Three lives. Three wishes.
One chance to get it right.
Adopted at birth, attorney Sunny Adams is shocked to learn that Hollywood actress Audra Kane is her real mother. Though she longs to visit Audra in L.A., Sunny won't abandon the murder case she's working on—not even when Audra's gorgeous stepson Jonas Blake is the one who's asking.
Sunny is the most beautiful, strong-willed woman Jonas has ever met, and he's happy to stay and protect her in the small Georgia town until her dangerous case is over. Getting involved with Sunny gives him hope that he can make her part of his own life. But can love work enough magic to make three people's wishes come true?
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Janice Sims is author of more than twenty titles and feels as if she's just getting started. She has been hooked on writing since she was seven years old, more years than she'd care to admit to, and the desire to create is still burning brightly. Her characters, plots, and settings feel real because they're inspired by real people, situations, and locations. So don't be surprised if you see yourself in one of her books.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Beverly Hills, California
As she'd done every morning for years whenever she was in town, Audra Kane drove to her supermarket in Beverly Hills to pick up fresh fruit, bagels and lox.
She leisurely strolled down the aisles, feeling light and free because no one ever bothered her here. She wore jeans and sneakers and a long-sleeve denim shirt open at the collar. Her short, wavy, black hair was finger-combed, and she hadn't even taken the time to apply any makeup this morning.
Julie, the woman behind the deli counter, called out to her. "Good morning, Miss Kane. We got in some of that Russian lox you prefer. Would you like your usual half pound?"
Audra bit her bottom lip as she bent closer to the delicatessen case. Would half a pound be enough? She was expecting a guest: her stepson, Jonas. He'd phoned last night to say he was in town at his father's house. Unfortunately he and his father,Audra's ex-husband, Norman Blake, a film director, didn't get along.
Audra had clearly heard the misery in his voice last night. "Why don't you come stay with me a few days?" she'd asked him. "Momma would love to see you. You're the closest to a grandchild she's ever gotten out of me!"
They'd laughed and he'd agreed that he'd see her the next day at around lunchtime.
"You'd better make that a pound," Audra told Julie. "And I'll also take a pound of smoked turkey and smoked ham. Oh, and some Swiss cheese and sharp cheddar."
Julie, a tall blonde in her early twenties with brown eyes and a lovely smile, quickly went to work preparing Audra's order. "Sounds like you're having friends over for lunch today."
"My stepson," Audra answered easily. "All the way from South Africa. I haven't seen him in nearly a year."
"Then it's time for a family reunion," Julie said as she sliced ham. She glanced up to smile at Audra but scowled, instead, and cried, "We don't allow that in here!"
At first Audra thought she was speaking to her, then out of the corner of her eye she saw that a small crowd of people had formed behind three men with cameras.
Turning around, the flash from the cameras blinded her. "Security!" Julie yelled. "Security!"
"Audra," said a woman reporter, stepping forward. "How does it feel to have been chosen by Deana Davis to be the subject of her next scathing biography?"
Audra felt like a cornered rat on a burning ship. With the press of the crowd, the reporter and the photographers, she was nearly shoved against the deli case. This was the first she'd heard of the notorious, celebrity biographer's plans to write her life story. Up until a few days ago, she'd been on location in Morocco shooting a comedy.
Her strict southern upbringing gave her the presence of mind to politely turn to Julie and say, "Please have my order delivered." Then she regarded the reporter who had asked the question and said, "You'll have to forgive me but, as you probably know, I've only recently gotten back to the States. Deana Davis hasn't contacted me or any of my people. I haven't had time to determine how I feel about her decision to write my bio."
She flashed a million-dollar smile. "Besides, my life isn't over yet. Her book would be only half the story!"
"We love you, Miss Kane!" a woman in the crowd called out to her.
"I love you, too, darling," Audra called back.
She regarded the reporter once again. "Now, if you don't mind, I'll be going."
"Just one more question, Audra," said the reporter.
Audra held back a weary sigh. She supposed since she was constantly in the public eye reporters felt they could dispense with social niceties such as addressing someone with Miss or Mrs. out of respect.
The reporter smirked when she asked, "Is it true that Jonathan Hawkins dropped you for Marisa Freethy?"
Audra's gut clenched painfully at the mention of Jonathan, that snake. Yes, he'd broken up with her for a younger actress. But Audra made it a rule never to discuss her private life with the media. After more than twenty years in the business those in the media were well aware of this.
"Why don't you ask Jonathan," Audra sweetly suggested. She turned her back on the reporter, and the crowd parted, letting her pass. Walking swiftly through the store, she kept telling herself to slow down. To carry herself with dignity, when all she wanted to do was sprint out of there as fast as she could.
By the time Audra arrived at the Beverly Hills estate she'd been awarded in the divorce settlement, she'd calmed down considerably. It wouldn't do for her to walk into the house a mass of nerves. Her mother would immediately sense her distress.
She slowly drove the Mercedes through the gates, along the tree-shaded lane, around the back to the garage. She parked and got out. Her legs felt a little rubbery when she stood. Emotional meltdowns were not a part of her normal repertoire. Even though she was an actress and, as such, was expected to be somewhat theatrical.
Feeling better, she hurried to the back door.
Estrella Mendoza, her housekeeper and longtime friend, met her at the door.
Estrella glanced at her empty arms and asked, "Should I get the bags out of the car?"
"No, thanks, Estrella. I asked them to deliver my order," Audra said with a wan smile.
Estrella peered into her face. "What's the matter? You look sick."
Audra laughed shortly as she walked over to the refrigerator to get a bottle of water.
"I just heard that Deana Davis is writing a book about me." Estrella frowned deeply. "That's enough to make anybody sick."
She went and gently took Audra by the arm, led her to the kitchen table and made her sit down. "You sit there. I'll go get Miss Nette."
Vernette was Audra's mother's name. Estrella and the rest of the staff called her Miss Nette out of fondness and respect. Audra looked up at Estrella with a grateful smile and nodded her agreement.
She drank half the pint of water, closed it and set it on the table. She wasn't upset at the thought of her life being invaded by that barracuda, Deana Davis. She was used to reporters trying to dig up dirt on her. When it came down to it, there was nothing to be ashamed of in her past. She hadn't stabbed anyone in the back on her way up in Hollywood. She hadn't slept on any casting couches nor had affairs with married men.
Her only marriage had lasted ten years and she hadn't been the one to stray, he had.
In a lot of ways, Audra Kane was still a country girl from Georgia. She sincerely believed her fellow man was innately good. Even the ones who lived and worked in Hollywood.
As an actor, she believed in professionalism. No tantrums on the set or diva-ish behavior. She showed up on the set on time, put in an honest day's work and treated her fellow cast and the crew with respect. She was a joy to direct and to work with.
That was her reputation. She had worked long and hard to earn it.
In the course of twenty-six years in this business she'd earned two Tony Awards, several Golden Globes, People's Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and an Oscar. The Oscar had come late in her career. Long after she stopped being offered leading lady roles that depended heavily on her sex appeal.
It was funny how actresses who were willing to forgo the glamour and get down and dirty were somehow considered better actors. She'd won the Oscar playing a drug addict who turned to prostitution to support her habit, but somehow found the strength to pull herself out of the gutter for the benefit of her child. She'd looked like a crack hag throughout her performance. The critics and average moviegoers alike had loved it.
An Oscar at forty-five. Finally. After that it almost appeared as if she'd never get another meaty role. She thought she'd been earmarked for the Oscar Syndrome in which actors who'd won the award suddenly found themselves in utter obscurity.
However, that wasn't to be. She turned her attention to television and landed a juicy role on one of the most critically acclaimed series on HBO, The Cul-de-Sac.
The series was about close-knit neighbors on a dead-end street in Baltimore. They were connected by lust, murder and various other passions. She portrayed the wife of a serial cheater, who ended up leaving him and making a life for herself. Women wrote in by the thousands saying they identified with her character and applauded her bravery.
That job had ended last year. Lately, she was keeping quite busy working in the movies again, and her schedule was full well into 2010.
As she sat there at the kitchen table, she wondered how she'd gotten on Deana Davis's radar. Davis usually targeted celebrities who were notorious as well as famous.
Actors with drug problems or multiple sexual affairs. Billionaires with proclivities for young flesh and debauchery. Davis had been sued numerous times, to no avail. If you were in the public domain you were considered fair game. Anyone could write about you and get rich for their efforts.
Estrella returned to the kitchen with Vernette on her heels, still in her bathrobe.
Vernette went straight to Audra, pulled up a chair and sat down. Her silver hair was wrapped around pink sponge rollers that she wore to bed every night. No matter how hard Audra tried to get her mother to give up the rollers and allow a hair-dresser to do her hair each week, it didn't faze Vernette. "Child, please, you might have money now, but if you start wasting it on foolishness like that, you'll be broke before you know it!"
Audra rose and started removing the rollers. "Momma, you know Jonas is expected any minute. You can't flirt outrageously with him looking like Big Bird." The fluffy yellow bathrobe and fuzzy slippers did make Vernette resemble the famous Sesame Street character. Her mother loved Sesame Street, saying that anybody who's anyone had guest-starred on the show. Audra had appeared on it a couple times herself.
Knowing her daughter liked to stay busy and removing her rollers was just a way to help calm her nerves, Vernette didn't protest. She closed her eyes and went with the flow. "Okay, honey, let it out—the real reason you're upset about that Davis dame's plans to snoop in your life."
Audra sighed. "You're the only person I ever t...
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Book Description Harlequin Kimani, 2008. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110373830114
Book Description Harlequin Kimani. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0373830114 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1049085