Authors: Elena Aitken
Tags: #Contemporary Romance, #steamy romance, #holiday romance, #Romance, #movie star romance, #sweet series, #romance series, #sexy romance, #love, #sweet romance
“Crap.” Gage pulled a pillow over his head. He’d kissed her. And while he couldn’t remember why exactly he shouldn’t have kissed her, he did remember her reaction. Which, if his instinct and somewhat muddled memory was anything to go on, wasn’t the reaction he would have liked from her.
He tossed the pillow to the side and contemplated rolling over and sleeping until his headache was gone and his memory had completely returned. And he might have succumbed to the lure of his bed, too, if the door hadn’t swung open.
“Good morning,” a female and much too cheery voice called out. “Rise and shine.”
Before Gage had a chance to cover his eyes again, the woman, whoever she was, pulled the curtains open and the room flooded with sunlight.
“Dammit,” he groaned. In an effort to hide, he rolled to the side and tried to yank the blanket up.
“Oh no you don’t.” The quilt was ripped out of his hands. “It’s time to get up. You’re not sleeping all day on my watch.”
Gage rolled onto his back and opened his eyes again. This time slower, blinking against the grit under his lids. “And who,” he asked, “are you?”
She looked familiar. She was the woman keeping him company the night before. She’d been sitting on his…no. Realization dawned. She was the one he shouldn’t have kissed.
“My name is Megan,” she said. “Megan Powers. I’m your new PR rep.”
“Dammit,” he muttered, and rubbed the heels of his hands into his eye socket. His PR rep? “Did I—“
“You drank too much, yes,” she said. He opened his eyes again and propped himself up in bed, unconcerned with the blanket that fell to his waist, exposing his bare chest.
“I’m sorry if I did…well…sometimes when I drink too much, I—“
“It’s fine,” Megan said. “But it better not happen again.” She said the words, but Gage got the distinct impression she didn’t mean them. Or maybe that was his own wishful thinking. “I’m here to do a job and I’d appreciate it if you would remember that.” She turned away and walked to the door. “Now get up. We have a few things we need to go over.”
She left him as quickly as she’d come and despite the pounding in his head, Gage couldn’t help the smile that formed on his lips.
He showered and dressed quickly, and by the time he walked into the main room of the villa, Gage was feeling much better and the smell of the fresh coffee brewing was definitely helping.
“Cheers,” he said when Megan handed him a mug.
“I wasn’t sure how you liked it,” she said. He had no end of sexual innuendos he could make from that statement, but before he had a chance to say anything, she added, “Could you put a shirt on? I don’t think it’s proper for you to be walking around like that.”
Gage looked down at his bare chest. He was wearing jeans but was still holding his t-shirt in his hand. “What? I was still a bit damp after the shower.”
“You’ve never heard of a towel?” She looked away, but not before Gage saw her blush.
“Does it bother you that I’m not wearing a shirt?” He walked closer to her, happy for the opportunity to tease her.
She turned around so quickly, he almost spilled hot coffee all over his bare chest. “I’m trying my best to be professional,” she said with fire in her eyes. “But let me tell you, between the stunt you pulled last night and now.” She waved her hand up and down. “Well, you’re making it very hard,” she finished lamely.
Gage grinned, the way he knew would affect her. His grin affected every woman. “So, I’m making it hard on you, am I?” He knew it probably wasn’t a good idea, but he couldn’t resist. He closed the gap between them until there were mere inches between them. “You know what else—“
“That’s enough.” She pushed him away and stalked to the other end of the room. “I am not remotely interested in you, Mr. Mitchell. Not beyond my interest as a client. And that,” she turned and pointed a finger in his direction, ”is where my interest ends.”
Gage straightened and took a sip of his coffee, trying to pretend it didn’t scald his tongue. “Surely Ms.…Powers, was it?”
She tipped her head and arched her eyebrows.
“You can’t be all work, no play, can you?”
“I assure you, Mr. Mitchell, I take my job very seriously. And you, at least until the foreseeable future, are my job.”
Gage sighed and tugged his shirt over his head. “Fine,” he said. “So I suppose Lucas put you up to this? The last rep I had from your agency wasn’t exactly, well…maybe I’ll just say, he wasn’t very good at his job.”
That was putting it mildly, Gage thought. His last rep was addicted to coke and if he’d had his way, Gage would be too. If Lucas was trying to keep him from partying, that was the wrong approach.
“I heard,” Megan said. “And I can assure you, there won’t be a repeat of Phillip’s actions. I was sent here for one thing—damage control.” A shadow passed across Megan’s face, but when Gage blinked, it was gone, replaced by the scowl he’d seen on her pretty much from the moment he’d opened his eyes.
The words “damage control” rang in his head. He was sick of hearing those words, of everyone thinking he was a train wreck, a star who rose too fast and couldn’t handle fame. “I don’t need a babysitter,” he growled.
Unaffected by his mood change, Megan moved past him and helped herself to a cup of coffee.
“Why are you in my kitchen?” he asked.
Megan shrugged and added a spoon of sugar. “It’s my kitchen too.”
She’d been there when he went to bed the night before, but surely she went to her own room afterwards. He said as much. “You didn’t go back to your own room, then?”
She shrugged again. “This is where I’m staying.”
“You’re not staying here.”
“Yes I am. Especially if you plan on pulling anymore little benders like last night.”
He squared off and crossed his arms. “That was a private party.”
She mirrored his pose. “The same kind of private party that gets you into trouble with the press. No more.”
“You can’t tell me what to—“
“From now on, there will be no late nights, no excessive drinking, no visits with unsupervised girls and—“
“You’re an unsupervised girl.”
Megan smirked and raised an eyebrow in a way that under normal circumstances he would have found incredibly hot. “I am the supervision,” she said. “This is non-negotiable, Mr. Mitchell. Our agency has been hired to do a job and we’re going to do it.”
Gage thought about opening his mouth to protest again, but there didn’t seem to be any point. He’d hired Lucas to handle his career, and despite the fact that Gage knew he could fire him at any time, he wouldn’t. They both knew that. He paced the kitchen and ran his hands through his still damp hair, no longer concerned if Megan was affected by his charm. He was sick of reading the headlines about himself, proclaiming that he was going to burn out, ruin his own career before it barely began. He was tired of reading those headlines, because he knew they were true. Hadn’t Lucas said as much?
“Dammit,” he said after a moment.
“Mr. Mitchell?” He turned around to see Megan with a genuine look of concern on her face. “Are you okay?”
“You mean besides the fact that I feel like a caged animal?” he snapped, and immediately felt bad. “I’m fine,” he added after a second.
They lapsed into silence, both sipping their coffee and staring at each other across the kitchen. When Megan was done with hers, she put the mug into the sink and said, “It won’t be so bad, Mr. Mitchell. I understand there’s lots to do at the Lodge. Things that don’t involve parties,” she added quickly. “I was just going to head over to the main building and see what I could do about booking you some activities. Would you rather go on a hike or maybe a trail ride? I thought since you work with horses on set, you might want to take a break—“
“And will you cut up my food and feed it to me as well?” He knew he was being a jerk, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself.
“I’ll see what I can do.” She winked and there was a trace of a smile, but despite the fact that Gage knew she was trying to make peace, he wouldn’t accept. At least not yet.
He watched and waited while Megan grabbed a sweater and pulled it over her tight t-shirt. It was too bad she was his jailer, he thought, because despite the blur of the night before, he’d clearly remembered how sweet she’d tasted. She’d made it clear that their relationship would be strictly professional. But it didn’t matter, because if he was going to be trapped in the mountains with a babysitter, he might as well try to enjoy himself. After all, it’d been a long time since he’d had any kind of fun that didn’t involve too many bottles and women whose names he couldn’t remember.
He poured himself another cup of coffee and grabbed a bagel from the plate Megan had left. He took a bite and chewed thoughtfully while he looked out at the amazing view. When he’d arrived the night before, he hadn’t paid much attention to the mountains and the towering pines outside his window. Staring at them, Gage couldn’t help but think maybe there’d be some good in his temporary exile. It might be good for him to get back to the man he used to be. The type of man his family might want to talk to again.
The moment Megan stepped outside into the mountain air, she let herself take a deep breath. And not just because she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in the outdoors, but because the heat of the suite was too much. Gage was too much. She wasn’t stupid; she’d been around enough men, and enough good-looking men with entitlement issues, to know what he was trying to do. He was trying to get her to let down her guard, and fall for him.
Men like Gage Mitchell were all the same. They thought if they could get you into bed, they could get whatever they wanted out of you. Even if she hadn’t been coming off a breakup, she knew better than to get messed up with Gage. For more reasons than one.
But damn. Megan took another breath and started walking down the wooded path. She wasn’t usually so affected by men. Not even Ryan had stirred her up like that, which was one of the reasons she’d had to end it with him. He wanted to get married and how could she even think about spending the rest of her life with a man who didn’t give her shivers when she looked at him? When she didn’t feel any heat in his kiss? She couldn’t.
A familiar twinge of guilt flickered in her gut, thinking about Ryan again. She pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket and hit the autodial for his number, but didn’t hit send. Her finger hovered over the button. Whatever lack of passion there was between them, she still missed him. They’d been best friends and partners for years. And that didn’t go away overnight. Megan stopped to watch two squirrels dart in front of her on the path. One was chasing the other, and together they ran up a tree. A smile crossed her face and she almost pressed the button to call Ryan. It would have been nice to be able to share the experience with him. Heck, it would’ve been nice to be able to talk through the entire assignment with him. He’d know how to handle Gage Mitchell.
But not how to handle the way he made her feel, Megan thought. With a push of a button, she cleared Ryan’s number from her phone and sighed in frustration.
“I made my choice, didn’t I?” she asked the squirrels, who were now perched on a branch, staring at her. “And I must be totally losing my mind,” she added with a laugh.
Megan didn’t have time to worry about Ryan and how he might or might not be handling their breakup; she had to focus on Gage and what she was going to do with him. Or what she wanted to do with him. The thought took her off guard. Ryan may not give her those feelings, but even after just meeting Gage Mitchell, he
make her feel that way. And how she longed to feel it more. It wouldn’t be terrible if she…no! She had no business thinking like that. She had bigger problems. Much bigger.
He’d been at the Lodge less than twenty-four hours before he’d found himself a woman willing to have a private party with him, and no doubt she’d be just as willing to talk to the tabloids and let them know exactly where Gage was and what he was doing. The last thing Megan needed was the press getting wind of their location.
Lois wouldn’t like that at all, and she didn’t need any more reasons for Lois Grace to be unhappy with her. Lord knows the mess she’d made of her social life was doing a good enough job with that.
Thankfully, Megan reached the main lodge before she could drive herself crazy with the idea that her breakup with Ryan had anything to do with her own exile to the mountains. She had more important things to worry about. Like keeping Gage busy. But first, she thought as she spotted a familiar blond—now dressed in what looked like a uniform—across the room, she had a more pressing issue to deal with.
Megan crossed the room quickly before the girl spotted her. She had no idea if she’d remember Megan or not—she’d been pretty liquored as well—but when Megan was done, she wouldn’t forget her. The last thing Megan needed was some girl trying to screw things up for her, and Gage, of course.
“Excuse me,” Megan said, trying for civil. She resisted the urge to reach out and flick the woman in the head and instead tapped her on the shoulder. “Lisa, is it?”
The blond turned around, with a smug smirk on her face. Oh, she remembered Megan all right. “It is,” Lisa said. “And I didn’t catch your name last night.”
“I didn’t give it,” Megan said. She put her hands on her hips. “My name is Megan Powers and I’m—“
“Well, Megan,” she emphasized the name and squared her shoulders. “I don’t appreciate the way you crashed the party last night. I know full well he’s not seeing anyone. I haven’t read anything about it.”
Perfect, Megan thought. She was a tabloid reader. Megan tried not to sigh. “I don’t really care if you appreciate it or not, but my client did. And frankly, that’s my only concern right now. So it would be in your best interest if you stay away from him for the rest of his visit.”
“Your client?” Lisa’s smirk grew into a full smile. “Well, that’s interesting.”
“I guess you missed that part last night,” Megan said. “But yes, Mr. Mitchell is my client and it’s my job to make sure he only spends time with the right influences.” Megan was losing interest in the conversation, and she was far too busy to spend her day arguing with a fame monger. “Look, Lisa.” She switched tactics. “You seem like a smart girl, and I have to think you wouldn’t want to jeopardize your job just on the remote chance that you’ll be another notch on some celebrity’s bedpost. Because you and I both know that Gage Mitchell isn’t the settling down type. So if you have any illusions of whatever it is between the two of you being anything more than one night that ends in a hangover and a bucket full of remorse for what you did and can’t really remember in the morning, think again. Because that isn’t going to happen.”