Thursday, 11 December 2008

Kissed by a Rose - Sneak Peek

"Kissed by a Rose" is scheduled for release by Phaze in June 2009. Here's a sneak peek.
Blurb

Who'd have thought tears in the library could change your life? For Adam Smith they led to love. But when your girlfriend is the latest English Rose to grace the silver screen, life's not going to be easy. Hounded by the press, autograph hunters at every turn, she's his power, his pleasure and his pain. An addiction he can't deny. The more he gets, the stranger he feels. But a student and a superstar just don't mix. Do they? They're from two different worlds. Aren't they? And remember what the song says: Every Rose has its Thorn.

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From Chapter 5... (please remember, this is pre-edit text - a special sneak peek)

He found his booth, unoccupied as always, and spread his lecture notes out across the desk. He picked out what he'd written about Nineteen Eighty-Four and began reading. He was halfway through when heard something. He stopped and listened. It was coming from the other side of the bookshelf behind him. He lifted his head and listened harder but the noise had stopped. He thought it had sounded like someone sobbing, but he must have been mistaken. He returned to his notes. He'd read just a few sentences more when he heard it again. He listened. There was no doubt this time. Someone was in the next booth, and they were crying.

He put his notes down and went to see who it was. He stared in disbelief—Chloe Goodman sat at the desk with her head in her hands. He considered his next move. Should he say something or return to his work? After all, he'd been attending lectures and seminars with her for nearly three weeks and they'd yet to exchange two words. On the other hand, they were due to have a tutorial together the next day. He coughed. "Erm… Are you okay?"

Chloe looked up. "Do I look okay?"

In Adam's opinion she looked better than okay, even in her current state. But he thought better of telling her that. "Not really. I was working in the next booth and I heard you crying."

She huffed. "You heard the big film star sobbing so you thought you come and get the gossip? Why don't you take a photo on your phone? The magazines will pay more for the story if you have a good picture to go with it."

"Actually, I didn't know who it was. I just came to see if there was anything I could do to help. Clearly there isn't. I'll leave you to it."

Adam returned to his desk and picked up his notes again. What a bitch, he thought. I was only being polite. I guess it must be right what people say about her. He resumed reading, but found it difficult to concentrate. He was about to give it up as a bad job and pack away when he heard a delicate cough from the entrance to the booth.

"I... I'm sorry," said Chloe. She looked at the floor. Her big brown eyes were puffy and wet—her face red. Was this really the same girl who'd won Fame magazine's sexiest actress award last year? The same girl for who's eighteenth birthday Ladz magazine had celebrated because she was no longer 'Jail Fodder'. Adam remembered that headline—It's Okay to fantasise about her now. She's Legal!

She flicked her eyes up to meet his and Adam's heart nearly stopped. "I didn't mean to be so rude. It's just that I'm not used to people being nice to me for no reason."

Adam gulped. "Don't worry about it. Apology accepted."

"Good. I don't want you to think bad of me." The hum of air conditioning units filled the silence. Adam couldn't decide how to respond. Chloe shuffled her feet before saying, "Well... I, erm... I should leave you to get on with whatever you're doing. Bye."

She turned to leave. She'd only taken two steps when Adam called after her. "Miss Goodman. Wait."

She stopped and faced him. "Chloe. My name is Chloe. The only people who call me Miss Goodman are normally trying to sell me something I don't really want."

"Right. Sorry. Erm, Chloe, why don't you sit down for a bit? I'm a good listener. Or so I've been told."

"Thanks, but I don't want to trouble you with my problems. You'll only think I'm being silly. I mean, what's a big film star got to get upset about? Right?"

"I don't know. What has a big film star got to get upset about?"

"But I hardly know you."

He stood and held out his hand. "Adam Smith."

She smiled weakly and shook his hand. "Chloe Goodman. Although I guess you knew that." He nodded. "Your name sounds familiar," she said as she sat down.

"It should. We're in the same tutorial group."

"Yes! I knew I'd seen you somewhere before. You sit with that pretty dark-haired girl in lectures, don't you?"

He nodded. "That's Kim. She's in our tutorial too."

"Yeah, that's right. I remember now. Well, it's nice to finally meet you. I'd have introduced myself before now, but I thought you'd think I was being too forward."

Adam smiled. "The exact opposite in fact. We figured you didn't want to associate with the commoners."

Chloe's eyes glazed over and glistened. She looked as if she would burst into tears again. She wiped the corner of her eye and struggled to say, "I'm sorry."

"Jesus. What did I say?"

She shook her head. "Nothing really. It's just that… well… that's what I was upset about."

"What was?"

She breathed deeply to regain some semblance of control. She shook her head as she said, "I'm so lonely here."

"Lonely?"

"I know it sounds crazy. I'm the big star, right? I should have tons of friends—and to be honest, there are always people hanging around, but you couldn't call them friends, exactly. Not real friends. They're all superficial idiots who think that being seen with me makes them look good. I haven't met anyone I can really talk to. Do you know what I mean? Talk about important stuff. Stuff that matters. It seems that everyone already has this perception of me. Either they expect me to be a diva, or they think that I'll think I'm better than them. Like you did. Am I making any sense?"

Adam nodded. "I sort of know what you mean. The first night we were here, I was in the Union with my flatmates and we saw the crowd around you. We all made assumptions. Which is stupid really because none of us know you."

"Yeah, but I bet you think you do. You see me in films and on the TV, you read the interviews and gossip in the magazines and you build up a picture."

"Yeah," said Adam, "I suppose we do. It's not fair, it's not right, but it's what people do."

Chloe sniffed and wiped her eye again. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be burdening you with my problems. I mean, it's not as if anyone's died is it? I'm just a spoilt little actress having trouble adjusting to the real world. At least, that's what is said in Fame last week." She chuckled, but it sounded false and forced. "I suppose they're right. D'you know, I've lived almost my whole life in this strange celebrity bubble. And it's only now that I'm starting to see it. For more than ten years I've had people running around looking after me, catering to me, making sure I was sheltered and protected. I've been all around the world, been to more countries than I can remember, but I've seen nothing. Experienced nothing."

Adam stared at her. He couldn't quite believe it. He was sitting in the university library, next to one of the world's leading young actresses, and she was pouring her heart out to him. He thought about her media image—strong, confident, powerful, beautiful—and studied her as she looked at the papers scattered on the desk. She was beautiful, that was undeniable—even without the make-up artist's magic touch. But she was also vulnerable. Vulnerable and alone. A scared little girl, lost in a world she didn't understand.

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