Madison Alcott left her Laguna Beach childhood in the past as soon as she could, never imagining she’d be forced to return. Caring for her ill mother and holding down a high-pressure position at the best resort in town, Madison’s life is as good as it could ever be in Laguna Beach. And blissfully, nobody knows her as Holly anymore, the name she used on television. Everything changes when her high school boyfriend appears in the lobby. He was the reason she’d left Laguna in the first place when he humiliated her on national television.
Josh Welsh’s star has been dimming ever since he shot to fame as the high school heartthrob on the reality TV series Laguna Nights. Hoping to reignite his career, he agreed to host a travel show, with the first episode shooting in his old hometown of Laguna Beach. Of all the negative scenarios associated with filming in Laguna, Josh hadn’t calculated a run-in with Madison, or that the same deep connection he felt for her in high school would still be there.
Madison and Josh’s reality TV relationship exploded years ago but when the new series forces them together, they must face Laguna Nights past and present.
“Hey, Madison,” Josh said, coming up behind her at the same moment that she had felt his presence. A chill washed down her spine. Stop it, she thought, pinching her own arm. “Beautiful as always.”
He kissed her on the cheek and made her feel light-headed. Truth be told, she had taken extra time getting ready this morning, wearing her favorite black pencil skirt, a crisp white blouse and a bold gold necklace. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, and her favorite diamond studs glistened in her earlobes. She felt pretty, pulled together. And, as usual, Josh looked hot.
“You cleaned up nicely yourself,” she said, feeling her cheeks flush as he flashed her the dimpled smile. “Now if you could lose the sunglasses, you could be almost perfect.”
“It’s part of my mysterious persona. The formerly famous actor and his Ray Bans. Gotta keep them on. Come on inside with me and I’ll take them off,” he said motioning toward the tent.
“Oh, thanks but I’m working,” Madison said, though they both knew the set up was finished, her job done.
“Come on, I want you to meet the guys. I actually like one of the producers and well, you know my manager, Marty,” Josh said, nodding toward Mr. Flexible. “Besides, we’re better together.”
“Better at what,” Madison said, feeling the electricity pulsing between them.
“Everything,” Josh said, his voice low.
She swallowed. “I can only stay for a minute,” she said and led him inside, entering the tent first so he wouldn’t see her flushed cheeks. They used to be better together, the perfect complement, yin and yang. That was true, she thought.
“Roger, come here,” Josh said, pulling on the arm of a rather short, rather stout bald-headed man wearing funky orange-framed glasses and a dark black suit, no tie, who was standing next to Mr. Flexible. “Meet Madison. Roger is the one who is going to resurrect my career. All of this was his idea.”
“I can’t take full credit, but I do believe in the kid,” Roger said. Madison liked him instantly and realized, from the two men’s tones and interactions, that they were close. She wondered if Josh had found the father figure he’d needed for so long. “You, my dear, are gorgeous. Have you been in anything?”
“No,” Madison said quickly.
At the same time, Josh said, “Yes. We were in Laguna Nights together. She went by Holly, her middle name, back then.”
Roger pulled his glasses to the tip of his nose and stared at Madison. “Of course you are. Lovely. You’ve grown up well, my dear. In fact, we’re going to host a reunion of sorts, on the new show, and you must appear,” Roger said. His enthusiasm and compliments seemed sincere, even as Madison took a step back.
“My days on TV are over, Roger, but thank you,” she said. Just then, she noticed Mr. Flexible, otherwise known as Marty, staring at her across the room. Probably wondering why she was acting like a guest instead of an employee, she realized. “I need to go check on things for your upcoming dinner. Please excuse me.”
Madison smiled and hurried out of the tent, avoiding Josh’s sad eyes. She needed to protect herself from these people, she knew. Especially Josh. She’d grown up, gotten smart. She was successful and her life was on track. The last thing she needed was her first love, her true love, messing it all up. And she was very aware that Hollywood could mess people up better than almost anything, anyplace, any business in the world.
About the Author:
Tule Publishing Group’s Southern Born imprint is publishing her new contemporary romance series set on INDIGO ISLAND: WEEKEND WITH THE TYCOON, Book 1; LINES IN THE SAND, Book 2; THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS, Book 3; and THE BILLIONAIRE’S BID, Book 4. Three more books in the series will be out in 2015.
Her nonfiction title, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, continues to inspire women internationally.
She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, @KairaRouda, and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. For more about Kaira and her books, please visit wwww.KairaRouda.com.