So much so that when the excited young blond wearing a cowboy hat, leather chaps, alligator boots and jeans that exposed his butt cheeks pulled her over to dance between him and his partner, who wore tuxedo pants, a polka-dot bow tie and a smile, London thought nothing about it. Because of the strobing disco lights, she didn’t see the flash.
Before dawn the next morning, London would once again make headlines. But Ace and the rest of the world would know about it before she had a clue.
His alarm went off at 9:00 a.m. Eyes still shut, Ace fumbled around for the knob and shut it off. Five minutes later, his text indicator buzzed. He ignored it, too. Didn’t bother to answer the cell phone when it rang ten minutes after that, but when his landline chimed only seconds later, he jerked up the receiver.
A brief pause and then, “So you’ve seen them.”
Rubbing his eyes, Ace propped himself up against the headboard. “Dent? What the hell? We spent half the night looking at those pictures and the rest making sure they got out to all the right sources.”
“No, not the ones from the shoot. The ones of London stirring up valuable publicity to make our upcoming press releases even more newsworthy. Even though she wasn’t wearing our clothes.”
“Oh, man.” Ace placed the call on speaker and snatched a small tablet off his nightstand. “Was she wearing any?”
Tyler chuckled. “A butt was exposed, but it wasn’t hers.”
Ace typed London’s name into the search engine. Half a dozen news links came up along with a picture. London, laughing, sandwiched between two guys. One dancing provocatively behind her, cheek to cheek, one might say, while the other held her in what appeared to be a sizzling kiss.
The thought of her in another man’s arms was enough to skyrocket his blood pressure. Seeing it made Ace think of kicking ass and taking names, and he wasn’t a violent man. It also pushed away the deep sleep that moments ago was the only thing he wanted. Now he wanted to find London and whoever this guy was and strangle him. Or her. Or both.
He tapped on the notorious website, XYZ, which had broken the story. Toward the end of the first paragraph, he began to read out loud.
“‘London, who recently ended a relationship with megarich director Maxwell Tata, creator of the wildly successful fanatica—fantasy combined with erotica—films, seems to have moved on from her lover…but in what direction? One moment she was seen giggling and hugging a pretty young woman as they exited the bathroom. The next one had her lip-locked with a gay—or maybe bi?—man in the middle of the dance floor. No details on who she went home with, but whoever the lucky choice was, looks like they had fun.’”
Ace tossed the tablet on the bed, threw back the sheets and hopped out of bed. The article’s last line was like a bucket of water on his face, chasing any chance or desire of sleep away faster than a double espresso.
“We probably should have said something during that first meeting, but she’s representing OTB now and needs to watch her ways,” he told Tyler, after snatching up the cordless receiver and beginning to pace.
“Are you kidding me? This is fabulous press.”
“This is a scandal and drama that I don’t need.”
“Have you forgotten our company’s name?”
The company and Ace’s last statement had nothing to do with each other. But he eyed his naked frame as he crossed a mirror in his pacing and kept that truth to himself.
“OTB stands for ‘Out of the Box.’ That’s exactly the message these articles portray. With the money shots we took last night, our new tagline and London’s celebrity? We’ll probably get moved to a bigger space in New York and will definitely get a prime-time spot.”
When they’d coined the line around 2:00 a.m., Ace thought the tagline Reigning Over Her was genius. But if pictures like these began dominating celebrity websites, the statement would take on a whole other meaning.
“Have you talked to the PR team?”
“No,” Tyler responded. “They’re my next call.”
“I suggest we stay away from this tagline. Maybe push back those ads a day or two. Once Mira hears about this I’m sure she’ll agree.”