"Oh boy!! Another blistering tale from TM Thorne.

Glamour, intrigue, an incredible plot AND the most lovable of rogue (I defy anyone not to have a soft spot for Frankie Finch).

It’s the perfect escapism in these strange times.."

ACCUSED

STARDOM, SCANDAL, SURVIVAL

 

Once the toast of Hollywood. Now she's the lead suspect in a murder investigation.

Pandora Caine has the world at her feet. As one of Hollywood's top leading ladies, awards season is looming, and she's been nominated for Best Actress, something she's hotly tipped to win.

Travelling to London with her celebrity friends, a misjudged one night stand with notorious ex-porn star Rock Hart finds her the prime suspect in his brutal murder.

As her perfect life crumbles and the film world turns its back on her Pandora is on the brink of losing everything. Arrested and hounded by the press, the only person left to turn to is old friend and East End gang boss, Frankie Finch.

Can Frankie help her out of an impossible situation, or will the forces conspiring against her bring them both crashing down?

Accused is available as ebook and paperback. Free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

Book 1 - NOTORIOUS: Danger, Deception, Desire

Book 2 - ACCUSED: Stardom, Scanda, Survival

Book 3 - CAGED: Rock, Ransom, Retribution

Book 4 - DRIVEN: Racing, Rivalry, Revenge

Book 5 - FIXATED

Prequel: MADE: The Frankie Finch Story

Click to read the first chapter of Accused: Stardom, Scandal, Survival


CHAPTER 1

HOLLYWOOD HEATWAVE

Pandora lay on the sun lounger enjoying the heat of the LA sun on her skin. She unclipped her bikini top and slid the straps over her shoulders, closing her eyes with a sigh. The last thing she wanted during awards season was tan lines. She relaxed as the warmth sank into her body and briefly considered taking a dip in the pool, but she was too comfortable to move. It had been an age since she’d had a day off and lying here doing nothing was bliss.

She was always busy, but she’d had particularly little time to herself recently. Not that she was complaining, you didn’t climb to the top of the Hollywood tree without working relentlessly, and for the last few years, Pandora had been totally focused on her career. But now, for the first time, she was allowing herself a break. Filming on her next project didn’t start for a month and, even though she’d be travelling, she was looking forward to the change of pace. She’d earned it.

LA was experiencing a heatwave, not that it was ever anything other than warm, especially for someone used to an English climate. And from Pandora’s point of view, the timing couldn’t have been better. She adjusted her wide-brimmed hat and applied some more factor-fifty sun cream. After all, the sun might feel amazing, but it was terribly ageing. All the same, she was determined to make the most of it. She’d see precious little sunshine tomorrow when she flew back into the sub-zero temperatures of a wet London winter.

Her eyes flicked open behind her sunglasses as she heard raised voices, followed by a door slamming and gravel spraying as a car roared down the driveway. The horn blared as the driver waited impatiently for the gates at the bottom of the drive to open. Oh dear, that sounded like the end of another beautiful relationship. Why couldn’t Henri meet someone nice? His love life was so tumultuous; it must be exhausting.

She closed her eyes again and made a conscious effort to relax. It was sometimes strange living with Henri, but she tried to keep her nose out of his business. Nearly two years had passed since she moved in. He’d been one of the few people she’d known when she first flew out to LA, and he’d offered her the use of one of his many spare rooms. It had started as a temporary measure, but the arrangement had worked well for both of them, and she’d stayed.

Over that time she’d seen a steady stream of Henri’s young lovers pass through. Now in his fifties, Henri Deveraux was an extremely attractive man and still one of the highest-paid romantic leads in Hollywood.

Living together was convenient, both personally and professionally. Pandora had sworn off men after a disastrous marriage while she concentrated on work and Henri wanted to deflect attention from his turbulent series of love affairs with beautiful young men.

She’d suggested once that he should be more open about his sexuality, but Henri had cut her off, making it clear it was nobody’s business, including hers. She wondered why. Admittedly his career relied on him getting the romantic hero roles in rom-coms; perhaps he felt it would damage that? Pandora was sure this wouldn’t be the case. Perhaps his age had more to do with it than he was prepared to admit.

They were good friends, but Henri was vain and sensitive about the fact that he was getting older and starting to lose his leading man roles to younger actors. Pandora knew from experience that if you wanted to sour the mood in the room, all you had to do was mention Matthew McConaughey. Every year Henri was having to work harder to stay in shape and fight the sag which was starting to appear. Perhaps he was scared that any publicity could upset the apple cart. But at some point, he would have to accept that he wasn’t rom-com material any more. There was no halting the inevitable march of time.

Still, she respected his need for privacy. He’d been famous for over thirty years now and had way more experience with celebrity life than she had. Plus having your private life splashed all over the papers was no fun, she’d learned that the hard way herself.

So in short living together made life easier for both of them. After a flurry of excitement in the press when they’d first been seen together, they were accepted as a reclusive Hollywood couple and were left pretty much alone. A situation which suited them both perfectly.

Perhaps the London trip had sparked the argument? Maybe Henri’s latest boyfriend had got ambitious and wanted to be his plus-one at the awards. Poor Henri, clinging onto fame but fighting a constant battle to keep his private life just that. It couldn’t be easy.

Initially, she’d shown a polite interest in whoever his current boyfriend was but she’d long since stopped. Besides, none of them ever seemed to last long enough for her to bother getting to know them. She would see them coming and going, sometimes meeting a buff young man in the kitchen or by the pool, but other than that she just let him get on with it.

She wished he could meet someone nice and settle down, although admittedly that would rather mess up their arrangement. Things worked well the way they were, and if Henri ever did marry she’d probably have to move out. Even though she’d been in LA for a while now, he remained her only close friend, so perhaps his erratic love life was a blessing in disguise.

With their busy work schedules, they were often like ships that passed in the night, but at least they both knew they weren’t coming home to an empty house. Not that it was ever really an empty house with Henri’s staff around the whole time.

She heard footsteps approaching, and Henri threw himself into the chair next to her.

“Putain!” he muttered.

She lowered her sunglasses, giving him a sympathetic smile.

“You OK, darling?”

Henri snorted, his handsome face screwed up in disgust. “He’s a selfish bitch. Good riddance, I say.”

Oh dear, another one bites the dust.

Deciding discretion was the best tactic Pandora changed the subject.

“Are you packed for London yet?”

He gave a small shrug and jerked his head towards the house. “They will have packed for me, I’m not a beautiful peacock like you with my hundreds of outfits, I just need one tux, and I’m good to go.” He laughed, shaking off his irritation and jumped up. “I’m going for a swim.”

The corner of Pandora’s mouth twitched as he dove into the pool and started swimming lengths. She admired his energy. Right now all she wanted to do was chill out, but she’d have to start getting ready soon. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to having staff the way Henri had. Perhaps she was too much of a control freak, but she wanted to pack her own luggage, or at least lay out everything she needed. Otherwise how else could she be sure she wouldn’t forget something important?

This was her first award season being nominated, and she wanted everything to be perfect.

They were flying out to London tomorrow for the British film awards, staying for a few days sight-seeing, then heading back in time for the main event: The Stellar Academy Awards in LA. Every actor dreamt of winning a coveted Stellar. It was going to be an exciting few weeks.

Of course, she was all too aware that a nomination didn’t necessarily mean a win, but she’d sweated blood for that role and secretly felt she deserved it. Besides, being nominated was thrilling in itself. It endorsed her as a top-flight actress, someone to be taken seriously and to be paid the really big bucks. It was confirmation that, after all those years of hard graft, she’d finally made it.

A frisson of fear ran through her at the thought of returning to London and seeing her ex-husband, Clay. She hadn’t seen him since that awful night and had conducted divorce proceedings from across the Atlantic. Cowardly maybe, but it was the easiest solution to a difficult situation.

She mentally shook herself. Nine million people lived in London, so what were the odds of her bumping into the one person she didn’t want to see? Especially since she’d be staying in the finest hotels with security and being escorted from one celebrity event to another. He certainly didn’t move in those kinds of circles.

She was being silly. It wasn’t as if Clay had got custody of London in the divorce! This was her big moment, and she would not let him spoil it. Her career was on a high, and she was one of the most famous actresses in Hollywood. What could possibly go wrong?

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