Private Passions, страница 1
Copyright © 2012 Jami Alden
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Former Green Beret Daniel "Deck" Decker has spent the last five years keeping A-List actress Jane Bowden's body safe - and his hands to himself. A professional to the core, Deck would never mix business with pleasure, especially when Jane has always kept the relationship strictly business. But that all changes one hot night when Jane, dealt a blow by the tabloids, turns to Deck for comfort. What starts as a consoling embrace quickly turns passionate, and Deck's long simmering desire can no longer be controlled. But when harsh reality intrudes, any hope Deck has that their steamy night is the start of a new chapter in their relationship is demolished.
Jane Bowden is used to living her life under a microscope. But in the wake of a very public divorce where Jane was made to look - and feel - very much the fool, she's even more careful not to make any wrong moves. She knows that if the press finds out she's sleeping with her bodyguard, they'll paint her as the pathetic woman on the rebound and Deck as a scheming opportunist. But before Jane can talk to Deck about when and how they can reveal the truth, Deck quits. Heartbroken, Jane realizes that while she thought this was the start of something real, Deck only wanted a one night stand.
But when disaster strikes and Jane’s most secret fantasies are leaked to the press, Deck is determined to convince Jane that the key to her happiness is making her private passions a reality.
Table of Contents
About the Author
Private Paradise Excerpt
Private Pleasures Excerpt
"You don't think the color is too bright?" Jane Bowden scrutinized her reflection in the floor length mirror, as Mira, her stylist smoothed the green silk fabric so it draped just so.
"Not it all! It will totally pop against the red carpet and it brings out the green in your eyes. Plus the fit is... so flattering."
"So flattering," Echoed Claud, her hair and makeup guy, who was circling her with a can of industrial strength hair spray, carefully placing every honey blond strand so the waves cascaded over her left shoulder. "The way it falls, it makes you look like a Roman goddess.:
Jane hid her grimace behind a grateful smile. She knew they were full of shit, but appreciated their attempts to boost her ego. The fact was, whether the one shoulder, drapey green silk was flattering or not, it was Jane's only option for the Golden Globes this year. As she had every year for the past four they'd been working together, Mira had shown up, her arms laden with dresses sent over from top designers. Any one of them would have sold their firstborn to have Jane Bowden, once a top paid television actress, now a financially bankable - if not critically acclaimed - movie star, wear their creations on the red carpet this awards season.
To Mira's dismay and Jane's humiliation, all of the designers but one had sent over sample sizes. Sizes that Jane had once managed to slip into with little effort. Back before her fertility specialist told her that if she really wanted to conceive, she had to gain at least fifteen pounds.
She'd put her strict diet aside and willingly put on the pounds, eager to start a family with her husband of five years, her former costar Ryan Atkins.
Now, a nearly two years later, after suffering through one of the most publicized break ups in recent history, there was still no baby, now no husband either. But those fifteen pounds had sunk their claws deep, and no matter how many miles she ran or spin classes she attended, they didn't seem to be going anywhere soon.
"You look gorgeous," Claud reassured her as he gave her one last swipe of powder across her nose. "I promise you I'm not blowing smoke." He handed her a powder compact and a tube of lipstick for touch ups. Jane put them in the clutch Mira had provided—gold to match the thin belt circling Jane's waist and the peeptoe pumps that peeked out from under the floor length hem of her dress.
There was a last minute flurry of activity as Mira, her assistants, and Claud packed everything up. They left her with air kisses and more reassurances that she looked gorgeous and encouragements to have fun.
Jane heard their chatter trailing as they clattered down the stairs and out the front door and then... blessed silence. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and savored one of the rare windows of time when she was alone in her house. There was always someone at her house, her housekeeper, a gardener, the pool guy. And of course, there was Hailey, Jane's personal assistant, her near constant companion, without whom she could barely function.
But tonight, Hailey was taking a much-deserved break as the rest of Jane's crew prepped her for her big night.
Jane walked downstairs, carrying her four inch gold heels in her hand so she wouldn't trip. As much as she loved having people around - especially the first few months after Ryan left, she had hated being by herself in their nearly six thousand square foot house in Brentwood—it was nice to walk into her kitchen and not have to make conversation with someone.
She checked the clock and realized it was earlier than she'd thought. Dan "Deck" Decker, her personal security detail, wasn't supposed to be here for another twenty minutes. Jane felt her temperature go up a few degrees at the mere thought of him, and she poured herself a glass of cold white wine to calm her nerves and cool herself down.
Tonight he'd be wearing a tux, she mused, dreamily circling her the rim of her wine glass with her finger. Though she'd seen him dressed in formal wear on countless occasions over the six years he'd worked for her, she never got tired of the sight of the black fabric stretched over those big, broad shoulders, the snowy white shirt that did nothing to conceal the heavily muscled chest underneath. She loved the way the perfectly tailored clothes made him look somewhat less civilized.
And God, that face, rough-hewn features like chiseled granite. Jane could so easily imagine that powerful, square- jawed face up on the big screen. But when Jane asked him about any acting aspirations, Deck a former Green Beret, who now worked for a company that provided security to celebrities and did military consulting for film, had replied, "I'm more of a watcher." Just the memory of his steady amber stare was enough to make her shiver.
From the moment she and Ryan had hired him to head the security team at their wedding, and later to act as Jane's personal bodyguard, Deck's ever watchful gaze had made her feel safe. The fact that he towered above her and Ryan—and most men in Hollywood for that matter—didn't hurt.
And though it shamed her endlessly to admit it, from the moment she'd met Deck, safety wasn't the only thing she'd felt in his presence.
She took a hefty swallow of her wine and allowed herself to indulge, for just a moment, in the highly inappropriate thoughts about Deck that had increasingly plagued her. It was embarrassing, really, the way just the thought of him could send heat unfurling in her belly. The way she had to be on constant guard around him not to flush and stammer like a teenager.
And then there was her other, darker, dirtier secret... Jane shoved the thought aside. Deck would be here soon and she needed to pull herself together. She picked up the remote control off the counter and switched on the TV to distract herself.
It was a good thing, she thought as she switched through the channels, that Deck's manner was never anything but professional. He was friendly enough, and had even offered his sympathy when Ryan left her for his costar . But there was never the slightest hint that Jane's feelings were reciprocated.
Which was good, she repeated, ignoring the way her stomach twisted in dismay. It would never work, and the last thing she needed was yet another failed relationship for the press to sink their teeth into. Poor pathetic Jane Bowden, trying to pick up the pieces of her sad love life by fooling around with her body guard.
"The couple broke the news just minutes ago as the rest of Hollywood prepares to hit the red carpet at tonight's Golden Globe ceremony."
Jane's gaze froze on the too familiar faces shown in closeup on the screen. Her ex-husband, Ryan, looked out at the camera with his too blue to be believed eyes and his charmingly crooked smile. In keeping with the edgier persona he'd adopted since he'd hooked up with Katya Morgan on the set of a suspense thriller last year, his jaw was scruffy with stubble and his tousled hair was nearly to his shoulders.
Next to him was Katya, her dark brown hair a stark contrast to her porcelain skin, her huge blue eyes and full lips giving her delicate features an exotic cast.
Jane felt the familiar acid burn in her stomach at the sight of them and took another gulp of wine in an effort to quell it. It wasn't so much pain or sadness at the loss of Ryan and what they'd had together. It had been nearly a year since he'd finally owned up to the rumored affair. Though Jane hated to admit it, even without therapy she'd recognized that there were a lot of reasons she and Ryan weren't likely to work out in the long run.
But it still hurt, to think someone she'd loved and put her trust in could lie to her, brazenly and repeatedly for months before he finally confessed what the rest of the world apparently knew. Worse, he'd stood by while Jane passionately defended him and their marriage in the press.
Because idiot that she was, she really wanted to believe him when he told her the rumors of the affair weren't true. That he still wanted to be part of one of Hollywood's most glamorous couples.
And most importantly, that he wanted to start a family with her.
But a week after the shoot had wrapped, Ryan had finally told her the truth. That he'd fallen in love with Katya and was filing for divorce.
Two days later, Jane had her second miscarriage.
The pain of that memory was so keen, it took a moment for Jane to register why the entertainment correspondent was so excited about Ryan and Katya's big announcement.
As the truth sank in, Jane felt all the blood rush from her head. The wine glass slipped from her numb fingers. She didn't hear it shatter over the roaring in her ears or feel the liquid splash down the front of her five thousand dollar silk dress.
The world seemed to tilt around her as her legs crumpled beneath her.
Katya Morgan was pregnant.
Though Deck had driven up the circular driveway that led to Jane's hacienda style Brentwood manse hundreds of times in the years he'd worked for her, he never failed to wonder why one small woman needed so much goddamn space. Even when Ryan the douche was living there with her it didn't seem to make much sense.
Then again, Deck mused, when you grow up sharing a bedroom with two brothers in a postage stamp size house in rural Montana, not a whole lot about the Hollywood lifestyle was ever going to make sense.
It sure as hell paid the bills though, he thought as he parked his brand new Audi R8 in front of the four car garage and got out. Between providing private security and consulting with producers and directors to help them make military movies that were as authentic as possible, Deck had been able to pay off his own debt and help his dad expand his business, and still afford a condo on the beach in Santa Monica.
More than most army vets from Big Timber, Montana could say. Yeah, even when his clients drove him fucking nuts with their ridiculous demands and behavior better suited to five year olds, Deck appreciated that the path he'd taken had its perks.
And of course there's always Jane.
He gave himself a mental slap and shoved the thought clean out of his mind. Jane Bowden was not a perk, never would be, for all that he'd trailed around after her like a pathetic dog all these years, mustering up every bit of his considerable restraint and self control to make sure she—and anyone else for that matter—never got the faintest hint of the wildly inappropriate fantasies that had dogged him incessantly from the moment he'd started working with her.
He rolled his neck a couple times before he rang the doorbell, bracing himself for the long night ahead. The first part would be the worst, trapped in the back of a limousine with her for at least two hours while they navigated traffic on the way to the venue. Deck had enough experience to know that the back of a stretch limo would feel about as roomy as a Mini Cooper, so keenly was he aware of Jane when he was in her presence.
Then he'd linger in the background, watch her smile for the cameras, flirt her way through dinner and the parties after. All the while imagining an impossible universe where he got to walk next to her down the red carpet, he got to hold her hand under the table at dinner while she leaned over and whispered funny comments meant only for his ears. And most importantly, a world where he not only escorted her home, he walked her through the door and up to her bedroom and...
He shook his head. The moment Jane had any idea these kinds of things were on a constant loop in his head was the moment Deck was out on his ass.
And though he knew it made him even more pathetic, being almost constantly in Jane's presence, knowing he could never have her, was infinitely better than not being around her at all. He didn't know what it was about her that made him feel so protective of her, but from the very beginning, and even more so after everything she'd gone through with that dickhead Ryan, he couldn't shake the notion that somehow he was the only guy who could keep Jane from getting hurt.
At least, from getting hurt any worse than she already had been.
He pressed the doorbell and dug a finger under the collar of his dress shirt to scratch his neck. Though he hated wearing the damn thing and the bow tie that went with it, he was relieved tonight was a formal event. It was a lot easier to remember how far out of his league Jane was when she was decked out in a designer dress that cost as much as a new car, her face practically airbrushed into perfection, her blond hair styled and sprayed until a nuclear bomb couldn't mess it up.
It was when she was in a tank top and running shorts, her hair in a ponytail and her face flushed with exertion that he almost forgot who she was and who he wasn't. It was in those rare moments when she let down her guard that he let himself imagine for a minute that she was a regular girl—albeit blindingly beautiful—who he could ask on a date and have everything go from there.
Not gonna happen, he reminded himself sternly.
Several seconds passed, but no one answered the door. Frowning, Deck checked his phone even though he was sure he had the time right. Sure enough he was even a couple minutes early. He didn't see Mira or Claud's cars in the driveway, which meant Jane should be ready. He rang the bell again, telling himself she was probably upstairs fixing some imagined flaw no one else could see.
When a full two minutes passed with still no answer, Deck called Jane's phone, his stomach twisting uneasily when his call went to voicemail. Jane was a rarity in Hollywood—a reliable actress. Though when he'd first started wo
In all the years he'd worked with her, she'd never changed her plans without consulting him first. Pushing aside any concerns about invading her privacy, Deck keyed in the code to unlock the front door.
"Jane?" he called, his stomach twisting tighter when she didn't answer. Could someone have broken in? He'd chosen the state of the art security system himself and overseen the installation, but that didn't mean Jane, or one of the many people who came and went from her house every day didn't occasionally forget to turn it on.
He called her name again and started up the stairs when he heard the faint sound coming from direction of the kitchen. He jogged down the marble hallway, the sound of conversation growing louder as he got closer. He got to the kitchen, with its gleaming restaurant worthy appliances and spotless stone countertops, and didn't see Jane anywhere. What he'd thought was a live conversation was two entertainment reporters yapping on the TV.
"Jane," he called again, louder this time, and was about to head into the adjoining dining room when he heard a muffled sob.
He circled the island and found Jane crumpled on the floor, glass shattered all around her as her shoulders heaved with sobs. He hunkered down next to her, careful to avoid the glass as he gently cupped her chin and raised her face to look at him.
Tears streamed from her eyes, catching on her mascara to form black tracks down both cheeks. Her nose was red, her lips swollen. Deck felt a squeezing pressure in his chest. The last time he'd seen her like this had been the night she'd lost Ryan's baby.