About the Author
Alice Clayton worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read: laptop). She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her. And she finally got her Bernese Mountain Dog.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Redhead Revealed one
I pulled my orange scarf a little more snugly around my neck and knotted it again so it tucked right under my chin. The air was cool this morning, and the first leaves of autumn fell around me, blown about by a blustery breeze. Sheltered from most of the wind, I took the opportunity to gaze at the scene before me.
Brownstones. Concrete. Yellow cabs. A deli advertising both pastrami and falafel.
I sipped my coffee and marveled at my life, where it had taken me. I loved New York.
The last few weeks had been amazing—and difficult. It was now late September and fall was officially on its way. The air was growing crisp, the early birds had pumpkins on stoops, and I was having the time of my life. I was insanely happy.
Except, I was really missing my Brit.
Let’s go back a bit.
When I first got to New York, I immediately went into rehearsals for a show in a small West Side studio space. After meeting the cast, I realized just how unique and special this show was and how grateful I was to be a part of it. The music was magical, and the character Michael had created in Mabel (enter me, Grace Sheridan!) was exhilarating to explore. She was in her thirties, a former beauty queen, and having an early midlife crisis as she struggled to define herself after a failed marriage. The show was witty, irreverent, and brilliant. We’d been workshopping for only a few weeks, but the investors and producers were already discussing the possibility of mounting a full production.
I was maybe about to be in my very first off-Broadway show! This was an ensemble piece, with a cast of fewer than ten, and we had grown exceedingly close. When a brand-new show is put together, everyone inhabits characters who have never been given life before. This lends itself to a lot of introspection and analysis.
Learning, working, growing . . . I was eating this shit up.
I spent my days in rehearsal and my nights exploring the streets of Manhattan. I was utterly enchanted with this city. Having spent time here on business throughout the years, I thought I knew it fairly well. No, ma’am. That’s nothing like when you can call New York your home. And though I didn’t know how long I’d be here, I was determined to get the most out of my time.
As soon as I arrived, I’d begun using my daily runs as self-guided tours. I ran through the Village (East and West), NoHo, SoHo, the Bowery, and made myself quite at home in Central Park. I felt freshly and more deeply acquainted with my new town, and I was keeping my butt in top form for the show.
I went to museums, shops, and parks, and I saw a show at least twice a week. I still had the same feelings when I went to see live theater that I had when my friends back home took me to see Rent all those months ago: I was emotional to the point of tears, my heart raced, and my palms got sweaty. But this time, when I saw the actors onstage and heard the music and applause, I was filled with pride. I’d made it back into the community I had never—in my true heart of hearts—really left.
Also, Michael O’Connell (the show’s writer and creator and the friend who’d broken my heart in college) and I were spending a lot of time together. After not speaking for so many years—the result of an ill-timed one-night stand and the subsequent I-can’t-be-friends-with-someone-I-slept-with game he played wholeheartedly—we were slowly but surely beginning to know each other again. He was still delightfully funny, and he made my transition to New York a seamless one.
When the rest of the cast found out we’d gone to college together, they were fascinated. We all spent evenings at least once or twice a week having cocktails at different bars around the theater district and telling stories about our wilder days. Michael and I never acknowledged our night together. Speaking about it in a group setting was obviously unthinkable, but we never spoke of it privately either—we just didn’t go there. I simply relished having my good friend back, and he was one hell of a tour guide.
In addition to my self-guided tours, I had his suggestions, and I was experiencing the city as an insider. It was enthralling. Spending time with Michael made it easier to deal with being away from home, and he definitely helped me focus on the show and my part in it.
And Jack Hamilton, my much-missed Brit? Well, this was a bit of a pickle . . .
We spoke on the phone at least once a day, usually more. We sent buckets of texts back and forth, usually laced with enough smut to make us blush if we read them in the company of others.
He tried several times to come for a visit, but between MTV appearances, countless interviews, and meetings for the upcoming movie he was starring in, we just couldn’t get it worked out. I tried to get back to L.A. a few times as well, but my rehearsal schedule was so intense, there was no way for me to leave. We both understood the demands our careers were making, but that didn’t make it any easier.
Long-distance relationships typically work best (if at all) when the couple has been together a lot longer than we had. We went from a brief intense period of cuddle and sex and love to zero face-to-face contact—and it was proving more difficult than we’d thought it would be.
But we kept things spicy as best we could. The phone sex, the online sex, the pictures sent on the iPhone: hot. If anyone ever stole my phone . . . oh man. His fans would implode.
Nighttime was the hardest. I really missed having my Sweet Nuts in bed next to me, warming my skin with his sweet breath as he kissed on me, his hands around my breasts as we snuggled in for sleep. I missed that the most, and I was having trouble sleeping, even though I was usually exhausted after a day of rehearsal.
I had made some new friends, and I bonded instantly with Leslie, who played my nemesis in the show. Her character was everything I used to be: young, pretty, young, talented, young, and a bitch. Leslie was also hilarious in real life, and when we realized we were both entertainment-gossip junkies, we had something else to bond over. It killed me to not tell her who Jack was, but I knew it was best that he and I keep our relationship under wraps. As far as the cast knew, I was seeing an actor who lived in L.A. Only Michael knew the exact truth. And he was strangely silent about the whole thing.
But something was up with my Brit.
He was going out—a lot. Which was fine, because frankly, at twenty-four, that’s what you do. He was playing a few open-mike nights, and I was sick over not getting to hear him. I really missed listening to him play, especially the action soundtrack he’d compose each morning as I got ready. With the three-hour time difference, I usually talked to him at night, before I went to bed and before he went out. I was also in occasional contact with Rebecca, his costar in the soon-to-be-released movie Time, which was guaranteed to make them both household names. We texted from time to time, and she informed me that while she remained on full Skank Patrol, the masses were definitely starting to covet the Hamilton with a frenzy.
Jack starred as Joshua, a time-traveling scientist whose cinematic escapades were based on a series of wildly popular erotic short stories. The stories’ fans had begun to transfer their affections to Jack, and they were getting quite . . . hmm . . . excitable. Women were really into him, which I totally got. The fact that he shared my bed made my understanding that much more complete.
Heh-heh, you sleep with him.
Yes, yes, I do.
He was always dealing with fans, and from what he told me, they were generally polite and kind but the constant scrutiny was beginning to get to him. One night he called late, really late. Or I should say really early. It was after 4:00 a.m. East Coast time.
“Hello?” I mumbled.
“Hello, yourself,” he whispered thickly.
I rolled over to look at the clock. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?” I asked, sitting up in bed.
“Nothing’s wrong. Does something need to be wrong to call my girlfriend in the middle of the night?” he asked, his voice a little rough.
“No, of course not, but it’s crazy early here, Jack. Are you sure nothing’s wrong?” I pressed as I lay back down.
“Wrong, no. Weird, yes, definitely,” he said, his voice still sounding strange.
“What happened, love?” I asked, pushing back a yawn.
“Some girl grabbed my ass tonight! And then another girl— Oh hell, Grace. Are you sure you want to hear this?”
“Hmmm, I don’t know, do I? Tell me—you didn’t grab her ass back, did you?” I laughed, letting him know I was okay and he could share without judgment.
“I was walking out to the car after leaving this club, and there were cameras, of course,” he muttered.
This was a fairly new development. Paparazzi were taking more and more pictures of him, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to see him on E! or TMZ at least once a week. It was weird seeing your guy on Entertainment Tonight, but that’s how we rolled.
“Okay, so there were cameras. Did you keep your ball cap pulled down low?” I asked, trying to get him to laugh. It was standard for him to wear the ball cap every freaking day now, and if the cameras caught him in it, I teased him mercilessly.
“Ha-ha. I did have it on, yes. Anyway, I was walking out to the car, and this girl came out of nowhere and tried to . . . well . . . she tried to . . .”
“Did she kiss you?” I asked.
“She tried to, yes. But she didn’t. Grace, I swear I did not kiss her,” he said firmly.
“Hey, it’s cool, George.” (His private nickname.) “I know how aggressive fans can get. You should have seen me the first time I saw New Kids on the Block, when I was in high school. My friends and I followed their bus halfway across town before we realized we were actually following a group of senior citizens on their way to Branson.” I laughed. We were so sad when we pulled in behind them at the Flying J truck stop and saw the shuffleboard set disembark.
“You followed a tour bus? Why are girls like that?” he asked, laughing along with me. I could feel him calming down. Jack didn’t like crowds, as a rule, and when he had a lot of people looking at him, it made him extremely self-conscious. Tonight he just seemed to need to hear my voice, and I loved that I could soothe him.
“I would explain it if I could,” I said. “All I know is when Holly and I saw them perform earlier this year, we screamed like we were fourteen again. I felt exactly like I did when I saw them the first time, like no time had passed. I think that’s why you’re cornering both the teen and the cougar market, too.” I giggled. “You remind us of when we were young enough that squealing was expected.”
“Hmm, and the press has called you a cougar, Grace. Are you just using me for sex?” he teased, his voice silky.
“I’m not quite a cougar yet, but I’m for sure just using you for the sex,” I teased back.
“I knew it,” he said, laughing.
We were quiet for a moment, and then he sighed.
“What is it?” I asked, sliding deeper into the covers.
“I just miss you. I miss being in your bed,” he said quietly, and I could hear the desperation in his voice. I felt it too. It wasn’t just the physical lovemaking but the simple touches we took for granted when we saw each other all the time. I missed him washing my hair almost as much as the intense orgasms he’d given me daily.
“I do too, love. I miss the way you hold me—especially where your hands always end up.” I giggled.
“You mean on your beautiful boobies?” he whispered. He teased, but I could hear his need building. It mimicked my own, which he could always bring quickly to the surface.
“Mmm, yes, please. I love how you know exactly how to touch me.” I moaned a little into the phone, my other hand beginning to travel restlessly under the sheets.
“Oh, you do, do you?” he asked, his accent getting deeper and thicker.
“Oh, God, yes. You have the most perfect hands. I love your fingers especially. They’re so strong,” I whispered, propping the phone on my shoulder.
“Where do you like me to touch you, Grace?” His breath was coming faster now. I could imagine where his own hands were.
“I love when you peel my clothes off slowly and then graze my nipples with your fingertips. Mmm,” I moaned, and I heard him moan in response. “And then when you touch me with your tongue, moving from one breast to the other—oh, God, that always feels amazing,” I said, my own breath coming faster now. My hands dipped beneath my panties to feel how wet I already was, just imagining his hands all over me.
“Grace, where’s your hand now?” he asked, his sexy accent now off the charts.
“Where do you want it to be, love?” I asked wickedly.
“Mmm, if I were there, I’d be running my fingers through your hot, wet . . .” And he moaned the word that made me ache. He made the word absolutely drip from his tongue.
“That’s exactly where my hand is, and as I’m touching myself, I’m imagining all the naughty, nasty things you do to make me scream,” I purred.
“God, Grace, you get me so hard,” he whispered, and I could hear him beginning to lose control. The thought of his elegant, strong hands gripping himself while talking dirty to me was almost too much to bear.
“I love making you hard. I love to see you get hard for me—just for me, Jack.” I moaned, my fingers beginning to rub my sex furiously, imagining his face buried between my legs.
“Nothing gets me harder than seeing you come, love—making you come with my lips and my tongue. Nothing tastes as good as my sweet girl.”
“Oh, God, Jack, you’re getting me so wet. If you were here—oh, God, you fuck me so good,” I panted, thrashing about on the bed as my orgasm began to build, strong and full.
“Grace, I think about you all day sometimes—the taste of you and the way you look when you lose all control. Oh, God, Grace, you’re so beautiful when you come . . .” He moaned, barely able to speak, and I could tell he was getting close himself.
Sweet Jesus, he’s good at this . . .
I needed to finish us both off.
“Mmm, I love when you come inside me, when I can hear you and feel you inside me . . . when . . . you are . . . deep . . . inside me . . . Oh, God . . . Jack . . . it’s so good!” I lost it, my fingers finally pushing deep inside me, and I imagined it was him driving into me, filling me.
He groaned, staying with me as I screamed his name, my fingers and his voice bringing me to the release I needed. I could hear his breath get heavier, and then he came too. I could see him in my mind’s eye: his eyes shut tight, his brow furrowed, his jaw clenched.
God, I missed him.
I trembled as I pushed the covers down. I was so worked up and hot, covered in sweat.
“Fuck, Grace, you’re amazing,” he ...
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