Authors: Rebecca Lewis
PLAYER IN PARADISE
Copyright © 2014
by Rebecca Lewis
All rights reserved.
Cover Photo Credit: Rock and Wasp/Shutterstock
The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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Table of Contents:
I follow my boss’s
Louboutin-clad footsteps into her large corner office, clutching my notepad and pen.
“Welcome to the PWR Group,” she says, pronouncing PWR like power. “I’m Priscilla Wilhelmina Ray.”
Owner of the PWR group and famed celebrity publicist, Priscilla Ray basically runs the fame game in Los Angeles. Her public relations agency represents some of the biggest movie and television stars in the world, and it’s her job to keep them relevant.
en I accepted the position of Junior Publicist, I had no idea that I’d be reporting directly to her. Now I know I’ll need to be on point at all times, continuously proving my worth and competence in the world of PR.
I take a seat in the
white leather chair on the opposite side of her glass desk, and she immediately runs off three rules that I, as a representative of the PWR Group, must always follow whether on or off the job.
: Never act like a fan.
Asking for autographs or pictures on the red carpet will make it your last time on the red carpet.”
I nod, scribbling her words down in my no
tebook. That one should be easy. I interned at a radio station until college graduation a few months ago and ran into musicians in the hallways every so often. No big deal.
on a fresh coat of shiny pink lip gloss after taking a sip of coffee and spits out the next command.
Rule Two: Keep your secrets safe.
“Never tell a journalist something about your client that you wouldn’t want the whole world to know. Even non-juicy info will be up on the Internet ten seconds after it comes out of your mouth.”
” I respond. I’m pretty sure I can keep my lips sealed around media. I’m not that much of a blabbermouth.
“And Olivia, this may seem obvious, but you don’t know how
many times I’ve had to fire staff for this one...” She leans in close and looks me straight in the eye.
Rule Three: Keep it in your pants
I mean it; these celebrities know how to seduce young girls like you, and it never ends well. Trust me when I say mixing business with pleasure can get seriously messy.”
I try not to break eye contact with her as I reply. “Yes, of course.”
What movie star would w
ant me anyway? I just moved to L.A. from a small town in rural Florida and I felt like an alien from the moment I stepped off the plane. I swear I was the only girl at the gate not wearing a velour tracksuit, toting a small dog in an oversized purse. And in what seemed like a sea of blondes, I was the lone brunette.
Thankfully, I quickly connected with my cube-mat
e Mandy, another East Coast transplant. She moved out from Boston a year ago and had been at the PWR Group for nearly the same amount of time. She warned me that the job didn’t quite live up to the description on the agency’s career page, and after a few weeks, I found that out for myself. Instead of jumping into the glamorous Hollywood scene, I spent most of my work days and nights stuck in a tiny cubicle, slaving away on my laptop.
Mandy pops her head over the cube wall we share. “Leaving soon?”
I peel my eyes away from the spreadsheet I’m working on and peek at the clock. It’s after five, as usual.
Cassidy Evans has a premiere tomorrow night and I’m still finalizing the guest list.”
Lately it seems
like my life revolves around lists – guest lists, media lists, invite lists, VIP lists…
“That sucks, hope you finish soon.” She grabs her bag and heads for the door. “Call me if you need anything.”
“Thanks, have a good night.”
I stare back at my computer s
creen, but my eyes can’t focus. Stupid Cassidy Evans. I blame the pop-princess-turned-movie-actress for my lack of having a life. She’s my biggest client, but I’ve never actually met her. I know I need to work my way up the food chain, but I still wish Cassidy knew I existed, especially since I’m constantly busting my ass trying to keep her famous.
She’s certainly no Oscar winner, but she’s made a few fun teen-friendly flicks. Cassidy’s mostly in the tabloids nowadays
though due to one major thing – her famous boyfriend, Austin Ford. Austin’s the hottest up-and-coming actor in Hollywood, as well as a notorious bad boy. There have been reports of him getting into fights with the paparazzi, public intoxication, and speeding tickets up the wazoo.
One perk to being behind the scenes in Cassidy’s life is that I’m privy to all
the insider information on her and Austin’s relationship. The best, and probably biggest secret of all, is that the PWR group arranged for Cassidy and Austin to be together. From the timing and location of their first date, to everything they do and say in public with each other. I’m constantly calling every paparazzo in town to make sure they’re on hand to snap photos of them. In fact, everything is strategically planned to make it seem like they’re the perfect couple so that teens will pile into the theaters to see their movies and buy their products. I don’t particularly enjoy deceiving the public, but hey, it pays the bills.
f I had to be in a sham relationship, I certainly wouldn’t mind pretending to date Austin Ford. He’s twenty-three, only two years older than me, and his sun-kissed skin and underwear model physique would draw any woman with an ounce of taste to do a double take. His wavy, light-brown hair and piercing blue eyes are just icing on the cake.
suddenly shaken out of my Austin-filled daydream when the janitor approaches my cubicle to empty the trash for the night. I think that’s my cue to shut down and go home.
I’m back at work the next morning with a tall, skinny latte ready and waiting for Priscilla.
“Thanks.” She grabs the cup and takes a big sip. “I’m insanely busy right now, but I do have some good news to share.”
I rush behind her red soles
into her office. The view of Los Angeles is amazing through the floor-to-ceiling windows on the 23
She sits at her desk and takes another gulp of liquid caffeine. “We signed a new client.”
“Really, who?” I’m eager to take on a new client, not just for a change of pace, but to prove to Priscilla that I can take on more work and adapt to new challenges.
My heart races at the sound of his name. “Wow, that’s great.”
“He was employing one of his buddies as his publicist and his management feels that he really needs a professional to take things to the next level…and to keep him in line.” She stares at her computer, scrolling through her emails as she continues. “He’s attending the movie premiere with Cassidy tonight. I need to make sure she talks to the right media and keep her going down the red carpet at a good pace. I’d like you to come with me and make sure Austin doesn’t do or say anything stupid.”
” I respond, wiping my palms on my thighs. My first movie premiere, meeting Cassidy and Austin for the first time, walking the red carpet…nervous doesn’t begin to describe how I’m feeling.
Priscilla looks away from her work and locks her dark brown eyes on mine. “Are you really sure?
I sit up straight and hold my hands in my lap. “Yes, I’m positive.”
Fake it till you make it, right?
“Good,” she says.
“Wear black and meet me at the theater at five.”
. Thank you.”
I run to Mandy’s cube to share the good news.
“Congrats!” she says, throwing her arms around me. “But be careful with Austin, I heard he’s a womanizer.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, like I’d really have a shot with him. He’s hooked up with at least five Playboy models
that we know of. I don’t think he’d go for a normal-looking-girl with a regular day job.”
“You never know. Maybe he’s a sex addict,” she whispers. “There are a lot of
them out there in this city.”
“Ok, I’ll be careful.”
I laugh at the thought of Austin Ford coming on to me. Would he even notice someone who isn’t a size zero with a head full of hair extensions?
to be able to leave work early for the event. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the sunlight on my drive home. Thankfully, my little black dress is hanging in my closet and not crumpled at the bottom of my laundry basket. I slip on the simple, almost knee-length garment and a pair of comfortable black wedge sandals. A few coats of jet-black mascara and a swipe of lip gloss should make me look somewhat awake and presentable. I quickly run a flat iron through my frizz-prone hair, smoothing down any obnoxious fly-aways. I know I’m not the one the cameras will be focused on, but I don’t want to look like a slob.
I call Priscilla’s cell and she meets me outside the back entrance of the theater.
“Cassidy and Austin will be here any minute. Can you run through the talking points with Austin before things get too crazy?”
I nod and scramble to find the document in my bag as a black limo pulls up. Two security guards step out, followed by Austin and Cassidy. They’re both taking photos of each other on their phones and typing quickly. It’s good to know that they follow our social media ins
tructions to interact with the fans online as often as possible.
Priscilla rushes toward Cassidy and gives her a double air kiss. She briefly runs through the red carpet schedule with her manager before shaking hands with Austin.
Cassidy looks stunning in person. She may only be nineteen-years-old, but she could pass for twenty-five. Her long, blonde hair falls around her shoulders in tousled waves, and her slinky red dress shows off more skin than I’d ever dare to bare.
“Olivia!” Priscilla shouts, waving me over.
I inch closer toward the group, trying to stop my body from shaking. Austin is much taller than I envisioned, and even more gorgeous in person. He’s a mix of old Hollywood glamour and California punk in his Armani tux and black Converse sneakers.
His manager points to the shoes. “I told him not to wear those.”
“It’s fine, he might make some worst-dressed lists, but it will get him in the news,” Priscilla responds. “Anyway, Austin, this is Olivia Kelley.”
I shake his large hand as she continues the introduction. “She’ll be working with you tonight while I’m wi
th Cassidy. Do what she says, okay?”
I can’t help but blush as he looks down at m
e and smirks. “Nice to meet you.”
” I say as confidently as I can.
His gaze is hypnotizing. Mandy was right, he is a master of seduction, but I will not succumb to his flirtatious ways. I hav
e a job to do.
I snap out of his
trance and give him his first instruction. “You need to spit out your gum. It looks bad on camera.”
“Got a tissue?”
I hand him one from my purse and he gives it back to me with his gum inside. With no time to find a trash can, I slip it back in my bag.
“I better not find that for sale on the Web later.” He smiles and runs his fingers through his shiny hair.
I try my hardest not to stare at him for too long. “Um…we need to go through some talking points. I’ll ask
you some questions that you might be asked tonight and you tell me what you plan to say back.”
He nods and types
on his phone while I find my paper.
“Okay Austin, tell us why you’re here tonight,” I say in my best reporter voice.
He raises one eyebrow. “To pick up hot chicks like you.”
My eyes widen as I process his statement, but I have to stay cool.
“You can’t say that. You need to tell them you’re here to support Cassidy’s new movie and that you can’t wait for everyone to see it.”
He grins. “I know, I’m just joking with you.”
I smile along and take a deep breath. “Uh huh. Next question; how’s everything going with you and Cassidy?”
“She’s a bitch. I’d like to break up with her, but it would be bad for my career.”
He sounds sincere, and it makes me feel like shit for perpetuating the façade. I tilt my head to the side, waiting for him to correct himself.
“Sorry, how would you like me to
“Let the media know that you think you’ve found ‘the one,’” I recommend. “Tell them you can’t believe how lucky you are to have found a girl as sweet, loving, and talented as Cassidy
He rolls his eyes. “Alright, I’ll say it, but you owe me a drink when we get inside.”
“No way! You can’t drink tonight.”
Austin’s a well-known party boy, and I’ve heard too many horror
stories of celebrities getting drunk and making a scene at premieres; I know I’d be fired if that happened on my watch.
ou’re tough,” he says, placing his warm hand on my shoulder. “I like it.”
I grin through gritted teeth,
even though I’m pretty sure he’s just joking again. Priscilla saves me from any more awkward conversation by leading us to the red carpet. I follow the “It Couple” as they stop to talk to the pre-selected media. My pulse quickens and I pray that Austin follows what I’ve told him to do.
He wraps his arm around Cassidy’s waist and pulls her in for a kiss in front of the top photographers. I exhale for what feels like the first time in the past fifteen minutes. He knows what he’s doing, and I still have my job, for now.
Austin appears beside me as we pass through another round of security at the end of the carpet. “How’d I do?”
I beam up at him. “You did perfect, thank you.”
“A perfect score? You’re sure easy to please.” He flashes his bright white teeth and readjusts his tie. “So, how about that drink?”
ross my arms. “Not happening.” I have to keep him under control, no matter how cute he looks.
“Well, if you’re worried about drinking on the job, then we can alway
s get out of here and hit a bar.”
I shake my head. I won’t let his charm disarm me.
He pouts. “Guess I’m stuck here with Cassabitch then.”
“Yes, and you two have to speak with a couple more reporters before you leave.”
Priscilla and I make sure the rest of the night goes smoothly and
that the media get everything they need. Austin is caught up in conversation with other movie industry people and doesn’t come back to say goodbye before he leaves. My heart sinks, although I don’t know why this makes me upset. It’s not like he was really flirting with me; he probably banters like that with every girl he meets.
“Good job tonight,” Priscilla says. “You can take
off, or stay and watch the film.”
The movie looked pretty lame, and I wasn’t in the mood to see Cassidy on the big screen. “I think I’ll h
ead home. See you Monday.”
Driving home, all I can think about is what Austin might be
up to. How does he have this effect on me already? I try to shake the thoughts from my head. He’s my client and I have to keep our relationship strictly professional. I promised Priscilla that I’d follow her rules and I have no intentions of breaking them any time soon.