Actor Spence Parker's career teeters on the brink of ruin thanks to a fling with the slightly crazed and drug-addicted daughter of a powerful and well-loved Hollywood film producer. Taking the advice of his agent, Spence takes a little vacation away from Hollywood while the dust settles. Not sure of where he can go to fly under the radar, Spence returns to his small hometown south of Pittsburgh.
Valerie Marks, Spence's high-school girlfriend, is now running her grandfather's newspaper and raising a nine-year-old daughter. She's still single, but not because she's been waiting for Spence to return. After all, he left without saying goodbye. When he appears in front of her on a street corner, however, old feelings are brought to the forefront.
He ambled across the parking lot and stood in front of the boarded-up theater. He felt as though he were standing before the grave of his buried childhood. A lump formed in his throat. He sensed someone watching him and turned his head. The woman looked vaguely familiar.
“Oh, my God.” She took quick, deliberate steps toward him. “Spence? Or should I say ‘the sexiest man alive’?”
“Val? Wow, you’ve grown up.” He was glad his sunglasses kept her from seeing the way his eyes mapped her curves. His gaze settled briefly on her chest before sliding back up to her face.
“Yes, but I’m betting you haven’t.” She gave him a full once-over. “You look good, quite the Hollywood movie star. Taking a break from the fast life?”
“Don’t believe everything you read in the tabloids. I’m actually boring off-screen.”
“You’re assuming you’re not boring on-screen,” she teased.
“Ouch. Aunt Lou tells me you’ve done okay, running the newspaper now.”
She grinned. “I couldn’t let Grampa sell it out of the family. Besides, that’s why I got a journalism degree.”
He hesitated, then said, “I also hear you have a daughter.”
“Yes. I a…”
“Mom!” A young girl raced down the sidewalk from the direction of the library. “They’re having a summer reading contest. Look.” The girl held up a stack of books.
Val swept long tawny brown hair out of the girl’s face. “I guess I don’t have to ask what you want to do the rest of the day. Ali, this is an old friend of mine from high school, Spence.”
Ali knitted her brows together. “You look a lot like that actor. Mom wouldn’t let me go to his movies ’cause she says I’m too young.”
Spence nodded. “You are too young for those movies.”
Her blue eyes widened, and he noticed how much they resembled Val’s—like ice blue diamonds. “Are you that guy?”
Bending down, he whispered, “I am, but don’t tell anyone. I’m trying to take a vacation.”
Ali smiled, and he saw other hints of Val in the girl’s face. What he didn’t see was any hint of himself. Until he studied her features more closely. Maybe that little bump in her nose? The dimple in one cheek?
Val handed a set of keys to her daughter. “Want to put your books in the car?”
When the girl was gone, Spence said, “She’s cute. Looks like you.”
“She bears a family resemblance.”
“So, does she look like your husband too?”