Barely noticing the wood-lined walls and flowery wallpaper of the renovated foyer, Kayla marched to the hotel’s front desk, determined to get her task over like ripping a band-aid.
Dottie glanced up over her reading glasses and smiled, her white teeth contrasting with her mahogany skin. “Good to see you, Kayla.”
“Hi, Dottie.” She forced a smile as her stomach fluttered. “I’m here to see Randall. Can you give me his room number?”
“I don’t have a Randall Rowe on my books.” Dottie nodded to the red book, shaking her braids. “But you can look.”
Confused about what Dottie meant since she knew Randall was here, Kayla opened the book and studied it. She found no ‘Randall Rowe’ but she did see a Daniel Vancamp. For some reason, the name sounded familiar
That’s right. Randall played a gangster with the same name in a movie six years ago. She glanced at the room number and flashed Dottie a genuine smile. “Thanks.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Dottie called after her as Kayla headed upstairs to the third floor, which only contained one room since it took over the entire floor. She knocked then interlocked her fingers in her necklace, swinging it side to side. It was now or never.
A minute passed. No response. She frowned and put her ear to the door. Definitely hearing a television, she knocked again.
Suddenly, the door swung open.
Randall filled the entry, a ferocious scowl on his face. Dark stubble covered half of his face, and she was struck with how dangerously sexy he looked. For a second, she forgot to breathe, and her stomach did a small flip as she took in his wife-beater, dark jeans, and bare feet.
“Why did you take so long to answer?” she asked when she found her tongue.
His lips stretched in a humorless smile. “I hoped whoever it was would go away.”
The scent of alcohol waffled to her nose. She glanced from his glazed eyes to his hand clutching a half-filled glass of amber liquid. The off-putting gleam in his eyes should’ve sent her scurrying. He looked more like a sailor than a movie star, but she also glimpsed a lurking sadness in his gaze and couldn’t help wanting to help. She’d never seen him in such a state.
She ignored his words and pushed past him. “I’m not going anywhere. Why did you put another person’s name in the guestbook? Everybody knows you’re here.”
“Do I have to lead them to my door?”
She frowned at his state. “Is this what you do when no one is around—drink?”
“None of your business” he said, giving a lecherous smirk, “unless you want one?” His words weren’t slurred, but still sluggish for him.
“So I can be as drunk as you? No thanks. I came to talk. But you don’t seem to be in any condition for that.” She sauntered to the burgundy sofa and plopped down. Beer bottles, white food containers, and a pizza box littered the table. “This room is a mess. Don’t you have a maid?”
“They notice the do-not-disturb sign, unlike you. I can see that you’re going be a nag. I’ll need some reinforcements.” Barefoot, he walked to the mini-bar and pulled out a light-brown bottle.
She picked up the remote and clicked off the television. She also wanted to snatch the drink from his hand, but Randall would do what he wanted no matter what she did, just to spite her. “Yeah, I’m sure being drunk is greatly helping with your problems.”
He stalked over to her and bent down until they were face-to-face, his eyes blazing. “If you’re going to be a pain in the butt, you can leave,” he growled.
Pulse quickening, she bristled. “Not a chance.”
“Brat,” he muttered and fell on the chair across from her. “Tell me again why I helped you after you were caught stealing?”
“Because somewhere deep down, you still have a good streak.”
He leaned back in his chair and put his foot on the table. “Really? I don’t know how it got there.”
She smiled evilly. “Miracles do happen.”
He threw back his head and laughed.
She found herself chuckling along before she realized that as much as he infuriated her, she did owe him. “But I’m grateful that you had one moment at least,” she added.
“Don’t get mushy on me,” he warned.
“Fine.” She leaned back, feeling a bit more relaxed. “What’s going on with you?”
He picked up his glass and swirled the liquor in small circles, a cloud passing over his face again. “Did you know my movie got shut down?”
“No,” she murmured. So, things weren’t as great as Randall put on. She didn’t want to feel any empathy, but she did. “Sorry.”
He tilted the glass and swallowed. “Don’t be. I’m just a bad bet since my last three movies failed. So now, I got lots of time to figure it out,” he said dryly. “Other people can have three flops in a row and still get work, but not me.”
Her eyes shifted to the ceiling. Before she went to college, she used to watch his movies religiously. But something about staring at him on screen—huger than life—made her fall in love a little, regardless of what she had known of him, which had to stop. “Even if your last couple of movies weren’t successful, I’m sure you’ll rebound.”
“I’ve been home for two weeks, and the five scripts I’ve received are junk, mostly straight-to-video. Sorry if I’m not optimistic.” He staggered to his feet and glided to the window. The streets were still light enough to view, despite the rapidly descending sun.
She wondered what he was looking at. Carol’s Diner? She was sure no one roamed the streets. People would be home, eating dinner and watching television as a family.
He turned. “What’s with your visit? You’re going to take me up on my offer, right?” He rubbed a hand over his face as if trying to be more lucid.
She gritted her teeth. “Yeah, I realized my budget didn’t allow for a car payment, or getting it fixed. I spent most of my savings on my house, and though I’m sure your parents would help, they’ve already done so much for me that I’d hate to ask.”
Pleasure gleamed in his eyes, and a smile played on his full lips, beckoning her. She dug her nails in her palm. Seriously, she wished he would stop. The sad part was that she was sure he wasn’t trying to be sexy. He just was.
“Don’t fret, Kay,” he murmured. “I won’t bite you.”
She stiffened. “Good, because I have some conditions for you.”
He plopped back into the chair and leaned back. “I should’ve known you wouldn’t be easy.”
Heart Stealer on Amazon.com April 22th, 2011