Book: Behind The Scenes
Series: Project Artemis #3
Authors: K.M. Scott and Anina Collins
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Alexis Marchand is one of the biggest movie stars in the world, loved by millions of fans around the globe. Her meteoric rise to fame has come with its fair share of heartache, but she’s remained strong, thanks to those closest to her and their unfailing support. Life as a movie star is good.
Until one day a simple letter arrives and turns her world upside down. Now she lives in terror, afraid of that one fan who has taken it too far.
Hunter McKary knows something of movie stars because of his time as a LAPD detective. He thought he left those days behind him, but when he’s sent to find out who’s stalking the beautiful blond actress the world adores, he grudgingly goes to New York, expecting to find a typical spoiled diva like those he met so many times before back in LA.
The woman he finds isn’t anything like he expected, and a job he dreaded becomes something else entirely. But someone out there has different plans for Alexis.
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MEET THE AUTHORS
K.M. Scott writes contemporary romance stories of sexy, intense, and unforgettable love. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, she’s been in love with romance since reading her first romance novel in junior high (she was a very curious girl!). Under her Gabrielle Bisset name, she write erotic paranormal and historical romance. She lives in Pennsylvania with a herd of animals and when she’s not writing can be found reading or feeding her TV addiction.
Anina Collins has always loved a good mystery. From Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes to Dan Brown’s intrepid Professor Robert Langdon, she’s spent some of her favorite reading times with mystery novels. When she’s not writing her favorite mystery couple, she can be found watching entirely too much Supernatural and dreaming about the beach.
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Behind The Scenes Excerpt
After pacing until her legs felt like they’d give out, Alexis closed the door behind her and settled into the most comfortable spot in the house—her new office chair. Plush and comfy, it practically swallowed her up in its softness, just what she needed to feel safe again. She still felt trapped in her own home, but at least in that dark blue chair, she could pretend that her life hadn’t become a series of tiny rooms connected by dark hallways.
She began reading a script her agent Melanie had told her about weeks ago and had finally been delivered to her the day before she left LA. Titled Haunted By Love, it told the story of a woman who was being haunted by her dead husband, who everyone believed she killed. Alexis had only gotten a third of the way into the story, but she already hated it with a white hot passion.
All the parts she got offered were the same. All the characters felt delicate and frail, like at any moment in the film someone could come up behind them and say boo and they’d crumble into a thousand terrified pieces.
She wanted to play strong women. Kickass women. Characters who could stand on their own and brave whatever the big, bad world threw at them. Instead, the woman she sat reading sounded far too much like herself lately.
Terrorized and afraid to leave her house.
Pitching the script onto the floor, she brought her knees up to her chest and closed her eyes. This was how she’d spend the rest of the day. Curled up in a ball and pretending the world outside didn’t exist.
A knock on her office door ruined that plan not five minutes later, though. Why couldn’t they just leave her alone?
She leaned back on the arm of the chair and yelled in the direction of the door, “I’m busy. Whatever it is, talk to Lauren!”
As she watched in horror, the door opened against her explicit instructions and Paul walked in with a man Alexis had never seen before. Smiling, her manager showed the man off like he’d just created him in a lab or something.
“Alexis, this is Hunter McKary. He’s the man we talked about earlier today. He just arrived, so I wanted to introduce the two of you.”
Her gaze traveled from Paul to this Hunter person and then down the full length of his body, from head to toe. Her first impression was he looked like a cop. Or someone who could play a cop in the movies. He had short brown hair a little too much like that ex of hers, but his face had a rugged look she liked in men. This Hunter certainly didn’t have a pretty boy appearance so many of her co-stars had lately.
He didn’t smile, which unnerved her. There he stood in her home and he couldn’t even crack a tiny smile on their introduction? That seemed rude. He was probably one of those stereotypical overly serious bodyguard types she’d never liked.
She did like how that rugged look made him appear tough, so maybe she could tolerate the sour puss thing he had going on. For once, though, she wished the men who came into her life didn’t look like stone cut outs of real men.
As that drifted through her mind, her gaze slid down to his body again. He looked hard there too, like he could protect someone. Well, if his job was going to be doing just that for her, he fit the bill.
“Alexis, did you hear me?” Paul asked, tearing her out of her thoughts about Hunter.
She stood up and extended her hand to shake his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Hunter. How long have you been a bodyguard?”
He shook her hand for a moment and then pulled his away abruptly. “I’m not a bodyguard. I spent time as an LAPD detective, and now I work for Project Artemis as a specialist helping people who need protection. A bodyguard is what the world will think I am, but trust me. I’m far more than just a mere bodyguard.”
She stood shocked at how terse he’d been. Unnecessarily terse considering she’d been more than polite with him.
Cocky men were top on her list of things she didn’t want to deal with in life, so she needed him to understand she wouldn’t be treated rudely like that, no matter how much Paul thought of his boss.
“Well, if you’re anything like the cops in LA now, I don’t see what you could possibly do for me. They haven’t been able to find out the identity of my stalker for months, and I’ve had to move clear across the country because they couldn’t do their jobs.”
Hunter remained stone-faced as she spoke, and when she finished, he said nothing to her. Not a single word. Instead, he turned toward Paul and said, “I need to know the layout of this whole place. Anywhere someone can get in, I want to know about it.”
Then he walked out, leaving her standing there feeling insulted and wondering what made this guy think he could pull that cocky shit on her. How dare he ignore her like that! He worked for her. Who did he think he was?
Paul remained behind, smiling as if things had gone swimmingly. God, did he ever not think everything was just fine?
Pointing at the door Hunter had just walked through when he left so rudely, she asked, “And you think that person is going to be the one who helps me get my life back?”
He looked away and nodded. “Well, he isn’t exactly the chattiest guy in the world, but I trust Persephone. If she thinks he can help, I say give him a chance.”
“Says the man who promised me that moving cross country to this awful place would solve my problems. I’m guessing this Persephone finds his Cro-Magnon routine perfectly acceptable, but I don’t. If you think I’m going to take being treated like that in my own home by some for-hire security guard, you can forget it. Tell him to go find a job at the mall because I’m not having it!”
Alexis sat back down on her comfy chair and folded her arms across her chest as steam practically shot out the top of her head she was so furious at Paul for bringing that man to her home. She wouldn’t be treated like some insignificant thing who didn’t even deserve an answer by any man, least of all some stranger in her own home.
“Lexi, just listen to me. Give him a chance. I promise you Persephone wouldn’t have sent him if she didn’t think he could help. Just give him a week. If you don’t like him by that time, then he’s gone. Promise me you’ll give him at least that long, though?”
The look on Paul’s face told her he was worried, and he had good reason to be. She’d had enough of men pushing her around for an entire lifetime. She wouldn’t be taking this Hunter guy’s shit not one more time.
“The problem isn’t with me, so you’re wasting your breath talking to me, Paul. The problem is with him. He’s rude to the person he’s supposed to be helping and in her own house, no less. If he can’t change his attitude, then he’ll have to leave and not after a week. Now. So you have a choice. You can continue to stand here and stare at me with that terrified look in your eyes, or you can go find your friend’s guy and explain to him how things go here at Casa Alexis. Whatever you do, shut the door on your way out and tell Lauren I want to see her.”
He scurried away, knowing full well she meant every word she’d said. She didn’t make hollow threats. Not to men who cheated on her and then thought she’d merely stand idly by when they stepped out with other women, and certainly not about a man she’d just met and already didn’t like enough to want him thrown out into the street on his ear.
Reaching down, she picked up the script for Haunted By Love off the floor and flipped to the last page she’d read. After only a few lines, it became apparent trying to focus on anything would be a complete waste of time, so she threw the script across the room in frustration. It knocked over a lamp, which crashed to the floor and smashed into a million pieces.
This day just got better and better.
Her head began to pound from a stress headache as a result of Hunter McKary and his rudeness. She didn’t want to play a victim in any more films or in her own life either anymore. Even more, she didn’t want to be someone the Hunters of the world thought they could ignore so easily and never pay a price.
She heard a light tap on the door she recognized as Lauren’s signature knock and called out, “Come in!”
Her best friend and assistant peeked her head around the door and smiled. “Paul said you wanted to see me?”
Alexis nodded and waved her in. “Yes. I need to see a friendly face after meeting that odious man.”
Lauren closed the door and came over to sit down on the floor in front of her. With her usual sweetness, she touched her hand and smiled. “It didn’t go so well? He looked very handsome, at least.”
Handsome didn’t matter if the man had the manners of a pig.
“Nothing special, if you ask me. I’ve dated much better looking men, so whatever he thinks he’s got going on, it isn’t much.”
“What made him so odious?” Lauren asked innocently.
Alexis opened her mouth to explain what happened, but nothing came out. She was so furious. The man had actually made her speechless.
Finally, she said, “I don’t want to talk about it now. Just take my word for it. He won’t be here long if he doesn’t realize who’s the boss here.”
“It’s your home, Alexis. Paul needs to understand that if you don’t want someone in it, they need to go. I think he’s forgotten that lately.”
She smiled down at Lauren. “Thank you for reminding me. This is why you’re irreplaceable, you know that? Everyone else could go away, but as long as I have you to rely on, I know I’ll be okay.”
“You can rely on me. Always. Never forget that.”
Alexis closed her eyes and took a deep breath in. At least she had one person she could trust in the world.
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