The VIP Doubles Down
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She would, too. Jane’s small body housed the spirit of a tigress when it came to protecting her authors. The powers that be in Hollywood cowered before her.
“What about the actors and the gaffers and the best boys?” The weight of responsibility settled on his tortured shoulders. “They’re counting on the next Julian Best movie.”
“If you’re worried about Irene Bartram, she’ll be just fine.” Jane’s tone was acid. “I hear she’s already found herself a guest role on a soap opera.”
“I’m well aware that Irene can take care of herself.” His ex-fiancée had made it very clear that her career interests took priority over their relationship. That had contributed to her becoming an ex. Fresh disillusionment twisted in his chest, and he straightened away from the mantel to escape it.
“Ludmilla was right,” Jane said.
“The fact that you’re in physical pain, too.” She leaned back against the sofa cushions. “At least I have a cure for that.”
Gavin rolled his shoulders under the black cashmere pullover. “It’s just tension. Nothing I can’t work out with a trip to the gym.” He had a well-equipped one, including a lap pool, downstairs, but he hadn’t taken advantage of it in weeks.
“Well, you’re getting help. I called Havilland Rehab, the best facility in the area. One of their top physical therapists just started her own private practice. I hired her to come here five days a week, starting tomorrow.” Jane smiled. “And she’s used to difficult clients. You can thank me later.” Jane stood up. “Think about the contract buyout.”
“I don’t want or need a physical therapist,” Gavin snapped, even as a shooting pain in his neck gave lie to his words.
Jane rested her hand on the forearms he had crossed over his chest, her gaze scanning his face. “You’ve been through a lot recently. Your father. Your fiancée. Your book. There’s no shame in accepting help from your friends.”
He forced himself to meet her eyes, even though he was afraid she might see too much. “You’ve always told me you were my agent, not my friend.”
She didn’t flinch. “I’m a hundred times tougher than you, so insults won’t chase me away.”
“Your promise to let the therapist in the door.”
“Ludmilla will do that.”
“Writers.” Jane sighed in exasperation. “Always hiding behind words.”
“My words have made us both a lot of money.”
She clamped her fingers around his arm. “Work with the therapist. You’ve been doing this long enough to know how interconnected the mind and body are.”
“For you, Jane, anything. Especially since you’re cutting off the circulation to my writing hand.”
She released his arm and reached up to pat his cheek. “You’ll break through this, sweetie. Just give yourself time.”
“Don’t go soft on me. I count on you to crack the whip over my back as I slave away at the computer.”
Jane wouldn’t take the bait. “I’ll call tomorrow to see how you like Allie.”
“The therapist. Allie Nichols.”
He had no intention of letting the therapist anywhere near him, but he affected a leer. “Is she pretty? Maybe I’ll keep her around for a massage or two.”
Jane sighed again. “You don’t do lechery with any conviction, so that won’t scare her away. Besides, I’m paying her enough so she’ll stay no matter what you throw at her.”
“We’ll see about that,” he muttered as Jane headed for the door.
Allie shifted on the green velvet cushion of her chair and surveyed the sitting room where the housekeeper had told her to wait. Gavin Miller owned an entire house in the middle of Manhattan. His Julian Best books and movies must bring in a ton of money.
At the Havilland Rehabilitation Center, Allie had worked with rich—even famous—patients, but she’d never gone to their homes. If she could make it work as a freelancer, it could be really interesting to see where her patients lived. And really intimidating.
Boy, did she need to make it work, too. Between losing the job at Havilland Rehab and her recent divorce, her bank balance was plunging downward faster than a moonshiner running from a revenuer. Thank goodness her boss at Havilland had felt bad about her dismissal, so he’d recommended her to Gavin Miller’s literary agent.
She took a deep breath to calm her nerves. An exotic floral scent tickled her nostrils. That giant bouquet on the leather-topped table was real, not fake. She was pretty sure the furniture in this room was genuinely antique, too, and way older than Victorian. The Oriental rug beneath her cross-trainers glowed in deep jewel tones. She couldn’t resist reaching down to run her fingers over its silky surface.
As she straightened, she caught a glimpse of herself in the gilt-framed mirror with an eagle perched on the top, and tugged down the hem of her V-necked navy shirt. Her matching navy athletic pants were still clean, despite her slog along sidewalks edged with February slush. The only thing that ruined her neat, professional look was her flaming red hair. She’d yanked it back into a tight ponytail, but nothing could hide the too-bright color.
Footsteps sounded on the marble floor of the hallway, and Allie stood. Gavin’s agent had warned her that the writer might be a little difficult but not to let him discourage her. He really needed her help.
The man who stalked through the door was tall, lean, and scowling and didn’t appear to need anyone’s assistance. His green eyes snapped with temper, and his thick, dark hair appeared to have been tossed by a high wind. Angry energy crackled around him. In his black jeans and sweater, he made her think of some kind of sorcerer.
She had always found that the author photos on book jackets made their subjects look better than the reality, but Gavin Miller’s publicity shot didn’t convey anywhere near the power and magnetism of the man.
When his gaze caught hers, he paused for a moment to turn his scowl into a tight, false smile, and held out his hand. That’s when she caught the wince that said he was in pain. Seeing that he needed her services dispelled her nervousness about meeting the famous author.