Read Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood) Online

Authors: Julie Particka

Tags: #opposites attract, #fake relationship, #bait and switch, #Brazen, #Julie Particka, #Entangled, #sexy, #Hollywood, #contemporary romance

Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood)

BOOK: Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood)
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She’s faking it…but he’s playing for keeps.

Wild child Jade Easler has never met a dick she didn’t like, but there’s only been one she thought about keeping. And now he’s back in town…right after she’s slept with charming Hollywood up-and-comer, Dean Hartley. The fastest way to get her ex’s attention? Show up on the arm of a sexy younger man. She just hopes Dean is up for the task of fake boyfriend…

When he hooked up with his beautifully curvy photographer, Dean thought he’d only get the one night she promised. But when she needs help convincing a former flame she’s ready to settle down, who is he to argue? He’ll get to show her—in as many ways as possible—that giving up crazy, hot sex for a stale, predictable life isn’t what she wants. And prove that what she
needs
is
him
.

Table of Contents

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 by Julie Particka. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Brazen is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC. For more information on our titles, visit
www.brazenbooks.com
.

Edited by Karen Grove

Cover design by Heather Howland

Cover art from iStock

ISBN 978-1-63375-647-2

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition June 2016

To all the women who don’t believe in filters

(for their mouths or their selfies)

—this one’s for you.

Chapter One


You’ll never guess who is back in town.”

Jade held her breath and calmly rested her fork on the edge of the salad plate. When her best friend threw out a line like that, odds were Jade wouldn’t
want
to know the answer. “Then you better just tell me, because you know how I hate guessing games.”

“No, you don’t.” Vicky laughed.

“Yes, I do, and I’d rather not play this time.” Vicky was toying with her—whatever the announcement, it was guaranteed to suck. She cast a glance around the restaurant, searching for their waiter. There. The blond with the hipster glasses and man-bun. “Just spill already.”

“Isak Alfredsson.”

The instant her heart started beating again, Jade waved down the waiter. “I need a vodka tonic. Hold the tonic.”

Vicky shook her head. “It’s
noon
.”

“Yeah, but it’s nine at night in Sweden. And it’s damn well five o’clock somewhere.”

“I thought you’d be happy about this. Didn’t you always call him the one that got away?”

She didn’t even let the waiter set the drink down; she took it right from his hands and tossed it back. One stiff drink wasn’t going to be enough to deal with this announcement. “I’ve called him a lot of things over the last two years.”

Vicky scooped up a bite of her salad. “Well, maybe you could call him up and see if he’s interested in a rematch.”

The first match had ended so swimmingly…

“I think I’m falling in love with you.” He buried his face in her neck, hands roving all over her body as he kissed her.

“That’s the sex talking.”

“Then I like what it has to say.”

It had only been three months—longer than she’d stayed with a man in forever—but it was still only three months. “I’m sure you’ll get tired of hearing the same tune sooner or later.”

“I don’t think I will. In fact, I’m so sure, I don’t want to leave you behind.” He propped himself up on an elbow, staring down at her like some golden Norse god. “Come back to Sweden with me.”

Jade’s heart stopped. He wasn’t talking international fling. She could see in his eyes that he wanted more; that this was the first step toward a forever she wasn’t the least bit prepared for—one she didn’t really believe in. A dull ache filled her heart as she clutched the sheet and sat up. She had to stop this now, or she’d only hurt him more in the long run. “No. And if that’s what you really want, maybe you should just go.”

The ache came back to haunt her now as she wondered if she’d made the right choice. Sure, she was happy. She had the life she’d always wanted. But what if she
had
let him get away when she should have chased after him instead?

All her friends were settling down. It wouldn’t be long until she was the one people talked about while wearing expressions that said things like
she had so much potential
and
if only she’d bothered to find a man when she was younger.
As much as she didn’t like the idea of trusting her heart to someone, Isak would have provided stability. He was
safe
.

She shook off the thought. It didn’t matter anymore. He wanted someone equally stable, and she wasn’t that, not mentally and not with regard to relationships. “He’s probably found himself a baby mama and is settling down to raise his two-point-five right now.”

“Nope.” Vicky grinned like she’d known the conversation would take this turn. “I have it on good authority that he’s single. And a little bird might have told him you’re on the lookout for Mr. Forever.”

Which meant Vicky herself had told him. No one else would have done that. “Why?”

“Because you keep talking about your age like you have an expiration date? You’ve said more than once how you want the kind of love in your life that I have with Dante. The kind Evan has with Stasia. I figured it meant you intended to close your revolving door of lovers permanently. And Isak was the only guy who ever came close to being more than a fling. Why wouldn’t you want to give him another chance?”

Fucking Hollywood and its six-degrees-of-separation madness.

If Jade had thought for an instant that Vicky would interpret her mindless chatter about age and falling in love to mean
find me a husband
, she would have taken up a vow of silence instead. After what divorce had done to her mother…the dark places it had driven her…

Jade pressed her lips together, trying not to think about that, but then her mind turned to the weeks she’d spent beating herself up after Isak had left. She’d questioned the decision over and over. Going through that turmoil again was
not
on her to-do list, either. But if part of her hadn’t regretted her choice, would she have even questioned it? Would she be questioning it now?

She tried to force the entire concept from her mind—and Vicky’s. “Look, he wants a wife and babies. Even if I’d like to eventually find something more meaningful, more stable…I’m not that girl.”

“What’s wrong with babies?”

Maybe if she hadn’t been stressed about the Isak-effect, Jade would have noticed the way Vicky’s tone shifted. But she was, so she didn’t. Instead she focused on the distinct lack of any reaction in her lady bits. Her boobs didn’t ache at the thought of nursing. She didn’t get the whole
womb cramping
some women mentioned. There was absolutely zero bodily response to the idea of having kids. “They’re loud, they shit and puke everywhere, and they tie you down. I prefer my clothes clean, and I like my freedom.”

And that was the deciding factor right there—she didn’t want to be tied down unless it was with leather restraints. Regardless of what Vicky had told Isak, she hadn’t changed, which meant seeing him would only complicate the perfect life she’d built.

If I stick to the studio, I shouldn’t run into him. Odds are he won’t be in town long.

“I guess that means I shouldn’t sign you up for babysitting duty, then?”

He’s probably just here to read for a role. The man…

Jade blinked, and then she blinked again, slower.
Baby-what?

“Are you…?” Her gaze shifted to the way Vicky’s hand rested on her abdomen, remembering the snarky comment about the shot of vodka. Normally her friend would have joined her, but not today. “You are.”

Giving a tight smile, Vicky nodded. “Ten weeks. We heard the baby’s heartbeat yesterday. Other than Dante and Mom, you’re the first person I’ve told.”

And she’d been a bitch. Damn it. Jade stood, rounded the table, and hugged her friend. “I’m sorry. I am truly happy for you. I know you always wanted kids.”

Vicky returned the embrace and said quietly, “You might, too, if you gave the right guy a chance to stick around.”

Jade pressed her lips together, keeping her instinctive retort inside. Logically, she knew Vicky might have a point, but she’d never thought that was in the cards for her. Until she’d told Isak to leave. But with her best friend having a kid…that was one more thing the two of them wouldn’t have in common soon. Married with children didn’t pair so well with Jade’s swinging single life.

But she didn’t do commitments. Because of her parents, she knew all too well how relationships could sour, especially given any length of time. She’d lived through the trauma of their split—and everything that followed—she had no intention of doing it again, especially not from the other side. More, she didn’t want to pass on that sort of thing to another generation.

Vicky was waiting for some response to the kid comment, but Jade couldn’t have this conversation right now. More than anything, she wanted to be happy for Vicky and Dante and celebrate the impending birth, but the baby wouldn’t be the focus of this lunch, not with the ghost of Isak lingering. Not with her mind batting his name back and forth with a
should I, shouldn’t I
every second. She needed to ponder what to do with
that
news before she’d be able to give Vicky’s pregnancy the attention it deserved.

Jade’s phone vibrated, nearly skittering off the table.

Rescue!
She grabbed it, mock-groaning at the text from her assistant, while secretly thanking the technology gods. She could get out of here and think on the drive. “Shit. I have to go. Guy showed up early for his shoot, and apparently he’s causing a bit of a stir.”

She made a point of putting her phone face up on the table, in case Vicky had any inclination to think she was lying. Granted, this was her get-out-of-convo-free card, but it was also the truth. Jade waved down the waiter and handed off her credit card.

“Mom’s coming to town this weekend, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to get away for lunch next week.” Vicky wasn’t exactly pouting, but she was clearly less than happy about Jade ditching before their meal was even over.

“We’ll do something after she leaves. Promise.” The waiter returned with Jade’s credit card slip, and she signed it with a flourish. Hugging Vicky once more, she added, “And I
am
happy for you. I hereby volunteer as your official baby photographer.”

Vicky smiled at last, returning the hug. “Thanks. Good luck with your drama at the studio. And at least think about giving Isak a call.”

Like she’d be able to think of anything else for the foreseeable future.


Dean didn’t know how these things always happened. Was his manager leaking his schedule somehow?
Because that shit needed to stop; he couldn’t live like this.

Twenty teen and college-aged girls had surrounded him the instant he stepped out of his taxi. Their noise drew a bigger crowd until he was plastered against the building, trying desperately to edge toward the door while signing autographs.

“I heard you get totally naked for the new show. Please tell me it’s true!” The chick couldn’t have been more than sixteen…probably younger.

Dean smiled as he edged away from her.
Be engaging with the fans. Encourage them to check out the show at every opportunity.
This
opportunity
, however, was completely repugnant to him. She was a
kid
, damn it. Still, he forced a smile onto his face as he said, “It’s network television, so there are restrictions on what they show. Beyond that, you’ll have to tune in every week to see.”

Nauseated over encouraging that train of thought, he shifted closer to the door, signing papers all the way.
Ten yards. Nine. Eight.

“Can you pose for a pic with me?” This one might have been out of high school, but he couldn’t be sure.

Never pass up an opportunity to endear yourself to the fans.
“Of course.”

She crowded next to him against the brick wall, held her phone out, and snapped a selfie. “Thanks.”

Before Dean could move on, she kissed him—full on the mouth. He kept his lips tightly closed, but the girl’s tongue was all over them, searching for a way in, as more phones clicked pictures. As gently as possible, he pushed her away.

Seven yards. Six…

Three more selfies. No kissing, but one of the girls had no problem with smoothing her hand over his ass.
Pretend to appreciate the attention.

Pretend for a role.

Pretend for the cameras.

Pretend for the fans.

Pretend twenty-four-seven.

It was ridiculous.

He’d give almost anything to let his filters down and just be his damn self for once.

Five more yards…

Then, from the crowd, someone grabbed at him, the hand coming inches from his crotch.
If a fan gets out of line, ignore it as much as possible. Events have security to deal with these things.
But there was no security here, and as he shifted another step closer to the door, the crowd pressed in tighter, and a hand cupped his groin, rubbing at him through his jeans.

That was it. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Suddenly a horn blared. The girls screamed and scattered like birds upon sight of a pouncing cat.

A black BMW Z4 barreled into the space between the buildings, the tires coming inches from rolling over Dean’s toes. A curvaceous woman wearing dark sunglasses and a crimson scarf over her head climbed out, activated her alarm, and opened the door to the photographer’s studio. “After you, hot stuff.”

Knowing better than to wait for the girls to come back, he ducked inside. “Thank you, Miss…”

“Jade Easler. I’m your photographer, and you and your entourage were really early.”

She whipped the scarf off her auburn hair, and he sucked in a breath. Dear God, she was gorgeous.
This
was his photographer? He did his best to look at her face instead of the way her waist nipped in then flared to the most womanly hips he’d seen since coming to California. The girls outside had nothing on her.

“I’m sorry. I hate being late. It’s a thing that got drilled into me in college: to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be left behind.”

Looking at him over the edge of her shades, she said, “Are you old enough to have gone to college?”

Irritation bristled, but it was minimal. It might not have been a big-deal school, but, with scholarships and part-time jobs, he’d worked his way through. Anyone who thought he’d just stepped off the plane and gotten his first role could suck it. He’d busted ass to learn how to act, and then he’d busted it again until he got his agent’s attention. Hell, he’d spent his life busting ass just to keep from becoming a damn statistic. Between her dismissal and the crap outside, he was done. He snapped at her, “Yeah. Graduated and everything.”

“Huh.” She shrugged and led the way up the stairs. Her reaction was odd, as if his answer didn’t really matter.

What did matter was his mask had slipped—it might have only been a tiny bit, and with the photographer rather than a fan, but it was still a mistake. He was the public face of
Providence Academy
—their rising star. At this stage of the game, he was supposed to play nice no matter what, endear himself to everyone.

If he wasn’t careful, word would get back that he couldn’t keep up his public persona, and then… Well, he wasn’t exactly established yet. Hordes of fangirls notwithstanding, there was always another handsome face more than willing to take Dean’s place. Maybe someday the powers-that-be would declare they wanted more of a bad-boy vibe from Dean, but for now, he was supposed to be the golden boy—practically perfect in every fucking way. As for showing his real personality, he was pretty sure prickly-former-foster-kid would never hit the to-do list.

BOOK: Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood)
7.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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