She can trust him with her heart, but can she trust him with her life?
Growing up as a foster kid, Jessica Jensen found her escape in movies-especially those starring teen heartthrob Reece Winchester. When she meets him as an adult, he's just as charming, fascinating, and devastatingly handsome as she'd imagined. Before she knows it, Jessica is falling hard. But her real-life Cinderella story is about to take a deadly turn...
Jessica has completely upended everything about Reece's carefully ordered life. There's a reason he's never allowed anyone to get so close to him before. But now that she has, there's a target on her back. Because someone knows that the Winchesters have been hiding some dark family secrets. Someone who is out there waiting to strike. Waiting...and always watching.
Previously published as Watching You
"Throughout this charged, fast-paced love story, Kelly expertly balances sensuality and intrigue. This will be a hit with readers looking for a spicy contemporary romance!" - Publisher's Weekly
Excerpt from I'LL BE WATCHING YOU
As a film director, Reece Winchester was used to watching life through a camera lens, picturing angles, depth, color, and texture. He lived as a voyeur, removed from the action he oversaw, the unseen god of the worlds he created for moviegoers everywhere. Some people might see him as being aloof or uncaring. Hell, maybe he was. But he’d learned hard lessons throughout his life about trust, about grief, about tragedy and loss. Better to put a layer between yourself and the outside world, as far as he was concerned.
Maybe that’s why he was able to remain calm during this latest catastrophe. He only sighed as he stared at the charred remnants of his house, eying the wisps of smoke still rising from the ruin in the early morning light.
“Damn, Reece, I’m so sorry,” said his brother Rowan, who’d been the one to call him at two a.m. to tell him about the fire. He’d repeated the phrase about a dozen times.
Reece had been shooting in the New Mexico desert, so his Beverly Hills home had been empty when it went up in flames last night. He’d spent most of the flight back being thankful he’d left his dog with his brother and had given the couple who looked after the place two weeks off. During other trips, he’d left Cecil B., his golden retriever, at home with the Scotts. He didn’t even want to think about what could have happened if they’d been there.
Shit could be replaced. Lives could not. The loss of a couple of statues of a guy named Oscar was nothing compared to the singeing of one hair on the heads of his employees or his dog.
“Any idea yet what started it?” he bit out.
“I talked to the fire investigator. He already found accelerant.”
Accelerant. Arson? Jesus.
“Somebody hates me enough to burn down my house?” Reece murmured, more stunned by that fact than by the fire itself.
“It could have been a frustrated stalker who expected to find you at home.”
“And when I wasn’t, they decided to make sure I didn’t have a home to come back to?”
“You know it’s possible.”
Yes, it probably was. He’d had overzealous fans before, mostly during his acting days. They occasionally slipped from pushy into obsessive. He’d been dealing with a particularly bad one lately, who’d found out where he lived and had been leaving notes stuffed into the security gate. Perhaps that was who had gotten past the fence last night and decided to send his home up in a giant ball of flame that had, reportedly, been seen by people miles away.
“Do you ever wonder if we’re damned?” he asked. He’d had this thought many times over the years but had never shared it with his twin.
“Don’t say that.”
He didn’t push, knowing Rowan had done a better job moving beyond all the dark episodes of the past. Reece, though, had found letting that go extremely difficult to do.
“You know you can stay with me for a while. At least until you find another place,” Rowan offered.
Reece nodded. “Dad has a spare room, too.”
Reece, his twin Rowan, and their baby brother, Raine, had bought their hardworking father, who’d supported them all his life, a big place on the beach a few months ago. His dad would hate to hear about the fire but would probably love some company.
Reece watched silently as firefighters walked the site. They carefully looked for any sputtering embers trying to reignite. With the drought, they also had to be sure no sparks landed on a nearby roof, spreading the conflagration to the entire neighborhood.
“Why don’t we get outta here?” Rowan asked. “You’ve given your statement. You don’t have to stay. Want some breakfast? We can pick up Cecil B. and take him out for pancakes.”
Seeing his dog sounded like a great idea to Reece. “Sure.” He was hungry, as, he suspected, were the sweaty, exhausted firefighters. He’d already put in an order for cold drinks and food for the guys who’d tried so hard to rescue his six-thousand-square-foot house. Just a house.
Just a building.
Right. Frankly, the worst part wasn’t the fire, but the realization that someone had set it. He was in somebody’s crosshairs. The knowledge unsettled him.
They hadn’t surfed together in months, both of them having busy schedules, and Reece being too easily recognized to hit any of the local beaches. One of the many pleasures his fame had cost him. Rowan was lucky they were fraternal twins, and that he no longer lived in the spotlight. “Maybe later. I think I’ll stop by and see how Aunt Sharon’s doing at the gallery.”
“Okay. Pancakes, followed by weird art.”
Their aunt did have eclectic taste. She also had a good eye, which was why Reece had been glad to finance the gallery in Venice Beach. Considering she had helped raise them after their own mother had been committed, there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for her.
Which was why, three hours later, he stood with her in the office of Venice on the Beach Fine Arts, actually smiling. The gallery was filled with pieces that only the pretentious, rich Southern California type could afford. To him, many paintings looking like plates full of spaghetti smeared around by preschoolers. Sharon, however, loved all types of art, and was thrilled with the gallery, which pleased him.
“You’re sure you have everything you need?” he said. “You know you only have to ask.”
She ruffled his hair like he was still a thirteen-year-old kid…not that he’d felt like a kid at thirteen. “You’ve done enough! Now stop thinking about me and start focusing on yourself. I still can’t believe you came here, today of all days.”
“I’ll be fine.” He’d already asked an agent to look for a house he could rent—one with great security—while he started rebuilding.
Sharon kept talking, but he didn’t hear her. Because something bright and colorful on the security monitor in the office suddenly caught his attention.
Red hair. Shiny, glorious red hair, with gold highlights.
Captivated, Reece turned to fully face the image. He immediately went into director mode, glad the state-of-the-art security system displayed everything in full color.
The woman had come into the public part of the gallery downstairs, jogging in off the beach. She was young, midtwenties at most, with that long mane swept up into a bouncy ponytail. She did things for spandex that would make cotton lie down and weep with jealousy. Yet it was her face he kept staring at. Her body might be perfect, but her face wasn’t, at least not classically so. But it was interesting…arresting. Strong—so determined, it told tales of struggle and adversity not often seen in faces so young. Most of all, she was different.
The nose was a little crooked, a little pronounced. Most self-respecting Southern California women would have had that straightened and daintily tipped before entering high school. The eyes—he couldn’t determine the color—were a bit too far apart, but big and heavily lashed with highly arched brows above. The mouth was wide, the lips full. Kissable. She had a cleft in her chin that he wanted to taste, as he wanted to taste the slick sheen of sweat riding across her chest, gliding down into the hint of cleavage shown by the scoop-necked jogging top.
It had been a dark and difficult morning. But the sun had come out and it was wearing running shoes.
“Who is she?” he murmured, not taking his eyes off the screen.
Sharon bent to peer over his shoulder. “I have no idea.”
“Not one of your artists?”
“Does she look like an artist?”
“But not a typical beach bimbo, either.”
She appeared to be the type who would be much more at home in a place like this than on a boardwalk. He pictured her in a gown and jewels, hair up, one long curl hitting her shoulder. Or screw it, no dress and the hair down and loose, draping over her bare breasts.
He watched her through the camera, saying nothing, envisioning how she would move in the light, where she would be best framed, how she’d move, how she would take direction. It was how he always reacted to initial encounters with strangers, picturing a series of shots and takes, cuts and stills.
A woman he had briefly dated had once accused him of being calculating, always the director, no longer an actor, on film or on the world stage. His brothers, though, and closest friends, saw the real Reece. He was a man of long vision, not the quick, immediate scene. He saw the key moments, the turning points, the journey, the climax, the resolution, and how to get there.
He wondered how to get there with the redhead and was determined to find out.
“What the hell?” he whispered, wondering where his own sanity had gotten to.
Because this was crazy. He’d never had such an immediate reaction to a woman he hadn’t even met in person. Something about this one made him revert to a hormonal teenager. The sight of her had hit him like a punch in the gut, leaving him anxious and a little dizzy. He had never gotten involved with a woman based on looks; it was always about shared interests, intelligence, and, of course, attraction. For all he knew, the redhead downstairs might have the personality of a bag of rocks. But even reminding himself of that didn’t slow his pounding heart.
This was physical. It was fascination.
It was completely new.
Reece swallowed, took a deep breath, and regained his control as he continued to watch what was happening one floor down, waiting to see something—anything—that would break this spell he was under.
A minute later, after showing the floor manager, Sid, some invisible-from-here photos on her cell phone, the woman frowned—Christ, even the frown lines were sexy--nodded, and departed.
“Can you find out what she wanted?” he asked Sharon.
“I was just waiting for you to ask,” his aunt said, tapping a text on her phone. Sid looked down at his own, receiving Sharon’s message. He jabbed at the screen, typing something back.
“Her name’s Jessica. She has a sister who’s in the arts.”
Doesn’t everyone in LA?
“She sent Sid a link to a photo gallery of the sister’s work.” Sharon was silent for a moment, and then she whistled, swiping her finger across the screen, her eyes growing round.
Reece watched her react to whatever she was seeing. He could have feigned disinterest, but Aunt Sharon knew him well enough that she’d have seen right through it. “What is it?”
Her brows were up, her expression a bit stunned. “The artist hasn’t had any professional showings, and the sister is trying to help her set something up,” Sharon explained, handing him the phone. “And she’s good. Damn good.”
Reece took the phone, glancing at the screen, far more interested in the woman than in the artwork. At least, until he took a closer look. “Holy shit.”
“Tell me about it.”
The sculpture displayed on the phone was of a life-size naked woman. But it wasn’t a classical, museum-type study of the female form. No. This one was sexy and erotic, displaying a woman in the full throes of pleasure, with her hand between her legs and her head thrown back.
Something about the model looked familiar.
“The throat,” he whispered. “The shoulders, the hips, the legs.” He recognized them. He’d been staring at them through the security monitor for the past several minutes.
“Interesting, no?” Aunt Sharon asked.
“Interesting, yes.” He swiped the screen, seeing another piece, and then another. All were stunning nudes, though most were not as sensual as the first. Only that initial one had a recognizable—to him—model. The artist had talent and reason to be proud. So did her sister.
“You’ve been looking for new and newsworthy pieces,” he said, handing back the phone.
The older woman nodded. “This would certainly get attention.”
Yes, it would. All kinds of attention: press, buyers. Having a display of nude art wasn’t unusual, but the raw talent of the artist made her work stand out. It could help Sharon make a go of this place. Reece didn’t really give a damn if the gallery made him his money back, but he knew his aunt was too proud to remain indebted to him.
She definitely shouldn’t feel indebted. She’d stepped in as a mother figure after his own had become unable to. He would have given her the money for the gallery, no questions asked. He’d become a silent partner because she’d insisted it was the only way she would accept his cash.
“You want me to have the artist come in for a discussion?”
Aunt Sharon smirked. “I suppose you want me to ask her to bring her sister?”
He didn’t reply. He didn’t need to. His smile was probably answer enough.
Thinking about how his day had started—with a phone call saying his house had burned down—he couldn’t help but be surprised by his own good mood. All because of the beautiful stranger he’d spied through a camera. One he would never have seen if not for the fire, pre-dawn flight and his presence here in the gallery this morning, at the perfect moment.
He couldn’t have planned the scene better if he’d tried.
It was as if it were meant to be.
AVAILABLE IN ALL ELECTRONIC FORMATS ON MARCH 13, 2018!