First Page: Unpublished manuscript – Contemporary romance
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TEMPEST STARS END THREE-YEAR MARRIAGE?
Did Mandy dump hubby Vince for sexy photographer!!!
On Thursday night, Mandy was snapped getting cozy with well-known photographer Dara Murphy at Czina’s in Soho. Last week the couple was spotted holding hands at the Notting Hill Carnival. According to fellow Czina’s diners, Mandy didn’t seem to care who was watching as she openly flirted with Murphy, lending weight to speculation that Murphy is the cause of the rumoured split between Mandy and her onscreen partner and husband, Vincent Peterson.
Close friends of the actress are worried that Mandy is in over her head and her involvement with notorious love-rat Murphy will only lead to further heartbreak and may even derail her career. Murphy has been romantically linked with several actresses and models…
And there they were — every woman Dara had encountered in the last decade, tagged, identified and meticulously arranged to suggest the scattered contents of a criminal case file.
His peripheral vision snagged on a caption, ‘Murphy’s raunchy photo shoot’. Ha! Exhibit A, m’lud! Mandy Wexley, Britain’s sweetheart and one half of its favourite couple, sat on the edge of an unmade bed clutching a sheet to her chest. Her chin pointed down and she gazed seductively at a point beyond the camera, as if at a lover standing outside of the frame. The picture illustrated Dara’s corrosive influence on the once wholesome actress and was juxtaposed with a cheery snap of Mandy and Vince — ‘Happier times’ — taken at the BAFTAs.
Dara edged towards the window and checked the quiet North London street below. Two weeks ago, no one had been particularly interested in Dara Murphy. Now he was at the centre of a media storm that showed no signs of abating. Indeed, the fun hadn’t even started. Soon his address would be known. Paparazzi — or worse, crazed Tempest fans — would be lurking outside his home, ready to pounce on him whenever he nicked out to the shops. It could go on for months. I’m a bright blip on the radar now, he thought with a shudder. His life of obscurity was over.
He closed the blinds and backed away from the window. After circling the flat twice, he returned to the magazine and glared at Mandy Wexley waving from the red carpet.
Damn Wexley, you did this! She smirked up at him knowingly. Over her head? Derail her career? Not likely. To Mandy this was a hilarious romp, part of the business and not a bad thing at all for her career. She couldn’t understand what Dara was so worked up about; they’d forget him soon enough.
He did another circuit of the flat. He needed to get out of London for a while — and then an idea occurred to him. He opened the calendar on his phone to check a date. It was a month away. He had to be somewhere in a month. Yes, that might work; he’d just factor in some extra travel time — a month’s worth. Easily done; he just needed to move some things around, bring a few things forward. As Dara turned the plan over in his head, his mood began to lift. He saw a clear path and called his agent to calmly explain his decision.
‘No, no, no! You can’t be serious!’
‘Ah but I am, Simon.’
‘NO. No, no. This is not the time to disappear off to the other side of the world; this is the time to capitalise on all this lovely publicity. Everybody’s talking about you, Dara.’
‘Well yes …
‘I’ve got old clients coming out of the woodworks. Lots of new proposals too — TV spots, guest judging, you know the sort of thing…’
‘God, no…’ Dara released an anguished groan.
‘Why not? You’re very telegenic, Dara; I’ve often said it.’ A long silence followed before Simon spoke again. ‘Of course, this … unpleasantness will all blow over.’ He said with forced nonchalance. ‘They’ll move on to someone else.’
‘You said that last week.’ Dara cut in. ‘Anyway, it’ll ‘all blow over’ that much sooner if I’m not around.’
‘Dara, listen to me. Don’t make any rash decisions. We can manage this.’
But Dara had already made up his mind. He experienced a sudden rush, a combination of elation and fear, and remembered the last time he had felt the same giddy buzz, back when he was a nobody — before all this success had come along. When he had nothing to lose.