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My Charming Rival (Stars In Their Eyes Duet)
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To do list: Graduate with honors, get into medical school, and snag the most-sought-after celebrity photo of all time to cover my tuition. One more thing — resist the hot British guy who’s my biggest rival.
But from the first day I run into William on his motorcycle, he makes that difficult, since he’s flirty, charming, clever and keeps trying to convince me to spend the night with him.
Trust me — stripping him down to nothing is on my wish list, but I can’t let him get under my skin as I chase cheating directors and stake out clandestine trysts. Yet everywhere I go, my most charming rival is there — is he following me, trying to woo me, or aiming to sabotage my plans?
When I’m offered a brand new ticket to my dreams, I have to decide if I want to team up with the sexiest enemy ever…
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Weather: 70 degrees, Sunny
He would be here any minute.
I was ready for him.
I wore my dark blue skinny jeans, a gray V-neck T-shirt, navy-blue lace-up sneakers, and a pair of cheap black plastic sunglasses I’d picked up from the dollar store on Wilshire. My mission was to blend in, so I was mascaraed and lip glossed, but no more than that since I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. In short, I was everything a good twenty-one-year-old paparazzo should be, and I was scoping out a playground shot to show that stars are just like us.
This was an easy assignment and the pay would reflect it as well as the company. Plenty of us got the every-Monday-alert, and the park was teeming with shooters. Nearby was the soul-patched and jaded former wire photographer who moved on to playground and shopping shots when news services stopped paying well, and the big, bearded, leather-jacketed guy who worked for the foreign tabloids.
Parked on a bench with my chem homework open, I whipped through formulas, glancing up every few seconds to see if Range Treadman had arrived. He was due any minute. He was clockwork. He was the cog that kept the trains running on time, and every Monday afternoon at three fifteen he arrived at this playground with his two kids. The pride of Australia, Range was a top-notch, triple-threat, singing, dancing, and acting star of stage and screen who’d headlined a big superhero flick a few years back, and aspired to live a life scandal-free and be known only as a family man. Which is why I wasn’t the only paparazzo here. I’d high-tailed it straight out of advanced chemistry class the second the bell rang, having scheduled my senior year pre-med classes precisely so I could make my regular star stakeouts.
My bank account was a hungry thing. It needed to be fed regularly, and photos were its primary food source.
Twenty seconds later, Range arrived in his red, fully electric car with tinted windows. The guy who snapped shots for the Australian papers moved quickly, snagging the first picture of the superstar unbuckling his precocious three-year-old son from the car seat. Next came Range’s seven-year-old, and she wore a cherry-red beret with a pair of dove-gray capris. I grabbed a quick picture of the girl, but I didn’t need that shot for my boss. I needed it for my best friend and roomie, who could use it for her Burn Book.
Range reached for his daughter’s hand, then laughed with his mouth wide open and perfect straight white teeth showing. Give credit where credit’s due—that man knew how to work the cameras he pretended he didn’t see. I clicked more as Range and his little girl ran the final few feet to the jungle gym in a kind of deliberate slow motion that ensured his well-muscled arms could be seen in any shots of the doting dad and young daughter. No wonder half the female population in the United States over twenty-five had a crush on the hunky actor.
Range’s little boy had already gone up and down the slide, and now helped himself to a swing. As if it had been scripted, the megastar put his big hands on the chains of the swing and began to push his young son. Range leaned his head back, straightened up his spine to make sure the full breadth of his gym-sculpted pecs from beneath his sky-blue T-shirt could be made out from even the most distant lenses, and flashed another bright and posed smile.
Another click. Another shot. Another afternoon at the playground.
I placed my top-of-the line Canon inside my backpack, hopped on my black scooter, and snapped on my helmet. I headed to my boss’s office to show him the afternoon take. The whole lot of them would net me maybe a hundred bucks. But that was a hundred bucks I didn’t have before, and medical school wasn’t even close to free.
Twenty minutes later, I pulled over to the curb in front of a one-story office building, rolling past a scratched-up silver motorcycle that looked like it had seen its share of years. I bumped my scooter up on the sidewalk, jamming it into bike parking, then slid a thick and heavy lock through the tire and the pole and headed to J.P.’s office at the far end of the building. A trip to his office translated into cash, and cash fed those ravenous bills on my kitchen table.
I stopped near his door when I heard a voice I didn’t recognize.
But one I instantly responded to. Delicious and British. The twin combination sent a zing down my spine.
“Right. I should be able to get you something, no problem.”
Damn accents. They nearly obliterated all my finely-tuned control. And I was the kind of gal who liked being in control. All. The. Time.