She needs a movie set miracle, he needs cash...can a farmer morph into a movie star in five days?
If Shelly has her way, Danny will become America’s next heartthrob and she’ll get her own promotions company. He’s already gorgeous, a little naive, and needs to work on that accent. To Danny, Shelly is on the pompous side, but holds the key to his real dreams...if he can figure out all the rules, say the right things for the daily vlog session, keep his heart strings in place, dodge Shelly’s vicious former boyfriend and the movie star diva.
Shelly’s about to lose a lot more than her heart if she can’t get a handle on her wounded pride and learn who to trust.
Available through these popular eBook retailers & more!
The man grasped her gold pen and studied it like he’d never seen a writing instrument before. Shelly Colter hoped Pettibone’s quirk choice for a replacement in the romantic lead knew how to use it. If only he wasn’t so rugged, so handsome. Or could be… Waving her hand in front of her face to dispel the disagreeable farm odor wafting from his dusty navy blue t-shirt and jeans, she pointed again at the line on the contract. Springtime in the country. Wisconsin. At least it was a nice day, plenty warm enough outside for short sleeves and pure sunshine. “Right here, Winston. Sign your name. Mr. Pettibone, the company owner, has already signed, and I’ll be your witness. Filming is behind schedule, and we have a lot of work to do.” She wanted to add the tired cliché “time is money,” but she doubted he’d hear.
Sounds from the contemporary western movie set around them, the best boy calling for more extension cords, a pow-wow among the writers and Jordan the director, created a familiar, exciting cacophony. Harry from costuming waited anxiously in her shadow, fiddling with the measuring tape around his neck and shifting from foot to foot. Winston was a different build from the recently fired celebrity. Harry had spent weeks creating and fitting a wardrobe on that loser, Seth Taylor. Shelly’s publicity campaign now needed to be redrawn too, so Harry was by far not the only person to lose work.
Food service set up a coffee buffet under a spreading oak in young leaf on this June day. Shelly was hungry, but nerves made her choke at the thought of anything but coffee. Winston Daniels, the man she was supposed to turn into a heartthrob in less than a week, seemed distracted by everything and kept looking up at every clash of equipment or prop placement.
So much pressure—could Shelly do it? She was good at her work. Pettibone trusted her.
“C’mon, Danny.” Jen, Winston’s sister, stood next to him, trying to encourage him.
“Time is of the essence, Winston,” Shelly said in her steel-coated tone. Pettibone had given her five days, including this one, to whip a country hick into the next mega-movie-star sensation, and she couldn’t afford to waste a second.
“You sure?” Winston whispered to his sister, a small thing who’d struggled to get baby fat off in time for her role as the best friend of the female lead. It was quite a coup for Jen, since she’d only had walk-ons and a couple of commercials under her belt.
Jen whispered, “It’ll pay for the…”
Shelly tapped her foot. “Are you in? Because there are plenty of other actors who would jump at this role.” There weren’t really. Pettibone had run Seth Taylor off the set early this morning when he’d shown up too high—again—to even remember what role he was playing. Filming was in disarray, and costs were rising. Pettibone was determined to make the Academy Award cut-offs this year, and if Shelly couldn’t bootjack this new guy to fit the bill of a swoon-worthy romantic rancher, it would be a long, lonely path to owning her own publicity company. Or getting another job in public relations. Anywhere. She wanted to hurry—if only Winston would cooperate. A little faster.
As soon as Winston dotted the “i,” she snatched the paper contract and shouted at Pettibone’s assistant. She waved for Harry to start taking measurements for size and fit. Winston was bigger than Seth. The new wardrobe meant more costs, but that wasn’t her concern.
“We can talk while you’re being fitted,” she said. “Fred, get that camera out of here. Not now. I’ll tell you when we’re ready. You’ll just make him nervous.”
“Pettibone says I’m to film it all. We’ll use the footage for publicity later.”
“That’s my job as publicity director to decide what to use for promotion. Everyone understands that.”
“We do. Don’t get twisted up about it.”
Before she could get into a really good rant, Winston tucked his elbows against his side and turned pale. “E-everything? But I don’t know what to say. I haven’t even read any lines.”
Harry frowned and lifted Winston’s arms straight out from his sides again.
“And you are all supposed to do the vlogs. At least once a day,” Fred muttered. “Even you, Shell. Probably all the time for him.”
“What’s that?” Winston.
“Video logs, like a spoken diary.” Shelly set her hands on her hips and walked around Fred, circling Winston, thinking about what she’d say in her vlog and what she’d have to tell Winston to say. “I’ll explain it later—no time now. Harry, how much more?”
“Getting there.” He clicked a few keys on his tablet. “Nice shoulders. Good hips. Long legs will help with the action shots. Six-one? You work out?”
Shelly winced at Winston’s pronunciation. “First thing…well, second…no, third thing we must do is work on your voice. I think we’ll call in Roma. Jen, what are you doing here? Don’t you have to be somewhere else? As if there aren’t enough distractions. Winston, listen up! Harry, line up wardrobe from the third date scene, you got it? The one where they’re at the—”
“I’m on it!” Harry trotted away.
Shelly reached up an uncomfortable distance—he was taller than she’d thought—to take Winston’s jaw and turn his face left and right. “Face straight ahead, please.” What angle would capture those delicious grooves alongside his mouth? Thank goodness his ears were normal. “Smile. Wider. Show me teeth. Are you listening?”
The future megastar took a step back, stuck his thumbs in his belt loops, and looked down at her five-foot-two height. “First of all, I didn’t quite catch your name. Secondly, I don’t know what’s going on, and third, don’t I need a script to study, or something?”
“Shelly Colter, company promotions manager. My job is to make sure you are turned into the public face of this film. You are a complete unknown, and why Pettibone insisted on stuffing not only an unknown but a completely untried actor on his film I have no idea, but I will make it work. Fortunately for you, stepping into a Seth Taylor role will jumpstart the publicity, but I must insist it stay positive. Are you a drug or alcohol user? Involved in a messy divorce or break-up?”
He shook his head.
“Anything else I should know about that could negatively affect this publicity campaign?”
“Just what you see. I’ve never acted before. Except in a play once, uh, in school.”
Shelly smiled. “Well, this movie is a lot of action, so I think you’ll be all right. You already do…farm work, I believe?”
At his nod, she let her smile slide into a smirk. “Since you’ll be portraying a rancher, you’re partway there.” She studied him up and down again. “Hair next. Then a preliminary photo shoot. Margo, the production assistant, can explain how we do things on set, what’s expected of you in your role, and the AD…” At his blank look, she amended, “Assistant director can teach you blocking. When Roma gets here, she can help you with proper pronunciation. We’ll have your teeth bleached.” Shelly narrowed her eyes. “Winston Daniels will become the next new Hollywood buzz boy and a household name by Thanksgiving. The picture is expected to release at Christmas. Come.”
By the time she’d taken five steps, she realized Winston was not behind her. “Winston?”
He stood there, brooding, feet shoulder-width. Shelly might have been interested in him, tried to flirt with this handsome hunk of guy, if she wasn’t in such a rush and he wasn’t so…aromatic. “What?”
“You seem to have some mighty case of pride, there, Miss? Missus? Colter. You might find people a mite more willin’ to work with ya if you didn’t treat them worse than I treat my cows.”