Let’s Misbehave | Summerhill

SYW_Final

Imogen Summerhill, box office darling, has never wanted to be in the spotlight less.

When racy photos—and video!—are leaked by her sleazy ex, her studio couldn’t be happier. All press is good press, and this will only enhance the intrigue about her upcoming blockbuster. But how is Gigi supposed to be taken seriously as an actress with all this inappropriate buzz? She’s Cate Blanchett, not Kim Kardashian.

But then Gigi meets Merrick Graham, the Bad Boy of Politics. The last thing either of them wants is to be tainted by more scandal: he needs the support of the conservatives, and she wants to untarnish her image.

Only they can’t resist each other—separately they’re good, but in the bedroom they’re even better. They can’t be seen together in public, but in private all’s fair game, and there’s plenty of room to misbehave…

{Scroll down for a sneak peek!}

 

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SNEAK PEEK
Let’s Misbehave — Chapter One

 

Imogen looked at the butter knife in her hand and wondered if it was long enough to pierce a man’s heart.

Probably not. Dirk Ranger’s heart was so small it was probably buried deep in his chest cavity, under layers of conceit and hubris. She’d need a sword to get to it. A sword was better anyway—after puncturing his heart, she could cut off his balls.

Heaving a sigh, Gigi set the knife aside and put the slice of toast down. There was no telling how old the bread was. Her sister Titania wasn’t great at stocking her kitchen. Besides, Gigi wasn’t supposed to eat it—she had to be fit for her next role.

Not that she had one.

She hadn’t worked in weeks, and it was driving her mad.

The last time she’d been on set had been in December. She’d taken a few weeks off on purpose: her father had died and she’d come home to be with her family.

Only then the scandal had broke.

Scandal was such an innocuous, archaic word for what had happened. Violation gave a more accurate tenor for how she felt after Dirk had sold nude pictures of her to the tabloids. Livid described her after he’d released the video.

How could she have been so stupid? That was what bothered her most.

She’d needed to take a few weeks to regain her footing, but she’d started looking for her next gig in January. Only then the video had been released and she’d taken a tactical retreat, to let it fade into history.

That hadn’t happened.

But hiding in her ancestral home was overrated. She was crazed from boredom. She hadn’t been this idle since . . . Well, never.

She paced the kitchen. She had to take action now, because obviously things weren’t going to change on their own, not to mention that waiting wasn’t her style. She’d been working every day since she flew to Hollywood when she was eighteen. Being leisurely wasn’t in her skillset.

Frankly, she was surprised Franny hadn’t packed her up and sent her back to Hollywood yet. She’d been driving everyone at home to distraction with her restlessness.

Shaking her head, she went back into the living room and took out the contents of her purse until she found her mobile. Calculating the time difference first, she called her agent in Los Angeles.

Betty answered on the first ring. “Imogen, I was just about to call you.”

Gigi rolled her eyes. “Excellent. Tell me you found a project for me.”

“I have, in fact.”

“Fantastic.” She began to pace in the living room. “Email it to me right away and I’ll start reading.”

“You don’t need to read it. It’s a remake of a classic. This is a slam dunk. This movie is made for you.”

Gigi frowned as she folded her legs under her on the couch. “Ten years ago when you first agreed to rep me, you told me that the mistake most actors made was taking whatever roles came their way, and that it’d behoove me to be selective.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve never used the word behoove in my life.”

“That’s not the point. The point is that you haven’t read the script.”

“Sometimes, Imogen, you have to take the ball and run with it, and this is one of those times.”

She shook her head. “Why are you using all these basketball analogies? You don’t even like sports.”

“What are you talking about? I love sports.”

“Since when?”

“Since I’ve been wooing a couple of the guys on the Lakers to sign a deal for a reality show.”

Gigi rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t help smiling.

“But we’re talking about you, and you’re hot stuff right now,” Betty continued. “Have you seen the box office numbers from your latest movie? It’s been three weeks, and it’s still in the top ten. I know Dirk was a dick, but he did you a favor when he released that video of you. Your career has skyrocketed since.”

“I’m not pleased that it’s because of a sex video instead of my acting.” All her life, she’d wanted to be a modern Sarah Bernhardt. Mostly it’d been for herself, because acting was in her soul, but partly it was to prove her father’s predictions of her future wrong. Now it seemed like maybe he hadn’t been so far off.

That killed her.

“What the hell does it matter why you’re popular?” Betty asked in her pragmatic way. “Just roll with it. The studio wants to pay you more than you’ve ever received to be in this movie. We call this a win, Imogen.”

“Do we?” She wasn’t convinced.

Yes. This role they’re offering you will demonstrate your versatility and range. You don’t want to be pigeonholed into one type of movie.”

That sounded marvelous, except there was something in her agent’s tone that made her wary. “How versatile am I going to have to be?”

“It’s a remake of Cole Porter’s Paris. Marcus Craig is directing.”

Gigi gasped in horror. “He wrote Kate Hudson’s last movie, the one where she disguised herself as a man to get a job.”

“I admit that movie wasn’t a classic, but everyone makes one mistake, right?” her manager said with a forced laugh.

“His movie before that was about a man who turned into a dog.”

“Imogen, there are no dog suits in Cole Porter. Also, they aren’t going to cast you to hide your assets. That defeats the purpose.”

“So instead they’ll put me in a movie where the conservative man’s mother disapproves of the French actress he brings home to marry?” She laughed mockingly. “No, they aren’t typecasting me at all.”

“It’s not typecasting. They want to capitalize on how hot people find you.”

“So I’ll have to prance around in a nightie during the whole movie?”

Silence.

“Good Lord.” Gigi put a hand to her forehead. “That’s what they want, isn’t it?”

“I hate to tell you this, but in the world’s eyes, you’re a sexy starlet they want to see more of. Way more, and preferably without clothes,” Betty said in her matter-of-fact voice. “You’re a blonde Kim Kardashian minus the ample caboose.”

“I’m not a bimbo.” She threw a pillow so she wouldn’t be tempted to throw the phone.

“The only way you’re not like Pamela Anderson is that you have small, natural boobs,” her agent stated.

She put a hand over her assets. “And that I can act,” she added indignantly.

“No one cares that you can act.” Betty huffed with impatience. “I can’t believe I have to explain this to you. Tits and ass sell in Hollywood, and suddenly you have it. You’re the tits and ass It Girl, and the studio wants to capitalize on that.”

Gigi glared at the phone. “Keep the script.”

“Great, now you’re upset. Are you going to fire me?”

“Of course I’m not, but it’s going to make me happy to think about it.”

Betty sighed. “Imogen, if you want to work right away, the studio is your option.”

“And then what? Do a slasher movie after that?” She wasn’t a snob—she loved watching action movies as much as Shakespeare, but she knew if she acquiesced to this image of her, it’d stick.

That wasn’t her. She wouldn’t let that be her. She had aspirations: she was going to earn an Academy Award.

At first, she’d wanted an Oscar to prove her father wrong. Her jaw clenched involuntarily, remembering how he’d always been so derisive about her ambitions. An actress is only one step above a prostitute. No daughter of mine will sell herself that way. Family and Honour, Imogen.

Oh, the irony that he’d died with his longtime mistress.

Thank goodness Reginald Summerhill wasn’t around to witness this scandal unfold. She could just imagine what he’d say to her.

Despite his death, she was still determined to earn the award to prove herself. She was damn good, she worked damn hard, and she damn well deserved it. She wasn’t going to let a prick like Dirk take that away, and she certainly wasn’t going to let the public remember her as Hollywood’s tits and ass It Girl.

“How long will I have to wait for a better part?” she asked, interrupting whatever Betty had been saying.

“A long time.” There was a long pause on the line. Then Betty sighed again. “Fine, I’ll look around, but I’m still sending you this script. Humor me and look at it, okay?”

“Not even—”

“And before I forget, the studio is sending over a handler for you.”

Gigi bolted upright, her legs swinging to the floor. “What for? I don’t need anyone.”

“Her name is Holly Martin, and she’s going to stop by on Friday,” Betty said loudly, speaking really fast. “She’s going to manage the media contacts around you and facilitate getting started learning this next role.”

“I never said—”

“That’s my egg timer going off,” Betty yelled over Gigi’s protests. “I’ve got to go. Talk soon, babe. Ciao.”

“Bett—”

The call ended. Thinking uncharitable thoughts about her agent, Imogen threw her mobile at the couch and began to pace.

She was in her ninth revolution when the door opened and Titania walked in.

She’d always been closest to her younger sister. Only a year separated them, and since none of their other sisters had been around when they’d been adolescents they’d been natural playmates. Plus they shared a bond over their father, who’d been equally scornful to them both.

Titania was her complete opposite. A photographer, she preferred being behind the scenes rather than in the limelight. She hardly ever brushed her hair or wore anything other than jeans and lace-up flats.

But they both shared drive and ambition, and Titania never treated her with kid gloves. Her sister always spoke her mind and gave an honest opinion. Since Gigi had gone to Hollywood, she’d come to understand the value of an honest opinion.

Most of all, Titania would stand up for her if she ever needed. Like through this mess with Dirk. She was Gigi’s best friend—her only friend, really, until she came home and got to know her other sisters better.

Titania stopped abruptly in the doorway, blinking at her. “What are you doing in my flat?”

“It’s Tuesday.”

The space between her brows furrowed. “So?”

“So we all get together on Tuesdays at the pub down the street from the South Street house. Come with me, Tawny.”

Titania cringed. “I’d rather be eaten alive by piranhas.”

“It’s just our sisters.” At the long pause, Gigi rolled her eyes. “They aren’t that bad. In fact, they’re quite lovely. You just need to get to know them.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” She set her camera bags carefully on the floor and then waved her hand at the couch. “What’s going on here?”

“I was relaxing.”

“I didn’t think that word was in your vocabulary.” Titania picked up the book on top of the pile and frowned at it. “What language is this?”

“Swahili. I picked it up on location last year.”

“Of course you did. How many languages does that make now?”

Nine. “What does it matter?”

“I just want to know how much of an underachiever I am.”

Gigi tossed the book in her bag. “Are you coming with me tonight or not?”

Titania made a face as she plopped on the couch next to her. “Not.”

All her sisters were headstrong, but Titania was the most stubborn. Hand on her hip, she stared at her younger sister. “Can nothing I say convince you?”

“No.”

“You’re missing out. All our sisters are lovely, and they miss you.”

“They don’t know me,” Titania mumbled.

“Whose fault it that?” Gigi put her purse on the floor. “And you haven’t met Summer yet. Don’t you feel strange not knowing one of your sisters?”

Titania crossed her arms as she slouched deeper in the couch. “She’s Father’s bastard. I have no connection to her, and you know how I felt about Father.”

“It’s not her fault Father was a wanker.” Gigi bit her lip, wanting to ask Titania if she ever thought about him, or how she felt about missing his funeral, but she knew she’d just clam up.

Sighing, Gigi decided to change the subject. “My career is over.”

“Your career isn’t over,” Titania said, sounding long-suffering.

“It is.” She flopped back against the armrest, her arm over her eyes. “I’ve been cast as a floozy by the media and now no one wants to see me as anything but. Worse, they want to pay me gobs of money to play a loose French actress.”

“And that’s bad?”

“I’m a serious actor.”

“Make them see you as something serious, then.”

She peeked out from her arm. “How?”

“I don’t know,” Titania exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. “Do serious things. Act well behaved. Show them you’re a good girl.”

“A good girl.” Gigi sat up. “That may be brilliant.”

“And a stretch but, like you said, you’re an actress.”

Gigi threw a pillow at her sister’s head.

Titania flashed a rare grin. “Now that I’ve solved your problems, will you leave me alone?”

“Yes.” She kissed her sister’s cheek. “I’m headed to meet the others for drinks. Are you sure you don’t want to go?”

“Yes,” Titania said emphatically.

“Lunch later this week?”

“If I’m not busy with a shoot.”

Titania was an up-and-coming photographer. Her photos had been featured in Vogue, Time, and National Geographic, to name a few publications. But as busy as she was, she was never too busy to meet Gigi for lunch, even if she acted it. Gigi tugged on her sister’s ponytail. “I’ll see you Friday, then.”

 

***

 

“Titania thinks I need to show the world I’m a good girl,” Gigi said as she joined Beatrice, Rosalind, and Portia at their usual table at the Red Witch. She set her purse on the floor and looked around. “Where are Summer and Viola?”

“Summer had to work late, and where do you think Vi is?” Bea said with a flat look.

Viola was going through an unpleasant divorce and had been dealing with her not-quite-ex’s endless games. Gigi unwrapped her scarf. “Have we started taking a collection to hire a hitman to take him out?”

Bea bared her teeth in a sharky grin. “I’m willing to front the operation on my own.”

Rosalind moved over so Gigi could squeeze next to her and Bea. “You saw Titania?”

“Yes. She says hello,” she improvised as she settled on the seat. She left her sunglasses on. She hadn’t taken them off in public, day or night, in months. “She couldn’t make it tonight because she had work.”

“Why does she think you need to show the world you’re a good girl?” Rosalind asked, sipping her drink.

“Because I don’t want to be cast in roles where I prance around the screen half naked. May I?” She borrowed her sister’s drink and took a hefty gulp, to wash down the bitterness. Damn Dirk.

Though, truthfully, she understood Dirk’s position: he had scandalous pictures of her, topped by a video where she was obviously doing naughty things. Of course he was going to use them. He was a middling star, and hers had risen. It was a sure way of becoming a name. Betty had told her that he’d taken a lead role in a Ron Howard movie and had been offered another, even larger role.

More than anything, she was angry with herself because she’d trusted him. She fancied herself a better judge of character than that. She’d loved him, but he’d loved the fame she brought him.

Fortunately, her body was mostly shadowed in the video, so it was just an innuendo of what was happening and not full frontal. Still. It was like someone walking in when you were using the bathroom, only instead of being embarrassed in front of one person it was the entire world. The video had gotten over a million views on YouTube the first day it’d been up.

She shook her head and looked toward the bar. Niamh, excellent bartender that she was, looked over right then. Gigi lifted one finger up, and Niamh nodded.

Happy in the knowledge that her martini would arrive quickly, she faced her sisters. “I may go mad if I don’t start working soon.”

Bea eyed her over the rim of her drink. “I’m surprised you stayed in hiding this long.”

“I’m surprised Mother hasn’t forced her out of the house to auditions,” Portia said.

Gigi smiled, knowing their mother had prodded Portia into finally realizing her dreams. Consequently, Portia had found her dream job at a prestigious auction house as well as the man she was going to marry. “Actually, Mum suggested I needed a vacation. I’m not sure what she thinks I’ve been doing the past few months. I’ve done nothing but lie around.”

Rosalind took her cocktail back. “You mean in between yoga, jogging, dance classes, reading in Latin, and whatever else you fill your days with?”

She shrugged. She had to keep ready for work. She smiled in thanks at Niamh, who set her drink down and hurried back to the bar.

“I have a solution for you,” Bea said. “Russell Sherman is looking to cast his next movie. He’s doing some sort of avant-garde take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, something stylized and modern.”

“What?” Gigi sat up. Russell Sherman was like a less angsty Woody Allen. His movies drew acclaim, especially for the actors he cast. His last film won the lead actress an Oscar. “You know Sherman?”

“I know everyone.” Beatrice pulled out her mobile and began tapping at it. “My partners and I invested in one of his films a few years ago. I’ll send you his contact info.”

Portia leaned forward. “Do you know Russell Crowe?”

Bea glanced up from her mobile. “Yes. Why?”

“And you never introduced him to me?” Portia frowned at their oldest sister. “That wasn’t very charitable of you.”

“You’re too young for him, you wouldn’t like him, and I already went out with him.” Bea shook her head. “Shouldn’t you be happy with your cowboy? You found a great love.”

“I did.” Portia beamed. “But that doesn’t mean yesterday’s Portia couldn’t have gone on a date with Russell Crowe.”

Bea shook her head. Then she faced Gigi. “Sherman is going to be at a charity event I’m attending Thursday night.”

“Did you date him, too?” Portia asked.

Rosalind elbowed her.

Portia rubbed her ribs. “I was just asking.”

“Go to the charity ball in my stead,” Bea said, putting her phone away. “First off, being seen at the charity will help support your good girl image. Second, you can talk to him there in person. Charm him and have him think it’s his idea to offer you the lead. He’ll be happy.”

“Maybe you can recite a monologue in Hindi to show him how serious you are,” Portia suggested. When she saw everyone staring at her, she lifted her hands. “What? I’m just trying to help.”

Bea turned to Gigi. “I’ll even lend you my escort for the evening so you’ll have a prop.”

“Really? You don’t mind?”

“He wasn’t a date,” Bea said, too casually. “It’s just as well.”

“Who is it?”

“Luca.”

Gigi, Portia, and Rosalind exchanged a look.

“Stop it,” Bea commanded, taking a sip of her drink. “I was throwing him a bone, and I wanted him to see that he doesn’t fit in my life so he’d stop mooning after me.”

“You sure he wasn’t throwing you a bone?” Gigi asked.

Bea arched her brow.

“Maybe we should strategize what Gigi should wear to the event,” Rosalind said. The new Vera Wang, Rosalind, knew dresses. “A dress of course. Do we want color? White says demure, if you’re trying to combat your recent image.”

Portia nodded. “But it shouldn’t be too demure because no one will believe it.”

Gigi stared at her sister.

Portia shrugged. “You can’t argue that.”

“Actually, you can’t,” Rosalind said.

Bea rolled her eyes. Then she faced Gigi. “Wear white, something that has an edge and is still sexy. You don’t want to lie to people and say you’re virginal, but you also want to minimize your sexpot image.”

“I’m not a sexpot.” Her sisters just stared at her so she sighed. “Much. But you can’t tell me you don’t like sex.”

“I do,” Portia said brightly.

Bea shook her head at Portia but her lips curved with amusement. “We all like sex, but our passions aren’t plastered all over the Internet. We aren’t trying to prove we’re good girls.”

“Excellent point.”

“Just remember that no one will believe you of all women are sexless. You have to show that you’re passionate, but in an intriguing way and not crass like that wanker you dated made you seem,” Bea said.

Gigi winced. “Let’s not discuss that wanker.”

Bea took her hand. “You let me know and I’ll make sure he never wanks again.”

“Thank you.” Gigi smiled, feeling better than she had in months. “I think I know what to wear Thursday night.”

“I have glasses with clear lenses you can borrow,” Portia offered.

“Why would I need glasses?” Gigi asked.

“To look studious.”

“Of course.” She sipped her martini. “Any other words of wisdom for me?”

Portia took a moment to think about it. Then she said, “Don’t insult his manhood, because if you tell him his penis is small, it’ll make him sad and less likely to hire you.”

They all stared at Portia.

Then Rosalind shrugged. “She’s actually right about that. He would be sad.”

 

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