Riding His Longboard - Sienna Blake
“What is this happily ever after crap? I can’t publish this, Nicole.”
I listened to my editor in horror, racking my brain for a reason to convince him that my article should be in his magazine and more importantly, that I should get paid for it.
“Are you sure, Carl? Rhys Carmichael and Vina Teodosio have an amazing story…the billionaire falling in love with the dog sitter. I think your readers could use a little happily ever after in their lives. Maybe you could—”
“Ugh. Boring. Our readers want scandal and sin, naughty celebrities trying to hide their transgressions. If this Rhys person starts cheating on her with the sexy cat sitter, get back to me,” Carl Winters said, slapping the paper copy of my story down on the large oak desk in his downtown Sydney office.
I bit my lip and stared at him. I needed this paycheck. Desperately. If it was just for me, I would have told the sleazy Carl to go to hell, but my mother was so sick, and her bills were piling up. My father had never been in the picture, so it was up to me to support her.
“I’ll do anything,” I blurted out. “Whatever you need. Carl. Whatever story you want, I will track it down. You need bad behavior? I’ll find it. Cheaters, streakers, sex scandals, tax evaders, anything.”
Carl grinned at me, his thick pink lips spreading out over his round face and double chin. “Anything?” he asked, and for a moment, I thought he was going to proposition me. “Come around the desk. I want to show you something.”
“I didn’t mean my bad behavior,” I stuttered, thinking I would rather drown myself in the Sydney Harbour than even touch the little man now wiggling his eyebrows at me.
“Calm down, love. You’re too skinny for my taste. I meant come around so you can see my laptop,” he said, giving up on my coming around the desk and instead spinning his laptop toward me. “I have your next assignment, and it has everything I’m looking for. Sex, cheating, mystery, fame and best of all, a naughty baby daddy!”
I looked down at the screen, straight into the gorgeous brown eyes of Joel Slater, arguably Australia’s best surfer and most definitely its hottest. He was pushing back his tousled brown hair that was streaked blonde from hours in the sun, a row of straight white teeth in the middle of a perfectly tanned face. Even his little smile crinkles around his eyes were adorable. The only thing missing was a shirt. I wasn’t even sure that I’d ever seen him actually wearing a shirt. Not that I was complaining. I had to hold in a sigh of pleasure when I looked at his smooth, broad chest and powerful shoulders, biceps popping out as he held a surfboard under one arm and a massive trophy in the other.
“I read somewhere that Slater has a new baby, but I haven’t seen who the mother is,” I said, tearing my eyes away from Joel’s gorgeous face to look into Carl’s little pig eyes.
“Exactly,” Carl said. “He just returned from a hiatus overseas and suddenly he’s a dad? I’ve seen other tabloids speculating which famous model or actress is the baby mama but all have turned up nothing. I need you to get the juicy details and exclusive pictures. This would be the scoop of a lifetime and one hell of a payday.”
My mouth had gone dry and I swallowed hard. I hated this type of journalism, if you could even call it journalism. It usually involved bribing, lying, trailing someone’s every move, occasionally digging through a celebrity’s trash and always violating their privacy.
“Gosh, Carl. I’d love to help you, I really would, but there are some things that I just can’t do,” I said, noticing my sweaty palms had left a wet spot on his desk where I’d pressed them into the wood.
“Too bad. I would have paid you $15,000 on the spot,” he said, spinning his laptop back to face him.
“I’ll do it,” I practically shouted, surprised at how loud my voice was.
“I thought that might change your mind. You should know that I won’t pay you unless you get all the details, the information that only people in his inner circle would know, including the name of the woman he knocked up and where she’s gone.”
“The story, the photos. I’ll get this scoop, no matter what it takes,” I pledged.
“It won’t be easy,” he cautioned. “Joel is as private