Welcome to the 3rd edition of Teaser Tuesday! I’m releasing the second chapter from Player in Paradise — set to debut March 1 at online retailers everywhere! Add to your Goodreads list here.
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 23rd floor.
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.”
“Sure,” 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.”
“I will. 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?
I’m happy 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 instructions 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 with Cassidy. Do what she says, okay?”
I can’t help but blush as he looks down at me and smirks. “Nice to meet you.”
“You too,” 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 have 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?” he asks.
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 answer that?”
“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 Evans.”
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.
“You’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?”
I cross 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 always 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 head 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.