The Unidentified Redhead Page 1

Author: Alice Clayton

Series: Redhead #1

Genres: Romance

Chapter 1

You do realize I have seen you na**d before, right?” Holly shouted through the bedroom door.

“Yes, love, but it’s been awhile. I don’t think you’re ready for this.”

“Is this an ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly’ situation?”

“Did you actually just say that to a half-naked girl? Seriously, you should know better. You’ll give me a complex. Asshead.”

“You’re making this too hard, Grace.”

“That’s what she said,” I muttered.

“Wow,” I heard her say as I laughed quietly to myself. I was in the process of trying to get my ass into a new pair of low rise jeans that were so low they might be illegal.

“That’s it,” Holly announced. “I’m coming in. Suck it in, Grace!” She came barreling through the door, stopping short when she saw me struggling on the bed. I was laid out flat on the sheets in a charming lacy peach bra, half way in and out of the damn jeans that she had convinced me to buy, even though I knew I was in no way young enough to work them in the way they deserved to be worked. Holly had always had a way of getting me to do things she wanted me to do (under the guise that she knew what was best for me). And mother of pearl, she was almost always right.

“Sweet rack,” she said, acknowledging my bra. “Do I need to get a set of pliers and pull the zipper up myself? Didn’t we see that done in a movie once?” she mused, getting off track.

“Yes, yes we did … a little help? I’m giving a full salute here. I’d like to get the girls back under wraps,” I answered, struggling to stay on the bed at this odd angle.

“I can see that. OK, hold your breath,” she warned and grabbed the buttons of my jeans,. I pulled with all my might as the zipper finally closed, leaving me breathless.

“Holy Lord. I think my uterus just left. Yep, there she goes.” I moaned.

I couldn’t believe how tight these jeans were, although I was damn proud to be wearing them. I felt a thrill of “you go, girl” roll through me, but it could have also been the lack of oxygen from the band of denim now restricting my air supply.

Do people even say “you go, girl” anymore?

I really might need to rethink that one.

Holly helped me climb off the bed, and I turned to admire the way I looked in these badass jeans, thinking that maybe I could actually pull them off. I still caught myself examining the mirror at times and having to look twice to make sure it was really me. She saw me checking myself out and chuckled

“You’re looking sassy there, my friend. I would totally f**k you.”

“That’s charming, Holly. Thanks.” I smiled back at her as I continued to pose in the mirror. I began to Vogue and got to giggling.

“Grace. Settle down. Vogue-ing is just, well, it’s wrong. There’s never a good enough reason.” She laughed, giving me one last thumbs up as she left the room.

I had recently shed quite a bit of weight. In fact, I was actually in better shape now than when I was in college. Holly was proud of me and made sure to tell me often.

Holly Newman and I met in college. While we both majored in theater, she knew early on that she preferred the behind-the-scenes world, especially the business side, while I was a major drama queen. The entire time we were in school together we made plans for when we would conquer the entertainment world.

She would have her own agency and manage only the best talent, working with artists that shared a similar creative vision. I, however, had stars in my eyes and wanted to be famous, famous, god damned famous.

She made it out to the coast six months before I did, and when I finally got there, she was already working her way up as a junior agent at one of the major firms in town. She had a real knack for artist management, knowing when to be tough and when to coddle. She knew when to really fight for her artists and when to lay the groundwork for future projects. When I arrived, she’d gotten me a job temping in the agency, and I watched in awe as she maneuvered in what was, then, still very much a man’s world. With Holly’s perfect golden hair, fantastic figure and stylish sensibility, she was asked all the time why she was working behind the scenes rather than in front of the camera. The girl was a knockout. But she would always laugh and say, “It’s just not for me,” and then work harder than everyone else to make sure she earned her stripes.

I loved L.A. when I first made my place there. I’d moved in with Holly, started taking acting classes and worked at the agency with her, all while waiting tables at night in a restaurant in Santa Monica. I really felt like I was living that Hollywood lifestyle I had been dreaming of since I could remember.

After about six months, Holly had convinced her boss that I should come in for a reading and be considered for representation. I was prepared, I read well, my pictures were flawless … and then I waited. And waited. And then waited some more. Finally, they agreed to take me on if Holly agreed to sign me personally as sole representation.

She began sending me out on auditions. I auditioned. Hell, I auditioned all over that f**king town. I was damn good. But so was everyone else.

I didn’t book a single job.

What they don’t tell you when you grow up in the Midwest, light years away from L.A., is that when you move to Hollywood, everyone is the next Miss Hot Shit. We all think we’re the prettiest, we all think we’re special, we all think we are the only one that truly has what it takes. We all think our talent is genuine and true, we all think we have something to share with the world, and we can’t understand why we are not booking jobs all the time.

The thing is, in L.A., you can’t just be a pretty face, because you can airbrush that. You can’t just have a fairly good bod, because everyone else is nipped and tucked in places you don’t even want to dream of. You can’t just giggle and toss your hair and be the punchline, because someone else already has that job sewn up. For all the people who move to L.A. each year, just as many leave, limping back to their hometowns like pretty little sad sacks, telling their “I lived in California” stories over cocktails with their old high school friends.

I became one of those sad sacks—I only lasted in Los Angeles for eighteen months. I limped away, feeling like a failure for the first time in my life. I let the city and the industry beat me.

But now I was back. It took me ten years to make it back and this time … I wasn’t going anywhere.

Holly was having a party at her house to celebrate the launch of her new management company. She had recently left a very high profile position with a major agency and had invited her close friends and several of the actors and actresses she represented. There were a few that had chosen to stay with the other agency, but she was so good at crafting a career, particularly with fresh new talent, that many had followed her.

Since I had moved back to L.A., I’d been staying with her at her house in the hills. She’d done very well for herself and had a great house off Mulholland Drive with a view of the city below.

Which brings us to the illegal jeans. As a thirty-three-year-old with some pre-existing body image issues, I was trying to get into the mind set I would need to navigate this party in this particular pair of jeans. I had matched the illegal jeans with a fairly conservative turquoise, cowl-neck tank top and stuck my feet into some very nice peep-toe sling-backs. I had great toe cleavage.

I was wearing my hair down, which I rarely do, but Holly had banned all my ponytail-holders this evening. We had gone this afternoon to get our hair done, and my red hair was a mess of soft curls. That stylist really earned his money, and even I had to admit the curls were shampoo-commercial-worthy.

The party was in full swing, and everyone was having a great time. Because Holly only took on talent she truly wanted to invest herself in, they became her close friends as well. They were always at the house, and her circle had become my circle.

“Grace, you can’t be serious. Feldman is way hotter than Haim.” I was deep in a discussion with Nick, a screenwriter that Holly had known for years. He had become one of my new friends since I’d moved back and could always be counted on as a good wingman at a party. Tonight we’d been knee deep in the dirty martinis. Extra dirty. He was waiting for an actor to arrive that Holly had recently begun to represent, an actor who apparently was poised to be the next big thing. I had yet to meet him, although Nick had admitted he was, and I quote, “yummy, scrumptious … a bit scruffy, but in a totally hot kind of way.” Also, his British accent was “lovely,” “to die for,” and

“knock-me-down-and-fuck-me.”

Yeah, Nick was “gay”. .

“FINE,” I started. “I will admit that Corey Feldman was genius in Goonies and even semi-cute in Stand By Me, but no one holds a candle to my Lucas,” I protested, determined to win this round. We had recently gotten into a similar discussion about Steve Carell versus Ricky Gervais, and it didn’t end well.

Someone got scratched.

I heard a snicker behind me and someone said in a “lovely” British accent,

“I think you gotta give the edge to Haim, if only for getting to kiss Heather Graham.”

I turned to acknowledge the obvious genius of the newcomer who knew License to Drive when I actually saw who it was.

“Hey, you’re Super Sexy Scientist Guy!” I cried out in spite of myself, clapping my hands over my mouth as soon as I’d said it. I could feel my face redden instantly. Holly had a picture of this guy on her computer and had been referring to him for the last month as Super Sexy Scientist Guy. This was her new client—the next big thing. He had the lead in a movie slated for a fall release that was already generating big buzz in town. I didn’t know much about the movie, but I knew that Holly was very excited to be representing this new actor.

Super Sexy Scientist Guy smiled a confused and somewhat sheepish grin.

Did he know how hot that grin was?

Oh yeah, he totally knew.

He extended a hand to me and in the Queen’s English he said, “Actually, I’m Super Sexy Jack Hamilton.”

Chapter 2

I heard Nick’s sharp intake of breath behind me as he almost knocked me out of the way to shake Jack’s hand, surprising him in the process.

“Hi, Jack. I’m Nick. I saw you in your movie Her Better Half. Loved it! I also saw your pictures in Entertainment Weekly. I know not everyone loved the cover, but I sure did! I didn’t see the big deal about wearing the kilt—you’ve got great legs. Are you living here in L.A. now? Are you excited for Time to come out? Wow, you’re pretty.” Nick had forgotten to breathe and only stopped talking because he ran out of air.

During this verbal assault, I watched as Jack’s face changed from surprise to confusion, then on to wonder and finally barely contained laughter. I giggled and began to extricate Nick’s hand from Jack’s.

“Settle down, big guy. You can tell Jack he’s pretty all night long, but you don’t want to shock and awe him in the first five minutes,” I said, turning to Jack. “Hi, I’m Grace Sheridan—Super Sexy Grace Sheridan. It’s nice to meet you.” I shook his hand while Nick panted next to me. “And you are quite pretty,” I added, as Jack smiled back at me.

I took a good long look at him now that my surprised blinders were off, and I saw a tall, lean young man, who was almost a foot taller than me. He was wearing faded jeans, an anonymous black t-shirt with a gray zip-up jacket and, oh my, were those Doc Martens? He had on an old gray baseball cap and a few days worth of scruff that was definitely working for him. He seemed very comfortable in his skin, which, for a second, I imagined pressed up against mine in a tight embrace.

The guy looks young enough to be your kid, Grace.

Yes, but only if I’d really slutted it up in junior high …

I shook my head to clear it a little, and by then I could see Holly working her way across the kitchen to greet Jack

“Hello, sweetness. How’re you tonight?” she asked, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and leaning in for a quick peck on the cheek.

“I’m wel , thank you. I’ve just been meeting Grace and, uh, Nick was it?” Jack smiled again and Nick swooned. I snorted as I watched Nick have a breakdown.

Jack winked at me mischievously and I grinned back.

“Grace is my girl,” Holly said. “We go way back. And Nick, well, Nick is necessary,” she teased.

Nick feigned annoyance and responded, “Bitch, please. Where are you gonna find another man that will take you to see New Kids on the Block? And go along with the lie that it was work related?” I almost spit out my cocktail, I was laughing so hard. Holly was the biggest closet New Kids fan around. I was one of the only ones who knew this secret.

Maybe because it was a secret I shared with her.

“I don’t know why you’re laughing, Miss Thing,” Nick said, turning his gaze to me. “You still fantasize over Joe McIntyre like you are thirteen years old!”

“Oh, I own my obsession. If Joey Joe were here right now, I’d break him. I have no shame,” I taunted right back, sipping down the rest of my martini. Jack leaned over and whispered loud enough for Holly to hear. “Is that why she’s been trying to get me an audition for Donnie’s next film? Should I be concerned?” With him this close, I finally noticed his eyes. Wow, they were intense.

Dark emerald green with flecks of gold.

This guy must get so much play.

I leaned closer to him and said quietly, “You only need to worry if she asks you to dance for her. Watch out for that.” He grinned a sexy little smile while Holly took him by the hand and began leading him away. “OK, kids. I need Jack to meet a few people. I’ll deal with you two later.” The two of them headed back into the living room as Jack waved over his shoulder, leaving me and Nick to laugh in the kitchen.

Next