Chased by love love in b.., p.2
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       Chased by Love (Love in Bloom: The Ryders): Trish Ryder, p.2

           Melissa Foster

  “I know you don’t blame yourself for Destiny’s death,” Honor said softly. “But you have to find a way to let her go. That’s why you keep seeing her when you’re doing those scenes with Trish.”

  “She was your sister. She was our sister,” he said adamantly. Even though Trish’s role was one of a girlfriend and he’d never had that connection with Destiny, the emotions she unearthed were the same. He’d felt helpless watching Destiny lose herself in drugs. “I’ll never let her go.”

  “You know what I mean, Boone. We all loved her, and we all miss her. None of us will ever really let her go, and you know I don’t want you to forget her. I’d never want that. But this movie is bringing you back to the darkness we survived years ago. I’m just worried about you.”

  He opened his eyes, meeting her compassionate gaze.

  “You’ve got so much on your plate with Lucky, and your mom’s recent health scare, and now Jude using again. I know you wanted to challenge yourself, but maybe this isn’t the right time. If this movie is too much for you, maybe you should back out of it.”

  Between bailing his cocky youngest brother out of trouble, trying to convince his drummer, Jude Birch, to get his shit together, and his never-ending worries about his mother’s health, he was practically drowning. But he was a man of his word, and he had no intention of letting anyone down.

  “I can’t do that. Even if I could, I never would. You saw how upset Trish was. You read the papers. This is her shot at an Oscar, and they’ve been pimping me out as the lead for months. If I bail, the movie will tank, and she’ll get screwed over. I’ll figure it out.” He pushed to his feet and reached for Honor’s hand, helping her up.

  “You have too big of a heart. You always have.” Honor hugged him. “If you refuse to put yourself first, then I think you should take my advice and tell Trish what’s going on. She might be able to help.”

  Boone laughed and headed back toward the bedrooms. “I think she’s doing all she can to keep from killing me on a daily basis.”

  “Since when have you sucked at reading women?”

  “I don’t suck at it. Turning a woman on and being liked by her are two very different things. I just need to get past seeing Destiny every time Trish is in character. Talking tonight helped. I appreciate it.” He kissed Honor’s cheek, opened her bedroom door, then headed for his own.

  “You could always picture her as a fat, ugly guy instead of a hot chick you’d like to see naked.”

  Boone shook his head and closed his bedroom door behind him. He’d have to give Honor hell in the morning before she left, because now he couldn’t stop picturing Trish naked.

  Chapter Two

  TRISH LAY ON the concrete floor in an abandoned warehouse, covered in dirt and grime. Her tattered dress was bunched around her bruised and battered thighs, her hair was a mass of greasy tangles, and her arms were tracked with angry red marks. She stared up at the ceiling with unseeing eyes, barely breathing, waiting for Boone to say his lines. She was nailing her role as Delia Ellis, rock star Rick Champion’s heroin-addicted girlfriend, in the gritty indie film about a reclusive musician that made it big. She’d starved herself down to a dangerous one hundred and six pounds, which was well below her healthy weight at five nine, but it was worth it. Trish was an A-list actress, and this role should finally put her in the running for an Oscar. But they’d been filming for weeks and Boone had yet to make it through a single scene without screwing up, which meant delays the producers couldn’t afford.

  Boone paced a few feet away, his rapid breathing and heavy footfalls the only sounds on the set.

  Come on. Three lines. You can do this.

  She knew he had it in him to evoke the intense emotions needed for his scene. When she’d learned they’d secured Boone for the role, she’d jumped at the chance to work with him. Not only was he hotter than sin, but he also wrote all of his own music and lyrics. His songs were soulful and torturous, and Trish had immense respect for his musical talents. But the ability to parlay those talents to acting seemed to evade him.

  Regulating her breathing when all she wanted to do was shake the hell out of her co-star was a definite test of her acting abilities. She couldn’t even shift her gaze to see what Boone was doing without breaking character, leaving her stuck, silently willing the six-two rock god not to screw this up for both of them.

  Boone crouched beside her limp body. Tension and angst billowed around him like a storm cloud threatening to burst, perfect for the scene where he finds his strung-out lover on the precipice of death.

  Hope rushed through her. You can do this. Please do this.

  “What do you expect me to do now?” Boone had the lines right, but his tone was off. Again.

  Disillusioned and upset, it was all Trish could do to remain still, and when Chuck Russell, the director, yelled, “Cut!” for the millionth time, his tone told her he was nearing his own breaking point.

  Chuck stalked toward them, and Trish pushed to her feet beside the shirtless, brooding musician. The muscles in Boone’s neck and broad shoulders bulged, corded so tight it had to hurt. Tattoos snaked beneath his collarbone, across perfectly muscled pecs, and down each impressively defined arm. He crossed his arms, watching Chuck close the distance between them. Chuck was a burly, barrel-chested man in his late fifties, with thick hair that always appeared windblown. His shoulders were rounded, like a grizzly readying to pounce, and he set a dark stare on Boone. Boone didn’t flinch. His left hand was tucked against his ribs, his right palm turned upward, fingers extended and slightly curled in a quizzical pose, which matched the knitting of his thick, dark brows. His hand gesture and pleading eyes relayed, I’m sorry, but…with no excuse at the ready.

  You’ve never needed excuses, have you?

  Trish wanted the film to succeed not only because of her chance to finally take her career to the next level, but also because the story was intense and real. It was a story worth telling, one that many artists could relate to, which was another reason she thought Boone would do well in the part.

  “What’s the problem, Stryker?” Chuck’s voice echoed off the rafters. “This is a pivotal scene. You’re supposed to be on the brink of the most important moment of your life. You’re about to leave for stardom. You’re on a high, the biggest high you can imagine, and then your world comes crashing down.” He waved at Trish. “She’s fucking up everything for you and you love her. You’re tortured, stuck in a fathomless position that’s gnawing at your gut. We need to see that. Hear it. Feel it.”

  Trish knew Chuck was referring to her character, Delia, but she wondered if Boone did. He couldn’t possibly think he meant Trish was getting in his way of acting, could he? Boone’s jaw clenched, accentuating his perfectly bowed lips. Last night there had been a moment when Trish had fantasized about sinking her teeth into those perfect lips. A momentary lapse in judgment.

  “Right,” Boone said flatly. “I’m working on it. But these lines don’t feel right.”

  Ohmygod. Wrong answer.

  “You should have been working on it for months,” Chuck snapped. “Every time we have to reshoot a scene it costs us money we don’t have. And this is a Chuck Russell film. We do not improvise, so get that out of your head. I don’t care if you love or hate the lines. You stick to the script.” He shifted a fed-up expression to Trish, and her stomach plummeted.

  “We’ll get it right,” she assured him. She’d promise her firstborn if that’s what it took to make sure this movie didn’t get canceled. She glared at Boone, hoping he’d read, Shut the hell up and let me handle this. “Give me a few days to work with him. I know we can nail the chemistry. I know he can do this.”

  Boone shot her a quizzical gaze.

  She’d deal with him later. Right now she needed to get Chuck to believe she could make Boone take the film seriously, and she wasn’t entirely sure she believed it herself. “You know I can do this, and I know he can do it.”

  Chuck’s eyes darted between the two
of them. Boone had a death stare locked on Trish, but she didn’t care. She was sick and tired of repetitive roles that didn’t test or stretch her acting skills. She’d been ready to take a hiatus when she’d read this script, and the gritty part had spoken to her from page one. She wasn’t about to let an arrogant musician mess it up for her.

  Chuck pointed at Trish. “You have ten days to pull this shit together. From this moment on, the two of you are Siamese twins. Wherever he goes, you’re there.” He waved his finger at Boone. “Where she goes, you go.”

  “We’ll get it right,” Trish assured him, at the same time Boone said, “What?”

  “You’re damn right you will,” Chuck said to Trish, clearly ignoring Boone’s complaint. “Or you’re both off the film.”

  “Wait. What? Both of us?” She scowled at Boone, who was grinding his teeth together, eyes locked on Chuck.

  “You can’t take her off the film because I suck,” Boone complained.

  Chuck crossed his arms, eyeing them both with more than a hint of arrogance. “I’m the director. I can do anything I want. Siamese twins. I want you both at the farmhouse in Hurricane, West Virginia, by tomorrow night. Ten days of getting into character should give us a perfect film.”

  “You want us to stay at the next location for ten days? What about this scene?”

  “We’ll come back to it. The farmhouse,” Chuck reiterated. “Ten days. No crew, no bullshit. Get there and fix this.” He eyed Boone. “No doubt you know music. She knows acting. If you have a lick of sense, you’ll listen to whatever she says.”

  Trish scowled at Boone as Chuck walked away. Then she ran after Chuck. “We don’t need to live together for ten da—”

  Chuck stopped short, and she nearly bumped into him.

  “Trish, we know you can pull off your role.” He shifted his gaze to Boone, who was ambling toward his trailer like he hadn’t a care in the world. “But he’s the one the fans want to see as Rick Champion, and it’s going to take a fucking miracle to get him to perform well enough to pull this off. I want you to hammer the character into his head.”

  “And if I don’t pull off a miracle, I lose my shot at this incredible film because he’s too much of a dumbass to take it seriously?”

  Chuck’s expression softened. “You know the game. The fans make or break these kind of movies. He’s been pimped as the lead in every media outlet for months. If he doesn’t perform, the movie doesn’t get made.”


  BOONE HAD THE innate ability to compartmentalize his life, and as he stepped into his trailer, he shoved the ten-day mandate into a mental compartment called Not in This Lifetime and focused on more pressing issues. Like the text from Jude. Back off. I can handle this. Like hell he could. His cocaine addiction had gotten out of control. It wasn’t the first time, but Boone had thought the last time had been just that. The last time. He’d known Jude since he was a scrappy teenager busting into houses to feed his brothers. Honor was right; they’d come a long way from their meager beginnings, and they owed it all to one man. The man Boone was dialing up as he pulled a soda from the fridge. The only other person on the planet who might be able to get through to Jude.

  He smiled as he read the note Honor had left propped up against his soda cans. Good luck! Call me if you need an ear, and remember, talking helps. Talk to the hottie you’ve been trying to pretend isn’t so hot.

  Harvey Bauer answered on the first ring. “Heard you bought yourself ten days in heaven with Trish Ryder.”

  Boone pictured him sitting back in his leather chair, his feet kicked up on his desk and a wise-ass smile on his face.

  “How could you possibly have heard that already? They just handed down the prison sentence ten minutes ago.” Boone took a swig of his drink and sank down in a chair, thinking about his gorgeous co-star and the way she’d looked at him last night—like she wasn’t sure if she wanted to fuck him, kill him, or figure him out.

  He was pretty sure kill was now highest on that agenda.

  Harvey was quiet for a beat too long, bringing Boone’s mind back to their conversation. He knew he’d screwed up, and not only was it screwing Trish for this movie—and the next ten days—but it would also reflect poorly on Harvey if Boone didn’t nail this part. He pretty much owed Harvey his life, since he’d not only paid for Boone to attend Epson School of the Arts, where Boone’s mother worked as a janitor, but he’d also mentored Boone, his brother Cage, and a number of their friends, and helped them build their careers from scratch.

  “I’ve got a lot on my plate.” Boone rested his head back and closed his eyes against the lame excuse. It didn’t matter that it was true. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, and if anyone knew about having a lot on his plate, it was Harvey.

  “Mm-hm.” Harvey would never fall back on an excuse, which was only one of the reasons Boone respected him with the same vehemence as he’d respected his own father, and it was the reason Boone turned to him now.

  “I’ll fix it,” Boone assured him.

  “Hey,” Harvey said casually. “You’re not doing me any favors, but Chuck isn’t screwing around. His assistant called me within minutes of Chuck giving you the directive.”

  “I said I’ll fix it.” Chuck had been after Boone to do this film for a long time, and he’d wanted to do the movie since he’d first read the script. He’d wanted a new challenge. Lately he’d felt creatively blocked. He was having trouble writing songs for the first time in years. He was sick of groupies, sick of the rock-star persona he was expected to live up to, and was ready for a change, but doing something like this came with risks. He wasn’t an actor, and he’d known once he’d accepted the role that he’d have no choice but to sink or swim. If he sank, so would his reputation and the reputation of everyone else who was involved with the film. With the support of his closest friends and family, he’d finally accepted the challenge, and he’d thought he could pull it off. But he hadn’t expected his life to implode at the same time. And now his worst fears were coming true.

  He wasn’t going to help anyone if he got himself fired.

  “You always do,” Harvey said. “So, what’s up? You need me to ship a crate of condoms out to the godforsaken place you’re going?”

  Boone laughed, thinking about the scathing looks the chestnut-haired actress had given him. “I’m sure I won’t be needing them. We’ll be lucky if we don’t kill each other out there.” He’d been shocked when Trish had offered to help him, and as much as he appreciated it, he hated that now she was stuck giving up her time because of him.

  “So you are going, then? Because Chuck’s assistant said if you don’t play well in the sandbox, you’re out of the schoolyard.”

  “I’m not going for ten days, but I’ll go and play nice. I need a few days at most. I just need to focus.” He took another swig of his soda, hoping focus was all it would take. “Which is why I need you to visit Jude. He’s using again.”

  “Aw, hell, again? Have you talked to him?”

  “For hours. I was this close to getting him to agree to go to rehab the other morning, and then he bailed on me. That’s one reason the director is all over me. I was an hour late to the set.”

  They talked for a few more minutes, and Harvey agreed to track down Jude and let Boone know how their meeting went. After the call, Boone tossed his phone on the sofa, stripped off his pants, and headed for the shower. Someone banged on his trailer door. He cursed under his breath and reached for a towel as the door swung open and Trish stormed in.

  “Do you have any idea how close he is to shutting down this—” Her eyes swept down his naked body. “You’re naked!” She spun around, and her hands flew over her eyes. “Why are you naked?”

  “I usually get naked before I shower. Why are you in my trailer?” Boone couldn’t help but laugh at her reaction. She was still wearing her character’s dirty dress, her hair looked like a rat’s nest, and her body was covered in a layer of filth. She was tall and waif thin. Too skinny for
Boone’s usual taste, but he’d noticed her confidence and determination the first moment they’d met, and her feistiness was definitely hot.

  She turned, her eyes going directly south. “You’re still naked!” She spun around again.

  “And you’re still in my trailer.” He casually wrapped the towel around his waist. “You can turn around and bite my head off now.”

  “Are you clothed?”

  “You’ll just have to take your chances.”

  She turned slowly. He had the urge to rip off his towel just to see her fly into another fit, but he refrained. He had a sister, and he knew the wrath of an angry woman, so he waited out her fury in silence. She put a hand on her hip and pursed her lips together. Her perfectly manicured brows knitted, as if she was trying to remember what she’d come there to say.

  “I don’t know what you’re trying to do out there,” she finally said with a huff of anger. “But I’m not about to let you screw this up for me, or for any of the other people who are pouring endless hours into this movie.”

  “Do you really think that’s my plan? To screw this up?” He reached for his soda and held it up. “Want a drink?”

  She rolled her eyes. “That might work on your groupies, but I’m not a groupie.”

  He eyed his soda. “Now you’ve lost me. What might work?”

  She waved her hand in his direction. “You. Naked. Offering me a drink, which I’m sure is code for…Never mind! In case you haven’t noticed, you’ve wasted enough of my time.”

  “Is that right?” She’d snarled, glared, ogled, and shaken her head at him, but other than last night, when she was pissed off about the groupies—as was he—not once had she actually taken the time to talk to him when they weren’t filming. Not that this was talking, but at least she was communicating instead of holing up in her trailer. “And how is that?”

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