Runaway Attraction. Farrah Rochon

Runaway Attraction - Farrah Rochon

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down her cheeks. The fact that she could not fight the impulse to double-check all of the locks was as scary as the thought of finding one of them unlocked. Bailey knew she was sliding down a slippery slope. She’d told herself that she could handle it, but the more she’d tried to ignore the panic attacks and borderline obsessive behavior, the worse it had become. Maybe once she got back to work, back to normal, things would get better.

      As she reclaimed her spot on the sofa and tucked her feet underneath her, she picked up her iPhone.

      For the past hour she had been vacillating between calling Micah Jones back and apologizing for the curt way she’d ended their call, and just forgetting about him entirely.

      That wouldn’t happen anytime soon. He wasn’t the easily forgotten type.

      He also wasn’t to blame for the debacle at Lincoln Center, but she had projected her disgust from the fallout of yesterday’s press conference onto him. Bailey was beyond frustrated that the conference had done absolutely nothing to curb the relentless speculation by the media; however, the fact that Micah was a member of said media was no excuse for her rudeness. He hadn’t asked any of those abrasive questions.

      She opened the screen that displayed the most recently received calls, but just as she was about to hit Micah’s number, she returned the phone to the coffee table and picked up her iPad instead. Calling him to apologize would only open herself up to more questions. Besides, in his line of work, he was likely on the receiving end of animosity-riddled phone calls on a daily basis.

      Bailey returned her attention to the screen in her lap, flipping through the online images from Fashion Week in Paris. Brianna had attended on behalf of RHD, but her sister had been up to more than just representing the family business while visiting the City of Light. She had been falling in love. Bailey was ecstatic that Brianna had found Collin Childs. After the abrupt end of her first marriage, her sister deserved a boost in the romance department.

      Brianna would probably say Bailey deserved a boost, too, but romance was the last thing on Bailey’s mind. She was far more concerned with getting her life back on track.

      Oh, and making sure a crazed kidnapper didn’t snatch her again. Yeah, that was pretty important.

      She ignored the shudder that ran through her. She was so tired of living in fear, so incredibly frustrated that she couldn’t get past it, no matter what methods she tried. The only thing she’d discovered to take her mind off her anxiety was losing herself in work.

      Bailey observed the body language of the expressionless models as they towered above the seated audience, commanding the attention of every eye in the room. She had been modeling professionally for ten years now, since she was sixteen years old, but she was always looking for ways to improve her craft.

      She tried to concentrate on the images on the screen, but her brain was having none of it. A sickening feeling settled in Bailey’s stomach as she set the iPad on the coffee table. What else could she do to convince people that she wasn’t some drugged-out fiend?

      It wasn’t as if she could blame the media for their speculation. She’d been found unconscious with a bag of cocaine in her hands. On the surface it appeared to be the same old story that had been played out countless times before—a model who was caught up in the high life of hard partying. Why should they believe anything she said when she had that kind of evidence against her?

      The police department’s insistence that her family not share the details of the attack had her hands tied. The only thing she could do was continue to insist that she was the same Bailey Hamilton. If only she could figure out a way to remind the public of the person she had been before her disappearance.

      Bailey stopped short. Maybe Micah could help.

      “No.” She shook her head. “It’s not a good idea.”

      She’d just learned firsthand what could happen when the media got too close. She would be crazy to deliberately invite a reporter into her personal space.

      But Micah was not like the rest of them. Bailey had sensed that from the minute she’d sat across from him in September. He’d projected a genuineness that had put her at ease. And the documentary he’d suggested was entirely different from her dealings with the media thus far. She could call an end to it if she felt the need. She would be more in control.

      She typed “Bailey Hamilton on Connect” into the search box on her iPad. Several clips of the interview popped up in the results.

      Her chin in her hand, Bailey watched the interview for the first time. She was never comfortable in interviews, and it showed on her face. The tight lines around her mouth and that fake laugh she’d just given when Micah had asked her about her yoga ritual were both evidence of her nervousness.

      She inwardly cringed as she watched herself prattle on about her very first fashion show, but it was Micah’s next question and her subsequent answer that caused her entire being to quake with dread. He’d asked about her prerunway ritual. Bailey gripped the iPad in both hands, in shock as she stared at herself talking about her routine of arriving to the show site early so she could perform a walk-through of her runway journey.

      “Oh, my God,” she said, lifting a shaky hand to cover her mouth.

      That was how her attacker had known where to find her. She had just given step-by-step instructions.

      “What were you thinking?” she whispered.

      She knew what she had not been thinking—that someone had been plotting something sinister against her. How could she have known that answering a perfectly innocent question would turn her world upside down?

      That was just it—she could not have known. Just as Micah could not have known that asking such a question would lead to some madman abducting her. She didn’t know Micah very well, but Bailey knew he would never have intentionally put her in harm’s way.

      As she studied his face on the screen, that odd warmth she’d experienced the first time she’d met him crawled its way across her skin. There was no denying that he was handsome, with his medium-brown complexion and those intelligent, intense eyes. She’d felt instantly at ease with him, as if it had been just the two of them enjoying an intimate chat.

      It had been easy to let her guard down, and it could have very well been her downfall. She would be smarter the second time around.

      Wait. Who said there would be a second time around? She had already decided against doing this documentary. She would be crazy to allow Micah Jones to dig into her life.

      Of course, if she dictated what was covered in the documentary, it could be the perfect vehicle to do what she had been trying to do with the press conference yesterday. She could convince everyone that she was still the same Bailey. She could control what was said about her.

      She could find a semblance of normal.

      Bailey stared at the phone for a moment before picking it up.

      “Micah Jones,” he answered after the first ring. His voice was solid. Professional. And very, very nice.

      Bailey cleared her throat. “Hello again, Mr. Jones. This is Bailey Hamilton.”

      There was a slight pause, then, “Uh, Bailey. Hi.”

      She could tell she’d shocked him. A bit of that polish had left his voice.

      “I may have been a bit rash during your earlier phone call. I’d like to hear more about this documentary you want to do,” she said before she could talk herself out of it. “Are you still interested?”

      “Absolutely,” he said, the rest of his professionalism going out the window. He sounded as if he’d just won a sweepstakes. “What made you change your mind?”

      “I considered what you said, that this would be my chance to tell my story.”

      “There are a lot of people waiting to hear it,” he said. His voice had a soothing cadence—he could land a job as a late-night radio host with ease.


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