COULD THIS BE LOVE? Excerpt

Could This Be Love small

Back Cover Blurb:

Everyone in Climax, North Carolina, knows the Cates brothers. But Sijan Cates is famous far beyond his quaint hometown–and when he comes back, he brings trouble with him…

Avery Danford urgently needs to get back in touch with her estranged family. If only she could get her picture in the papers, maybe they’d track her down…and what better way to accomplish that than to squeeze into the world’s tightest dress and cozy up to the world’s hottest actor, Sijan Cates? It’s a crazy idea, but it just might work. And though the former actress has sworn off Hollywood hunks, she’s got to admit this desperate measure might be a pleasure…

Scandal-plagued Sijan has come home for some peace and quiet–and to stay out of the tabloids. Then a woman claiming to be his number-one fan plants a hot kiss on him–in front of a pack of paparazzi. There’s only one way to protect his reputation: tell the world they’re engaged. It’s all just a show, as they use each other to get what they need. But in this sleepy Southern town, love stories have a way of coming true…

 

Excerpt: 

Avery had to admit, from the moment she saw him in the flesh: Sijan Cates was one very hot man. And having spent a few years acting in Hollywood, she’d been up close to some very fine male specimens. She was surprised to admit she couldn’t pull her gaze away from his tall, muscled body, strong jaw, and bad-boy smile, complete with slashing dimples. Something in his smile swirled heat low in her belly. Her breath snagged when his silver gray eyes flashed over the crowd.

She ripped her gaze away to the almost carbon copy standing next to him. That had to be his brother, although his eyes were a different color. She’d never seen anyone actually look dangerous. Until Carbon Copy. Together, these men gave off enough pheromones and testosterone to alter the DNA of everyone around them.

And looking around, there were plenty of women anxious to let them alter anything they wanted to. Cripes, she had forgotten what this was like.

“Not used to seeing it from the other side, are you?” Pia said. “Exciting, huh?”

“That’s one word for it. So, just to be clear, I’m in love with the guy on the right, yes? Not the edgy one?”

“Yes. The edgy one is one of his four brothers,” Pia said. “Not the cop. You talked to him when we were scoping the town out yesterday. I’m not sure which one, but I’ll happily research that if you need me to. I mean a ‘true’ fan would probably know, right?”

“Pia, one photo, that’s all I need. We don’t need to turn this into a method acting session. It’s bad enough you made me put on these clothes. Has anyone ever told you you’d make a very good pimp?” Avery said without taking her focus off Sijan Cates. She was looking for her best entrance, kind of like finding the best place to jump into a double-dutch jump rope game.

“Hey, you needed to look like a true groupie. And the extra cleavage is to help you get the photographer’s attention, so stop complaining.” Pia looked Avery over. “People always underestimate what we wardrobe people can do. Not everyone can pull off a Marilyn Monroe–meets–Daisy Duke look. You’ve got a very nice ‘I’m hot and willing to put out’ vibe going on.”

“Yeah, I probably just single-handedly set the feminist movement back ten years.” In Hollywood, beauty was a commodity. Avery treated hers like a weapon in her arsenal that she usually just ignored. Today, though, she used it to her tactical advantage.

“They’re walking this way. I’ve got my Sharpie and—darn, I forgot something for his autograph. Quick, peek through my purse and grab out a piece of paper.” Avery stayed cool and focused while Sijan worked his way down the line of screaming female fans, signing autographs and avoiding hands like a pro.

“Here.” Pia shoved a paper in her hand.

Avery glanced down, checking both sides of the paper. “Ack! No, that’s the annual company expense report for our accountant. Never mind, I’m up.”

While she might agree with Pia that this could end up in a train wreck, Avery still had to try. Matching wits and acting skills with movie star Sijan Cates? Dangerous. Watching Tansy waste away before her eyes? Heartbreaking. She’d take danger over heartbreak any day.

Sijan kept the smile on his face as he worked his way down the long line of screaming fans. And at this point in his career, it was work. He didn’t mind the autographs, but the hands that shoved phone numbers, love notes, hotel room keys, and panties anywhere they would fit on his person got old years ago. The hands that reached out to grab him were worse, feeling like a true invasion of his privacy.

These weren’t Climax locals, that was for sure. He didn’t recognize these women, and Climax was one of those small towns where everyone knew everybody. It was a sure bet Jerry had released his location to a radio station in nearby Greensboro or Raleigh to flush him back out to L.A. Fine. He’d meet and greet with his fans, let the paparazzi take their pictures, and then head to his parents’ house or his farm, where he could relax with friends and family. He and Jerry might be stuck in a Mexican standoff, but he sure as heck would enjoy his end of it.

“Holy Christ,” Tynan said from beside him.

“Yeah, you get used to it. Just part of the job,” Sijan said, moving on to the next teenage girl and her mother in line.

“No,” Tynan said, shaking his head and nudging Sijan’s attention further up the line. “Yeah, there. You do not get used to that.”

“Sweet Baby Jesus.” Sijan stopped moving, his attention frozen, so that Tynan, also staring up ahead, ran into him.

Sijan and Tynan looked at each other and said, “The hot blonde.”

Yesterday the Climax Grapevine had been on fire about a “hot blonde” seen talking to his brother Quinn. Looking at her, it was no wonder Delaney, Sijan’s future sister-in-law, had been knocked for a loop. Hell, he was around beautiful women all the time and he was knocked for a loop.

“I’m not getting enough blood to my brain,” Tynan said. “If you know what I mean.”

“She’s still a groupie,” Sijan reminded both of them.

“That does not seem to bother me one iota,” Tynan said.

“Yeah, me neither. Thank God she’s my groupie.”

Sometimes when you saw something up close, it never looked as good as it did far away. That sure wasn’t the case with the hot blonde. Christ, she was striking. White-blond hair almost the color of the petal of a white dogwood tree. Streaks of moonbeams and sunshine shot through so casually, it was either the world’s best dye job or her natural color.

As if reading his mind, Tynan said, “I volunteer to find out. I will take that bullet for you.”

“No, thanks.”

As far as groupies go, she was different. Instead of acting like she had the right to touch him, she stuck out a slender hand for a very polite handshake. He looked down into her Elizabeth Taylor lavender eyes and swore she gazed up at him with . . . whoa, what was that?

“May I have your autograph, Mr. Cates?” The hot blonde regarded him like he was a god. Something about her drew him closer toward her pink lips, which released a siren song of a voice.

“Sure,” Sijan said. “Do you have a photo or a piece of paper you want me to sign?”

“I’m trying to save the trees. Would you mind signing me instead?” A grimace flashed across her face, but it was quick and replaced so fast with an expression of adoration that he figured he must be mistaken. The hot blonde lifted her already short skirt up, exposing her lightly tanned and very sexy thigh.

Sijan normally had a policy against signing body parts, but for the life him he couldn’t remember why. He thought he heard the woman next to her choke down a laugh, but when he pulled his attention away from the blond goddess, the friend with spikey magenta hair silently mouthed, “I love you,” then turned to his brother and blew an air kiss. What? Something suddenly felt off. But when he focused on the blonde he couldn’t gather his thoughts enough to figure it out.

“It’s okay. I’m sure it’s beneath your dignity to take part in the dehumanization of women. I respect you for that,” she breathed in her sexy voice.

She dropped her skirt back down and leaned in close to his lips. Her warm skin and sultry voice drew him in. Then, in the next second, she whipped her head to face the cameras as the paparazzi snapped away at her wide, perfect smile just as other fans closed in. That snapped him right back to reality. She was just another starlet out to get famous. He was just another opportunity.

 

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