Finish What You Started by Kathryn Lively
Totally Bound Publishing
About the Book
In this business, it gets hot under the spotlight…
Once a teen idol, Gabby Randall now spends her time behind the camera. With her show Danse Macabre scripted and greenlit for a popular streaming site, she has everything she wants…except her star. Deadlines are looming and she’s desperate to cast the role of a modern-day, motorcycle-riding Grim Reaper. She never thought she’d end up hiring her former co-star, TV’s most beloved geek…and her ex-husband.
Until the day he dies, people will remember Dash Gregory as Freddie “Grody” Grodin, the token geek friend of the cool kids at Wondermancer High. After years of casting agents overlooking him for plum roles, Dash wants to show Hollywood he’s more than a one-note player. He’s ready to break the vicious typecasting cycle, and he’s set his sights on the lead role in a sexy new series too hot for network TV.
When the director yells “Cut!” the star wants to keep up the action behind the scenes. Are Dash and Gabby willing to make ratings history again?
When he returned to the main room, he found the trays folded and back on the rack, and Ace snuggled into Gabby’s side. “Later, buddy.” He snapped his fingers and the terrier bounced toward the bathroom. “He’s too suave for his own good,” he told Gabby with a smile, which soon fell on seeing her suddenly melancholy.
“What’s wrong? Was it dinner? Do you need—?”
“No, everything was great. Perfect.” She moved to sip her wine, but instead set it on the coffee table. “I was just thinking of what we had here tonight, and it played out like a typical night at home.” After a beat she added, “Well, a typical night if we—I—were a couple. Married…whatever.”
“I hear you.” Damn, she looked cute when she rambled. “I haven’t done typical in a while, and it’s not bad. I still owe you a dinner out, though. I do want to celebrate with something fancy.”
“I’d rather do this again.” Gabby kicked off her shoes and tucked one foot under her. Comfy, at home, not bad at all. “I’ve wanted to do something like this every day for the last ten years.”
With you. She didn’t say the words, but he imagined them on her lips as she bit down.
He sensed a flood coming as she blinked rapidly, and he looked around for something to help stem it. He never bought tissues, usually used TP if he needed to blow his nose, and the idea of handing her a full roll seemed absurd. He settled in next to Gabby, ready to lend a shoulder.
“We don’t have to talk about it if it hurts too much,” he said, more for himself. His mother had once offered to pay for therapy to help him through the worst of the breakup, but he’d refused. Work served him well, when he got it, and he preferred to keep his feelings about Gabby to himself.
Well, himself and one other person.
“I’ll be fine.” Gabby stuck a pinkie finger in her eye to rid it of a tear. “You know me, I’ve always been an emotional gal. Remember when we filmed Doctor Arturo’s death scene?” She sighed and looked at him. “I bawled for days.”
“So did he. He’d just bought a house when he was written out.”
“I also don’t normally wear skirts this short,” she said.
He had no reason to object. “Yeah, I wondered about that. You were always a conservative dresser.” Product of a Catholic family, he guessed, but he liked that about her. Gabby wore everything well, but his mind kept returning to the naughty librarian fantasy. Maybe stick a few pencils in her hair, done up in a bun with a few tendrils hanging loose…
“What’s that look on your face?”
“Hm?” The bubble popped, and he shrugged. “I just remembered I need to renew my library card.”
“You are so silly. What does that have to do with what we’re talking about?”
He chose not to say. “I’m sorry. Just a crazy day. So there’s a reason for the wardrobe change?”
Gabby smiled, flushed. “It goes back to that ‘special friend’ misunderstanding.”
“I hoped to outdo her. Yes, I’m shallow.” She rolled her eyes.
“No, you’re a human with insecurities. Just like me. It doesn’t help we both grew up in show business families where that sort of thing is encouraged.” He could spend the rest of the evening reminding her of all the crap stage parents foisted on their children. You had to have a cuter face than the other boys reading for your part. Your dimples had to go deeper, your freckles had to cross the bridge of your nose just so. How often had Walter and Marie drilled the importance of looking better than every ingénue in California into Gabby’s head?
It didn’t go away easily. He could relate. Though his mother hadn’t been as bad as Marie Randall, she’d put pressure on him more than once during casting calls.
He stretched out his arm, inviting her close. For a moment they sat on the sofa and he held her, and it felt nice. It felt like home, like what the last ten years should have been for them. “You will always have a special place in my heart,” he said. “Whatever happens between us on this show, it can only result in good things.”
She pulled back a bit to regard him. “I want to tell you something.” After a beat she added, “Since our first time in Vegas…there hasn’t been a second time for me. With anybody.”
Huh? “For real? Why are you telling me—”
“I’m not asking for you to say the same thing, Dash. I never expected you to go celibate, and I didn’t think it’d be this way for me. I just got busy with work.” She shook her head. “I wanted you to know because…” she swallowed hard, “I never wanted another first time with anybody else.”
She gazed into his eyes. Her deep brown gaze, smooth as chocolate and calling to his soul, drew him closer. He was done for.
About the Author
Kathryn Lively is an award-winning writer and editor, Slytherin, Whovian, and Rush (the band) fan. She loves chocolate and British crisps and is still searching for a good US dealer of Japanese Kit Kat bars.
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Q&A with Kathryn Lively
How did you get the idea to write Finish What You Started?
I came up with the initial outline of the story after reading a publisher call for romances featuring “rich and famous” heroes. They were looking for actors, billionaires, and the like. I’m a fan of second chances stories, so I thought why not write a romance where the hero is looking for one in his career and personal life?
The hero, Dash, is a former child actor who can’t break the geek stereotype of his old TV character, and he wants a breakout role in a hot new show. Problem is, the showrunner is his ex-wife. Finish What You Started takes them through the obstacles of getting the show and their new life back on track.
By the time I finished the book, though, the deadline for the call had passed. Can’t win them all, but fortunately Totally Bound loved the story and here we are.
Do you envision this book as the beginning of a series? Where will you take it?
I am shooting for a trilogy, but there will be at least one follow-up story. In fact, I’m less than halfway finished with the first draft. It goes in a slightly different direction than Finished in that it’s more of an opposites attract romance. If you’re into those, keep an eye out.
Previously you have written mysteries and thrillers. How and when did you decide to make the leap to romance?
To be honest, I have written romance in the past. I grew up reading mysteries and the Sweet Valley High books, and I read pretty much anything these days. I like stories with happy endings, and it’s definitely a requirement in romance. In some books I’ve written, which are not categorically romance, couples do get together in the end, so I figure why not write what I love.
What was the biggest challenge in switching genres in terms of the way you write?
Like mysteries, romance stories have conflict. Every writer has a challenge, and I’ll admit sometimes for me writing intimacy is mine. There are romance authors who write sex scenes that make you go whoa, and while I might not write at a super-high heat level I want the couples involved to show a genuine affection for each other. Readers want that connection. It’s what I want when I pick up a book, and I hope I’m getting it right. J
What’s next for you?
This summer I’m in a box set called Curved Lines, which is all BBW and tattooed heroes. My story is calling “Waking Up,” about a woman in a horrible job who finds freedom with the help of a hunky tat artist. Later on is the release of the first of two geek-themed romances, Geek Meets Girl. I’m also 36k into a contemporary small-town romance I plan to shop around.
If you want to know more about what’s coming up, you can get my email alerts here: http://eepurl.com/bq-RML