“You’re going to need some help,” Mayor Marsha told her. “There’s simply too much work for one person. Especially if we want the videos done by the end of summer.”
Maya nodded in agreement. “I’d prefer to do the editing myself. There’s an art to it.” And trusting someone else with her content would be difficult. “But I could use someone to help preproduction and during the shoots.”
“Yes. Plus an on-air talent person. Is that what it’s called? Or is a better word?”
Maya felt a minor twinge. After all, in a perfect world, she would be hosting the videos. But the truth was, the camera didn’t love her. It liked her well enough, but not so much with the love. And in the business that was any kind of recorded media, passion was required. Which meant they needed someone who dazzled on-screen.
“Someone local?” she asked, thinking of all the sports celebrities in the area. Plus she knew that action movie superstar Jonny Blaze had just bought a ranch outside of town. If she could get him, that would be a coup.
“I had someone else in mind,” Mayor Marsha said.
As if on cue, the mayor’s assistant knocked on the door and then stepped into the room. “He’s here. Should I send him in?”
“Please do, Bailey,” Mayor Marsha told her.
Maya glanced up, curious as to whom the mayor would consider for such an important job. There was a lot on the line for the town and Mayor Marsha always put Fool’s Gold first. If he—
Maybe it was a trick of the light, Maya thought frantically as her eyes focused. Or a mistake. Because the tall, broad-shouldered, slightly scruffy guy walking toward them looked alarmingly familiar.
She took in the too-long curly hair, the three-day beard and the oversize, well-worn backpack slung over one shoulder. As if he’d just stepped off a pontoon plane direct from the Amazon forest. Or out of one of her dreams.
Delany Mitchell. Del.
The same Del who had stolen her virginity and her eighteen-year-old heart and had promised to love her forever. The Del who had wanted to marry her. The Del she’d walked out on because she’d been too young and too scared to take a chance on believing that she was the least bit lovable.
His jeans were so worn they looked as soft as a baby’s blanket. His white shirt hung loose, the long sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was that irresistible combination of disheveled and confident. The ultimate in sex appeal.
How could he be back in town? Why hadn’t she known? And was it too late to bolt from the room?
Mayor Marsha smiled with pleasure, then rose. She crossed to the man and held out her arms. Del stepped into her embrace, hugged her, then kissed her cheek.
“You haven’t changed at all,” he said by way of greeting.
“And you’ve changed quite a bit. You’re successful and famous now, Delany. It’s good to have you back.”
Maya stood, not sure what she was supposed to do or say. Back as in ? No way, no how. She would have heard. Elaine would have warned her. , she thought.
Ten years later, Del still looked good. Better than good.
She found herself fighting old feelings—both emotional and physical. She felt breathless and foolish and was grateful neither of them was looking at her. She had a second to get herself under control.
She’d been so young back then, she thought wistfully. So in love and so afraid. Sadly, fear had won out and she’d ended things with Del in a horrible way. Maybe now she would finally get the chance to explain and apologize. Assuming he was interested in either.
The mayor stepped back and motioned to her. “I think you remember Maya Farlow. Didn’t the two of you used to see each other?”
Del turned to glance at her. His expression was an ode to mild curiosity and nothing else. “We dated,” he said, dismissing their intense, passionate relationship with casual disregard. “Hello, Maya. It’s been a long time.”
“Del. Nice to see you.”
The words sounded normal enough, she told herself. He wouldn’t guess that her heart was pounding and her stomach had flopped over so many times she feared it would never be right again.
Was it that he didn’t remember the past, or had he truly put it all behind him? Was she just an old girlfriend he barely recalled? She would have thought that was impossible, and she would have been wrong.
He looked good, she thought, taking in what was new and what was exactly as it had been. His features were sharper, more honed. His body bigger. He’d filled out. Grown up. There was a confidence to his gaze. She’d fallen in love with a twenty-year-old, but before her was the adult male version.
The puzzle pieces fell into place. Her meeting and discussion with the mayor. What was expected of her as far as promoting the town. The need for a well-known person to host the videos.
Her lips formed the word even as her brain held in the sound. She turned to Mayor Marsha.
“You want us to work together?”
The older woman smiled and took her seat at the conference table, then motioned for Del to sit, as well.
“Yes. Del’s back in town for a couple of months.”
“Just for the rest of the summer.” He settled in a chair that seemed too small for him. His grin was as easy as his posture. “You guilted me into helping.”
Mayor Marsha’s blue eyes twinkled with amusement. “I might have done what needed doing to get you to agree,” she admitted. She turned to Maya. “Del has experience with filming. He’s made some videos himself.”
He shrugged. “Nothing that special, but I do know my way around a camera.”
“As does Maya. I would like the two of you to collaborate on the project.”
Maya told herself to keep breathing. That later, when she was alone, she would scream or keen or throw something. Right now, she had to remain calm and act like a professional. She had a brand-new job she very much wanted to keep. She loved Fool’s Gold, and since moving back to town, she’d felt more content than she could remember ever feeling before. She didn’t want that to change.
She could handle Del being back. Obviously he was 100 percent over her. Which was a good thing. She was over him, too. Way over. So over as to almost not remembering him. Del who?
“Sounds like fun,” she said with a smile. “Let’s set up a meeting to brainstorm what has to be done.”
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About the Author:
Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including the uber-popular Fool's Gold romances. Her latest book, Thrill Me, introduces the five fabulously sexy Mitchell brothers. Del Mitchell, the eldest, has just returned to his California hometown after making a fortune designing a sky surfboard that cemented his status as an extreme sports superstar. Visit Susan online at www.SusanMallery.com.
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