Hollywood Name Game

They stepped out into warm Cal­i­for­nia sun­shine and a cool breeze. Rhett took one look at her wreck of a loan­er and began laugh­ing.

I’ll be right back,” he told her.

She heard a car’s engine approach and turned as Rhett pulled up in a black Range Rover. He got out and tossed her a set of keys.

It’s yours to dri­ve. Don’t give me a with­er­ing look, Cassie. It’s not a mer­cy loan. It actu­al­ly comes with the job. Car­reen used it all the time. Some­times, you’ll have things to pick up for me, like the mega-amount of gro­ceries today, so you’ll need a lot of room.”

And some­times I’ll need to park in fan­cy-schman­cy places, and you wouldn’t want me to embar­rass you?” she nee­dled.

Rhett mock sighed. “You’re absolute­ly right. You’re onto me. I am a shal­low, self­ish, stereo­typ­i­cal Hol­ly­wood star and wouldn’t want oth­ers to judge me by the bro­ken-down mess my assis­tant dri­ves.” He eyed her. “Come on, Cassie. You’ll have fun dri­ving a Rover.”

Hah! You have no idea where I live, Cor­ri­g­an. It’ll prob­a­bly be stolen from my park­ing lot before I make it to my apart­ment door.”

He shrugged. “So, I’ll buy a new one. You know us pam­pered Hol­ly­wood men and our toys. Get in it and fol­low me.” Rhett climbed into the sleek, blue Porsche and buck­led up. “Let’s go,” he called out the win­dow.

Cassie climbed behind the wheel of the Range Rover and fell in behind Rhett. Her heart pound­ed in her ears. How could he trust her with some­thing so expen­sive, espe­cial­ly when she’d totaled one of his cars yes­ter­day?

Who are you? Was she seri­ous?

Every woman in Amer­i­ca knew Dash DeLau­ria. He couldn’t pump his own gas or grab a lat­te in Star­bucks. A styl­ist came to his house when he need­ed a hair­cut. How could she not know who he was?

Who­ev­er she was, she was hot. Despite the sleek navy busi­ness suit and con­ser­v­a­tive shell under it that made her look total­ly estab­lish­ment. Despite the dull brown hair, which didn’t seem to go with the rest of her. The remain­ing pack­age?

It was every­thing Dash liked.

She was very tall and at six-three, he liked a tall woman. She had flaw­less, incan­des­cent skin. Green eyes the col­or of sum­mer grass that popped. With­out a doubt, she pos­sessed the most kiss­able mouth he’d seen in a long time. He already itched to put his lips next to hers and take them for a spin.

Who are you?” he replied, turn­ing the tables back to her. Maybe she was Mon­ty Revere’s per­son­al assis­tant. Or accoun­tant. She sure as hell wasn’t his housekeeper—but Dash would love to play house with her. Any­time.

I asked first.” She eye­balled him calm­ly but he saw the pulse point jump in her throat. Despite her cool and col­lect­ed out­side, he had an effect on this woman.

Who would you like me to be?” he asked, mim­ic­k­ing Julia Roberts in Pret­ty Woman.

Are you seri­ous? You’re flirt­ing with me? I don’t believe this.” Her eye roll would put any teenage girl to shame.

Oh, baby, you’d know if I was flirt­ing with you,” he teased, his inter­est in her grow­ing by the minute. Dash was nev­er inter­est­ed in women. They were always inter­est­ed in him.

She jerked the box from his hands and shoved the mon­ey at his chest. The minute she touched him, elec­tric sparks shot through him like he’d nev­er imag­ined.

Bunker!”

Lon­don looked up and saw a dog bound­ing her way. The gold­en retriev­er crashed into her table, spilling her drink, soak­ing the song she’d been work­ing on. He jammed his nose into her crotch. Mor­ti­fied, Lon­don tried to push it away.

Bunker!” she heard a sec­ond time. Lon­don saw Seth Walk­er dash­ing toward her, a leash with a dan­gling col­lar in one hand. No, not Seth Walk­er. The actor who played Seth Walk­er in her favorite movie fran­chise. His cobalt eyes shone bright, accen­tu­at­ing his tanned face and sun-kissed blond hair. If Ado­nis had come to life, he would be this man.

I’m going to kill you,” the actor growled, frown­ing at the dog. “I mean it.”

The gold­en buried his nose against her leg.

Lon­don burst out laugh­ing.

I apol­o­gize for my dog’s lack of man­ners.” He reached for the dog but Bunker wrig­gled clos­er to Lon­don.

I give up,” he said in frus­tra­tion. “Do you think you could help me out?”

It’s my favorite thing in life to help a man in need.”

Wait … was she flirt­ing? She nev­er flirt­ed. Ever.

Amuse­ment lit his eyes.

Hand it over.”

He sur­ren­dered the col­lar, still attached to the leash. She pried the dog’s nose from her and slid the col­lar over his head.

Bunker’s own­er knelt and tight­ened it. “I won’t fall for that look again,” he told the dog, radi­at­ing dis­ap­proval.

What look is that?” she asked.

The pathet­ic one that tells me his col­lar is too tight. The one that got me to loosen it up, which was all the invi­ta­tion he need­ed to slip out of it and make his way light­ning fast to the most beau­ti­ful girl on the block.”

Lon­don sensed the blush creep­ing up her neck. To dis­tract her­self, she reached out to pet the dog. Her fin­gers glid­ed through his silky, gold­en fur.

Mind if I sit?” the hand­some actor asked.

Be my guest.”

He sank into the chair next to her and ran a hand through his thick hair. Lon­don sud­den­ly want­ed to run her fin­gers through his hair and not Bunker’s. She avert­ed her eyes and focused on the dog again.

I owe you a drink. For Bunker mak­ing this mess.” He glanced at his watch. “I guess it’s too ear­ly for a glass of wine.”

She grinned. “It’s nev­er too ear­ly for wine.”

Right away, Keely noticed the guy get­ting out of the black truck beside her.

Real­ly noticed him.

He was prob­a­bly six-two, wear­ing a navy T‑shirt that showed off enough bicep and a lot of strong fore­arm, one of her weak­ness­es. His fad­ed jeans spot­light­ed an amaz­ing ass, anoth­er weak­ness. If this guy had a sense of humor, he would be her tri­fec­ta. Light brown hair cropped close and what looked like a year-round tan round­ed out the pic­ture.

Hi. Where are you going?” she asked, try­ing to be friendly—and see up close what col­or eyes he had.

Not that she was in shop­ping mode for a new man in her life. Start­ing a new film wasn’t the time to begin a new rela­tion­ship, even with a man who looked this amaz­ing. But it nev­er hurt to look. Look­ing was healthy.

He turned and sized her up. Keely’s mouth went dry. Nor­mal­ly, she’d be pissed at a man check­ing her out so thor­ough­ly. In his case, she’d over­look it.

Espe­cial­ly since she’d been guilty of doing the same.

Jax war­bled at the stranger and Keely laughed see­ing his reac­tion.

The man closed the gap between them. “What … was that?”

This is Jax. And that … was his non-bark.”

The man’s espres­so eyes stud­ied her dog. “He’s a basen­ji.”

How did you know? Most peo­ple have nev­er heard of the breed.”

I saw a movie—Good­bye, My Lady—about a basen­ji. Bran­don De Wilde, the kid from Shane, was in it.”

Keely scratched Jax’s head. “You know Shane and Good­bye, My Lady. Are you a film buff?”

He shrugged. “My par­ents raised me on the clas­sics. I go to the movies at least twice a week. Binge like a fool on Net­flix. Attend film fes­ti­vals.”

Keely loved clas­sic films but some of this guy’s appeal fad­ed. He had to be an actor. She’d dat­ed her fair share of fel­low actors when she’d arrived in Hol­ly­wood and decid­ed she’d nev­er do so again.

Still, curios­i­ty led her to ask, “Are you an actor?”

No. Stunt­man and stand-in. Mac Ran­dall.”

He offered her his hand and she shook it. Mr. Not an Actor’s appeal increased expo­nen­tial­ly. She told her­self to tamp down her inter­est but heard her­self say, “I’m glad you know how to shake. Firm with­out crush­ing my hand. Most guys try to be cool and over­do it.”

I’m not most guys.”

Scar­lett pulled into a park­ing place and turned off the igni­tion. She hand­ed Wynn the keys. “Thanks for let­ting me dri­ve. I’d love to own a car like this some­day.”

He passed the keys back to her. “It’s yours.” Wynn enjoyed see­ing the dumb­found­ed look he’d put on Scarlett’s face. “Con­sid­er it a bonus.”

Wynn, I haven’t done any­thing yet,” she said, her exas­per­a­tion obvi­ous. “I’m pulling out all the stops for you but it doesn’t mean the stu­dio will go for this. I put our chances at six­ty-forty, at best.”

It doesn’t mat­ter,” he told her. “You’ve done a lot for me. Already, I believe in myself more than I have in a long time.”

She clutched the keys. “It’s too much,” she said, but he heard the wist­ful­ness in her tone.

Tak­ing charge of the sit­u­a­tion, he said, “Hey. I’m Wynn Gal­lagher. I’m made of mon­ey. I have half a dozen more cars wait­ing for me at home that need restor­ing.” His gaze met hers. “Take the damn car, Scar­lett, and say thank you.”

She let out a long breath. “Okay.” A radi­ant smile lit her face. “Thank you, Wynn.”

Wynn would give Scar­lett a hun­dred cars just to see the look of joy on her face.