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Meeting Mr Anderson: Chapter 20

“Come on, sleepyhead.”

I shiver and groan as cool air blows across my skin, causing goosebumps to form.

“No. Ten more minutes,” I moan and roll back over, my hand wildly searching for the comfort of the duvet.

“Holls, you said not to let you sleep too long.”

I force one eye open and see Jay, bright-eyed and full of energy. He’s like a puppy that’s always eager to go for a walk.

“If you didn’t keep me up all night with that magic cock of yours”—I yawn—“then I wouldn’t need a nap after lunch in the first place.” I stretch, my back clicking as it straightens.

“That’s more like it, baby.” Jay leans down and kisses me, his warm breath welcome against my lips. His arm holds me tight around the waist and I’m pulled up to a sitting position.

“You like to get your own way, don’t you?” I smile as my eyes open fully and take in his, crinkled at the corners with amusement.

“When it comes to you, Berry, I like you any way I can get you.” He smirks as I push his chest.

“Come on.” His hands are in mine, pulling me up. “Go get in the shower. Shona will be here soon.”

My feet sink into the carpet as I reluctantly get out of Jay’s bed and pass him to go to the bathroom. A soft slap lands across my bum, accompanied by a deep chuckle.

“Don’t think you’ve gotten away with it.” I glance back over my shoulder. “Revenge will come when you least expect it.” I extend my hand and blow him a kiss as I go into the bathroom and close the door, muffling the sound of his laugh as he goes back downstairs.

I turn the shower on full and step under it, my shoulders relaxing with the heat. Tonight is the launch party for Anya’s new fragrance. There’s going to be a drinks and canapes party with some onstage presentations and entertainment. It sounds like fun, although judging from the butterflies in my stomach, I know I’m nervous. This is the first public event Jay and I will have been to as a couple. He’s cool and calm. This is just another night at work for him, but I don’t know what to expect. Stefan arranged for a stylist he is friends with to come over and do my hair and makeup and bring some outfits. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited at the thought of what magic she might perform on me. I’ve never had anyone give me a head-to-toe makeover before. Except Matt, when he gets a bee in his bonnet before a night out and goes to town barking out orders about what I must wear. But this is different.

I finish washing with the new shower gel Jay bought for me when he knew I would stay for two weeks. It smells like crushed mango and lime, uplifting and refreshing. He must have known I would need some extra help to wake up in the mornings after he’s kept me up half the night. My mouth breaks into a broad grin. He makes me feel like the only girl in the world that he’s ever laid eyes on before. I feel special and adored, like we’ve got a much longer shared history than just a few months. He looks at me sometimes like he’s known me his entire life, which I know would sound silly if I told anyone. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but there’s something familiar.

I turn the shower off and step out onto the bathmat, wrapping myself in a large fluffy towel. I dry off and moisturize from head to toe. The LA summer sun has given me a sun-kissed glow, and since Jay insisted I didn’t need to wear my bikini, I haven’t got any tan lines. I still feel more comfortable with it on, if I’m honest, but he has a habit of removing it whenever he sees I’m wearing it. I run a brush through my hair, which has turned even lighter gold with all the sun, and then put a robe on and head downstairs to see what Jay’s doing.

“Hey, baby.” He looks up from the chopping board. The scent of basil leaves reaches me as I move closer.

“That looks nice,” I say, taking in the avocado, tomato, and mozzarella he’s made into a restaurant-worthy sandwich.

“You need to eat something. These events always have too much champagne and not enough food. You’ll feel much better if you eat now, trust me.”

“Thank you, Mr. Expert.” I take the plate he’s holding out to me and perch on a stool at the kitchen counter.

Jay slides onto the one next to me.

“So, what should I do tonight?” I ask between mouthfuls. This sandwich is delicious, so full of flavor. Is there anything he isn’t good at?

“Enjoy yourself.” Jay looks at me.

“That’s it? No pearls of wisdom for the rookie?” I joke.

“These events can be fun. There’s usually a good atmosphere, but they also attract a lot of ‘look at me’ and fake air-kissing types.” Jay’s mouth turns down as he chews. “There are some genuinely great people who you’ll meet too, Holly. It’s just being able to tell who’s real, and who’s just playing a role.”

“How do you know?” I take another bite of my sandwich.

Jay raises an eyebrow at me.

“I mean, how do you know who’s only speaking to you because you’re ‘Jay Anderson, actor and heartthrob’?”—I roll my eyes as I say heartthrob—“and who’s genuinely interested in you?”

“Heartthrob?” Jay lights up as he catches my eye. “Do I make you throb, Berry?” His eyes glint.

I smirk back at him. “Don’t change the subject; this is serious.”

“Okay, sorry.” His mouth lifts at the corners as he looks at me out of the corner of his eye. “I guess you just get better at reading people, the more you meet. Sometimes you just get a feeling about someone, and other times they can fool you. But they slip up and show their true selves,” Jay says.

My mind flashes to Simon. He sure fooled me. When we first met I had no idea the sort of person he really was. So ready to put me down to make himself feel big.

“Has it happened to you a lot?” I turn toward Jay.

He sighs and runs a hand through his hair.

“Yes and no. I’ve met people who are just interested in me for their own agendas, but I don’t get close to people easily, Holly.” His eyes hold mine as he speaks. “After losing someone, you guard yourself more from getting close to people. Well, I do anyway.”

He breaks eye contact and looks down at the kitchen counter, his eyebrows pulling together. “Losing Rob was the worst time of my life. I couldn’t let myself feel happy…until I met you.” He looks up at me, his eyes watery.

“Jay—” I start, but he cuts me off.

“I want to tell you about it, Holly. I need you to know what happened, who I am.” He swallows as though the words are painful to speak out loud.

“Jay, I know who you are.” I stand up and move over to him, taking his face between my hands and stroking his cheeks with my thumbs. “You are the warmest, kindest, silliest…” I smile at him. “Man I’ve ever met. You do anything for the people you love.”

His expression is pained as he looks at me.

“Holly, I’m not. You don’t understand.” His eyes search mine and he takes a breath, about to speak.

A loud ringing sounds and my stomach jumps into my mouth as I flinch.

“Relax.” Jay gives me a small smile, the moment broken. “It’s just the new doorbell.”

“Gosh, it’s loud; are you going deaf in your old age?” I tease.

“I’m only three years older than you,” he says as he slides off his stool and kisses my lips before heading toward the front door.

“You’re in a whole different decade, though. I mean, I’m twenty-eight, it’s practically mid-twenties and at thirty-one you’re almost forty,” I call after him, wondering what he was about to say before we were interrupted.

“You’re itching for a hard spanking, aren’t you?” He shoots back and I smile at the mental image he’s conjured up.

Jay checks the security screen and presses a button to let our visitor in. A few moments later he opens the door. There’s a woman standing there, two large makeup cases by her feet and a clothes rack on wheels next to her.

“Hey, Shona, it’s good to see you.” Jay leans in and kisses her cheek.

“You too, Jay,” she says, flicking her long dark-brown hair over her shoulder. I look over at her. She’s older than me and wearing a very stylish trouser suit with killer heels. She comes into the house and Jay helps her with her things as I make my way over.

“You must be Holly?” she says, her heels clicking on the floor as she closes the distance between us and embraces me in a friendly hug. Spicy, exotic perfume mists around her. “It’s so nice to meet you,” she says as she holds my hands between hers. They’re cool and soft, and there’s an enormous diamond ring on her left hand.

“You too.” I smile back.

“Stefan has told me all about you.”

My cheeks heat.

“It’s all good, Holly, don’t worry.” Her laugh tinkles like tiny bells and her eyes light up as she smiles at me. “So, where shall I set up?”

Two hours later Shona has worked her magic on me. I look at my reflection in the mirror of the guest bathroom. I still look like me, but the flawless HD version. My makeup is immaculate. Smoky, dark-gold eyeshadow brings out the green of my eyes, and she’s used some fake lashes, which are full and soft. My skin is immaculate, a touch of golden highlighter on my cheekbones, and my lips are a lovely warm nude. My hair tumbles down my back in large loose curls. Shona’s put a shine spray on it, so all the golden-blond tones are glinting whenever the light catches them. The overall effect is sexy and sultry.

“You’re a miracle worker!” I exclaim, turning my face from side to side.

Shona comes up behind me and places her hands on my shoulders.

“I just worked with what you already have, Holly.” She beams at me in the mirror.

She is lovely. We didn’t stop chatting the entire time she was doing my hair and makeup. She was telling me that her husband runs a large visual effects company that supplies most of Hollywood with special effects and stunt actors. She met him working as a makeup artist on set, and the rest is history.

“Now is the fun part.” She grins at me, squeezing my shoulders. “Let’s choose the dress!”

“Okay.” I follow Shona back into the guest bedroom and my stomach dances in excitement or nerves. I’m not sure where one ends and the other starts.

“So, I’ve brought a selection,” she says as she unzips each garment bag on the clothes rack. Glimpses of fabrics draw my eyes. There’s a long red dress, a black velvet one, something silver and covered in sequins, a floral embroidered lace, and then the last one is a shimmery, emerald green. It makes me think of a mermaid.

“Oh, this is beautiful,” I say, fingering the heavy green fabric. It changes color as it moves, entwined with fine gold threads that catch the light.

“That’s my personal favorite too,” Shona says. “I thought it would be perfect for you the moment I saw you downstairs.” She pulls it out of the bag. It looks like it’s fitted to below the hips and then flows out to the floor in a fishtail shape. “Let’s try it on!” Shona grins.

I take my robe off so I’m just wearing a nude thong and a genius stick on bra that Shona brought with her, so I won’t have any straps visible. Shona lifts the fabric over my head, and it slides down over my skin.

“Oh yes!” Shona’s eyes light up and she clasps her hands together in front of her chest.

I turn to look in the full-length mirror next to us. For a moment I think I’m looking at someone else, not myself.

“Shona, it’s stunning!”

“No, Holly, you are. The dress is just an accessory.” She studies me, her long fingers cupping her chin as she watches my face in the mirror.

My eyes sweep over the dress. It’s sexy and figure-hugging at the top, but the heavy fabric and fishtail skirt make it elegant. I turn to look at the back. It plunges all the way to my lower back. I bring my eyes back up to my face. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so incredible in a dress before.

“This is crazy. I feel like Cinderella.” A strange laugh escapes my lips.

“Oh, you’ll need your glass slippers then,” Shona says as she helps me into a pair of strappy gold heels. “And these.” She hands me some long gold crystal earrings and a gold clutch bag.

I reach out and take them, forcing my fingers to remain steady. “Thank you.”

“I think you’re ready for the ball.” She smiles as she stands back and takes in her finished handiwork.

Nerves flutter in my stomach again. I look at my reflection in the mirror one last time before I go to look for Jay. Shona wished us a wonderful evening and packed up her things and left. I couldn’t stop thanking her. I heard her say “wait until you see her” to Jay as she left, and now I’m so nervous about him seeing me. I take one last big, deep breath, then I head downstairs.

Jay is leaning back against the kitchen counter, his head turned toward the glass doors by the pool. My heart rate races as I watch him. He’s wearing a black suit and crisp white shirt, open at the neck. He looks like the epitome of masculinity. I clear my throat and he turns to me.

His eyes widen first as he drinks me in. Starting at my feet, he traces the curves of my hips and breasts up to my face, where his piercing blue eyes stop and hold mine. He swallows deeply as he holds my gaze. Then he raises his hand to his face and runs his fingers over his chin, the way I’ve learned he does when he’s aroused.

“Holly, you look sensational.” He strides over to me and placing his hands on my hips as he looks down and takes me in head to toe again. He leans toward me, his soft lips brushing my ear. “You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known,” he whispers, placing a gentle kiss on my neck. My body clenches in response to the closeness of his body and familiar scent.

“You don’t scrub up too badly yourself,” I whisper.

Jay chuckles and reaches into his pocket.

“I got you something.” He pulls out a long blue velvet box.

“What’s this?” I frown. “I didn’t get you anything.”

“Holly, you’re all I want,” Jay says, his deep voice making me tingle, as I stare at the box he’s placed in my hands. I open it and inside is a delicate gold watch. Diamonds surround the mother-of-pearl face, but it’s the two individual sets of watch hands that draw my attention. “It’s got two time zones—one for here, one for England,” Jay says, studying my face. “So even when we aren’t together, you’ll hopefully think of me when you look at it.”

I swallow down the lump in my throat.

“It’s perfect, thank you,” I whisper, blinking, not wanting to ruin my makeup.

Jay’s warm hands take my wrist and fasten it on. It sparkles on my arm. No one has ever given me something so beautiful.

“That sounds like our taxi,” Jay says, looking over my shoulder toward the front door. “Are you ready?” He looks back at me.

“I’m so ready,” I say, blowing out a big breath and hoping I sound convincing.

We head outside and there’s a black limousine in the driveway, the driver holding open the back door.

“Good evening, miss.” He nods as I slide in and make wide eyes back at Jay. He smirks back at me, clearly amused at my reaction.

“You didn’t say we were going in a limo,” I hiss at him after the door closes behind him.

“It’s a big event… Besides, they can be fun.” He grins as he produces a bottle of champagne and two glasses from a compartment by his seat.

“This is crazy.” I watch as he pops the cork and pours. He hands me a glass and I clink it against his.

“To a night of people looking at giant posters of you in hardly any clothes,” I say.

Jay laughs. “To a night of me thinking about getting you home as soon as possible, to look at you in no clothes.”

“Cheers.” I take a large sip. The bubbles dance against my tongue and a rush goes to my head as I swallow.

I have a feeling this is going to be quite a night.

We pull up at the hotel in Hollywood, which is hosting the launch event in their ballroom. The driver gets out to open our door and Jay looks back at me.

“Take my hand, Holly. I promise I won’t let go until you’re happy for me to.”

God, what am I letting myself in for? I nod and slip my hand into his.

The door opens and I’m blinded by flashing lights as Jay helps me out of the limo.

“Thank you,” he says to the driver, who smiles and nods at me before closing the door.

There’s a large red carpet leading to the hotel entrance. On one side is a sea of journalists with microphones and notepads and photographers flashing their cameras. On the other side is a temporary backdrop wall showing the perfume logo. There’s the frosted glass heart, and Capture for the female bottle, and a frosted glass crescent moon shape for the men’s version, Protect. The two bottles fit together and look like a piece of modern art.

A loud hum of excited chatter is coming from the reporters as they interview the guests walking the carpet, and they pose for photos in front of the backdrop. I’m about to overheat when Jay’s fingers stroke my hand inside his, calming me. We walk along the carpet together and his name is called all around us.

“Jay! Jay! Over here. Clara from Celeb Central magazine.” A young woman in a tight black dress thrusts a microphone toward us.

“Jay, it’s a pleasure to see you and looking so handsome tonight,” she gushes. Her eyes look to me and a flash of recognition crosses them. “Jay, are we correct in thinking that your lovely date here is the same lady we featured in a recent issue?” Her eyebrows shoot up as she looks at him.

“Yes, you’re right, I’m Holly,” I say confidently, surprising myself. It must be the champagne courage from the limo.

Clara turns her microphone to me, shocked that I can speak. I look up at Jay and he’s smiling at me, his eyes bright and amused.

“So, Holly, did you meet Jay on a flight you were working on, as rumor would lead us to believe?” she asks enthusiastically.

“Yes, that’s right,” I glance up at Jay.

Clara looks down and notices our hands. “So, tell me, are you two dating?”

“Yes, Holly’s my girlfriend,” Jay says in his smooth, deep voice. My stomach flutters at his voice saying those words again. I don’t think I will ever tire of hearing them.

Clara looks like she can’t believe her luck. “Steve, get a shot of the happy couple,” she yells at the photographer with her. Jay moves in close next to me and we smile as they take a stream of photos.

We spend some more time smiling for pictures, and Jay answers questions about the fragrance and his upcoming season of Steel Force. Every reporter asks who I am, and by the amount of times Jay says, ‘Holly, my girlfriend,’ I’m surprised I haven’t orgasmed on the spot.

We finally make it to the main hotel entrance and are directed inside to the ballroom. Enchanting music is playing in the background. The lights are low, and the ceiling is covered in fairy lights, so it looks like a starry sky. Performers in silver leotards are hanging down on large crescent moons suspended from the ceiling. They are swaying to the music and doing elegant stretches and slow twirls. Around the room there are large displays of the fragrance bottles among red and white roses. Men and women are walking around giving out elegant-looking goody bags and samples. The room itself smells just like the female fragrance, an enchanting apple orchard in the moonlight. It’s sweet and mysterious at the same time.

“This is incredible,” I whisper to Jay.

He squeezes my hand in response as Anya Katiss approaches in a long silver dress, a dark-haired man with her.

“Holly, it’s so lovely to see you again; you look stunning,” she says, kissing me on both cheeks.

“Thank you, so do you,” I smile. I can’t believe that I thought she and Jay were seeing each other after I met him. She’s actually nice, and it’s obvious that she doesn’t fancy Jay. She’s one of the few women I’ve met who doesn’t check him out constantly.

“Jay.” She turns and kisses him on both cheeks too. “I don’t think we would have half the amount of people here if it wasn’t for you coming onboard.”

“I’m sure you would, Anya; you’ve done an outstanding job.”

“Holly.” Anya turns to me, smiling. “This is Doug.” Her hand drapes over the arm of the man with her. He’s very handsome and clean-shaven but looks rather stern.

He extends his hand to me. “Anya’s agent,” he says before his mouth returns to a firm line.

“Holly,” I say back, shaking his hand with my free hand, the other still entwined with Jay’s.

“Right, we will see you later,” Anya says as she goes off to greet an incoming guest, her arm linked with Doug’s.

He’s so different than Anya. She’s all smiles and engaging with everybody, and he hangs back, looking grumpy.

“What’s Doug’s problem?” I ask Jay.

“Doug? Oh, he’s alright once you get to know him. He’s just very protective of Anya. He relaxes more when he’s not in crowds.”

“Did Stefan not want to come tonight?” I ask, thinking that Doug is here with Anya, but Stefan didn’t come with Jay.

“No, he comes sometimes, but he prefers to pass on the events if he can.”

“Do you usually bring a date?”

“I would come with a colleague, or someone Stefan knows who has a mutual need for a plus one as well,” Jay smiles and nods a greeting to a passing guest.

“So, not like a proper date then?” I probe.

“Holly.” Jay’s voice has a warning edge to it. “You are the first date whom I care about. Satisfied?” He eyes me and I nod, tipping my head to one side.

“For now.” I smile.

He shakes his head at me, but his eyes look amused.

The next hour passes in a blur as more people arrive. We have a few drinks and Jay chats with what seems like everyone, introducing me as his girlfriend. There are more than a few put out female faces when he says it. The performers do some acrobatics displays, much to the delight of all the guests, and there’s a steady stream of drinks and food being served around the room.

“Holly, I have to go up on stage in a moment with Anya to do the presentation,” Jay whispers in my ear.

“Okay.” I smile and let go of his hand. His eyes study my face.

“Go.” I roll my eyes. “I’ll be fine.”

He gives me a kiss on the lips before disappearing through the crowd toward the stage at the front of the room. I take a sip of my drink and look around at the décor. This really is incredible; they’ve done a fantastic job, and it’s packed with guests.

“Busy, isn’t it?” I look to my side as Doug comes to join me. He stands next to me, looking up at the performers above us as he takes a sip of his drink.

“Yes, it is.” I nod. I’m too busy studying him now to look at the performers.

The music is turned down, and the room falls silent as Anya and Jay start the presentation on the stage. I watch Jay captivating the audience as he walks about on the stage, talking about the fragrance and how hard Anya has worked.

“You know the break-in at Jay’s house couldn’t have come at a better time?” Doug says as he watches Anya speaking.

“Pardon?” I can’t have heard him right.

“It was good publicity for the launch.” He shrugs. “Put Jay back on the front page just as we were about to release the fragrances.”

My stomach churns and I lower my glass, not able to drink any more.

“It was awful,” I mumble, remembering Jay’s stressed face at his mum and dad’s house when he got the news.

“Oh, I’m sure it was a bit unpleasant,” Doug says, “but nothing was taken, and look at all the people who’ve turned up tonight as a result.”

I look at him, disgusted by what I’m hearing. “I can’t believe you would say that!” I glare at him, my jaw clenching.

He looks at me. “Oh, don’t take it personally, Holly. It’s just business, that’s all. I want what’s best for Anya,” he says, then he takes another sip of his drink.

“Excuse me. I think I need some air!” I snap, passing a server with a tray of canapes as I turn to leave.

What nerve! I can’t believe he would say such a thing. Maybe this is what Jay was talking about when he said some people are only interested in their own agendas. A sickness creeps over me and the hairs stand up on my neck. Just how far would Doug go for Anya? Someone paid Ryan Baker to follow me and break in when we were out. Surely, he wouldn’t? But Jay said he’s very protective of Anya, and Doug himself said he wants what’s best for her. I swallow down my growing nausea and stride across the room. I’m less than halfway across when a panicked voice screams.

“Somebody help! He’s choking!”


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