He’d taken a shower, too.
For some reason, I trusted that shower, and what it meant, so I let go of another small kernel of doubt that I’d been holding on to. With it gone, I brushed my lips against his neck, and he groaned in response, grabbing my hand and holding it tight against his trim waist. Then he said something to me in Italian that sounded very close to what he’d said before.
“I want the same,” I whispered in his ear as he revved the engine and took off.
I definitely didn’t have to do squats tonight. My thighs were going to be rock hard. I’d been crouched down for thirty minutes, behind a low stone wall around the edge of a parking lot that a car detailer shared with a body shop. On the other side of the street was a smog-testing facility and a tire dealer. At my feet lay a crushed Big Gulp cup, a sandwich wrapper, and several empty bags of chips. This must have been a prime lunchtime picnic spot for litterbugs.
Keats was right—the warehouse section was the perfect location for sneaking around since no one was around. This stretch of street was deserted at night.
With my camera strap around my neck, I was ready for whenever I saw the star and her director show up. I wasn’t sure how far away they were, but timing in L.A. has a way of stretching and unfolding many times. They could just as easily arrive in seconds or in hours.
“So, yeah. I’ve got a lot of intel right about now on how the paparazzi work,” William said in a dry voice.
“Okay, what have you learned, my protégé?”
“Well, my mentor, I have learned that it is, in fact, almost identical to how being a private detective works.”
I laughed. “Yeah, pretty much. Lots of waiting, and watching, and hoping, and then just a few seconds or so to take a picture.”
“Sounds like my job.”
“And the tips aren’t that different, either,” I said, as I ran my fingers absently up and down the camera strap. “So really, what does your client think he or she will learn? That the most intrepid photogs are invisible? Or that we hang out in trees like lemurs ready to spring?”
“As you swing around the city wearing super-spy goggles with bionic vision, right?” he asked, miming putting on a pair of glasses.
“I left those at home tonight, but yes. I do usually wear my bionic glasses.”
He shrugged. “I guess that is the sort of stuff the PR shop wants to know. But honestly, it probably won’t make a difference. I have a hunch this is one of those cases where the publicity firm’s client is probably doing something shady and isn’t owning up to it. Like this guy, the director Avery Brock. He’s a dick,” William said with a sharp edge to his tone.
I turned to him. “Yeah. He is.”
“He’s giving my countrymen a bad name. This’ll be, what, his third affair with an actress he’s directed?”
I counted off his alleged priors in my head. First, there were the tales of his tryst with the just-turned-twenty-one, lovely Plum Lange who played the best friend of the head cheerleader in the high school football flick The Rivalry and whose name was a source of endless puns in the tabloid headlines—she was a plum Plum. Next came the stories of his escapades on the set with Andromeda Blue, who starred as a teen drifter living on the road in Lonely Nights Without Me. Andromeda, who went by Andy everywhere except in the title credits for her films, had appeared quite heartbroken in the photos I’d seen of her after the film’s press tour and their time together had ended. She’d gone sunglasses and sad eyes all the way, since she’d reportedly been in mad love with him. Avery probably batted his big brown eyes and told many a self-deprecating joke to win back his wife’s favor after that one.
But now, he was at it again with Riley Belle.
“Yep, third. If you believe what the press says,” I said.
William shook his head. “His wife should leave him. She deserves so much better. Anyone deserves better than that.”
“Probably,” I said, but who knew what their story was? Maybe they had an arrangement. Stranger things had happened. I cocked my head to the side when I heard the faint stirring of a hybrid car engine nearby, followed by a second vehicle, also with the same barely-there swoosh to its motor. There was hardly a celebrity in this town who didn’t drive a hybrid or an electric, so my ears had been trained to pick out the softer hum, even the distinctions between models.
I peered over the low stone wall as a silver Nissan idled briefly, then cut the engine. Right behind it, a dark green Toyota parked.