Monday, 5 March 2012

No Matter What - An excerpt from my epic Hollywood romance.



       Michael felt sick.  Did Kenny Ross have to hold her so close?  Surely she was big enough to walk the red carpet on her own?  Maybe he should have insisted he walk it with her, he was the director after all.  Kenny Ross may be the star of this movie but Michael was the director, he was just as important, if not more so.
He was finding it hard to concentrate if he was honest.  Trying to focus his attention on the interviews he was supposed to be giving to various reporters along the red carpet was proving difficult when he didn’t want to take his eyes off India.  She looked like something straight off the cover of a magazine; young and beautiful and different.  That’s what was so special about her, she was different.  Different to anyone else he’d ever wanted to be close to and that’s why he was desperate for her not to disappear from his life when all this was over.  He couldn’t let that happen.  He didn’t know if he’d be able to deal with her not being there.  But if he had no reason to contact her, no reason to be around her then how could he make sure she’d always be there?
That familiar punch to the stomach he felt every time he saw Kenny Ross touch her happened again as he watched India leave the side of Reece and go back to her young, handsome co-star.  Kenny’s arm immediately fell back around her waist, his hand resting lightly on her hip, and Michael felt as though the pain was becoming unbearable. It was literally making his chest hurt.  Was there something going on there?  He didn’t know.  He wished he did but he didn’t know.  He knew they had an extremely close friendship, that was no secret, and even that bothered him.  Why wasn’t he ten years younger?  Why couldn’t he be to her what Kenny Ross was?  But then, if she and Kenny were nothing but friends what was stopping him from making a move?  Because she didn’t look at him that way, that’s why. 
He turned his attention back to the crowd, back to the job in hand, smiling as he realised she may not look at him that way right now, but that just meant he’d have to work that little bit harder.  And Michael Walsh was no stranger to hard work.  If he wanted something he usually got it.  And he wanted India Steven.

***

Terry had already gone inside the theatre.  He was standing near the entrance, watching his sister as she mingled with the other stars, talking to reporters with the ease of someone who’d been doing this sort of thing for years and it was a strange thing to watch.  He’d never imagined her doing this.  She’d always been the kind of person who hated being the centre of attention, despite her outgoing personality.  Attention seeking was definitely more Charley’s bag.  But she was right there now, someone who was commanding attention everywhere she went and she was handling it so well.  She looked just like the professional young actress she was.  And the movie star she was going to be. 
Kenny was never far from her side though, Terry noticed.  Although glued to it would be a better description.  But he had to remember this was their movie, they were the stars, they were going to be doing a lot of promotional work together, he had to get used to that.  He just wished he was closer, wished he could keep a better eye on her.  Being so far away in Britain when she was here in L.A. wasn’t something he felt comfortable with.
“You worry about her, don’t you?”
Terry turned to see Reece Brogan standing next to him, and he couldn’t help but flinch slightly at the close proximity of such a famous movie star.  He still couldn’t quite get used to being in L.A.  “Of course I do.  I’m her brother.  And we’ve really only got each other.”
“What about your parents?” Reece asked, watching India as she talked to a TV reporter.  She’d taken to this so naturally.  She was born to do it, but he already knew that.
Terry looked back out at the crowded red carpet.  “Hasn’t she told you anything?” he replied, starting to fiddle with his watch again.  It was becoming a nervous habit.
“She’s told me you don’t have the same father.  That she doesn’t know who her real father is.”
 “Then you’ll understand that she needs looking after.”
Reece nodded.  “I want her to be ok too, Terry.  I’m only looking out for her, you have to believe that.  There’s nothing sinister going on.  I just want her to be ok.”
Terry relaxed slightly.  He really had to start letting himself do that.  Some things he just couldn’t control, no matter how much he wanted to.  Reece had done nothing but care for his sister since she’d moved over here; finding her somewhere to live, making sure she got the right advice, saw the right people.  Maybe he should cut him a bit of slack and start trusting him.  If he couldn’t be there to keep an eye on India then maybe Reece could do that job for him.
“It might take some of the weight off you shoulders,” Reece said, almost reading Terry’s mind.  “She really will be ok.  I’ll make sure of that.”
Terry smiled, holding out his hand for Reece to shake.  “Thanks.”
Reece smiled back, glad that Terry was finally letting someone in.  He needed India’s brother’s trust more than anything. 
“It’s my pleasure.  Come on.  Let’s go and get a drink.”
One step at a time, thought Reece, as he followed Terry to the bar.  One little step at a time.

***

Charley was irritated.  They’d been herded up that red carpet like they didn’t matter, and Terry had told her they didn’t, in reality.  Nobody was there to see them.  They wanted India, Kenny, Reece and Michael.  But Charley wanted to be noticed too, especially here in L.A.  The city of dreams.  Because she had dreams too, didn’t Terry realise that?
They were all inside the theatre now, photographers and reporters still milling around looking for that perfect picture, that exclusive interview and she’d tried to make sure she was seen, tried to get close to Kenny Ross especially, but anyone who might provide a photo opportunity was fair game to Charley. 
She’d been grateful to India for bringing her forward and introducing her to a couple of people as her close friend from England, although she wished she’d told them she was a model, let her talk to some of these people for a bit longer.  Everything was so busy, moving along at such breakneck speed that Charley was finding it hard to keep up with it all, and even Terry had disappeared now.
She stood up on her tip-toes, scanning the room, suddenly spotting Kenny Ross on his own.  Grabbing her chance she made her way over to him, moving alongside him, gently bumping into him with her handbag as nonchalantly as she could manage.
He looked around, recognition taking a few seconds to sink in.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Charley said, smiling at him.  
       He gave her a small smile back as he finally recognised India's friend.  “Charley, isn’t it?  You having a good time?”
      “It’s amazing!  I’ve never experienced anything like this before!”
Shut up Charley, she thought, you’re gushing.
He was still smiling at her, and the jealousy she felt at India being so close to this man washed over her with an intensity she’d never felt before.
“India’s handling it like a professional though, don’t you think?” Kenny asked, looking around the room as if searching for her.
Why did he have to start talking about India again?  She’d had a whole speech planned and now he’d thrown her right off track.
“Oh, great, just what I need,” Charley muttered under her breath as India ran over to Kenny, almost flinging herself into his arms, and Charley felt that stab of jealousy again.  She couldn’t help it.  The way they were with each other, it was something she’d kill for.
“Charley!” India squealed, all smiles and Californian tan.  And what was with that outfit anyway?  Both of them looked like they should be at a rock concert not a red carpet premiere.  But then, India had never really had much sense of style, Charley thought, pulling the hem of her dress down slightly. 
“Come over here and talk to Vince,” India went on.  “You’ll like Vince.  He’s Michael’s co-producer and business partner and he owns this amazing hotel in Las Vegas.  We always wanted to go to Vegas, didn’t we?  Maybe if we’re nice to him he’ll give us some free rooms, huh?”
She grabbed Charley’s hand and pulled her away from Kenny, dragging her over to meet Vince Maine, and all Charley could do was run with it.  She’d bide her time, and that time would come.  Charley would make sure of that. 
© Michelle Betham 2011

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No Matter What is available to download from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com   
Over 800 pages of pure, sexy escapism!

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