Jade Landon's life is exactly where she wants it to be at twenty-five. She's just been promoted to assistant makeup artist for one of the UK's biggest TV networks, she has a great group of friends, and her whole future ahead of her.
Until aging rockstar turned TV presenter Seth Marshall walks into her life. Despite being twenty-five years her senior, Jade and Seth hit it off instantly, and soon the whole network is buzzing about the two employees.
But a curveball arrives in the form of Seth's estranged wife and former Page Three model Tessa, and their teenage daughter Alexia. Even though their marriage is dead and buried, Tessa still wants to make life difficult for Seth, and Alexia is more than happy to play her part, especially as she doesn't like that her father's new girlfriend is only ten years older than she is.
With the media twisting their relationship, jealous co-workers causing conflict, and all the problems that come with Tessa's alcohol problem, and Alexia's reaction to her father's new relationship, Jade and Seth start to feel the odds are stacked against them.
But the precious things in life are impossible to walk away from, and as they support each other through the various hardships, Jade and Seth realise every moment together is worth fighting for.
Author's Notes: Hey everyone! I'm back with a new serialised romance story, which I'll be updating every Tuesday for the foreseeable future.
Thanks to Hubby for the edit. 3
I hope you all enjoy ...
I drummed my fingers impatiently on the steering wheel, and watched as the row of traffic in front of me barely moved a fraction of an inch forward. Despite getting up at five, I was somehow still running later for work starting at six a.m. Not exactly a great way to return after a week's holiday, and especially not on my first day in a new position.
Finally, the traffic started moving, and the small hope I had that I might make it to the TV studio in time kindled into life. I floored the accelerator, and sped across the city, thankfully not running into any more traffic jams or red lights. At five fifty-seven, I pulled into my usual space besides my boss, Charlotte.
When I entered the studio there were people everywhere; crew members milling about, presenters chatting in corridors, runners dashing from one set to another. It was far busier than usual for that time of the morning, when only the breakfast show was getting ready to air. Figuring they must be hosting some big-name guest, I made my way to the hair and makeup department, where Charlotte and the team had already set up.
"Sorry I'm late, guys." I pulled off my jacket and shoved it, along with my bag, in a locker at the rear of the beauty area.
Charlotte cast me a cursory glance, and then put the finishing touches to the breakfast show presenter Dana's makeup. Scanning the day's itinerary, I started to unpack my makeup kit, and ready myself for the first person needing my services.
Just a few minutes later, the network's sports presenter, Jon Harrington, swaggered towards me with a smirk on his face.
"Jade, my favourite person to see first thing in the morning."
He climbed onto the makeup stool, and I covered his football t-shirt with a protective cape, then started priming his skin.
"Piss off, Jon."
We both busted out laughing.
"How was your week off?"
"Good thanks." I covered over the bruise still lingering under his eye – the remains of a pub fight – and dusted his face with setting powder. "Did I miss anything interesting while I was away?"
"Actually, you did. Paul Mason got fired on Wednesday."
"Wow. You owe me fifty quid."
Paul Mason, the network's music presenter, had been walking a precarious line for the last six months. His out of work behaviour had drawn the wrath of the network executives, and he was one bollocking away from getting fired. Apparently, that fateful day had come while I was on holiday.
"Any news on who's replacing him?" I asked, as Jon admired my handiwork in the compact mirror I passed to him.
Jon grinned. "Yeah, you're not gonna believe who we landed … Seth Marshall."
"You know, the guy from the nineties' band Stryfe?"
I shrugged and removed the protective cape. "Yeah, because I was watching Top of the Pops when I was a toddler."
Jon shook his head and stood up from the stool. "Well, anyway. We're all going out for welcome drinks tonight. You game?"
"Sure, any excuse for a piss up."
"Cool. I'll tell the guys. You ask Kelly, Chloe and Maria?"
I grinned. "Absolutely."
'The guys' were video games expert Mike Hawthorn and tech specialist Rich Clark, and together with my best-friends Kelly Stewart, the network's fashion and beauty host, network model Chloe Deeley, and Maria Ball of the wardrobe department, the six of us made up the usual crowd from the studio who socialized together regularly.
"All right. I'll meet you in reception about eight, and we'll head to Bar Twenty-One."
"Eugh, why are we going to that dive?"
"Mike's idea, I think he's hoping to pick up."
Jon smirked. He and best-buddy Mike had a running score of who could get the most phone numbers on a night out. I rolled my eyes.
"Ladies drink free tonight," Jon said, as if that explained Mike's asinine plan.
A smile instantly replaced my frown. "I like it."
Jon grinned, and tapped his fingers to his forehead in a farewell salute.
The morning passed quickly after that, as me, Charlotte and the rest of the hair and makeup team were swept up with guests and presenters for that day's shows.
Being one of the biggest TV networks in the UK, G.E.M put out about fifteen shows a day, including a soap opera, lifestyle programs and regular news broadcasts. It wasn't what I'd envisioned when I studied cosmetics at college - I'd imagined working on the latest Hollywood blockbuster - but it was a stable job and after my recent promotion, it paid well. All in all, I considered myself pretty lucky that at twenty-five I had a job many would envy, and that paid enough for me to live close to the city centre, where property prices were higher.
At about twelve-thirty, when there was a lull in work, Charlotte said, "Why don't you take your break now? You probably won't get a chance later when we're prepping for the afternoon and evening's shows."
"Thanks. Want me to grab you anything?" I packed up my makeup kit and headed for the lockers.
"Yeah, get us a chicken salad sandwich, a diet Coke and a Mars bar, please?
I hoisted my bag onto my shoulder and smiled. "Sure."
I made my way down the corridor, where runners and other crew members milled about, to the staff canteen / break room. Pushing the heavy metal doors open, I was relived to find it fairly empty. After the bustle of the morning, I was craving some quiet time with my e-reader, with the latest issue of X-Men.
I bought some lunch, then settled on one of the battered sofas by the window, watching as barges meandered down the canal.
After finishing my sandwich, I turned on my tablet, then opened my chocolate bar and prepared to dive into the world of Marvel. But th
at wasn't meant to be. Instead, the heavy metal doors swung open, and a guy in scruffy biker boots, torn black jeans, a red t-shirt and a leather jacket entered. If it wasn't for his age, I'd have assumed he was a guest on some music show, but judging by the flecks of grey in his dark hair and his salt-and-pepper beard, I figured he was a little older than most.
He flashed me a sheepish grin and dropped down on the couch. "Sorry. I thought it'd be empty in here now."
I looked up at him over the top of my tablet, and smiled. "No worries. I'll be out of your hair in a sec."
His grin widened, his eyes dancing with amusement. "Wow. You're the first person to say that to me today. I snuck in here to hide out from all the 'well-wishers.'"
He said the last word with a certain amount of distain that had me raising my eyebrows.
"No offence, but I don't have a clue who you are."
The guy hooted with laughter, and his brown eyes sparkled. "I like you." He stood and extended his hand to me. I clasped his hand, and he shook it firmly. "Seth Marshall. New music presenter and-"
"Former front man of Stryfe." I finished for him as the penny dropped. "Jon Harrington told me earlier you'd joined us. Yeah, sorry, you're a little before my time."
Another laugh had me grinning back, and Seth's disposition relaxed as he settled onto the couch opposite me.
"Jade Landon, cosmetologist extraordinaire. A.K.A the makeup girl."
"That explains the hair." Seth nodded towards me, where the tips of my long plait were dyed teal, in contrast to the rest of my dark hair.
I grabbed a strand self-consciously, and twirled it around my finger.
Seth's gaze lingered on mine, and I was about to look away, when he said, "So, you know Jon Harrington?"
"Yeah. I'm the one who has to make him look presentable after he's come onto some guy's girlfriend and gotten himself a black eye."
Seth smirked. "Bit of a party animal?"
I shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose so. I mean, there is plenty of nightlife near the studio. Why?"
"I'm just trying to figure out how much trouble these welcome drinks later are going to cause. I'm trying to keep a low profile."
I laughed. "I think you've come to the wrong place for that, mate."
"Figures, but the last thing I need right now are the papers saying I've gone back to my rockstar ways."
"Not planning on snorting a line of coke off some hotties then?"
I laughed, but Seth's eyes darkened and I knew I'd said the wrong thing.
"Sorry, that was a dumb thing to say."
He recovered quickly, and the smile was back, but this time it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Nah, you're all right. I guess I better get used to rowdy nights out again. I just … I dunno, sorted of wanted a break from the 'welcome wagon.' I appreciate everyone making me feel at home, but if I get one more question about Stryfe, why we broke up, and if we're ever getting back together, I might kill someone."
I smirked. After a day beautifying others, sometimes I developed murderous tendencies too. "Don't worry, you'll have one friendly face there tonight. I'll help beat back the groupies if you need me to."
Seth smiled. "Thanks. I appreciate it."
"No worries. If you ever need incriminating bruises covering, or hordes of fangirls beating off with a stick, just come to the hair and makeup department, and ask for Jade."
I winked and stood up, slipping my tablet into my bag, and hiking it up on my shoulder.
"Catch you later," Seth called as I headed for the door.
"Yeah, catch you later."
I returned to the hair and makeup department gave Charlotte – who ¬never left the area, even for breaks – her lunch, and then unpacked my kit, and prepared for the afternoon.
The sound of giggling drew my attention, and I looked up to see Kelly and Chloe making their way towards me.
Flicking her long blonde hair over her shoulder, Chloe grinned and jumped up on the stool. "Jade! I'm so glad you're back. It's been too quiet without you here."
"Sure. Because you guys are total recluses without me."
"Yeah. We only went out three times last week."
I laughed, wrapped Chloe in the protective cape, and began applying primer. "Good job Jon's planning a night out tonight, then."
Chloe didn't move, as I was applying foundation to her face, but Kelly's smile widened. "Great. Are Maria and the guys coming too?"
"Yeah, Jon said he'd ask Mike and Rich. I haven't seen Maria though. She wasn't in the breakroom when I was."
"Yeah, she's been stuck with Courtney Sinclair all day."
"Oh, poor thing. She'd going to need a night out after that."
Courtney Sinclair was my mortal enemy. The star of the network's soap opera, she'd had it in for me from day one, and since recently appearing on Celebrity Big Brother, her ego had only inflated even more. The best thing about my week off had been not having to put up with her shit for seven days.
Once I'd finished Chloe's makeup, she hopped off the stool, and switched places with Kelly. I covered her clothes, and got to work.
"We're heading to wardrobe next, so we'll ask her then," Chloe said.
"All right. Jon said we're meeting in reception about eight, and heading to Twenty-One. Ladies drink free tonight."
Chloe's eyes widened, and she looked like I'd just told her the bar were going to be giving away unicorns or something. "Oh hell yeah. Girl's going to get her party on."
"Not likely. Look at me?" I gestured down to the jeans and t-shirt that were my standard work fare.
One of the many bonuses of never actually appearing on camera was that there wasn't a strict dress code, so my nose ring, tattoos, skinny jeans, and comic book t-shirts often went overlooked. Great for hanging around the studio, not so good for a night on the town.
"Don't worry. We've got a party season fashion spread coming up later, so there's plenty of outfits in wardrobe. We'll get Maria to sneak some out."
I laughed. Another advantage to our jobs, access to all the designer labels; if we were careful not to wreck them and bought them back in prime condition, management didn't mind if we borrowed clothes now and again.
"Perfect. Meet me back here later, and we can all get ready together."
After promising they would, Kelly and Chloe departed, and I was just about to hop on the stool myself for a breather, when the clicking of heels drew my attention and my brows creased.
Courtney Sinclair. Perfect!
The sneer on her lips was unmistakeable, and as she approached me, her eyes narrowed. "Oh, you're back."
"Yeah, it's sort of my job."
"I'd hoped they'd seen sense." Her lips curling, Courtney climbed onto the stool. "Go on then, make me even more gorgeous than I already am. If that's even possible."
"A bag over your head wouldn't go amiss," I muttered.
"What was that? Got something to say to me?"
Ignoring her, I covered Courtney in the protective wrap, and started applying primer. The sooner I was done with her makeup, the better.
Waves of tension radiated from both mine and Courtney's bodies. It was the tensest ten minutes of my life, but finally, her makeup was complete, and she jumped down from the stool. Tossing her long black hair, she gazed in the mirror.
"This isn't as good as Charlotte's work," she said, and then without a backwards glance, she stalked off, and I let out a long sigh.
Thank God drinks were free, because I was going to need twenty of them after dealing with her.
I barely had a minute to pause, as the hair and makeup department filled with more people, and I was swept up in the afternoon rush. I was covering the bags under Rich's eyes, who – no matter what he did – always looked like he hadn't slept in weeks, when I heard a familiar hoot of laughter, and looked over to Charlotte's stool, where Seth was perched, as she styled his hair in preparation for his first show.
Spotting me out of the corner of his eye, he winked and grinned. That thousand-watt smile could melt anyone's heart, and I felt my cheeks flush.
"Are you making eyes at Seth Marshall?" Rich hissed.
"Don't be stupid. I was just smiling at him. I met him in the break room earlier, he's pretty cool."
"I know he's pretty cool. I've got all Stryfe's albums, even the crappy one they did after the original drummer, Joey, left," Rich said. "But you were definitely making eyes at him."
"Don't be daft, he's like, what?"
"I dunno, gotta be getting on for fifty now."
"Exactly. He's likely twice my age. I was just being friendly."
"So, about tonight, you're all coming out later?"
"Yup, we'll be there."
"Even Maria?" Rich's cheeks flushed.
"Now who's got designs on someone?"
Rich glared at me. "You breathe a word of this to anyone and I'll never speak to you again."
"Don't worry. My lips are sealed. But if I am allowed to talk about it, you know I could put in a good word."
Rich contemplated my offer and then gave a half-shrug half-grimace. "I don't want her agreeing just because you set us up. Let's see how tonight goes first, yeah?"
"Sure. Just don't go acting like Jon and Mike. They might think their swagger gets all the ladies, but believe me, that's not the approach to take if you want something serious."
Rich jumped down from the stool, smiled and said, "Okay. Catch you later. And try not to goggle too much while I'm not here to keep you in check."
He glanced pointedly at Seth, who'd finished having his hair slicked up and back into a pompadour, but was still chatting to Charlotte.
Rolling my eyes, I scooped up my brushes, and headed over to sink, eager to get a jump on the cleaning up process.