Broken Love Cut Scene
I think my dad was the first to see it. Palmer Montlake was my best friend’s little sister. She was smart, spunky, and a spitfire even at only seven when she used to don a dance tutu along with a baseball jersey and cheer for our baseball team.
Dad took one look at her and said, “That’s girl is going to be a movie star someday.”
Her parents chuckled, but it was evident to my father, who worked as an attorney for a big studio.
Palmer started modeling at fourteen and by fifteen was featured in magazines, ad campaigns, and on runways across the world.
At nineteen, she was considered a super model. And after being in a funny video with a young comedian, the acting offers started rolling in.
One that she was interested in.
Besides an amazing rack and an ass every man in American dreamed about, she had a good head on her shoulders. She had a successful lifestyle blog, a clothing line, and a perfume named after her. Designers wooed her, and she was every red-blooded American boy’s wet dream. The hot girl next door. The one you’d watch get undressed from your bedroom window. The one you became friends with her brother just to get a glimpse of her in a bikini.
That was her first role—playing the hot girl who moved in next door to live with her aunt for the summer.
And that’s when they came to me. While she already had a modeling agent, way back when he signed her, my father made sure her contract was limited to only her modeling career. Now, she needed a talent agent.
Her brother, Pike called me. Even though he went on to the majors and I went to law school, we have stayed close.
“Dude, what are you doing tomorrow?” he asks.
“Our dads want their sons to golf with them.”
I roll my eyes. “As fun as that sounds, I have a meeting.”
“You need to cancel it. They have a future movie star they want you to represent.”
I want to roll my eyes, because since I got a job as a junior agent, future movie stars have been coming out of the woodwork. It seems everyone in L.A. thinks they are going to be the next big thing. But my dad is a good judge of character and talent, so I find myself agreeing.
My dad slaps me on the back when I meet up with him at the country club. “Mr. Montlake and Pike have a favor to ask you, and I believe both for your career and the love of your family, you should take this and run with it.”
It’s not until we’ve golfed eighteen and are having a drink in the clubhouse when the subject finally comes up.
“Palmer has received an offer to be in a movie, and we’d like you to take her as a client. There are a lot of slimy agents out there who may try to manipulate our sweet girl into doing something unchristian like,” her father states.
I can’t help but wonder if he’s seen the photo of his little angel in the American flag bikini sucking on a corn dog—because I sure have.
Pike says, “With her career as a model, we’re afraid they may try to exploit her body.”
“My daughter is never to expose herself in a movie. I need you to make sure of it Cade,” her father continues.
Isn’t that sort of what a model does? I want to ask, but I bite my lip. It’s not like she’s ever appeared nude. Although the photo of her covered in sand and looking like she just had a roll in it, walking out of the ocean with only her arm to cover her chest comes to mind. It may be my personal favorite. Thank God she’s finally legal now, and I don’t have to feel slimy lusting after her and wondering if my life would have been different had I just said yes that night.
Hell, I could have gone to jail for that.
My dick is voting to take her on as a client, but my mind is thinking of all the ways this could go wrong and how it could ruin my very new career.
“Of course, I appreciate you thinking of me, Mr. Montlake, but I’m a little worried about representing a family friend. Conflict of interest and all that.” I try to graciously turn them down. My dad kicks me under the table, and I know I have no choice. “But of course, I’ll do it.”
Our dads leave and Pike orders us another round.
“Why didn’t you just tell me that’s what you wanted? Why did you let your dad blindside me like that?”
“He’s old, Cade.” Their father is fifteen years older than mine, having had a successful career as a real estate developer before marrying a younger woman and starting a family. “He is also dying.”
“Pancreatic cancer. Terminal. They don’t give him much time.”
The fight is sucked out of me.
“Does Palmer know?”
“Not yet. He’s trying to make sure all his affairs are in order, and making sure his baby girl is taken care of when he’s gone is number one on his priority list. That’s why I couldn’t tell you. It needed to come from him. He needed—wanted—to do this for her.”
“Jesus,” I say. “I’m sorry, man.”
Tears well up in my best friend’s eyes. “We’ve been through a lot together over the years, haven’t we, bro? Highs and lows. I guess that’s why parents put their kids in sports, so they can understand the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. So we learn to lose graciously and win humbly. That we learn to value our individual skills and how to work as a team. How to be a leader. You were always better than me at that, Cade. I wanted the glory. You just wanted the girls.”
I can’t help but laugh. “It’s the glory that pulls in the girls, you know that. Not to mention the money. Don’t forget you asked me to review your last contract.”
“While you were still in law school. And don’t forget it was only a three-year deal. I’ll be a free agent after this season.”
“Do you think you’ll be leaving?”
“I’ll probably go with the highest bidder. That’s what’s expected, right?”
“Since when have you ever done what’s expected, Pike? Go somewhere you want to play. Somewhere you are passionate about. You want to stay here, in L.A., don’t you?”
“Yeah, but in case I don’t, it’s good to know you’ll have my sister’s back. Promise me, Cade, that you’ll take care of her. That you won’t let her appear naked in a movie.” My mind goes to her, naked, as he continues. “That you’ll treat her like she was your sister, like Chloe. You wouldn’t want Chloe to appear naked in a movie, would you?”
I blink longer than I should clearing the image of Palmer as my sister.
“I promise,” I say.
Which turns out to be the biggest mistake of my life.
Palmer and I meet the following day. She wanted to meet at a casual place on the beach. Her favorite place, and where she held her family birthday parties when she was a kid.
“Why don’t you come to my office?” I requested. I need to keep Palmer all business. Her brother would cut my dick off and bat it out of the park if he knew the thoughts I have about her.
She shows up at my office, wearing fringe cut-offs and a ruffled tank, grabs my hand and leads me downstairs to the car her parents got her for her sixteenth birthday—a restored convertible 1969 Mustang. “Get in,” she says, opening my door.
I do as she says, mesmerized by her as she jumps in the driver’s seat and lowers the top while simultaneously twisting her hair into a braid.
She turns on the radio and drives to the beach—to the place she wanted to go in the first place.
She grabs my hand, dragging me to a table outside and ordering us each a beer. It’s two in the afternoon. The lunch crowd is gone and happy hour doesn’t start until five, so there are very few patrons.
“I’m the baby of the family, Cade. You’ll learn I always get my way.” She lowers her head. “Except with you. I figure we might as address it now, if we’re going to work together.”
“Address what?” I say, my mouth suddenly feeling very parched.
She gives me a wide grin. “If you would have been drunk enough not to remember, you wouldn’t have told me no.”
I sigh and run my hand through my hair. “You were fifteen, Palmer.”
“And I knew what I wanted.”
She holds my eyes as she undoes her braid. It’s like watching her undress, and I feel myself start to harden. Dammit. She’s like a sister—except she isn’t.
A cool ocean breeze blows her long bangs across her face. She takes sunglasses out of her massive designer bag and throws them on top of her head, taming them.
“What you need to know, Cade, if we’re going to work together, is that I haven’t stopped wanting you. In fact, if anything, my crush on you got bigger today. Damn, you grew up well. Look at you in that suit. That tie. You’re totally scrumptious.”
Her smile is warm and friendly.
“You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?” I ask with a laugh then take a pull off my beer.
“If we are going to work together, Cade, you’re going to have to drop the good boy, attorney act. Because I know the bad boy inside. I was at almost every game you ever played in. I watched the girls flock around you and my brother, and I heard them talk about you in the stands. Take off your jacket, undo your tie.”
I squint my eyes in irritation. “I’m only doing this because it’s hot out here, not because you told me to,” I say, shedding my jacket and taking off my tie.
She leans across the table and unbuttons the top two buttons of my dress shirt.
“You have a t-shirt on underneath.” She doesn’t stop with two, but continues unbuttoning my shirt. When I dare to look in her direction, she glances up at me, her long dark eyelashes rising to reveal brilliant blue eyes framed by dark eyebrows. Eyes that are taunting me. She knows exactly what she’s doing to me. Gone is the girl who took no for an answer and in her place is the woman before me who will push every ethical boundary I have.
Once she has me out of my shirt and wearing just a white undershirt, she plops back down across from me. “So where are these papers I need to sign?”
I take them out of my briefcase and slide them across the table along with a pen. The pen that was a gift from her family upon my law school graduation. It’s a reminder to me. Don’t fuck this up by sleeping with her.
“Before you sign, you should know that if you do, we will be bound by certain unwritten rules.”
“Like what?” she asks as she’s flipping through the contract and initialing each page.
“I keep my personal and professional lives separate. If we do this deal—if I’m going to represent you—you won’t be my best friend’s little sister anymore. You’ll be my client. And I don’t have personal relationships with my clients.”
She stands up and signs the papers, then leans across the table and plants a kiss straight on my lips. “You of all people should know that I never follow the rules, Cade. I’ll forward your name to the producer. I’m leaving tonight for a shoot in Miami.” She flashes me a smile as she leaves me there. “I’ll see you later, Cade.”
The way she says my name sounds like a threat.
But I can handle it.