Today I’m giving you an exclusive sneak peek at my new novel, Darcy in Hollywood. How new? So new that it doesn’t yet have a blurb or a cover. But rest assured it will have both by the time it’s released – hopefully next week.
In this story, Darcy is a Hollywood movie star and Elizabeth is the daughter of Tom Bennet, the producer of the film Darcy is making. The scene below is the very beginning of the book—when they first meet. Naturally, sparks fly!
“A single man in possession of a lucrative film career must be in want of a wife.” The words were punctuated by a girlish giggle.
Darcy rolled his eyes. “Georgiana,” he said loudly enough so that the speaker on his cell phone could catch the words, “that may be Aunt Catherine’s philosophy, but I’ve never listened to her before. Why should I start now?”
His sister’s laugh echoed over the phone. “I think you should’ve said you’d get started on the search for a wife right away.”
“And I think my sister should be less sarcastic,” he said in a tone of mock exasperation. “I’ve got bigger things to worry about than my love life.”
“I know that.” Georgie’s voice was suddenly much more sober, and Darcy cursed himself for reminding her of her role in his predicament. “I’ll let you go. Good luck with the new film.”
“Thank you. Georgie—”
But she had disconnected the call. Damn it! He shouldn’t have said anything. He didn’t blame her for the situation, and she shouldn’t blame herself either.
Okay, put it out of your mind, he reminded himself. Time to focus on work. And driving—although he wasn’t going that fast.
Darcy glanced down at the dashboard for only a second, he would swear, just long enough to restart the state-of-the-art sound system. But when he looked up, there was a woman in front of the car—a woman who hadn’t been there before.
And a lamppost.
It was her fault, actually. If she had been careful, she wouldn’t have been on the sidewalk near the lamppost that his Ferrari had apparently regarded as a target.
So she bore at least some of the responsibility. She should have seen what was about to happen.
Privately, Darcy would admit that he was a bit distracted. He hadn’t driven in over a year, and the car was new. He had wanted a little music. But when he pushed the first button to start the radio, the windshield wipers whipped back and forth. His next attempt blasted the car with heat. Why did they put so many buttons so close together?
And then he saw the woman standing on the sidewalk in front of his Ferrari. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the actual steering and less to the stereo, but it was a little late to worry about that now. He braked furiously, hoping he could at least locate the horn.
The horn did blare, but the warning came too late as the car crashed into the lamppost with a crunch of metal and a jolt that threw Darcy against the steering wheel. The air bag inflated instantly, softening the impact. He winced at the sound of metal against metal, but at least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. If he hadn’t braked in time, the damage would have been far worse.
Dust from the airbag obscured the air. Coughing, Darcy wondered if there was a lifetime cap on how many cars one person was allowed to total in a lifetime.
He peered through the windshield.
Oh, hell. Where had the woman gone?
Darcy couldn’t see her. Had the car struck her? Was she trapped under the axle? Shit. Should he call his lawyer? His PR guys?
Right. Maybe he should check on the woman.
As he pushed the car door open, it protested with an awful shriek. The frame was bent, and the window was spiderwebbed with cracks. The door scraped along the sidewalk like sandpaper.
He clambered to his feet, surveying the damage. The front left of the Ferrari had crumpled inward, embedded in the ornate faux Victorian lamppost. The bumper dangled, and the hood appeared to be off-center. The very first day he drove the car… This had to be some kind of record.
The woman was lying on the sidewalk.
Darcy’s heart was already pounding from the accident, but now it went into overdrive. He could practically feel it pumping adrenaline into his veins. Please, God. Not another scandal. Darcy raced to her side. He was just getting his life back on track; it was not a good day to be arrested for vehicular manslaughter.
She groaned, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard in his life.
From this perspective, Darcy could see that the woman was several feet from the front of his car. She must have been backing away from it in a panic and slipped. Yes, there was a jagged crack in the sidewalk. She had tripped and fallen; he hadn’t struck her. Relief slowed his breathing somewhat but did nothing for the spikes of adrenaline jittering through his body.
She was young, younger than Darcy. Her face was pleasant—a smooth oval surrounded by curly mahogany hair—but certainly not pretty enough to be an actress. At least not a lead. Maybe she’d have some luck as a character actor. But no actress would be caught on a studio lot in those worn jeans and overly large t-shirt. Even the hair and makeup people dressed better than that; ditto the office staff. Maybe she was a camera operator or props?
He knelt beside the woman, heedless of his $800 Hugo Boss pants. “Are you all right?”
She glared at him, and he noticed that she had the most amazing blue-green eyes, like dark ocean water. “Of course, I’m not all right. I almost got hit by a car.”
Doesn’t she understand how upsetting this is to me? “But you didn’t get hit by a car.”
Struggling into a sitting position, the woman fended off his clumsy attempts at assistance. “I was trying to avoid being hit by your car,” she explained patiently as if he were a particularly slow child. “That’s why I fell.”
“You would have been perfectly safe where you were.” He gestured toward the Ferrari. “The lamppost stopped the car.”
He couldn’t help noticing how her eyes flashed; under other circumstances, he would have found it intriguing. “I didn’t know it would do that, did I?” she said.
“I don’t know why not. You were standing right next to the lamppost.”
She stared at him for a moment. “Are you for real?”
Darcy wasn’t sure how to answer that question.
“Most people would rather not rely on a lamppost to save their life.” Gingerly she touched the back of her head and winced.
As she struggled unsteadily to her feet, Darcy helped with a hand under her elbow. She was concealing some nice curves under her oversized t-shirt—not overweight but nicely rounded. Okay, wow. This was an inappropriate time to be having thoughts like that.
Once upright, she swayed, and Darcy didn’t dare to let go. “The studio probably has a clinic with a nurse.” Most studios did, but this was his first day on the grounds at Worldwide. “You could go get a band-aid.” Or whatever they did for bumps on the head.
She held out her hand. Shit, there was blood on her fingers from her head wound. “I’ll probably need to be checked for a concussion.”
Had she hit her head that badly? He held up two fingers. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
Eyerolls, he noticed in passing, were much more visible with vivid blue-green eyes. “203. Even if I did suffer from blurred vision, it would hard to miscount fingers a foot from my face.”
Jeez, he was only trying to help. Would it kill her to treat him with a little more respect? “Do you know who I am?”
“You’re the guy who almost hit me with his car.”
Darcy gaped. He could sometimes be anonymous outside California, but it had been a long time since someone didn’t recognize him in L.A.
“Or are you referring to the fact that you’re William Darcy?” she asked with faux innocence.
Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation. “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”
She regarded him through narrowed eyes. “Yeah, I think it is. What’s the alternative? That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car? Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents. ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity. Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”