* * *
When Jaci finally left his office, Ryan dropped into his leather chair and rolled his head from side to side, trying to release the tension in his neck and shoulders. In the space of ten hours, he’d acquired a girlfriend and the biggest deal of his life was placed in jeopardy if he and Jaci didn’t manage to pull off their romance. He hadn’t been exaggerating when he told Jaci that Leroy would be furious if he realized that Jaci was just using him as an excuse to put some distance between her and his wandering hands...but hell, talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!
It was the kiss—that fantastic, hot, sexy meeting of their mouths—that caused the complications. And, dammit, she was right. The first kiss, initiated by her, had been tentative and lightweight and he was the one who’d taken it deeper, hotter, wetter. Oh, she hadn’t protested and had quickly joined him on the ride. A ride he wouldn’t mind taking to its logical conclusion.
Concentrate, moron. Sex should have been low on his priority list. It wasn’t but it should have been.
When he’d come back down to earth and seen Banks’s petulant face—pouty mouth and narrowed eyes—he’d realized that he’d made a grave miscalculation. Then he’d added fuel to the fire when he’d informed him that Jaci was his girlfriend. Banks wanted Jaci and didn’t like the fact that Ryan had her, and because of that, Ryan would be put through a wringer to get access to Banks’s cash.
Like his father, Banks was the original playground bully; he instantly wanted what he couldn’t and didn’t have. Ryan understood that, as attractive as he found Jaci—and he did think that she was incredibly sexy—for Leroy his pursuit of her had little to do with Jaci but, as she’d hinted at earlier, everything to do with him. With the fact that she was with him, that he had her...along with a six-two frame, a reasonable body and an okay face.
This was about wielding power, playing games, and what should’ve been a tedious, long but relatively simple process would now take a few more weeks and a lot more effort. He knew Leroy’s type—his father’s type. He was a man who very infrequently heard the word no, and when he did, he didn’t much care for it. In the best-case scenario, they’d go on a couple of dinners and hopefully Leroy would be distracted by another gorgeous woman and transfer his attention to her.
The worst-case scenario would be Leroy digging his heels in, stringing him along and then saying no to funding the movie. Ryan banged his head against the back of his chair, feeling the thump of the headache move to the back of his skull.
The thought that his father had access to the money he needed jumped into his brain.
Except that he’d rather drill a screwdriver into his skull than ask Chad for anything. In one of his many recent emails he’d skimmed over, his father had told him that he, and some cronies, had up to two hundred million to invest in any of his films if there was a part in one of his movies for him. It seemed that Chad had conveniently forgotten that their final fight, the one that had decimated their fragile relationship, had been about the industry, about money, about a part in a film.
After Ben’s death, his legions of friends and his fans, wanting to honor his memory, had taken to social media and the press to “encourage” him—as a then-indie filmmaker and Ben’s adoring younger brother—to produce a documentary on Ben’s life. Profits from the film could be donated to a charity in Ben’s name. It would be a fitting memorial. The idea snowballed and soon he was inundated with requests to do the film, complete with suggestions that his father narrate the nonexistent script.
He’d lost the two people he’d loved best in that accident, the same two people who’d betrayed him in the worst way possible. While he tried to deal with his grief—and anger and shock—the idea of a documentary gained traction and he found himself being swept into the project, unenthusiastic but unable to say no without explaining why he’d rather swim with great whites in chum-speckled water. So he’d agreed. One of Ben’s friends produced a script he could live with and his father agreed to narrate the film, but at the last minute Chad told him that he wanted a fee for lending his voice to the documentary.
And it hadn’t been a small fee. Chad had wanted ten million dollars and, at the time, Ryan, as the producer, hadn’t had the money. Chad—Hollywood’s worst father of the year—refused to do it without a financial reward, and in doing so he’d scuttled the project. He was relieved at being off the hook, felt betrayed by Ben, heartbroken over Kelly, but he was rabidly angry that Chad, their father, had tried to capitalize on his son’s death. Their argument was vicious and ferocious and he’d torn into Chad as he’d wanted to do for years.
Too much had been said, and after that blowout he realized how truly alone he really was. After a while he started to like the freedom his solitary state afforded him and really, it was just easier and safer to be alone. He liked his busy, busy life. He had the occasional affair and never dated a woman for more than six weeks at a time. He had friends, good friends he enjoyed, but he kept his own counsel. He worked and he made excellent films. He had a good, busy, productive life. And if he sometimes yearned for more—a partner, a family—he ruthlessly stomped on those rogue thoughts. He was perfectly content.
Or he would be if he didn’t suddenly have a fake girlfriend who made him rock-hard by just breathing, a manipulative investor and a father who wouldn’t give up.
Конец ознакомительного фрагмента.
Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес».
Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию на ЛитРес.
Безопасно оплатить книгу можно банковской картой Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, со счета мобильного телефона, с платежного терминала, в салоне МТС или Связной, через PayPal, WebMoney, Яндекс.Деньги, QIWI Кошелек, бонусными картами или другим удобным Вам способом.