Welcome, Morticia Knight!
Thanks for having me here today and letting me share this final installment in the Gin & Jazz series. I have an exclusive excerpt to share with you as well. The books all take place during the Roaring Twenties and feature the exploits of several men who trudge their way through the pitfalls and decadence of Hollywood. This one can be read as a standalone as it tells the complete love story of two men from the series who haven’t been able to find their HEA yet. Poor guys…
Former screen idol, Roman Pasquale, struggles to survive in Hollywood as the silent film era comes to a close. But a fresh new playwright is in town and he wants Roman to be more than just his star.
The past few years haven’t been kind to fading film star, Roman Pasquale. But then again, he was never very kind to anyone else either. He’s had time to reminisce on his mistakes and to accept responsibility for how he hurt others. Now that Global Studios has turned its back on him, he’s had to sell his grand estate and start over in a modest apartment.
His former co-star, actress Maude Simons, suggests that he meet with new playwright, Max Vogel. Not only will he get the chance to be the star again, Roman can really use the money. What he doesn’t expect is how strongly he’s attracted to the easygoing, confident young man—and the very wicked thoughts he has about him.
Playwright and director, Max Vogel, is delighted that the great Roman Pasquale has agreed to star in his play. What he is unprepared for however, is the intense physical spark that ignites the moment they meet. He’s been warned of Roman’s reputation for being difficult to work with, but he’s willing to take the risk—even though his career depends on the success of this one play.
Max needs to coax a heartfelt performance out of Roman, and Roman needs to live up to his resolve to be a better man. But maybe the real issue is whether or not the director and actor can resist the passion they have for one another, a lust so strong that it catches them unaware. Is their lust really love? Or will the drive for success destroy any hope for a happily-ever-after?
Exclusive Excerpt from Play Acting (Gin & Jazz 7)
“Excuse me, Roman. Um, I was wondering…”
He lifted his eyes to meet Max’s. Roman occupied one of the theater chairs and Max indicated to one of the seats next to him.
“Of course, my dear Max. It’s not necessary for you to ask.”
A tentative smile pulled at the corners of Max’s lips and Roman could sense his director’s nervousness.
“Thank you.” Max lowered himself gingerly. “So, how are you feeling about the way things are proceeding so far? I realize we’ve barely delved into anything other than discussing my methodology, logistics of rehearsals and such, but are there any questions or concerns I can help you with?”
No director had ever spoken to him in such a way, with so much sincerity and thoughtfulness. It filled him with warmth.
“You’ve been very kind to me Max, helping to ease my way into these uncertain waters. I’m very taken by your story, the character of Alistair.” Roman paused, already scared of how revealing he would have to be to properly portray his part. “I know it will be a challenge, but I will do my very best.”
“I know you will, Roman.” Max fidgeted in the seat, his hands clasped together tightly. “Would you perhaps, unless of course you have other plans…” He chuckled, dropping his gaze before raising it again. “Never mind, I’ll see you at one o’clock.”
Right as Max placed his hands on the arm rests to push himself up, Roman blurted out without thinking.
“Would you care to join me for lunch?”
Max eased back into the chair, a bit of a stunned expression on his face. He appeared to be struggling with a response. “Really?” He flushed. “I mean, yes, that would be wonderful. Where did you have in mind?”
“This can be yet another way in which you can guide me, my dear Max. I’m afraid that I am unfamiliar with this area. Where would you suggest?”
“The only more elegant place I’ve ever gone to is Taix. Truthfully, I’m more of a diner sort of fellow, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be seen with me in such a place.”
A wave of shame passed over Roman. He saw himself once again through the harsh filter of his previous demand for excess. It was likely that by shielding himself from what he’d considered the common folk he had missed out on many opportunities to have someone as delightful as Max in his life.
“I would be seen with you anywhere, Max.”
It had come out in perhaps too tender of a manner, but it was the truth. And that was all he’d heard all morning from Max—that they had to be true to themselves as both performers and human beings.
There was a clear blush upon Max’s cheeks and a tinge of wonder in his eyes. Roman found himself filled with the urge to pull Max into his arms, to kiss him unreservedly, to revel in the utter bliss he was certain would be his reward.
“Oh, um, in that case, may I suggest the Pig ‘N Whistle?”
Roman arched his eyebrows in amusement. The typically sarcastic retort he could have crafted in the face of such an oddly named eatery didn’t appear. He was loath to say anything that might hurt Max’s feelings.
“Is that where you would like to go?”
Max shrugged, laughing easily, the original confidence Roman had encountered when they’d met returning to his demeanor.
“It’s actually quite good. It’s not too far away, it’s over by the Egyptian movie house.”
There was a moment where Roman felt a bit of nausea, but he pushed it aside. He lived and worked in Hollywood. Almost everything would remind him of past glories in one way or the next. Just because he would never attend another film premiere as the adored star of a top motion picture, didn’t mean he couldn’t have lunch at a diner next door. Especially as the company he would be sharing was worth any sacrifice he might have to make. The suddenness of the stray thought affected him on a deeper level, but he didn’t have time to contemplate it right then. Max was waiting for an answer.
“Well then, I think we should go there. I did promise to trust you, did I not?”
Max treated him to a lovely smile. The idea that Roman could restrain himself from doing everything within his power to get closer to the wonderful director seemed ridiculously impossible. However, his desire to protect Max from him was just as strong.
He already knew from his experience working with André that there would be a lot of intense soul-searching involved in using The Method. Reading the subject matter of Max’s play had reinforced that perception. Perhaps he could use the well of conflicting emotions that roiled within him to distract himself from giving into the feelings he had for Max. The glorious, magical ones that he’d thought were lost to him forever.
To Roman, Max was precious and talented beyond words and didn’t need a fading, temperamental film star to interfere in his life. What the young man deserved was Roman’s respect and whatever talent that Max believed he could squeeze out of him. Roman could admire him from afar, fantasize in private—even flirt a little. But he couldn’t allow Max to be harmed in any way by Roman’s unpredictability. At least not until he was certain he had really changed and wouldn’t hurt his sweet Max. And after the play was over.
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