Monday, December 16, 2013

Venice Nights: Excerpt

5 more days until the release of Venice Nights! :)

Here's an excerpt from Venice Nights...enjoy! <3

In a celebrity soaked world, I was no stranger to the tight grins of stars nor their bowed heads and glares as cameras documented every movement. The camera's flash was how I got to gush over an actress glittering on the red carpet; smirk at the drunken antics of some party-loving actor as they left a bar. 
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on the receiving end of those bright lights.
“Leila! Over here!”
“I need a window!”
“How long have you and Jacob been dating, Leila?”
“Who are you wearing?”
I stood before the throng of photographers, rendered speechless. 
Who was I wearing? I was just in a pair of skinny jeans and a blouse. I had no idea who I was wearing. 
You have to tread very carefully. If a designer recognizes an item you’re wearing and you flub your response, you could be blacklisted. None of the big names will touch you.
I blinked into the blinding lights, a conversation I’d overheard popping in my head. One of the publicists at Whitmore and Creighton had been prepping a budding actress before a premiere, schooling her on red carpet etiquette.
How did I get here? How did that conversation become relevant to me
“I...” My chest tightened as a question sliced through softball ones about fashion.
“How’s Jacob in bed, Leila?”
My body went rigid. The obnoxious leer on the face of the man who asked the question turned my stomach. 
I knew the game the photographer was playing. He was probably one of the world-class jerks who screamed inappropriate questions at the children of celebrities. Questions about broken marriages and rumors too old for their young ears. He wanted a reaction.
I knew better than to feed the monster but I ignored my better judgment, moving dangerously close to the wall of cameras. I locked eyes on the offensive paparazzo. 
“That is none of your goddamn business!” I snapped, letting the anger take over. It raised my temperature until I felt like I could breathe fire. “How dare you ask me that? You're an ass--”
“Not here.” Jacob’s voice cut through my tirade. His grip on my arm was firm. Undebatable. 
But it was too late. The creep had struck a nerve--and they all saw it. 
There was blood in the water. Who was I wearing? Please. The new questions they hurled had teeth.
“What do you say to the rumors that you slept your way into Jacob’s heart?”
“What did you have to do to go from an entry level position to assistant to the CEO?”
I balled my hands into fists at my side, wanting to punch every single one of them. I saw Rachel Laraby, Jacob’s conniving ex, in every question. In every smirk I saw a mirrored image of the lingering worries in my heart. 
You did cheat. 
You slept your way to a promotion.
You don't deserve any of this. 
You don't deserve him.
I gripped Jacob’s hand like a lifeline as the crush of bodies and insulting questions about sexual favors whipped around us. The car was only a few feet away but it was the longest five strides of my life. 
The driver sprung into action, pulling open the back door. Jacob was a shield between me and the photographers, helping me into the car before pulling the door shut behind us. The photographers were unrelenting, light streaming through the glass windows. 
My throat closed as an irrefutable truth rang in my head. You just bombed your first interaction with the press. 
If I could breathe, it would have been ironic. Amusing even. I had a degree in public relations and I knew all the tools one was supposed to use in a hostile press environment. I knew you had to keep your composure or they’d eat you alive. 
When it came down to it, all it took was one rude question and I crumbled.
The driver fought through the crowd and the car rocked into motion. I dropped my head in my hands, tears spilling between my fingers.
Jacob’s arms circled me, neither of us taking the time for seat belts. Safety was the last thing on my mind.
I just wanted him to hold me.

Stay tuned--tomorrow is an interview with Leila! Hopefully it'll turn out better than her first run-in with the press. :/