A humble heart, p.13
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       A Humble Heart, p.13

         Part #1 of Hollywood Hearts series by R. L. Mathewson
 

  “Hmm, going to play hard to get?” He gave her a half smile and stepped away from her. He opened the door and found Amy standing five feet away from the trailer, chewing on her nails.

  “Amy, is Dana free tonight?” he asked.

  She took out her palm pilot. “No, she has a book signing today.”

  “Oh, I forgot.” Dana winced. “What time?”

  “Oh, you have one hour before you have to be there and then you’re booked until ten tonight,” Amy said.

  Dana looked at Edward. “Sorry, I have to do this.”

  He shrugged. “It’s okay. I’ll pick you up at ten?”

  “Are you sure?” Dana asked, trying to suppress a smile.

  “Yes, I want to see you tonight.”

  “Actually, you can arrive at seven if you want. She needs a date to the dinner,” Amy said.

  “Perfect,” Edward said, smiling warmly at her.

  “Is this the open mic dinner?” Dana asked, hoping it wasn’t.

  “Yup, that would be the one,” Amy said, grinning wickedly.

  “What does that mean?” Edward asked. He was quite amused with Dana’s reaction. It was cute to see her pouting.

  “I have to stand in front of everyone and do a Q & A session,” she mumbled unhappily.

  “I’m definitely going then.”

  Rick walked over with Eleanor. “If you guys are all set, we need to start our meetings now.”

  Dana reluctantly nodded.

  “I have to go do a scene. I’ll see you later.” Edward pulled her into his arms and kissed her. When he pulled back he saw dozens of cameras pointed their way and nearly groaned.

  Just great.

  ********

  Dana followed Rick to a black stretch limo. Eleanor, Amy, and three men were already inside. One of the men was Eric, the head of Rascal Productions. He gave her a pleasant smile. “How are you, Dana?”

  “I’m fine, Eric, thank you. How are you?”

  “Good, actually better than good. I have a proposal for you. Well, several in fact,” Eric said.

  “Okay, I’m listening,” she said cautiously. After twenty phones calls from porn companies over the weekend describing in detail what they wanted her to do, she found herself a bit wary when someone uttered the word “proposal.”

  “Well, after talking to Amy we sent Hustler, Playboy and several other seedier magazines away. We would however appreciate it if you would consider doing a spread for Maxim magazine,” Eric said.

  Dana’s mouth dropped. “I’m sorry, what?”

  “Dana, it would be good for you. I’ve talked to them and they’ve agreed to keep it clean, a bathing suit is a must.

  They are going to go for the single mother who got her life back together angle. They’ve agreed to run the article by you before they put it to print. Anything you don’t want to talk about is off limits. They’ve offered a sizeable amount for this interview and pictures. I think it would be worth it if it inspired even one woman,” Amy explained in a professional tone.

  Dana studied the young woman for a long moment. Amy always went above and beyond the call of an assistant. She researched everything instead of merely taking a message and handing it to her. She was always on top of everything and knew the business inside and out.

  “Hmm, interesting. Amy?”

  “Yes?”

  “You’re fired,” Dana said.

  Amy’s face crumbled. Eleanor looked horrified and the men stared shocked. “You’re no longer my assistant. You’re my representative. Come up with a figure you find reasonable and give it to me later. You’re too good to stay an assistant, Amy. I want you to help handle these deals.

  Do you want the job?”

  Amy was practically jumping in her seat. Eleanor had to put her arm around her daughter to hold her down. “Yes, I’ll accept it.” She tried to sound casual, but failed. The men chuckled.

  “Good. What else should I know about this offer?” Dana asked.

  “It has a time limit on it,” Amy said after taking a deep breath to calm her nerves.

  “Do you think I should accept?”

  “Yes, I do,” Amy said without any hesitation.

  “Okay, let them know,” Dana said slowly. She felt nervous in an excited way. This was a new step. She looked at Eric. “What’s next?”

  He smiled. “Well, I talked to Amy about several possible roles for you. We would like you to try your hand at acting.”

  “I’ve never acted a day in my life,” Dana said uneasily.

  “Dana, I’ve looked over several of the scripts and I think I’ve found the perfect role for you. It’s an action-adventure romance. The story line is great. The plot revolves around a history professor who goes to do research in New York only to get caught up with an FBI agent after she witnesses a murder. I think it would be perfect for you.”

  “Who’s the male lead?” she asked nervously.

  “Lucas James,” Amy said.

  “He’s a good actor. I guess if I messed up he would be strong enough to help me,” she said more to herself than anyone.

  “It starts shooting in one week. They’re all set. I think it would be a good experience for you,” Amy said.

  Dana looked at Rick. “I’m almost done with my own book, and Edward and I are a little more than halfway done with our book.”

  “That’s fine. The deadline isn’t for four months. I think you should do it, Dana. It might be fun,” Rick said encouragingly.

  She looked at Eric who waited patiently. Her eyes went back to Amy. “I’ll try it.”

  “Good,” Eric said approvingly.

  “Send the contracts to my office for both agreements by the end of the day, gentlemen, so I can go over them,”

  Eleanor said, giving Dana a wink.

  “Here we are,” Rick said. “Let’s go, we have a long day ahead of us.” The door opened and Dana stepped out of the limo to see a long line of screaming people extending from the Barnes and Noble all the way down the street.

  Several officers walked up and down the line of people keeping them from running towards her. “It’s really going to be a long day,” she sighed.

  Amy and Rick walked her inside where she was greeted by the manager. She was set up at a table with a life-size cut out of her book cover. She sat down and prepared herself for the long day ahead.

  “I’m ready,” she said, taking a deep breath.

  A young woman was first in line. “I am such a huge fan!”

  “It’s very nice to meet you…,” she prompted.

  “Jen,” she said, pushing a book towards Dana. She opened it and addressed it to Jen and signed it.

  “Thank you so much! I just love you,” she said, stepping out of line so the next person could step up. Dana kept her smile pleasant and casual and greeted each person hour after hour until Amy stepped forward.

  “Ten more minutes and then we really have to go,” Amy said.

  An angry looking woman stepped up to the table. “I stood in line for two hours to tell you how much I hate your books! I cannot believe my son wasted his hard earned money on this filth!” She slammed several books on the table.

  “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the books, ma’am. Is there anything in particular you didn’t like about them?” Dana asked. She liked hearing what people liked about her books, but she found it more helpful when someone told her what they didn’t like.

  “Everything. It was filthy and ridiculous,” the woman said, not giving Dana anything she could work with. Dana counted the books and took two twenty dollar bills out of her pocket and handed them to the woman.

  “Here, I’m buying the books back from you.”

  “It’s the least you could do after wasting my time!” She snatched the money out of her hand and stormed out of the store.

  Several people in line yelled at her in defense of Dana.

  She told them it was okay and went back to signing the books as if nothing happened. She gave the books she just purchased
to several fans who asked for them.

  “We really have to go!” Rick said.

  Dana nodded. She finished signing the last book a half hour later. Amy and Rick dragged her back to the limousine and made her change into a black cocktail dress and high heels.

  “You don’t have any time to sit down and catch your breath. We are very late. When you get in there you need to start the question section of the evening,” Rick said.

  “Okay,” Dana mumbled. She so did not want to do this.

  Chapter 7

  Dana took a deep breath and willed herself not to pass out. She hated public speaking, but it was a necessary evil.

  If she didn’t do things like this she could kiss her publishing contract goodbye. Not to mention her fans. She stepped past the curtain with Rick holding her arm.

  She was met with a round of applause. Edward sat at one of the front tables, wearing a black suit with a black shirt. He gave her a lopsided smile and a wink, making her blush.

  “We would like to open the question portion of the night,” Rick announced and then backed up behind Dana, staying in case she ran into trouble or tried to run away, probably the latter.

  “Ms. Mathews?” a woman with curly black hair asked.

  “Please, call me Dana,” she said warmly.

  The woman smiled. “Dana, how many Christian and Bailey books can we expect?”

  “I haven’t really thought about that, but I will probably keep writing about them for as long as I can write an enjoyable story that doesn’t go stale.”

  “Thank you.”

  “Dana,” a man stood up next, “who, if anyone, inspired Christian?”

  Her eyes of their own accord darted to Edward and back to the man. “I based him on my ideal man,” she said, trying to keep it short and not give too much away. It was too embarrassing that she based him on a man she Googled every day for a year that she was now romantically involved with. What a weird world.

  “Hmm, I have a resource that says you based Christian on Edward Pierce.”

  She saw Edward straighten up and look at the man.

  This wasn’t the time to faint or freak out. She forced herself to relax. “I find that very interesting, sir. Considering I have never once mentioned any of my techniques or reasons behind the choices of my characters even to my own children. I am curious who your source is,” Dana said, giving the man an innocent smile.

  The man looked guilty and embarrassed. “I can’t reveal the name.”

  “Ah, I will tell you this. Edward Pierce is an ideal man, charming, romantic, sweet, handsome, kind and honest, so I can see why someone might make that leap that he inspired Christian. It’s not a far stretch.” Out of the corner of her eye she saw Edward give her a conspiratorial wink and had to stop herself from laughing.

  A man wearing a suit stood up next. “Is it true that you are romantically involved with Edward Pierce?”

  Rick stepped up to the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s please keep the questions about the books and respect Dana’s privacy,” he said cordially.

  A woman stood up wearing a press badge for Woman’s Universe Magazine. “Dana, the sex scenes, love scenes I guess is more appropriate term, are very detailed and explosive. Did you draw those scenes from your fantasies?”

  She was stunned into silence. Edward didn’t help by grinning hugely and wagging his eyebrows at her suggestively. “Ah, wow

  .the love scenes

  .hmmm, I think I’m going to have to leave that to the reader’s imagination.”

  Everyone chuckled. The woman looked disappointed as she sat down. She caught Edward’s expression. He looked equally disappointed that she hadn’t answered the question.

  Edward stood up next, cutting off several people. When they saw him they sat down quickly, eager to hear what he was going to ask. “Dana, would you say you build relationships in your books from experience or desire?” he asked. His eyes were alive with humor. He was being sneaky and he knew it.

  “That’s a very good question.” She bit her lower lip, trying to figure out how to answer this.

  “I was just wondering if you wrote anything in your book that you pulled from your own experience,” Edward said.

  Damn it. At least the female reporter asked the question in a way she could easily sidestep. Edward was really putting it out there. She was going to have to kick his ass later.

  Damn, he was devious. He was curious about the sex scenes and wanted to know if she would do anything she wrote about. Some of the scenes were pretty erotic and sensual. “I’m afraid the only answer I can give you is that I never write about anything I don’t have firsthand knowledge of,” she said instead of stepping around the answer like he expected, mostly to mess with him.

  He swallowed noticeably and had to stop himself from staggering back to his seat. He was a big fan of the Christian and Bailey series and moved onto her other books before he met her and was somewhat shocked at the detail involved in the love scenes. He was impressed with the passion and clear description she used. No woman could be that sexual and sensual. There was a lot she described and so many positions. Now as he sat down he was imagining her and him in every single one of them.

  The female reporter jumped up again. “Does that mean all of the relationships in the book are based on your past relationships?”

  “I have dated a variety of men before I was married.

  There were some really nice guys who turned out to be really good friends, and some that almost made me want to write off men completely,” she said, earning a few laughs.

  “But I will tell you these relationships were based on a mixture of my ideal man and experience. I would like to leave it at that.” The woman nodded and sat down.

  Dana answered questions for another hour before she was finally allowed to sit down. Rick walked with her to the table and sat next to her. Amy sat on the other side of Edward, who sat on her other side, working diligently with her palm pilot.

  Edward leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You did a great job.” He kissed her cheek before sitting back.

  She met his eyes. “And you are sneaky.”

  He laughed unapologetically. “That I am.”

  “Dana, Mom said she read over your contracts and they look good. The Maxim one will be ready to sign tomorrow at the shoot.”

  “It’s tomorrow?” she asked at the same time Edward asked “Maxim?”

  “Yes, you need to be on set by eight. They want you to wear something comfortable,” Amy said, ignoring Edward.

  “Okay, where’s the shoot?” Dana asked.

  “They’re sending a limo at seven-thirty to pick you up,”

  Amy said absently as she sent a text message.

  “Would someone please answer me? You’re doing a spread for Maxim?” Edward asked.

  “Yes,” she answered, taking a sip of her water.

  He filed away that answer for later. “Contracts, as in plural?”

  “Yes, she has been cast as the lead female lead in the movie Rogue,” Amy added.

  Edward shot her a stunned look. “You mean the movie I passed up to film the Christian and Bailey movie?”

  “Yup, that would be the one,” Amy said, not bothering to look up from composing another message.

  He looked back at Dana. “That movie has some pretty heavy sex scenes in it. There’s nudity.”

  Dana looked at Amy expectantly. Amy answered without looking up from her phone. “It will be fine. There’s no frontal nudity.”

  “Can I talk to you for a minute?” Edward asked. He pulled her to her feet before she could answer him and led her back on stage
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