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A selection from Exclusive! Sex, Lies and a Security Tape

Chapter 1

Tempest Herriman hadn’t meant to flash her breasts at the paparazzi after leaving the Oscar night bash at Morton’s. The incident had been more of a wardrobe malfunction than a willful act of public lewdness.

Three years later, however, that distinction remained immaterial. The revealing shot had graced a dozen tabloid covers and induced a slew of Internet downloads when it was first snapped, key body parts appropriately blurred or not depending on the publication or Web site. And the photo kept turning up at the most inopportune times.

Like now, she thought, as she stepped into the reception area outside producer Stan Dartman’s office.

The middle-aged woman seated behind a horse-shoe shaped desk didn’t spare a glance over the top of her hot pink bifocals when Tempest entered. All of her attention was focused on the celebrity magazine in front of her. As Tempest’s luck would have it, the page the woman was reading sported a large reproduction of what had become known as the “Are they or aren’t they?” breast shot.

Tempest leaned a hip on the desk, flipped her trademark tumble of red hair over her shoulder and tilted her head for a better look. Even though the photo was digitally blurred, she had just enough vanity to wonder how anyone could question her bust’s authenticity.

“You know, according to an Internet poll, eighty-three percent of respondents believe they’re the real deal,” she informed the woman.

“Give me a break. Those things are as fake as--” The receptionist glanced up then and her words broke off. Slapping the magazine shut, she asked frostily, “Can I help you?”
“Tempest Herriman in the flesh. So to speak.” She offered the full wattage of her smile as she scooted off the edge of the desk and stood. “I’m here to read for a part in Mr. Dartman’s new movie.”

She said it with pride. This was a plum role and Stan was one of the Hollywood elite, a hands-on producer known for the Midas touch when it came to backing pictures.

“A part?” The receptionist smirked and made a show of scanning the appointment book before picking up the telephone.

“Tempest Herriman is in the lobby. She claims to be here to read for a part.”

Tempest narrowed her eyes, but managed to bite her tongue. Claims indeed.

She had spent countless hours preparing for this moment. The role of Roxy Remington was going to be her big break and some nasty, tabloid-reading secretary wasn’t going to ruin it for her.

She could picture herself walking the red carpet at the premiere, her name in black lettering on the lighted marquee. Maybe she’d snag a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress. Hell, an Oscar. The part was that good and she knew she could do it justice. She’d prove to all of the nay-sayers, her ex-boyfriend chief among them, that Tempest Herriman was not just some bored hotel chain heiress trying to parlay the celebrity that came with her billion-dollar fortune into a film career.

“I’m sorry, Miss Herriman. Apparently there’s been a mix-up. All of the parts for Flights of Fancy have been filled or soon will be. Mr. Dartman apologizes for the inconvenience and says to tell you he appreciates you stopping by. He’ll keep you in mind for another project.”

And with that Tempest came crashing back to earth.

“He appreciates me stopping by? I flew in from New York for this.”

The receptionist barely blinked and Tempest knew what she was thinking. You’re worth billions. You can afford it.

“I’d like to see Mr. Dartman, please.”

“Sorry.” The woman looked anything but. “He’s going to lunch shortly and his afternoon is booked. Maybe you could leave the number where you’re staying and he can call you when he gets a free moment,” she suggested.

Don’t call us. We’ll call you. God, how embarrassingly cliché.
Tempest wanted to scream. More horrifying, she wanted to cry. But she pasted a smile on her face and in her best finishing school voice said, “I’m staying at the Beverly Hills Herriman. Of course. If Mr. Dartman wants to reach me, I’m sure he’ll have you look up the number. Have a nice afternoon.”

She made it all the way outside before her bravado fled and the first tears of frustration leaked over the lower lids of her heavily made up face. Roxy would have to wear too much makeup, she thought, as she swiped away black streaks.

Tempest had been so sure she could land this part. At the very least she’d expected to leave the audition knowing that the director and producer had been impressed by what they saw.
You can’t buy your way onto the big screen. Her very first agent had told her that – right after she had fired him. Nor could she earn her way there. She was so tired of being stereotyped as having more money than talent.

And those damned photographs! At this rate the body parts in question would be sagging past her navel before they’d lost their ability to sell papers and set tongues wagging.

It was midday in Los Angeles and the traffic was as thick as the smog. She was in no hurry to get into her car and face it. Defeated, she slumped onto one of the benches that flanked the exit at the rear of the building. As she searched through her handbag for a tissue the doors swung open and her embarrassment turned to mortification. Stan and a man she recognized as a casting director walked out first. Behind them was none other than Colin McKinnon.

Her heart thudded painfully and then for a moment it seemed to stop beating entirely.

“Hello, Tempest.”

He would have to look as sinfully handsome as she remembered: square jaw and brooding dark eyes that contrasted nicely with the surfer-blonde hair that he was wearing a little shorter these days. Even so, she found herself catapulted back three years to that blissful month they’d spent together in a bungalow on a secluded beach on Kauai. They’d been dating for five months and Colin had surprised her with the invitation after his latest film project wrapped. Tempest was already half in love with him at the time. She’d thought, hoped, after that month in Hawaii the feeling was mutual. Colin had a reputation for running hard and fast from commitment, and her own track record in serious relationships was less than stellar. But this had felt so different.

Then the photographs had appeared and Colin had disappeared. She’d gone to a restaurant to meet him for dinner a week after the party at Morton’s. She’d waited. He’d never showed. Since then, whenever an interviewer or reporter brought up her name, he’d dismissed their affair as a brief and casual fling.

Tempest was still bruised, not to mention confused, by what had happened, although she’d long given up trying to talk to Colin about it. He hadn’t returned any of her phone calls and had managed to avoid all contact with her since then.
Now, standing before her, the bastard had the nerve to wink.

“Nice outfit.”

She fumbled in her bag for her designer sunglasses and hastily put them on. The spiky black heels she wore added four inches to her five-foot-nine frame, and so she was eye-to-eye with him when she stood.

“I came to read for a part, but it seems there was a mix-up.”
The casting director hastily excused himself and Stan smiled nervously before pacing several steps away with an apparent fit of coughing. Colin held his ground.

“Yes, we’re looking for actors.”

She absorbed the low blow. The insult didn’t surprise her as much as what his words inferred. “We?”

“I’m directing Flights of Fancy.”

The world seemed to fall out from below her feet and what she had hoped would be her career-making role tumbled right along with it.

This couldn’t be happening. It just couldn’t be.

“I-I thought Bob Wyman was the director.”

In fact, she’d read in Variety just the previous month that Colin was going to be taking a break from movies after his current film, Collusion, was released. He needed to concentrate on his upcoming bid for the U.S. Senate.

Rumors had been circulating for years that he planned to take a page out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s playbook and run for public office. He’d told her as much himself three years earlier. Now that appeared to be more than speculation. The race for one of California’s U.S. Senate seats would be wide open in the next election. The entrenched incumbent who held it had announced this would be his final six-year term. Colin still had to win the primary election, but he seemed a shoo-in to appear on the general election ticket fall after next. Some of the folks on the Sunday morning talk shows already had him elected.

“Change of plans,” he replied smoothly. “I came on the picture as a favor to Stan.”

The producer finally finished clearing his throat and stepped closer. “I want to apologize for your wasted trip from New York, Tempest. I tried to reach you to cancel our meeting, but you’d already left. I’ll be happy to reimburse you for expenses, if you’d like.”

“What I’d like, Mr. Dartman, is the chance to read for the part of Roxy Remington. That is why I came.”

The producer glanced at Colin and apparently noted the tight line of his lips. “I’m sorry.”

“I see.”

To Colin, Stan said, “Our lunch reservation is at one.”
“Go on. I’ll meet you there.” Colin waited until the other man was out of earshot before saying, “Setting your sights a little high, aren’t you, heiress? It’s a hell of a leap to go from a cameo on a prime-time sitcom to a supporting role in a Dartman-produced feature-length film.”

How had she ever imagined that a kindred spirit lay beneath that handsome façade? He was just as cruel, just as assuming as the worst of her enemies. And yet three years ago ... She pushed away the memories before the wound could reopen.
She longed to give him a piece of her mind, but she would settle for proving him wrong about her acting. Unfortunately, as the director on this picture, he was her last hope. No way would Stan allow her to audition, let alone cast her as Roxy, without Colin’s approval.

Tempest swallowed her pride.

“I’m perfect for the part of Roxy Remington.”

“You do have some of her attributes,” he agreed. His gaze took an insulting tour of Tempest’s leather-clad figure. “But we’re looking for someone a little better known.”

“People know who I am.” She regretted the words as soon as they left her lips.

“Exactly, Tempest. And I’ll keep you in mind the next time I’m looking for someone with a talent for drinking Cristal out of her designer pumps while dancing on nightclub tables.”

She didn’t point out that it had been a long time since she’d engaged in such silly antics. Instead, she said quietly, “It’s not all true. Everything they write about me isn’t based on fact.

You of all people should know that.”

At thirty-eight, Colin was already a Hollywood legend. He’d made a name for himself in a number of big-budget action movies during his twenties and then had shocked the entertainment establishment to its core by trading starring-role status for a director’s chair at the height of his popularity. In the interim, his wild-oat-sowing had been well documented and, he’d once confided in Tempest, somewhat embellished. These days, however, he rarely showed up on the tabloids’ radar. Given his political aspirations, she thought she understood why.

“Do pictures lie?”

She closed her eyes briefly. “They don’t tell the whole truth. ...”

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