Friday, August 20, 2010

The Perfect Shot

My latest book, The Perfect Shot (Hollywood Headlines), is officially out in ebook format on Tuesday!
Because of some recent restructuring at my publisher, the print format won’t yet be available until May 2011, but you can download the ebook now. If you’re like me, and don’t yet own an ebook reader, you can still purchase the ebook and read it on your computer.

So, in honor of my first digital only release, here’s an excerpt of THE PERFECT SHOT:

* * *

“Come on, baby, just an inch to the left…” I shifted, feeling my feet go numb.

“That’s it,” I coaxed. “Right there, that’s the spot… yes!”

My finger hit the shutter, and I popped off five shots in rapid succession before my subject ducked back behind the curtain of magnolia trees shading his property. I lifted myself up onto my elbows, checking the digital window to see my handiwork. Hot. I’d caught Trace Brody shirtless, a beer in hand. I was too far away, even with my telephoto lens, to make out the label on the bottle, but I knew he always drank beer when the temp rose above 90. He was too manly for those fruity wines, not pretentious enough to drink the trendy martinis his other Malibu neighbors enjoyed.

I’d been watching Trace for weeks now, ever since his publicist had finally confirmed rumors that the hot young actor was engaged to American’s sweetheart, Jamie Lee Lancaster. Think Angelina and Brad… without the tattoos and horde of kids. You’d be close. Then imagine if they suddenly announced they were going to have a blowout wedding on a cliff above the Malibu coastline. The press about peed their collective pants. My boss, Felix Dunn, editor in chief of the L.A. Informer, included. He’d pulled me from Britney watch and immediately put me to work documenting Trace’s every move between now and the big day.

Not that I minded. I’m much rather spend my days laid out on the hillside above Trace’s multi-million dollar spread in Richie-Rich-ville than chasing Britt on her latest Starbucks run. At least here I got the shirtless view.

I stretched out again on the grass, ignoring the way it tickled the exposed skin at my midriff between my too-low jeans and my too-high T-shirt. (The curse of being a nearly six-foot-tall woman - nothing was ever long enough). I wiped a bead of sweat from my upper lip and put the lens to my eye again, slowly sweeping the tree line for another glimpse of my subject.

“Come on, Trace. Play nice.”

Miraculously, he walked right into my line of vision. I could swear sometimes he actually heard me.

“That’s my boy. Now turn this way, give me a smile, honey.”

I watched him set his beer down on a table. He reached both arms up to the sky, stretching, letting out a catlike yawn.

“Tired? Being a movie star must be such tough work, huh?” I clicked off a couple shots.

Trace moved his head side-to-side, working out the kinks in his neck. I lost him for a moment as he crossed the patio toward his Olympic-sized swimming pool, complete with faux rock waterfall and hot tub painted to look like a bubbling lagoon. But my lens caught up with him again as he approached the diving board.

“Fancy a little swim?” I asked the deserted hillside.

As if in answer, Trace dipped a toe into the water. Apparently satisfied with the temperature, he shrugged and walked out onto the diving board.

I hit the shutter, taking three quick shots. He bounced a little, staring down into the crystal clear blue water. But he didn’t jump. Instead his hands strayed to the waistband of his trunks and, in one swift movement, they fell round his ankles.

I froze. My eyes glued to the lens, a small bead of sweat trickling down between my breasts. I think I might have even forgotten to breath. The only part of me that seemed to still be working was my trigger finger, clicking off shots like mad. Felix would have a heart attack when he saw these.

Then give me a raise.

Trace kicked his shorts away, then walked his gloriously naked self out to the edge of the diving board.

“Good God, you’re beautiful,” I whispered. Not that I expected anything less. He was, after all, a movie star. But this was one man who needed no airbrushing. How he managed to avoid that white-butt-tanned-torso thing, I had no idea. Lord knows I would have known by now if he were a nude sunbather. But he was a smooth, warm, honey color from his perfectly hardened six-pack abs to his perfectly hardened… other parts.

“Jaime Lee must be one happy women, huh, Trace?”

He ignored me. Of course. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was weird to talk to him out loud. Almost worse than talking to myself. But I couldn’t help it. He had no idea I existed, but he’d been my constant companion for the past six weeks. At a safe distance, of course. If I ever actually came face to face with the movie star, I’d probably wet my pants. With a telephoto lens and a football field between us, I was cool as a cucumber at a day spa. In person? Well, let’s just say I’ve never been one of those people-persons. I liked people fine, but my gift has never been an ability to carry on clever conversations with the opposite sex while looking suave and sophisticated. My conversations with guys usually included lots of blushing and really smart comments that came to me only after the cute guy had moved on to the sophisticated brunette at the next table.

So, some people talked to their plants, I talked to movie stars who didn’t know I existed.

Naked ones, currently.

I watched as he reached above his head, bounced once on the diving board, then cut cleanly into the pristine, blue water with hardly a splash.

Sweat slid down my spine, and I could almost feel the sweet, cool water washing over my own skin. I shivered, goose bumps breaking out on my arms as I popped off a few more shots of Trace resurfacing.

“Baby, that was amazing,” I told him, suddenly feeling like I needed a cigarette.
I watched as he pulled himself from the water, shimmering droplets clinging to his gym-sculpted body, and wrapped a towel around his waist before picking up his beer again and heading inside.

I sat up and peeled the lens from my eye. The distance between my secluded hillside and his fancy pool was immediately apparent, and I let out a long breath as his French doors shut behind him.

I’m not sure how long I watched his closed doors, reliving my glimpse of Trace au-natural, before my phone rang from my pocket. Shifting in the grass, I slipped it out.

“Cameron Dakota,” I answered.

“Cam,” came my boss’s voice. “Where are you?”

“Malibu. Why?”

“We got a tip that Jamie Lee’s trying on wedding dresses in Beverly Hills,” he said, his British accent giving his words a lilting rhythm. “How fast can you get there?”

I bit the inside of my cheek. “If I get caught speeding, will the paper cover the ticket?”

I could hear Felix’s wallet squeaking in the silence in the other end. Finally he relented. “Yes.”

“Give me twenty minutes.”

Felix rattled off the address of the boutique where Jamie Lee had been spotted. Then he added, “If she settles on a dress today, I want to be the first to run with a photo, got it?”

“Aye, aye, chief.”

“And Cam?”


“You get any good pics of Trace today?”

I pulled up my view screen again, checking out the series of nude shots that even a tabloid like the Informer would have to censor parts of. I couldn’t help a grin.
“Did I ever.”

What can I say? Being the paparazzi’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.


~Trigger (and ebook!) Happy Halliday


krisgils33 said...

love the excerpt!! the book sounds great, can't wait to read it!!

Tori Lennox said...

I just added the ebook to my shopping list! :)

Cari said...

I'm so bummed... I get your books from the library, since I'm a librarian. I've recommended your books to so many people. I know this isn't your fault, it's just no fun for your fans! There's no way I can get the e-books for my library, at least as far as I can tell. Maybe I can e-mail someone at our e-book provider to see if they will pick them up. In the meantime, I'll recommend the book as a purchase to my customers who have e-readers.

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks, ladies!

Cari - I know, I'm bummed about not having a paper book, too. But hopefully reader will be able to hold out until May for the paper edition. I know I can't wait to get my hands on it...


Shari said...

Stop teasing us with killer fiction!! LOL