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Runway (Love California #3)

Runway (Love California #3)

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After Fianna Fitzgerald’s debut runway show of her fashion designs, a walk on the Malibu beach with reclusive rock star Niall Finley nearly claims their lives when they get caught in high tides. Will the bond they form in those critical moments be enough to last a lifetime?

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Book Description

Book 3, Love California Series

When Fianna left Ireland for America to follow her dream of becoming a fashion designer, she was determined to leave her family’s ancient past behind and start fresh in Beverly Hills. Fianna never imagined that her goal would jeopardize her and those who work for her.

From the runways of Los Angeles to London, someone is trying to sabotage her debut season. As Fianna struggles between two vastly different worlds, her troubles mount, though her friends lend their support in her darkest hours.

Is the terror linked to her family’s ancient feudal past, or something else? Furthermore, can she leave Ireland with her heart intact or will she lose it to only man she’s ever loved?

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Malibu, California



CAMERA FLASHES EXPLODED on the red carpet just ten feet from Fianna. She blinked against brilliant blue-white auras blurring her vision, straining to see the media’s reaction. Amid the lights and the flicking whir of digital cameras, a slender young actress swirled and posed in Fianna’s platinum evening dress, the silk rippling around her legs. Snap, snap, snap. Spearheaded by a top entertainment attorney and his wife, an A-list talent agent who probably out-earned him, The Pink Ball to benefit The Women in Pink cancer foundation was one of the most well-attended charity functions. Snap, snap.


Fianna breathed a sigh of relief. Her evening design shone to perfection now, but an hour ago, she’d been taking in the side seams for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, who was so nervous she hadn’t eaten much in days and had lost weight. 


Fianna leaned toward Penelope. “I’ll never know how Giselle keeps her composure through such intense media scrutiny. But she seems to come alive under pressure.” Fianna hoped she could do the same tonight.


“It’s the adrenaline rush. She’s doing great.” Penelope touched Fianna’s arm in support. “And so are you. Glad you could fill in at the last minute.” 


“Thanks again for pitching me.” Fianna watched as Giselle swirled and posed once more, dazzling the media that lined the entrance to the grand tented affair on the grounds of a private estate in Malibu, where the ocean lapped just outside the power couple’s home. They’d bought the house next door for double-digit millions and demolished it, just so they’d have privacy and room to entertain.


“We have about two hours…cocktails, introductions, dinner, closing speech, and then we’re on.” Penelope raised a dark, high arched brow, a striking contrast to her spiky pink cut, dyed especially for the event. With her high cheekbones and expressive eyes, she carried it off with aplomb, lending elegance to the avant-garde color.

“Nervous?”

Fianna realized she was chewing on a freshly manicured nail. “You know I am.” She shoved her hands into the sleek black-knit jumpsuit she’d chosen to wear backstage. 


Penelope was an internationally known Danish model who walked the runways of the world’s top fashion designers from New York to Paris, London to Milan. When the fashion designer who had been scheduled for the runway show had been found dead in a hotel room in Las Vegas, his family had canceled their involvement. Penelope was one of the models cast to walk, so she’d immediately pitched Fianna as a replacement. No other designers could act as quickly as Fianna could, so she’d won the opportunity.


“I still have a lot of staging to do,” Fianna said. Giselle moved on to give an interview to a television reporter, and Fianna could hear her talk about her dress, which the reporter gushed over. So far, so good. Connected to the elaborate main tent was another tented dressing area that had been erected for the models. The whole gilded affair had cost a fortune and looked like something from The Arabian Nights. But it was worth it; millions would be raised tonight for a good cause. 


Penelope nodded toward a photographer. “I’ll come with you. I have to get in makeup.”


Mounting a runway show was a costly endeavor, and the fashion media was ruthless. As a relative newcomer to the fashion scene, Fianna hadn’t yet planned a Fashion Week show of her collection. However, several months ago her aunt Davina had asked her to give a show in Dublin, the timing of which coincided with her cousin's wedding, so Fianna already had a small collection prepared. Her friends had urged her on, calling it kismet. So she’d swung into action at her tiny Robertson Boulevard shop, which she’d opened with a loan from her aunt.


When they reached the backstage area, Fianna stepped inside. To the outsider, it looked like chaos, but Fianna was in her element. The colorful, gauzy, romantic clothes she’d designed were arranged like a rainbow on racks, shoes and accessories were neatly organized to accompany each outfit, and notes and sketches detailed each look. At a bank of mirrors, makeup artists and hairstylists were working on models, highlighting and contouring, spiking and fluffing. Lanky young women waited their turn, chatting, flipping through Vogue, or swaying to music piped through headphones.


Penelope pulled her shirt off over her head and then slipped into a thin wrap. She eased her slender, well-toned frame into a director’s chair.


Laughter bubbled from one corner, and Fianna frowned at a man wearing dark smoky sunglasses and high-tech earbuds seated next to a model. His long, dark blond hair was brushed from his forehead, grazing his white linen shirt in the back. He stretched out his lengthy legs and laced his fingers behind his neck. “Who’s that?” 


“Must be her boyfriend.”


The backstage area was crowded as it was, and she didn’t need some creepy guy ogling the models as they raced to change. She made her way to them.

“Hi, Kaitlin. Sorry, but I have to ask your guest to leave. No backstage passes tonight, this is business.” She pressed her lips together. This young model was a last-minute addition after others had dropped out. Fianna had chosen her based on her model card. She made a note to be more careful in the future.


“Oh, sure,” Kaitlin replied. “Niall was just leaving.”


The man removed an earbud from his ear. “Your music is all wrong.”


Fianna glared at him. “What?”


He waved a hand toward the rack of clothing. “It doesn’t fit with your clothes.”


She immediately recognized his trace Irish accent. It smacked of the city. Dublin, she’d bet. “Look Niall, I’m not changing it now. And how do you know about the music I chose?”


“I talked to the sound engineer.”


Growing even more irritated, Fianna folded her arms. “Why would you do that? This is my show.” Finding the right music had taken a long time, and it was far too late to start over.


“Sure, and I figured you’ve worked hard. So your show should be the best it can be.” He held the earbuds to her. “I gave your engineer this music. If you like it, use it.”


The nerve of this guy. “I don’t have time for this. I don’t know who you think you are, but I don’t appreciate you going behind my back.” She shot a look at Kaitlin, who was suppressing a smile. 
She wouldn’t hire her again. 
His lips curved into a grin, further infuriating her. And he still hadn’t removed his sunglasses. Why did people wear sunglasses at night? It was so pretentious.

Who did he think he was, Brad Pitt? Or some wanna-be rocker? L.A. was full of those types, and she steered clear of them.

All they wanted were groupies and invitations to the Playboy mansion. And what was with the ridiculous full-sleeved poet’s shirt he wore?


“Come on, just listen.”


“Get out now.” She pointed toward the exit, her finger wavering with anger.


He shook his head, sliding a lock of hair behind an ear.

“You can’t tell me you’re happy with that music. Not until you hear this, anyway.” He unplugged a cord from his phone and tapped the screen. 


“That’s it. I’m calling security.” She turned to leave, but a haunting, lilting melody filled the air, and she hesitated, her feet inextricably rooted to the ground.


She lowered her eyelids. At once, the music transported her to Ireland; in her mind’s eye, she saw rolling emerald hills and smelled the sweet scent of peat logs spiraling from country cottage chimneys. She shuddered as the mesmerizing melody increased in intensity, serenading her Celtic soul. Artistic passion awakened and bloomed within her, and she felt herself sway in rhythm to the melody.


Niall’s deep voice rumbled behind her. “It’s perfect, isn’t it?” 


Her eyes flew open. How arrogant of him. She whirled around, ready to kick him out. But the room had fallen quiet, and others were also transfixed by the magical score. A flash of inspiration soared through her, and she glanced at the designs she’d created. She pressed a hand to her chest, as if to stem the tide of anger washing from her. She had every right to be furious, but she’d never heard anything like this before.


“The engineer has this music?”


Niall nodded. 


She lifted her chin and flipped her fiery red mane over her shoulder. “Then I’ll have him use it.”


“That’s a grand decision.” Another grin spread across his face. “If you don’t mind, I’ll see to it for you.” 


Fianna shrugged her acceptance, though she was inwardly thrilled. The music set the mood she’d envisioned. “Whose work is it?”


“Just some lad’s.” He rose and sauntered toward the exit. With his broad shoulders, lean waist, and shoulder-length hair, he could’ve been a male model, or a nineteenth-century artist. The sleeves of his shirt were turned back, and dark trousers skimmed his hips. 


Fianna stared after him. There was something familiar in the way he moved, though if she’d ever met him before she would have remembered. She dragged her attention away from him and twisted her thick hair into a messy bun to cool her neck against the sudden heat that surged through her. And she’d taken such pains to have her curls blown into a sleek style for the show. She clapped her hands. “Come on, everyone, back to work.”

Book Reviews

"An engrossing view into the world of 'beautiful people' with an ending that will leave you wanting more." - New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Melissa Foster

"Fast paced page turner that keeps the heart pounding both on and off the RUNWAY." - Blogging Under the Shade Tree

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