Unravelled (Revealed #2), page 1
The Revealed Series – Book Two
As always, my first thank you must go to you readers. I can never express in words how grateful I am for the support you give, and I truly hope you enjoy this second instalment of the new series.
I’ve never really had ‘writer’s block’ as such, but I must admit that there were a few tough times while writing this book. Getting the flow right has taken me considerable amounts of time, and during that process I must have written and re-written practically the entire book multiple times. I can’t thank Helen L., Katie N., or Helen N. enough for their support through this process – girls, your advice, feedback, and help has been invaluable.
An especially big thank you must go to Helen L. – the constant emails and phone calls I made to you while re-jigging the manuscript must have driven you insane, but you stuck it out and your help was immeasurable.
Eve K., a huge thanks for sharing your knowledge on prop making and prosthetics, it has been hugely helpful. Joanna R., thank you for the technical advice on film studios, and for keeping me sane over numerous coffees!
A special shout out goes to Cara Millar, who helped pick the name of the film studios I have used in this book – Dynamic Studios. Thanks for entering the competition, Cara.
Once again I need to extend a huge thank you to everyone at Accent Press for the hard work and dedication that goes into supporting my writing. Alex, I have the greatest respect for what you do as my editor, and can’t thank you enough for keeping me on the straight and narrow and correcting my mountains of grammatical errors.
For all my friends and family who have ended up missing out on time with me because ‘I have a deadline and I need to stay in and write,’ thank you for your unerring support: it means the world to me.
Note to Reader
The perspectives from which this story are told change from chapter to chapter – be sure to read the title headings so you know which character is narrating.
The Untwisted Series
‘No! You can’t change your mind!’ I held the phone away from my ear and winced as the excited voice of my best friend screeched down the line. ‘It’s perfect timing! You have to come out here!’
Of course the ‘here’ was Los Angeles, where Cait was currently staying, and the ‘perfect timing’ was my going out to visit her while both she and Sean – my fabulous and famous boyfriend – were in the same town.
The same fabulous and famous boyfriend I’d now been apart from for eight, long torturous weeks since he’d had to fly back to America at the end of February. Depressingly, Sean had easily returned to the actor’s life of glitz and glamour, leaving me in soggy old England while I worked my final term at school. And, boy, had the two months dragged. It had felt like eight years, not eight weeks.
Wrinkling up my nose I frowned, my stomach quivering with nerves at the thought of jumping on a plane and flying out to LA tomorrow. Gripping the phone tighter I shook my head, even though I knew Cait wouldn’t be able to see the gesture.
‘I’m not sure it’s such a great idea any more. I mean, he’s Sean Phillips, for God’s sake. He’ll be at home in glamorous Hollywood and then there’ll be me, Little Miss Nobody, stuck to his side looking like a right plonker.’ After eight weeks of separation I was starting to have some doubts and question the suitability of our relationship. Some serious, sleep-depriving, nail-munching doubts.
I heard Cait blow a dismissive raspberry and couldn’t help but smile slightly as I imagined her pretty face scrunched up peevishly. ‘From all you’ve told me so far, I don’t think he’d let you feel out of place at all. I bet he’s the perfect gent.’
A perfect gent? He probably was. He certainly looked the part anyway. He might not be a suit wearer like Bridget Jones’ Mr Darcy, but boy, could Sean wear jeans and a tight T-shirt like nobody’s business. Not to mention how sinfully good he looked bare-chested and in pyjama bottoms …
That gentlemanly picture might not be quite as accurate to describe his bedroom antics though, because Sean had already proven that he could be quite demanding and rough when the mood took him. Feeling my cheeks flush, I tried to push the arousing images out of my mind and focus on my call with Cait.
‘Hmmm. I’m not so sure he wants me to visit any more,’ I admitted thoughtfully, stirring my hot chocolate with far more vigour than necessary. My clumsy actions caused some of the added marshmallows to slop onto the coffee table and I grimaced at the mess. Picking one up, I popped it in my mouth, savouring the rush of sugar as it melted over my tongue.
‘Why? Has something happened?’
Dumping down the spoon, I shrugged to myself and drew in an anxious breath. ‘Not really … I don’t know, he’s just seemed a little more distant on our last few Skype calls.’ I knew I was probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but I was just unable to move past how tense Sean had been when we’d spoken in the last two weeks. He’d been frowning a lot too, which, although not an unusual expression for Sean, was one he hardly ever used with me any more. Until recently, that is.
It had all made me think something had happened, but when I’d questioned him about it he’d just looked a bit awkward and blamed it on tiredness from long filming hours. Despite Sean’s reassurances, something in my gut wasn’t convinced, and I’d begun to wonder if something had happened in the last two weeks.
Or someone. After all, he was out in LA, surrounded by clamouring fans and glamorous celebrities, so there must be temptation around every corner.
A shudder ran through me at the thought of all the women who would be vying for his attention over there in the sunshine. No doubt Botoxed beauties with bikini bodies and tans to die for. Ugh. Hardly comparable to my girl-next-door looks, pale skin, and smattering of freckles.
Plucking another marshmallow from my drink I tried to push my gloomy thoughts aside. Perhaps Cait was right and I was making too much of his tenseness. It was most likely just tiredness.
‘That’s probably because he’s getting frustrated with the distance and missing you like crazy,’ Cait said with certainty. It was true that it felt like years since I’d last seen him in person. ‘Even more reason to plant your skinny butt on that plane tomorrow and get over here,’ she concluded merrily.
‘My skinny butt?’ I exclaimed, attempting to imitate the bizarre accent she’d just used. ‘You’ve only been over there a few weeks and you’re already starting to talk like an American.’
I heard her soft giggle down the line
‘Has he still been demanding that you text every night? And using that soppy nickname for you? What is it again? Sweetie Pie? Pudding-Pop? Something like that?’ Cait asked, and I just knew she was grinning and massively taking the piss.
‘Gorgeous girl,’ I corrected quietly, smiling as I thought of the words rolling from Sean’s tongue in that lovely rasp of his. Just thinking of his ridiculously sexy voice made goose pimples pop up on my arms.
‘I prefer Sweet Cheeks,’ Cait teased with a chuckle.
‘And yes, he’s still using it.’ My friend was most amused by Sean’s term of affection, saying that calling me ‘girl’ made me sound far younger than I actually was – twenty-six – and Sean far older than his thirty-eight years. Personally, I loved it.
‘And yes. We still message every night.’ I loved this habit. It was only a quick message to say good night and let him know I was home safe and sound, but it was a constant reminder of our connection and gave Sean the compulsive reassurance he needed. Cait thought it was sweet, if somewhat obsessive – which it was – but I knew the traumatic story behind Sean’s possessiveness and understood his concerns. Besides, what girl wouldn’t want to know they had a gorgeous Hollywood star waiting for a text from them?
‘Well, there you go then – everything’s fine. You’re just overthinking things. Please say you’re still coming?’
Glancing down at the coffee table I saw my plane ticket sitting there almost expectantly. Picking it up, I licked my lips thoughtfully as I flapped it between my fingers.
Sighing, I leant back, amused by the bizarre reality of my life: to the world he was Sean Phillips, movie star and all-round heartthrob, but to me he was the man I’d been secretly dating since January. My Sean. At least I hoped he was mine. I think he was, but then why had he been so tense recently? I hated the way I continuously went over the same concerns in my mind. Being apart for the last eight weeks had been so much tougher than I’d anticipated and seemed to be driving me just a little bit crazy. In addition to making my heart grow fonder, the absence also added to my nerves about our long-term compatibility.
The reason for my hesitation was never far from my mind – just the teeny tiny fact that he was a globetrotting actor and I was a mere school teacher (soon to be ex-school teacher) was always nagging at me. It was all so surreal; me, dating Sean Phillips. I mean, when did things like that ever happen in this universe?
An impatient huff down the line brought my attention back to the present as I guiltily realised that Cait was waiting for my reply. ‘Come on, Allie, don’t leave me hanging,’ she begged. ‘You have the ticket booked anyway, and besides, when else am I going to be in the same frigging city as your new fella? It’s fate, like I said. Perfect timing.’
Now it was my turn to sigh. Cait had a point – my ticket was booked, and had been for nearly a year. Now that my student loans were paid off and I had some savings under my belt, it was time to indulge my two passions: travelling and writing. Those plans had been made before I’d met Sean, so now not only was I one day away from finishing my teaching job, but Cait was in Los Angeles and filming had taken Sean there too. In a way, it did seem as if the fates were aligning to steer me towards the glitz and glamour of LA
Who knew where it would go? Biting my lower lip with a nervous frown, I chewed on it as my mind went into overdrive again. I guess I’d find out for sure tomorrow. Although seeing as I had to endure a long-haul flight of more than fourteen hours to get there first, it was going to be more like two days until I’d see Sean. Even that seemed a million miles away. Could we make our relationship work or was a teacher dating a famous film star just a crazy fantasy? I suppose I’d get to see if my concerns had any grounding once I was there.
‘OK, OK, of course I’m still coming.’ Smiling as I listened to Cait’s giddy laughter I glanced at the empty suitcase across the room. It looked like I had some speedy packing to do.
The day of Allie’s arrival was finally here, and I was so excited I could hardly sit still. As friends went, Allie was top of the pile – loyal, strong, supportive, and stomach-clutchingly funny – so it really wasn’t surprising that I was so keyed up about seeing her soon and exploring this amazing city together.
Actually, thinking about it, even though she would be landing later today I probably wouldn’t see her for at least another day or two, because Sean was picking her up from the airport and I suspected they’d want some time to catch up. Images of romantic kisses and heated reunions briefly swept through my mind, but I didn’t let myself dwell on exactly what that ‘catching up’ might involve, because I felt my cheeks immediately begin to burn. Even at twenty-six, I still blushed like a schoolgirl whenever the topic of sex was raised. It was a ridiculous and annoying trait, but seemingly unavoidable.
Rolling my eyes, I stood up from the tall kitchen stool and wandered across to the industrial-sized coffee machine in the hostel kitchen. This place was only a budget backpackers’ joint, but they provided very tasty, very free coffee every morning, which was a definite point in its favour as far as I was concerned. Pouring myself a refill, I turned and leant back on the counter, still too twitchy with excitement to sit down. The caffeine couldn’t have helped, either. Even knowing I would have to share Allie’s time with Sean couldn’t put a dampener on my day. My bestie was on her way, and after three years of living on entirely different continents we would finally be in the same city again.
As I sipped my coffee, I thought about Allie’s whirlwind romance with Sean. After spending eight weeks apart she must be so excited to see him – and perhaps a little nervous if our phone call the other day was any indication. Part of me (a deep down, long-buried part) was actually slightly envious of their relationship. Not because he was famous – that didn’t bother me at all. The part I was curious about was the closeness they shared. From Allie’s descriptions, they seemed to be utterly head over heels for each other and could hardly wait to get back together after their time apart.
Pursing my lips, I absently played with the elastic bands around my wrist as my thoughts briefly darkened. A closeness like that with a man was something I would never experience, even if the idea did occasionally intrigue me. Having gone through a particularly traumatic relationship when I was younger, I now didn’t date. At all. Ever. A fact that Allie found particularly frustrating, but was something I saw as a necessity to keep myself safe. No relationship could ever be worth the trauma I had gone through.
Shaking off the shudder that ran up my spine, I drained my coffee cup, washed it, and hung it on a hook before taking a deep, calming breath. Locking my feelings and memories away inside me – something I was now particularly good at – I replaced my smile and turned back to the room feeling far calmer.
I needed to find some distractions to fill my time for the next day or two, because knowing Allie would be here soon was driving me nuts with excitement. It was still early, so maybe I could burn off some of this fidgety energy with a run, and then head out at lunchtime to register with a few more employment agencies.
Even though the hostel was cheap, I was essentially living off my savings and so couldn’t afford to stay for much longer without finding work. Seeing as Allie was going to be here for at least a month, I had decided that I may as well try to get a temporary job and extend my stay too.
As I made my way out of the large kitchen, I heard a familiar piece of music from the lounge area that made me pause. Turning my gaze to the television, I saw the opening credits of one of my favourite shows, Fire Lab, and found myself humming along to the theme tune as my g
Before I could stop it, a small appreciative hum left my throat, drawing the amused attention of the lone occupant of the sofa.
‘He’s quite a hunk, isn’t he?’ the girl said, as she grinned at me in agreement then turned back to the TV to join me in my ogling.
My cheeks flushed traitorously, but the girl’s attention was firmly rooted on the TV and I felt myself relax. I might not date, but I did occasionally window shop – after all, I was a twenty-six year-old woman, not a ninety-year-old nun. Jack was my latest crush, and since he’d been signed as the lead in Fire Lab I had become quite a closet fan of both the show and him. According to the gossip magazines I sometimes read, he lived in LA too – not that I’d seen him, of course, but the fact that I was in the same city as him always gave me a little thrill when I stopped to consider it.
It was tempting to linger and indulge in watching the programme, but I tore myself away and turned for the stairs. Work was needed, and today was the day to find some. Now I just had to pound the tarmac for a nice cleansing run and then dust down my suit to hit the employment agencies.
So here I was. Los Angeles International arrivals terminal. Thanks to some strong winds on the way I was over an hour early, and grateful to finally be able to stretch my legs properly. I was also so excited that I felt sick. Although admittedly that might be down to the chickpea and beef sandwich I’d had on the plane about two hours ago, because it had smelt decidedly dodgy and hadn’t tasted much better.
As I made my way through the throng of people attempting to exit the airport I felt my phone vibrate in my handbag and smiled, glad that I had remembered to turn it back on after landing. Dragging my suitcase away from the chaos of the luggage carousel, I tucked myself out of the way and then dug around amongst the debris in my handbag – Kindle, chewing gum, hair brush; you name it, I had it – until I finally found my phone.
Other author's books:
- Unravelled (Revealed #2)Enlightened (Untwisted Series Book 4)A Price to PayUnmasked (Revealed #1)Sinful SeductionWolfe's Lair
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