Everyone has secrets, but what do you do when those secrets could destroy you?
April Pope isn’t looking for love. She can’t afford to. Not when falling in love has the potential to destroy everything she’s worked so hard to protect. Instead, she hides herself away in the small town of Peters Junction, living in obscurity where the rest of the world won’t look for her. When an opportunity too good to pass up puts her directly in the path of Lachlan Kennedy, Australia’s very own Hollywood heartthrob and the one person who has the potential to expose her to the rest of Australia, April must fight to maintain her anonymity.
Lachlan Kennedy has no trouble attracting women. Between his celebrity and his money, he may as well have a big fat ‘catch me if you can’ sign painted on his backside, but he’s been burned before and isn’t looking to repeat his mistakes. Despite his relationship phobia he’s intrigued by the woman who doesn’t want to be seen in public with him and who would prefer to hide in her little town than be with him. The more time he spends with her, the more her need for privacy threatens to ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to either one of them. Breaking down her walls to discover her secrets won’t be easy, but some things are worth fighting for…
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This was my first novel and it was rattling around in my head for months before I actually got around to writing it. The story itself was simply a "what if" thought I had one day after watching a 'missing persons' show on TV. Some of these people were choosing to go missing and it got me thinking: what if you wanted to stay hidden but then you fell in love with someone who was instantly recognisable?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The hero of my story is basically a morphing of every famous Australian actor alive today. There isn't anyone specific used to make him, but rather he has the most appealing traits (at least in my mind) of a number of different people. I wanted Lachlan to be the quintessential hero, but also someone who's a bit jaded by his wealth and celebrity. He wants to live a normal life and he doesn't like it when his choice of profession gets in the way of him just being a person.
My heroine on the other hand was purely from my imagination. She needed to be strong, resilient and capable, but most important, she needed to have strong protective instincts and she needed to be able to love very deeply in order to make the sacrifices she does. Of course, someone like that also needs to have a few flaws because nobody can be all that and not suffer some consequences. In April's case, she is so self-reliant that she finds it hard to open up, and she bottles up all her feelings and emotions. This makes it hard to fall in love and even harder to believe someone else can love her.
Lachlan opened his eyes as daylight poured into the room. He began to stretch all the aches out of his limbs—wondering why he was asleep sitting up on a couch—when he registered a weight on his leg and halted his movements. Lying with her cheek against his thigh, her wavy chestnut hair sprawled across his lap, was the most striking woman he’d ever seen. She’d fallen asleep while they were watching a late movie and he hadn’t wanted to wake her. Now, watching her, his jeans began to tighten uncomfortably and he cursed the invention of the modern day torture device known as a zipper.
He’d spent most of the previous evening lounging in a booth at Trend, wearing a carefully cultivated expression of part frown, part boredom, and teamed it with his practiced pose of silent brooding. He had it down to an art form designed to deter random people—mostly women—from approaching him simply because he was Lachlan Kennedy, movie star.
He still wasn’t sure why he’d bothered to go to the club. He had no desire to be fawned over as if he was royalty and he sure as hell wasn’t looking to hook up.
Women were trouble. From the moment his breakup with Samantha became public, a catch-me-if-you-can sticker that only woman seemed to be able to see had mysteriously appeared on his backside. And yet, all they ever wanted from him was his fame and fortune, and he felt like a deer trying to evade a pack of wolves. Frankly, he was tired of trying to find something that went beyond all that crap.
Except maybe he already had. Looking down at April, he couldn’t help but smile. She’d certainly been a surprise.
When he’d first seen April the night before, he’d been curious about her. She’d been sitting in the back corner of Trend with two other women and while he didn’t know the older woman, he’d recognised Abigale Huxley, an assistant producer for Landslide Productions. She’d been swooning over some reality TV lifeguard and at the time, he’d wondered what April was doing with Abigale—they were clearly opposites in every way.
Abigale was extroverted and loud and trashy, while the woman sitting beside her was soft and elegant and understated. Even from a distance he could tell she was uncomfortable just being in the club. The way she shrank in her seat, flinching every time the base pounded a loud beat, her eyes dancing around from place to place with a mild expression of panic. As different as day and night, or French Champagne and bathtub gin, the two of them just didn’t fit together. But now that he knew April was A.D. Pope, he understood the connection—they were working a movie deal.
A.D. Pope. He still couldn’t quite get his head around the fact that the woman lying with her head in his lap, her mouth mere inches away from his crotch, was, in fact, the elusive author he’d admired for the past decade. Freaking mindtrip.
He’d read her first book during the summer holidays after he’d finished high school. It had been a Christmas present from his Mum who knew he was keen on fantasy fiction and he hadn’t been able to put it down. Since then he’d pre-ordered every book written by A.D. Pope as soon as it became available and he’d re-read each of them so often he could almost recite the words verbatim. He’d even managed to persuade Michael McCauley—a director he’d worked with previously—to take a serious look at making the Green Man into a movie trilogy and now, finally, he’d met the creator.
And she was nothing like he’d expected. She was young—so much younger than he would have guessed—and beautiful and intelligent and easy to talk to. And yet, despite her obvious success, she’d seemed completely out of place at Trend and was so shy you’d think she’d never received a compliment in her life. Surely an internationally best-selling author would be used to accolades and praise and living the high life, but April had been a fish out of water.
A grin tugged at the corner of his lips as he remembered the way she’d pulled out her little book and scribbled a few notes. It was the most unexpected turn of events he could have imagined. He’d already been captivated by her beautiful, thick mane of hair and her quiet mannerisms that were so out of place in the club, but that hadn’t been enough to make him do more than admire her from afar. If not for her intriguing behaviour and his curiosity to know what she was doing, he never would have approached her.
Now he was in her room—fully clothed—with her head lying on his lap and a thin stream of drool creating a wet patch on his jeans beneath her mouth. He smiled, anticipating her blush when she woke up and realised. He let his eyes linger on her sleeping face, drawn to the delicate softness of her lips. Kissable, he thought. He was tired of looking at collagen injected pouts and it usually took all of his acting ability to bring himself to kiss some of the women in his movies. He didn’t think he’d have that trouble with April, not with those luscious lips.
She looked peaceful with her dark lashes resting on her cheek, they weren’t very long but they were so thick they framed her meadow green eyes like natural eyeliner. He smiled as he remembered the way she’d looked at him the night before, her eyes sparkling brightly as if she knew all his secrets. When he’d fed her the cake in the coffee shop, right before Craig showed up, she’d met his gaze with those eyes and had delved straight past the surface to read the inner depths of his soul. He’d felt as if she’d physically reached out and held his face still, forcing him to look at her and he’d willingly obeyed.
But what surprised him most about April was how genuine she seemed. Usually when he spoke to women—and many men too—they wanted him to give a full rundown of his lifestyle and his movies, but April was different. She didn’t want to talk about any of that stuff. Instead she’d asked him about his family and his interests, what books he’d read, what music he listened to, what he did when he wasn’t working. A goofy smile spread across his face. Considering he hadn’t even kissed her yet, he’d had a really great night.
ACDC suddenly began blaring from his pocket and April’s green eyes snapped open. Her gaze focused on him and she quickly sat up, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand in the process. She stared down at the wet patch on his jeans and the way her cheeks filled with a pretty pink did crazy things to his insides. He grinned at the sight despite suffering through a renewed attack of the killer zipper. God she was stunning. Even with her hair rumpled and creases across her cheek from the seams of his jeans, she was stunning.
“Morning,” he said.
She smiled beautifully and gestured to his pocket. “Aren’t you going to answer that?”
Reluctantly Lachlan withdrew his phone and answered.
“Lachlan,” Anthony, his agent, greeted jovially. “I’ve done it, I got you a meeting with the producers of the Green Man movies. They want to see you. Today.” Lachlan glanced at April. She was staring intently at his phone and he inwardly cursed Anthony’s loud voice that carried clearly across to her.
“Uh, that’s great but I was under the impression that the author hadn’t even signed the rights over yet.” April met his eyes and shook her head in affirmation.
“Apparently that’s just a formality,” Anthony continued undeterred. Without thinking about his actions, Lachlan had pressed the speaker button on his phone so April wouldn’t have to struggle to hear both sides of the conversation. She shot him a quick smile of appreciation. “They seem to think that having you on board would help seal the deal. They want you in the room when he signs the contracts.”
“You mean they want to use me as a distraction so they can get a better deal.” Lachlan continued to focus on April but he couldn’t read her expression.
“Don’t be so noble, you know how these things work. Besides all I’ve heard for the last five years is how you want in on this project if it comes up, and I should keep my ears open for any rumours and now you’re finally getting what you want. Just think, in a few hours you could be meeting this mysterious A.D. Pope. It’s everything you wanted.”
It was Lachlan’s turn to flush red, and he cleared his throat self-consciously. “What time?”
“The meeting with Pope is at two but they want to nut things out with you beforehand so you should get there at one. I’ll text you the address and I’ve sent the proposal to your email. Look it over before you go.” Anthony ended the call.
Time stretched as Lachlan stared at April, not sure what to say. Eventually she broke the silence.
“When I get there, don’t let on that we’ve met.” Lachlan’s jaw dropped.
“What?” she continued defensively, crossing her arm in front of her. “If they think they can play me, fine, let them think that. I will not be taken advantage of and I sure as hell won’t sell the rights to my books for any less than I think they’re worth. Nor will I give them free reign with my story.”
Lachlan reached out and gripped her hands. “Hey, I agree. I guess I just wasn’t expecting such a calculated reaction. You’d fit in perfectly around here with a mind like that.”
April snatched her hands back and a wounded expression clouded her eyes. “You think I’m calculating?” Her voice cracked on the last word.
“I didn’t mean it that way.” Lachlan mentally slapped himself for his stupidity. “I just meant that that is exactly the attitude you should take when dealing with these people. They’re ruthless and they will do anything, pull out all the stops, to get you to dance to their tune. You need to stand up for yourself. Besides, you said exactly what I was going to say. My advice would’ve been to pretend we hadn’t met last night and pretend to be angry that they began signing on actors before they’d even got the movie rights.”
“I am angry about that. I don’t need to pretend.” God she was gorgeous when she was flustered.
“Good. Use it to your advantage.” Lachlan paused, not really wanting to ask the next question but feeling like he had no choice. “Do you want me to turn them down?”
“What?” Her eyes snapped to his but her expression was guarded.
“Well, you said last night you didn’t like being used and I don’t want you to think that all this,” he gestured between them and the couch, “was about me getting a part in a movie.”
“Lachlan, that’s absurd. You’ve known me less than twelve hours and you’re asking me to decide whether or not you should say yes to such a huge opportunity. The budget being thrown around for this movie is massive, which means a big payday for you. You can’t put that kind of pressure on me.” She stood up and crossed the room, standing in front of the large window with a view over the Opera House. The producers had pulled out all the stops to woo her—a sub-penthouse suite with a view of Sydney Harbour didn’t come cheap.
“Besides,” she continued, “you told me within minutes of meeting me that this is what you wanted. What’s changed in the last twelve hours?”
“Nothing.” The reply was immediate, but he knew it for a lie the moment he said it.
Twelve hours. They had only known each other for twelve hours, but it felt like so much longer than that. Twelve hours ago all he wanted was the lead in the Green Man Trilogy. If anyone had asked him then what it would take for him to turn down the role, he would have answered with an emphatic “nothing”, but here he was, less than twelve hours later asking April if she’d prefer him not to accept the role. And he’d meant it. If she asked him not to take it, he wouldn’t. The air closed in around him and it suddenly became difficult to breathe. He felt a strong urge to leave and return to his own suite, two floors below.
“Good,” April replied, oblivious to his thoughts. “Then read the proposal and make up your own mind. Leave me out of it.” The morning light glowed around her and Lachlan drank in the view of her silhouette, framed by morning sunbeams. The cast of her narrow waist sandwiched between a round bottom and ample breasts reawakened his earlier arousal and he shifted uncomfortably on the couch. Standing up, he adjusted his jeans and walked over to her, determined to make a quick exit.
“So, what do you plan on doing for the rest of the morning?” He found himself asking instead.
A relieved smile curled her lips at the change of topic, and he caught his breath in his throat. “Well,” she said, then bit her lower lip as a flush crept up her neck, “how about I order up breakfast? Then, while I take a shower, you can check your email on my laptop and read your proposal.”
“Sounds great.” His voice came out rough as all thoughts of leaving were banished by an image of her in the shower. He raised his hand to her waist and gently drew her closer. She came willingly and he marvelled at how easily she fit against him. With his other hand he brushed a lock of hair from her cheek, raising her chin so she met his eyes. Then slowly, giving her plenty of time to pull away, he lowered his mouth over hers.
It was brief. He merely brushed his lips across hers, a subtle introduction, but the sparks generated rippled their way right through his body. Not even Samantha had had that effect on him.
He stepped back before he could give in to the urge to devour her lips. If there was one vibe he’d picked up about April that he was absolutely sure of, it was that she wouldn’t appreciate being steamrolled. Besides, he didn’t want to rush her—he was enjoying himself too much.
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