BY: JD DAVIS
Actor Daxton Knight is a rising star and appears to be have everything, including fame, fortune, and his pick of gorgeous women, but appearances can be deceiving as he begins to receive some distasteful hate mail. It seems someone holds a grudge against the superstar, and when Dax relocates to film his next movie, he is assigned a temporary personal assistant. Sonny Winslow is an aspiring writer looking to get her book published, but she needs to make some money in the meantime. She and Dax get off to a rather rough start when his model girlfriend takes an instant dislike to the author, and Dax insinuates Sonny is using his fame to help her career. But when Sonny starts receiving the same threatening messages, she and Dax join forces to figure out who their stalker could be. To their dismay, the danger mounts with each encounter from their unknown predator, and they must watch each other’s back while still working together on the film. Each scene intensifies, and you aren’t sure how it will end until the director yells, “That’s a Wrap.”
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In That’s a Wrap by J D Davis, Sonny Winslow needs a job. A friend recommends her to an actor’s agent, and Sonny is hired as the actor’s personal assistant. The actor, Daxton Knight, is a hunk that women can’t seem to resist, but Sonny just wants to do her job and go home to write. She’s a budding author waiting for a book deal and just needs to pay the bills in the meantime. But when Dax starts getting hate mail that mentions Sonny, the two put flirtations aside to find out who is stalking them. Is it an old girlfriend who had her heart broken, Dax’s current ex-lover who’s insanely jealous of Sonny, or could it be someone from Dax’s mysterious past?
The story is moving, exciting, and tense. Filled with wonderful characters, fast-paced action, and plenty of suspense, it will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: That’s a Wrap by JD Davis is the story of a struggling new author, trying to pay the bills until she can sell her novel, and an actor with a mysterious past that has come back to haunt him. Sonny Winslow has written a novel and now she is trying to sell it, but until she does, she needs to find a way to pay her bills. When she is offered a well-paying job as the assistant to superstar actor, Daxton Knight, who’s in town to film his new movie, it seems too good to be true. And like most things that seem that way, it is. Daxton is arrogant, self-centered, disorganized, and he has a super model girlfriend who is extremely jealous of Sonny. It makes for very tense working conditions. But things only get worse when Sonny starts to get hate mail due to her association with Dax. As they compare notes, Dax confesses that he has also been getting hate mail that started just before he came to town, and he has no idea who the deranged stalker is. As the threats become more serious, Sonny and Dax begin to fear for their lives, especially when things start happening to those they love.
That’s a Wrap combines mystery, suspense, and romance for a chilling and poignant tale of two innocent people harassed by a psycho with a grudge. It’s one that will keep you up turning pages from beginning to end.
The air was thick, and he could barely breathe. Sweat dripped down his brow, stinging his eyes. He rubbed them to clear his vision, but it was to no avail. His mouth was full of dust, and he inhaled the scent of gunpowder. The sound of shots being fired filled his ears, and he looked around to find the rest of his squadron.
His heart raced at the thought of poking his head up from behind the barricade where he had taken cover. Part of him wanted to stay that way until it was all over, until all of the gunfire had ceased. They had been ambushed, and he had no way of knowing how many of his guys were down. He had to get back to camp. He took a deep breath and licked his lips. His mouth felt chalky and tasted of salt. He needed water. They had water back at camp.
When he thought the coast was clear, he stood and looked around for any fallen allies. Just then an explosion sounded and catapulted him into the air, tossing him several feet away, where he landed with a hard thud.
When he opened his eyes, his vision was blurred, and he was lost in a mental fog. He could no longer hear the sound of gunfire, but his ears were filled with a loud, harsh ringing. He attempted to move as knew he must get out of the war zone if he wanted to survive, but his body felt like it weighed a thousand pounds.
Was he hurt? He had no way of knowing. He was numb from fear and too stunned to successfully assess the damage. It appeared his body was still intact, so that was a good sign.
Just then a vision appeared, and Daniel thought he was receiving his very own guardian angel. His best friend and member of his team, Mike Bradford, towered over him.
Daniel was still unable to move, but he attempted to raise his hand to have Mike assist him to his feet.
Although the ringing in Daniel’s ears had dulled slightly, he still could not make out what Bradford was saying to him. But suddenly it struck him as odd that Mike was not attempting to help get him up. Was he more hurt than he realized?
“Mike,” he managed to croak out. “Help me, please.”
As he stared into the eyes of his best friend and fellow soldier, Daniel saw Mike raise his gun. Daniel stared down the barrel. Suddenly understanding that the situation he was in was much worse than he could have ever imagined, Daniel asked, “Why?”
“Because I am the hero in this story,” Mike answered.
Before Daniel could even register the betrayal, Mike pulled the trigger on his own man.
A few moments later the screen went black, and the credits rolled. The audience sat in stunned silence, and some even wiped away tears.
When the lights turned on, it took a while before everyone’s solemn mood could shift, and Dax held his breath.
“Well, Dax, congratulations. That was some of your best work yet. You should be proud of your performance,” his agent, Maggie Mayfield said excitedly. “This will no doubt be a hit at the box office, and you, my friend, are my new favorite client. You’re going to make us a lot of money.”
As they left the crowded theater, cameras flashed obnoxiously, and reporters yelled his name. He flashed a megawatt smile to avoid taking a bad picture.
“Daxton Knight, how does it feel to be Hollywood’s new leading man?”
Knight stopped in his tracks. “It feels just as I imagined—pretty damn good.”
Dax, where are you? We were supposed to have a meeting with the producers for Redemption, forty-five minutes ago.”
“Shit.” Dax swung his legs over the side of the bed. “I completely forgot.”
“Come on, Knight, this is the third obligation you have missed or shown up late to in a week. You really do not want to start getting a reputation for being difficult to work with. You may be a rising star, but even the brightest stars eventually burn out,” Maggie chastised him.
He grumbled something incoherent. “I wouldn’t be missing things if I had someone in control of my calendar. My personal assistant up and quit on me.”
“That would be the one.”
“She quit, you fired her, or she left with a broken heart?”
“Same difference, right? Besides she was getting kind of clingy for my taste.” Dax glanced over at the long naked legs peeking out from beneath the covers. “I cannot really talk about it at the moment.”
“Hmm, Zola’s there isn’t she? Did you two party too hard last night?”
“How did you know about her?”
“Oh, please, I have eyes and ears everywhere. Besides, someone leaked it to Entertainment Tonight. If I had to guess it was from the skinny little model herself. Getting her name out there certainly would not hurt her street cred.”
Dax walked away so, on the off chance Zola was awake, she wouldn’t be able to hear. “Are you able to hold the producers off until I can get there? Depending on traffic, I can be there in twenty minutes.”
“I’ll do my best, and you and I both know that on a good day it will still take at least thirty so put on a clean shirt and get your ass in gear. We really need to get you a new assistant. Heaven forbid you should be in control of your own schedule. You are really making a mess of things for you, and more importantly, for me.”
Dax smiled as his agent berated him. “I am working on it. Maybe I should hire a man next time.”
“Or, here is a thought that I know is completely out of the realm of possibility. You could always try not sleeping with her.”
“You know when I see a pretty girl, it is just hard for me to resist. I appreciate a woman’s beauty and—”
“Yeah, yeah. You are a horn dog, I get it. My feelings are hurt that you have never tried anything with me,” Maggie said in mock disgust.
They both knew that she was kidding, considering she was happily married with a kid in college and another one about to make her a grandmother.
“Oh, Maggie, you know it’s not for lack of me trying. Besides, you’re much too valuable to me. You’re the only woman besides my mother, God rest her soul, who has been indispensable to me.”
Maggie chuckled. “You are a smooth talker, I’ll give you that, but flattery will get you nowhere, now hurry up.”
She hung up on him as he uncapped the toothpaste and searched for eye drops to get rid of the redness that had accumulated from lack of sleep. As he gargled and rinsed, feminine arms wrapped around his neck.
“Were you going to leave without saying good-bye?” Zola’s voice purred in his ear.
“Of course not,” he lied. “You looked so peaceful that I didn’t want to wake you. I was going to leave a note. I’m late for an important meeting.”
“A note?” She pouted. “Is that all that last night earned me?”
She was referring to their wild romp in the hay, which Dax was surprised she even remembered because they were both fairly intoxicated.
“Oh, don’t be like that.” He gave her a quick kiss on her full lips. “It may have earned you a repeat performance later. But I’ve really got to go. I’m already late, and Maggie will have my head if I push her buttons any further. My personal assistant quit, and I’m not doing a great job of staying organized. I’m in the market for a new assistant”
“Well, Rachel had to go. She may have been your personal assistant, but she was taking up way too much of your personal time, if you ask me.”
“How did you know about Rachel?”
“Darling, when a woman is interested in a man, she makes it her business to know who he spends time with.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “And in case you needed reminding, I am not the kind of girl you call dispensable.”
Zola opened the silk robe revealing her tall, thin physique. She parted her legs ever so slightly and helped his hand find her moist and ready center.
He groaned as the bulge in his jeans hardened. “I really can’t be late. This will have to wait until later. And I was just kidding with Maggie about dispensable women. Do not take it to heart.”
“I don’t take many things to heart, Dax. The world I work in is one of the most fierce and competitive there is, and I am at the top of my game. So if one of us is dispensable—” She paused for effect and rubbed herself against the tight bulge in his pants. “Well, let’s just say that with both of our careers sky rocketing and our amazing good looks, we just make sense together, lover.”
“I do not disagree,” Dax said as he kissed her quickly. “But I have got to go. Will you be here when I get back so we can pick up where we left off?”
“I doubt it. Zola waits for no man, but—” she said, smiling, lightening the mood, “—you can call me later.”
As Dax walked out the door of his penthouse apartment, she called out. “Dax, it wouldn’t hurt matters if you made sure the next assistant was unattractive.”
Dax dodged the reporters as he unlocked the door to his Porsche and slid into the driver’s seat. He revved the engine and prepared to put the car in gear. When he pulled down the visor to block out the California sun, a piece of paper fell out in his lap. He frowned in confusion as he knew the envelope was not there the last time he drove the car.
He opened it, distracted, as he tried to maneuver out of the parking garage. He stopped at the exit, waiting for the arm bar to rise to allow him out of the garage.
The message was short, but it was more the blood red coloring that caught his attention. It said in bold letters.
LIFE IMITATES ART. SAY GOODBYE, DANIEL SAMPSON.
“What the hell?”
He looked around at his surroundings, realizing that whoever left this ominous message was most likely not hiding in the garage watching him read it. A car honked its horn behind him, indicating he was wasting precious time just sitting idle.
Dax waved his hand in apology and peeled out angrily. It was just a foolish prank. Some delusional psycho fan who took hate mail one step further. He had a wide fan base and, before Sampson’s Soldier, it consisted of mostly women, but after the true story war film, men and patriots alike boarded the Dax Knight train.
One could not just have crowds of adoring screaming fans without bringing out a looney toon or two. It was not uncommon that some of these followers would even yell out the name of some of his characters instead of his own real name when trying to get his attention. They related to the characters, especially when it was a real life drama.
People experienced some of the things he portrayed in his acting. In their eyes, they were comrades. He had might as well have been in the trenches with some of the real war heroes as they stopped him to swap stories and pat him on the back. Some of them showed him their purple hearts or even their battle wounds, some of which he would have rather not seen. But he listened graciously because they had put their lives on the line and fought for freedom.
He played a role for entertainment, and, although some of the scenes were pretty heavy, when the director yelled cut, Dax was free to go about his daily life and enjoy the things that everyone took for granted.
The guns being fired on set did not house real bullets. The bomb that knocked him off of his feet was actually a practiced move with a stunt instructor and special effects, and, even then, if ever he felt unsafe, he could call in a stunt double, and no one would be the wiser.
Dax was never in any real danger, but so many others were, so he did not consider it a nuisance to engage in conversation with his devoted fans. But along with all of the positive feedback, he had gotten a small amount of negative criticism as well.
Some military extremist thought he was a pretty boy who did not deserve the honor of wearing the uniform, even if it was just a costume for him. Dax had expected that not everyone was always going to think he was the most fantastic thing since sliced bread, but he just hoped that the good outweighed the bad.
Until now, he had considered himself lucky and remarkably unscathed, as all of his messages arrived via snail mail, to his website, or other social media outlets. This was the first time that a message had been delivered personally.
Dax didn’t consider himself a wuss, but he would be lying to himself if he did not admit that it unnerved him. Part of it was the message itself, but the other thing bothering him was that whoever left the note had access to his car and was audacious and daring enough to leave it for him.
“There sure are some neurotic maniacs out there.”
Dax pulled into the parking lot of the studio just as Maggie called his cell, breaking into his thoughts.
“Yes, I’m walking in now.”
Sonny Winslow sat at her writing desk and pecked away at the keyboard. She had been at this chapter for hours, trying to get it just right. She needed to tie in all of her plot twists to complete her manuscript.
The words flowed out of her like paint on a canvas as she perfected what she hoped would be the next great American novel. A potential publishing company was anxiously awaiting the long-talked about novel, and she knew she had to strike while the iron was hot.
The only problem was that the bills did not quit coming in while she took this time for herself to write. She had published smaller stories, but as a first time author of a novel, getting an advance was almost out of the question.
Sonny had tried to earn enough money by waitressing and being an expert barista at the local Artist Corner, but she was barely making ends meet between rent, utilities, and groceries.
One day, she would get a real paycheck for her time spent in front of a keyboard, and her hard work would pay off, but until then, she would dread opening every envelope, knowing another bill was coming due.
She enjoyed being around other aspiring artists and writers at the Artist Corner. It was an inspiration to watch like-minded people working at their dreams, and the owner, Vivian Whitman, was motivation in her own right. She had opened the small art gallery and coffee shop on a whim and had done very well for herself. This allowed her to support local talent, along with some big names. She had become a mentor to Sonny and, after taking a liking to her, had offered her a job. Sonny had begun running her work past her for a second opinion as she finished each chapter. Only then was she planning to submit it to any agents. When she looked at the clock now, she realized she had to hurry in order to make their afternoon coffee date.
She printed out the final chapter before grabbing her purse. Vivian had been hounding her for weeks to read the latest installment of Seize the Night. It was a rough draft, but if she could overlook the errors, she may have some useful edits in mind that could help Sonny put the book to rest.
Sonny was already plotting her next mystery romance and couldn’t wait to begin building her characters. They already existed through her imagination, and she was ready to bring them to life. In a strange sense, these characters were her friends. They needed a voice and, through Sonny, their stories could be shared.
She drove with the windows down, feeling free as her hair whipped around in the wind. She sang along to the song “Life is a Highway” before pulling into her usual parking space. Sonny waved absently to a few familiar faces, slinging her crossover bag, which held her newly printed pages, across her shoulder.
When she stepped inside the building, she saw Vivian waiting at a table, and she smiled pleasantly. Vivian started to stand to greet her, but given her very pregnant condition, Sonny waved her off, urging her to remain seated.
“How are you feeling? You look great.”
“Oh, baby is very active today, kicking up a storm.” Vivian placed a hand lovingly on her growing bump. “But otherwise, I feel great, as big as a whale, but that just means baby is growing and healthy.”
“Well, you look positively radiant. It must be true that babies make you glow. Or maybe it is the life of a newlywed that has you beaming.”
“Both are great. The nursery is finally finished, and I have just about gotten everything unpacked in the new house.”
“I envy you,” Sonny said, smiling. “A beautiful family, a handsome new husband, and the steal you got on your new home. I am so happy for you.”
“Thank you, Sonny. I am truly blessed. Miles is the best man that I could ask for. He puts up with my mood swings and impromptu tears as if it was completely normal and there is nothing else in the world he would rather do. He has picked up the extra duties of caring for a five-year-old without me asking. He is truly a gem, but it was hard work getting to the point in my life to meet him.”
Sonny knew Vivian’s history was not an easy one to overcome, but it gave her hope that happiness was out there for everyone.
“The saying that all things happen for a reason is true. Even if we don’t always understand them at the time.”
“Cheers to that.” Vivian lifted her decaffeinated green tea. “I ordered you a latte, don’t worry, no decaf for you, but this baby does not need anything else revving it up today. So, do you have the pages?” she asked anxiously. “I’m dying to know if Whitley and Wren end up together.”
“Yes, I brought the pages. Please be kind, it’s very rough. I finished it right before I came here.”
“You know I don’t care about a few typos. That’s what editors are for. Your job, my dear, is getting the story on paper. We will worry about comma placement later.”
Sonny smiled as she handed over her latest work.
“I cannot wait to relax in bed and take this all in,” Vivian said. “But, Sonny, what is bothering you? Are you not happy with the ending? If you aren’t ready for me to read it, I can wait.”
“No, it is not that.” Sonny sighed. “It is just, bills. Until I start getting paid for my writing, I still need to find a way to live. I have thought about getting a roommate to help with the rent, but finding someone with whom you are compatible to share your house with isn’t always easy. I appreciate all that you have done by giving me a job, but, unfortunately, it isn’t leaving much wiggle room.”
“Say no more,” Vivian assured her. “You’re speaking to a friend, not your current employer. You think I don’t realize that being a barista is not your ideal set up? I just wanted to help get you by. Don’t get me wrong, I love having you here, but you’re cut out for bigger and better things. One day soon, that thing will be being a full time author, but the industry is cutthroat.”
“Tell me about it,” Sonny groaned.
“Wait a minute.” Vivian perked up. “I have an idea. I don’t know why it just now occurred to me. I have made contacts in the industry through various conferences and events. There’s one woman I became rather friendly with, Maggie Mayfield. She’s an acting agent, and she represents Daxton Knight.”
“Didn’t he just release a new movie?”
“Yes, Sampson’s Soldiers. Anyway, she informed me that he is starting to film a new movie, and he’ll be relocated to Jerseyville. He is in need of a personal assistant. Maggie says the kid has great acting skills, but is a real scatterbrain. He needs someone to help control his schedule.”
“Me? Be an assistant to Dax Knight? I don’t know the first thing about what that entails.”
“No, but I bet you could learn, and I’m sure it would pay a pretty penny. You might even get to rub some shoulders with the big wigs and be able to give them a copy of your manuscript. It wouldn’t have to be a forever job, just while he’s filming in our area. That might be long enough for an agent to get a publishing house to buy your book, and then all of your free time can be spent writing. It sounds perfect, the more I think about it.”
“Yes, maybe too perfect. They probably won’t hire someone who doesn’t have experience.”
“Before you throw in the towel, let me make a phone call for you. In the meantime, I have the perfect roommate for you.”
“Who?” Sonny asked dubiously.
Vivian indicated with a tilt of her head toward the hunk that was seated at the corner booth. He was writing feverously in a note pad.
“Another writer? I think I only have room for one of those in my house.”
“Oh, come on. Be open minded. His name is Hudson Law. He dabbles in the arts, sells some paintings, but is trying his hand at writing. You have a lot in common and would probably understand each other’s idiosyncrasies. Splitting room and board would benefit you both. Plus, he is not bad to look at.”
“I don’t know anything about the man.”
Although Vivian was right—he was easy on the eyes which, to Sonny, meant it was all the more intimidating.
“Miles has enough friends on the police force to make it easy to run a background check.”
“You’re just full of answers today,” Sonny said. “You’re lucky that you’re pregnant.”
Vivian smiled sweetly and held up Sonny’s manuscript. “Do as your book says, and Seize the Night.”
Sonny rolled her eyes but laughed. She had to admit Vivian had her there.
© 2018 by JD Davis