"We both know I'm not pretty enough to be taken seriously as your new love interest."
"You could be if you tried to do something with yourself," Wolf answered with brutal candor. "Alexandra, you don't even try."
She bit down, not knowing where to look. "I don't try because I know already what I am and who I am. And I don't need makeup or fake hair or nails or a tan to make me something I'm not."
"Which is what?" he asked quietly.
"A bimbo. I'm not going to be a bimbo. I want to be respected. Taken seriously. And if I change myself--"
"You're changing your hairstyle, not your soul."
Her head jerked up.
"You're smart," he added. "Serious. And I'm sorry, but that eliminates the bimbo category for you."
She should have been flattered. Instead his words merely left her even more flustered.
Every time he looked at her she felt sparks on the inside, little bits of hot fire flaring here and there. It was like being a human sparkler, only worse because the heat didn't die.
"I just don't want to be laughed at," she said after a moment. "People can be unkind. I know the tabloids are famous for publishing unflattering photos and pointing out celebrities' flaws."
"Before we go public, you'll meet with stylists, receive wardrobe consultation. I have a team of professionals who will help ease you into the transition."
Alexandra was intrigued despite herself. "When would that happen?"
"As soon as you signed the contract."
Alexandra tried to imagine being groomed by top Hollywood stylists but couldn't. She might have lost twenty pounds since moving from Montana to California, but she still thought of herself as the sturdy country girl who'd worn cowboy boots before high heels. "A beautiful starlet would be far easier to introduce to the public," she said in a small voice.
"I'm not interested in squiring around a young actress desperate to make a name for herself--"
"But in real life--"
"This is real life, and I'm quite aware that I'm responsible for dozens of people's jobs. I just want to get The Burning Shore made and I want to do it without emotional complications."
She fell silent digesting this. "You don't want anyone to fall in love with you."
His dark eyes creased, his mouth compressed. That's exactly what I'm saying."
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