HIS LEADING LADY
by Maggie Dallen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 7/11/2017
Nothing less than a Hollywood romance would do . . .
Alice is calm, cool, and aloof—except for the night she meets her new neighbor Dr. Nicholas Bale—aka Hot Doc. The chemistry between them might be through the roof but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let him into her life. Having been seen at her most vulnerable, she vows to have nothing to do with the sexy doctor. After all, Alice learned long ago that love only leads to hurt.
Nicholas is smitten at first sight with the gorgeous, mysterious redhead upstairs. But between her attempts to push him away and the even bigger wall around her heart, the dashing doctor is having a hard time getting close to the sensitive beauty. Then he glimpses the emotion in her eyes as she watches Fred and Ginger whirl across the screen and he’s determined to uncover just what it will take to dance his way in to her heart . . .
Alice was once again faced with the daily showdown—between two pairs of shoes. She sank back in her office chair and contemplated the contents of her bottom drawer. One high-heeled and strappy—perfect for a night out on the town—the other her cozy, well-worn flats, which practically begged her to slip them on and walk home.
Her big meeting with the boss was over, everyone else in the midtown public relations office of Jamison & Co. had left for the day, and she should be out celebrating. But those flats looked so much more appealing.
Her phone chimed with a new text. Ugh, Bradley.
“Hey, babe, we on for tonight?”
No, Bradley. Just no. No for so many reasons. “Babe”? Really? Who does he think he was, an action star from the eighties? But mainly because she and Bradley went on date number three two nights ago and, while he may not know it yet, he’d maxed out. She had a strict three-date policy, and she certainly wasn’t going to be bending any rules for Bradley “Hey, babe” Newton.
She picked up the phone and texted back. “Sorry, made other plans.”
And like that it was decided. The comfy shoes won. Shoving the sexy heels back into their drawer, she slipped on the flats and headed home.
The walk from her office to her Upper West Side apartment was more than a mile, but it gave her a chance to decompress after a long, albeit successful, day. She stopped off at the corner store to pick up a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream before heading to her high-rise apartment building on Riverside. The doorman, Carl, gave her a nod of greeting.
The doorman and the view—that was what had sold her on her current studio apartment. Luxury studio, her realtor had liked to stress. And it was luxurious, but only because of the doorman and the epic, sweeping view of the Hudson and the Jersey skyline. Other than that it was just your basic studio.
She took the elevator up to her floor, let herself in to her luxury studio, and swapped out her form-fitting skirt suit for some oversized flannel pajamas and a pair of fuzzy slippers. After throwing her long red hair up into a haphazard topknot, she grabbed the ice cream off the counter, and took the stairs down three flights.
Ena answered on the second knock, her white frizzy hair a halo around her wrinkled, smiling face. “Alice!” she cried, as if Alice’s presence on her doorstep was a great surprise and not a frequent event.
Alice thrust the ice cream at her old neighbor. “I come bearing gifts.”
Ena chuckled as she took the ice cream and held the door open for Alice to enter. “What’s the special occasion?” Her eyes widened with excitement. “Did you get the promotion?”
“No.” She walked into the woman’s one-bedroom apartment, which miraculously always seemed to smell like something was baking. “Not yet,” she added quickly. It was just a matter of time. Alice did not take no for an answer, not when she really wanted something. And this promotion—she deserved it. None of the other junior associates worked as hard as she did. The senior associate job was hers. She just needed her boss to make it official.
Alice headed straight toward Ena’s DVD collection, which lined a bookshelf that covered most of one wall in her friend’s living room.
“So what’s this big news?” Ena called out from the kitchen.
Alice studied the lineup of old movies, skimming over the westerns and the film noirs. Tonight was a celebration, which called for—aha! She reached out and snatched Swing Time from where it was wedged between Easter Parade and The Maltese Falcon.
Ena came out of the kitchen, two bowls of ice cream in hand and handed one to Alice. “The news?” she prompted as they both took their usual seats on their respective love seats.
Alice grinned at her friend. “I got my boss to agree to my pro bono plan.” Ena tipped her head down and looked up at her with raised brows. “Oh, okay, our pro bono plan.”
Her friend smiled at that and leaned back against the couch, digging in to her ice cream. “So the big boss will let you take on The Ellen for free, huh? What kind of PR campaign do you have in mind?”
The Ellen was the old movie theater downtown that had fallen into disrepair. Alice, her sister, Meg, and her husband, Jake, along with some other friends, were part of the volunteer crew who went to the theater every other Saturday morning to do whatever fix-up work they could. Since none of them were in the construction field, that typically meant cleaning, painting, and other non-substantial handyman work that needed to be done.
Maggie Dallen is a huge fan of happily-ever-afters. She writes contemporary and YA romance and has been known to rewrite the endings to classic love stories to ensure that they end on a happy note. In Maggie's version, Ingrid Bergman does not get on the plane. She lives in Northern California and works at a yarn store to support her knitting addiction.
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