Note From Suz: Here’s the set up. Jericho Beaumont is a former A-list movie star who’s had trouble in the past with alcohol and prescription drugs. Even though he says he’s been sober for five years, the only way producer Kate O’Laughlin will hire him is if he signs an addendum to his contract, granting the production company 24-hour supervision. He reluctantly agrees, and Kate hires Bob Hollander, a enormous, humorless former Marine as Jericho’s babysitter. It’s not long before things go terribly wrong. Kate’s called when Jericho is late to the set, and she goes to his trailer, only to find Bob Hollander’s car is gone.
Kate pushed open the door to the trailer.
It was dark and cool inside with the shades drawn.
“Hello?” she called, not expecting an answer.
Kate nearly hit her head on the door frame in surprise. “Jericho?”
He spoke again, each word distinctly enunciated. “I’m back here.”
Kate turned on the light and headed down the tiny corridor to the back bedroom, her annoyance making her voice sharp. “You’re over a half hour late for your call and–”
The light from the main room lit the bedroom enough for her to see Jericho through the open doorway.
He was sitting on the bare mattress of his bed, his legs outstretched and casually crossed at the ankles as he leaned back against the headboard.
He was naked. Completely naked.
Kate found herself staring, her mouth all but hanging open in surprise.
Some men looked better with their clothes on, but Jericho was not one of them. In fact, the “hero without a shirt” scene was a requirement for almost every Jericho Beaumont movie. And seeing him without his shirt, in person, Kate now knew precisely why.
The man was in outrageously good shape. He wasn’t quite as built up and muscular as he’d been for the Kill Zone movies. But his arms, shoulders, and chest had a definite female drool factor of about twelve on a scale from one to ten, and his stomach was enough of a washboard to garner the male audience members’ admiration.
But not only was he shirtless, he wasn’t wearing pants, either. And as for the rest of him…She forced her eyes back to his face.
“What are you doing?” It was an inane question, but it was the best one she could come up with. “Where’s Bob?”
He shifted slightly under her gaze, and the light from the hallway reflected off the shiny metal of handcuffs and…
“Is this some kind of joke?” she asked sharply.
He held up his hands for her to get a better look. Yes, he was definitely wearing handcuffs. And a thick metal chain connected those handcuffs to some sort of bracket that was attached to the wall.
“Does this look like a joke?”
“Oh, my God,” Kate breathed.
“Yeah,” Jericho said. “Oh, my God.”
“Where’s Bob Hollander?” she asked again.
“Good fucking quesiton. Do you mind uncuffing me? I have to pee. Badly.”
Kate stood frozen, completely unable to move. “I don’t…I don’t have a key. Why did Bob lock you up? Did Bob lock you up?”
“Well, it sure as hell wasn’t the Easter Bunny who left me here like this.”
It was Annie’s voice, calling from outside. Kate heard the squeak as her assistant opened the trailer’s screen door.
Jericho nearly dove off the bed, but there was nowhere for him to go. The chain kept him from being able to hide. “For Christsake,” he said from between clenched teeth, “will you lock the door? This isn’t a goddamned zoo!”
Kate moved fast. And with the movement of her feet, her brain kicked back in. “Annie.” She stopped the young woman from coming all the way inside the trailer. “I need a yellow pages– I’m going to need a locksmith. Leave it right here, outside the door. Oh, and give me back my keys.”
Annie was confused. “Is Jericho in there? Is he sick?”
“He’s here, he’s fine. Go.” Kate pushed her assistant out the door with her, locking it tightly behind her.
She ran to Jericho’s other trailer and fumbled with the keys in the lock, dropping them twice before opening the door.
Once inside, she took a quick look around. With just a glance, she could see that Jericho had claimed the bedroom in an attempt to have something of a private area. She grabbed a pair of shorts from his closet, then ran back to the other trailer.
She went inside, locking the door securely behind her.
Jericho was sitting on the edge of the bed. His elbows were on his knees, and his head was down, resting in his hands.
And Kate knew the truth. The way he’d been sitting there when she’d first come in had been an act. He’d had a choice between showing his embarrassment or acting arrogant upon being discovered chained up like some kind of animal. He’d chosen arrogance, but she knew what he was truly feeling was beyond embarrassment.
This must be impossibly humiliating. Kate tried for a second to put herself in his place, but the thought of him walking into her bedroom to find her naked and in chains was too awful to dwell on.
“Annie’s gone to get a yellow pages. I’ll call a locksmith and–”
He looked up at her. “That’s not a very good idea.” His hair was a mess, and he had a heavy growth of stubble on his face. His eyes were bleary and red-rimmed from lack of sleep, but his gaze was still sharp. “You don’t want news getting out that Jericho Beaumont was found naked and handcuffed to his bed.” His mouth twisted in a near approximation of a smile. “Now, if I’d been found naked and handcuffed to your bed, that would be a whole ‘nother story entirely.”
Copyright 1999 by Suzanne Brockmann