For those who haven’t read it yet, here’s an extract from my newest rom com novel, The Truth About Ellen…
Ellen (a #fangirl!) has just followed her celebrity crush, rock star Jasper Ryan, into a hotel and then into the elevator, but she hasn’t got the courage to speak to him yet…
“Penthouse please,” he said to the back of my head. Wow, his voice was so familiar, even though he’d never actually spoken to me personally before.
“Righty ho,” I said, glancing at him. He smiled at me and I pressed the button for the penthouse. Righty ho? What planet was I on? I took a deep breath and willed my hands to dry themselves.
“You up in the penthouse too?” He smirked, after I’d failed to press any more buttons. Oops. I quickly leant forward and pressed level 20, the highest I could go, wanting this journey to last forever.
As if all the gods, saints and angels had heard me, the lift jolted and stopped. A whirring noise ground to a stop, leaving us in silence and I spun round to face Jasper, no longer the rock god I’d fancied since I was a child, but my co-victim in a horrific situation which was surely going to end in tears, and quite possibly death when the lift dropped us ten floors. Oh God. I’d be in the papers. However … my name would always be mentioned with his. It wouldn’t be all bad.
Jasper gave me a reassuring smile and leaned across me to press a big red button on the panel. He smelt of alcohol and I wondered how much he’d drunk that day; it wasn’t much after six pm.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be fixed in no time,” he said, winking at me. He pulled out his phone. “Ah, no signal.” He put it back in his pocket and flashed me his famous, gorgeous smile.
Talk to him, you idiot. My mouth felt dry and I opened it to speak but couldn’t find any words.
“Typical,” I managed to utter, rolling my eyes. He looked at me again and gave a gentle laugh. I’d had years to prepare for this moment, and had made all this effort to talk to him, and suddenly I didn’t know what to say.
“Are you claustrophobic?”
“No,” I said, unsure if this was true. I’d never really been stuck in a small confined space before. But if I was going to be, I guess getting stuck with Jasper Ryan wasn’t a bad thing. I reminded myself to be cool.
I glanced away from him and at myself in the mirror. Why hadn’t I put more makeup on? A day on the trains meant it wasn’t my best hair day, either. He too looked in the mirror and caught my eye. A big smile spread across his face, and I couldn’t help but smile back.
“Jasper,” he said, offering his hand. Did he really think anyone on the planet didn’t know what his name was? Okay, maybe there were men who didn’t know. But no warm-blooded, straight British woman under forty wouldn’t recognise his face.
No time to wipe my sweaty hands, but I shook it, my heart beating faster at the feel of his skin. The thirteen year old Ellen was about ready to faint. The 21 year old told her to get a grip. He was just a man, an ordinary man, I reminded myself.
“Ellen,” I told him.
“You’ve got beautiful eyes, Ellen.”
I felt myself blush. Was Jasper Ryan complimenting me? Seriously? He thought my eyes were beautiful? But how many other girls had he said that to? Probably hundreds. Or thousands. Or hundreds of thousands. But I was one of them!
“Thanks,” I said, blushing.
“What are you staying here for?”|
I told him about the theatre and Zoe getting ill, neglecting to mention that she was in the much less impressive hotel down the other end of the street.
“Why are you here?”
“Just working. I’m trying to fly home to see my family, but I can’t get a flight until tomorrow because of the hurricane.”
I knew he owned an apartment in New York these days, but I wanted to keep the conversation going.
“I live in the US. New York City. But I really want to get upstate, to my parents’ house. My dad’s very ill.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks.” He gave me a sad smile and sat down, leaning back against the mirror. Man, he was the best looking rock god I’d ever been stuck in a lift with. Scrap that, he was the best looking man I’d ever been stuck anywhere with.
“They only moved to the states a few years back. If they’d stayed in the UK I’d be with them right now.”
I didn’t want to be grateful that his father was ill, nor that he wasn’t with him, but I was pretty glad he was stuck in this lift with me, rather than anywhere else. I sat down opposite him and crossed my legs.
“I’m sure you’ll make it home tomorrow.”
“This,” he said, gesturing to the corners of the lift, “is crap. You spend all this money on a decent hotel and the bloody lift breaks down.”
I wanted to point out that the tiny room I’d paid for down the road had cost me a day’s wages, whereas his massive penthouse suite was probably a drop in the ocean on his bank account, but decided that was probably the sort of conversation topic I’d regret later.
“These things always happen to me,” I admitted. “I’ve broken plenty of bones, plenty of my mother’s precious ornaments, and once I even choked on some chicken at a wedding. I’m accident prone.”
Great, now I’d chatted to Jasper Ryan about vomiting and choking. What a smooth operator I was. “I’ll blame you then,” he said with a cheeky grin.
“I wish I could smoke in here.”
I was grateful he couldn’t; but I didn’t say anything. I’d said quite enough stupid things already. “So what are you going to do tonight?” he asked me.
Good question. The chances of me making it to the theatre on time now were very low.
“I don’t know. Probably hit the mini bar. Watch some TV. You?”
“Yeah, the same.”
“No glamorous parties or celeb friends to hang out with?”
He shrugged. “Nah. I’ve been trying to keep myself to myself.”
I couldn’t think what else to say. We looked at each other for a moment and I took a mental snapshot, his scruffy, dark hair leaning back against the mirror. His grey t-shirt was tight enough to just about hint at his abs. He’d thrown his leather jacket down beside him. He was wearing dark blue jeans and black boots and his legs looked long, stretched out in front of him. If I moved my own leg slightly to the left, our trouser legs would be touching…
“Stop doing that,” he said after a moment’s silence.
“What?” I asked, my face burning red. I hoped he wasn’t referring to my staring at him.
“Tucking your hair behind your ear. It looks nicer in front.”
I hadn’t even realised I’d been playing with my hair. I flicked it forward, in front of my ear and let a long wave rest against my cheek.
“You really don’t realise how pretty you are, do you?”
My heart flipped and I reminded myself again that I was just one of many he’d used his charms on. He held my gaze and we stared at each other for a few minutes. My whole body was sweating now, hopefully not so much that he could tell.
The elevator whirred into life and started to move. Jasper got up and held out his hand for me. I felt a tingle run from my fingertips to my chest as I held on to him and he pulled me up.
“Thanks,” I said as I let go. The doors pinged open. We’d reached the twentieth floor and I had to get out.
“Bye,” I said, wondering if I’d ever get anyone to believe me that this had happened. I felt too lame to ask for a photo now.
“See ya,” he said, flashing me a grin.
I stepped out of the lift and went to walk down the corridor, figuring I’d get return and back in, ride down on the next one.
“Hey, Ellen?” he called, holding the elevator door open.
“Yes?” I spun around, glad to have the chance to look at him again. “You want to come and share my mini bar?”
With a confidence I’d never felt before, I turned on my heel, walked back into the lift and pushed the button for the penthouse suite again.