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Authors: Jean C. Joachim

Lovers & Liars

 

LOVERS & LIARS

Hollywood Hearts 6

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jean C. Joachim

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sensual Romance

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A Secret
Cravings Publishing Book

Sensual
Romance

 

Lovers
& Liars

Copyright
© 2013 Jean C. Joachim

E-book ISBN:
978-1-61885-957-0

 

First
E-book Publication: November 2013

 

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Dedication

To
my readers, you keep me writing.

 

Thank
you: Larry Joachim for legal advice, Marilyn Lee, JJ’s Book Buddies, Kathleen
Ball, the Tuesday Tales writers, Tabitha Bower, my editor and Sandy Sullivan,
my publisher.

 
 
 
 

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LOVERS & LIARS

Hollywood
Hearts 6

Jean C. Joachim

Copyright
© 2013

 
 

Chapter
One

 

Erica
checked her lip gloss in the rearview mirror and patted the bun that camouflaged
her sexy, thick, blonde hair.
How to avoid
passes from Mr. Gunther Quill, seducer producer, my new boss? Dress like a man.

She
changed her appearance to conceal her curvy body and stunning blonde locks. The
white shirt from the thrift store was two sizes too big, hiding her breasts.
No cleavage. Look dowdy. Is that even a
word?
She was swimming in the severe, man-tailored, navy blue jacket of her
second-hand suit.
I look like a prison
matron.
A pair of fake glasses added to the effect, though nothing could
disguise her large, luminous, sky-blue eyes.
Some people never look beyond the eyeglasses. Hope he’s one of them.

For
her new job, Erica was being forced to live with one of the biggest lies of her
life, and she was damned uncomfortable about it. Amy, her roommate and Quill’s
former assistant, had convinced Erica to lie on her resume, claiming she had
graduated from an Ivy League college. In the interview, Erica had convinced
Gunther that she had no interest in acting, even though a career as an actress
was her heart’s desire, and she had talent.

He
was adamant about not hiring someone who would use him as a stepping stone.
Which is exactly what I plan
to do.
She remembered Amy quoting him—‘I’m not paying someone to use
my contacts to build their career. I’m paying them to be my assistant. That’s
all!’

Amy
had convinced Erica that Quill was a bad guy, a mean slave driver who deserved
to be duped. Erica had no cash, no connections, and no way to get her foot in
the door. Until now.

Lying
wasn’t her style. Her late mother had often said her daughter was too truthful
for her own good. But her inability to find work had made her desperate. Amy
was moving out soon. Erica had to earn money fast or be thrown out on the
street. Gunther Quill was her only chance. When she got the job, humiliation
and shame had filled her heart, along with relief.
Thank God Mom isn’t here to see this.

Amy
gloated over her plan to trick Quill, saying Erica could pull it off because
she was such a good actress. But on her first day, the butterflies in her stomach
felt more like snakes, and her underarms grew damp.
What’s the difference between acting and lying? Acting is lying on the
stage, right? Then this is just lying?

Unlike
a little white lie about liking a friend’s ugly new dress, this was big time
lying that could have serious consequences.
What
if he catches on? I’m fired.
If I lose this job...
Erica
couldn’t bear to think about what might happen.
Maybe if I work really hard, I can keep the job. I just need one break.

The
sound of her sensible shoes on the pavement
beat a rhythm.
Take it, take it, take
it. This is your chance. Your one chance to make it. You have to take it. Work
hard. I can’t go home.
She took a deep breath as she pushed through the
doors of the office building, entered the elevator, and hit the button for the
tenth floor.
Now to
face Amy’s monster, Gunther Quill.

But
he hadn’t appeared to be a monster to Erica when she’d interviewed with him.
One look at the man had sent a sizzle through her body. Dark hair with a few
gray ones at his temples, and dark eyes that left a burn wherever they stared,
took her breath away. He was tall, lean, and sexy as hell.

She
had been expecting a hulking figure of a man, with giant eyebrows, a fierce
scowl, and dirty fingernails. Maybe drooling. She had been taken off guard by
the gorgeous, impatient man firing questions at her.

Erica
gritted her teeth, preparing herself to deceive the devastatingly attractive
Gunther Quill and make a connection with a casting director to secure herself a
movie role. Her breath hitched in her throat when she eyed the door. The sign
read
Gunther Quill Productions
in
large brass letters. She gripped the handle, took one more deep breath, and pulled
it open.

“There
you are.
Right on time.
Good. Here’s your desk. Grab a
notebook and pen and come into my office.” Gunther’s gaze barely swept over her
as he uttered the order and disappeared behind the big door.

Erica
hurried to the desk, dropped her purse in the large drawer, took out her pen
and notebook, then scurried into Gunther’s office. She sat in a modern, leather
chair facing his huge glass desk, which housed an appointment calendar,
computer, and one folder. Gunther stood outlined against two giant windows.

She
was taken off guard by the tall, broad-shouldered man with the trim waist. His
brown eyes seemed to change color as he moved around the room. In some light
they were like dark
Hershey’s
Kisses
. In the sunshine by the window,
they were more milk chocolate. His scruff was perfect. His white shirt and gold
tie were perfect. The charcoal gray suit, tailored to his body, fit him like a
glove. And when he flashed his thousand-watt smile at her, she melted inside.

He
looked gorgeous as he paced back and forth with the power and grace of a
panther.

“Do
you take shorthand?”

She
shook her head. He frowned.

“Okay,
I’ll speak slowly. Make this an email. Max Webster. The usual greeting. Check
my old emails. ‘Have a new project. Can you do lunch Thursday? The Satin Club
at noon?’ Sign my name.”

The
next hour was spent furiously taking notes. Gunther fired instructions, lists,
and questions at her, all the time pacing and running his fingers through his
hair. Erica kept up, writing fast and training herself to remember whatever she
couldn’t jot down.

When
he finally took a breath, and stopped talking, he strolled past her to the black
carafe on the teak credenza. A tantalizing whiff of expensive, French cologne
or aftershave—she couldn’t tell which—captured her senses.
Damn, he smells good. Looks like he hasn’t shaved in a day or two.
Nice!

He
poured a glass of water then offered her one. She declined. His long fingers
wrapped around the shimmering crystal. She wondered what they would feel like
touching her. He brought the drink up to his sensuous lips. His mouth drew her
gaze, the pout of his lower lip making her breath hitch.
So incredibly kissable.
She ran her tongue over her own, not
realizing what she was doing until she noticed Gunther’s stare.

The panther never misses a single move
of his prey. Keep your tongue in your mouth, girl.

The
phone rang, jarring them both.

“Hi,
Whit. What’s up?” He motioned her to leave.

A private conversation. I need to
pick up on that myself and leave without his asking. Making a mental note.
On
her way out, she noticed another door near the window.
Wonder where that leads?
She didn’t want to be nosy and quickly set
about doing all the tasks he had given her.

There
was a short manual on her desk that included the computer password and where
things were. It was incomplete.
Put
together by Amy, no doubt. She wasn’t as efficient as she claimed.

She
pulled up
Microsoft Word
and began to
type. The light on the intercom for Gunther’s phone glowed for a long time. Other
lights, presumably for two other lines, went on and off randomly.
The man handles three phones at once?

She
kept working, terrified he would come roaring out of his office and she
wouldn’t be finished. It was lunchtime when he finally emerged. He stood at her
desk, adjusting his tie, which he had obviously undone while he was talking.

“Hate
these things,” he muttered. His hair was mussed. She couldn’t take her eyes off
him.
Bet he looks just like that after
he’s made love.
Heat from embarrassment crept up her neck, but if Gunther
noticed it, he didn’t comment.

“Get
anything done?” His sardonic tone and cocked eyebrow challenged her. She picked
up her notebook.

“Let’s
see, Max Webster said ‘yes’ to lunch Thursday. I called him to change the
reservation to twelve-thirty, since your regular table isn’t free at noon.
Dusty Carpenter’s office is sending over three actresses, instead of two, for
the role of Cindy in
Strange Bedfellows
.
Armin Cutter’s secretary emailed. He wants to take a meeting. Charlotte
Grim’s
office sent the press releases you wanted for
Hustle and Dance.
Here they are.” She
handed the hard copy to him.

“Armin
Cutter from
Worldwide
?”
He raised his eyebrows.

She
nodded.

“Is
that all?”

“I
confirmed lunch with Claude
Reisse
today at one. Dinner
with
Dorrie
Rodgers and her husband is confirmed for
tomorrow night. I sorted that huge pile of scripts by type. You know,
thrillers, outer space, guy stories, chick flicks, and so on. What’s next?” Gunther
looked at her, a small smile on his lips.
You
thought I couldn’t do it, didn’t you?
She tried to keep a smug grin off her
face, with little success.
I’m not Amy.

Gunther’s
gaze connected with hers. A jolt went through her body. Erica shifted in her
seat, hoping to cover up her response.

“Are
you going to wear that…that…old-fashioned suit every day?”

She
nodded.

“It
doesn’t even fit you.” He examined her curves, bringing color to her cheeks.

She
tugged at the bottom of the jacket then the hem of the skirt.
Does he have x-ray vision?
“Not everyone
can afford fancy clothes, Mr. Quill.”

“Gunther,
please. Mr. Quill was my father. I hope after a paycheck or two, you can afford
a more appropriate wardrobe. This is a movie production office, not a jail. I
like my assistants to dress reasonably well. I guess it’s okay for now. In two
weeks, after you’re paid, I expect to see something more…uh…fashionable. Did
you sign the paperwork? I’m going to lunch now. If you have some free time,
read some of those scripts and tell me what you think.”

Two weeks? I need to pay my rent
now.
Erica tried to smile, but anxiety gripped her.

“Don’t
worry. You did fine. Very good, in fact. Distinct improvement over Amy.”

With
those parting words, he was out the door in a flash, leaving her dazed and
worried. Erica filled a cup with water from the cooler and opened her small
sandwich. She picked up a treatment that caught her eye and read while she ate.
Looks like I’ll have plenty of free
reading material.

The
story pushed her worries about rent out of her mind for a bit. When she
finished, she started a new page in her notebook and jotted down the title of
the script. Then, she sat back and picked up where she’d left off while polishing
off an apple.

 

* * * *

 

She
was still reading when Gunther returned at two-thirty. He noticed the scrunched
up brown bag.
She’s on a tight budget.
That awful suit and the shirt. Damn thing doesn’t even fit. What’s she hiding
under there? She brings lunch, too? She’s beyond broke.

His
mind flashed back for a moment to his first job on Broadway as a producer’s
assistant. Laurel, his live-in girlfriend, had always packed him a lunch. They had
watched every penny, saving what they could for an occasional meal out at
Sardi’s
or
another fancy restaurant. They had kept a joint savings account, too. Their
dreams had been big in those days.

Then,
Laurel had gotten badly burned, her career had stalled, and she had committed
suicide. The memory slid from nostalgic
to
painful in
seconds. He gave his head a shake and returned to the present.
Brown bagging it by
yourself
isn’t so romantic.

“Do
you have a boyfriend?” He watched her closely.

She
closed the script and avoided his gaze. “Not at the moment.”

“Good.
Lots of overtime in this job. Movies aren’t made from nine to five. You get
extra pay for it. I don’t have to worry about some sex-starved guy coming in
here demanding I let you leave? Works for me.”

Her
eyes widened. He looked her over again.
Those
lousy clothes don’t fool me. You’re not ugly. Not at all. A little makeup and
the right clothes, and you could be passable.
Maybe even hot
under that crappy suit?
Gunther wasn’t interested in passable, only
in gorgeous.

Dorrie
,
his former fiancée and now friend, had warned him about making passes at his
assistants. He could get into a lot of trouble, sued even, for sexual
harassment. He’d have to work on toning down his interest in what lurked under Erica’s
clothes.
The way she looks, no
temptation. Perfect. I’m not good with temptation. But still, I’d like to get a
look.

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