Scott closed his laptop, which was a sign that he was really serious now. “Like it or not, Brian, she is in this. Up to her eyeballs in it, in fact. She won’t be able to avoid it forever, and when it catches up to her, she’s going to have some real choices to make. If you don’t bring her in with you, then your management team—along with everyone else in town—will bypass you and go straight to her. Do you really want her to meet with people and make decisions without you?”
My jaw clenched. Hollywood people could be nice enough, but they were all sharks in sheep’s clothing. Ella was a strong, smart woman, but she wasn’t used to playing their game. No way did I want her having to navigate this business on her own.
“You’re absolutely right that your team will try to use her as much as possible. That’s why you should be there when they do. At least if you’re together, you can tell her when they’re trying to work her over.”
Damn him again. Why did he always have to be right? Letting out a breath of defeat, I scrubbed my hands over my face and then raked them through my hair. “All right, all right, fine. Let’s schedule a meeting with Ella. But not yet. After the holidays. After New Year’s.”
Scott’s posture eased up a little, and he gave me an apologetic smile. “I don’t think they want to wait that long. You guys are in the headlines now. You’re the biggest story of the year. With the movie releasing in two days, they want to take advantage of all this free publicity.”
I huffed in exasperation. “The Druid Prince is the biggest release of the holiday. The studio has put millions of dollars into advertising. How much more publicity does it need?”
“Not the film, Brian; you.”
“I don’t care about the publicity. I don’t want the attention.”
I shot to my feet with a groan and headed for my coffee again. It wasn’t as hot now, so I chugged it as if it held the answers to all my problems.
“You do want it this time. And so does Ella.”
I was still frowning, but I leaned against the counter again and gave him my full attention. He jumped on the window of opportunity but spoke cautiously, as if he was afraid I might explode if I didn’t like what he said. “How you and Ella deal with this attention will affect your future, and you know it. The world loves you guys right now. You’re a real-life fairy tale. People are dying to see the two of you living out the happily-ever-after you promised them.”
“Forget the world. I want that. But if the freaking media doesn’t leave us alone, no one will get that happily-ever-after, because Ella will dump my famous ass.”
Scott’s snort of disbelief was only mildly reassuring.
“She’s not like everyone else, Scott. She doesn’t care about the money, and my fame is a problem in her eyes, not a fun perk. She’s fragile. If this gets too crazy, she’ll throw in the towel. She’ll have to. And I’ll have to let her.”
“If you would just make a couple of appearances together, do an interview or two and a photo shoot, that would satiate the public, and things would die down.”
“Tell that to Kim and Kanye.”
Again, Scott spoke right over my cynical mutterings. “It would help you both in other ways, too. Ella is exactly what you need for your career. This relationship will completely erase your last year or so of debauchery.”
I cocked an eyebrow at Scott, trying my hardest not to smile. It wasn’t easy. “Debauchery?”
His cheeks turned a little pink, but he stood his ground. “Do you have a better word for all the partying and womanizing?”
I held his gaze a moment longer but then cracked. “Fine. Debauchery.”
“Right. And after a few appearances with Ella, as in love as you guys are, not even Kyle Hamilton will remember your previous reputation as an arrogant, immature playboy.”
My eyebrow went up again, and this time it was Scott who relented. “Okay, Kyle might. But no one else will; I guarantee it. You’ll be the mature down-to-earth A-list actor who chose to be with a physically-disabled woman when he could have anyone. You’ll be admired by all of Hollywood. And a man like that might just win himself an Oscar, whether he earned it onscreen or not—that’s simple Academy politics. Not that you haven’t earned it, but no one in the Academy would hesitate to vote for you. And no director will hesitate to consider you for a role in the future. Play your cards correctly right now, and you’ll be earning thirty million a picture for the Cinder Chronicles sequels and turning down roles you’d beg for right now.”
A year ago, that would have been a persuasive argument. “It’s not me I’m worried about. I’ll earn my A-list status eventually; I don’t need to use Ella to get there.”
“She might want to use this opportunity, though. You should at least explain to her what is going on and what it means for her. From what you’ve told me, she’s an extremely independent woman and isn’t going to want to live off of her father’s money forever, or yours. This could be a very lucrative time for her. It could help her with her future and even give her something to focus on. It could give her positive reasons for living with the fame and maybe help her make sense of how much her life has just changed.”
I shot Scott a glare, hating that last accusation, and got his Super-Assistant-Stare-Down again. “Like it or not, Brian, the moment you gave that Cinderella interview on The Kenneth Long Show, you changed her life. There’s no going back for her, so help her move forward. Help her make the best of a hard situation. Ease this transition for her by being straight with her. You know no one else will.”
I rubbed my head. All this thinking about the future first thing in the morning was giving me a headache.
“Sorry, boss, I know it’s not what you want to do, but it is what you need to do. I’d let you keep ignoring them and turn off my phone over the holiday if it wasn’t.”
My hands dropped to my sides as all the fight left me, and I met Scott’s gaze again, frowning. “Do you ever get tired of being right?”
The corners of Scott’s mouth twitched. “Not really, no.”
Part of the Cinder & Ella series:
Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram
Amazon | Goodreads
fyi: currently free read for Amazon Prime members
Happily Ever After by Kelly Oram
Amazon | Goodreads
fyi: currently on sale until April 30
About the author:
Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen—a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She's obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.
Don't miss the latest news from Kelly Oram! Sign up for her newsletter to receive e-mail notifications for all of her new releases, events, sales, & giveaways. This is a monthly newsletter often with exclusive giveaways and freebies from some of her favorite authors.
Find out more about this book and author:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
* heads-up courtesy of author