About Act Like It
This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre's Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine Graham Richard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard's antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city. Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man? Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance. Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?
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It would have helped if she’d got further than the couch part of the couch-to-5k training plan she’d printed off the internet. Lainie crossed the finishing line and immediately dropped her head toward the ground, leaning her hands against her thighs and fiercely rejecting the urge to vomit. She was embarrassingly unfit, but if the chain-smoking, foulmouthed comedian two steps ahead of her could finish with a smile on his face and no visible signs of nausea, then so could she. She straightened with an effort, cringing as her back made an audible cracking sound. Performing in a play was a physical job, for God’s sake. It required stamina. She didn’t even have the excuse of sitting behind a computer all day.
Camera lights flashed as more participants made it over the line. They included several soap actors, a controversial political commentator, a popular abstract artist, and a DJ from Radio 1. The fund-raising committee had managed to put together a respectable hit list of names for the Shining Lights UK 5k, considering that Fun Runs were among the least popular of charitable events. She couldn’t even say the term without an ironic inflection on the first word. What kind of half-witted masochist actually enjoyed running on a drizzly October morning in London? On a weekday, no less, when there were plenty of people about with laptops and coffee cups, observing the mania with perplexity.
Lainie had tried to suggest an alternative—a bake-off, a rock concert—but the director of the foundation was a jogging enthusiast who refused to believe that other people might not share his predilection for spandex. She saw him now, standing by the refreshment table, doing some kind of yoga stretch and looking cool and unfazed. He didn’t even have sweat stains in his armpits. Unnatural.
“Well done!” he called to her. “How was that?”
About thirty-five minutes of pure, wheezing hell, thank you for asking.
“Great,” she said, desperately sucking air into her abused lungs. “Brilliant way to start the day.” If you enjoy unrelenting pain. “I beat my personal best time.”
Which was true, in the sense that she had never run a 5k before and hopefully never would again.
Oh, well. It was all money for worthy coffers.
“Couldn’t agree with you more,” he enthused. “Nothing more invigorating than an early morning run.”
The poor man had obviously never had early morning sex. Or a caramel latte.
He nodded toward the throng of spectators, shivering under their support banners. “Good to see the SOs out in force, as well.”
“The SOs?” she asked blankly, trying to follow the direction of his gaze. Had she failed to swot up on necessary athletic jargon as well? Safety Officers? Sports Officials? Sulky Octopi? She had no idea.
“Significant others. Always helps to have a cheerleader on the sidelines, doesn’t it?” He chuckled. “Yours looks a bit worn around the edges. Dragged him out of bed early, did you?”
Completely at sea, Lainie didn’t respond. Then she finally saw what—or rather whom—he was looking at. Richard was leaning against a pop-up art installation. The enormous statue of a polar bear wore an identical frown and a similar amount of facial hair. The bear was evidently very worried about the status of global warming; a stroppy and still unshaven Richard appeared more concerned with his own warmth, or lack thereof. His hands were thrust in his pockets and he was doing the standing jig-dance of the cold and crabby, bobbing from one foot to the other.
Absently excusing herself from the grinning director, Lainie hurried over to him, blowing on her own ungloved hands. Now that she had stopped running, the chill was creeping in.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, amazed and irritable. This had not, as far as she knew, been on their agreed list of activities, and she couldn’t imagine he was pining for her company. She felt justifiably annoyed with him for turning up when she was a red-faced, snot-nosed mess. Not that she had ever exactly bowled him over when she was a painstakingly curled, professionally made-up siren, either.
Although he hadn’t seemed repelled during that one rain-saturated moment earlier in the week. Which she was never going to think about again. She’d been telling herself so all week.
He hadn’t wanted to kiss her.
About the Author
Lucy Parker lives in the gorgeous Central Otago region of New Zealand, where she feels lucky every day to look out at mountains, lakes, and vineyards. She has a degree in Art History, loves museums and art galleries, and doodles unrecognizable flowers when she has writer’s block. When she’s not writing, working or sleeping, she happily tackles the towering pile of to-be-read books that never gets any smaller. Thankfully, there’s always another story waiting. Her interest in romantic fiction began with a pre-teen viewing of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Firth-style), which prompted her to read the book as well. A family friend introduced her to Georgette Heyer, and the rest was history.
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