Kill and Tell


By James Patterson

With Scott Slaven

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This famous Hollywood director committed an unspeakable crime against his stepdaughter . . . or did he?

Famous film director Wayne Tennet stands accused by his stepdaughter of crossing the line. Falsely, he swears. Now his life and career hang in the balance. But why would she lie? The darkest thriller of the year has an only-in-Hollywood twist you’ll never see coming.

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Chapter 2

Eric Logan

“Get to LAX. Wayne Tennet coming off Air Australia flight. Requests u.”

Taking this courtesy lunch with a new CAA agent at Shutters on the Beach—ten minutes from the airport—might be the luckiest break of my career. I jumped up from the table with barely a “Later!” I didn’t even stop for the hot hostess’s number.

As I drove to LAX, I speculated that Tennet must have first asked for my boss, Sydney Paige. But Sydney was eight thousand miles away, downing mai tais on a beach in Thailand. After three years of junior-league status, I was finally getting an opportunity to fly solo.

And I knew exactly what I was heading into. The news on the radio was all about Breelyn Doyle’s allegations, and it was dead certain that there would be a mob of press at the gate. As I pulled into the parking garage, I got a text from Tennet:

“I’m here.”

How was I supposed to sneak an instantly recognizable star director past thirty industry reporters? And then I had it. Damn, I’m good. Cocky self-talk is mandatory when you’re a twenty-seven-year-old PR rep.

I shot off a text to Tennet:

“Get oversized jersey and baseball hat at gift shop. You’re my dad.”

I opened my car trunk and pulled off my Hugo Boss suit and tie. Good thing I always keep a stash of gym clothes in the car.

In sneakers, a ratty tee with cut-off sleeves, and nylon shorts, I messed up my $150 haircut and looked the part of a bro from the suburbs. When I got to the international arrivals gate, passengers were exiting, weaving around the news cameras and reporters that were scanning every face.

Toward the back of the crowd I spotted a tall guy moving slowly, wearing an LA Dodgers jersey and a loose baseball cap pulled down low on his face. As he neared the entrance, I made my way forward and began jumping up and down.

“Dad! Hey, Pop! Over here! Dad!

Everyone turned and stared, even the reporters. I looked and sounded like an asshole, which is just what I wanted.

I rushed at Tennet and into his arms. I whispered, “Hug me—HARD! Give me tears!” For a hotshot filmmaker, Tennet took direction surprisingly well. He got me in a bear hug and let out a big sob. Without letting go of each other, we moved through the crowd. The only looks we got from the reporters were out of irritation for blocking their view.

I hustled Tennet out the terminal doors and he started to pull away, but I didn’t let him—I couldn’t be sure someone wasn’t giving our showy performance a second look. I patted his back, laughed uproariously at something he hadn’t said, and whispered, “Keep it up till we get to my car.”

Inside the parking garage, Tennet shrugged me off and let out a huge sigh of relief. He took a few deep breaths and seemed to be trying to get a grip.

“Thanks, my friend,” he said, giving me a fist bump.

We’d only met in a few large meetings, and he’d never said more than two words to me. He was a good-looking guy—a long face with a strong nose and piercing blue eyes. His hair was almost all gray but full and bushy. He looked like an English actor in a period rom-com.

“So, what the hell is going on?” he asked. “Where’s your boss?”

I could see he was seriously freaking, but I wanted to hold off on talking until we were safely in my car.

“Sydney’s on vacation,” I said quietly as I tried to guide him forward. “We’ll try to call him as soon as we get in the car.”

“And Breelyn? Please tell me this is some kind of joke—just a misguided Facebook post, right? I’ll give you the lead in my next movie if you’ll just tell me that.”

It couldn’t be avoided. “Your wife filed a complaint on your stepdaughter’s behalf with the county sheriff this morning.”

He went ballistic. “I knew it was her! But why would anyone listen to Valentina? What proof did she give? Has anyone talked to my lawyer?”

I tried to take his arm, but he kept pacing back and forth. I knew his temper was legendary.

“Look, I’ll drive you to the office, we’ll get your lawyer, and we’ll start to develop our plan,” I said. “But we gotta keep you out of sight until we know what we’re going to say.”

“But why isn’t there already a plan? I thought you guys were the best in the business!”

“We’re going to take care of you, Mr. Tennet,” I said. “But we have to phrase our response in just the right way. Especially if—” I cut myself short, but it was too late. Bad, horrible, catastrophic slip of the tongue, Logan.

Tennet got right up in my face.

“Especially if what?” he said, his face red and his eyes bulging scarily. “If there is any truth to it?”

Before I could answer, he was on me. All his anger and frustration came at me in a blow that I wouldn’t have thought a pampered fifty-year-old director had in him. I dodged as best I could, realizing that I was going to end up in the ER if I didn’t fight back. I got in a punch to his gut, which he responded to by heaving his whole body on me. Down we went onto the oily concrete floor, rolling and punching and grunting.

It was maybe the third click that registered. We both froze and looked up. A white Prius was sitting ten feet away with the window down. And the person inside was snapping away like crazy with a professional-looking camera. Then the vehicle sped off.

Chapter 3

Kayla Ross

Score, Kayla, score!

I hit the gas. I know the LAX short-term parking garage backward and forward, but I’d never tried to exit it at 40 mph before. I reached over and felt around the mess on the passenger seat for my ticket. All I found was an empty Starbucks cup, so I glanced down for one split second—and that’s when he jumped in front of my Prius.

I slammed on my brakes about a centimeter away from impact, shaken by how close I’d come to hitting him. I threw my car into Reverse and started to back up, but he kept moving fast to the driver’s-side door and grabbed the frame through my open window.

Wait! Hold on a sec!” he panted. He had big green eyes and a Henry Cavill cleft chin. I had to admit he was a seriously hot guy. Of course, I’d spotted him right away in the international terminal. Eric—Eric Logan. The first time I’d seen him was working the Emmy Awards red carpet, and I remembered wondering why he hadn’t gone into acting instead of PR.

“You cannot sell those photos,” Logan said. I guessed he was going for a mix of charming and threatening.

“Sure, I can,” I replied. “It’s called fair use. Photographing people in public is absolutely legal.”

“Don’t give me a journalism lesson,” he said, “and I won’t give you an ethics lesson on the sleazy way you make your living.”

Asshole. “Yep, it sucks,” I retorted. “But student loans gotta be repaid.”

I gave him a shrug and stepped on the gas again. He jogged after me.

“Come on,” he pleaded. “What you saw was a misunderstanding. My client just flew over fourteen hours through hell and got the worst news of his life!”

“Yeah? What about his stepdaughter’s life?” I snapped. He flinched a bit but then regained his Chill Dude attitude.

“Fair enough. But we really don’t know anything about her allegations at this point, so—”

“Oh, so you think she’s lying?” I asked. If he wanted to offer a tone-deaf statement we could tease on social media, even better. I looked over at Tennet. He was a few yards away, sitting on the hood of a car with his face in his hands.

“Hey, my ass is totally on the line here,” Logan said. “What’s your name?”

“Kayla Ross. Sorry, but I’m just doing my job. Oscar-nominated director with a rep for a horrible temper gets accused of sexual abuse by a minor. Then the first thing he does is assault his PR rep! That’s news.”

“No, it isn’t. It’s dirt,” he said as he looked me over. I could tell he was sizing me up, wondering which move might work on me. “Look, if you don’t want to be doing this kind of work, why don’t you let me help you? I know a lot of producers.”

If I was tougher and just a little less green, I would put pedal to the metal right then and there.

He was so obviously a Hollywood player. But against my better judgment, and betraying my Omaha roots, I felt for this guy—disheveled after the tackle by a washed-up Hollywood perv. Unless Logan’s dad owned the PR firm, it was a sure bet he’d lose his job over this skirmish.

And he would blame me.

“That’s nice of you, but—”

“Just think about it. Please,” he said as he pulled out his business card. “Let me take you to dinner tonight. If it turns out that I can help you, great—a win-win for both of us. If not, you can always sell those pics tomorrow. A few hours won’t make any difference.”

It was tempting. On the one hand, these photos were the first exclusive I’d scored in a year of doing this—it was going to be my best paycheck ever. On the other, I was sick of ambushing drunk and/or medicated celebrities. My college dreams of a reporter gig at CNN were beginning to seem way out of reach. And this guy did work for a very high-end firm.

I took his card. “I’m not promising anything.”

Before he could respond, I bolted. Driving out of the garage, I asked myself if I’d even be considering his offer if he wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous. On cue, my cell rang. It was my roommate, Zoe—best bud since seventh grade and the only person I would choose to make a go of it with in Los Angeles.

“Hey, girl!” she screamed. I could hear clanging dishware in the background, so I knew she was at work, waiting tables at a hip but dirt-cheap Hollywood diner. “Bad news: our evil landlord is filing eviction papers if we don’t pay the last two months’ rent by tomorrow. I’ve made thirteen dollars and eighty-three cents so far today. Any ideas?”

I glanced at the business card that I still held in my hand. Sorry, Eric Logan. Our friendship was nice while it lasted.

Chapter 4


On Sale
Dec 5, 2017
Page Count
144 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

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