Feb 16 2015 2:00pm
Collateral Damage: Exclusive Excerpt
Hollywood It Girl, Francesca Leon, has just landed the biggest role of her career…one that could clinch an Oscar nomination and open doors. If she’s going to move her career to the next level and work with top directors, she has to nail this part — and keep her sexy, but unreliable leading man from screwing everything up.
Bad boy Calder Fox is the son of Hollywood royalty and fresh out of rehab after his best friend’s death sent him on a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol. While his fans still love him and the paparazzi stalk him, he’s never taken life, or anything about his career, seriously. He may be charming and drop-dead gorgeous, but if he doesn’t stay sober, he could ruin Frankie’s future and expose her long-hidden family secret to the voracious media.
Behind the Scenes
Things heat up during filming and have the potential to become hotter, deeper, and much more real. But can Frankie trust Calder with her secret? Or is he doomed to sabotage his own happiness yet again?
Get a sneak peek at Elisabeth Grace's Collateral Damage (available February 19, 2015) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.
This was so friggin’ frustrating. Clearly, I wasn’t born to surf. I must’ve tried to get up on the damn board at least thirty times, and every time I ended up falling into the ocean, spewing water from my mouth when I finally made it back above the surface.
“Relax, Frankie. It’s not an easy thing to do. Being tense and frustrated is not going to help you,” Calder said.
Deep down I knew he was right, but I was a perfectionist by nature and it irked me that I was unable to get the hang of it. I turned my head to face Calder. He hopped off his own board and swam over to stand behind me, holding my board so he could help me try to catch a wave. “I’m so close and I just can’t get it. It’s maddening.”
“Here. Put your hands on top of the board. You need to relax.” I did as he asked and before I knew what was happening, his hands were on my shoulders massaging me. “Your muscles are so tense. You’ll catch your wave. You’ve got the movements down, just try not to overthink it.”
It was hard not to be tense. His hands felt like a brand on me. I both reveled in the feeling and wanted to pull away, sure that this exquisite torture would end in pain somehow.
“Alright,” he said, removing his hands after a minute. “You’re good now. This time, try it without being inside your head so much. Feel the board underneath you. Feel—don’t think.”
I nodded and hopped on my board, lying on my stomach and exhaling a deep breath, releasing all of my pent-up frustration, both sexual and otherwise. I deployed the same technique I normally did when on set before a take. I emptied my mind and let instinct guide me.
A large swell was coming up behind me and Calder gave me a small push, letting go of the board at just the right moment. “Go, go!”
I pushed up on my arms and leaned back on my knees then wobbled a little but managed to catch my balance. I used my hands to push up from the board slowly, coming to a crouched position on my board…and I stayed there.
Exhilaration raced through my body as I traveled along the top of the wave. Wind and saltwater spray whipped across my face as I teetered using my outstretched arms for balance. I couldn’t believe I’d finally managed to do it. I was so filled with joy it felt almost as if I would burst.
I turned my head to smile excitedly at Calder. He was swimming toward the shore, watching me with a huge childlike grin across his face. I threw my hands up over my head in a victory motion and promptly lost my balance and fell into the ocean.
That would teach me to think I’d conquered Mother Nature.
I could barely touch the bottom where I was, so when I emerged from the water I swam the short distance to my surfboard, crawled up on it, and straddled my legs around it.
Calder reached me moments later looking as happy as I’d ever seen him in the short time we’d gotten reacquainted with one another.
“That was killer,” he said and hefted himself up onto the surfboard so he sat facing me, straddling it too. I used my hands to balance on the board as he climbed on so I didn’t embarrass myself and fall off. Calder’s surfboard was attached to the rope strapped to his ankle and bobbed in the water beside us. “You did awesome. If you hadn’t turned to look at me, you would’ve ridden that one to the shore.” He leaned forward to hug me, closing the gap between us. It was a friendly hug, and I returned it by wrapping my arms around his muscular back. He stiffened and it made the already hard back muscles under my hands even harder. The mood quickly transformed from jubilation to one fraught with sexual tension and need.
I pulled back but Calder’s arms remained around me, and I found my face inches from his. I stared into those eyes that were bluer than the water we were floating on, my breath heavy in my chest, and he returned my gaze with half-lidded eyes.
I moved my hand up to his long, blond hair, which was matted to the side of his face, and played with it between my fingers. I’d never really been attracted to a guy with longer hair—until Calder.
His hand cupped my jaw. “Frankie…” he trailed off in a husky whisper then brought his mouth to mine in a gentle kiss. I was surprised that someone with his physical strength could manage something so tender.
My eyes darted up to his in surprise and his blue irises seemed to be questioning whether or not it was okay to do it again. I gave only the slightest of head nods and he leaned in again, pressing his lips to mine with the same soft touch but holding them there longer this time.
I pushed my fingers into the wet, sunkissed strands of his hair. He moaned, deep vibrations coming from his chest, and the tension between us snapped. Within seconds, his tongue pushed into my mouth and my other hand ran over his back, delighting in the feel of his hard muscles flexing underneath the wetsuit fabric as he ran his hands up and down my sides.
He tasted like saltwater and spearmint, and I vaguely remembered him chewing gum on the way over. My insides heated at the way he took ownership of the kiss, leading our tongues in a perfectly choreographed dance. The surfboard undulated below us as the ocean brought us closer to shore. As the wind picked up, a large wave jostled us, forcing our mouths apart. We both sat there straddling the board, gazing upon each other with heated eyes. I swear the rims of his irises were darker than I’d seen them before.
A beat later, Calder broke the spell, squeezing my shoulder in a friendly gesture with a casual smile on his face. “Ready to do that again?”
“Yeah, sure,” I said, a little disappointed that he was referring to the surfing and not the kiss. His quick transition from a heated, lust-filled moment to this ‘best buddies’ attitude had left me confused.
I was able to get up on my board a few more times before fatigue set in. I wasn’t particularly out of shape, though I didn’t have the fitness level Calder seemed to. He’d been in the water as long as I had and didn’t have any less energy than when we’d first set foot on the ocean’s sandy bottom.
I finally begged off, feeling bad that he’d spent so much time schooling me when I was sure he was eager to grab his own board and ride the waves.
I sat on the sand with my towel wrapped around me, enjoying the feeling of my sore muscles and the exhaustion that plagued them. And though my body may have been content being sedentary, my mind was far from it. I was happy Calder had shifted gears after our kiss and not made it into a big deal. It was a one-off. I needed to keep my head in the game and remember I had a job to do. I couldn’t afford to get caught up in him. There wasn’t room in my life for a wild card like Calder Fox.
Copyright © 2015 by Elisabeth Grace.
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