Authors: Rhonda Laurel
Tags: #Interracial Romance
Table of Contents
Look for these titles from Rhonda Laurel
The Blake Boys
For the Love of the Game (Book One)
MVP (Book Two)
The Blake Legacy (Book Three)
Texas Heat (Book Four)
Love Notes and Football (Book Five)
The Perfect Storm (Book Six)
Slow Burn (Book Seven)
Cowboy’s Heart (Book Eight)
Tempting Fate (Book Nine)
Executive Desires (Book Ten)
Meet the Blakes (Book Eleven)
The Final Play (Book Twelve)
Stranded in Paradise (Book Thirteen)
Slap Shot (Book Fourteen)
Off Season (Book Fifteen)
Worth the Wait (Book Sixteen)
Star Crossed (Book One)
Hollywood Rush (Book Two)
Double Exposure (Book Three)
“Masquerade” Halloween Heat IV
The Rhonda Laurel Collection
“Masquerade” Halloween Heat MF
The Blake Boys Collection
The Blake Boys Collection II
The Blake Boys Collection III
Hollywood Heat Book Three
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in
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1643 Warwick Ave., #124
Warwick, RI 02889
Copyright © 2016 by Rhonda Laurel
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book
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First Etopia Press electronic publication: August 2016
To Kate and Chris, thanks for another fabulous adventure.
Kate Cavanaugh got out of bed, stretched, and walked over to the patio door. The soft hue of the morning sun filtering through the bedroom window felt good on her skin. The melodic sound of the waves crashing to shore sounded like the beginnings of a good song. It was hard to turn off her love for music. A good friend once told her
that music was all around them and the world was the soundtrack. It would be a crime to go to work on such a gorgeous day. She’d much rather spend the day at the beach surfing with Chris. Or even better, spending the day in bed channel-hopping. But alas, she wouldn’t be able to do any of those things.
Being the boss at a record label and a movie studio was proving to be taxing on her sanity,
but she’d been determined to make it work. The downside to all that ambition was not spending enough time with Chris. The minute she turned on her cell phone, the rhythmic ping of notification messages pierced the otherwise peaceful room. She found it funny now that she was running Pinnacle, more people were able to get their hands on her unlisted number.
She put the phone down and reached
for the television remote control to see if there was any coverage on her latest incendiary drama. She and Jack may have been able to make peace after their divorce, but his baby mama Brianna Sage was still on the warpath. She’d done an interview last week fueling claims that Kate had torpedoed her career as retaliation for Brianna being the other woman that broke up her first marriage. The actress
told everyone who would listen that people in the industry wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole in fear of repercussions from Kate. That once hot topic had been dead for months until Brianna decided to revive it to get sympathy for her ailing career. And to make matters worse, she also said that Jack making Chris and Kate godparents to Zoe was a part of the conspiracy to get rid of her.
She had her finger poised over the power button when Chris came up behind her and took the remote from her hand.
“You know the rule. No television in the morning.”
She winced. “I thought you were sleep. Did I wake you?”
“I was playing possum to see if you’d reach for the remote and you did.” He pulled her back toward the bed until they both tumbled into it.
“But I want
“If you’ve been vilified with more wild conjecture about Brianna?”
“Well, yeah.” She sighed.
“You didn’t do anything wrong. Whatever karma is going on with her, she deserves it in spades.” Chris kissed her neck.
“She needs to make a living. She has to take care of Zoe.”
“She has Jack as a new money siphon. That’s what she was after in the first place. A rich
director who could spearhead her career. Well, she got half of what she wanted. What time is it?”
“Time to get up and pretend to be respectable citizens. But I’d rather stay in bed with you.” She giggled when he slipped his hand beneath her pajama top and caressed her breast. “What’s on your agenda today?”
“I promised Jack I would drop by his office. How about you?”
with the financial planner in the morning, then off to work. Can you remember to ask Jack if he’s still having a birthday party for Zoe? If he isn’t, I thought maybe we could do something special here and maybe take her to Disneyland. We could make a weekend out of it.”
“Sounds great, but how much you want to bet Jack will want to tag along?”
She paused a moment, thinking. Then she
shook her head. “He’s probably too busy with his projects to go to an amusement park all day.”
“He’s never too busy to spend time with you.” He scratched at his beard. “Do you mind taking Scar with you today?”
“No.” Kate chuckled. “But she’s
“That woman makes Jack nervous.”
Chris laughed. “Jack and most of the people I know. How about
we get the day started with a shower?”
She caressed him. “I can’t think of a better way to start the day.”
Their bedroom door opened. It was Scar carrying a bowl of cereal.
“Good morning, Scar. We were just talking about you.” Kate shook her head. “We had a conversation about boundaries. Apparently I was the only one listening.”
“So Jack’s scared of me, huh?” She plopped
down on the bed next to Chris.
“He said you gave him the creeps,” Chris said.
“Please.” Scar crunched on her cereal. “If he’s so scared of me, why did he give me a small part in your next movie?”
“I think it was to avoid getting sued,” Kate quipped. The head stunt guy had been illustrating a fighting scene to Chris for the movie when Scar, who had been casing the set, happened
upon them when he was lunging at Chris. She subdued him in two moves.
She huffed. “Jack needs to vet his employees better. A real ex-Marine would have been able to get out of a choke hold before passing out.”
“Be that as it may, we’re going to give Chris a break today.”
“But we’re still on for training when you get back?”
“Yes, I already have the post-training ice packs
ready in the freezer." Chris crawled over Kate to get out of the bed, then kissed her on the nose.
Scar raised an eyebrow. “Chris, your morning wood is quite impressive.”
“No sock stuffers for me on the movie set. It’s the real deal.” Chris winked and went into the bathroom.
“You know, there was a time when all of this would have been super weird. Now it’s just another day in
my life.” Kate rubbed her eyes and groaned. “My moral code is going down the tubes.”
“There are stranger things than this going around in Hollywood,” Scar mumbled with a bunch of cereal in her mouth.
“So what are you going to do since you have the morning off?”
“I can hang out with you. What’s on your agenda?”
“You’d be bored.”
“You haven’t said what you’re doing.”
“OK. I have a meeting with Harvey Kurtz. I’ve been putting it off for months. I think I’ll finally have that sit down he’s been asking for about Marvin’s estate.”
“You know, Marvin’s estate is now your estate.”
“Don’t remind me.” She sighed. Every time she turned around she was learning something new about her deceased friend. Some good. Some not so good.
“I’ll go with you.”
“You can go on one condition. Promise me you won’t hurt anyone today.”
“Who would I hurt?”
“I don’t know. But if anyone can find a reason—” Kate headed over to the walk-in closet and sifted through her wardrobe. “Still no word from Billie?”
“No. She’s out of the country again.”
“Research.” Scar shrugged. “Did you see the news this morning? Pinnacle
is in the hot seat again. I’m surprised no one called you.”
“What happened?” Kate went over to her phone, scrolled through the notifications and groaned. Her assistant Virginia had called five times during the night.
“Power Play magazine says it’s publishing an expose on Pinnacle. They have an anonymous source that’s supposedly spilling all kinds of beans about you.”
“From what I gleaned from the news segment, they aren’t saying anything original.”
“Like what?” Kate swallowed hard. Speculation had been relentless about her ownership of Pinnacle and how she came into power so quickly.
“You’re unqualified and slept your way to ownership. Chris is a hack actor who’s riding your coat tails to his success. You and Chris are having some wicked three
ways with Chris’s friend Travis Barnes. Jack is using his relationship with you to get what he wants.”
Chris peeked in from the bathroom. “Same old news.” He had a towel wrapped around his waist and his toothbrush dangling from his mouth.
“And there’s the old favorite of you bartering favors to get Chris lead roles.”
“I wish. But alas I married someone with integrity.” Chris
winked at her and went back into the bathroom.
“OK.” Kate paced the floor. “So basically I’m an insecure nut bag who’s wielding the power one of the oldest and most lucrative movie studios on the planet to further the ambitions of two men?”
“Pretty much. Those were the highlights. The rest of the hints were entitled drivel and bellyaching about Raymond not being able to command as
he wants. I count at least five people I suspect as the source.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is much higher.”
“I can start taking a baseball bat to some executive knees to flush out the rat, but I’m guessing you’ll do something more civilized.”
Although the accusation that she was some manipulative mastermind that moved actors and actresses around like chess pieces
on a board hurt her feelings, Kate wasn’t surprised by it. Aside from stopping Raymond’s unilateral reign, not much had changed. The higher-ups that once green-lit projects with outrageous budgets but had nothing substantial to back up the expenses begrudgingly came to her for input on executive decisions because they had no choice. Money flowed too freely around the studio, and Raymond did nothing
to stop it. A few execs had resigned, but that was only because she’d countered with the threat to fire them ambiguously, leaving a cloud over the reason for getting canned. To get out from under a PR nightmare like that, they’d have to be pretty crafty to spin the story without taking a cheap shot at her. And in this town, spin was everything.
“Yes, they’ll be watching me carefully, and
I don’t want to give them any ammunition. So a non-violent, undercover approach would be best.”
“Discretion is my middle name.” Scar stood and headed for the door. “Athena is working on it. I’ll do some digging on my own.”
“Thanks.” Kate straightened the pillows on the bed. “I’ll be ready in an hour.”
Kate went over to the bedroom door and locked it. She looked up to see Chris
staring at her from the bathroom doorway.
“I know what you’re going to say.” She sighed.
He smiled. “You do?”
“You’re going to be really supportive and tell me to keep my head held high and that it will all blow over.”
“Wow. You really give me more credit than I deserve. I say go in there and give them hell. But after our shower.” He waggled his eyebrows.
“I got a
new loofah.” Kate disrobed and walked over to him.
It was going to be a rough morning, but she could start the day out right with her husband. A long, hot shower with Chris was just what she needed to face the day.
* * *
Kate checked her watch. She was early for her meeting with Harvey Kurtz, one of the owners of Kurtz & Markham Financial, the
firm that oversaw all of Marvin’s assets. The sudden death of her friend and neighbor had unleashed an amazing chain of events when his will revealed that he’d left her a sizable inheritance, which included control of Pinnacle Studios and other lucrative businesses and properties around California. That hadn’t sat too well with Henry, Marvin’s tortured, drug-addicted son, who thought he should
be entitled to his father’s estate, but fortunately she’d had Clara on her side. Clara was adamant that her husband’s wishes be fulfilled and had testified on Kate’s behalf when Henry tried to challenge the will in court.
In addition to Atlantis, the record label she co-owned with her friend John, she also inherited Blue Vinyl Records, one of the oldest, most prestigious companies in the
music business. The merging of the hot, up-and-coming Atlantis and legendary Blue Vinyl resulted in Atlantis Blue Records. It was a music powerhouse and she’d been thrilled about it but Tru Davies, the vice president wasn’t as enthusiastic. While Raymond publicly bated her and tried to undermine her at Pinnacle, Tru opted to go behind her back and rally support to buy her out.
for a meeting after all these months had perplexed her. She’d been dealing with his son Liam since Marvin’s funeral, and Liam had given her a concise overview of her assets. Harvey had been out of the country when Marvin died, so she’d never met him before. But now he was back and said he owed his biggest client a face to face. Something had changed, and she had a feeling she was about to find
out. The last thing she needed or wanted was more surprises, but it would be better to get in front of whatever new information this meeting would yield. As soon as the elevator doors opened, she spotted a woman in a pristine white suit waiting for her.
“Good morning, Mrs. Cavanaugh. I’m Melissa. Mr. Kurtz is waiting for you.” She smiled and ushered Kate down a corridor. She opened the door
for her, Kate stepped inside, and the woman closed the door behind her. There was a tall, older, dark-haired man dressed in a baby blue shirt and gray slacks with suspenders using a putter to hit golf balls into a coffee cup.
“Harvey Kurtz.” He put down the club and shook her hand. “I apologize that it’s taken me so long to get together with you. Your photos don’t do you justice. You’re
She laughed. “Thank you, Harvey. Now I know where your son Liam gets his silver tongue.”
Harvey pulled a chair out for her to sit. “I apologize for that too. My son has a crush on you. Would you like a drink?”
“Orange juice is fine.”
He went over the minibar in the office and poured her a glass, then took a seat in the chair behind his desk. “But still, Marvin
would have been appalled that I hadn’t talked to you sooner. I dropped the ball. It will never happen again.”
“Your firm has been diligent about keeping me in the loop.”
“Well, you are the
and our biggest client. As you know, your net worth adjusted upward after you acquired those shares for Pinnacle. Kudos, by the way, no one saw that coming. I think Raymond had a quiet breakdown
after that whole sordid business.”
“I’m sure he’ll bounce back.” She smiled.
He handed her a folio. “Marvin also had a few other…investments that have come to fruition, and we’ve reassessed your portfolio. Please take a look.”
“Sure.” Kate glanced over it, expecting to see the same old facts and figures. There were companies on the list she’d never seen before and some of them
were based in other countries. They also bumped up the total net worth significantly. “Any particular reason these companies weren’t mentioned before?”