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Authors: Leah Ashton

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Why Resist a Rebel?

BOOK: Why Resist a Rebel?
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Giving in to temptation never felt so good!

Ruby Bell has put scandal and relationships behind her to forge a successful career in film. Then the talk of Hollywood himself, actor Devlin Cooper, strolls onto her Outback set—fired from his two previous movies, and looking decidedly tempting! The last thing Ruby needs is Dev making outrageous demands and causing her to question her “no romance at work” rule….

But what’s a girl to do when Dev’s taking her on a lavish date one moment, then calling “cut” on their growing closeness the next? What exactly does he want with her—and what’s causing the shadows behind those famous blue eyes? Now she’s too intrigued to walk away....

sneak peek excerpt from

WHY RESIST A REBEL?

“So you've met our new leading man.”

She spoke without thinking. “Who?”

There was a barely muffled laugh behind her.

The man. His knowing smile. The charisma that oozed from every pore.

Finally,
finally,
she connected the dots.

This
was Paul's latest drama.
This
was why she'd been rushing back to the office.

They had a new leading man.

She'd just met him.

She'd just covered him in dirt and coffee.

Worst of all—she'd just nearly
kissed
him.

And he didn't just have a passing resemblance to Devlin Cooper. A passing resemblance to a man who commanded double-digit, multi-million-dollar salaries and provided continuous tabloid fodder to the world's magazines and salacious television entertainment reports.

“You can call me Dev,” he said, his voice deep and oh so intimate.

Oh.

My.

God.

Dear Reader,

By the time I finish writing a book, I am so involved in my hero and heroine’s story that I’m convinced that these two characters are my absolute favorites. Ever!

Until, of course, I start my next story! But, for some reason, Devlin Cooper is different. Yes, I’ve moved onto my next book, and right on schedule I’m falling a little in love with my new hero…but…I still haven’t quite forgotten Dev.

Dev was a very different type of hero for me—different to the heroes I’ve written before, but also different to any hero I’ve read. Of course, Dev is an absolutely delicious Hollywood star—a great start! But there is a lot more to him: depth, shadows and even moments of darkness. He wasn’t always an easy hero to write—or to like!—but I hope you find him as hard to forget as I have.

I am so excited to be writing for the Harlequin KISS line, it really is the perfect home for Dev and Ruby! I’m looking forward to falling in love with—and having difficulty forgetting—many more Harlequin KISS heroes in the future.

Leah

PS I love hearing from readers! You can contact me via my website,
www.leah-ashton.com
, or email me at
[email protected]
.

Why Resist
a Rebel?

Leah Ashton

ABOUT LEAH ASHTON

An unashamed fan of all things happily-ever-after, Leah Ashton has been a lifelong reader of romance. Writing came a little bit later—although, in hindsight she’s been dreaming up stories for as long as she can remember. Sadly, the most popular boy in school never did suddenly fall head over heels in love with her.…

Now she lives in Perth, Western Australia, with her own real-life hero, two gorgeous dogs and the world’s smartest cat. By day she works in IT-land; by night she considers herself incredibly lucky to be writing the type of books she loves to read, and to have the opportunity to share her own characters’ happily-ever-afters with readers.

You can visit Leah at
www.leah-ashton.com
.

This and other titles by Leah Ashton are available in ebook format—check out
Harlequin.com
.

For Annie—
who has always been way cooler than her big sister
and then went and worked in film, just to rub it in.

Thank you for your endless help and patience
as I researched this book. Any mistakes are mine.

You're awesome, Annie.

ONE

Ruby Bell estimated her phone rang approximately half a second before her brisk walk was rudely interrupted by an unfortunately located tuft of grass.

More fortunately, she’d had the presence of mind to hold onto said phone during her less than graceful swan-dive onto the dusty paddock floor. A paddock that had once housed a significant number of sheep, but more recently had become the temporary home of a ninety-strong film crew. Thankfully this particular patch of paddock showed no evidence of sheep occupation.

But, at such close range, Ruby had also learnt that the paddock floor was: a) lumpy and b) hard.

‘Paul,’ Ruby said, wincing slightly as she lifted the phone to her ear. Still lying flat on her belly in the dirt, she shifted her weight in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the patches of grass that prickled through the thin fabric of her T-shirt and the seeping warmth that had once been her half-drunk cardboard cup of coffee. Just slightly winded, Ruby’s voice was a little breathy, but otherwise she sounded about as efficient as always. Good. She’d built a successful career as a production co-ordinator that took her across the globe—regularly—by being sensible, unflappable, no-nonsense Ruby. Tripping over her own feet couldn’t even begin to rattle her.

‘I need you back at the office,’ Paul said, even more flustered than usual. ‘There’s been a development.’

And that was it—he’d already hung up. Ruby knew it was impossible to interpret her producer’s urgent tone—it was quite possible the sky
was
falling, but about the same odds that one of the runners had simply screwed up his espresso again. Either way, Ruby needed to get her butt into gear.

‘You okay, Rubes?’

Ruby glanced up at the worried voice, squinting a little against the early afternoon sun. But, even mostly in shadow—or maybe because of it—the very broad and very solid frame of Bruno, the key grip, was unmistakeable. Beside him stood a couple of the younger grips, looking about as awkward as they always did when they weren’t busily carting heavy objects around—plus about half the hair and make-up department. Which made sense, given she’d managed to come crashing to the ground right outside their trailers.

‘Of course,’ she said, pressing her outflung hands into the soil and levering herself up onto her knees. She waved away Bruno’s helpful hand as she plucked at her T-shirt, pulling the coffee-soaked fabric away from her chest. The parts of her not damp and clinging were decorated with a mix of grass stains and a remarkable number of dirt smudges.

Awesome.

But she didn’t have time to worry about the state of her outfit just now. Or her hair—running her fingers through her short blonde pixie-cut confirmed only that it was somehow dusty, too.

A moment later she was back on her feet and her day carried on exactly as before—grass stains and the uncomfortable sensation she was covered in a head-to-toe sticky coating of dirt notwithstanding.

‘Ruby!’ A yell from somewhere to her left. ‘Weather tomorrow?’

‘Fine. No chance of rain,’ she called out, not even slowing her pace. Paul, as always, would’ve preferred if she’d gained the power of teleportation. In its absence, she just needed to walk even faster than normal.

The cottage that temporarily housed the film’s production office was only a few minutes away—tucked to the left beyond the final cluster of shiny black or white trailers and the slightly askew tent city that was catering.

She kept her focus on her path—already well worn into the grass in the two days since they’d set up camp—mentally crossing her fingers for nothing more serious than a coffee-related emergency. So far she’d already dealt with an unexpected script change, a sudden decision to relocate a scene, and an entitled young actress who’d gone temporarily AWOL. And it was only day one of filming.

‘Got a minute?’ asked Sarah, a slight redhead in charge of the extensive list of extras required for
The Land—
an ‘epic historical romance played out in the heart of the outback’—from the top stair of a shiny black trailer.

‘No,’ Ruby said, but slowed anyway. ‘Paul,’ she said, as way of explanation.

‘Ah,’ Sarah replied, then skipped down from the trailer to fall into step with Ruby as she passed. ‘Just a quick one. I’ve got a call from a concerned parent. They’re worried about how we’re going to get Samuel to cry in tomorrow’s scene.’

By the time she’d reached the last of the row of trailers a minute later, Sarah was on her way with a solution, and Ruby had fielded another phone call on her mobile. Arizona Smith’s assistant wanted to know if there were Ashtanga Yoga classes in Lucyville, the small north-west New South Wales country town in which they were filming.

Given the remote town’s population was just under two thousand people, Ruby considered this unlikely—but still, with a silent sigh, promised to get back to their female lead’s assistant asap.

Ruby broke into a jog as she turned the corner, her gaze trained downward—she wasn’t about to hit the dirt again today—and her brain chock-full of potential ‘developments’ and their hypothetical impact on her already tight schedule.

Consequently, the first she knew of the very large man walking around the corner in the opposite direction was when she slammed straight into him.

‘Ooomph!’ The slightly strangled sound burst from her throat at the impact of her body hitting solid muscle. She barely registered her hands sliding up sun-warmed arms to grip T-shirt clad shoulders for balance, or the way her legs tangled with his.

What she
did
notice, however, were his hands, strong and firm at her waist, the fingers of one hand hot against bare skin where her T-shirt had ridden an inch or two upwards.

And the scent of his
skin, even through the thin layer of cotton, where her face was pressed hard against his chest.

Fresh, clean.
Delicious.

Oh, my.

‘Hey,’ he said, his voice deep and a little rough beside her ear. ‘You okay?’

Slowly, slowly, embarrassment began to trickle through her body.

No, not embarrassment—the realisation that she
should
be embarrassed, that she
should
be extricating herself from this...
clinch
...as soon as possible.

‘Mmm-hmm’, she said indistinctly, and didn’t move at all.

His fingers flexed slightly, and she registered that now she was moving. Then her back pressed against the cool metal of the shaded wall of a trailer, and she was sliding downwards. He’d been holding her—her feet dangling. Somehow she’d had no idea of this fact until her ballet flats were again responsible for holding her upright.

Had anyone ever held her so effortlessly?

She was medium height, far from tiny—and yet this man had been holding her in his arms as if she weighed as much as the average lollypop-thin Hollywood lead actress.

Nice.

Again his hands squeezed at her waist.

‘Hey,’ he repeated. ‘You’re worrying me here. Are you hurt?’

She blinked and finally lifted her head from his chest. She tried to look at him, to figure out who he was—but his face was mostly in shadow, the sunlight a white glare behind him.

But something about the angle of his jaw was familiar.

Who was he? He was fit, but he wasn’t one of the grips. Some of the guys in Props were pretty tall, but Ruby honestly couldn’t imagine enjoying being held in the arms of any of them. Which she was, undeniably, doing right now. Enjoying this.

She shook her head, trying to focus. ‘Just a bit dazed, I think,’ she managed. Belatedly, she acknowledged that was true. With every second, the fog was dissipating. But it was a gradual transition.

Right now, she found herself perfectly happy where she was. Standing right where she was.

‘Are
you
okay?’ she asked.

She could barely make out the slightest curve to his lips, but it was there. ‘I’ll survive.’

His grip on her softened a little as he seemed to realise she wasn’t in any imminent danger. But he didn’t let her go. Her hands still rested on his shoulders, but removing them wasn’t even a consideration.

A cloud shifted or something, and the shadows lightened. Now she could make out the square line of his jaw, covered liberally in stubble; the sculpted straightness of his nose, and the almost horizontal slashes of his eyebrows. But even this close—close enough that the action of breathing almost brought her chest up against his—she couldn’t quite make out the colour of his gaze.

A gaze that she knew was trained on her, exploring her face—her eyes, her lips...

Ruby closed her eyes tight shut, trying to assemble her thoughts. Trying to assemble herself, actually.

The fog had cleared. Reality was re-entering—
her
reality. Straightforward, straight-talking Ruby Bell. Who was
not
taken to romantic notions or embracing total strangers.

He wasn’t crew. He must be an extra, some random guy minding his own business before she’d literally thrown herself into his arms.

Inwardly, she cringed. Too late, mortification hit. Hard.

Rational, no-nonsense words were right on the tip of her tongue as she opened her eyes.

But instead of speaking, she sucked in a sharp breath.

He’d moved closer. So,
so
close.

The man didn’t look worried now. He looked almost...predatory. In a very, very good way.

She swallowed. Once, twice.

He smiled.

Beneath traitorous fingers that had crept along his shoulders to his nape, his overlong hair was coarse beneath her fingertips.

‘You,’ he said, his breath fanning against her cheek, ‘are quite the welcoming party.’

Ruby felt overwhelmed by him. His size, his devastating looks, his nearness. She barely made out what he’d said. ‘Pardon?’

He didn’t repeat himself, he just watched her, his gaze locked onto hers.

Whatever she’d been going to say—the words had evaporated.

All she seemed capable of was staring at him. Into those eyes, those amazing, piercing...
familiar
blue eyes.

Finally it clicked into place.

‘Has anyone ever told you, you look
just
like Devlin Cooper?’ she said. Babbled, maybe.
God.
She didn’t know what was going on.

One of his hands had released her waist, and he ran a finger down her cheek and along her jaw. She shivered.

‘A couple of times,’ he said, the words as dry as the grass they stood upon.

No, not quite like the famous Devlin Cooper. This man had dark circles beneath his eyes, and his darkest blond hair was far too long. He was too tall, surely, as well—she’d met enough leading men to know the average Hollywood star was far shorter than they looked on screen. And, she acknowledged, there was a sparseness to his width—he was muscled, but he didn’t have the bulk of the movie star. He looked like Devlin Cooper might look if turned into one of those method actors who lost bucket-loads of weight for a role. Not that Ruby could imagine that ever happening—Devlin Cooper was more generic-action-blockbuster-star than the Oscar-worthy-art-house type.

But as the man’s fingers tipped her chin upwards any thought of Devlin Cooper was obliterated. Once again it was just her, and this man, and this amazing, crazy tension that crackled between them. She’d never felt anything like it.

She was sure she’d never wanted anything more than to discover what was going to happen next.

He leant forward, closing the gap between their lips until it was almost non-existent...

Something—a voice nearby maybe—made Ruby jump, and the sound of her shoulders bouncing against the trailer was loud in the silence. A silence she was suddenly terribly aware of.

That rapidly forgotten wave of mortification crashed back over her, this time impossible to ignore. With it, other—less pleasant—sensations than his touch shoved their way to the fore. The fact she was covered in dirt and drying coffee. The fact her whole body suddenly appeared capable of a head to toe, hot, appalled blush.

She was still hanging off the man like a monkey, and she snatched her hands away from his neck.

‘Hey. You’re not going to catch anything,’ he said, a lightness in his tone as he watched her unconsciously wipe her hands almost desperately against her thighs.

She stilled the movement and met his gaze. His eyes had an unreadable glint to them, and for the first time she noticed their thin spidery lines of bloodshot red.

‘Who are you?’
she asked in a sharp whisper.

His lips curled again, but he didn’t say a word. He just watched her, steadily, calmly.

He was infuriating.

She ducked to her left, and the hand that had remained on her waist fell away. Ridiculously, she missed the warmth and weight of his touch immediately, and so she shook her head, desperate to refocus.

She put a few steps between them, taking deep, what-the-heck-just-happened breaths as she glanced to her left and right.

They were alone. No one else stood in this path amongst the trailer metropolis.

No one had seen them.

Relief swamped her.
What on earth had she been thinking?

But then approaching footsteps made her freeze, as if whoever walked around the corner would immediately know what had just happened.

Of course, it was Paul.

‘Ruby!’ her producer exclaimed loudly. ‘There you are.’

‘Ruby,’ the man repeated, slowly and softly, behind her. ‘Nice name.’

She shot him a glare. Couldn’t he just
disappear?
Her mind raced as she tried to determine exactly how long it had been since she’d barrelled into the man. Surely not more than a few minutes?

It wasn’t like Paul to come looking for her. Fume alone in his office if she were late, yes—but come find her? Definitely not.

It
must
be a real emergency.

‘I’m sorry,’ Ruby managed, finally, and meant it. But how to explain? She ran a hand through her hair; the movement dislodged a few forgotten blades of grass. ‘I fell over,’ she said, more confidently, then nodded in the man’s direction. ‘He was just helping me up.’

BOOK: Why Resist a Rebel?
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