarded clothing that might have rustled or tripped me was far tougher. On my way back, I picked up one of my socks and Charli’s thong that had landed in a cozy tangle like their owners. Call me a perv, but I couldn’t resist the compulsion to inhale Charli’s lingering scent—all woman.
Next came my button down shirt I folded up semi-neatly and lay on a nearby side chair. I didn’t dare risk fumbling around for a hanger. Besides, I’d be putting it back on soon.
I glanced around for my pants. They lay in a collapsed figure-eight shaped accordion with my boxers spilling out over the waistband. Yeah, I’d been in a hurry. Charli’s jeans lay next to where I stood. I picked them up and began to fold them. A card fell from the pocket, a business card I discovered when I turned it over and read:
Charlotte Tierney, Associate Editor and Writer, Culture Spy Magazine.
The cold fingers of malaise danced along the back of my neck triggering a shudder. It couldn’t be true, had to be some sort of cosmic joke. Every word, every cold unfeeling sentence of the story of my sister’s descent from a failed starlet wannabe to a worn-out, over-exposed and drug-addled porn actress came rushing back. The article hadn’t been a long one, less than a page with side-by-side pictures from her acting portfolio to a still from one of her last adult flicks. The column’s author, Tiffany Greeley, a name I’d never forget nor its owner would I ever forgive, had implied Hollywood wasn’t for the weak of heart; it chewed up and spat out weak ingénues like a Darwinian predator.
And my beautiful, lovely Charli worked for this rag? What was she thinking? Renata was still alive when the “What Happened to Her” story ran. She’d seen it, had a copy of the loathsome rag lying on the floor next to her bed when I’d found her comatose and dying from the drug overdose. I would have sued Culture Spy’s asses except I knew I’d never win. A lawsuit would only drag Renata’s name through the mud. Again. All those cowardly yellow journalists—they were just as responsible for driving me out of Hollywood as the leeches that killed my sister.
Charli stirred and shifted. She sighed, but didn’t waken.
Her cell phone chimed, either an alarm or a call, I couldn’t tell.
Her eyes fluttered open and scanned the room. The corners of her mouth turned up when our gazes met. “Good morning. It’s time for us to get back to our terminal, isn’t it?” Charli, awake but groggy, sat up and rubbed her eyes. She reached for her cell phone on the nightstand, tapped and swiped the screen. “Henry’s texting me.”
“He’s my boss. Probably wants to know how my assignment is going, even though he said he wouldn’t call me until after New Year’s.” She rolled her eyes.
I had to ask. “What’s your assignment?”
She winked and said, “Just a fluff piece. He wanted me to try out this online line matchmaking service for lonely airport layovers called Meet-And-Go dot com. Heard of it?” She chuckled. “Looks like I have a really juicy story.”
My hands clenched into fists. What a waste of all Charli’s brains and abilities. “Why do you work at a place like Culture Spy? You could do so much better.”
She snapped her phone shut, slipped out of the bed, naked, and walked toward me. I stepped back, and she stopped advancing. The stupid parts of me pleaded I was about to make a colossal mistake.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, hands on her hips, completely unself-conscious.
“I don’t like rags like the Culture Spy,” was all I could force out.
“Clearly. What’s all the hating about though?” She tugged the decorative coverlet off the foot of the bed to drape around her body like a towel.
A leak broke through. “Magazines like that don’t care who they hurt in the interest of getting a story. They employ aggressive paparazzi to hunt down and chase my clients.” My jaw ached from gritting my teeth so hard.
Was she serious? I rolled my eyes. “Come on, Charli. I lived for years in Hollywood. That’s exactly what magazines like yours do. That’s exactly how they get their pictures.”
She crossed her arms at her chest. The muscles of her face tightened and her lips flattened. “We aren’t a Hollywood-centric magazine. We cover human interest stories, and yes, pop culture, but not just about movie and television stars. We don’t compete for those types of silly exposes.”
I crossed my arms too. We were at an impasse.
Please be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 14!