jennifer shirk

Excerpt for The Role of a Lifetime
Copyright © 2008 Jennifer Shirk
All rights reserved - a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication


the role of a lifetime

Ben's gaze lingered again on the tasty-looking blonde sitting on the bench. He'd been checking her out since he and Todd first arrived at the park. Couldn't help himself. He had a real thing for blondes, and most-thank you, God-had a real thing for movie stars.

He liked his odds.

"Hey, Todd, why don't we go to the slide over there?"

"No way."

He turned to the boy in surprise. "Why not?"

"That slide's for babies."

"No, it's not. Look, there's an adult over there," he said, pointing the football towards the bench.

Todd looked over and made a face. "You want to go talk to that woman, don't you?"

"What?" Ben spluttered. "No, no. No way. Hey, stop listening to your mom about me." Besides, he didn't want to talk to her anyway. Flirt was a better verb choice. He wanted to flirt with that woman. There was a difference. Anyone could spew out words and just talk. Flirting required talent, always used with the sole purpose of letting the other person know you're interested. And he was very interested in her.

As much as he was tempted to go over and introduce himself, he wouldn't. He didn't want to risk his anonymity. He'd lectured Todd on that two seconds ago. But he didn't see the harm in getting a better look at an attractive woman. After all, if he was in a museum, he'd certainly want to get closer to a work of art, wouldn't he? And from what he could tell, that woman was a masterpiece.

She had the kind of straight, shiny blonde hair his fingers itched to feel and run through, and a body that was slender in an athletic kind of way-built more like a runner than a centerfold-and not at all like most of the women in LA. He was positive there was nothing cosmetically enhanced on her. Not that she wore anything revealing to bring about that kind of attention to herself. Yet, dressed in sweatpants and a Red Sox T-shirt, she managed to get his attention just the same.

"Um, Todd, are you sure you don't want to go over there?" he asked again, trying to rein in and saddle his raging testosterone.

Todd took off running. "You have to catch me first," he called out with a laugh.

Ben dropped the football and ran after him. Todd was fast, weaving his way around the wooden maze of forts and playground equipment, and then disappearing from his sight. Ben climbed up the rope to the wooden platform and scanned the area. From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Todd ducking into a tube slide. Gotcha now, kid. He ran over and climbed into a slide himself. The only problem was he didn't slide down.


He tried to twist, realizing his shoulders were wedged in tight. With one arm pinned down and the other arm up, he tried shifting his hips to wiggle back up. He didn't budge. Okay, he wasn't sure how he managed this strangely bizarre feat, but he needed some help.


He could see the headline now: "Career Not Only Thing Going Down Tubes". Oh man, his agent and publicist would have his head on a platter if that happened. He'd be lucky to get local theater work after that. Served him right for showing off and acting like a ten-year-old instead of the thirty-four-year-old he was.

Where the hell was Todd?

Ben heard movement above him and looked up, ready to ream Todd for leaving him hanging so long. He clamped his lips shut when he stared directly into the face of a cherubic little girl instead.

"Excuse me. Now it's my turn," she said in a tiny voice.

"Uh…well, you have to wait. See, I can't move right now."

"But I said excuse me."

"Yeah, I know, but-"

the role of a lifetime

Her little face puckered and her blue eyes filled with tears. Oh man, he was afraid of that. The kid was going to cry on him.

Where the hell was Todd?

The little girl did begin to cry-not with the loud obnoxious wailing he half expected, but with a quiet trembling frown and dime-size tears that fell like a category-four hailstorm. It made him want to break down and cry, too. He didn't need this right now-stuck as he was-especially since he had no clue how to convey he was telling the truth to such a young child. About to send out a SOS to Todd, he saw the woman from the bench spring out before him.

Thank you, God. Maybe it wasn't exactly how he wanted to meet this woman, but at least she would understand the situation and he could finally get some help. But when he gazed up into the woman's ready-to-kill eyes, he doubted very much that the cavalry had arrived.

"What did you do to my daughter?" she accused in that stern mother-cub-protecting-her-baby voice.

Oh great. Her daughter. More bad PR. Now they were going to add child abuse to the headline.

"Nothing," he insisted. "Honest. Look, she just wants to go down the slide."

The woman folded her arms. "Well, let her then."

That gave him pause. Okay, she obviously didn't understand his predicament any better than her kid had. "I…uh…can't," he said with a sheepish grin. "I'm kind of stuck. Maybe a little help?" He waved his one free arm, but she looked at it as though it was covered with warts.

"Maybe I should call the police for help," she said, drawing her daughter to her side.

"No police!"

The woman flinched from his outburst. He didn't mean to freak out on her, but the police equaled the press in his book. Bad headlines. Then unhappy agent. Then less work. The list went on.

"No police," he repeated more calmly. "In fact, don't call anyone."

An odd expression-somewhere between nausea and hysteria-crossed her pretty features, and she grabbed her daughter's hand. "Let's go."

Go? Go where? He watched in disbelief as the woman began to lead her daughter away. Did she think he was faking it? Didn't she recognize him? The woman was actually turning her back on him.

"Wait!" he shouted. "I'm not kidding! Come back! What about me?"

His complaints and shouts didn't even register on her radar. The woman had to have heard him-heck, upstate New York had to have heard him-but she didn't turn around. Didn't pause. In fact, she picked up her little girl and ran.

the role of a lifetime

Copyright © 2008 Jennifer Shirk
All rights reserved - a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication




THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME is going to captivate readers with its warm family style romance. If you believe that everything happens for a reason, THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME is definitely the book for you." 4 Nymphs---- Literary Nymphs Reviews Only

"...THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME was great fun to read." ----Joyfully

"...readers will appreciate the overall sweetness of two people falling in love." "I recommend THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME as an easy read to pass the time." ----Mel Mason at Romance Reviews Today

"You'll be laughing out loud one minute and then your heart goes out the very next. If you only have time to read one book this summer, THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME is a must read!" 5 Blue Ribbons ----Chrissy at Romance Junkies



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