Read His One Desire Online

Authors: Kate Grey

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His One Desire

BOOK: His One Desire
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HIS

ONE

DESIRE

Kate Grey

 

HIS ONE DESIRE

Kate Grey

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is
purely coincidental.

Copyright 2012 by Kate Grey. All rights reserved,
including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any
means.

 

Chapter One

This couldn’t be happening.

But as Kali Jones stared across her desk into her boss’s
face, hoping to find some evidence that he was joking, all she saw was the
blissful happiness of a basic cable TV producer who’s been approached by one of
Hollywood’s rising stars about the network’s newest project.

Except it wasn’t just any project. It was
her
project. The paranormal drama she’d dreamed of doing for years, and which had
finally been given the green light by the network.

Because of her budget and also because of her vision for the
show, Kali had been planning to cast unknowns. And even if they’d been able to
afford a big star, Luke Tanner was the last actor in the world she’d ever want
to work with.

Once upon a time, she and Luke been friends—before they’d
become enemies. Of course he had no idea that Kali Jones, writer and director
of
Ghosts
, was Caroline Jones, the girl he’d known back in high
school. When he found out, he wouldn’t want anything to do with the show.

But Kali didn’t want things to get that far. She didn’t want
Luke to find out who she was, and she didn’t want to see him ever again. Which
meant she had to nip this in the bud right now.

She took a deep breath and prepared to fight, both for her
show and for her peace of mind.

“Tom, I thought we’d agreed to cast fresh faces. Not only
because of our budget constraints but also because—”

“But that’s the best part! According to his agent, Luke
Tanner is so excited about
Ghosts
that he’s willing to work for what
we’re able to pay.”

She felt a sudden chill. “Did his agent happen to mention
why he’s so interested in this project?”

Tom grinned the grin of a man who was sure he was about to
impart good news. “As a matter of fact, he did. Luke wants to work with
you
,
Kali. He saw
Negative Space
and loved it, and he wants to work on
Ghosts
because you’re writing and directing it. What do you think of
that
?”
he finished triumphantly.

Another chill swept through her, leaving her palms clammy
and her stomach nauseous.

“Well?” Tom prompted after a moment, obviously puzzled that
Kali wasn’t bouncing up and down with excitement. “Isn’t that amazing?”

“Amazing,” she echoed faintly.

So it wasn’t a coincidence. Luke knew who she was. He knew,
and he’d deliberately set up this situation.

For one brief moment she considered telling Tom the truth
about why Luke wanted to work with her, but she rejected the idea almost
immediately. Even if she gave him the whole story, which she’d rather die than
do, Tom would never believe that Luke Tanner—rich, successful, and on his way
to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars—would go to this much trouble to
get revenge for something that had happened before he was famous, when he was a
teenage boy from a poor family.

But Tom didn’t know Luke. When Luke had a goal in his
sights, he pursued it with relentless drive. People usually ended up giving him
whatever he wanted.

Apparently, he hadn’t forgotten or forgiven the one person
who hadn’t.

Kali ran her hands through her short dark hair and tried to
think clearly. She had to stop this somehow. Luke didn’t really want to be a
part of
Ghosts
. He’d involve himself in the show to the extent
required to ruin it, and then he’d walk away.

But she wasn’t about to let that happen. She’d invested too
much of herself in this project to let Luke’s petty desire for revenge destroy
it.

She took another breath. “I know you’re excited right now,
but making a casting decision like this would go against everything we’ve
talked about. And it’s not just the money. We want to work with unknown actors
so we don’t have associations from past roles. We want to do something fresh,
where we can take risks and experiment and fly under the radar for a while.”

Tom stared at her like she was some odd species of alien. “I
know the plan was to be creative on a small budget, but we’d be insane to turn
down an opportunity like this. With Luke Tanner on board we won’t
have
to be creative on a small budget. We can be creative on a
big
budget.”

His eyes glowed. “When the network execs get wind of this
they’ll write us a blank check. Remember all those weeks you spent figuring out
how to produce the special effects you wanted with no money? Well, now you
won’t have to. Your job just got easier, my friend.”

Kali couldn’t look at Tom anymore. She stared down at her
desk instead, fixing her eyes on the framed playbill from the off-Broadway
production of
Negative Space
. They hadn’t had much money for that
project, either, and Kali had never been more proud of a show in her life.
Didn’t Tom remember the satisfaction of making something out of nothing?

Apparently he didn’t. Apparently the money and spotlight
that would come attached to Luke Tanner were things he desperately wanted.
Which meant it wouldn’t be any use to tell him she didn’t really want her job
to get easier. That she’d always done her best work with limited resources.

She had one hand in her lap, and now she clenched it into a
fist. She’d have to find another way to convince Tom.

“Luke is Hollywood’s golden boy right now. He doesn’t really
want to come to New York to do a TV show. This is just a whim—a whim he’ll
never follow through on. He’ll disrupt everything we’ve been doing, and then
he’ll go back to L.A. where he belongs. But by then it might be too late for us
to recover.”

Tom frowned. “That possibility did occur to me, Kali. I’m
not a complete idiot. I had a very frank discussion with Luke’s agent on this
very subject, as a matter of fact. He told me that the best way for us to get
Luke’s signature on a contract is if you meet with him one-on-one. To woo him,
as Julian put it.”

Bile rose in her throat. So that was Luke’s plan—to
humiliate her by putting her into a situation where she’d have to
woo
him. God, how he’d love that—to be the one with all the power, holding all the
cards, while she was the humble supplicant.

“No way.” She was startled to hear herself—she sounded
almost angry.

Tom looked startled, too. Kali never got angry.

“Kali—”

“I won’t do it.”

“But, Kali—”

She folded her arms and tried to look fierce and implacable,
like a heroine from one of her shows. She’d always written women who were
stronger than she was, and she’d always hoped that some of their toughness
would rub off on their creator.

“I’m not going to beg Luke Tanner to work with us.
Especially when I don’t want him to.”

Tom took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “In that case,
you should know that I’m probably going to lose my job.”

Her arms dropped to her sides. “What? What are you talking
about?”

“Three of my five shows are missing their ratings marks.
Sheila gave me the straight word last week. They’ll give me until the end of
this year, and if things haven’t started to turn around by then, I’ll get the
axe.”

He sounded matter of fact, but Kali knew that his partner
had been laid off a few months before and that Tom was supporting both of them
while Andrew looked for another job.

She slumped back in her chair. “If they fire you, they’ll
probably let me go, too. We’ll look for a new gig together. We could—”

Tom shook his head. “They’re not going to let you go, Kali.
They love the writing you’re doing for
Roommates
.”
Roommates
was the network’s highest rated show. “For that alone they’d keep you on. You
have a big future at this network.”

She thought about what he hadn’t said. “But
Ghosts
…”

It was Tom’s turn to sigh. “You know they weren’t sure about
Ghosts
to begin with, and there’s a chance it’ll never air. But if we
could get a star like Luke Tanner on board…well, that would be a whole new
ballgame. I guarantee you they’d get behind us one hundred percent.”

Her eyes fell to the framed playbill again. When their
meager funds for
Negative Space
had run out, Tom had put up five
thousand dollars of his own money to keep the production alive. And a few years
later, he’d helped her make it into a movie.

“Okay,” she said, hopelessly. This was doomed to end badly,
but she couldn’t say no to Tom. Maybe she could manage the Luke problem without
too much damage. Maybe she could—

Tom was talking again, the happy look back in his eyes.
“Wonderful! I knew I could count on you. Luke’s coming into town next week, so
we’ll set up a meeting for—”

The intercom buzzed, and the two of them heard the
receptionist’s voice.

“Ms. Jones? You have a visitor.”

She glanced at her desk calendar to confirm that she didn’t
have any appointments for this afternoon. “Who is it, Stella?”

“Luke Tanner,” Stella said. There was suppressed excitement
in her voice despite the fact that she’d seen her fair share of celebrities
over the years.

Kali froze. “I thought you said he was coming next week,”
she hissed to Tom. “Didn’t you say next week?”

Tom shrugged. “That’s what his agent said, but I guess he
flew out early.” Before she could stop him, Tom leaned over her desk and spoke
into the intercom. “Stella, this is Tom. Have someone bring Luke up to Kali’s
office, will you?”

“I’ll bring him up myself,” she said, her voice bubbling.

Of course you will.

Kali sprang to her feet, grabbing her purse from the back of
her chair. “I’ll be right back,” she said to Tom. “I—I need to go to the ladies
room.”

She was out the door before he could say a word, half
running down the hall to the bathroom.

She didn’t have much time. She turned on the cold water and
splashed her face, patting her skin dry with paper towels before fishing in her
purse for the few items of makeup she possessed—under-eye concealer, blush, lip
gloss. She applied those with shaking hands and then ran a brush through her
hair.

She stuffed everything back into her purse and glanced in
the mirror. She’d put on too much blush, so she grabbed another paper towel and
rubbed most of it off. Her khaki pants and navy blue button down shirt were
both wrinkled, but she’d have to live with that.

Not that she cared what Luke thought of her appearance. She
didn’t. It was just that she would prefer to present the most professional
image possible when meeting with a Hollywood star, no matter who it was. She
owed it to the network. She owed it to Tom. She—

Had to go right now if she wanted to be back behind her desk
before Luke got there. She jerked open the bathroom door and charged down the
hall, turning the corner that led to her office and crashing into someone with
a chest like a brick wall.

She was knocked off-balance, but strong hands caught her
before she fell.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry, I—”

Then she looked up and saw who she’d crashed into. It was
Luke Tanner, his big hands gripping her shoulders and his eyes hidden behind
aviator glasses.

An electric feeling went through her.

She’d forgotten what she was saying, which was probably just
as well. She wasn’t sure she could speak coherently right now.

“Ms. Jones, are you all right?”

It was Stella, peering at her from behind Luke. Tom, looking
startled, was standing in the doorway of her office.

“Of course,” she said, her voice coming out as a croak. She
started to pull away from Luke, and when his hands didn’t immediately loosen
she jerked out of his grasp in a panicked spasm, stumbling back a few steps.

“Mr. Tanner, I’m Tom Hammond,” Tom said smoothly, coming
forward to offer a hand. “And this is our writer and director, Kali Jones.”

Her boss frowned at her, his eyes sending a clear message.
Pull
yourself together.

He was right. She needed to get a grip.

Luke shook Tom’s hand with a smile. “It’s a pleasure,
Tom—and please call me Luke.” Then he turned to Kali.

“It’s nice to meet you,” she managed.

This was the moment of truth. Tom’s introduction had made it
obvious she hadn’t told anyone they’d met before. Would Luke go along with
that, or would he expose her?

“It’s nice to meet you, too, Ms. Jones.”

BOOK: His One Desire
9.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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