An Extract from The Honey Trap by Mary Jayne Baker

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I’m delighted to be part of the paperback launch celebrations for The Honey Trap by Mary Jayne Baker. I have a special extract from The Honey Trap for you today.

The Honey Trap is published by Harper Impulse and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

The Honey Trap

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The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?

Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?

After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.

But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?

An Extract from The Honey Trap

Chapter 20 – The Hippodrome

‘This is it. Anywhere round here,’ Seb said to the cabbie as they pulled up into what looked like a row of old terraces in some dark backwater of the city. Just a few empty shops, houses whose occupants were long in bed and some big, decaying old buildings.

Angel squinted through the car window. Why would he bring her to this place? There wasn’t much nightlife here unless you enjoyed getting mugged, by the look of it.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, smiling at her expression while he held the door open for her to get out. ‘I’ve not brought you to spend the night in a crack den or anything.’

He fumbled in his pocket, pulled out a small key and led her towards one of the rotting buildings, its dirty white-tiled façade tinted orange in the streetlight glow. There was a large arched porch over a red door. Seb unlocked it and she followed him along a corridor with exposed brick walls, feeling like someone in a dream. Everything seemed too big, overexposed and a ringing sound like an old GPO telephone was assaulting her brain via her ears.

He ushered her through another door and flicked a switch by the side to illuminate the room they’d just entered.

‘Jesus, Seb!’

She was in a high-ceilinged, teal auditorium. Five rows of velvet-upholstered seats were laid out in front of a cinema screen, with an old-style projector window set into the top of the tall wall. There was even a pit at the front for an organ. The back half of the room and a balcony area above were still in a state of near-decay, but the front looked just as it must have done before the war.

‘Is it… yours?’ she asked.

‘Yes. The Hippodrome. Built in 1926, just in time to bring The Jazz Singer to London audiences. I bought it last year when it was in danger of demolition. Thought it would be something ReelKids could use in future, if I could get it in a decent enough state. But for now it’s just a bit of a den, really. I come here to screen rushes sometimes, and when I want to get out of the house.’

‘Bloody hell, Seb,’ Angel muttered, looking around the old cinema. ‘You know, other men have garden sheds…’

‘You like it, don’t you? I knew you would.’

‘How did you know I would?’ she asked, smiling.

‘I don’t know. Maybe because I do.’

He turned away from her, tanned cheeks flushing when he realised what he’d said.

‘Hey. Come see this.’ He nodded towards a door above the balcony, to the right of the projector window.

‘What is it?’ she asked, following him up an old, recently restored staircase to the second level.

‘The projection room,’ he said, eyes shining with boyish enthusiasm. ‘Can’t wait to see your face.’

He showed her into a small tiled room where a large 1940s two-reel projector peeped through the window, ready to show the latest John Wayne or Judy Garland blockbuster. Against the back wall were shelves upon shelves of old film reels in aluminium cases, each labelled with the name of a different movie – from the 1920s through to the ’80s.

‘Oh my God!’ She touched a reel gently with one finger. ‘Oh my God, Seb! These are old… some aren’t even in print any more.’ Drawing her hand back, she lowered her voice to a reverent whisper. ‘They must be worth a fortune. Are they really all yours?’

‘They are now. Some I’ve collected myself, and some that belonged to Abigail. She was a collector too, before… well, you know, before.’

‘This is amazing,’ she muttered, scanning the rows of silver cases. She smiled as she thought of something. ‘Reminds me of that bit in Beauty and the Beast.’

‘What, Cocteau?’ Seb looked impressed.

Angel gave an embarrassed laugh. ‘Er, no. Disney.’

‘The cartoon? With the dog-bear thing?’

‘Beast.’

‘Beast. Right.’ One corner of his mouth twitched into a half-smile. ‘And that’s me, is it?’

She looked at the bare board floor, trying not to laugh. ‘I can’t help thinking of it. It’s just there’s this library, with all the books Belle could ever imagine. It’s incredible. The beast shows it to her and she’s sort of…’

‘…blown away. I know, Angel. I love that bit.’

She let out a dizzy giggle. ‘Really, Mr Director? A kids’ film? Surely not.’

‘A classic. A masterpiece of its genre.’ He grinned. ‘And one of the finest talking teapots this side of an LSD trip.’

He came over to her, ran his fingertips over a row of reels. ‘Now come on, Miss Blackthorne. What’s it to be? Take your pick.’

‘You don’t watch them, do you?’ She looked up at him in horror, making him smile.

‘Not the originals. I had them all digitised. Here.’ He gestured upwards and she noticed a modern ceiling-mounted LCD projector with a small hard drive attached. ‘The old reel projector’s just here for atmosphere, really.’

‘Oh. Right. So… you want to watch a film?’

‘Since you don’t want to go home. It’s the only entertainment I can offer you, I’m afraid. I admit it’s no Queen tribute band.’

The only entertainment allowed anyway, Angel thought through the woozy numbness in her brain. Her headache was gone but she still felt pretty out of it from the champagne.

She ran her fingers along the titles printed on the spines of the film cases, resting on one that struck her. Some Like It Hot. It reminded her of Savannah in her slinky black Marilyn dress.

‘Good choice,’ Seb said, casting an approving glance at the case. ‘I knew you were a Wilder fan.’ He squinted one eye, puzzled. ‘How did I know that? Did you tell me?’

‘It was at the after-party for Milkman,’ she said, pleased he’d remembered, embarrassed she had to refer to it. ‘I mentioned Wilder… in the interview. You know. That night.’

‘So you did. Told me I was a derivative hack, didn’t you?’ he said with a grin. ‘Any other filmmaker and I might have been offended. But Wilder? Fair comment. Everyone’s a hack compared to Wilder.’

‘Oh God, don’t remind me what I said then. That’s not what I think at all. Well, you know that now, you read my review. I don’t know what I was trying to prove, really. Once I was sitting there with you glaring at me like something you’d wiped off your shoe, I wondered why I’d tried so hard to get you to see me.’ She flushed as she met his gaze. ‘I… hadn’t even prepared any questions.’

‘Really?’ She’d expected him to be offended, but he sounded impressed. ‘You did that whole interview just off the top of your head?’

‘Pretty much. God, Seb, I was so rude to you! I suppose I wanted to show you I wasn’t just another bimbo.’

‘You certainly did that.’ His voice was suddenly deeper, more intense, in a way that made Angel feel afraid and excited in equal measure. She fixed her eyes on the ground, hoping he’d move the conversation on.

He took the hint. ‘Or how about this one?’ She looked up to see which case he was pointing at.

‘The Apartment? Oh, I love that film!’ she breathed in what, to her disgusted ears, sounded like an almost Savannah-esque gush. ‘It’s the one I always watch when I need cheering up. My mum and me, that used to be our favourite.’

‘Really? I always think it’s quite sad, for a comedy.’

‘That’s why I like it,’ she said. ‘Feeling sad can be soothing sometimes, don’t you think? And at least there’s a happily-ever-after. Well, sort of.

‘“Shut up and deal.” True. There is that.’ He pulled his keen gaze away from her face and turned to the ceiling-mounted projector. ‘So how about it, then? Haven’t seen it recently, have you? I can queue it up if you like.’

Angel blinked, remembering the last time she’d watched it to cheer herself up just a few months ago. It was with Emily at the flat, the night after the she’d been with Seb at the hotel. The night she’d sobbed, upset at the thought of never seeing him again. The night before the story broke and everything in her life changed.

‘No, not for ages. I’d love to watch it with you.’

About Mary Jayne Baker

mj

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature in 2003, she dallied with living in cities including London, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales.

She lives with him in a little house with four little cats and a little rabbit, writing stories about girls with flaws and the men who love them. You can usually find her there with either a pen, some knitting needles or a glass of wine in hand. She goes to work every day as a graphic designer for a magazine publisher, but secretly dreams of being a lighthouse keeper.

You can find out more about Mary Jayne Baker on her website, follow her on Twitter, and find her on Facebook.

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