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"What do they say about me?"

Aveline raised her eyebrows and shook her head at the woman. "They" said all manner of things about the woman. Most of it wasn't acceptable in polite company, let alone in the company of her new employer. The lead singer of Hard in Hightown might be smiling now, but that didn't mean she would really want to know

"I'm sure you don't want to hear that tabloid trash, Miss."

"For Andraste's sake, call me Isabela. And.. Come on, it'll be fun. What's the worst thing you've heard..."

"Worst?" Aveline grimaced. What would pass as worst to the woman that had written her own sexually explicit tell-all before she was twenty-five?

Isabela studied her with a grin and when Aveline didn't answer she laughed. "You're thinking about the book, aren't you?"

Cheeks reddening, Aveline stammered, "How did--"

Cutting her off with a dismissive wave of her hand, Isabela said, "Don't worry, everybody does." She took a few steps toward Aveline and her grin widened. "Oh, i know you're not supposed to have read it. I don't know what the point of that silly rule is. But it's okay by me if you have."

Aveline would never in a million years want to admit that as soon as she'd gotten the job, she 'd read the book cover to cover twice. Both times she'd had to take long breaks from it either from sheer secondhand embarrassment, or frustrating arousal. Not something she was about to tell her new boss, no matter how tempting it was. Shed been trained better than that, dammit.

"So you have read it."

It wasn't a question, and Isabela didn't seem to be waiting for a response, which made Aveline sigh gratefully.

"Doesn't answer my question though." She took a few predatory steps forward, eyes on Aveline's.

"I uh... don't think I should..."

"Tsk." Isabela clicked her tongue and shook her head. "I'll get you to tell me one of these days."

Is that was an approval of her character, it certainly didn't sound like one. Aveline came to attention, back and shoulders straightening, waiting for direction... Or a dismissal.

Isabela looked her over appraisingly. "Well, I suppose you'll do for now. We'll loosen you up eventually. Maybe I'll tell you some of the juiciest stories I left out of the book." She stalked forward, the last few steps putting her nearly chest to chest with her new bodyguard.

Aveline's heart did somersaults in her chest and she prayed it wasn't beating as loudly as she felt it. She swallowed nervously, looking down at the Rivaini woman and wondering if she could do this job after all. A part of her wanted fiercely to protect her, from the bad things people said about her, from the strange people who didn't know how to separate the woman from the celebrity. But a part of her also understood that obsession... Once you've gotten this close to her, why would you want to leave.

If even half the stories in her book were true, Aveline's job would never be boring.

"Is- Isabela?"

"Good," she announced, stepping away at last.


"Yes. You're going to do nicely." She turned around and walked to one of the lighted mirrors on the wall. She smiled sweetly at Aveline in the mirror. "There's a lot of downtime on tour, and I think you and I are going to have a lot of fun."