Dream of You

By: Kate Perry

Dedication





A super HUGE thank you hug to Lord Martha. She runs my world with an iron fist, and I love it.





Big, sloppy kisses to Julie and Parisa. And also to Josie, who knows when I need my coffee spiked.





And, as always, for my Magic Man. Smooches, my love.





Chapter One





As she stared at the ceiling of her agent's office, Lola cursed her mother for naming her Lola Carmichael.

What had she been thinking? Maybe all those birth hormones had made the woman shortsighted. She obviously hadn't realized that a name like Lola Carmichael would severely limit a girl's career choices. An accountant named Lola? No way. It didn't help that she looked like Fantasy Time Barbie. She'd been relegated to being either a stripper or romance novelist straight out of the womb.

Guess which she became.

Lola slouched in the seat until her butt perched on the edge and her head rested on top of the chair back. Sighing, she counted the cracks in the ceiling as she waited.

She got up to twenty-three before she lost count. "With all the money you make off me, shouldn't you be able to afford to fix the ceiling, Paul?"

Her agent didn't bother acknowledging her, his full attention on her manuscript.

She studied him as he read. Paul Jennings was the most unlikely looking agent she'd ever seen. If she had to cast him in a book, he'd be an ex-Navy sergeant—a hulk who dressed in fine suits, French cuffed shirts, and silk ties.

His office looked like him, too. The lines were simple and the colors muted, but all together it looked sharp and expensive.

One manicured hand flipped a page. Lola wondered what he thought of her story.

She didn't have to wonder long. Paul set it down and stared at her with dark, piercing eyes.

Since he didn't seem inclined to speak, she ventured a comment. "It has promise, don't you think?"

"It's shit."

"Don't hold back. Tell me like it is."

Paul leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his barrel chest. "Lola, you have six weeks until the deadline, and you just handed me three of the worst chapters you've ever written. Your first novel was better than this."

"They aren't that bad."

"Lola, it's shit," he repeated distinctly.

"It needs some editing but—"

He picked up a page and read out loud. "'All men were bastards. At least hers would be good looking, even if his chin was weak.'"

She shrugged. "The hero has to have some flaws."

"This hero is more than flawed." He picked up the pages and tossed them into the garbage. "This hero is an asshole."

"I made him realistic," she said as she reached into the garbage and retrieved the chapters, slipping them into her bag for later.

Paul heaved a sigh and ran a hand over his face. "Isn't it time you got over Kevin?"

Her spine stiffened automatically. "This has nothing to do with Kevin."

"It has everything to do with him. You're bashing your hero because one man hurt you."

"He did not hurt me."

Paul cocked a brow.

Humiliated, yes. Hurt, hell no. A woman had to care to be hurt, and there was no way Lola cared about Kevin. Looking back, she wasn't sure she ever did. "I'm not hurt."

Paul didn't look like he believed her but he didn't argue. Instead, he got all business-like. "Fact of the matter is you have a deadline in six weeks and you've delivered nothing your editor will accept. Unless you want to destroy your career after all the hard work to get to this point, I'd suggest you get cracking and churn out one of the romance novels you're famous for."

That was the problem. She wrote her stories based on real-life happily-ever-afters. Her first book had been a veiled account of her parents' courtship, and every story since had been inspired by true stories of love.

This next book was supposed to be her story.

Until Kevin dumped her.

Not exactly the greatest romance to write about.

But what was she supposed to do? Scrap the whole story and start over? She didn't have another romance to replace her story. And, frankly, it was crazy to start over with the deadline six weeks away. If she could just make it to the ending, then she could go back and fix it all.

In theory.

Knowing Paul was waiting for some reply, she nodded. "I've got it all under control."

He didn't look like he believed her. "Get the old Lola Carmichael back. That's what people pay for. That's what put your current release at number eight on New York Times bestseller list."

Right.

"Speaking of your current bestseller." Paul grabbed one of the neatly filed folders on the corner of his desk and opened it. "Your publicist has booked you to speak on Ladies' Night this Friday at 8pm. You're helping launch the new radio show. They were excited to have you."

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