‘That guy was just a fluke though, right?’ she asked, as Dylan closed and locked the door. ‘I mean, he didn’t know I was actually going to be there, did he?’
Dylan sighed. ‘He’d read an interview with you in which you stated that you always go swimming when you’re stressed. Even for his tiny mind, it wasn’t that much of a stretch.’
‘Oh.’ Bethany dropped to sit on the chaise longue, wilfully letting it get wet as the dampness of her dress transferred. Maybe it would make it more comfortable. ‘I didn’t think of that.’
She should have done, though. Her whole life was in the public domain. Anything she’d said or done since she took her first role. And, after today, probably everything from before then, too.
Even if Megan didn’t spill the beans about her earlier relationship with Jake, someone else would dig it up. Hell, somebody probably already had, not that she was going to log in to the Wi-Fi to find out. Ignorance might not be bliss, but not knowing what they were saying about her and her brother-in-law might allow her to actually sleep at some point tonight.
‘Is it really that important to you?’ Dylan asked, and when she looked up he was watching her from the window, his gaze steady and assessing. Like she would be judged by her answer.
And suddenly, the opinion of this one man meant a lot more to her than what the world’s press thought about her.
‘What? What they think about me, or that they know all my habits?’
Dylan’s smile was crooked. ‘I meant, that you get to go swimming in your underwear. But either of the others work too.’
‘I don’t care what they think about me exactly,’ Bethany said, still thinking through her answer as she spoke. ‘Because I don’t think they really know who I am. They know the image that the films and the interviews and photo shoots put forward. Which is why it is a bit creepy when that does overlap with real life, I guess.’
‘Your job makes you a public figure.’ Dylan gave no indication as to whether he thought that was a good thing or a bad thing. ‘I guess you have to bear that in mind when you decide how to live your life.’
‘And not ditch my bodyguard to go swimming.’
Wrapping her arms around her, Bethany looked up at him. ‘Since you’re so full of good advice this evening, what do you suggest I do about my sister?’
‘The one on the phone earlier? Call her again in the morning when she’s had a chance to calm down.’ He made it sound like he had a lot of experience dealing with hysterical women. Bethany wasn’t sure she liked that. ‘I have three older sisters,’ he explained, correctly reading her look. ‘Letting them calm down was an essential survival strategy.’
‘I’m scared that her husband might hurt her again.’ It hurt to admit, that she thought Jake might have sunk that low. But she did. And tonight seemed like the sort of night for being honest. Stripping down to the essentials, so to speak. She ducked her head to hide her smile. Like she hadn’t done that already.
‘This is your ex, right?’ He sighed, and sank down beside her on the chaise longue. ‘I should tell you. The press picked that bit of information up about an hour ago.’
Bethany shivered. That was it then. The only thing anyone was going to talk about for days. Neil was going to kill her.
And God only knew what Jake would do, especially if he was drunk. Especially if Megan was the one who called the papers.
‘You can’t do anything about it tonight,’ Dylan said, his voice unexpectedly soft. ‘And you need a good night’s sleep before you face them tomorrow. It’s not a story, and you know it. They know it, if they’re honest. But they’ll try and make it one. Don’t let them.’
Bethany tilted her head to look up at him. ‘You’ve been doing this a long time, right?’
‘A few years, I suppose,’ Dylan said. ‘But they’ve been busy years.’
‘So you know what you’re talking about.’
‘I’ve seen a lot.’ His voice was dry, and the warmth between them distracted her from everything else – from the uncomfortable chaise longue, the damp way her clothes still clung to her, the photographers still outside the hotel. None of that mattered. Suddenly, all Bethany could think about was how much she wanted to hear the stories of his life. To know him the way he probably already knew her, just from researching the best ways to keep her safe.
But not tonight. She knew, instinctively, that those sort of confidences were ones that Dylan wouldn’t give up easily. There’d be secrets, hidden truths and stories he could only tell in the dark of the night. And then, only if she was lucky enough to be let in.
She’d only met him that morning. She couldn’t expect all his secrets so soon, she supposed.
So she pulled back, missing the connection she’d felt almost immediately. But she wasn’t that girl, that starlet who took whoever she wanted to bed and didn’t care if she saw them again or had to work with them again the next day. And tonight, more than ever, it seemed important to be truly herself.
‘Any other important questions I can help you answer?’ Dylan leaned back against the opposite arm of the chaise longue, instinctively respecting her need for distance.
Bethany grinned. Perhaps not too much distance, though. ‘Maybe one. Do you have any suggestions for how I can relieve my tension, if I can’t go swimming at midnight in my underwear anymore?’
He laughed, a warm and open sound, and Bethany felt a surge of gratitude that Dylan Blaise had been the man assigned to look after her tonight. Even if she hadn’t believed she needed him.
‘Some,’ he said, watching as she covered her mouth to hide a yawn. ‘But I think they’re for another night, my mermaid. You need to get some sleep.’
‘You’re with me tomorrow, right? For the press junket?’
Dylan shook his head. ‘Afraid not. You’ve got Brett tomorrow. But I’ll be at the premiere the next day.’
That was no good. The premiere would be filled with other people, all wanting to talk to her, when she just wanted to talk to him.
Her disappointment must have shown on her face, because he leaned forward and placed a very light kiss against her lips. Bethany’s breath caught in her chest as she tried to kiss him back, but he pulled away.
‘Bed,’ he told her, firmly, like he was a nanny instead of a bodyguard.