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Authors: Judith Leger

Enchanted (6 page)

BOOK: Enchanted
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The rest of the show careened past her as she struggled to rationalize all that had occurred onstage. An hour and a half later, she leaned against the wall in the amphitheater’s ladies room and waited as Marcy applied fresh powder and lipstick. In a matter of seconds, they would go through the hallways to the special room in the building for the backstage party.

Her blood continued to rush through her veins, and the mirrors behind the sinks beckoned her to look and verify they were solid glass and not a doorway to a different world. No, she refused to believe what happened on stage earlier held even a small measure of reality. His act thrived with the spectacular illusions. Only illusions. Evers was a fake, and her determination strengthened to discover all his little tricks.

She turned and smiled, concentrating on her friend’s reflection. Marcy’s beauty amazed her sometimes. Flawless tanned skin enhanced the striking blond streaks in her hair. Bright blue eyes rose and met hers in the mirror.

“Excited?” Marcy compressed her lips to smooth the fresh coat of frosted pink lipstick.

“Maybe–a little. I haven’t had time to think about it.” Caitlyn stepped away from the wall. “Hurry up. I want to get this over with.”

“Oooh, she’s anxious. Why?” Marcy wagged a finger at her. “I know you, Caitlyn. Don’t give me that strong I’m-not-nervous attitude. You’re shaking inside. I can see the vein pulsing in your neck. Don’t be nervous, he’s a man, just like all the rest. Of course, he is famous, rich, has gorgeous looks and his body–I can’t wait to get my hands on him.”

Caitlyn rolled her eyes. She seriously considered the same thing, but she would never say the words out loud. They sounded vulgar and full of raw emotions, two things she excluded from her life. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe he won’t even notice you?”

Marcy laughed, a nice throaty sound, and stepped closer, slipping her arm through Caitlyn’s. “Does it matter? How many women do you know can say they had the chance to proposition Shay Evers? To me, that’s more important than actually getting him in the sack.”

“It’s good to know you’re not as bad as you appear.” She patted Marcy’s hand as they walked, arms entwined, from the ladies room. Caitlyn blinked several times to adjust her sight to the dim light in the corridor. Decorative lights hanging fifty feet above did little to dispel the shadows along the edges of the hall. Darkness lined the way. The eerie atmosphere gave her a chill.

Several teenage girls dressed in sparkling shirts and tattered jeans brushed passed them. Their overpowering perfume and excited giggles grated on Caitlyn’s frazzled nerves.

Marcy swung her head toward her and winked. “Did I tell you how fabulous you look? From now on, you’ll wear your hair down. Even without any makeup, this outfit and your hair make a big difference. Of course you still have a long way to go before you’ll match me in looks. Who knows? Evers might notice you and ignore me. Wouldn’t it be wild?” Her eyes lit up with her laugh, and she hugged Caitlyn’s arm tighter against her side. “Just imagine the headlines. Illusionist falls head-over-heels for aspiring news reporter. You’d be set for life.”

Blood rushed to Caitlyn’s cheeks. Marcy managed to dig her point deep into Caitlyn’s flesh with her words. No matter what she did, she’d never match Marcy in the looks department. Angry, Caitlyn’s answer came out stronger than she’d meant. “I have no intention of ever getting married or falling love. You know how I feel about the subject.”

Marcy rolled her eyes. “Oh calm down, I was just teasing. You’ll change your mind one day. Who knows? Today might be the day and Shay Evers the man.”

She shook her head, denying Marcy’s words, but her friend had planted the seed. Deep within her heart, she wanted a relationship with Shay, but in reality, something so fabulous would never happen. She maneuvered Marcy to the right, avoiding a group of giggling fans. The crowds thinned, but a large number of young girls still roamed the halls.

Marcy pointed to a hallway branching off ahead of them. “Take a right up here. The elevator is there. Second floor and it’s our turn to perform.”

Caitlyn’s stomach rolled. What was wrong with her? She shouldn’t feel so anxious. Evers was, like Marcy said, just a man. A sharp pang sliced through her. The rational side of her accepted her friend intended to tease her, but now the idea whirled in her head. The schoolgirl jitters inside her refused to go away.

Lost in her thoughts, she let Marcy monopolize the conversation. The elevator doors opened to a huge social area, and she forced her attention to her surroundings.

People pooled here and there. Smiles were pasted on everyone’s faces, white teeth flashing and battling for brilliance with all the diamonds and jewels in the room. A few groups wandered from one side of the room to the other. She stepped from the elevator and cool air smacked her in the face, relieving her internal rise in temperature from her thoughts of Evers. Marcy guided her toward the tables set up on the far side of the room.

“Omigod there he is.” Her friend’s excited murmur reached her above the quiet conversations around them. “Come on, hurry. I’ve seen turtles move faster than you. I don’t want to miss him. These parties don’t usually last long. If you don’t speak to the star at the start, he’ll disappear and you’ll miss your chance.”

Caitlyn frowned. How had Marcy spotted Evers in the crowd? They shifted right to avoid a group of people, and when she glanced toward the tables, she saw him. With his rear resting against the edge of the last table, he smiled and nodded at the small crowd of people huddled in a semi-circle in front of him.

Once she noticed him, the room’s perimeter darkened while the light surrounding him took on a luminous glow. A clear glass, half-filled with brown liquid hung loose from his fingertips. Long dark eyelashes hid his eyes for a second, and then gleaming amethyst met and held her gaze.

The air in her lungs ceased expelling. She failed to force it out. Caught within his brilliant stare, she battled against a wave of dizziness. The slow lowering of his right eyelid released her.

He’d winked.

She froze. Did he wink at her? Yes, he had.

He looked away.

Freed from the hypnotic spell he cast on her, she exhaled.

Narrowing her gaze, she studied him. What kind of game was he playing? Her mind screamed to turn, run away. She’d find the quiet spot, phone Kramer and tell him she couldn’t go through with this interview.

And he’d blow up and fire her. She shut her eyes for a second, trying to find a place of calmness inside her.

When she opened them, Evers nodded in response to something someone said. Even though Caitlyn believed he’d stared into her eyes, there wasn’t any proof he focused on her. More than fifty people roamed about the room. Her imagination was playing with her, and if she wanted to succeed with her career she would have to learn to handle her reactions to his every move.

Satisfied with her analysis of the situation, she focused on the illusionist once more. Someone stepped away from him, allowing her a few moments to study his every move.

One long leg, covered in black leather, stretched away from the table while the other bent back under the wooden edge. Thick dark hair framed his features and hung over and behind his shoulders. Inhaling, she glanced at his face. The real man was far sexier than the cutout had been and, unlike the cardboard picture, he moved. The left side of his mouth twitched. He glanced in her direction again.

Marcy freed Caitlyn’s arm and glided to Evers’s side, squeezing past the people in front of him. The sexy blonde stopped less than six inches from him and leaned close. The side of her friend’s breast brushed against his arm, and Caitlyn clenched her jaw, determined to rise above the sudden surge of jealousy bubbling within her.

Rolling her eyes, she refused to watch his reaction to her friend’s overtures. She hoped no one had seen her enter the room with Marcy. The woman was a great friend, but her wild streak bothered Caitlyn.

She moved toward a buffet table not far from them. She kept her gaze on the cheese tray in front of her. Without having to look, she imagined how well Marcy was coming on to the man. Her friend had no shame when it came to men.

“What is it about him that attracts beautiful women?” A man’s said from behind her in a deep, accented voice.

Curious to see the man asking the question, Caitlyn swiveled toward the speaker. Tall and slender, pale blond hair tied at the back of his neck, the middle-aged stranger stood less than a foot away from her. He stood like a monolith, his arms crossed over his chest. A frown marred his handsome face. He reminded her of a Greek statue, his features perfect and cool.

The man tilted his head and raised an eyebrow at her.

She shrugged and bit off a piece of cheese she took from the platter. “I have no idea. I’m not sure I want to know, either.” She smiled and accepted a glass of wine from a passing waiter. Rich burgundy aroma rose from the fluted glass.

“It’s as if he has a scent about him which attracts women,” the man continued.

An image appeared in Caitlyn’s mind of a stag in rut. Yes, perfect comparison for the illusionist. She raised the glass to her lips and wine shifted toward her lips. She took a small sip, the rich aroma streaming up her nose.

The blond man snapped his fingers and smiled at her. “I know. A stag in rut.”

Caitlyn choked.



Chapter 7


Heat seared her throat, and she tried to draw in a tiny bit of air to cough.

“Oh my. Here, take another drink.” The stranger took her hand and brought the glass to her lips. Her breath rasped as she tried to shake her head.

Strong hands came from behind, caught her under her arms and lifted them above her head, glass and all. The gentle touch slid down to grasp her ribs below her breasts. “Keep your hands up and try to cough. A good deep breath and you’ll be fine.”

Through the burning pain, realization hit her. That voice. Evers. He was helping her. Oh God, she liked his touch. So nice–no, more than nice. She coughed. The next second, she stiffened, the burning in her windpipe forgotten. Warmth coated her body from behind. From the top of her head, down her back, blanketing her legs, her entire backside rested against him.

His body against her should have bothered her, but the feel of his strong hands under her breasts, cupping them up, his thumbs at each side, distracted her as sharp pangs traveled to the tips of her breasts. Her nipples hardened, and she forgot to cough. With a choked groan, she turned her face toward him. Oh, why did concern shine in his amethyst gaze?

“Would you please remove your hands from my breasts?” Throat raw, her words came out husky and low.

His eyes widened, and he jerked his hands away with a grin, shifting away from her. “Sorry. I didn’t realize.”

“It’s okay,” she muttered as heated blood rushed to her face.

His eyes narrowed. “I know you. You’re the news reporter, Caitlyn Reiley.”

Caitlyn tried to smile, but felt cornered. She looked past his handsome face and saw Marcy. Her friend stood a couple of feet behind him, her face expressionless.

Marcy’s gaze met hers and a chill raced up Caitlyn’s spine. Gleaming with a strange internal fire, Marcy’s eyes glowed bright. Malice aimed at her through the look sent an unexpected stab of fear lancing through her. From the edge of her line of vision, Evers turned toward her. The pale blond stranger, who’d been standing by, observing in silence, shifted closer to her. Did she imagine the instant protective wall emanating from the two men?

Caitlyn blinked, and when she raised her eyelids and focused, Marcy stood at ease, smiling at her. Had she imagined what had happened?

“Forgive Catey. It’s not every day she meets a famous person.” Marcy stared pointedly at him. “Hey, listen, can you kind of keep an eye on her? I want to talk to a guy over there. He’s your music tech, isn’t he? If I can’t have you, then he’s next on my list. Catey, let me know when you want to leave, okay?”

Still unsure of what she’d just witnessed, Caitlyn nodded while Marcy pivoted and melted into the crowd. She’d known Marcy since junior high. There wasn’t a mean bone in her body, yet what Caitlyn sensed and saw coming from her friend frightened her. Was Marcy jealous of her? No, she would never leave Caitlyn with him if that were true.

“Are you all right?” The question came from the stranger. He had remained silent, concern lining his features.

Caitlyn smiled and nodded. “Yes and thanks.”

Shay frowned. “Did Lance send you a pass for tonight?”

“No.” Her hair fluttered across her cheek as she shook her head. “I came with Marcy Richards.”

The frown deepened. He looked even more handsome wearing such a dark expression.

“Marcy?” He repeated curiosity evident in his gaze.

Caitlyn kept her tone even, but on the inside, she cringed with embarrassment. “The blonde. The one who asked you to keep an eye on me.”

His right brow rose, and he glanced in the direction where Marcy had disappeared. “You’re not like her, are you?”

Caitlyn’s back stiffened. “And what exactly does that mean? Marcy may be a little forward, but she’s a great friend, and no, she and I are complete opposites. She’s one of a kind.”

“I meant no offense.” He faced her, a wide grin spreading across his lips. He leaned close, his voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper. “Are you spying on me? A little undercover work before the interview?”

BOOK: Enchanted
13.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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