Dreaming Of Your Love (Hollywood Legends #3)

BOOK: Dreaming Of Your Love (Hollywood Legends #3)
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DREAMING OF YOUR LOVE

 

 

HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS

BOOK THREE

 

 

MARY J. WILLIAMS

 

 

Copyright © 2016 MARY J. WILLIAMS

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

Writing isn’t easy. But I love every second. A blank screen isn’t
the enemy. It is the opportunity to create new friends and take them on amazing
adventures and life-changing journeys. I feel blessed to spend my days weaving
tales that are unique—because I made them.

Billionaires. Songwriters. Artists. Actors. Directors.
Stuntmen. Football players. They fill the pages and become dear friends I hope
you will want to revisit again and again.

Thank you for jumping into my books and coming along for the
journey.

 

MORE BOOKS BY MARY J. WILLIAMS

 

 

Harper Falls Series

If I Loved You

If Tomorrow Never Comes

If You Only Knew

If I Had You (Christmas in Harper Falls)

 

Hollywood Legends Series

Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Dreaming with My Eyes Wide Open

Dreaming Again (Coming in July)

 

One Pass Away Series

After the Rain

After All These Years

After the Fire (Coming in June)

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

LIGHTS FLASHED FROM every direction. It blinded and dazzled all
at once.

Screams
drowned out every other sound. This was Los Angeles. Busy streets in every
direction. Jet patterns overhead. The excited—in some cases rabid—fans that
surrounded the roped-off red carpet made it seem like nothing existed but them
and the bright lights.

It
shouldn’t have been a pleasant experience. Alighting from the over-the-top
luxury of a Rolls Royce into chaos and mayhem? No normal human being would
willingly seek out such an experience.

However,
Colton Landis was not a normal human being. He was an actor.

Colt
turned his world-famous megawatt smile on the crowd, eliciting another deafening
burst of heartfelt screams.

“We
need to get inside, Colt. The movie starts in ten minutes.”

“Relax,
Deb.”

Colt’s
publicist had been with him for five years. Deb Kline knew how to spin a press
release like nobody else. They saw eye to eye on most things. Except how much
he should expose himself to his fans. If she had her way, he would zip from
point A to point B as quickly as humanly possible.

In
this case, point A was the limo, and point B was Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

“I’ll
relax when you are safely inside. Have you forgotten Dallas already?”

“Dallas
was an anomaly.”

Colt
continued to wave and smile. Deb wanted him to curb his accessibility. She had
always been cautious, but after a fan somehow breached security during a press
conference to announce his next movie, she was particularly leery of events
like this one.

“Colt.”

“Don’t
go over there, Colt.”

Deb
knew the second Colt observed the waving autograph books, her words fell on
deaf ears. He believed in giving his fans what they wanted. It was one of the
things that made Colton Landis a huge movie star. He genuinely loved his fans.
He loved meeting them, speaking with them, having his picture taken with them.
Most of her clients searched for any reason to avoid these moments. Not Colt.
He didn’t have a public persona and a private one. What you saw was what you
got—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Colt
made her job as a publicist a dream. Keeping him safe was a nightmare.

He
refused to have a bodyguard. Part of it was ego—and he had plenty of that. Many
of his parts portrayed him as a big, macho, tough guy. How would it look if he
had a bigger, more macho, tough guy constantly shadowing him? Not great for his
reputation. He would look weak. And in Hollywood, perception was everything.

It
was a valid argument. Not so valid? Colt believed that, for the most part, his
fans were harmless. Not that he was a naïve Pollyanna. There was no need for
Deb to point out the entertainment world’s tragic examples of the heinous acts
obsessive fans could commit.

Colt
lived the life. He grew up watching his superstar mother traverse that fine
line between making herself accessible to fans and maintaining some much-needed
privacy.

However,
he didn’t have a family to consider. No wife. No children. His life was his
own. A bodyguard would mean he was giving in. Turning his life over to fear
instead of embracing every single moment of his fairytale existence.

“Ten
minutes.”

Deb
didn’t know if Colt heard her over the screams. Nor did she care. She was
getting him into that theater if it meant grabbing his ear and dragging him
along like an errant five-year-old. And wouldn’t that make a great picture in
People
magazine? Okay. No ears.
Ugh. This man was going to make her old before her
time.

Colt
held a woman’s phone at arm’s length, including himself in a selfie of her and
her three friends.

“I
love you, Colton.”

Colt
couldn’t single out the speaker. The cry came from every direction. He waved
and called out, “I love you, too.”

He
signed a few more autographs, moving along the line. Deb was right. He needed
to get inside. It wasn’t fair to keep everyone waiting. Ten more, he promised
himself. It killed him to see the expressions on the faces of the fans who were
left out.

“Thanks.
See you soon,” Colt called out to the crowd.

Handing
her signed book to a dreamy-eyed woman, Colt gave the crowd a final wave.

“Ready?”
Deb tried to maintain the
stern teacher
expression she had spent twenty
years cultivating.

Colt
had a way of making her professional mask slip. Thank goodness she was old
enough to be his youngish grandmother. While his charm was undeniable, her age
and experience allowed her to put the sexual pull that radiated around him into
perspective.

Until
he turned his smile on her. Full blast.

“Am
I that big of a pain in the ass?”

There
it was. That naughty twinkle in his deep blue eyes that made the world swoon.
On screen, it was irresistible. Paired with dark hair and a tall, muscular
frame, was it any wonder the camera loved him?

Reluctantly,
Deb returned his smile.

Colt
was her client. He was also her friend. She knew he wasn’t trying to be
difficult. He was being himself. For a man who was adored by millions, catered
to on a daily basis, and could buy and sell two or three third-world nations
without raising a sweat, Colton Landis was surprisingly down to Earth. And hard-headed.
And opinionated.

On
top of that? On occasions such as this one, a major pain in the ass.

Still,
if she were honest, there wasn’t a single thing about him that she would
change. As movie stars went—hell, as human beings went—Colton Landis was a joy
to be around. Not that she would ever tell him that. The last thing he needed
was another person extolling his endless virtues. Colt hated that kind of
treatment. One of the reasons they worked so well together was because Deb didn’t
kowtow.

Deb
was about to hit him with one of the nifty sarcastic one-liners he loved, when
a scream came from the crowd. Not a
we love you
cry, but one of terror.
Before she could react, Deb saw a man jump over the velvet rope. He carried a
knife.

Colt
pushed her to the side, effectively putting himself between her and the attacker.
He isn’t after me
, Deb wanted to protest. But everything happened so
fast, she didn’t have time.

In
the blink of an eye, the man raised the knife and stabbed Colt.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

THE GLAMOUR OF Hollywood was a tissue-thin façade rolled out
for red carpet movie premieres and award ceremonies. Anyone hoping to find
Oscar night glitz would have their dreams dashed by a fast dose of reality.

Hollywood
was built on sweat, backbiting, betrayal, and ruthlessness. The founders didn’t
care about talent or dreams. Getting ahead took more than a pretty face. It
took ambition and a hell of a lot of luck.

Staying
ahead was another game altogether. This town loved a winner. Until that winner
had two or three box office duds. It was amazing how quickly people lost your
phone number and forgot your name.

It
was brutal and not for the faint of heart.

Colton
Landis stood on the street outside Landis Productions, taking in the noise and
the smog. He took a deep breath. This was Hollywood. The
real
Hollywood.
Nothing got done—not a frame of film rolled through the camera—without money.
The more, the better.

And
no one was better at extracting large sums from reluctant investors than his
brother Wyatt—not even their father. He took everything Caleb Landis taught him
and added his spin. The result? The toughest deal makers in Hollywood sported
the same last name.

“Excuse
me. Aren’t you Colton Landis?”

So
much for traveling incognito
.
Colt left his home this morning wanting a bit of rare anonymity. Sunglasses. An
old cap sporting the logo of an obscure Midwest Minor League baseball team
pulled low to shadow his famous face. Rarely was he recognized in this part of
town. Still, some minor camouflage never hurt.

As
it turned out, he shouldn’t have bothered.

With
an inward sigh, Colt smiled at the fifty-something woman and her friend.
Graciously, he signed their tourist brochures and posed for a few pictures.

He
didn’t mind. Not really. He loved his fans. So what if this was one of those
blue moon days when he wanted to be Joe Smith—everyman. The ladies didn’t know
that. They were sweet and a little giddy. By the time he was finished making
their day, they had made his.

“Good
morning, Colt.”

“How
are you?”

“Good.”

Colt
was never certain what to make of Wyatt’s assistant. Derrick ran his brother’s
office with the brutal efficiency of a staff sergeant—wearing Italian leather
loafers and tailored suits. He didn’t know what kind of salary the man pulled
down—that was between him and Wyatt, but it had to be impressive if he could
afford to dress like a Gordon Gekko wannabe.

“Wyatt
is on a call to Tokyo, but he said to send you right in.” Derrick led Colt to
the office. “May I bring you something? Water? Espresso?”

“No.
Thank you.”

“Hmm.”
Derrick closed the door with a snap.

Strange.
There was no other way to describe the man. Colt wasn’t thirsty. Why did
Derrick care? Did he get a bonus from the vendors for pushing their products? A
little kickback if the office went through a certain amount of coffee every
month?

“Hey,”
Wyatt grinned. Moving around his desk, he pulled Colt in for a hug. “Right on
time.”

Colt
slapped his big brother on the back. The Landis boys were a tight-knit group.
However, perhaps because Garrett and Nate were twins, Colt felt closest to
Wyatt. If he had a problem, Wyatt tended to be his first call. When Wyatt’s
marriage made its final gasp, he spent a lot of nights crashing at Colt’s
place.

From
the outside, Wyatt seemed like the buttoned-down, serious Landis. In many ways,
that was true. Colt knew there was a wild side. He’d seen it. And would just as
soon never see it again.

“I
know the difference between an invitation and an order. The message you left
was from my producer, not my brother.”

Wyatt
didn’t correct him. They were brothers first and forever. However, their
careers meant a lot. Colt spent his time in front of the camera. It was Wyatt’s
job to make sure the production side of the shoot ran smoothly.

“I
wanted to share this information in person. As of this morning,
Playing with
Fire
is a go.”

“That’s
fantastic, Wyatt.”

Colt’s
name was enough to get most movies made. For some reason, the romantic comedy
found more obstacles than anyone anticipated. The money people didn’t like that
the script had been written by an unknown who insisted on directing. What they
didn’t say, except in whispers, was that they didn’t want a woman behind the
camera when she didn’t have a proven track record.

How
could she get experience if no one would give her a job? The money people didn’t
care about that—Colt did. He liked Rene Longtree. She was smart and no matter
what anyone said, he was certain she knew how to direct a movie. She should.
She learned from one of the best. Colt’s brother. Garrett Landis.

“Who
finally pulled his head out of his ass. Marks or Blankenship?”

“Blankenship.
You and I know it was only a matter of time before one of them decided there
was too much money to lose if they didn’t agree to your terms.”


Our
terms,” Colt reminded Wyatt.

“I
fought for Rene because it was important to you.” When Colt stared him down,
Wyatt caved a little. “I’m for giving a deserving person a chance, Colt.”

“Who
heads the DIF?”

Diversity
in Film was an organization that their father had founded last year. The main
purpose was to push for the use of minorities and women in Hollywood. Last
spring, Caleb Landis delivered a rousing speech, encouraging his peers to think
outside the box when casting films and hiring talent.

While
publicly the industry met the ideas with enthusiasm and praise, getting them
implemented was another matter. True, hiring someone because it promoted
diversity was a bad idea. Hiring the best person, no matter their gender or the
color of their skin made complete sense.

Colt
refused to budge. It was Rene or no one.

“It’s
settled?”

Wyatt
nodded.

“When
do we start shooting?”

Colt
wanted to get back to work. A vacation was great, but it had been too long
between jobs. He had turned down half a dozen projects in anticipation of this
one getting the green light. It was time to get off his ass and back in front
of the camera.

“I
spoke to Candice last week. She’s as anxious as I am.”

Candice
DeMarcco would be his co-star—much to Colt’s trepidation. The actress had a
reputation for being a bit of a diva. But he refused to take gossip at face
value. He knew how to deal with difficult co-stars and Candice was perfect for
the part. He was willing to take a chance it it meant making the best movie
possible.

“The
casting is set. Locations booked. Rene wanted a woman assistant director.”

“And?”

“Kiki
Donahue.”

Another
of Garrett’s disciples. Better and better

“Full
speed ahead.”

Colt
loved this script. He had made a few comedies. And a few romantic dramas.

Wishes
, the movie that made Hollywood
sit up and recognize him as more than a pretty face, had been called the most
romantic movie in decades.

After
reading
Playing with Fire,
he knew he’d found the perfect blend of humor
and romance. Not an easy balance to get right. Many tried, few succeeded.
Wince-worthy attempts at the genre littered the Hollywood landscape. Colt
believed this would be one of the rare exceptions.

“Colt.”

“I
don’t like the way you said my name.”

Wyatt’s
tone told Colt his brother was about to knock the sweet cherry off his hot
fudge sundae.

“There
is a caveat attached to the money.”

“Go
on.”

“You
need a bodyguard.”

Great.
Wyatt hadn’t knocked the cherry off. He had decimated the entire dessert.

“No.”

“I’m
not giving you a choice, Colton.”

Shit.
Wyatt rarely called him Colton. When he did, he meant business.

“If
this is about that minor incident at my last premiere.”

“Minor?”
Wyatt pounded his fist on his desk. It was a rare show of temper. “A man
stabbed you.”

“Stabbed
is an exaggeration. Nicked. Once the nurse wiped away the blood, it didn’t even
require stitches.”

“It
was luck.”

“It
was fast reflexes.” Colt wasn’t bragging. His quick moves prevented his
attacker from causing major damage.
And
, he disarmed the man before
security could arrive.

“Colt…

“A
bodyguard would have gotten in the way. I know. I’ve worked with them.”

Colt’s
dismissive tone made his opinion clear.

“The
backers don’t agree.”

“Talk
them out of it.” Wyatt had the gift of persuasion. Smooth words. His brother
never left a meeting without a signed contract. Getting the money men to drop
the bodyguard stipulation would be a piece of cake.

“No.”

“What?”

“I
agree, Colt.”

“Come
on.”

“You
weren’t on the other side of a phone call informing you that your brother was attacked
on the red carpet. The media reported everything from a massive injury to your
death.”

“Deb
phoned Mom and Dad first. She was shaken up. It took her awhile to get to you.”

“I
understand that, Colt. The point is, I love you. I would feel better if you let
someone watch your back.”

“Don’t
play the brother card, Wyatt.”

As
plays went, it was damn powerful. Though not as much as Wyatt’s next.

“Mom
agrees.”

“Low
blow,” Colt muttered. “We aren’t kids, Wyatt. I can’t believe you would go
running to Mommy.”

“I
didn’t do that when we were kids. We settled things brother to brother.”

“Then—”

“Unlike
when we were kids, you’re acting like a selfish brat. Calling in Callie seems
appropriate.”

“You’re
bluffing.”

This
time, Wyatt stared
him
down. And won. His brother didn’t bluff.
Resorting to dragging their mother into a dispute wasn’t his usual style, but
he did what was necessary to close a deal.

“The
only reason I’m caving is because I don’t want to worry Mom. Her boys are a bit
accident prone lately.”

Not
long ago, their brother Nate broke his arm—then was almost blown to pieces. As
crazy as it sounded, Nate’s job as a stuntman turned out to be less life threatening
than his recent stay in Montana.

“I
have an idea.”

“Don’t
you always.” Wyatt spent his childhood trying to curb Colt’s wild ideas. And
having a damn good time in the process. He grinned. They’d had a great
childhood.

“Yes.”
Colt crossed his arms. “You’ll like this one.”

“Okay.”

“Get
me a female bodyguard.”

“That’s
something
you’ll
like. Me? I say hell no.”

“Hear
me out. We present her as my girlfriend. The world loves a love story. No one
will suspect the truth.”

“It’s
not the worst idea you’ve ever had.”

“It’s
right at the top.”

“Two
conditions.”

“I
should have known.” Colt scrubbed his face. “Fine. Shoot.”

“We
tell the family the truth.”

“Naturally.
I don’t want Mom, or Dad, getting any ideas. She’s already planning two weddings.
That’s plenty. What else?”

“Keep
your hands to yourself.”

“Wyatt!”
Dramatically, Colt clutched at his chest. “I’m hurt. I do not harass women.”

“No,”
Wyatt agreed. “You charm and seduce.”

“You
make it sound like that’s a bad thing. I haven’t heard any complaints. Have
you?

“This
woman will not be a giggly supermodel or one of your co-stars. You have hired
her to do a job—to work for you. That is a line you cannot cross.”

“What
if she crosses it first?”

“Jesus,
Colt. Are you so hard up for new blood? I repeat. Promise to leave the
bodyguard alone or you’ll spend the next five months bunking with the hairiest,
smelliest man H&W Security has on staff.”

“H&W.”
Colt sat up straight. “Is that who you’re using?”

“We
always do.” Wyatt picked up his phone. Now that Colt had agreed, he wasn’t
wasting any time. “At the rate we’re going, they should start offering us a
bulk discount. I hope they have somebody who fits the bill.”

On
the outside, Colt nodded, his expression sober as a judge. On the inside, he grinned
ear-to-ear. He knew damn well H&W had the someone. The perfect someone.

 

“DON’T BE AN idiot. Stay down.”

The
man on the ground shook his head, clearing the ringing in his ears. And letting
everyone watching know that he wasn’t listening.

“I
can’t believe it. He’s getting up.” The men exchanged looks. Idiot didn’t begin
to describe this guy. Obviously, he had a death wish.

“Do
what they say.” His opponent danced from foot to foot. The bounce of a boxer.
Or a warrior. Both fit. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You
think I’m worried?” He spat a mouthful of blood. “You got in a lucky punch. You
won’t take me down again.”

Thirty
seconds later, he was flat on his back, gasping for air.

“Had
enough?” Someone called out.

“Come
on. Let’s call it a day.”

He
batted away the hand that reached to help him up.

“Fuck
that. And fuck you.”

With
a shrug, his opponent turned. He took the opportunity to shoot his foot out,
aiming for the vulnerable knee that was only a few feet away. His eyes widened
with surprise when instead of connecting with bone, his foot twisted painfully,
the hands that securely held him one move away from breaking his ankle.

“You
have two choices. Walk away, or crawl. Which will it be?”

“Like
I said,
fuck you
.”

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