From the NYT & USA Today Bestselling romance author, a sizzling and addictive story of a woman with a broken past and the man who can’t fight his attraction to her…
Twenty-three year old rising theater star Jill McCormick has built a life out of pretending. Pretending she’s happy, pretending she’s not haunted by the dark secret that shattered her world six years ago. But then she comes face to face with her new director – sexy, sophisticated, possessive, all-alpha Davis Milo. He tries to resist the actress he’s cast, but the attraction between them is too powerful, and soon their private rehearsals spiral into new, forbidden territory. The passionate connection, the intense chemistry is undeniable, and it hits them anywhere, and everywhere – in the theater, on the piano, in the limo, in the restaurant…But the tragedy in Jill’s past stands between them. Davis has walls too, so they can either face their fears together, or risk the deepest love and greatest passion either has ever felt…
Deleted Scene from PLAYING WITH HER HEART
Explanation from Lauren: This deleted scene takes place in chapter 15 prior to the Jill and Davis’ second private rehearsal, which will be more familiar to readers as before the “piano scene.” I had originally written this scene where Jill rehearses with Patrick, and Davis’ reaction to it. But I then decided that I’d rather show Jill and Davis rehearsing. Plus, I felt readers already knew and understood the depths of Davis’ jealousy at this point and that the additional scene showing it wasn’t necessary. I also nixed it because I decided that Patrick was not falling in love with Jill, as Davis surmises from this scene. But, just for fun, here it is from the cutting room floor!!!
Thirty minutes later, I am coiled full of tension from watching Patrick run his hands through Jill’s hair, from the way she responds, leaning her head back into him, from how she breathily whispers one of the last lines in the scene, “it feels so good,” her microphone taking the words on a trip around the whole theater, up to the proscenium arch and two boxes and back.
“End scene,” Shannon calls out.
I run a hand across my chin roughly. Steel myself, then stand up, walk to the edge of the stage, place a palm against the floorboards as Jill and Patrick look at me expectantly.
“That’s a great start. Now, Patrick what I want you to work on next is really capturing the change in Paolo. This scene is the moment when he starts to soften around her. When he shifts from being the hard ass teacher and into the tender lover he will become. Look for those moments in between the words,” I say, giving him the full, honest truth of what his performance needs, even though if pains every bone in my body to instruct him like this.
He nods several times, taking it in. He’s a pro, and I know he’ll knock this scene out of the park as he always does. He doesn’t command his name on the marquee for nothing. The man can sell tickets for a reason.
Then I turn to Jill. She’s nibbling on her lower lip nervously. She stops when she meets my gaze. I do my best to give away nothing as I talk to her. “For Ava, I really see this moment as the one when it clicks for her. That she’s been confused and unsure for so long about Paolo. Is he just the professor? Is he merely a difficult teacher? Or is there something more? But then they are in the studio working and her hair is a mess and full of paint, and her hands are covered in it, and this is when she understands not only that he has feelings for her, but that she’s falling hard for him too.”
“Thank you. That makes sense,” she says, like a good student.
“Are we going okay on the blocking?” Patrick asks. “It’s a little unformed at this point.”
“You’re doing fine. We’ll get it finalized soon. For now, run it again,” I say, and I return to my seat, feeling absolutely spent from having to tell the two of them to show me more of them falling in love.
Another rounds later, they’re closer to nailing it, and I’m sure I’ll knock the punching bag from its chains the next time I’m at the gym. When Patrick asks to do the scene one final time, I’m about to explode with a resounding “No.” Instead, I keep it all inside, as I manage through gritted teeth, “Of course let’s get it right.”
I watch one final time, even though it’s fucking eating away at me to see him touch her. Before he even starts the scene, he looks at her with softness in his eyes, and and I know he’s starting to fall for her too. That he’s not merely acting. That he’s only playing a part. The two are starting to blend, and this is why actors all over the world fall for actors. This is why you hear stories of movie set romances, because they aren’t stories. They’re true. There is little, I imagine, more intoxicating than pretending to be in love with someone. After a while, reality and fiction bleed over, and you fall in love for real.
When the scene ends, the stage manager calls take five and Patrick tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear, flashing her that matinee idol smile of his that melts women. I swallow, close my eyes, clench my fists. Selfishly, I had hoped it would all be unrequited. I had hoped it was a one-way thing on her part. But that was stupid of me. I’m falling for her, and he is too.
Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart and humor, and her books have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks bestseller lists. Like the heroine in PLAYING WITH HER HEART, she thinks life should be filled with love, passion, and dreams come true. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. Her novels include Caught Up In Us, Pretending He’s Mine, Playing With Her Heart, and Trophy Husband.