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Jilted (E-Book)

Jilted (E-Book)

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Hollywood hath no fury like a woman scorned. In this fun, flirty second-chance romance from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett, an aspiring starlet reconnects with her first love.

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Eden Goodnight went to Los Angeles to make it big, not to be publicly humiliated by her cheating fiancé at a red-carpet premiere. But when Eden returns to her hometown to put the scandal behind her, she can barely find a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. Turns out the locals are worse than the paparazzi, and they all think she's turned into a spoiled brat. But in a strange twist of fate, the one person who seems to understand what Eden's going through is Cooper Mayfield . . . the boy she left behind.

Small-town charm is no match for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. At least that's what Coop's been telling himself all these years. As Eden's old flame—and the landscaper for her family's historic home—Coop feels some responsibility for getting her out of her funk. But as soon as he sees that million-dollar smile, he’s a goner. Soon they’re making out like teenagers again. But when a life-changing role falls into Eden’s lap, Coop just hopes she doesn’t give up on a love that’s meant to be.

Read Chapter One

Yes, I was jilted on the red carpet . . .

Fourteen years later . . .

“Eden . . . over here.”

“Eden . . . who are you wearing tonight?”

“Eden . . . let’s see that sparkler on your left hand.”

The cameras flash as I look from one paparazzo to the next, showing my pearly whites or giving my trademark pout with my more-than-ample lips. They’d once graced a billboard in Times Square, and I’ve had to dispel more than one rumor that I’d had filler pumped into them. If anyone wanted to go back and look at my freshman high school picture, they’d see the same very full lips that actually had been made fun of all those years ago. I used to hate them.

Turns out they were moneymakers, so I guess the joke’s on all those schoolmates who bullied me.

This smile I’m holding and the confident set to my shoulders masks a lot of insecurity underneath. This world of glitz and fame is still hard for me to handle, and I guess I’m still just a small-town girl from Georgia who’s overwhelmed with her life.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade any of it, because my fame and fortune lets me do things I’d never have been able to do. I can really make a difference in people’s lives by being a spokesperson for certain charities, helping them raise money, or volunteering my time. My star power brings great awareness and help to those less fortunate.

My fame also gives me much-needed validation, because there’s no one else in my life who cares about my accomplishments. Certainly not my grandmother, who’s never quite forgiven me for not being a model Goodnight family member.

“Eden . . . has a wedding date been set yet?” someone calls out.

I keep the same smile plastered on my face as I turn toward that camera. I do the practically patented actress pose of one hand on my hip, the other hanging elegantly at my side holding my silver Swarovski-studded clutch. My lips start to quiver at the corners, which is a by-product of holding a smile for too long.

Brad’s arm around my waist tightens as he pulls me in closer. I don’t need to turn to look at him to know he’s melting panties everywhere with his golden blond hair, perfectly chiseled face, and ultrawhite smile. He stands only four inches taller than my five feet eight inches, but in my heels, I’m at eye level with him. It’s beyond weird for me to be talking marriage to reporters, because Brad and I haven’t been together that long and it’s been a whirlwind sort of relationship. He’s the first man I’ve had something real with since my freshman year in college, and that was a long damn time ago.

He tilts his head to murmur in my ear. “You know we make one fucking fantastic-looking couple, right? This will be on the cover of every entertainment magazine tomorrow.”

I chuckle and slip my arm around his waist. I don’t let his comment bother me and accept it for what it is. I know the photographers to our left are able to get a good close-up of the five-carat yellow diamond that Brad surprised me with last week. It will look amazing in the papers, as I’m sure we will too. I’m definitely happy to be engaged to him, but admittedly, he caught me way off guard with the proposal. We’ve only been dating exclusively for about six months and my gut instinct told me the proposal was too soon. But he did it in a public place frequented by other stars and lurking paparazzi, and I didn’t have it in me to tell him that I’d like some time to think about it. I didn’t even want to deal with those headlines, so I fluttered my hand near my heart and nodded my spinning head at him. As expected, the proposal was headline news the next day.

Hollywood’s Golden Couple Engaged

“Tell me something sad,” I murmur to Brad. “Something, anything, to break this smile on my face. I think it’s frozen in place.”

“How about I tell you something sexy?” he says in a low voice, and my belly tightens. “That work?”

I nod my head, turning and smiling for the cameras still flashing.

“When we get home tonight,” Brad whispers in my ear, “I’m going to fuck you so hard you’ll be feeling me for weeks.”

And . . . that did the trick. My frozen smile breaks, softens, and becomes an actual genuine smile that’s not as wide or fake looking. My belly flutters also at the thought of Brad doing that to me, and I feel a flush creep up my neck.

“You’re so bad,” I mutter back to him.

“Come on,” he says as his arm around my waist drops and he takes me by my hand. “Let’s head in.”

I’m beyond grateful for his strong arm around me, because he gives me the security and comfort that I’ve been lacking for so many years being out all on my own. No family, no close friends. No one to share my ups and downs with. Certainly no one with whom to share my accomplishments. Brad gives me all of that, which is why accepting his proposal was the right thing to do.

We’re here for the premiere of Brad’s new film, Code Zero, a highly energized action movie that involves him leaping from buildings and driving fast cars. It’s sort of his thing in Hollywood. He’s relentlessly bugged me about having a cameo in his next film. Sort of like his Bond girl, I guess.

My agent and business manager were reluctant to let me take on such a small role to play a sexpot, but I’d agreed because it made Brad happy. We’re set to begin filming in about five weeks, but because my role is so small, I’ll only be on set for a few days. This is good, because I have the starring role in a seventeenth-century period movie set to film in London just a few weeks after that.

The decision to take this role made my business peeps unhappy with me because I have my thing too. While Brad is an action star, I got my big break about eight years ago when I transitioned from modeling to acting and lucked into the most amazing indie script ever. It was about a woman with split personality disorder who was trying to maintain two separate lives on opposite sides of the country.

It was an emotional masterpiece; a thriller that would be unrivaled for years to come.

Not my words. That was from a film critic.

Regardless, I got an Oscar nomination for that role, and to everyone’s surprise in Hollywood, I won that coveted award. To those naysayers who doubt dreams do come true, they’ve never met Eden Goodnight. Not only have my dreams come true, but they’ve surpassed anything I could have ever imagined.

And now my life is just about as perfect as could be, or at least I think it is. I really have nothing to measure against, and I certainly never got praise or positive feedback from my grandmother. Most of my movies since have been blockbusters. I can now pick and choose my roles, or choose not to do anything at all for a while. I’m rich beyond measure, have a gorgeous fiancé who thinks I’ve hung the moon and stars, and adoring fans all over the world.

Which makes it really weird that my smile seems so fake at events like these. I try my hardest to look approachable, humble yet filled with confidence to be in the limelight. Truth be told, I hate shit like this. I’m not in it for the accolades.

Brad tugs on my arm and we turn toward a covered tunnel that will take us into the theater. I see Brad’s female costar and her husband take our spots for their round of photos and endless fashion questions.

“Eden,” someone calls out near the tunnel, and I see a paparazzo standing there holding his camera in a relaxed pose near his chest. I start to widen my smile so he can snap his picture, but his next words freeze me in place. “Do you have any comment about the photos that were just leaked to Inside Gossip about fifteen minutes ago showing your fiancé with another woman?”

My head starts spinning and Brad mutters, “Fuck,” under his breath. That makes my head spin even more, because that was an admission to me.

I turn my head to look at him with astonishment and the camera flash goes off from the man who had thrown that question at me. I’m sure he’s capturing the most surprised, stunned look that has ever graced this actress’s face.

But this isn’t a fucking act.

This is real life.

“Brad?” I whisper, and my voice is filled with a begging that I know he hears clearly. Begging him to tell me it’s not true.

Before he can admit or deny, the photographer calls out to me again. When I turn back to him, trying to compose my facial expression, his next question practically punches me in the gut. With his camera in front of his face and snapping pictures, he asks, “And what are your thoughts about the fact it was with his costar for this movie . . . Lilliana Prentice?”

My head snaps around and my body follows so I can focus my gaze on Lilliana. She and her husband are standing there with their arms wrapped around each other, smiling for the paparazzi.

I whirl back around and face Brad, who is now rubbing his temple as if he has the world’s biggest headache, his gaze pinned to the ground.

“You’re fucking Lilliana?” I hiss at him. Hurt and embarrassment rise through me and I begin to feel light-headed.

“Here are the photos,” the photographer offers, and I look back to him to see him leaning over a barrier to hand them to me. I stomp over to him, grab the photos with a snarl, and start flipping through them.

Brad appears at my side, trying to grab them away from me. “Eden . . . don’t. Let’s not do this right here. It’s my movie premiere, for fuck’s sake.”

But I turn my back on him, hastily flipping through photo after photo of Brad and Lilliana in intimate embraces in various locations. None of them are naked pictures, but all of them show them kissing deeply with roaming hands.

Except one . . . and I immediately recognize it as the pool in my backyard. Lilliana is lying on my chaise lounge and my fiancé is bent over her, rubbing oil on her back. Where the hell was I?

Brad takes another grab at the photos, and I spin back to look at Lilliana, who by this time is walking our way with her husband, not even aware of the shitstorm brewing.

She locks eyes with me, and that Hollywood glam smile she’d had on immediately slides off. Her gaze darts to Brad, then back to me, and she knows I know. I take two aggressive steps toward her and she backs up. Her husband—I think his name is Phil—releases his hold around her waist and I take a moment to note the confused look on his face.

“You fucking bitch,” I snarl at her, but my anger’s not just for her. It’s for Brad too. More so for him, actually. I whip around to face the faithless cheater. “You fucking bastard. How could you?”

“What’s going on—” Phil starts to ask, but I don’t answer. I merely thrust the stack of photos into his chest and he grabs them from me.

“Eden,” Brad says placatingly, his arms outstretched. “I’m so very sorry, but now isn’t the time to hash this out.”

“Oh yeah,” I say in a loud voice so anyone within a twenty-foot radius can hear me. I don’t intend to be that loud, but I’m nearly hysterical. “Wouldn’t want anything ruining your movie premiere now, would we? Certainly not breaking news that you can’t keep your dick in your pants with your skank of a costar.”

“Now wait a minute,” Lilliana begins, but I whip around on her.

“Shut your mouth,” I warn her menacingly. “I do mixed martial arts, and this slit in my dress is high enough that I could kick you in the face.”

Lilliana’s mouth snaps shut.

“Eden,” Brad says again. “Honey.”

And that tips me over the edge. I glare at Brad, and then march right up to the photographer who started all this.

“Want an exclusive?” I ask him sweetly.

He nods, practically salivating.

“Brad Wright has a problem with premature ejaculation,” I tell him untruthfully. “And he’s so insecure about it he often wets the bed when he sleeps.”

The photographer turns to Brad. “Brad . . . is it true . . . do you have erectile dysfunction?”

The camera flashes but I pay it no mind. I turn around and walk gracefully but quickly back down the red carpet, breaking into a trot as I get nearer to the street. Reporters call out to me, other actors and actresses I know look at me with worry as tears start to fill my eyes. When I get to the end of the carpet, I turn right and frantically start searching for my limo. It can’t be too far away, as we’d just alighted and were among the last to arrive.

Worst-case scenario, I’ll grab a cab.

“Come with me,” I hear a man say, and my elbow is taken in a firm grip. I look up and see Lilliana’s husband there. His face is red and his jaw is set in a hard line. “My limo’s right there. I’ll get you out of here.”

I don’t hesitate. He’s now my comrade in jilted arms. We’ve been screwed over and we’re in this together. At least for now until I can get a ride home.

Phil—again, I think that’s his name—quickly gets me into his limousine and asks for my address as he slides in beside me. I give it to him and he passes it to the driver, and then we’re on our way.

Suddenly a handkerchief is dangling in front of my face, and I realize I’ve got tears streaming down it. Phil gives me a sympathetic smile and pushes the handkerchief at me. I gladly take it and in a watery voice, say, “Thank you, Phil.”

“Actually, it’s Paul,” he says, but his smile doesn’t waver.

“I’m sorry,” I murmur as I soak up the tears from the corners of my eyes. “Please forgive me.”

“Forget about it,” he says with a wave of his hand.

“Guess we ruined their premiere night, huh?” I say with a half sob, half laugh.

“You did make quite a spectacle of yourself,” he agrees.

“Did you have any clue?” I ask him, because I was completely in the dark.

“I suspected something,” Paul admits. “We’ve been having some problems in our marriage.”

“I’m sorry,” I tell him. But I don’t have that luxury of an obvious doubt. I’d thought my relationship with Brad was fantastic. We had a very healthy sex life, and what Brad lacked in creativity, he made up for in persistence to get me where I needed to go some of the times. And even if he left me behind most of the times, we laughed, we talked, and we loved hanging out together. If there was doubt in us, I thought it was because of me.

I just don’t get it.

It takes us about forty-five minutes to make it from the Fox Theater in Westwood Village to my home in Pacific Palisades. The ride is mostly silent except for my occasional sniffles. Luckily, my neighborhood is gated and thus I won’t have to face lurking paparazzi at my house.

When the limo pulls into my driveway, Paul asks, “What are you going to do?”

I square my shoulders. “I’m going to make sure every belonging he has in my house is waiting by the curb for him after the premiere.”

Even though we aren’t technically living together, and Brad still has his own home, he’s here more often than not and has accumulated a lot of stuff.

Paul chuckles and leans toward me. His voice is low, rumbling, and . . . sexy?

“Want some help packing his stuff up?” he practically purrs at me.

I lean back, not mistaking anything about his offer. “No thanks. I’ve got this.”

Paul’s hand goes to my thigh, immediately slipping under the slit to touch my bare skin. “Come on, Eden. We both deserve it after the way they betrayed us.”

I wasn’t lying when I told Lilliana I could kick her ass mightily. I’ve been doing mixed martial arts for almost ten years. Before Paul can even blink, I have his hand off my thigh and twisted at the wrist so his fingertips point at his astonished face. I put slight pressure on the back of his hand, bending his palm toward his wrist, and he whimpers like a baby.

God I fucking hate this town and the people in it so much at times. No one takes fidelity seriously here.

“I’m thinking you deserved to have your wife cheat on you,” I grit out at Paul, and push down on his hand a bit more. He grimaces even as anger fills his eyes.

“Let go, bitch,” he snarls at me.

Fortuitously, my door opens and the limo driver stands there, shocked to see the positions of his passengers.

“Have a lovely evening, Paul,” I say in a voice that’s anything but grateful as I release my hold on him. “I appreciate the ride home.”

I quickly exit the limo, jogging up to my front door in my four-inch strappy Choos and unlocking it. I turn the alarm off in the entryway, closing the door and then turning the dead bolt. I then reset my alarm, as I always feel safer with it on.

My cellphone rings and I sigh, pulling it out of my clutch. Not surprising, it’s Colleen O’Hearn, my business manager. She’s the best in the business, and of course she’s already up to speed on everything that’s happened. Her network of spies is vast, but apparently not needed tonight.

“It’s all over the Internet and on a few news channels,” is how she greets me. “We need to do damage control.”

“Damage control?” I ask astounded. “He cheated on me.”

“Not the way he’s spinning it,” Colleen says gruffly. “His publicist released a quick statement right from the fucking movie theater confirming that as of tonight you two had split. He’s apparently admitted falling in love with his costar while they filmed Code Zero. He claims you repeatedly spurned him in bed, and what little you did give was not that great, thus leading him into the arms of another woman.”

“He did not say that, did he?” I practically screech in disbelief, and tears start streaming again from both hurt and anger.

“Sorry, kiddo . . . but you said he had erectile dysfunction. Did you think he’d let that go?”

“That’s on the news too?” I ask incredulously.

“Only from about five different smartphones where people were videotaping the entire exchange,” she says dryly. “Of course, they caught Lilliana’s dramatic faint and Brad catching her suavely in his arms, then carrying her inside the theater. The articles are calling him ‘gallant.’ He’s managed to paint himself in damn good light.”

“That . . . that . . . that asshole,” I curse, because nothing more creative is coming to mind. In fact, I can feel my entire brain starting to shut down on me. The hurt starts to overcome the anger, and my heart feels like it’s being crushed in a vise grip. I loved that asshole, but apparently he didn’t feel the same about me.

Tonight I was publicly humiliated, lost my fiancé, and I already feel the terrible weight of anxiety pressing down on my chest, wondering what tomorrow’s headlines are going to bring.

I really hate this town sometimes.

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Product Release Date: July 11, 2017

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