Thursday, June 04, 2009

BOOK INTRO: Spotlight on Desire

Spotlight on Desire

by Anita Bunkley

Kimani Press
Pub. Date: June 2009
Kimani Romance Series #141
ISBN-13: 9780373861163

For Jewel Blaine, the spotlight and her fans are all the family she'll ever need. She is the star of the popular daytime soapie The Proud and the Passionate, after all. After a high-profile breakup, Jewel has come up with her own call sheet: no romantic entanglements with cast members, producers and especially directors. But when the stage lights dim, Jewel secretly yearns for a sexy leading man to costar in her real life.

Rugged, handsome Taye Elliott is new on set at P&P— this time behind the camera. Trained as a stuntman, but always with an eye on directing, Taye knows this is his big break. And he needs P&P's leading lady to trust him. But Jewel thinks he's better off pretending to break legs than really calling the shots. Taye's never shied away from a challenge and he's certainly not going to now. He's perfecting the scene of a lifetime—to direct Jewel on-screen…and love her off of it.

Excerpt: SPOTLIGHT ON DESIRE by Anita Bunkley

Jewel Blaine slowly dropped her chin and ran her eyes over Taye Elliott, the studio's pick to direct The Proud and the Passionate, the popular African-American soap opera where Jewel had reined as Diva Queen since the daytime drama first hit the air. Eying Taye from beneath thick lashes, she waited for him to speak first.

"Hello. I'm Taye Elliott," he said, in a voice that was melodic and low, reminding

Jewel of Teddy Pendergrass' sexy soul-stirring vocals.
When Jewel stood up to shake Taye's hand, two things immediately clicked in her mind: First, his palm was dry and cool. And second, his lemon-lime cologne made the muscles in her stomach tighten and freeze her greeting on her tongue.

Gulping back her unease, Jewel floundered for a moment, and then regained her voice. "Yes, I'm Jewel Blaine. Good to meet you, Taye." She squeezed his hand, quickly let it go, and then sat down, struck by an irresistible urge to grin. Her new director was one fine brother! Just the touch of his hand had rocked her, shaken her, made her go damp in her panties! And she was supposed to maintain a professional cool while following this man's direction? That was going to be a hell of a challenge.
Keep it together, girl, she silently reprimanded. Gotta play this one right. Can't act too glad to meet him.

Luckily, the waiter arrived to take their lunch orders, interrupting the electrified lull, while providing Jewel a chance to regain her composure and study Taye Elliott's ruggedly appealing profile.

The tiny nicks and scars on the side of his face only added to his Alpha male image. Trophies from his stuntman days, Jewel surmised, her eyes moving over his rich tan skin. He had sooty brown eyes that sloped gently at the edges in a lazy slant that sent serious bedroom signals. His jaw line was severe, but rounded at the chin, softening an otherwise tough-guy face. Flared nostrils capped a keen nose. Black curly hair that was slightly unruly, but still well groomed.

I'd love to slip my little finger through that ringlet behind his ear, Jewel impulsively mused, shifting her attention to the vintage Cartier watch on Taye's wrist. The man's got good taste, she allowed, moving on to assess his flamboyant shirt, realizing why it seemed familiar. Ralph Lauren. Last season. She'd seen it on the runway during Design Week in New York.

Her producer, Fred Warner, broke Jewel's mental trippin' with a snap. "Jewel, I was telling Taye that you and the cast of The Proud and the Passionate are ready to get back before the cameras." He blinked at Jewel, clearly urging her to jump in and express her mutual delight with the studio's newest hire.

Getting Fred's message, Jewel locked eyes with Taye, who shot her a dazzling smile. Exhaling, she hurriedly plunged ahead. "I agree completely. We're fired up and anxious to get back on the set. And please, Taye, let me know if I can help in any way ... as far as characters' motivation or back story."

"Thanks," he replied, sounding sincere. "I'm sure I'll need to take you up on that. Your character on P & P is intriguing and very complicated. You sure play Caprice Desmond to the max. She is somethin' else."

"Yeah, Caprice a sister on a mission, all right. And the more you get to know Caprice, the more you'll love her," Jewel jokingly agreed, while thinking, Damn! Why'd I have to say that?

"I'm sure I'll fall in love with Caprice, just as your fans have done," Taye concurred, sending warm pulses of interest surging through Jewel, who watched as his attention slipped from her face to the gold chain settled in her cleavage, and then back up to her lips.

Jewel resisted the urge to respond to his obvious visual meandering by clearing her throat and adopting an all-about-business demeanor. "You'll find the cast is easy to work with," she changed the subject. "We have no neurotics or dual personalities among us. We’re a pretty normal bunch, so don’t be nervous."

"I won't, as long as you're around to keep things sane."

"But if things get crazy, and they can … I'll do what I can to help you sort it out," she promised, touching her front teeth with her tongue, deliberately teasing him.

"I'm sure it won't take long for everything between us to fall into place," Taye replied with a self-assurance that made Jewel flinch.

Sitting back, she listened closely to his plans for their next location shoot, mesmerized by the man whose presence was sending all the wrong signals. Whose eyes were undressing her. Whose cologne was stoking a pleasure point deep between her legs, and whose voice was challenging her long-standing, never-to-be-broken rule: No romantic involvement with anyone connected with her career. Especially not her director!

Taye Elliott drove away from the restaurant with both hands tensed on the steering wheel of his Hummer, as if holding onto it would keep Jewel Blaine's image from slipping away. Damn, she was hot! And she must have felt the sexual magnetism radiating between them. He could still feel her luminous brown eyes engaged with his, smell the delicate perfume that drifted from her beige-tan cleavage, hear the titillating chime of her voice in his ears. The heat of his impression of Jewel filled his gut, simmering like hot coals banked to hold their warmth. He felt flushed with a strange sense of anticipation, and was not surprised that just thinking about her initiated the beginnings of an arousal that had no business existing and definitely no place to go.

She was more beautiful in person than on TV. Soft sable brown hair, pulled back into a cascading up-sweep of curls that created a sophisticated, yet playful portrait. Shockingly deep brown eyes that could flash with intelligence one minute and then quickly simmer in sexy seduction. She had skin like sweet toffee -- candy that he'd love to feel melting in his mouth. She was a diminutive powerhouse of a woman with gorgeous curves and the electric chemistry that put her slightly out of reach, even though her low cut blouse had come close to shattering that proper-public image she presented to the world.

Taye smiled to himself. Jewel Blaine might not know much about him, but he sure knew all he needed to know about her. She had never been married, had won two daytime Emmy's, a BET Award and an NAACP Image Award. She was devoted to her fans, whom she referred to as her family, and in more than one interview had stated that a husband and children were not important to her, as they would impede her skyrocketing career as one of the most popular stars in daytime TV.

But is she happy? Taye wondered, struggling to throw off images of his mouth crushed to hers, his hands spanning her tiny waist, their bodies molded as one. His heart turned over. Was Jewel's doing the same? A quiver of arousal slid through him, initiating a surge of startling need. God, it would be a dream come true to make love to Jewel Blaine! But that was an impossible dream, wasn't it?

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