Excerpt: Revenge in Room 426

Excerpt: Revenge in Room 426

Book 8: The Chatsfield

It was him!

No, no, it wasn’t… damn, yes it was. And he looked… Chloe Tyler flattened herself against the brickwork at the Chatsfield London hotel and tried not to stare. Which was a bit like those lab experiments where small children were told not to touch a plate full of cookies or something equally tempting, because Liam Hunter was born to be stared at.

He always had been. The most popular boy in high school, probably the most popular boy in kindergarten as well, he was, at twenty three, now the most popular star to grace the silver screen. Privileged. Wealthy. Spoilt. Chloe pulled a face. Basically the opposite of her. The poor, dorky exchange student who had gone to America looking for adventure and come away with egg on her face. Like every other girl in senior high she had fallen head over heels in love with him. Then she’d got to know him when she’d started tutoring him in English and not only did she think him the best looking guy she had ever seen but the nicest as well.

Boy, did he relieve her of that misapprehension very spectacularly. And very publicly.

His horrible prank had been the most humiliating experience of her life and he’d even posted the video of it on YouTube where it had gone viral. God, even her father had seen it.

Making sure to keep well out of his line of vision Chloe was unable to tear her eyes away from his long, muscular frame as he strolled along the red carpet and greeted what seemed like thousands of screaming fans and paparazzi. It had been five years since the nightmare of prom night. Five years since she had seen Liam Hunter – aka rat loser extraordinaire – in the flesh and unfortunately he looked better than ever. Larger. Leaner. His tawny brown hair, worn long now, sat just above shoulder length in an artful array of thick layers. His broad shoulders were encased in a navy blue shirt open over his trademark white t-shirt, and aged denims road low on his lean hips and muscular thighs, ending in worn workman boots.

Ha. The man – for that was what he was now – had never done a day’s hard labour in his life. He was the Golden Boy who could do no wrong, except that he had a snake’s personality and he thought nothing of hurting others. Of hurting her. And her fall had been that much steeper because he’d done it after making her feel so special. So wonderful. So beautiful.

Yeah, right. That should have been her first clue that something was up. If there was one thing Chloe wasn’t it was beautiful. Oh, she had some pluses – she had creamy skin that despite her red hair hardly freckled and blue eyes with long dark lashes and an okay smile. Unfortunately she had red hair – really red hair – that had a tendency to frizz when it was humid and her nose was a little on the prominent side, made worse, in her opinion, by her too wide mouth. Added to that she also had size eleven paddles on the end of her legs and was as tall as a giraffe.

As far as Chloe was concerned, the only women who fared well from being tall were supermodels and basketball players. Of which she was neither.

Suddenly dizzy she realised that she was holding her breath and released it in a rush. Painful memories of Liam’s cruel joke buzzed into her head like darting mosquitos around a bag of blood and she pushed them away, reminding herself that she was here to do a job whether she liked it or not.

A job that had landed on her desk yesterday afternoon when Globe magazine’s flighty entertainment journalist had decided to take off to follow a singing career. With her boss left in the lurch Chloe had eagerly jumped into the fray to take over Candy’s next assignment.


She released a long slow breath. If only she’d asked who Candy’s interview subject was before she’d said yes.

Refusing to continue to dwell on what she couldn’t change Chloe slowly peeled herself away from the wall and walked with leaden feet past the still amped crowd – no doubt waiting for the other star of the movie to arrive, the divine Bethany Lord.

Flashing her press card at the uniformed doorman, Chloe barely noticed the grand staircase or the elegant clientele of London’s premiere hotel as she hurried down a maze of wide corridors and pulled up short at the end of a long line of journalists.

The man in front of her turned and smiled by way of a greeting and Chloe noticed that he wore glasses. She used to wear glasses before she’d had laser surgery on her eyes. Liam had called her Specs during their tutoring sessions and she’d loved it. Loved him. Chloe groaned and covered it with a cough behind her hand.

A friend had told her that if she went on exchange to the USA, the Americans would find her exotic and that she’d be Miss Popular within minutes of arriving.

In fact the opposite had happened.

Chloe’s social awkwardness and tendency to take everyone literally had shone out like a warning beacon and she’d been an outsider the whole time. Well, maybe not the whole time. She’d been accepted by the ‘in’ crowd for about two weeks towards the end. But that hadn’t been real. That had been set up to lull her into a situation that wasn’t unlike the way ranchers corralled unsuspecting brumbies into hidden yards and then yelled ‘gotcha’. Only the kids at West Preston High hadn’t yelled gotcha because they’d been too busy laughing.

When she had returned to England her aunt had told her that the best revenge was to live well and Chloe had done that. She’d put the events of her past behind her and focused on her career. Focused on creating a steady, comfortable life for herself. And she’d succeeded. She was happy. Or she would be when she got this horrendous interview out of the way.

Suddenly an electric ripple ran down the line of waiting journalists. ‘He’s here,’ the journalist in front of her announced unnecessarily. Chloe glanced at him wryly. She’d already guessed they weren’t all a-twitter over the cleaning lady.