Kit groaned, dropping her head back on the sofa and pinching the bridge of her nose between forefinger and thumb. “He did that for his aunt, not for me.”

“Details, details.” Brushing off Kit’s comment, Thea continued. “However it happened, it’s happened. Now we ride the wave of publicity.”

“Why? How?”

“You know why—you’re a contender for a number of big roles, but you’re being pushed aside by actresses who know how to work the media.”

“I know how to work the media.” Kit glared at the television. “I just don’t want to live my life in front of the paparazzi. And there’s Terrence.”

“He’ll have to cool his heels.”

“There’s no reason—”


Kit sat up at that single word, her throat dry. “But the casting director told Harper I wasn’t big enough for the role.” She’d read for it, was certain she’d impressed the director, so the rebuff had come as a big disappointment.

“Yeah, well, my spies are telling me that you might be back in with a shot. Apparently, you impressed the right people at the gala last night, and this morning’s positive publicity has been the cherry on top.”

Kit could barely breathe.

Redemption was one of the most incredible scripts she’d ever read, and it was being directed by a multiple-Oscar-winning director who’d made icons out of previously little-known actors and actresses. Even though Kit had earned her stripes in Last Flight, the ex-soap-actress tag was a hard one to totally shake off. One hit wasn’t enough; everyone was waiting to see if she’d fly high or fall flat on her face.

If she was cast in Redemption, even in the secondary role for which she’d read, that was it. She’d be recognized as a legitimate actress, would no longer have to fight so damn hard for every role. “How can your spies know that?” she whispered, barely able to believe what Thea was telling her. “It’s six in the morning.”

“Do you know why I’m so freaking expensive? It’s because I don’t sleep and I have spies everywhere.” Thea’s words were dry. “Just trust me on this—last night was very, very good for your career. Now all you have to do is keep the romance going for another month or so—”

“Wait, wait!” Kit got jerkily to her feet. “There is no romance, not between me and Noah. You know that.”

“Of course I know that,” Thea muttered. “But for the next month, or at least until they finish casting Redemption, there has to be—the money people have to see that you can hold the public’s attention in a positive way. If the media’s lapping you up, it makes you the next hot thing, and that equals free promotion for the movie.”

Pacing from one end of the room to the other, Kit shoved a trembling hand through her hair. “But Esra Dali doesn’t care about promotion,” she said, naming the difficult but brilliant director. “He chooses who he chooses.”

“Esra is one of the sharpest operators in the business,” Thea retorted. “He’s an artist, no doubt about it, and he won’t choose a vacuous ‘it’ girl for his movie, but if it’s a contest between two equally talented, equally charismatic actors, he’ll inevitably choose the one with the stronger media profile.”

A small pause as Thea sipped from what was probably her third coffee of the morning. “He knows he’ll lose his backers if he can’t make them money—and without those backers and their financing he can’t tell the sweeping stories he likes to tell, because those stories require serious budgets.”

Shaking all over, Kit put a hand over her mouth and tried to think. “You know Noah, Thea,” she said at last, her stomach a lump of ice. “He isn’t a one-woman guy.” It hurt her to say that, hurt her to remember all the women he’d slept with. Broken glass thrust directly into her veins couldn’t have hurt that much.

“Then you have to convince him to behave for a few weeks,” Thea ordered. “Because while this publicity could make you, it could also tank you. If he’s caught with a groupie, you go from being one half of Hollywood’s hottest couple to the woman scorned.”

The brutally pragmatic words sent Kit to her knees, but Thea wasn’t finished. “You’ll get pity while he’ll come out the stud. Because the world’s not fair, and a woman who ‘can’t keep her man’—as I promise you the story will be spun by the tabloids—is not someone people want to emulate or to follow. You’ll become toxic until I can clean up your image, and that’ll take time.”

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