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Captivating is book two in the Elite Protection Services series.
Each book follows a different couple and can be read as a standalone.
- Enemies to Lovers
- Age Gap
- Forced Proximity
- Touch Him and Die
- Different Worlds
He just wants to be seen.
Jayne Shepherd has spent his life blending in. He smiles. He laughs. He’s likeable. He’s also a sociopath. His emotions are limited. Love, fear, and desire don’t exist in his world. Until he meets Elijah.
Elijah Dunne had everything. Third generation Hollywood royalty. Child star. Untouchable. Until one man ruined it all. Elijah fled LA to try to forget, but now, he’s back on top and back on a monster’s radar. Elijah doesn’t think he’ll ever feel safe. Until he meets Shepherd.
Elijah and Shep only have one thing in common. They both wear masks. Shep makes Elijah feel protected. Seen. Elijah makes Shep just feel. Now that he’s had a taste, he’s not about to let him go. Everybody warns that what they have isn’t real. Shep is obsessed with Elijah, not in love. But Elijah craves Shep’s obsession. He can’t imagine life without him.
In Hollywood, being a sociopath is more of a life skill than a diagnosis. Could Shep be the monster Elijah needs to finally slay his demons?
Warning: This book contains talk of past child sexual abuse.
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
Elijah Dunne hated red carpet events. It made him sound like a complete asshole, but it was true. They turned his stomach; they had since he was little. It wasn’t the cameras or the reporters or even the screaming fans. It was the access. The moment he stepped out of the car, he no longer belonged to himself. Anybody could do whatever they wanted, and all he could do was just take it.
The limo driver lingered outside, hand on the door handle, waiting for Elijah to knock and let him know he could open the door, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He couldn’t put it off much longer. Other cars were waiting. He stared out the window, feeling like he had a boulder in his stomach, despite not eating all day. Cameras flashed, causing lights to dance in front of his eyes.
His co-star and date, Delissandra Cortes, squeezed his leg, bouncing in her seat a bit. “Look at all of them. This is surreal. I know it’s nothing to you, but, like, holy shit. Nobody back home in Des Moines will believe any of this.” She turned away from him, taking a video of the lights flashing behind her.
He spared her a glance, wishing he could shed his foul mood and just enjoy the night for what it was, a chance for the world to see all their hard work come to fruition. He was at Sundance. It was a huge deal. They’d all worked so hard on this movie. He needed to just suck it up. This was what he did. It was who he was. He was an actor. He could act like he felt something more than blind panic. If he could just get in the right headspace, he could be whoever they wanted him to be.
“Jesus, Elijah. All these people are here for you. The least you could do is look happy. Just open the door, and let’s do this before my hair wilts.”
He took a deep breath and let it out before rapping his knuckles against the window. The driver swept the door open, and a million flashing lights made him wince. He never got used to that. Once he exited the car, he turned to help Delissandra from the vehicle. Her heels were so high he doubted she could manage it on her own. Nobody showed up to Sundance in tuxes and ball gowns. No, Utah is where they came to out-chic each other. Everybody but Elijah and his boring black jeans and black button-down combo…Lucifer approved.
His heart dropped at even the thought of her name. She was out there somewhere, swimming with the other sharks, even though she had no reason to be on the carpet. That’s why he had Paige, his publicist, for navigating events like this. But Lucifer always had an agenda. Fuck. He just wanted to go home.
It only took about thirty seconds for the two of them to get swept into the usual chaos. Fans screaming, begging for autographs, tabloid reporters hollering questions from just beyond the barriers, handlers trying to move them down the gauntlet of journalists as quickly as possible. Elijah kept his head down to protect his eyes, knowing there would be another slew of cameras just around the corner. Delissandra’s rep waved them closer, leaning in to whisper something in the girl’s ear. Paige was nowhere to be found, and neither was Lucifer.
He gripped Delissandra’s arm hard enough for her to suck in a pained breath. “What’s wrong?”
He dropped her arm, clenching his fists to stop them from shaking. “Something’s not right. Paige and Lucy aren’t here.”
The girl frowned. “I’m sure it’s nothing. They’re probably inside making last-minute arrangements.”
He scanned the staging area as they moved down the line to the first group of photographers, looking for any familiar faces, but he recognized nobody. Delissandra elbowed him in the ribs, and he glanced up, striking a pose for the cameras without missing a beat before returning to his frantic search.
A hand on his back separated him from Delissandra, moving him to the first journalist, Misty Jennings, with Hollywood Daily. As soon as he stood before her, he knew something was wrong. Her smile turned predatory. “Elijah, how are you feeling about the photos TMZ just released of you and Jeremiah Hanson? What do you say to their allegations that you’re gay?”
Elijah froze, blinking, as his brain fought to process the question. “What?”
The reporter didn’t repeat herself. “Do you think your being gay will affect you getting the part of Eagle in the next Empire film?”
The taste of metal flooded his mouth, and his blood rushed in his ears. He needed to say something, but nothing came. Lucifer’s voice cut through the fray. “No comment. He has no comment. Elijah, do not say a word.”
That wouldn’t be a problem. Elijah had no words. Not a single one. He’d always known this day would come, but he hadn’t expected it to happen this way. Lucifer’s hand slid around his bicep, and for the first time for as long as he could remember, relief flooded him.
Elijah didn’t know why he turned around at the sound of the angry man’s voice. It was a miracle he heard it at all over the crowd and his own thumping heartbeat. He turned to search for the voice behind the reporter and barely glimpsed the object in the man’s hand before a searing pain had him covering his left eye. He had no idea what was happening, but something cold and sticky clung to him. A soda or a slushie? He couldn’t be sure. It didn’t matter. Within seconds, two larger men in black jackets tackled the man, and Lucifer dragged Elijah down the carpet. He could hear the man shouting at his back, using every homophobic slur imaginable, but none of it was registering. He was having a nightmare, and at any moment, he’d wake up back at home and all of this would just disappear.
Lucy’s voice cut through the roar of the crowd. “We need a medic. Now!”
“I’m okay,” he muttered, even though he was sure he was blind in his left eye. Did slushies cause blindness? You’d think those kids from Glee would have all needed canes or seeing-eye dogs if that were true.
He laughed out loud but quickly cut it off as Lucifer’s nails dug into his arm. “Do you think this is funny? Do you know how hard I had to work to get you back on top again? This will ruin you. How did they even get that footage? What were you thinking?”
Elijah just let her talk. There was no use attempting to defend himself when she was on a tear. Better to just let her talk it through.
“Where the hell is Paige? We need to figure out how to spin this. Fuck. This is a disaster. You’ve ruined everything.”
Elijah would have laughed again if he didn’t think it would get him murdered. Lucifer really needed to work on her tough love approach.
Had he ruined everything? Was his career over? He didn’t think so…but deep down, some secret part of him hoped it was.