Jaci frowned. “Why should you? We haven’t seen each other for twelve years.”
“Neil didn’t tell me.” Ryan, still holding his head, kneaded his temples with his thumb and index finger. “He should’ve told me.”
Now he sounded like a whining child. Freakin’ perfect.
“He doesn’t know about the scriptwriting,” Jaci muttered, and Ryan, despite his fuzzy shock, heard the tinge of hurt in her voice. “I just told him and the rest of my family that I was relocating to New York for a bit.”
Ryan pulled his sticky shirt off his chest and looked at Thom again. “And she got the job how?”
Thom sent him a what-the-hell look. “Her agent submitted her script, our freelance reader read it, then Wes, then me, then you read the script. We all liked it but you fell in love with it! Light coming on yet?”
Ryan looked toward the window, unable to refute Thom’s words. He’d loved Jaci’s script, had read it over and over, feeling that tingle of excitement every time. It was an action comedy but one with heart; it felt familiar and fresh, funny and emotional.
And Jaci, his old friend’s little sister, the woman he’d kissed the hell out of last night, was—thanks to fate screwing with him—the creator of his latest, and most expensive, project to date.
And his biggest and only investor, Leroy Banks, had hit on her and now thought that she was his girlfriend.
Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, he really wanted to do her six ways to Sunday.
“Could this situation be any more messed up?” Ryan grabbed the back of the closest chair and dropped his head, ignoring the puddles of coffee on the floor. He groaned aloud. Banks thought that his pseudo girlfriend was the hottest thing on two legs. Ryan understood why. He also thought she was as sexy as hell.
She was also now the girlfriend he couldn’t break up with because she was his damned scriptwriter, one of—how had Banks put it?—his key people!
“I have no idea why you are foaming at the mouth, dude,” Thom complained, dropping his feet to the floor. He shrugged. “You and Jaci knew each other way back when, so what? She was employed by us on her merits, with none of us knowing of her connection to you. End of story. So can we just get on with this damn meeting so that I can go back to my office and get horizontal on my couch?”
“Uh...no, I suggest you wait until after I’ve dropped the next bombshell.” Shona tossed the open newspaper onto the boardroom table and it slid across the polished top. As it passed, Ryan slapped his hand on it to stop its flight. His heart stumbled, stopped, and when it resumed its beat was erratic.
In bold color and filling half the page was a picture taken last night in the reception area outside the ballroom of the Forrester-Graham. One of his hands cradled a bright blond head, the other palmed a very excellent butt. Jaci’s arms were tight around his neck, her mouth was under his, and her long lashes were smudges on her cheek.
The headline screamed Passion for Award-Winning Producer!
Someone had snapped them? When? And why hadn’t he noticed? Ryan moved his hand to read the small amount of text below the picture.
Ryan Jackson, award-winning producer of Stand Alone—the sci-fi box office hit that is enthralling audiences across the country—celebrates in the arms of JC Brookes at the Television and Film Awards after-party last night. JC Brookes is a scriptwriter employed by Starfish Films and is very well-known in England as the younger daughter of Fleet Street editor Archie Brookes-Lyon and his multi-award-winning author wife, Priscilla. She recently broke off her longstanding engagement to Clive Egglestone, projected to be a future prime minister of England, after he was implicated in a series of sexual scandals.
What engagement? What sexual scandals? More news that his ever-neglectful friend had failed to share. Jaci had been engaged to a politician? Ryan just couldn’t see it. But that wasn’t important now.
Ryan pushed the newspaper down the table to Thom. When his friend lifted his eyes to meet his again, his worry and horror were reflected in Thom’s expression. “Well, hell,” he said.
Ryan looked around the room at the nosy faces of his most trusted staff before pulling a chair away from the table and dropping into it. It wasn’t in his nature to explain himself but this one time he supposed, very reluctantly, that it was necessary. “Jaci and I know each other. She’s an old friend’s younger sister. We are not in a relationship.”
“Doesn’t explain the kiss,” Thom laconically stated.