The Final Act (#4 Bestselling Spotlight Series)

BOOK: The Final Act (#4 Bestselling Spotlight Series)
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Copyright © 2013 JS Taylor.

 

All rights reserved.

 

Pageturners

35 Cambridge Road, Hove

www.pageturners.uk.com

 

First Edition January 2013

 

The characters in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

ISBN: 10
1484854152

ISBN 13: 9781484854150

 

 

Printed in the United Kingdom

 

Chapter 1

 

Lights. Camera. Action.

 

Alive.

I have never felt so alive.

I used to think being with James Berkeley was like waking up from a long sleep. Now we’re acting together. And it’s like… It’s like parts I didn’t even know I had have woken up.

As the cameras roll and we bring the scene to life, everything around us has melted away. There’s only me and James in a private, thrilling world of our own.

This is closer than I ever thought possible.

James
glowers at me with his dark eyes. He is angry. Worse than angry. Furious.

My character, Grace, has gone against his wis
hes. And he is mad as hell.

Do your worst baby. I can take it.

“What were you thinking,” he rages, “going alone after a story? Did it not occur to you that you put this whole newsroom at risk?”

His anger exaggerates the
slightly uneven cast to his handsome features, giving him a danger I’ve never seen before. It’s hard not to stare as his deep green eyes smoulder and his dark brows sink low with acted fury.

H
e looks so hot when he’s acting angry.

In
stead of his usual jeans and T-shirt, James is dressed for his screen character in grey wool pants and a linen shirt. He’s been styled like a provincial journalist, with his short brown hair swept back away from his face.

In contrast, my character Grace is dressed
like a city-girl. I’m wearing a designer pencil shirt and a fashionable blouse-top. My long black hair has been tugged and smoothed into a chignon by Scarlett, the hairdresser. And my grey eyes fire out from perfect professional make-up.

Dressed as Grace, I don’t just look like a fierce reporter. I feel like one too.

So whilst the real Issy would quaver a little under the force of James’s fury, just for now, I’m only watching on. Instead, Grace is calling the shots.

And
sharp reporter Grace doesn’t give an inch. She tightens her lips, glowers back, and lets Mr Berkeley have it.

“And
you
,” I storm, “would have let that story go. You would have let another paper get it. Damn it Tom! I was doing my
job
!”

“And I should be grateful
, I suppose?” James-playing-Tom takes a step closer. His voice has dropped low and dangerous. I feel a thrilling fission of fear in my stomach.

“I should be pleased that you put this whole newsroom at risk?” he
hisses.

“To get a world exclusive?
” I shoot back. “Damn straight you should!”

James stands close, letting his height loom over me to intimidate me. But Grace won’t be intimidated.

“Back off Tom,” I growl. “You’re out of line, and you know it.”

Despite my harsh words, I stay stock still, refusing
to make space between us. We’re almost touching now. Both breathing fast in our shared anger.

I can smell him. Feel the heat of his skin. And I know what’s coming
next.

I’ve read the script.

Tom grabs my arm. I stare hard at his fingers, outraged by the contact. But before I can wrench my arm away, Tom has pushed me up against the wall, his mouth hard on mine.

I hardly know what I am doing,
but suddenly I’m responding. It’s as though a dam has broken. For the last three weeks, I’ve been holed up in a newsroom with this control freak, watching him call the shots.

I’ve gotten close to wanting to strangle him. Now, suddenly, that feeling
has morphed into deep, powerful lust.

I push back against him, letting him know it’s not just him forcing me up ag
ainst the wall. I want this too.

Tom
’s hand tunnels roughly up my skirt, ripping the seam, and I find myself gasping with desire. It scares me how much I want this. Him. Hard, Rough. Now.

Issy is watching on.
And a sudden thought of what James might do to me after filming pops into my head. We both know there’s no script for what could happen later.

“Cut!” Callum’s voice calls.

James and I freeze, and then disentangle ourselves,
hiding our reluctance.

Whilst James is acting, Callum is taking on some of the directorial responsibilities.
So the last few scenes have seen him directing us both.

This is an inspired move by James, since Cal
lum is more than up to the task and has years of movie experience.

I turn to see a host of goggling eyes taking us in. The whole cast and crew are looking on, and they appear to be speechless.

Ordinarily, this level of attention would have me blushing. But in this context, I almost relish it.

We were acting. That’s our job.

Natalie actually has her mouth open. She shuts it when she sees me looking.

“Isabella. Jeez.” Callum is the first to speak. “I mean. Jesus Christ. Every guy on set has a hard-on right now.”

I feel James bristle beside me.

Easy baby. I’m all yours.

“I just…” Callum rubs his forehead and holds up an apologetic hand to James. “I’ve never seen anything
like
that. That is some raw, intense performance.”

He breaks into a broad grin. “This,” he decided, “is going to be a fucking fabulous movie.”

“Any feedback?” asks James.

How can James
think he needs any feedback? His acting is always perfect. Better than perfect. It’s so convincing, it pushes me into new places. James tests boundaries I never knew I had.

“Hell,
no
,” says Callum, rolling his eyes. “I mean, seriously. I have never seen such chemistry in front of the camera. You guys
nailed
it.”

James has the ghost of a smile on his face. “Thank you.”

“Thank
you
,” says Callum. “Thanks to you two, this movie is winning awards. No question. Even if the direction is awful and the costumes are worse. Even if I suck. Even if Natalie sucks.” He waves his hands dramatically.

Natalie narrows her eyes at this, but Callum ignores her.

Since Natalie’s leaking to the press, none of us are too happy with her. We’ve agreed an uneasy kind of truce. A forgiveness based on the fact that she’s got serious issues and everyone deserves a second chance. But I, for one, am tired of pandering to her.

In my mind
, at least, one more slip up and she’s out.

No more Mrs Nice Issy.
Next time Natalie acts up, I’m going to tell her off.

I think Natalie knows it though. She’s been nice as pie since the whole leak thing was resolved.
Though she’s still a diva on-set.

“Ok then,” breathes James. “I think that’s a wrap for today.”

Oh it is, huh? Already?

I’m not the only one who’s surprised. I see a little collective ripple of confusion run through the crew. James is notorious for working as many hours on set as possible. And the clock has only just hit 5pm.

I feel his hand slide to the small of my back, just above my ass, and I realise the reason for the early finish.

It’s not
just me then
. James must have been as turned on by that last scene as I was. I feel a burst of lust shoot through me.

Then he steps away from me, and it’s like the light went out.
He starts busying himself with taking down parts of the set and getting people briefed for tomorrow. I feel a pang of longing to have him back.

I guess I must have got it wrong. He’s
finishing early for other reasons.

He’ll be all yours later
, I remind myself.

I step a little listlessly into the crowd of crew, and
make-up girl Kristy moves to my side, her pink hair bright as ever.

“So we figured one thing out,” she says
, blinking her perfectly made-up goth-girl eyelashes. “You and Berkeley aren’t involved.”

What?
A spike of fear shoots through me. Are we regular gossip now?

Callum, Will, Camilla, and now Natalie all know about James and I. No help for that. But please. I’m not sure I could take the cast as well.

“I mean,” clarifies Kristy, “when actors are involved, there’s no chemistry, right? And you two. Boy. You have chemistry.”

I let out a breath, realising she’s joking, and give her a weak laugh.

“Right,” I manage. “Well, he is gorgeous, right? It’s not hard to fake.”

Kristy laughs. “No woman has been able to keep him in line yet,” she says with a wink. “I don’t think Berkeley is the relationship kind.”

Hmmm. Maybe not until now.

My phone beeps,
and I pull it out distractedly. The message is short, and there’s no question of who it’s from.

 

Go to the stables. Now.

 

Whoa. I feel the blush rising up and wonder if Kristy can see it in my face.

The stables?

My mind switches instantly to the riding crop, which Berkeley bought me in Barcelona.

I didn’t even know this place had stables.

We’re currently filming on Berkeley Estate – a last minute plan to deal with press leaks. It’s a stunning expanse of rolling green hills and little wooded sections, with a huge country manor in the centre. Of course, a place like this must have stables. But I’ve never seen them.

I frown.

“Is there a map of the estate?” I ask Kristy, not wanting to admit where I’m going.

“Sure.” Kristy points. “There are signs for tourists all over.”

“Thanks.” I smile gratefully, realising I’m being an idiot. On weekends, Berkeley Estate is partially open to the public. There are plenty of large signs showing the layout.

“Hey, Issy!” Callum is waving to me. Him and Camilla saunter over.

“Last night at Berkeley Estate,” says Callum. “We thought the cast and crew should have a little celebration.”

Of course. We’re due
back to the studio tomorrow. I’d almost forgotten.

The thought of leaving is bitter-sweet. I’m looking forward to being back on the studio. But I’ve fallen a little in love with Berkeley Estate.

“We’ve found a cute little English pub,” adds Callum. “Just a mile away through a pretty corn field.”

Camilla smiles adoringly at Callum. “Mr Reed is just
dying
to see how the English drink warm ale on their downtime,” she teases.

Callum shrugs. “True,” he admits. “Come with us?” He tilts his head to include Kristy in the invitation.

“Just give me a minute to shower and change,” I say, feeling a little guilty for lying. I could swear by Callum’s expression, he knows. “I’ll join you later,” I add, trying to drive down the blush I feel moving up my neck.

“Great,” says Callum, clapping me on the shoulder. “See you there.”

 

Chapter 2

 

I find the stables after only a few wrong turns. My sense of direction is improving slightly, at least. But when I arrive, I think for a moment I might have the wrong place.

The stables are large. They comprise a long strip of red-brick buildings, with large timbered openings for the horses to come in and out of. Gabled haylofts are set above, and the look of the place is picturesque.

There are
n’t any horses though. Confused, I frown and shield my eyes from the evening sun as I stare along the entrances.

“Isabella.” My heart convulses. It’s James.
He steps out from one of the stable buildings and nods his head.

“Come inside,” he commands, before vanishing back into the dark interior.

I feel my stomach tighten. What exactly does he have in mind?

I enter the twilight of the stable building, which smells of fresh hay and horses. James stands against a tower of hay bales packed up against the side, but there are no animals in here.

Out of the sun, the air is cool on my bare arms and legs. But I’m anything but cold. A deep thrill is coursing all the way through me. After acting with James today, I can’t wait to be alone with him.

“You’re not wearing riding clothes,” I observe, moving towards him and pressing myself into his chest.

James’s strong arms circle around me, and I am imprisoned in his muscular body.

“No,” he
answers, kissing my mouth. “The horses are all out today. But I am going to give you a riding lesson.”

“You are?”
My face must register confusion, because he smiles.

“Yes.”

James pulls back a little and tilts my face up towards his.

“Acting with you today…”
He pauses for a moment, as if unsure of what to say next.

James Berkeley lost for words. This must be a first.

“Issy,” he says finally, “you know more about… my dark side, than anyone else. I wanted to take you to these stables because they are one of my boyhood memories.”

Oh.
My heart gives a sympathetic flutter.
My poor Berkeley. Lost and alone.

“So you wanted to show me this place?” I ask.

He raises a devilish eyebrow. “In a way.” He pauses again. “I thought you might like to try bringing a little acting to our more intimate relations.”

Acting and intimate relations
?
On set, I couldn’t have thought of anything hotter. Now I’m suddenly shy.

“Like role play?” I say uncertainly.

“Like role play,” he confirms. “Or at least, a little characterisation.”

“What exactly do you mean?”

I’m hedging, uncertain again. Berkeley sure does know how to take me out of my comfort zone.

He lets his arms drop and takes a step away from me. I watch him go, still confused. James walks to an old wooden trunk, which looks like it hasn’t been opened in years. He levers open the lid.

For some reason, I find myself holding my breath.

He turns, and the object
in his hand is unmistakable. A horse whip. I feel my stomach flip.

James used a riding crop on me before.
More to tease me than to inflict pain. But something about the way he is holding this object suggests he has dangerous intent.

The whip has a long handle and a thin single frond running to around a foot in length. At the end of the whip is a fold of leat
her designed to give extra force when a stroke is applied.

I feel myself swallowing hard.
A whip. That looks painful.

“I think,” says James slowly, “it’s time I disciplined you. Properly. I know you’re a modern girl
, Issy, and this will be hard for you to bear. So I suggest you use some of your acting ability.”

“What do you mean?”
My mouth is dry. James is beside me again in a few strides. He places the whip and the crop carefully on the hay bales. Then he takes my face in his hands.

“Let’s pretend,” he says, “that you’re a stable girl
.”

“And you’re the lord of the manor?” I say, raising an eyebrow and swallowing at the same time.

“If you like,” he says easily. “What’s important is you are going to be punished. And you will accept it.”

“What do you mean by punished?” I gulp.

“Beaten,” he says. With that one word, I feel myself go cold.

“I… I’m not sure,” I admit. “I don’t know if… if I could do that.”

James strokes the side of my cheek, and I feel a pulse of light run the length of my body, straight to between my legs.


Maybe Issy couldn’t,” he agrees, “but perhaps a character you played could.”

He moves his hand to run down the front of my body, and his thumb lingers on my breast.

“Playing Grace,” he whispers, “you were able to say things to me that Issy would never dare.”

He pinches my nipple tight, and I gasp. It takes all my energy not to physically buckle at the knees.

“It was indescribably sexy,” he adds, “hearing you talk that way. Playing your part so well.”

His green eyes are on mine now, and it feels as though they are penetrating my soul.

“I think acting allows you to come out of yourself,” he says. “I think you enjoy it very much. And if you trust me, Issy, I think you will enjoy this too.”

Do I trust him? Everything I’ve done
with James has proven that he cares for me. That he has my best interests at heart. But allowing him to beat me? Is that a step too far?

“Turn around,” growls James. And I realise he’s not giving me the time to decide. He’s taken on his character already.

His strong hands spin me around so I’m facing the hay bale. Then he pushes me down onto it, so my ass is in the air.

James’s body is over mine, pinning me firmly to the hay
bale, and his mouth is at my ear.

“You need to be disciplined,” he whispers. “Are you going to be a good girl and accept your punishment? Or will I have to restrain you?”

“I…” The situation is so sudden. It’s also undeniably hot. I can feel his hard body against mine, holding me down. The soft hay is pressed against my cheek, and my whole body is screaming for him to… to do what?

I have a flashing desire for him to use the
whip on me. The intensity of the image almost takes my breath away. I want this, I realise.

I
know I should feel humiliated. Degraded. But I’m not. I want him to hold me down and beat me.

Uggh. It’s such a strange thought.

Almost without meaning to, I feel myself slipping into a character. It’s not quite a servant girl. But it’s submissive.

“I accept my punishment,” I whisper.

James’s green eyes light up. “Good girl,” he says silkily. He leans forward, holding the whip.

I feel my whole body tense.

James tugs up my skirt. The cool air hits my naked thighs.

Then he runs the whip
handle softly over my ass.

Every part of my skin is electrified.

“I’m going to discipline you hard,” he whispers, and at his words, a spasm of warmth erupts between my legs.

James
pulls away my panties, roughly, in one movement. I twitch at the unexpected contact, and suddenly I feel the flat of his hand slam into my behind.

“Keep still,” he admonishes. “You agreed to accept your punishment. I don’t want to spank you unnecessarily, but I will.”

“Yes, Sir.” The words of my character come tumbling out, from a hidden place inside of me. Would Issy have said that? It all comes so naturally, I’m a little shocked at myself.

“Now,” says James, “I’m going to
whip you.”

My breath is held.

“I won’t go easy on you,” he warns. Then his mouth is at my ear, and some of the sternness is gone from his voice. “If it’s too much,” he whispers, “tell me, and I’ll stop.”

I nod into the hay bale, still hardly able to breath
e. Then he pulls away, and he’s back in character again.

He
lets the leather whip frond dangle over my naked behind, and I hold my breath.

Laid over the hay bale, I feel my
ass begin to shudder in anticipation. Then the end of the whip strokes gently across my buttocks, and I convulse.

“Are you ready for your punishment?” asks James.

I nod. Because I am, truly. I want this. I want to know what it’s like to be disciplined at his hands.

He places a strong hand on my neck, restraining me tightly against the hay bale. And then I hear a swish
as he raises the whip.

I screw my eyes shut, waiting for the contact, and then the end of the
whip hits my bare ass with a loud crack.

“Arrgh!”
My whole body jumps, and then hot pain radiates out from where the whip has struck. But before I have time to register the sensation, he whips my naked skin again. Wham! And then a third time.

Holy hell. He’s really letting me have it.

My eyes are still screwed up tight as the fourth stroke whips across my buttocks. And I realise that he’s being true to his word. James really is punishing me with the whip.

I don’t know if I like this.

Before, James has used a riding crop to tease me, and it has been thrilling. On the verge between pleasure and pain. But as the strokes come hard, I’m registering that this is a real beating.

My mind casts a mental image of my situation. I am stretched over the hay bale with James standing tall above me,
whip in his hand, beating the hell out of my bare buttocks.

He’s
whipping my ass.

“Keep still,”
James growls, pushing my face harder against the hay bales. The whip cracks against my ass again. Hard.

Arrgh!

My ass is alive with pain, but the rest of me is warm with a completely different sensation. Being degraded like this. Bent over a hay bale and whipped. I can’t deny it. It’s hot. But it’s painful too. I don’t want him to carry on.

“Stop,” I whisper. “Stop.”

James freezes instantly. This has given my ass time to catch up with what’s just happened. And suddenly, I’m flooded with burning pain.

Ouch.
It feels as though my rear end has been laid out in the midday heat with no sun-block.

“Too much?” he whispers.

I nod, and I feel tears in my eyes. Something about this. It doesn’t feel like my James. It’s out of character. As though he’s exorcising some demon.

My mind is a whirl. Does he like hurting me? Do I like being hurt?

The context of what we just did is hot. No question. My body is ready for him. But the pain? The beating?

James is still standing over me, and I hear him drop the
whip.

His mouth is at my ear. “Do you want me to stop everything?” he asks. His voice is gentle, and concerned. And my body is charged with a sudden panic. The
whipping might have been too rough. But now my lust is overtaking the pain in a sudden, torrid surge. There’s no denying I want him. Now.

The idea of him not taking me over the hay bale is excruciating.

“Yes,” I groan. “Please. Take me.”

The urgency in my voice must have been evident. Because I hear him make a tight gasp of desire.
Then his denim-clad hardness pushes tight against my ass.


Careful,” I groan. The feeling is good. But the pressure on my ravaged skin is still painful.

He pulls back fractionally.
I hear him unbutton his fly, and then his hot skin is against mine.

H
e’s so incredibly hard
.

Desire grips my body.

“One day soon, I am going to claim your ass,” James murmurs, pushing himself between my buttocks. He presses his hardness firmly into the centre.

“Here,” he says. “Hard.”

Laying prone over the hay bale, I can feel the muscular strength of him. How easy it would be for him to drive deep into my ass with a single thrust.

I shake my head fractionally.
Part of me feels afraid.

Would he ever truly hurt me? Do something I didn’t want?

His hands move to stroke along my buttocks. Across the hot skin.

“I like that you’ve bourn this for me,” he whispers. “That you’ve taken this pain.”

His voice sounds wistful. And I wonder if there’s something else about these stables. This place of boyhood memories. That he wanted to claim. Certainly I’ve never known him so eager to inflict pain on me. The thought brings another flood of uncertainty.

Do I really want this man, and all his demons?

Before I can follow this thought fully, his hardness has shifted to where I am wet for him. I feel him roll on a condom.

BOOK: The Final Act (#4 Bestselling Spotlight Series)
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
Rogue's Reward by Jean R. Ewing
Otherworld by Jared C. Wilson