Runaway Attraction. Farrah Rochon

Runaway Attraction - Farrah Rochon

Скачать книгу
a memory.

      I will not let that happen.

      Bailey had made that promise to herself before leaving her family-mandated exile in the Virgin Islands last week. She’d existed in a bubble of uncertainty for the past two months. She would not allow another day of her life to be dictated by the actions of the lunatic who’d robbed her of so much already. Today was the first step on the road to normal, and she was more than ready to get there.

      Yet with each inch of asphalt the tires traveled, her stomach knotted with growing nerves. She shut her eyes tight behind oversize sunglasses and rested her head against the seat back, apprehension rushing through her despite her efforts to curb it.

      She was the one who had insisted on this press conference, which would bring her face-to-face with the media after nearly two months of seclusion. At this point, it was a necessity.

      She was fed up with the wild speculations being tossed about by the press, rumors that were becoming more outlandish by the day. The more her family tried to shield her from the outside world, the more rabid the media became. It was time she faced them.

      The car pulled into the parking garage on 65th Street underneath Lincoln Center. Bailey’s chest grew tight as her heart started the emphatic pounding that signaled a panic attack. She’d learned to recognize the signs over the past couple of months.

      Bailey willed herself to calm down, focusing on filling her lungs with deep gulps of air.

      “You can do this,” she quietly declared.

      It had taken a full-fledged campaign to convince her family that she was emotionally strong enough to confront the media. She refused to show even an ounce of weakness. She’d even insisted that the press conference be held at the very site where she had been abducted two months ago, just hours before she was to take to the runway during Fashion Week as the lead model for her family’s fashion label, Roger Hamilton Designs.

      But as she remained rooted in the backseat of her brother’s car, mere yards from that stark basement where she had been found unconscious, Bailey questioned her previous bravado. She should have taken her sister, Brianna’s, advice and held the press conference at RHD’s studio in SoHo. Maybe facing the press—and her demons at the scene of the crime—was taking on too much, too soon.

      “No, you can do this,” Bailey reiterated.

      “Yes, you can,” her brother Daniel said from the front seat.

      Bailey’s eyes connected with his in the rearview mirror and she smiled. Thank goodness for her family. As much as she begrudged their zealous overprotectiveness, she would not have survived this ordeal without their support.

      Bailey sucked in one last cleansing breath as Daniel got out of the car and opened the back door. She clasped the hand he held out to her.

      “Look, Bailey.” Daniel hesitated, his eyes darting to the garage’s exit. “I meant what I said. You can do this. But remember that you don’t have to. Just say the word and we’re out of here.”

      “Backing out is not an option.” She gave her brother a firm nod. “I’m ready.”

      “Are you sure?”

      “Positive.” She squeezed his hand. “I need to do this, Daniel. I’m done hiding. I want to show the world that I’m not broken.”

      Especially the person who attacked me...who is still out there.

      Bailey couldn’t ignore the streak of alarm that raced through her body at the thought that her attacker was still at large—and possibly even among the reporters gathered.

      Calling on the resilience she used in the cutthroat world of modeling, Bailey put her fear in check and took a moment to check her appearance in the car’s gleaming exterior. The pleated chocolate slacks and cream-colored turtleneck underneath her favorite belted, rust-colored peacoat from RHD’s fall collection suited her personality much more than the glammed-up fashions she wore when strutting across a runway.

      Satisfied with the image reflecting back at her, she turned to her brother.

      “Well, let’s get this show on the road,” she said with an overly bright smile. She could tell by the tension bracketing Daniel’s mouth that he saw right through her false optimism.

      They started for the plaza at Lincoln Center, where a collection of reporters and cameramen waited. A podium had been set up in front of the fountain, with the Metropolitan Opera House as the backdrop. There was a hum of excited energy buzzing around the courtyard, which only served to ratchet up Bailey’s nerves.

      Before the incident back in September, she’d thrived on dealing with the press, always ready to flash them a smile as they covered her rise to stardom. But now trepidation pebbled her skin at the sight of them gathered there. She resented the vulnerability the press exposed within her, the outright terror she felt at having to face their questions.

      Her entire family stood just to the right of the podium. A lump formed in Bailey’s throat at their show of support, ready to act as a wall of defense between her and the media.

      Her mother, former fashion model Lila Hamilton, broke away from the pack, striding across the plaza in her signature six-inch heels and a chic cashmere sheath.

      “How are you feeling?” her mother asked, rubbing a soothing hand along Bailey’s arm. “You don’t have to do this, you know,” she added, not giving Bailey the chance to answer her question.

      “I already tried that,” Daniel said. “She’s determined.”

      The concern on her mother’s face nearly did Bailey in, but she couldn’t allow it to deter her. She gave her a peck on the cheek. “I’ll be okay,” she reassured both her mother and herself.

      Still holding hands, they continued the last few yards to where the others were gathered. Bailey nodded to her father, patriarch of the family and head of Roger Hamilton Designs, who they’d all agreed would be the one to read the prepared statement to the press. He stepped up to the podium, which had at least a dozen microphones attached to it.

      “Thank you all for coming,” her father began. “The purpose of this press conference is to clear up the misinformation that has flooded the media since Fashion Week. As you all know, my daughter Bailey was meant to be the lead model for Roger Hamilton Designs this year. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she was unable to model during RHD’s show. There has been much speculation over the cause of her absence, but I want to assure—”

      “Bailey, have you been in rehab?” one reporter called out.

      Instant rage flashed across her father’s face. Bailey put her hand on his shoulder, halting his retort. “Let me answer them.”

      “Absolutely not,” he said with a firm shake of his head.

      “Bailey,” her eldest brother, Kyle, warned. She turned to her family, noting the concern on the faces of her mother and her sister, Brianna. Daniel and Kyle both looked as if they would relish doing bodily harm to the reporters.

      Bailey turned back to her father. “Remaining silent won’t do me any favors. They won’t be satisfied until they hear directly from me.”

      It was more than evident that her father would rather face a den of hungry lions than let her face these reporters, but he reluctantly stepped aside.

      Bailey surreptitiously dried her clammy palms on her wool coat before gripping the sides of the podium. Cameras flashed in rapid succession, making her happy that she had kept her sunglasses on. But Bailey refused to hide behind them any longer. She refused to hide behind anything.

      She took off the sunglasses and placed them on the podium.

      “First, I would like to thank you all for coming.” Her voice was strong and didn’t waver, a mark in the plus column. “When I suggested this press conference, the original plan was to have my father read a prepared statement. But you all are not here to listen to a prepared statement—you’re here

Скачать книгу