“Actually, I’m not at all surprised that you like the script. After all, Blown Away was your idea.”
“Mine?” Ryan looked confused.
Jaci poured hot coffee into the cups and picked them up. She couldn’t breathe in the small kitchen—too much distracting testosterone—and she needed some space between her and this sexy man. “Shall we sit?”
Ryan took his cup, walked back to the living room and slumped into the corner of her couch. Jaci took the single chair opposite him and immediately put her feet up onto the metal-and-glass coffee table.
Ryan took a sip of his coffee and raised his eyebrows. “Explain.”
Jaci blew air across the hot liquid before answering him. “You came down to Lyon House shortly before you dropped out of uni—”
“I didn’t drop out, I graduated.”
Jaci shook her head. “But you’re the same age as Neil and he was in his first year.”
Ryan shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “Accelerated classes. School was easy.”
“Lucky you,” Jaci murmured. Unlike her siblings, she’d needed to work a lot harder to be accepted into university, which she’d flunked out of halfway through her second year. She thought that she and Ryan had that in common, but it turned out that he was an intellectual like her sister. And brother. And her parents. She was, yet again, the least cerebral person in the room.
Lucky she’d had a lot of practice at being that.
“So, the script?” Ryan prompted.
“Oh! Well, you came home with Neil and the two of you were playing chess. It was raining cats and dogs. I was reading.” Well, she’d been watching him, mooning over him, but he didn’t need to know that! Ever. “You were talking about your careers and Neil asked you if you were going into the movie business like your father.”
Jaci looked down into her cup. “You said that your dad and Ben had that covered, that you wanted your own light to shine in.” His words had resonated with her because she understood them so well. She’d wanted exactly the same thing. “You also said that you were going to go into business management and that you were going to stay very far away from the film industry.”
“As you can see, that worked out well,” Ryan said, his comment bone-dry and deeply sarcastic.
“Neil said that you were fooling yourself, that it was as much in your blood as it was theirs.” Jaci quirked an eyebrow. “He called that one correctly.”
“Your brother is a smart man.”
As if she’d never noticed.
“Anyway, Neil started to goad you. He tossed out plots and they were all dreadful. You thought his ideas were ridiculous and started plotting your own movie about a burnt-out cop and his feisty female newbie partner who were trying to stop a computer-hacking serial bomber from taking a megacity hostage. I was writing, even then, mostly romances but I took some of the ideas you tossed out, wrote them down and filed them. About eighteen months ago I found that file and the idea called to me, so I sat down and wrote the script.” Jaci sipped her coffee. “I’m not surprised that you liked the script but I am surprised that you own a production company and that I’m now working for you.”
Ryan’s eyes pinned her to her chair. “Me, too.” He pushed his hand through his hair. “Talking of non-scriptwriting work—”
Jaci sighed. “Toad of Toad Hall—”
“—has issued his first demand.” Jaci groaned but Ryan ignored her. “He’s invited us to join him at the premiere of the New York City Ballet Company’s new production of Swan Lake.”
Jaci groaned again but more loudly and dramatically this time.
“You don’t like ballet? I thought all girls like ballet,” he said, puzzled. “And didn’t your family have season tickets to the Royal Opera House to watch both ballet and opera?”
“They did. They dragged me along to torture me.” Jaci pulled a face. “I much prefer a rock concert to either.”
“But you’ll do it?”
Jaci wrinkled her nose. “I suppose I have to. When is it?”
“Tomorrow evening. Black tie for me, which means a ball gown, or something similar, for you.” His eyes focused on the rip in her pants before he lifted amused eyes to hers. “Think you can manage that?”
Jaci looked horrified. “You’re kidding me right? Tomorrow?”
“Evening. I’ll pick you up at six.”
Jaci leaned back in her chair and placed her arm over her eyes. “I don’t have anything to wear. That one cocktail dress I brought over was it.”