EVERYONE wants to be someone.
Layla Harrison wants to be a reporter.
Aster Amirpour wants to be an actress.
Tommy Phillips wants to be a guitar hero.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her own a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and are lured into a competition. The prize, or rather the target? Madison Brooks.
Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Ghost in the Machine
“How did this happen?”
Madison sat in the passenger seat of a dark green SUV, tugging at the brim of her worn baseball cap, and staring out the windshield at a landscape marred by cargo ships, brightly coloured rectangular containers, and tall working cranes. Everything about the meet was designed to go unnoticed. The car was ordinary. The San Pedro port was too busy for anyone to question them, and if they did, Paul had the credentials to make them go away. Then there was Paul himself and his utterly forgettable face. It’s one of the things that made him so good at his job, no one ever remembered seeing him, and it was nearly impossible to describe him.
“You told me, no, correction, you assured me, that everything from my past was sealed, locked up tight, and safely stored in a deeply buried vault with no key.”
He nodded, his pale eyes scanning the harbor. “I’ve recently come to think otherwise.”
She sighed. Sunk so low in her seat she could barely see past the dashboard. She had obligations, loads of press, a movie to promote, an impending break up with Ryan that would inevitably become very public no matter how hard she tried to keep it under wraps. She didn’t have time for problems. Not of this magnitude.
“How do you know it’s not just another bogus attempt to extort me? You know how fame attracts opportunists.” She studied him closely. The face that had once rescued her, changed her life in ways she could never repay, was now delivering the worst news he possibly could.
“This is different.” He pressed his lips together until they practically disappeared, making her wonder who this moment was harder for, him or her. Paul prided himself on meticulous attention to detail. But if he really did slip, the life Madison had worked so hard to create would burn as quickly as her previous life had.
“How different?” She shifted in her seat, taking in his beige hair, beige skin, thin pale lips, unobtrusive nose, and a small set of milky brown eyes. He certainly lived up to his nickname, The Ghost. Though she mostly called him Paul.
Without a word he handed her a photo of herself as a very young girl.
Madison gripped it by its edges, making careful study of the tangled hair, the dirt smudged face, the blaze of defiance burning in those bright, determined eyes. A long lost before picture in a life meticulously cultivated to consist entirely of afters.
About Alyson Noel:
Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times best-selling, award-winning, author of 23 novels including: The Immortals, The Riley Bloom, and The Soul Seekers series.
With 8 New York Times bestsellers in 2 years, and over 8 million copies in print, her books have been translated into 36 languages, sold in over 200 countries, and have made the New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, NCIBA, and Walmart Bestsellers lists, and have won numerous awards such as: the National Reader's Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Stuff for the Teenage, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, Reviewer's Choice 2007 Top Ten, appeared on the CBS Early Show's "Give the Gift of Reading" segment, and selected for Seventeen Magazine's "Hot List" and Beach Book Club Pick.
Chosen as one of OC Metro magazine’s “20 Women to Watch,” she’s been nominated for the Orange County Business Journal’s “Women in Business Awards” as well as their “Excellence in Entrepreneurship” award. The dramatic rights for The Soul Seekersare optioned to Cheyenne Enterprises and Traziende films; the dramatic rights to Saving Zoë are optioned to actresses/producers Ellen Marano, Vanessa Marano (Switched at Birth), Laura Marano (Austin & Ally), with Jeffrey G. Hunt (Vampire Diaries, Gotham) directing; dramatic rights to The Immortals are optioned to Gil Adler (Valkyrie, Constantine) & Jason Rosenberg.
Her new YA series, Beautiful Idols, beginning with Unrivaled, had a global release in 17 languages and 200 countries on 05.10.16. Her new MG, Five Days of Famous, is set to debut 12.13.16.
Born and raised in Orange County, California, she’s lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan and is now settled back in Southern California.