GENRE: Contemporary, Erotica
LENGTH: 13,722 words
This story is included in the anthology, Beautiful Box Set
BLURB: In Beautiful Liar, former childhood television star Johnny Thomas wants to get back into show business. He hires his old manager, Lou, who has heard rumors of Johnny's sexuality. Though he's advised to play it straight, Johnny falls for Brett, a photographer whose candid shots of the lovers almost sinks Johnny's career before it can get off the ground.
More Lies takes place several months after Johnny's landed a coveted role in the upcoming Roxy Greene summer blockbuster. Lou tells him Roxy wants the media to think she and Johnny are a hot item off the set to build buzz for the movie. Now that he's dating Brett, Johnny doesn't feel comfortable lying about his love life, but surprisingly his boyfriend thinks it's a great idea.
But when Johnny and Roxy meet for the first time, it's evident neither of them are keen on the charade.
If Roxy's attitude is any indication, she can't stand Johnny. What happens when she finds out he's lying about his sexuality to keep his role in her film?
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Lunch is a disaster. Despite the cameras and the fans clamoring for attention mere yards away, Johnny feels invisible. Lou and Becky talk shop, leaving him to entertain Roxy, but she’s more interested in her iPhone than anything he might have to say. The few questions he asks go unanswered -- she’s either playing a game on the phone or texting someone, and it takes all her attention. Even though she sits beside him, she’s a million miles away. She even props her head on her hand, letting her hair fall like a veil to obscure her face from him.
He doesn’t know her and already he hates her.
He could really use that rum and Coke now, but when he tries to signal the waiter, Lou intervenes. “Just soda,” the manager says, staring Johnny down. “Who’s picking up the tab?”
Johnny glares at the salad sitting in front of him, a starter course he isn’t interested in eating.
As if feeling the tension at the table for the first time, Becky glances over at her daughter and clears her throat. Roxy ignores her, and Johnny feels a foot brush his under the table, then Roxy jolts as if kicked. She brushes the hair from her face long enough to frown at her mother. Because he’s watching, Johnny sees Becky mouth the words, “Put that away.”
Who’s idea was this lunch again? Because Johnny doesn’t think anyone at their table is enjoying it.
With a huff, Roxy pockets the iPhone and picks at her salad. She tucks her hair behind her ear and glances at him, still scowling. “Who are you again?”
Her mother hisses, “Roxy.”
“Johnny,” he says, glad to be spoken to at last. “Johnny Thomas. I’m in your movie.”
Roxy stabs at her salad with her fork and grunts. “Oh yeah, right.”
Uneasy silence settles over them again. Johnny watches her eat for a moment before deciding to give his own salad a try. Searching for something to say, anything that might get her talking, he asks, “Who were you texting?”
Her answer is short and clipped, hostile. “Mel.”
He almost chokes on his salad. “Boyfriend?” If so, why is he here again?
The look she gives him could curdle cheese. “Don’t you even watch my show?”
There it is -- the million dollar question. Brett had tried to prep Johnny for the luncheon by bringing him up to date on Roxy’s stardom, but Johnny only half listened at the time. He hadn’t honestly thought she’d ask him anything about her television series. Who was that egotistical?
He could lie. Shrug and say, “Sure,” and hope she doesn’t start asking random trivia questions for him to answer. Or he could be honest with her and face the consequences. Yeah, he thinks, swallowing the lettuce he’s chewed into pulp, because everything about this meeting is honest. Bullshit.
Still, the truth has to start somewhere. Reaching for his soda, he admits, “I’ve never actually seen it.”
Her eyes widen until the whites perfectly frame her irises. It’s a spooky look, dark eyes rimmed with white outlined with black kohl. It gives her a frightened appearance. “What?”
“Your show.” He gulps his drink -- too late to turn back now. “I’ve never watched it. To be honest, I didn’t even know who you were before I auditioned for the movie.”
He tenses his shoulders, waiting for the diva-esque backlash he’s sure will come.
To his surprise, she laughs.
He winces and sort of smiles as he turns toward her, not really sure what she expects. Her face is lit with an open, easy expression he can almost like. Leaning closer, she lowers her voice and admits, “It’s okay. I’ve never really watched it, either.”
With a grin, Johnny thinks, Now we’re getting somewhere. “So who’s Mel? Love interest?”
“Best friend,” Roxy corrects. “Female, I might add. So no.”
Her gaze shifts past him to her mother before dropping to what remains of her salad, and something in that worried glance makes Johnny think he’s not the only one playing a part in someone else’s script.