“He was persistent. And slimy. And he wouldn’t take the hint!” Jaci continued. “I’m sorry that the kiss was captured on camera. I know what an invasion of your privacy that can be.”
Ryan glanced at the paper that he’d dropped onto his desk. “You seem to know what you’re talking about.” Ryan tipped his head. “Sexual scandals? Engaged?”
“All that and more.” Jaci tossed her head in defiance and held his eyes. “You can find it all online if you want some spicy bedtime reading.”
“I don’t read trash.”
“Well, I’m not going to tell you what happened,” Jaci stated, her tone not encouraging any argument.
“Did I ask you to?”
Hell, he hadn’t, Jaci realized, as a red tide crept up her neck. Jeez, catch a clue. The guy kissed you. That doesn’t mean he’s interested in your history.
Time to retreat. What had they been talking about? Ah, their kiss. “Look, if you need me to apologize to your girlfriend or wife, then I will.” She thought about adding “I won’t even tell her that you initiated the second kiss” but decided not to fan the flames.
“I’m not involved with anyone, which is about the only silver lining there is.”
Jaci pushed her long bangs to one side. “Then I really don’t understand what the drama is all about. We’re both single, we kissed. Yeah, it landed up in the papers, but who cares?”
“Banks does and I told him that you’re my girlfriend.”
Jaci lifted her hands in confusion. This still wasn’t any clearer. “So?”
Ryan started to roll up his sleeves, his expression devoid of all emotion. But his eyes were now a blistering blue, radiating frustration and a healthy dose of anxiety. “In order to produce Blown Away, to get the story you conceived and wrote onto the big screen, to do it justice, I need a budget of a hundred and seventy million dollars. I don’t like taking on investors, I prefer to work solo, but the one hundred million I have is tied up at the moment. Besides, with such a big budget, I’d also prefer to risk someone else’s money and not my own. Right now, Banks is the only thing that decides whether Blown Away sees the light of day or gets skipped over for a smaller-budget film.
“I thought that we were on the point of signing the damn contract but now he just wants to jerk my chain,” Ryan continued.
“Because he knows that I caught him hitting on my girlfriend and he’s embarrassed. He wants to remind me who’s in control.”
Okay, now she got it, but she wished she hadn’t. She’d put a hundred-million deal in jeopardy? With a kiss? When she messed up, she did a spectacular job of it.
Jaci groaned. “And I’m your screenwriter.” She shoved her fingers into her hair. “One of the project’s key people.”
“Yep.” Ryan sat down on the edge of his desk and picked up a glass paperweight and tossed it from hand to hand. “We can’t tell him that you only threw yourself into my arms because you found him repulsive... If you do that, we’ll definitely wave goodbye to the money.”
“Why can’t I just stay in the background?” Jaci asked. She didn’t want to—it wasn’t what she’d come to the city to do—but she would if it meant getting the film produced. “He doesn’t know that I wrote the script.”
Ryan carefully replaced the paperweight, folded his arms and gave her a hard stare. After a long, charged minute he shook his head. “That’s problematic for me. Firstly, you did write that script and you should take the credit for it. Secondly, I don’t like any forms of lying. It always comes back to bite me on the ass.”
Wow, an honest guy. She thought that the species was long extinct.
Jaci dropped into the nearest chair, sat on top of a pile of scripts, placed her elbows on her knees and rested her chin in the palm of her hand. “So what do we do?”
“I need you as a scriptwriter and I need him to fund the movie, so we do the only thing we can.”
“We become what Leroy and the world thinks we are, a couple. Until I have the money in the bank, and then we can quietly split, citing irreconcilable differences.”
Jaci shook her head. She didn’t think she could do it. She’d just come out of a relationship, and she didn’t think she could be in another one, fake or not. She was determined to fly solo. “Uh...no, that’s not going to work for me.”