Alone on Earth (Signal Bend Series Volume 4)(10)

By: Susan Fanetti

She had not worked with Tanner before. Film-wise, he was a class above her, routinely headlining

Oscar-bait films, while Riley worked primarily in television and cranked out a rom-com during her hiatus.

Fame-wise, though, they were on the same level. And they were represented by agents in the same agency.

So they moved in many of the same circles and thus were fairly well acquainted with each other. Not

friends, not pals, but they’d chatted a few times at parties and dinners and events.

Tanner had a storied reputation for romancing his leading ladies. Probably the last eight or ten movies

had had him linked hotly with his co-star. By all accounts, he was pure torrid intensity and a truly epic lay,

until about a week after the premiere, at which point he was gone. A few of those blazing and brief

“relationships” had become public relations tangles for him (he’d left a pregnant non-industry girlfriend for

one co-star), but in the end he always managed to come out unmussed. People liked bad boys far better

than they liked bad girls. Beautiful British bad boys whose eyes crinkled when they smiled could probably

drown puppies by the basketful and still get a pass.

The gossip press was already anticipating the “Rilanner” show, but Riley was not interested in that kind

of drama. It helped that she also didn’t think he was all that hot. Sure, she could appreciate that he was

beautiful—tall and chiseled, with bright green eyes and shampoo-model-gorgeous dark hair (it was long

now, for the role, she guessed, so all the more shiny and shampoo-y). But that was kind of the problem, as

far as Riley was concerned. Too pretty. And much, much too aware of it. He wasn’t a bad guy, overall, if

you weren’t sleeping with him, but he was vain. Even by Hollywood standards. He was extremely good

looking and extremely talented, and that somehow made the vanity even worse. The guy could spare a little

humility. Honestly.

Riley liked her men a little more used. Like Devon. Devon had been gorgeous in her eyes. With his

dreads and his moth-eaten, stretched-out sweaters, and his pierced lip—she’d really loved that pierced lip—

and his lean, spare frame. And his eyes. God, those big, brown eyes. She’d really loved the way he’d

looked. She’d really loved him, period.

Best not to spend too much time dwelling there. She’d spent plenty of time there the night before,

playing Laughing Warriors videos until the wee hours, sitting in the middle of her bed with her MacBook

and her silly box of relationship keepsakes.

He’d died almost nine months ago. She was supposed to be ready to move on, apparently. She thought

she might be. And then she thought she might not. A death was not a breakup. It wasn’t the end of a

relationship, the death of feeling. She could be angry at him, and she was. He’d only been out of rehab for

barely more than a week, and he’d promised her. But she couldn’t stop feeling. She couldn’t move on,

because he couldn’t move on. There was no closure to be had. Only finality.

She seriously needed to stop thinking about this. She was getting herself caught in a loop. Maybe this

trip to Hicksville was what she needed—away from her life, her mother, her keepsake box. She hadn’t

wanted to come, but maybe there was some head-clearing to be had.

But in the immediate, Tanner was sitting next to her giving her meaningful looks. He was going to be

disappointed; she was going to break his streak. She wouldn’t be moving on with him, not even in a

reboundy way. Because he was not her type.

She didn’t have a type, per se, though—not a physical one, anyway. She had a personality type, an

emotional type. She wasn’t sure she understood what it was, exactly, but she knew it when she saw it. And

Tanner Stafford did not have it.

So she was on her guard when he shooed Pru away and then stretched his arm across the back of the

booth, behind her, and leaned in.

“Riley Chase. You and I are to be lovers.” He gave her a crinkly smile and picked up a loose curl of her

hair from her chest—just above her boob—and laced it through his fingers.

She pulled her hair free from his grasp. “You mean our characters. Yes. It appears so.”