My first work of original fiction–an adult paranormal romance called Drop Dead Gorgeous –is Book 1 in my L.A. Vamps series and originally published by Temptress Press. If you like vampires, modeling, Los Angeles, and also like to have a little laugh with your vamp stories, then I think you’ll enjoy Drop Dead Gorgeous.
“There’s love, lust, angst, danger, and heartbreaking sacrifice amidst
Los Angeles modeling scene, and it makes for an incredibly fun ride!” –ysar, Fic Central
Scroll below the cover for a sample chapter …
Clara lay across the bed on her back and stared at the ceiling, fighting the tears. How had she gotten to this point? She was alone, unemployed, quickly running out of money, and had no idea what to do next. Part of her problem was she had no motivation to do anything. She recognized the symptoms of depression, but also knew that few people wouldn’t be depressed in her circumstances.
It had only been a month since the man she truly loved had been declared dead. Their romance had been incredibly brief—a mere five days, to be exact. She knew it was crazy, but she’d fallen for him hard and fast. He’d fit into her life like a long lost piece of a puzzle.
For two months after they’d met, he was missing, and she held out hope he’d be found – that it had been a horrible mistake. They’d be able to pick up where they’d left off and get on with their happiness. In her heart, she’d known it was unreasonable, but then, nothing about their relationship had been reasonable, so why not?
Those two months of worry seemed like a blur now, but of course, she remembered that right in the middle of it all, Jeffrey had fired her – Jeffrey, her boss and ex-boyfriend. One day she’d been the top runway booker in the modeling business in Los Angeles, and the next, she’d become a nobody. In spite of the fact she was in anguish over her missing lover, Jeffrey had hit on her. When she told him no, he’d fired her.
Clara sat up in the bed and looked around the room. All the furniture had been Jeffrey’s, even the bed. She didn’t even like the room – her own bedroom. It had never felt like her own. When Jeffrey bought his condo, she’d stayed behind in their apartment alone. That had been the beginning of the end for them.
She took a deep breath. The room smelled like Jeffrey. Nearly a year later, it still smelled like him, and she didn’t like that smell anymore.
After pulling herself off the bed, she went through the dining area into the kitchen and filled her tea kettle. While she waited for the water to boil, she went back and sat at the table.
The glass top table was covered with books, papers, unopened mail, and her laptop. She wondered if there were any bills in the mess and started to sort through the papers.
Her heart stopped when she moved some mail, uncovering the newspaper she hadn’t been able to throw away. The handsome headshot of Derek Randall smiled at her just above the article that announced his death.
She leaned forward and studied the features: dark brown hair, flawless skin – in this photo he was clean-shaven, and wide-set, clear blue eyes. He was beautiful. No one would argue that. What the photo didn’t capture was the sweetness in his eyes or the way he’d good-naturedly tease people around him, making them all feel a part of his inner circle. He’d been friendlier than any supermodel should have been and completely down to earth. She felt lucky to have known him. Even luckier to have loved him.
The tip of her finger traced his perfect features. Just before she succumbed to the tears, the tea kettle interrupted her thoughts.
She poured herself a cup and blew her nose into a paper towel. She was tired of crying. Sitting back down at the table, she re-read the article that had finally shattered her aching heart.
Derek had gone hiking alone in Topanga Canyon one sunny spring morning and had never returned. Rescue teams had called off the search after twelve days. Derek’s remains had been found by hikers over a month later. Clara tried not to imagine what had been discovered, but she failed every time.
She shook the image from her mind and instead pictured Derek the first time she’d seen him as he walked down a runway, strutting confidently, ignoring the beat of the music, smirking at the audience. He was unique and adorable, and everyone loved him.
She pictured him laughing on the beach in Santa Barbara the day he’d changed her life. She smiled and realized how odd that felt. It had been so long since she’d had anything to smile about.
Her cell phone rang and she reached across the table to fish it from her purse. Monica’s name filled the screen.
“Hey.” She forced her voice to sound friendly.
“What are you wearing?” Monica asked.
“Why, do you want to have phone sex?”
“Hey, very good. That was an actual joke.”
“I’m working on it. But you’re not laughing,” Clara said.
“Well, it wasn’t a good joke, but I appreciate the effort. Seriously, are you dressed?”
“Kind of.” Clara glanced down at her sweatpants.
“We’re going to a party. A fancy, dress-up, grown-up party.”
“Oh, I don’t know—”
Monica cut her off. “I do. I know. That’s what we’re doing. Get fancy. I’m picking you up at eight. It’s at LACMA.”
Clara took a deep breath, knowing Monica had the best intentions and was also right about getting out of the house. Plus Clara had always loved visiting the L.A. County Museum. “Okay, I’ll see you at eight.”
Monica was a good friend and had been there for Clara when she’d needed her. She’d been fired by Jeffrey as well, but had landed another booking job almost right away at another agency – a better agency, actually. Clara hadn’t been that lucky.
At ten ‘til eight, Clara stood in front of the hall mirror and took stock of her appearance. Her dark thick hair draped over her shoulders in soft waves. It was the same shade of brown as her dress and she pondered for a minute whether she should put it up. Monica had said fancy. She decided to leave her hair down, but went back to the bathroom to add some lipstick – just a shade pinker than her naturally plump lips. She dabbed a touch of blush to her prominent cheekbones. Monica had once told her if they were any higher, they’d be horns. A coat of mascara on her lashes made her soft brown eyes just a touch darker.
The doorbell rang, and she stepped into her shoes on the way to open the door.
“Excellent interpretation of fancy,” Monica said as she entered the living room.
“Wow, you too.”
Clara admired Monica’s crisp black suit jacket and white ruffled cuffs peeking out. Monica did a little twirl in her straight black pants and heels. She was a stunning blue-eyed blonde, tall and slim with delicate features.
“Let me just grab my purse,” Clara said as she walked back to the bedroom and picked up her beaded bag. She draped an olive green silk wrap across her shoulders and declared herself ready to go out into the world.
Monica was a member of the L.A. County Museum of Art and was often invited to special parties like this one. Clara had always been happy to go with her – at least back when she’d felt like a normal person. She loved museums and had a secret desire to try her hand at painting, but had never found the time. Now that she had the time, she was too depressed to try anything new.
The two women approached the table in the courtyard where their names were checked off the list of invited guests. Once inside, they strolled among the giant stone heads of ancient Mexicans and marble statues of beautifully naked, but poorly-endowed men.
“Why are they always so small?” Monica asked discreetly.
“I think they were thought grotesque if they were bigger. I don’t know. You’re the art expert.”
Several photographers asked them to pose for a photo. Clara knew the photographers had no idea who they were, but the party had a sprinkling of celebrities, and Clara and Monica were certainly attractive enough to be thought famous. Those around them probably wondered who they were as they smiled and posed arm in arm.
They found the giant tent of food with the bar and sat at a table, sipping their wine and eating plates of salad and shrimp from the buffet.
“So, how are you doing?” Monica finally asked in a serious tone.
Clara sighed. “Okay, I guess. I’m still getting unemployment.”
“I haven’t heard of any openings anywhere. Jeffrey is such an idiot to let you go.”
Clara had heard he was already dating her replacement.
“Have you thought about managing models? We’re in desperate need of men. Maybe you could scout around, discover our next super dude.”
“I wouldn’t know where to start. I’m a booker, not a manager.”
“I know. It was just a thought. Derek Randall left quite a hole in our men’s roster. He was our biggest print model, you know. He even out-produced our women.”
Clara didn’t answer.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have mentioned him.”
“It’s okay. I hardly knew the guy, really.”
Monica cocked her head and wore the saddest expression. “Sweetie….”
“Okay, okay, I knew him.”
“I knew him well.”
“I loved him,” Clara whispered and bit her trembling bottom lip.
Monica raised her wine glass and said, “To the most beautiful man on earth.”
“To Derek,” Clara added and forced a smile as she clinked her glass to Monica’s, blinking back her tears.
Later that night, before Clara fell asleep, she wondered if she should have told Monica she thought she’d seen Derek several times since his death. The first time had been in the supermarket. She’d left her groceries in the cart in the produce section and followed the dark head out the front door, but lost him in the parking lot. Too flustered to go back for her groceries, she’d just gotten into her car and wondered if she was losing her mind.
Since then, she’d spotted him as she left the gym, and thought she’d seen him again on the sidewalk as she pulled into her underground parking one night.
She knew it was nuts, but then she also knew it was nuts that her bedroom sometimes smelled like him – like it had tonight when she’d come home. No more Jeffrey smell. Just Derek.
Imagining how the conversation with Monica might go, she decided to keep it to herself. She also decided there was absolutely no harm in enjoying the lingering scent of her lover in the room, even if it was all in her mind. That was her last thought as she fell asleep. That, and the image of his sweet face.