Sandra's Classics - The Bad Boys of Romance - Boxed Set (77 page)

BOOK: Sandra's Classics - The Bad Boys of Romance - Boxed Set
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‘There I was, packing to fly home Sunday night, satisfied that Scorpio had agreed to consider me for a film in the spring, when my agent knocks on my hotel room door. ”Unpack,’ my agent says  “Forget that deal in the spring. Jeff Anderson broke his leg, he’s out of the movie they just started shooting and you’re in. You start tomorrow.”’

Shannon stared at him. ‘Jeff Anderson broke his leg and you’re replacing him?’

‘Jesus, Padgett, how many times must I tell you? Yeah, he was skiing at Aspen and he hit a marker and smashed his leg all to pieces. How else would I have got a chance like this?’

Her voice was a whisper. ‘You mean—they offered you the part last Sunday?’

‘Ten o’clock Sunday night, rehearsal starting Monday, filming already scheduled for Tahiti, and all of a sudden they’re without a male lead. Next thing I knew, everybody was in my room, insisting I had the charisma of a Jeff Anderson, whatever the hell that means. “Are you crazy?” I said. And my agent said, “Just sign the contract before they change their minds.” So I signed and then I went to call you.’

‘To call me? Sunday night? But Claire said you signed Sunday afternoon.’

‘Listen, Padgett, was Claire there or was I? I signed at eleven that night and I grabbed the phone so I could tell you what had happened.’

Shannon swallowed. ‘But you didn’t call me.’

‘Damned right I didn’t. I picked up the phone and realized there was a three-hour time difference between California and New York. That meant it was two in the morning for you. And I thought, hell, suppose her answering machine’s not on. I didn’t want to wake you, not when I knew you had to be on the set early the next morning. And then I realized what a nice wake-up call my news would make. So I called the hotel desk and asked them to wake me at four in the morning. I figured I’d call you then...’

‘Four,’ Shannon repeated. ‘Seven, my time

‘ I wanted to be your alarm clock and tell you about my contract as you opened your eyes.’

‘But you didn’t.’

‘The damned hotel desk never woke me. The next thing I knew it was eight o’clock my time, which meant you were already gone for the day, so I left a message on that rotten machine of yours. I felt lousy, knowing that you’d probably hear my news from somebody else first. I think I even said as much.’

Shannon drew in her breath, remembering the apologetic words he’d left on her answering machine. ‘I... I didn’t hear the whole message,’ she said, picturing the plastic bits and pieces still  lying in the corner  of her living-room. ‘My answering machine... broke.’

‘And you never replaced it?’ She shook her head and an angry scowl twisted his face. ‘I thought you’d just disconnected it to avoid me. I started sending you tele
grams, but you ignored them.’

‘I... I didn’t get them. I’ve been staying at Claire’s since Sunday.’

Cade scowled darkly. ‘I called her office a dozen times and they wouldn’t tell me where you were or how you were or...’

‘Cade...’ Shannon put her hands lightly on his chest. ‘You mean you didn’t have this Tahiti film in mind when you signed
with Jerry?’

He sighed in resignation. ‘Haven’t you heard a thing I said?
The only way Crawford could talk me into signing was by agreeing to a contract I could walk away from in case I felt I was making an ass of myself.’

Shannon closed her eyes. ‘A month-to-month con
tract,’ she whispered.

‘With a one-week cancellation clause,’ he said. ‘My security blanket, my agent called it. Crawford kept talking about a four-month storyline...’

‘So did Claire.’

‘I told him from day one that I might want to move on to something else if it came along. He said that was no problem. That’s the best thing about soaps, he said. No character is...’


Cade nodded. ‘Of course, that changed once I’d signed. He kept trying to pressure me into signing some
thing long-term.’ His eyes darkened and his fingers spread on her shoulders, caressing the skin beneath the thin silk dress. ‘That’s the only thing I feel badly about,’ he said softly. ‘If I’d let him pick up my option, you and I could have played Johnny and Alana a little longer. But I couldn’t pass up this film, love. You understand that, don’t you?’

Yes, she thought, looking at him, she did. The door had opened for Cade and he had to either pass through it or watch it close in his face. That was how the theater was.

‘Yes, I understand,’ she said softly. ‘It was too good a chance to pass up.’

‘Do you mean that?’

‘You’re a good actor, Cade Morgan,’ she murmured. ‘You worked hard for this opportunity.’

The tension eased from his face. ‘And I owe every
thing to you,’ he said quietly. ‘You were the reason I made it.’ He took her hands from his chest and clasped them in his. ‘Tell me you don’t hate me for walking out on Johnny and Alana.’

Don’t cry, she told herself, and she shook her head. ‘I could never hate you, Cade.’

‘Tell me you know I’m ready for this, Padgett.’

‘Of course you are

And he was, she thought. He was ready for this film, even though it would take him out of her life.

At least she knew his love had been real, even if it had only been for a little while.

Nothing lasts forever, Cade had said, but he was wrong. The memory of him would last a lifetime.

There was a knock at the door. ‘Shannon? Cade? Are you guys ready now?’

She took a deep breath. No, she thought, she would never be ready. After they’d taped their final love scene, Cade would be gone. How would she survive a lifetime on nothing but memories?

Cade touched her cheek. ‘Shannon?’ he murmured.

She lifted her chin and forced a smile to her face, praying he wouldn’t notice the dampness in her eyes.

‘I'm ready,’ she said. ^Come on, Johnny Wolff. Let’s go out there and knock ’em dead!’

She was never going to make it. Her throat was closing and her vision was blurring... Quickly, she turned and reached for the door, but Cade was there first, turning her towards him with a crushing grasp.

‘I don’t give a damn about Johnny Wolff,’ he growled.

‘What?’ she whispered, looking up at him. His eyes were dark with anger. ‘What’s the matter? I don’t understand...’

‘No. You sure as hell don’t. You accused me of not being able to separate reality from fantasy, but, you’re the one with a problem. The film and the soap are fantasy. This—you and me—this is real.’

His indigo eyes were burning into hers, demanding  something more. What was left? A flashy finish? A crescendo of violins?

‘Cade,’ she said, ‘I... I...’ And suddenly she could no longer control herself. Tears filled her eyes. ‘Damn you!’ she said brokenly. ‘Damn you, Cade Morgan. I’ve wished you well and I’ve smiled and I’ve said all the right things. What more do you want? You already have my heart!

He drew her to
wards him. ‘I want you to say yes, you’ll go to Tahiti with me, yes, you’ll marry me.’

‘What?’ she said stupidly.

Cade’s arms closed around her. ‘I love you, Padgett.’ He shook his head at the baffled expression on her face. *1 guess I should have had a scriptwriter for this scene. All I can think of are a thousand clichés— there must be an original way to say “I love you” to the woman you want to share your life with.’

‘Share your life with,’ she repeated softly.

He nodded. ‘We can honeymoon in Tahiti.’

‘Honeymoon in Tahiti,’ she whispered.

Cade grinned. ‘There’s an echo in here,’ he said. ‘Have you noticed?’ He stroked the curls back from her face and kissed her. ‘I wonder if it would repeat every word. Like, if  I said, I love you, would that echo say…’

Shannon laughed. ‘I love you.’

‘And I want to marry you.’

‘And I want to marry you,’ she said.

‘Damned right, you do,’ Cade said, and kissed her again.  ‘One more thing… You don’t have to give up acting while we’re in Tahiti.’

‘I don’t care,’ she whispered, putting her arms around his neck.

‘I convinced the Scorpio people to give you a part in this film. I mean, you’ll have to do an audition, but—‘

She laced her fingers behind his head. ‘That’s nice.’

Cade smiled.  ‘No love scenes, though. Not a one.’

Shannon lifted her face to his.

‘The only love scenes I want to play,’ she said softly, ‘are with you.’

‘Forever,’ Cade said,  and then his mouth covered hers.





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BOOK: Sandra's Classics - The Bad Boys of Romance - Boxed Set
10.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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