Sunday, July 22, 2012
Sunday, July 1, 2012
My Summer Marriage
For the first time in three years, Hayley Martin woke to silence and gleaming sunshine warming her face. Stretching, her body ghosted over the pastel sea-green, silk sheets. She’d dropped into the king sized bed without even having a look around once the bell hop had dropped her off in the private bungalow last night. Resort Cabo Pulmo dealt with celebrities all the time, so she didn’t have to worry about being discovered. At the suggestion of her publicist, Jackie, she’d flown to Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, for a long-overdue vacation.
Until now, her life had been living in the beautiful but busy and overly-crowded Boston, Massachusetts. She’d grown up there, the only child of two workaholic parents. Their brownstone overlooked the Boston Commons. In her youth, she had spent many hours there with her various nannies. From the Swan Boats to the skating on the frozen frog pond, Hayley had always found something to do there. It had become a haven.
Slipping out from beneath the covers, Hayley padded to the oak-paneled kitchenette in just her pale pink chemise. There was only one neighboring bungalow, so she wasn’t worried that there might be a Peeping Tom type outside. It took her a moment to figure out the coffee pot. While it percolated, she gazed with wondering eyes out at the wide stretch of white beach before her.
Hayley had never seen almost-white sand before. Crystal clear teal-colored water ebbed and receded on the shore. The only shade visible came from the palm trees surrounding the beach house she’d rented for the next month. A sigh slipped from her lips at the memories wending through her mind.
She’d been born to late-in-life parents; building their careers had come before anything else. Even once Hayley had arrived in their lives, they had been too busy to be overly involved. Now that they’d finally retired to Europe for the last five years, Hayley felt even more alone.
It had been a long road to getting to this point in her life. One year out of college, Accelerator Publishing House had grabbed up her first manuscript. Six months later, the book could be found on every bookshelf. The sudden sensation left her boggled but eager to continue with the saga of the BDSM couple she had created.
By the time the second book in the series was released, Hayley couldn’t leave her brownstone without being accosted by her fans. Still, she smiled and signed anything they asked her to. Her fans were what made her who she was.
Milling around the kitchen, Hayley searched out and memorized where everything lay hidden. After grabbing a mug from the cabinet over the sink, she poured her coffee and headed out the door. A blast of already-heated air breezed by, the waves flittering up on the shoreline filled the air with tranquility, and she could smell the exotic aromas radiating off every flower and palm tree. Her tension from years of stressing over her work tugged at her shoulders. For too long the muscles had been one giant knot.
By now, everyone should have figured out that she’d slipped away. Only Jackie knew where Hayley planned to slinked off to. Everything had been plotted out between the two to get Hayley away without even her bodyguards knowing. Of all the men in the security details, Trevor would be the most upset. He had headed her security team from the very beginning of the chaos.
Sighing, Hayley stepped out onto the warmed soft sand. At that hour, she doubted the occupants next door would still be in bed. The sand weaved between her toes as she made her way closer to the turquoise water. Her body soaked up the sunshine and warmth. This had been a fantasy; still, a sadness filled her soul. Shielding her eyes, she furrowed her brow.
With the third book hitting the store shelves next week, her life had officially ended. Hayley had become a total recluse. Anyone wanting to see her needed to make an appointment, bodyguards covered her every move, and she lived to do as she was told. No one asked for anything; everything was demanded.
She knew why the books were so popular among the fetish community: they were authentic and written from the perspective of a submissive. What remained a mystery was what everyone else liked about them. Even mothers were reading it in their office cubicles, on the playgrounds, and in the checkout line at the supermarket.
Hayley stopped when the tepid waters washed over her bare feet. Staring out at the crystal clear waves, she could almost envision living here and never going back. A sigh hummed in her chest. That was a pipedream.
Dillon McGraw stood in the shadows of his beach house watching the surf rolling in. At his mother’s suggestion, they’d left L.A. for an impromptu vacation. In reality, he knew Jillian McGraw was trying to hide him until the newest round of ‘Dillon McGraw is Gay’ rumors subsided. At this point in his career, it could bring his acting to a complete standstill. He had an image to maintain as a ladies’ man, and Dillon knew his sexuality better than anyone. ‘Gay’ and what he really was — those were two very different categories. The world wasn’t ready to know the real Dillon McGraw.
Taking one step back, he tilted his head and hid further behind the curtains. It would appear a new guest had arrived overnight in the neighboring house. His attention instantly shot to her breathtaking form. Covered in nothing but a shimmering, silky chemise, she sashayed toward the water, her coffee cup locked in her hands. Her long, straight, chocolate-brown hair flowed with the breeze. A low whistle slipped from Dillon’s lips. Try as he might to turn his eyes away, the new arrival captivated him and held his attention hostage. Even his mother stomping around the kitchen couldn’t distract him from the breathtaking view.
They’d arrived a week earlier and had had the beach to themselves until today. Now he’d have to worry if the new guest would recognize him and sell him out to the tabloids. It wouldn’t be anything new if she did. His shoulders tensed at the thought.
He also wondered what she could have been searching for as she stared at the water that was nipping at her ankles. Whatever it was, it kept her mesmerized for over half an hour before she turned and walked halfway up the beach. Turning back, the pretty thing settled into the sand and continued to search the sea for her answers.
Dragging up the chair from the tiny desk behind him, he spun and straddled it, positioning himself to watch the young woman. Something about her told him he should keep an eye on her. When his mother delivered another cup of coffee, she also peeked out at the new guest.
“Think she’ll sell you out when she spots you?” There was a snip to Jillian’s tone, which he ignored.
“I don’t know. We’ll find out soon enough.” He shrugged his shoulders, accepting the coffee cup.
Since his big break, being accosted by his fans had become a constant worry to him. There were so few people he could trust. Who could have known that one small walk-on part on a kid’s show would lead to his own series, followed by nonstop movie requests? Dillon hadn’t, that was for sure. Back then, he hadn’t even been sure if acting was what he wanted to do with his life. Now the choice had been taken out of his hands.
Dillon hated not being in control of anything in his life. The studio dictated his every appearance. His mother ran the personal side. He had no doubt that she believed the gay rumors, but he couldn’t tell her the truth either.
Only one person knew his secret: Gina Lesalle. Gina had been gagged by a non-disclosure agreement. She couldn’t let out Dillon’s secret without it costing her everything she owned.
He sighed, resting his forearms along the top of the chair back. Jillian stroked his spiked, blond hair. “Plan on watching her all day?”
Cocking his brow in question, he retorted with amusement lacing his voice, “Maybe. Why? Do we have plans today?”
“No, I just thought you might want to go and see if she goes all fangirl over you.” His mother laughed at the little joke. He just shook his head.
Dillon had considered leaving the business and finding some small ranch back in Wyoming to live out his life in peace. He knew that wouldn’t fix his problems, though. Sure, he’d made more than enough money to never have to work again; however, it wouldn’t stop his fans from finding him. The days of his carefree youth living on the farm were a thing of the past.
The coffee he was sipping sucked. His mother was no cook. A huff rushed from his chest. So much had changed. At one time, she’d taken care of their family. Those days were long over, as well.
He preferred the easier life back where he’d been born. Now he was stuck living in overly-crowded Los Angeles. The constraints of working in show business had already worn thin. And it was a business. Everything revolved around the impression everyone had of you. Who you really were didn’t matter, as long as you had an image that could be packaged and sold.
Hiding in the shadows would forever be his only escape. His dreams had died long ago. He’d let his career path take control of his life, and now Dillon couldn’t change it. Or could he?
Shaking his head, he let go of that train of thought. His gaze fell back to the young woman on the beach. Her sleepwear left very little to the imagination; however, it hid just enough to leave you craving more. The longer he watched her, the more he wondered about her. Even from that distance, he could see her beauty. Her pale complexion spoke volumes of her lack of exposure to sunshine.
What had driven her here to hide? For all he knew, she could have been the spoiled child of a rich family. She didn’t seem like someone on her honeymoon. The sadness consuming her could be seen on her features. It was a look Dillon knew well; he’d seen it in his mirror’s reflection.
Resting his chin on his arms, Dillon tried to unravel her puzzle. The answer came in the way she carried herself. There were no bold movements. The subtle forward lean of her shoulders, her downward gaze, and the soft, sweeping motion of her hand over the sand all said one thing: submissive.
His breathing spiked, his body tensed, and his shorts tightened at the realization. Maybe it was time to take his life back after all.
Oblivious to the watching man, Hayley remained on the beach. The sun pivoted in the cloudless sky as it moved to its mid-day position. Hayley’s skin turned pink under the harsh rays, yet she stayed riveted to the shoreline. Wiping her brow, she realized she’d begun to sweat from the intense heat of the day. Even though it was still spring back in Boston, in Mexico the days ran at an average of eighty to ninety degrees during the day and a nicer sixty-five to seventy in the evening hours.
Lying back across the powder-like, blazing sand, Hayley closed her eyes and giggled. By now, her security team would have discovered her phone had been shut off to prevent them from locating or calling her. She knew ex-FBI agent Trevor Gilroy still had enough connections in the bureau to have her phone tapped and triangulated. He’d vowed to always find her, and she knew he meant it.
She didn’t know why, but Hayley just knew she was where she should be. Even though she considered this a vacation, she had packed her trusty laptop, knowing that she would need that outlet if ideas for a new novel struck. Writer’s block had dogged Hayley for months now, and deep down, she hoped this trip would help free her of it.
The shadow cast by an approaching person had Hayley’s heartbeat racing. Though her eyes were still closed, the dark shade easily registered through her eyelids. She hadn’t dressed for any encounters.
“Your friends didn’t warn you to wear sun block?” The silhouette laughed.
Lifting her hand to shield her eyes, she opened them, and a smile crept across her cheeks. Hayley would know that face anywhere. It was no wonder why the newspapers and trashy tabloids called him a “pretty boy.” He truly was. His short, spiked, blond hair shimmered in the sunlight, and the brilliant smile of white teeth gracing his perfect face added to his cocky appearance.
“My friends aren’t here to warn me about anything,” she retorted with a giggle.
“I see. Here, you can borrow mine.” He extended the tube to her, grinning back.
Looking at how rosy she’d turned, Hayley accepted his offer with a nod. “Thanks. I probably should have put some on earlier, but this place just . . . sucks you in.”
Something in his baby blue eyes twinkled. “‘Sucks’ is such a provocative word. So you’re here alone?”
Sitting up, Hayley contemplated trying to cover herself, only to quickly dismiss the idea. A gay man stranded on a desert island with a single woman wouldn’t suddenly turn straight. This was no different. “Yeah, you?” A giggle trickled from her lips.
She opened the sunscreen tube with a pop of her thumb and began applying the soothing lotion to her arms and legs. Her luck ran out when she tried to reach her shoulders and back. He chuckled and squatted on his hunches.
“No. My mother’s here ‘til tomorrow, and then she’ll be back in a couple of weeks. So, what’s your name?”
Dillon snatched the sunscreen out of her grasp and started smearing it on to her shoulders. Her flesh molded to his will. It was a feeling she could definitely get used to. The thought was fleeting. She knew nothing would happen between them. What is it they always said? All the good ones were gay or taken.
“Hayley Martin.” She extended her hand over her shoulder, laughing. “Guess I don’t have to ask your name.”
Sighing, he took her small hand in his shaking it lightly. “I wasn’t sure if you recognized me.”
“I did, but don’t worry. Your privacy is your own. I can understand your need to hide. Fans can be brutal when they love you.”
Dillon nodded his agreement, releasing her hand after his fingers lingered for an extra second. “That they can be, but without the fans, I wouldn’t have much of a career.”
“That is the truth.”
“Dillon, phone,” Jillian called to her son.
Her lips curled down as she watched them. She could see that the two seemed very at ease with each other. Her son positively looked comfortable and happy for a change. His smile gleamed as he gazed down at the new guest; that wasn’t a sight she’d seen very often since her son had made the big time. With all the rumors of Dillon being homosexual, Jillian had to admit to herself they were probably true. Gina had been the only exception to his list of non-existent girlfriends. At twenty-five, he had girls as young as thirteen and woman as old as fifty throwing themselves at him, but Dillon just wasn’t interested. She’d done the motherly thing and tried to set up dates for him; however, he always came home miserable.
There was no ‘real’ reason for her trip back to Hollywood. This was just her way of separating to give him some time to figure out what he really wanted. Jillian would do anything for his happiness.