"Aston kicks off the Hollywood Name Game series with this sweet, sexy contemporary romance. Aston makes it easy to care about Cassie, a genuine, hardworking woman who maintains her integrity in the glittering world of Hollywood. This fast-paced romance is a treat."Booklife
Being late to an interview lands her the biggest job opportunity of her life.
He may be rich and successful—but he's just this side of miserable.
Can a wannabe be The One for the biggest star in Hollywood?
Cassie Carroll came to Hollywood with big dreams that never materialized. Acting isn't even on the back burner anymore—it's completely off the stove. Working for a third-rate agent, Cassie hopes to land a new job that will give her credibility, as well as help pay the rent. Late to her interview, she swerves to avoid hitting a dog—and totals the car of Hollywood's leading action superstar. Surprisingly, she walks away from their encounter with a job—as the sexiest man alive's personal assistant.
Rhett Corrigan is bored with the movies he makes and the drop-dead gorgeous model he's dating. He's afraid that Hollywood has typecast him—and that he'll never be able to break out of his action mold and try new acting challenges. When Cassie Carroll literally slams into his life, she brings a breath of fresh air and common sense to his world. She pushes him to be a better actor and a better man.
Can these friends become lovers—and can their love survive—in a tabloid-happy town that thrives on rumors and backstabbing?
Release date: February 10, 2021
Publisher: Oliver Heber Books
Print pages: 281
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Cassie Carroll rolled over and burrowed her cheek back into her pillow. She sighed. Nothing felt better than waking up on a Saturday morning, knowing she could catch a few more—
Her eyes flew open. It wasn’t Saturday. It was Friday. She had to be at work in . . . when did she have to be at work? The clock beside her beside blinked 4:47 in large numbers. The electricity had gone out. Again. She knew she’d paid the last bill, late maybe, but it got paid. At least she thought it was last month’s. And that she’d paid it. Or had it been Jolene’s turn and her roommate had forgotten again?
It didn’t matter. The power had come back on, else the clock wouldn’t be flashing now. It had to be later than 4:47 with the strong light streaming into her bedroom.
She threw back the covers and heard a muffled sound, something between a yawn and a growl. Cassie stood and yanked the comforter away, unearthing TJ. The orange tabby looked at her with disdain and closed his eyes before resting his face atop his front paws.
“You always wake me up for breakfast at six-fifteen, TJ. Always. Except this morning, of all mornings.” She wasn’t going to work this morning. She had a job interview. “Why did you decide to catnap this one time?” she accused the cat.
Grabbing her cell from the battered nightstand, she saw it was 8:15. Normally, she’d set her phone alarm but the battery had been draining fast lately and she didn’t have the extra money to buy a new one, much less invest in a new phone. Which was why she’d depended upon the clock alarm—or TJ—to wake her in time. She needed to move. Fast. Scurrying from the bedroom, she stripped off her man’s XL army green T-shirt. As she reached the apartment’s only bathroom, a man with a scraggly beard walked out, scratching his head with one hand and his crotch with the other. He gaped at her.
“Out of my way!” she commanded, pushing the stranger aside and slamming the door. She started the shower, squeezed artificial tears into each eye to wake up, and grabbed her toothbrush. Cassie muttered under her breath about Jolene bringing another strange guy home as she jumped into the still-cold shower and shouted an expletive when the freezing water hit her in the face.
Squirting shampoo into her hair, she tried to lather it up with her right hand as she brushed her teeth with her left. Pulling back the curtain, she tossed her toothbrush into the sink and rinsed the shampoo from her hair. No time for conditioner today. Or shaving. She ran a hand along her leg and knew she could get by without the two minutes it would take to zip a razor along it. She decided to throw on a pair of textured tights. Not that anyone in Southern California ever wore them, but it was the first week in December and she was one of those redheads that pale didn’t even begin to describe. Cassie refused to have marble-white legs sticking out from her suit skirt. She had good legs, long with terrifically shaped calves from years of running. She would show them off in the best way she knew how, with navy blue tights. If tights were good enough for the Duchess of Cambridge to parade around Merry Olde England in, then Cassie Carroll could wear them to her job interview.
She shut off the water that had never totally warmed up and toweled off quickly. The light was better in her bedroom so she wrapped the towel around her and returned there to do her makeup. Thank goodness she didn’t suffer another close encounter with Mr. Scratcher.
She swiped on deodorant and spritzed herself with perfume. No time for sunscreen on her face. She’d have to chance a few freckles popping out. Cassie completed her makeup in under five minutes and wrestled into a white silk blouse and her tried and true, classic navy suit. The one that she hoped would make her look chic and sophisticated and help her land the job she desperately needed.
As she was about to slide her feet into her slightly worn pumps, she remembered she hadn’t slipped on the tights. With the clock ticking, she decided the fashionable tights would have to bite the dust. Cassie threw them into her purse anyway. She might have time to put them on in the car if she caught a really long light.
Her hair, still damp, was easy to slick back. She wound it into a smooth chignon and admired it for two seconds in the mirror. Earrings. She needed something in her ears for that pulled-together look. She found one faux pearl and slid it into place before TJ began yowling for his breakfast.
“All right, all right,” Cassie complained, slipping the other earring into her pocket. She would put it on in the car. She grabbed her purse and hurried down the hall to their tiny kitchenette, smelling coffee the entire way.
Jolene handed her a full mug. Cassie took a few quick sips of her roommate’s heavy-duty Brazilian blend to rev up her insides before grabbing her travel mug and transferring the coffee to it.
“Would you feed TJ?” she asked Jolene. “And who’s the guy I danced around in the hall with this morning? Naked, by the way. Both of us.”
Jolene thought a moment. “Howard Something? He laughed the loudest at my jokes last night. I had to bring him home.”
“When are you going to stop dragging strangers back to our apartment, Jolene? One of them could turn out to be a serial killer. We could be murdered in our beds. Or robbed, at the very least.”
Her roommate snorted. “We’d have to have something worth stealing.” She eyed Cassie. “You look good, Cass. What’s up?”
Cassie rooted inside her purse, looking for a tube of lipstick from Nordstrom’s that she’d been saving for a special occasion. The color would make her mouth pop and give her the final bit of polish she needed.
“Manny thinks I’ve got a dental appointment this morning but I’m going to interview for a job at Merriman Smith.”
“Hmm. Sounds like a law firm.”
“They’re a new entertainment agency. Several agents from top agencies defected and started it about two months ago. Tell me you’ve heard of them. It was all over the trades.”
“If you land a job with them, you can sign me as a client,” Jolene suggested. “I’m sure they rep comics. I’ve got to get another agent, Cass. Manny isn’t doing it for me anymore. Not that he ever did.”
“It’s an interview to be an assistant, Jolene, not an agent.”
“You were a casting agent before.”
“That went nowhere. Like every job I’ve worked since I hit California as a starry-eyed, eighteen-year-old. Even being Manny’s administrative assistant has done nothing for my career. He pays me squat, he has no good clients left—present company excluded—and I know he’s snorting again. Caught him at it twice this week alone.”
Jolene took a sip from the mug she’d poured herself. “Shit. I knew he was high when we talked yesterday.” She removed a can of cat food from the refrigerator and took off the plastic lid, dumping the fish stew onto a plate.
As Jolene started to set it on the floor, Cassie warned her. “TJ likes it microwaved. He refuses to eat cold from the fridge food unless it’s interesting people leftovers, like orange chicken or pepperoni pizza.”
Cassie finally retrieved the lipstick and glanced at the microwave clock. “Yes, he is. Gotta run. Later.”
She raced to the parking lot of their apartment complex. Her aging Honda Civic sat innocently, waiting to give her trouble. Cassie begged it to start as she got in, pushing aside fast food wrappers and empty water bottles.
“Today would be a good day to start on the first try,” she announced to the fickle car. “Today is the beginning of the rest of my life. Today, I finally arrive in Hollywood.”
After three false starts, the Civic kicked in. Cassie backed out, praying the car would get her to her appointment without dying. She pulled out into the heavy traffic, something she’d never gotten used to in her nine years in LA. As she drove like a maniac, she thought about how everyone back in Waco, Texas thought she was living the good life with a Hollywood address. They had no idea how dilapidated most of Hollywood really was. Sure, urban renewal had kicked in a few years ago and parts of the area were spruced up so the tourists would have something to take pictures of, but for the most part, Hollywood was a sad, tired section in the City of Angels.
She glanced at her gas gauge as she tossed a piece of sugarless gum into her mouth to kill the coffee aftertaste. At least she had three-quarters of a tank. Plenty to get her to Merriman Smith. She began humming to herself. The radio gave up the ghost months ago and the CD player hadn’t worked in years. Maybe if she landed this new job, she could afford a decent car for the first time in her life. She shook the thought from her brain. If the Civic got wind of that kind of thinking, it would break down just to spite her.
Forty minutes later, she closed in on her destination. Spitting the gum into its wrapper, she tossed it over her shoulder onto the floorboard and applied the expensive lipstick while sitting at a light. It was going to be her day. She knew it. Her gut told her so.
Cassie spotted a dog. It ran in front of her, a leash dragging behind it. In slow motion, she heard a high-pitched voice wail for the mutt to come back. She whipped the wheel, trying to avoid hitting the dog.
And hit the man instead.
Rhett Corrigan punched the elevator button for the ninth floor. Merriman Smith occupied three levels and his longtime agent, who’d help found the new agency, was on the top floor.
It had not been Rhett’s day. Leo, his personal trainer, had called right at five and canceled their session because he was driving his wife to the hospital in what looked like a case of appendicitis.
Rhett worked out alone for half an hour on free weights and then hit the treadmill for another thirty minutes. His mind must have wandered and he’d somehow lost his footing, falling and smacking his forehead hard against the treadmill’s ramp. The knot already rivaled any knocks he’d taken during his USC football days.
Then Suellen called when he got out of the shower. He loved his older sister dearly and would walk through fire for her but she’d announced she was marrying the idiot she’d been dating for all of two months. Rhett knew better than to plead with her or order her not to do it. In a family of notorious hardheads, Suellen’s head could cut diamonds.
Finally, he sat down for breakfast, only to taste the milk in his cereal had gone bad. He grabbed the carton and saw it had expired three days earlier. No one was there to yell at because Consuelo, his housekeeper, had left two weeks ago to return to Mexico for the third time in two years. Rhett poured the bowl’s contents down the disposal, angry that he’d been left high and dry again but knowing she and her family would return and slip back into their former jobs without a word from him.
To top it off, on the way to see Irv Stromberg, he’d run out of gas. Rhett hadn’t done that since the first time he’d taken his mom’s car out with a brand-new driver’s license fresh in his back pocket. Rhett knew Nadine Corrigan had left the tank on empty as a test. Humiliated, he’d called home and then waited for his oldest sister, Carreen, to bring him the gas can from their garage. He’d been forty minutes late for his first date with a girl he’d had a crush on since third grade. Her dad chewed him out royally for being a rude jerk. It wasn’t as if Rhett had a cell phone and could text why he’d be late. Money was tight in the Corrigan house. A cell phone was a luxury—not a necessity—in his mom’s eyes.
He’d finally arrived at the new entertainment agency, late, but in one piece. He ran a hand through his dark hair and then peered at his image in the elevator’s mirror, frowning at the knot above his eye. At least he’d already attended his latest movie’s premiere, which wouldn’t open until Christmas Day. If it had been a week from now, the bump would be the size of Mount Olympus and green fading into that ugly yellow color. Rhett knew even Tanya, his skilled makeup artist, couldn’t have disguised it.
As it was, he’d have to lie low so the paparazzi wouldn’t snap him in all his hideous glory. Far be it that Rhett Corrigan appear in public and not make women salivate as they dropped to their knees in worship of Hollywood’s reigning action star.
The chime brought Rhett back to reality as the door opened. Greeting him was a reception area, chrome and smoked glass, with plush gray carpeting and modern chairs and lamps. The art on the walls cost as much as his last picture had made.
Rhett walked up to a honey-blonde seated at the receptionist’s desk, who tried to maintain her cool with a breathy, “May I help you?” as her eyes undressed him.
“Rhett Corrigan to see Irving Stromberg. I’m running a bit late,” he apologized and saw her eyes widen at the comment. Big stars never said they were sorry. About anything.
“One moment, Mr. Corrigan.” She dialed an extension. “Mr. Corrigan’s here, Mr. Stromberg.”
The receptionist paused and Rhett could imagine Irv’s profanity-laced reply. His agent hated when anyone was late. The woman frowned slightly.
“Yes, sir. Of course.” She smiled brightly at Rhett. “Mr. Stromberg will see you now. It’s the third door on the left. Go right in.”
She moistened her lips and gave him her best don’t you want my cell number look. Rhett was immune to it after eight years in Tinseltown.
“Thanks.” He strolled down the hall, ignoring the tittering file clerks sizing him up. He waved at Julie, Irv’s assistant who had followed her boss to the new agency, and walked in without knocking.
Irv jawed away, his ever-present Bluetooth in place. Rhett suspected the agent would be buried wearing it.
“No, tell him we won’t go for less than eight points. Ten would be better. Also, production in Italy’s no good. He wants Greece. Yes, it is. Because I said so. Tell him. Call me back before the end of the day.”
Irv yanked off the headset and tossed it on the desk, stretching his arms wide in a greeting.
“Rhett, my boy. How are you?”
Rhett allowed the old man to wrap him in a tight bear hug. Irv had seven daughters and Rhett was the closest he came to having a son.
“Pretty good, Irv. Except for this,” and he pointed to the swelling above his eye.
“Bar fight?” his agent teased.
“Yeah, right. The Internet would be screaming with stories by now if that were the case.”
“Without an assistant and your good-for-nothing publicist, I hear nothing. When are you going to hire someone, Rhett? It’s getting ridiculous.”
He shrugged. Carreen handled his schedule, making appointments for him, but she was in treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer. He didn’t want to replace her but things were starting to get tough since she hadn’t worked in over two months.
“I might get someone temporarily. At least while Carreen’s still down.” He smiled at Irv. “It’s not as if I don’t get any publicity. I’m in the media all the time, whether I like it or not. Even though I pay Becky Bloss to keep me out of the news.”
Irv clucked like an old Jewish grandmother. “You need someone all the same. I know it’s hard to make that kind of decision with Carreen indisposed but we need somebody on board, Rhett. With your movie coming out soon and no new ones on the horizon, we need to keep your name in the trades, in People, even on TMZ. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and you need lots of it. We need this baby to stay hot until mid-February at least. March would be better.”
Rhett took a seat in the chair in front of the desk. “What’s next, Irv? I finished Fireball this summer and haven’t done anything all fall. I’m getting restless.”
Irv shook his head. “Nothing’s come through, Rhett. At least nothing you’d want to read. It’s all trash these days. Besides, we’ve got your image to protect.”
He laughed. “Come on, Irv. What image? I do action movies. I blow things up, chase bad guys, and shoot drug dealers. You can’t tell me not one decent action adventure’s on the horizon.”
Irv pursed his lips. “Not the quality we want. You’re the one who’s always telling me it’s gotta have a story. Relax, Rhett. Look forward to Fireball’s numbers. Your last movie opened at number one and stayed there for three weeks. With this being a holiday release, I’m sure it’ll do even better. Relax. Spend some time with your family at Christmas. And for God’s sake—hire an assistant. You were late to that GQ shoot last week because you forgot about it. An assistant would keep on top of things like that.”
“And a housekeeper. I need one of those, too. A cook would be nice.”
Irv frowned. “Did Consuelo go back to Mexico again?”
Rhett nodded. “I’m not taking her back this time. End of story.”
“Shall I contact my housekeeper’s agency? I can get you set up, big guy.”
He decided to remind his agent one more time about scripts. “No, I’ll get a housekeeper. Just send me something to read, Irv. Anything, okay? I don’t mind switching genres. In fact, I’m ready to break out and try something new. You know—flex more than my muscles.”
Irv pulled out a sheaf of papers, ignoring Rhett’s request to send him something in a new genre. “Here’s the beer deal you need to sign. You’ll shoot it in Japan a week into January. It’ll only play there but there’s an option for a few European countries that we can exercise. I’ll get the shooting details sewn up and let your assistant know,” he said pointedly.
He indicated where Rhett should sign. Rhett scrawled his name seven times.
“This’ll pull in three mill, Rhett. Piece of cake.”
They shook hands and Rhett left Irv’s office. He stopped to visit with Julie a minute.
“Like the new place, Jules?”
She smiled. “What’s not to like? Irv’s a partner in the hottest new agency in town. He gave me a twenty percent raise, which my almost sixteen-year-old son has decided should go toward a car for him. That is, if he passes his driving test. And if I can afford the insurance.”
Rhett whistled. “Kenny’s almost sixteen? Now, I know I’m getting old. He was in single digits when I signed with Irv.” He raised his eyebrows. “So, will you get him a car?”
Julie groaned. “You sound like Kenny now. All men are alike.”
He smiled. “We have to stick together. Tell him hi for me.” He looked up and saw Ray Pearce turning the corner. The man was worse than a fan on the street. He always wanted Rhett to go with him to a Lakers game or a restaurant opening or any high-profile place they could be seen at and get their picture together. Ray lived for publicity.
Julie motioned him to follow her and they took off down the hall, stepping into the breakroom.
“Stay here. I’ll head him off. Give me thirty seconds then come out of here and turn right. An unmarked door at the end of the hall will lead you out the back way.”
“I owe you, Jules.” Rhett flashed her a grin.
“You sure do. Ray Pearce is an asshole.” She smiled sweetly and walked back out.
Rhett turned and saw a tall brunette sipping from a mug. A short blonde stood at the microwave, waiting for it to beep.
“Merry Christmas, ladies.”
The brunette stepped in front of him. In a low purr, she said, “I could be the best present you ever unwrapped, Rhett.”
He laughed. “I’m on Santa’s naughty list this year. No presents for me.” He left the breakroom and followed the route Julie suggested, deciding to head down the stairs and avoid the elevator. Somehow, he took a turn too tightly and missed the step. Rhett grabbed for the handrail to keep from falling. As he grasped it in one hand, he felt his ankle turn and groaned. He righted himself and tested the ankle gingerly, sucking in his breath at the zing of pain.
“Great,” he muttered to himself. “Just a terrific day all around. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get mugged on the way to my car.”
He limped down the remaining flight of stairs, glad he was near the bottom. He hobbled through the lobby with as much dignity as he could muster. At least he’d lucked out and landed a parking place in front of the building after the earlier gas disaster.
Slipping on his Ray-Bans, he exited the building and walked slowly to the car, hoping no paparazzi hung around. He placed a hand on the hood of his car for support and stepped off the curb, circling around to the driver’s side. Before he unlocked his door, he heard a woman scream something about her dog and tires squealing. Rhett twisted around just as some clunker smacked into his prized convertible.
Cassie squeezed her eyes closed as she plowed into the vehicle. An awful crunching noise sounded, metal grinding against metal. No airbag exploded because the car didn’t have one. She bounced off the steering wheel as her heart slammed against her ribs. The guy that had stepped out couldn’t have survived the impact. What did they call it—vehicular manslaughter? She would go to prison for the rest of her life. This would be the final nail to hammer into the Cassie Coffin. She’d taken a life and would give up her own in payment. Forcing her eyes open, her jaw dropped in amazement. The guy was alive. Granted, he was draped across the trunk of some foreign-looking convertible but she hadn’t crushed the life out of him. Somehow, he’d managed to spin around, quick reflexes saving his life. He came upright and limped a few steps. Great. She must have nicked him. He leaned against the car—what was left of it—and held a hand to his forehead as he turned to stare at her.
Her adrenaline spiked. She’d totaled his very expensive car. Cassie had the feeling the stranger was about to tear her apart. She would meet him in the middle and grovel. Maybe turn on some tears for good measure. Hadn’t Jolene told her that men hated themselves when they made women cry?
Cassie unhooked her seat belt and tried to get out of the car. The door wouldn’t budge. Great. She’d have to go back to climbing in through the passenger’s side as she had last month when the Civic went through a temperamental stage. Or maybe not. She glanced around and saw the crumpled hood, steam rising, and watched as the sedan shuddered, giving up the ghost.
The smell of gasoline began to permeate the air, clouding her judgment. She looked down at her outfit and knew today’s interview wasn’t happening with the way she looked. She’d seen homeless people appear more pulled together. Confused, she wondered what she had wanted to do.
Cassie saw the stupid dog again, a yapping, spoiled poodle. The prissy mutt’s owner teetered over on stilettos taller than the Eiffel Tower and scooped the dog up, hugging him to her tightly as she glared at Cassie. Cassie estimated the dog’s outfit cost more than her last month’s rent. The woman walked on, not bothering to ask if she needed help. Hollywood. It was a different world from Texas.
She reached for her purse and slung it over her shoulder. Nothing else of value to save. Cassie prayed the passenger door would open. If it didn’t, she could always climb into the back seat and get out that way.
Suddenly, he was hollering. The guy she’d sort of hit. It must’ve been his car she’d smashed. If she hadn’t been sure before, she was now. Men and their cars—no one came between them.
Cassie giggled at her flash of wisdom. That was one car that wouldn’t be cruising around Beverly Hills anytime soon. Jeez, what would this do to her insurance? She already had two speeding tickets in the last eighteen months. Her insurance agent would drop her now. She’d be at the mercy of those goons that only advertised on late night TV. They charged an arm and a leg to cover high-risk drivers. She was now a charter member of that club.
She looked up as the guy inched closer, hobbling along, yelling, his arms waving. Breathing the gas fumes had her disoriented. She couldn’t understand what he was saying. She started to apologize but then remembered her mom told her never to apologize after a wreck because that could be construed as admitting guilt. She was at fault. Big time.
The guy made it to her and tried to yank the door open. It wouldn’t move. Before Cassie could speak, he reached through her open window and hauled her out.
“Hey, wait a minute. What are you doing?”
He mumbled something but all Cassie could do was stare at him. He had the most amazing gray eyes, dark and stormy and full of anger.
Recognition seared through her. “Oh, God. You’re Rhett Corrigan.”
If her heart had been in overdrive before, it now pounded like an African drum—loud, erratic, and wild. She realized he was running. Rhett Corrigan was hauling ass. Just like in one of his movies. At least as much as he could. His gait was off. She must have hit him after all. Clipped his knee, run over his foot, something.
Then the explosion sounded. Cassie flinched as she looked over her shoulder to see the Civic turned into a fireball. Flames rose and flickered like dancing devils. They ran along the entire frame and leaped onto Rhett Corrigan’s convertible, lighting it afire. Suddenly, the convertible also exploded and Cassie understood that the gas tank caused the fireworks.
She sucked in a deep breath of sweet air and glanced back at her rescuer. “You saved my life,” she said in wonder, her head starting to clear now that she wasn’t inhaling noxious fumes. “If you hadn’t pulled me out when you did, I would be toast.”
A violent trembling shot through her body, quick as a California brush fire. She clutched the movie star’s shoulders, digging her nails in deep. He winced but she couldn’t help it. It was as if she’d jumped into the Atlantic’s icy waters as the Titanic sank and then miraculously was pulled to safety. Her teeth began chattering uncontrollably.
Rhett lowered her feet to the ground but still hung on to her.
“Are you all right?” he asked gruffly. His eyes still flashed steel gray but she could see a smidgen of sympathy lurking there.
“I think so.” She frowned and glanced down at her bare right foot resting atop his Bruno Magli loafer. “I lost my shoe.”
His eyes swept down and back up. “I guess you did,” he agreed.
The trembling stopped as quickly as it had started. Cassie sensed the hot flush creep up her neck and spill onto her cheeks. She became aware of being locked body-to-body with the world’s most famous action star. She swallowed hard and relaxed her death grip on his shoulders. She tried to step back but he still held on. Probably because he knew she would collapse in a heap on the sidewalk if he didn’t.
Despite everything, all she could think was how melt-your-bones good it felt being in his arms.
She pushed that crazy thought aside. She owed him an apology. “I am so, so sorry about your car, Mr. Corrigan. A dog ran out and I swerved so I wouldn’t hit him. I hit a squirrel once back home, right after I got my driver’s license, and I was sick for two days. Throwing up, crying.”
The puzzled look on his face made her realize how foolish it was to talk about squirrels when she’d almost hit and killed the world’s highest paid movie star.
Come on, Cassie, think. Get with the program. Speak like an adult. Say something serious. Money. Adults always thought about money.
“I promise I will pay for your car, sir. It will take me this life and most of the next to do so, but I will pay you to the penny.” She frowned. “And that knot on your head. I’m very sorry. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I saw you limping. Did I hit your leg?” Her eyes widened. “We should call 911. ER needs to check you over. I’ll bet you’re insured for millions. All of America knows how valuable you are. Let me call an ambulance.”
Cassie somehow separated herself from him and dug in her purse for her cell phone. “Oh, great. It’s dead. This thing will not hold a charge anymore.” She glanced up. “I suppose you have one we can use?”
Rhett nodded, a ghost of a smile threatening to break out. “I don’t need an ambulance. You might.”
“No, seriously,” she assured him, “I’m fine. Better than fine. Well, not really fine because I just totaled your car and mine and it looks as if my job interview at Merriman Smith won’t happen and I’ll be stuck working for Manny until my teeth and hair fall out, but I’m really okay. Really. Other than not having insurance anymore. No one will cover me after this mother of a wreck.”
The sound of sirens pierced the air. Cassie looked back at the burning cars and saw a crowd had gathered. Every person in sight held up a cell phone, snapping pictures and shooting video.
“Oh, no. We’re going to be on the news. Manny will know I lied about having to go to the dentist. I am so fired.”
A woman in a Cornhusker shirt rushed toward them and began taking pictures.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she hollered at the gray-haired granny. “Back off! Mr. Corrigan doesn’t need some tourist from Nebraska shoving a camera in his face, much less selling them to some sleazy tabloid.”
Cassie looked around. “Who are all you people? Get out of here. Right now.” She waved her arms like a wild woman. Part of the crowd backed off. The rest clicked away, huge grins on their faces.
“You’re giving them what they want,” Rhett whispered in her ear. Tingles rippled through Cassie at the slight touch. “They feed on this stuff. Come on.” He took her elbow and led her back across the street. He limped due to whatever injury she had caused; she limped because that’s what a person did trying to walk in one high heel.
Rhett briefly stopped at the patrol car parked near the now-smoldering cars. “I’m Rhett Corrigan, Officer. We’ve had a little fender bender here.”
The cop laughed. “You ain’t joking, pal. Crushed City is more like it.” He paused. “Could I take a selfie with you, Rhett? My wife would leave me for you. It’d be great to get a picture with you.”
The cop whipped out his phone and stepped next to Rhett. Cassie watched as he took a picture. The cop beamed, while Rhett looked dark and dangerous.
“Thanks, Rhett!” the cop exclaimed.
“Can we step inside, Officer Malone?” Rhett asked. “My agent’s office is in this building. We can give you all the particulars and avoid this crowd. Enough of the footage will wind up on Entertainment Tonight as it is.”
“Lead the way, Mr. Corrigan. I’m all yours.”
Cassie found herself being propelled inside the building. She glanced at the address on the granite wall as they entered. She put two and two together and knew Rhett’s agent and her interview would be the same place.
“I am so screwed.”
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