Infamous by Lori Sizemore - Read Online
Infamous
0% of Infamous completed

About

Summary

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all? Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry. They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.
Published: The Wild Rose Press on
ISBN: 9781509211791
List price: $5.99
Availability for Infamous
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Reviews

Book Preview

Infamous - Lori Sizemore

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

Inc.

"Crap, now you’re going to be sweet?

Now?" She tangled her fingers through the hair that covered her face and pushed it away. Next thing he knew, she’d wrapped her arms around his waist.

Justine? Um… what are you doing?

I’m hugging you. Taking emotional comfort.

Like a leech.

Haven’t you ever hugged before?

I’ve never hugged anyone I wasn’t going to have sex with.

We’re not having sex. She squeezed him tighter and rested her head on his shoulder. Hug me back.

Sawyer lifted his arms and wrapped them around her, his hands cupping her shoulders, pulling her closer. He dropped his head to rest on hers, and parts of him, so deep he couldn’t name them, pulled free and demanded his attention. Her hair smelled like fruit, the kind kids eat in the summer, juice dripping down their chins. I’m fine with the hugging, but, just saying, I’m not responsible for any physical reaction hugging may induce.

Okay. The word drifted out of her on a sigh.

He wasn’t equipped for this. There hadn’t been a lot of touching growing up, at least not the kind that didn’t end in a busted lip or a cracked rib. As an adult, there’d been lots of touching. But, not like this. The tighter he held her, the closer he wanted to be.

Infamous

by

Lori Sizemore

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Infamous

COPYRIGHT © 2016 by Lori Sizemore

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: info@thewildrosepress.com

Cover Art by RJ Morris

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Champagne Rose Edition, 2016

Print ISBN 978-1-5092-1178-4

Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-1179-1

Published in the United States of America

Dedications

This book is dedicated to my husband and daughters, who believed in me every single day of this journey. ~*~

Also, I can’t not mention my wonderful parents

and Aunt Teresa who have loved me

and supported my dream.

~*~

Finally, to Landra Graf,

for always being there during bookish crises.

Chapter One

Justine shrugged, so that the cool silk of her shirt hung artfully off one shoulder, and knocked on her mother’s door. Outside of her mother’s Manhattan brownstone, a tree with a small, wrought-iron fence shaded the stoop on which she stood.

Justine was even taller than her five-eight frame in the new heels she’d been sent yesterday. It still flabbergasted her when stores and designers gave her free clothes and accessories because she had a scandalous past.

She knocked again with more force. It wasn’t like Thea Montgomery to do a disappearing act for a week. They visited one another or spoke every day in the ordinary course of things. On the other hand, it was very much like her if something had gone wrong.

She sighed and pulled the key from her purse, foregoing another knock at the door. She had to meet her father soon, a subway ride away, but concern for her mother dwarfed everything else. Mom? she called out.

The kitchen, to her left, always warm and inviting, was empty. To her right, the blue parlor was piled high with empty boxes. On the table in the foyer, a stack of red envelopes overflowed from the crystal bowl where her mother stacked unread mail.

Justine clutched her leather purse tighter and raised an eyebrow at the envelopes, calling out again. Mom! Thea! Hello? She stopped to listen, tossing her long ebony hair back over her shoulder.

Sounds drifted down the stairs. Either her mother was hiding away up there, or she’d walked in on a burglary in progress. Confident that thieves didn’t bring their own boxes, she decided to head up to the second floor.

Her footsteps echoed on the hard-wood stairs. At the top, she cocked her head to listen. Soft, weeping came from the bedroom.

With caution, Justine pushed the door open, her heart hammering at the thought of something bad happening to her mother. Her voice faltered as she called out, Mom?

More boxes were piled by the closet and on either side of the bed. Sitting in a heap in the center of the big, fluffy, white bed sat her mother, whose five-foot-nothing frame quivered as she sniffled. I mortgaged the house—and I can’t pay it. Thea rubbed her hands together, though it didn’t make a sound; moisturizer was a way of life.

The memory of peanut butter cookies, the kind with the criss-crossed pattern on top, washed over Justine. At five years old, Justine’s father had sent the two of them packing, and they moved in here with her Nana. Even after moving out and buying her own apartment with Nana’s inheritance, this remained home. This would always be home for her. She couldn’t fathom the idea of not being able to return here when she was worn down from the world. Thea’s kohl black eyes, like Justine’s own, were red and watery.

Nana’s house? Why would you do that?

Because I didn’t have any money. Thea shook her head. With a deep sigh, she patted her hair down, an obvious sign of anxiety Justine remembered from when she was a kid and her mother would complain about her nerves. Thea went on, I’m sorry, sweetpea. You deserve a better answer than that. I needed money, so I got a loan to start a business.

Justine could relate with not being the nine-to-five type. She never held down a real job for long. She made a living auctioning off clothes she got for free after she wore them. That was mainly because no one wanted paparazzi hanging around their stores. Then again, Thea wasn’t the typical day-job sort, either.

But her mother had to have made some provisions, other than alimony and her inheritance until it all ran out, right? When Thea just gave her those sad, expertly lined eyes, Justine said, Oh, my God. You don’t have any money left.

I messed up. I know you’re the daughter and I’m the mother and our roles are supposed to be reversed. But baby, I messed up and I don’t know what I’m going to do. The words tumbled out so fast it took Justine a couple of seconds to process. She stepped over to the closet where piles of her mother’s clothing were folded in expert-fashion, storage written neatly on the boxes.

For a moment, the sight of all the cardboard overwhelmed her, and she remembered when they moved here. This house was a vital bit of sanity in her ridiculous, paparazzi-riddled life.

I’m learning at the rather advanced age of fifty, that one must earn money. Heart racing, Justine plopped down beside her mother while she gestured dramatically. Thea did everything with grace and a touch of drama. Except I didn’t want to ask you or, God forbid, your father for any help. It was just gone before I realized.

Justine pulled her phone from her back pocket and tried to remember her bank password. She’d written it down at home. Okay, I have some money saved from selling my clothes and that ridiculous commercial I did.

Baby…

No, I can remember this. How much do you need?

As she tried another password on her phone, Justine said, Mom? How much?

Eight hundred thousand, give or take.

The phone clattered to the floor as her fingers went numb. Oh, crap.

Don’t curse. Avoiding Justine’s gaze, Thea frowned at a spot on the floor. Her shoulder-length, light brown hair seemed to shiver as her mother shook.

Bile rose in her throat. How could she not curse at her mother for doing such a selfish, thoughtless thing? Her throat tightened; she couldn’t possibly make a dig when Thea was already torn up. An invisible weight pushed on her chest, and a coil grew tight around her middle. Little beads of sweat popped above her lip. Slowing down her breathing, Justine closed her eyes, and visualized a quiet beach. If she didn’t calm herself down, she’d have another panic attack.

When she opened her eyes, a tear plopped on Thea’s beautiful designer dress. Crap, Thea now whispered.

What did you do with all the money?

I rented a space downtown months ago, so I’ve been paying for that. I hired a contractor to renovate, he did half the work, then disappeared. Now I can’t get another contractor to even look at the place. And I needed some things for the house. Plus, I had bills to pay here. And I may have done some shopping.

All right, let me think. Justine squeezed her hands together in front of her face. There was one person who had that kind of money.

Justine yanked her pocketbook open with purpose to check that her contract was still nestled inside. Okay, I know what to do.

She was already nervous about visiting her father today. He was going to hate the new job she was about to take, but it was time for Justine to remind him that he no longer got a voice in her choices. Justine needed to say to him that she was an adult now, one who’d taken care of her financial needs and otherwise for ten years, in her own strange way. And unfortunately, she now had to ask him for money.

Thea paced the bedroom, fingers pressed against her forehead. "They sent me letters. Nice ones, at first. Dear Mrs. Montgomery, we haven’t received your payment. If our correspondence crossed in the mail, please forgive the intrusion. They started using red envelopes, and I realized they were serious."

Of course they were serious. It’s almost a million dollars. Justine checked herself, swallowing down the anger gnawing at her, and patted the sheaf of papers she’d been looking for. It’s fine. We’re not going to freak out.

Thea twisted to glare at Justine. What in heaven’s name are you doing?

First things first, she said. I’m going to need coffee to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

You need coffee when your favorite jeans are in the laundry. Thea shook her head but led the way. Come on, then.

In the kitchen, Justine began to relax. She’d spent every spare moment in there with her grandmother, drinking coffee, discussing her day, learning to cook and clean up after herself. She let the silence hang between them as she drew herself closer to her grandmother’s presence. She could do this. If she could figure out a way to support herself using her humiliating claim to fame, she could accomplish anything.

Thea sat a mug of steaming, cream-laden coffee down in front of Justine then sat down opposite. So? Now what?

I’m meeting with Daddy in half-an-hour to tell him about my new job. And apparently, to ask him for close to a million dollars so you don’t lose Nana’s home.

Thea put her hands on either side of Justine’s face. Oh, sweetpea. I’m so sorry.

Her mother would only be more upset if Justine cried, so she struggled not to let the tears shine in her eyes. She took a sip of her favorite brew then put the mug down with shaking hands. I’m sure Daddy will help.

He’s going to eat you alive. Thea frowned, one single worry line furrowing her brow.

I know how he is, but we don’t have a lot of options, and this is all I’ve got. So I have to do it. At least I have to try. It’s Nana’s house. It’s your home. I grew up here. Justine paused, taking in the gleaming pots hanging from a rack, the old, cracked heirloom dishes displayed on shelves with pride. This house is the last normal thing in my whole life. This house matters.

For a long time, Thea just looked at her and said, Baby, it’s just a thing. I understand it means a lot to you, and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for putting a price tag on our home and then wasting the money. But you should focus on your job. That job is your future.

Justine downed her coffee, picked up her purse, and stood, pretending to be more courageous than she was. I have to go. I’ll come by and see you, tonight.

****

Montgomery-Chase Productions loomed overhead. The building would’ve been intimidating if she hadn’t been visiting since before she could walk. Her heels echoed in the huge entrance hall. Walls burst with yellow and orange, brushed brass hugged the front panel of the reception desk. This room made it seem like she’d walked into the waiting room of the sun.

Outside her father’s office, her heels sank into the piled carpet as she approached his assistant’s desk. She handed Monique a Gucci scarf. I just got this one, yesterday. I love the blues and the little feathers in the corner.

Monique’s dimples deepened and she held the scarf between her hands, taking in the texture and color. I shouldn’t take this.

Neither should I, but it’s free, right?

Free for you. For someone sitting in an office, behind a desk, wearing Jimmy Choos from three years ago, it’s like two hundred bucks.

You want some Choos? I got a pair a couple of weeks ago that are too small for me. You wear an eight, right?

Sometimes I think you’re the devil sent to tempt me, honey.

Justine placed a hand over her heart. The devil? I am an angel bearing gifts!

Monique waved Justine toward her father’s office. Straighten your halo and go on in then, angel.

Justine looked at the door and gave herself a mental push. She needed to get this one thing over with, and after that, she could start over. Maybe she could save her mom’s home in the process. She’d lead with that, because she had a feeling he wasn’t going to be generous once she told him about the job.

Engrossed in his computer, Daniel Montgomery didn’t look up when she came in. His office hadn’t changed much; everything was steel, glass, and granite, the sterile-masculine school of design. He never redecorated, just added more awards to the pictures on the walls. He’d made some wildly successful television shows, some critics’ darlings, some trashy ratings bonanzas, and a few bombs.

Justine remembered being a small child, looking at those awards. This reminded her that she had never finished anything, not anything that mattered, and it was on this thought that she plopped down across from him in the black leather armchair with an audible sigh. Daniel held up a finger without looking at her, and she said, Take your time.

Sitting here, a little like an errant schoolgirl, she couldn’t stop her mind wandering. The sex tape had mattered a lot, it seemed then, because no one in the nation could stop bringing it up. Edited and sold online, it was available to anyone with an Internet connection. Of course, she’d been an accidental participant.

Justine waited, both willing him to hurry so she could get through this horrible moment and wishing she could put it off forever. How could she look so like him, her height, her fuller lips, her tendency to be round and soft rather than toned like her mom, all that, but they were so different?

Daniel glanced at his watch and said, All right, baby. What can I do for you?

When I called to make this appointment, I had something important to discuss with you. I still do, but…the thing is, now I also need a favor.

"You never ask me for favors. What’s this about?

I need money right away, quite a bit of it. She hated doing this. It went against everything in her, everything that she’d struggled for, to ask him for something.

Are you in trouble?

No, Mom’s in trouble.

He clasped his hands together in front of him and pursed his lips. I should’ve known. Why is that your problem?

Because she’s my mom. She mortgaged Nana’s house. The tears pricked at her eyes again, and she fought it off. Like with her mother, crying was inadvisable. Except, with her father, showing weakness wasn’t just inadvisable, it was a mistake. It would be cataloged to capitalize on later.

But then, sympathy spread across his face. His one redeeming quality, the one reason she’d never been able to shut him out of her life completely, he loved her. Too much, maybe, and in ways that hurt sometimes, but he loved her. He started to say something, spoke her name, then his voice trailed off. How much?

It’s…something like eight hundred thousand.

What do you mean it’s ‘like’ eight hundred thousand?

I mean it’s more than eight hundred thousand but probably less than nine hundred thousand. I don’t know what kind of fees she’s looking at. She didn’t give me the letter.

Hmph. She came and dumped this in your lap?

Daddy, it wasn’t like that. I stumbled on her crying at home. She was embarrassed.

She should be.

I’m not getting into this with you. You’re going to start trashing her, I’ll get defensive, and then you’ll get angry with me for taking her side. Just think about it. It’s not a lot of money to you. That’s all I can say about it.

Pleading with him wouldn’t help. The more important it was to her, the higher the probability he would see it as an opportunity to somehow manipulate her. Justine took the contract from her purse, unsure of how to continue. Her mother had knocked her off her game plan, and now she was at a disadvantage. Thea sure had bad timing.

What did you make an appointment to discuss, then?

"You know that network, Tattle TV?"

"Trash TV, that’s what it should be called."

Sure. Well, she was in it now, might as well forge on. It’s not like she was going to find a way to say it that he would be okay with. Anyway, they’re interested in me.

His eyes narrowed, and she could’ve sworn his hands clasped together until the knuckles whitened. Go on.

They want to hire me. Like a special correspondent thing. She spread the contract on her lap; the thick sheaf of papers crinkled. I thought you could look the contract over for me before I signed it.

He sputtered at her and at last managed to get out, Before you sign it? Is this a joke?

No.

This was going about as well as she’d expected. A flush started at his neck and crept up his face. His nose and cheeks turned crimson. Daddy, listen to me. Really listen, not the pretend listening you usually do. This job…well, it’s not what I’ve always wanted, but it’s close. It’s a start.

Her father held his hand out for the contract. When she handed it over, he dropped it on his desk like it was a piece of garbage. You can’t do this show. Forget about that contract. They will make a joke of you.

Justine looked him in the eyes and steeled herself. Since she had left Travis and gone away to college, she’d been standing up to her father and accepting that she would never be the son he wanted or the docile daughter he’d settle for. At some point, it would stop hurting. Maybe. I’m taking the job. You’re my father and I knew you wouldn’t be happy, so I wanted to tell you, face-to-face. But it’s not up to you.

She’d said it. Declaration of independence delivered once again. Maybe this was going to be the last time. It was possible he’d toss her out of his life for good this time. He’d given her every reason to believe he wouldn’t accept her decision.

Her father frowned at the contract. He spoke softly. You’ll humiliate yourself.

And you. Justine tilted her head to study him and responded in the same soft tone. Let’s focus on what matters here.

This is the life you chose, remember? That damned video came out. Did you go into hiding, let it pass? No.

I didn’t do anything wrong! Why should I be ashamed? People have sex every day. It’s not my fault someone invaded my privacy and videotaped it. My crime was not closing the blinds first.

Oh, yes, Justine. Having sex with your driver was stellar judgment.

You were the one who refused to let me learn how to drive. You were the one who insisted I needed a driver. You were also the one who was paying him to spy on me. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have entered into a relationship with him. It was a relationship, not some random hook-up. A relationship, which involved sex that someone else taped. Does that cover all the points we’re going to hit in this argument? Because I’m pretty sure it’s been done a couple hundred times.

He squared his shoulders, and they stared at one another, nothing left to say, for a long time. There’s something you should know as well, then.

What? You’ll disinherit me? I don’t want your money, I never have.

Daniel stood, looked around with a little uncertainty, and then went to pour himself a drink. The ice clinked in the glass. JD knew his heart was bad, he began. And that neither of our children were ready to step up to the plate. He made me a deal using ten percent of his interest in this company when he died. In exchange, I put ten percent of my interest on the table, too.

That part, the ten percent part, I was aware of. What could his dead partner have to do with this conversation? She didn’t turn to him, studying the skyline out his windows and trying to take deep breaths to calm herself.

But you don’t know that he made me promise to let Travis continue on, learning the business. And if you never grew up, never proved yourself… Then Travis gets his father’s ten percent and ten percent of mine. The other forty will, of course, be divided between you and your mother.

JD was a bastard.

That video, Justine, and the tabloids after. You’ve allowed yourself to be portrayed as some kind of ridiculous, spoiled, wild-child. You can’t blame him for wanting to protect the company.

No, I blame you. Justine twisted to look at him. You would give everything you worked for to Travis instead of your only child who has wanted nothing more her entire life than to work here.

Don’t start talking about yourself in the third person. I’m not finished. Over the rim of his glass, he eyed her. A flash of amusement replaced the flush of anger. I can’t say I’m impressed with the way you’ve lived your life, but I’ve noted your adaptability and knack for turning a bad situation to profit.

All she’d ever wanted, as long as she could remember, was to work for her father. When other little girls played house, she’d played the boss at the kitchen table, barking orders into her pink play phone. Every time I think I have cut away everything you could use to hurt me, you find new ways.

I’ve come to realize I pushed you far too hard to do what I wanted. I wanted you settled down. I hate you living in that apartment, by yourself.

She licked her lips, her throat thick and full of sand. Say it.

Married, happy, safe. I wanted you to live happily ever after.

Happily ever after is for the movies. Hot tears fought to break free, again, and she screwed up her face to make them stop. After her parents’ marriage imploded, the way they still sniped at each other, the way her father collected wives; she’d made a decision a long time ago that marriage was not for her. But she couldn’t say any of that. Instead, she asked, That’s still the one thing you want for me?

Travis loves you.

Okay, that’s not ever going to happen. Justine snatched her purse from the floor, stuffing the contract back inside. "I’m taking the Tattle TV job, and I guess Mom will have to live with me and then you can be happy because I won’t be alone. And I don’t care what you think about it, because you’re not the boss of me. She’d said that, out loud, because he’d made her feel ten again. I don’t know who you want me to be. But I know I hate the person I become when I’m with you. Goodbye, Daddy."

Wait. Daniel plunked his glass down on the bar and crossed the room, taking her arm, stopping her before she could do more than stand up. Hear me out. You obviously have no intention of settling down.

I have no intention of ever getting married. All I’ve seen of marriage is that it’s poisonous and frivolous.

I want you to work for me.

Since when? Justine took a step back from him. Here it comes, let’s make a deal and sell your soul, Montgomery style.

I’ve never been more serious. I want you working, here, in this company. Daniel marched back behind his desk and began shuffling through the papers at a frantic pace.

This is a way to keep me from taking the job, to tuck me away, out of sight, until I have no prospects.

No, this is on the level. Daniel held up a finger to make his point. If you can prove yourself, the sixty percent is yours. The company is yours.

Her breath caught in her throat at his words. She’d never wanted anything but this. What kind of job?

Daniel pushed at his sleeves, except they were buttoned at the wrist, so they didn’t move. With a glint in his eye, he settled at his desk. He gestured at the chair, indicating that she should sit as well. Are we negotiating?

A thousand butterflies dive-bombed her stomach at once. She’d grown up in the television industry, watching her father’s every move, waiting for her chance.

I think we are. Justine lowered herself to the edge of the seat.

Fine. It’s for a co-producer job. I’ll match the salary and pay the mortgage. You must follow this through, from start to finish, no quitting, no ‘this isn’t fair,’ no changing your mind. You must commit.

Her eyes narrowed, because this was beginning to sound like a bet. And if I don’t?

Well, it’s not like I can make you marry Travis. Not even I can do that. I guess you continue on your path, wherever it’s going. But if you don’t do this, don’t show me that you can learn what needs done, without quitting when things get hard, then I will give my entire holding in this company to Travis. I can’t give you my life’s work if you can’t prove yourself. I won’t. Maybe when I die, he’ll give you a job. This is the only way I’m going to believe you have what it takes.

Are you saying that if I walk out of here without accepting this job, I leave with less than I came in with? Because, a little bit ago you told me your will said I got twenty percent.

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Justine struggled to wrap her mind around it, tapping her fist against her lips. The leather armchair creaked as she shifted. Co-producer. With someone who could teach me?

Here. Daniel pushed the papers aside and gestured at his calendar. "I have