Nine Months to Redeem HimBy: Jennie Lucas
“I’ve dreamed of being in movies since I was twelve.”
“Why didn’t you start sooner, then? Why wait so long?”
“I was going to, but...”
I stared at him, then looked away. “It just wasn’t practical,” I mumbled.
Now he did laugh. “Isn’t your whole family in the business?”
“I liked physical therapy,” I said defensively. “I liked helping people get strong again.”
“So why not be a doctor?”
“No one dies in physical therapy.” My voice wobbled a little. I lifted my chin and said evenly, “It was a sensible career choice. I made a living. But after so many years...”
“You felt restless?”
I nodded. “I quit my job. But acting wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. I went on auditions for a few weeks. Then I quit that to become Madison’s assistant.”
“Your lifelong dream, and you only tried it for a few weeks?”
Looking down at my feet, I mumbled, “It was a stupid dream.”
I waited for him to say, “There are no stupid dreams,” or murmur encouraging or sympathetic noises, as people always did. Even Madison managed it.
“Probably for the best,” Edward said.
My head lifted. “Huh?”
He nodded sagely. “You either didn’t want it enough, or you were too cowardly to fight for it. Either way you were clearly headed for failure. Good to figure that out and quit sooner rather than later. Now you can go back to being useful. Helping me.”
My mouth fell open. Then I glared at him.
“You don’t know. Maybe I could have succeeded. You have some nerve to—”
“You waited your whole life to try for it, then quit ten minutes after you started? Give me a break. You’re lying to yourself. It’s not your dream.”
“Maybe it is.”
“Then what are you doing here?” He lifted a dark eyebrow. “You want to give it another shot? London has a thriving theater scene. I’ll buy you the train ticket. Hell, I’ll even send you back to Hollywood in my own jet. Prove me wrong, Diana.” He tilted his head, staring at me in challenge. “Give it another go.”
I stared at him furiously, hating him for calling my bluff. I wanted to grandly take him up on his offer and march straight out his front door.
Then I thought of the soul-crushing auditions, the cold reptilian eyes of the casting directors as they looked me over and dismissed me—too old, too young, too thin, too pretty, too fat, too ugly. Too worthless. I was no Madison Lowe. And I knew it.
My shoulders slumped.
“I thought so,” Edward said. “So. You’re out of a job and need one. Perfect. It just happens that I’d like to hire you.”
“Why me?” I whispered over the lump in my throat. “I still don’t understand.”
“You don’t?” He looked surprised. “You’re the best at what you do, Diana. Trustworthy, competent. Beautiful...”
I looked up fiercely, suspecting mockery. “Beautiful.”
“Very beautiful.” His dark blue eyes held mine in the flickering light of the fire. “In spite of those god-awful clothes.”
“Hey,” I protested weakly.
“But you have qualities I need more than beauty. Skill. Loyalty. Patience. Intelligence. Discretion. Devotion.”
“You make me sound like...” I motioned toward the sheepdog on the rug. The dog looked back at me quizzically, lifting his head.
Edward St. Cyr’s lips lifted at the edges. “Like Caesar? Yes. That’s exactly what I want. I’m glad you understand.”
Hearing his name, the dog looked between us, giving a faint wag of his tail. Reaching out, I scratched behind his ears, then turned back to glare at his master.