A Very Vampy Christmas (Love at Stake 2.5) - Page 2

Then, he had arrived. Four years ago, a new actor had appeared on As a Vampire Turns, and for the first time in Maggie's long life, she was hopelessly in love. Don Orlando de Corazon had burst onto the television screen with a flourish of his black silk cape and a gleam in his dark, passionate eyes, and Maggie was lost. He was the one. The only one for her. And if only he could meet her, he would instantly recognize her as his soul mate. It was her love for him that had given her the courage to audition at DVN. When she'd actually won a role on As a Vampire Turns, it had looked like her dream had come true.

But her dream had become a nightmare. Before her first day on the set, she'd learned the truth. Each night on her gossip magazine, Corky Courrant exposed Don Orlando for his raunchy, womanizing ways. And Maggie was stuck playing Dr. Jessica Goodwin, one of Don Orlando's many conquests.

She'd tried to focus on her acting skills and her new career. But each time she had a scene with him, her heart stuttered in her chest. How could she ever hope to get over him when he kept declaring his undying love for her? But it was all fake. Sweet Mary. even his chest hair was fake!

"Places!" the director yelled. "Let's finish the scene."

Maggie took a deep breath. This was it. In this scene, Don Orlando was supposed to kiss Dr. Jessica. Her first kiss from Don Orlando. It's not real. He probably didn't even know her real name. She stepped into her pretend hospital office, and the makeup girl quickly retouched her powder and lipstick.

"Let's start with 'Kiss me and tell me you don't love me,'" Gordon announced. "Roll 'em."

Maggie's breath hitched as Don Orlando strode toward her.

He swept her into his arras. "Kiss me and tell me you don't love me."

"You're so cruel to make me suffer," Maggie whispered, her knees growing weak. She clung to his shoulders. "Please let me go." Please, kiss me. I've waited four years for this.

He studied her face as he gathered her tighter in his arms. She closed her eyes and wilted against him. When his lips brushed hers, her body trembled. His mouth was warm and gentle. If only he could be the hero she had dreamed of. If only he could love her. If only he could see the goodness in her and cherish her the way she needed. If only miracles could really happen.

"That's great!" the director announced. "Cut and print!"

With a groan, Don Orlando deepened the kiss. He ran the tip of his tongue over her lips, then feathered soft kisses across her cheek to her ear.

"Cut!" Gordon yelled.

"Can you feel it?" Don Orlando whispered in her ear, then gently suckled her earlobe.

"I said cut! Come on, we've got other scenes to do."

Maggie could barely hear the director. Partly because Don Orlando's tongue was in her ear. And also because her heart was pounding incredibly loud. Sweet Mary, he was as wonderful as she'd imagined.

He nibbled down her neck. "You're so beautiful. My sweet… Jessica."

With a gasp, she stiffened. She shoved him back. "My name is Maggie!"

Don Orlando smiled. "Shall we adjourn to my dressing room, sweet… Maggie?"

She slapped him hard.

He stepped back, his eyes wide with surprise. "What—why?"

"Everything about you is a lie. You're not the world's greatest lover. You're the world's greatest fraud! You're a pig and a… a poser!" She spun and stomped off the set.

In his dressing room, Don Orlando grimaced as he peeled the mat of fake hair off his red, raw chest. The world's greatest fraud. Maggie had seen right through him, dammit.

The first time he'd met her, when she was auditioning, she had gazed at him with such adoration in her blue Irish eyes. She hadn't wanted to use him for her career or profit. Her undemanding acceptance had been the sweetest sensation he'd felt since becoming a vampire four and a half years earlier.

He'd asked the director to hire her and give her a role that fitted her. Someone with a pure and giving heart. Someone like Dr. Jessica Goodwin. Not only was the doctor the epitome of goodness, she was madly in love with him, Don Orlando.

But by the time Maggie took her job, she was cold and indifferent. She ignored his attempts at flirtation. He'd tried to show her tonight how he felt with the kiss. And what a kiss! The way she'd melted in his arms, he knew without a doubt that her indifference was feigned. She still adored him. He'd wanted to shout her name to the heavens, but he'd thought the cameras were still rolling, so he'd called her Jessica instead.

And now, she was upset. He needed to apologize and win her back. If only she would look at him once more with adoration in her eyes. It would make his phony existence so much easier to bear. He pulled on a black silk bathrobe over his bare chest and leather pants and strode down the hall to Maggie's dressing room. What could he say to impress her? Anything but the truth. He wanted her passion, not her pity. He knocked on the door.

"Come in." Maggie's face drooped with weary annoyance when he entered the small room.

Damn, he should have brought flowers. For the world's greatest lover, he could sure be an idiot.

Maggie remained sitting in front of her dressing table. "What do you want?"

I want you to love me. No, Don Orlando would never act like a needy wimp. He was macho and aggressive, and it worked. He had stacks of fan mail in his dressing room that confirmed it. Women loved Don Orlando de Corazon, and Maggie would, too. "I could not stay away. Margaret Mary O'Brian, you have bewitched me."

She snorted. "So you saw my name on the door. Should I be impressed that you know how to read?"

"Ever since we first met, your lovely name has been etched into my heart."

"That sounds painful." She leaned over to remove her high-heeled shoes. "You can cut the melodrama. The cameras are gone."

"But my passion continues to burn like a raging fire. I have vowed to make you mine."

Her eyes flashed with anger. "No woman in her right mind would want to be yours. The waiting line is too long."

He winced inwardly. Maggie must be listening to the lies Corky Courrant was spreading on her show Live with the Undead. "My heart belongs only to you, my sweet Chiquita."

"I'm not your banana!" She threw a shoe, aimed at his head.

With vampire speed, he dodged the missile. It clunked against the door. "Ay, caramba, such fiery passion! It sets my loins ablaze!"

"You set my stomach a-hurling!" She torpedoed the second shoe at him, and it hit him squarely in his chest.

"Ouch!" The stiletto heel had stabbed his raw skin. "Why are you so angry with me, Maggie?"

"Are you dense? Do you really expect me to be flattered by your slimy attempt at seduction?"


"What is this sick compulsion of yours to take every woman in the world to bed?"

"That's not true." He gave her his signature sexy look, the one that coupled a lopsided smile with an arched eyebrow. "There is no need for a bed. We can be… creative, no?"

"Aagh!" She jumped to her feet, grabbed a hairbrush off her dressing table, and tossed it at him.

He muttered a curse as he dodged the brush. Why didn't the act work on her? It did on everyone else. Realization struck him just as a flying, black demi-boot bounced off his head. "Dammit, you're different. You don't like Don Orlando."

With a sigh, Maggie slumped onto her chair. "I'm sorry. As old as I am, I should know not to throw things when I'm angry."

He stepped toward her. "Are you angry because I called you Jessica when we were kissing? I can explain. I thought the cameras were still rolling."

Maggie's cheeks turned pink as she looked away. "It's not about the kiss. It's… you and all the women—"

"You shouldn't listen to everything Corky says on her show. She's not telling the truth about me."

"Then it's not true that you had an affair with her?"

He winced. "Well, that part is true."

"And you cheated on her?"

"Well, yes, but there were good reasons."

Maggie snorted. "Reason number one being Tiffany? How many other reasons did you have?"

"It's not what you think." Dammit, he didn't want to tell her the truth. Who would believe it? "I have this problem…"

"I know. Your trousers. They keep falling off."

"No. It's… me. I don't like to be alone."

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