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The Bureau #02 - Alter Ego

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It was a miracle. Most coma patients either recovered within a few days, or they never came back at all. Kayla Farrell was in a coma for three long years. Everyone had given up hope--except for one courageous nurse who was willing to try anything to revive her patient! But waking up to the sound of her favorite actor's voice is only the first step on Kayla's long, arduous road to recovery.

Alex Matthews, lead star of the award-winning series "The Bureau," has heard all the rumors. How the sound of his voice pulled this unknown little author back from death's door. How the first word out of her mouth was his character's name. And how, despite her infirmities, she's written the most amazing script ever to cross a producer's desk. The entire thing sounds too weird to be true.

The prospect of dealing with a cripple scares the daylights out of him. So when Kayla and her devoted nurse actually arrive on the exotic "Bureau" set to watch her movie being filmed, Alex is forced to confront his deepest fears. Yet despite her confining wheelchair, Kayla Farrell is beautiful, vibrant, full of life. And try as he might, he's drawn by her clever wit, and her tenacious struggle to walk again.

But Alex isn't the only one who enjoys Kayla's vivacious company. He's lost out to his co-star Tommy Anders' boyish charm before--but never when it mattered so much. His timing for the camera is impeccable. But in his personal life, somehow he manages to botch it every time. Can he manage to overcome his fears, and win Kayla's love, before their return to civilization separates them forever?

==<<| Excerpt |>>==

      Kayla would always remember that first golden glimpse of Alex Matthews, looking like a guilty little kid caught in the cookie jar, while his normally-sober partner roared with laughter.
      A keen pang of disappointment lanced through her heart. Of course she hadn’t really expected them to act just like their TV roles—yet somehow she had, anyway! Foolish of her.
      She knew their screen characters intimately. She knew what they’d say, how they’d say it, how they’d react to any given situation. But these two glorious, larger-than-life people were total strangers to her. Suddenly she felt very shy, and more than a little awkward.
      Alex was just as much at a loss. You’re the one she’s here to see. Allie’s cheerful voice echoed in his ears. He drew a deep, steadying breath, and tried to still his racing pulse. Let’s make her week a memorable one.
      He was an actor. He could handle this. No one else needed to know how his heart was pounding.
      Resolutely he stepped forward with a beaming smile pasted on his face. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Kayla Farrell. Welcome to Paradise Island!” And he forced himself to clasp her outstretched hand.
      Heat exploded in his palm, and seared all the way up his arm and shoulder. Startled, he took a hasty step back.
      Whatever he’d expected, her skin was vibrant and warm from the overhead noon sun.
      He became aware of a fierce thudding in his belly—one that had nothing to do with the dreaded wheelchair, and everything to do with the heavy anvil still gut-punching him.
      Alicia’s eyebrows rose slightly as hot color flooded Kayla’s cheeks. So the sparks were already flying, how interesting! Sudden intriguing possibilities began to dance through her clever mind.
      “Now you’ll have to watch out for this one,” she teased, slyly canting her head in Alex’s direction. “Thinks he’s too good for the likes of us, and he’ll lead your poor heart on a merry chase if you give him a moment’s notice.”
      Kayla glanced up at her in surprise. An oblique warning? To guard herself, or to not poach on another woman’s territory? As if she would!
      Oh, nonsense, she was still just nervous, and imagining things. Like the way her skin had suddenly sizzled when she’d touched Alex Matthews’ big hand. Her overactive imagination was obviously working overtime. Or maybe Brigit’s wondrous therapy oil was making all her nerve endings go crazy!
      She covertly flexed her fingers, then rubbed them against her cool linen slacks. “I make it a point never to fall in love with leading men,” she replied, managing a wry chuckle. “They never measure up to their screen characters.”
      “Ouch, I’m wounded!” Reflexively Alex drew Quinn MacAllister’s charming personality around him like a familiar shield. ‘Mac’ could get away with saying anything, and possessed an easy confidence that Alex, for all his fame and popularity, had never mastered. He often drew on his character’s extensive repartee (bless the show’s excellent screenwriters!) to get through difficult moments like this, when he had no idea what to say or do.
      Maybe he should keep ‘Mac’ firmly in place until this Kayla Farrell left again. After all, she’d come here to see MacAllister and Conners spin out their magic for the silver screen. Chances were, she wouldn’t like Alex Matthews, who was entirely too self-conscious and insecure around women, any more than he’d like her. So it was probably safer to let ‘Mac’ deal with her.
      She’d be more comfortable around his alter-ego than she ever would be around him, anyway…


Word Count: 59,600

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