Telenovela (South of the Border 1)
Released November 12, 2017
César is a famous Mexican Telenovela star. Women constantly throw themselves at him, and he’ll be into one for a short time before moving on. Long-term relationships spell danger for César. People he loves end up dead. That’s why Camila can never know she’s more to him than a one night stand. But he has to find a way to preserve their working relationship because the show must go on…
Camila nearly gave up her dream of becoming an actress. After three years of auditioning, all she has to show for it is a dead-end office job. Then, a business trip to Puerto Vallarta puts her in the right place at the right time. Suddenly, she’s a pampered star on The Sands of Time, one of Mexico’s hottest Telenovelas. Soon acting and reality become intertwined, as her co-star, César, is too hot to resist on set or off it. She knows César’s trouble, but what she doesn’t know is that her dalliance with him could be deadly.
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I’m walking barefoot close to the shoreline. The ocean waves crash and lap over my feet. The water’s cool, but refreshing. Even in March, it’s in the low 80s. The bright sun coats the endless stretch of sea with flickering diamonds. A few puffy clouds drift across the azure sky. I release a long, satisfied exhale. This is the best day I’ve had in so long. It feels amazing to be outdoors instead of confined to a windowless room.
People lounge in chairs under the bright blue umbrellas, sipping drinks from straws. Others stroll along the beach. Some of the children run across the sand, while others splash and play in the shallow water.
Like LA’s Venice Beach, here there are more male couples than heterosexual couples walking the beach. But on this Puerto Vallarta beach, they seem uninhibited and unconcerned that anyone will judge them. Wearing tight, colorful bikini briefs, the men openly kiss or hold hands with their partners. The energy of this place moves me. The tension that usually constricts my neck and shoulders has melted away. The slower pace of Mexico seems to be contagious. I feel happy and relaxed and so does everyone I see. The rushed pace of La La Land doesn’t exist here.
A Mexican guy greets me with a “Buenas tardes.” He probably thinks I’m a local.
I automatically answer in Spanish, glancing at him long enough to notice that he’s reasonably attractive. But then I notice the drop-dead gorgeous guy walking up behind him. Any woman’s gaze would be drawn toward him like a magnet. Wow. His beautifully shaped lips alone are enough to make me salivate. And I love his hair—shoulder-length and straight and thick enough to tangle your fingers in when you kiss him. Dios mío, what am I thinking. Giving his amazing body the once over doesn’t do a thing to help me clear my head. Maybe I should keep my gaze focused above his neck. His blue-green eyes, accented by thick brows, glance my way. My mouth falls open when he starts walking toward me. I look behind me to see if maybe there’s another woman there, but there isn’t. This is crazy.
“Buenas tardes,” he says. “Cómo está?” He slows down. Not only is he greeting me, he’s trying to start a conversation with me.
My heart beats faster. Does he always talk to strangers? I guess if he wants to talk to random women on the beach, it should be easy enough. What woman wouldn’t talk to him? I’m surprised he doesn’t have a horde of them hovering, he looks so delectable. I clear my throat, not sure what to say. I stutter out a greeting. He continues speaking to me in Spanish.
“I’m César. Cómo se llama?”
“Mucho gusto. I’m Camila.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Camila.” I like the sound of my name flowing off his lips. His full and very sexy lips. He extends a hand.
I reach out to shake it. Electricity shoots up my arm leaving me feeling lightheaded. My mouth must have fallen open. It’s been forever since I’ve felt attraction like this or even thought about a relationship or falling in love. There’s no time for men when your life is a non-stop financial struggle. I haven’t had a serious relationship since acting school.
“It’s great meeting you, too. Do you live here? Or are you visiting?” His voice is warm and inviting, his eyes so large and alive. The blue and green flecks in his irises remind me of the sea, the way they constantly change color.
“Visiting. I live in Los Angeles.”
“Oh, you live in America. Are you near Hollywood?”
I involuntarily clench my jaw. There’s no way I’m going to mention the seedy neighborhood I live in. “I live in a suburb not too far from there. How about you?”
“I grew up in Puerto Vallarta. Now I split my time between living here and in Mexico City.”
“I was born in Mexico City. My parents moved to the US when I was eight. Are you working here? Or are you on vacation?”
“I’m working as usual. We are here filming.”
“Filming? How interesting. The company I work for is here to film scenes for the American soap opera, Days and Nights of Desire.”
His eyes widen and when he smiles, I see a perfect row of sturdy white teeth. His smile ratchets his amazing looks up to a whole new level. The man’s gorgeous and he probably knows it. He must be an actor. Every woman in Mexico would die to watch whatever show he’s in.
César looks directly into my eyes. “I knew you were an actress. You have the look.”
My shoulders slump forward and I muffle my sigh. Wait until he finds out what I really am. “I wish. I studied to be an actress and auditioned for a part in this show, but I got offered a job as an office assistant.” I wait for him to politely end the conversation and make his escape.
He steps in closer and his brows draw together in disgust. “Office assistant? What were they thinking?”
More tingles race through my body at his nearness. His body is to die for. His black T-shirt stretches across his muscular chest and his rock-solid bicep and tricep muscles flex and bunch when he moves his hands expansively through the air as he talks. I shrug. “I didn’t fit their concept of evil seductress I guess.”
“The producer must be blind. You have what it takes to be a star, Camila. I recognized it the instant I saw you.”
He’s really laying it on thick. He must be trying to seduce me. Not that I mind all that much. At least he didn’t bolt when he heard I have a grunt job. “You’re very kind. How about you? Are you an actor?”
“Yes. I play the role of Juan in a Telenovela, The Sands of Time.”
“And you’re filming here?”
“Yes. We are shooting scenes of me meeting my next love interest.”
“That’s exciting.” I feel jealous just thinking about him entangled between the sheets with his co-star. Wouldn’t I like to have that job?
“It would be, but we have a very big problem. And I am thinking maybe you can help us solve it.” He gazes at me in a penetrating way that shows he’s analyzing not only my looks, but trying to see deeper. It takes my breath away.
There’s an awkward pause before I answer. “I-I’m not sure what you mean.”
“You’ll see in a minute. Please come with me.” He wraps his strong fingers around my forearm and gently tugs to urge me to come with him.
That touch sends another current of electricity ricocheting through my body. I want to be near him. Maybe I even crave the wild affair he seems after. But this is a very bad idea. César is a complete stranger. He could take me anywhere. “Oh, no, I really can’t. I don’t even know you.”
“I want you to meet some people. They’re under that row of umbrellas.” He points off in the distance. I’m not sure who he’s pointing toward because there are hundreds of umbrellas on this beach and almost every beach chair is full. But I shake off my fears. Meeting a group of people on this beach can’t be any more dangerous than taking a public bus in LA. César releases my arm and starts walking faster.
I speed up too, but my feet slip in the deep sand as I struggle to keep up with him. I manage to gasp out, “I don’t understand. Who do you want me to meet?”
“My movie crew, of course. You have the looks. And the personality we need. Your luck is about to change. You’re about to become the hottest new Mexican telenovela star.”