Love in the Afternoon by Alison Packard - Fiction
Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image--and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime's most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.
Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm's length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.
But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel--a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling.
Shay: You can tell me anything, Stefan.
Stefan: I'm sorry, Shay. But I'm going back to my wife.
Since Kayla Maxwell was the only other person in the produce section, there was no doubt the scathing insult was meant for her. Or to be more precise, her alter ego Shay McKade.
Turning from the refrigerated vegetable display, she pasted on a fake smile and found herself looking into the eyes of one very pissed off woman who, sadly, was dressed in a garish hot pink jogging outfit that looked like someone had attacked it repeatedly with a Bedazzler gun.
"Excuse me?" She tossed a bag of baby carrots into her cart. "Did you just call me a--"
"How could you?" the woman interrupted, her close-set eyes blazing with contempt. "You...you tramp."
"Actually, I'm not really a tramp. I just play one on TV." She flashed another smile. Maybe a little actress humor would appease the woman. This wasn't the first time she'd been accosted by an overzealous soap opera fan that had it in for her character.
"You slept with a married man." Her face mottled with anger, the woman pointed at her with a pudgy finger." I've waited years for Stefan and Cassie to get together and then, when they finally do, you slither into town and lure him into your bed."
The woman's beady eyes narrowed. "Like the snake you are."
"Snake?" Kayla's voice rose. "Now, wait just a minute--"
"No! You wait." The woman moved closer. Kayla could smell the cloying scent of old lady perfume. It permeated the air, just like the woman's outrage. "Stay away from him, or else."
"Or else what?"
"Or you'll be sorry." The woman's nostrils flared before she gave Kayla a final glare and then turned and pushed her cart toward the deli counter.
"Believe me," she muttered at the woman's retreating back. "I'd love to stay away from him."
Kayla's cell phone rang as she pushed her cart toward the tomato display. Pulling it from her purse, she saw her publicist's name on the caller ID.
"Hi, Lisa. What's up?" Lisa had not only been her publicist for the past seven years, but was also a good friend.
"Great news. You're going to be on the cover of Soap Opera Journal in three weeks. I just got a call about the photo shoot."
"The cover? Is something going on I don't know about?"
"You tell me."
"There's nothing to tell." Kayla stopped her cart in front of the vine-ripened tomatoes. "But I have a few scripts at home I haven't read yet. Maybe something big is going to happen between Shay and Stefan." She paused. "Oh, hell no. You're going to ruin this by telling me I have to do the shoot with Marcus, aren't you?"
"Unfortunately, yes." Lisa's voice was sympathetic. "Although I'm not sure there's a lens wide enough to capture both him and his over-inflated ego."
"Tell me about it. Oh, and get this, we had a love scene last week. It was all I could do to get through it without puking."
"Did he try to shove his tongue down your throat again?"
"He did. But I took care of it," Kayla said with a grin. "Thanks for the tip."
"Anytime. By the way, Sean will be there too."
Kayla's jaw dropped. "Sean Barrett?"
"Yep. Maybe his character is going to be involved in the story with Stefan and Shay. Look, I've got to go. I need to call Sean and give him the news. I'll call you later with more info. And let's try to meet for lunch this week."