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Hollywood Hunk by M. S. Parker (Love and lies in Tinseltown 1) Book

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Hollywood Hunk by M. S. Parker (Love and lies in Tinseltown 1) Read Book Online And Download

Overview: Riley Lawson, a small-town guy with nothing left to lose, moves to Hollywood to work for his aunt’s talent agency.

Thrilled to be living in the city of dreams, Riley gets caught up in a brief affair with a former TV actress, Eliza Jones.

The fling ends when Eliza’s husband returns home and, relieved no one found out, Riley vows never to sleep with a client again.

Everything changes when he meets Marisa, a beautiful young actress, and their attraction is immediate. But his excitement gets shattered when his aunt tells him Marisa is Eliza Jones' stepdaughter and completely off-limits.

From forbidden love to complicated family dynamics, Riley's life is turned upside down in Tinseltown. Can he survive in the land of make-believe, or will he crumble under the pressure?


Hollywood Hunk by M. S. Parker (Love and lies in Tinseltown 1) Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Hollywood Hunk by M. S. Parker (Love and lies in Tinseltown 1) Book





Hollywood Hunk by M. S. Parker (Love and lies in Tinseltown 1) Book Read Online Chapter One


Rain pounded down.


The cemetery employees had erected a dark green tent over the open grave, the yawning hole discreetly hidden by the coffin, now bedecked with an ornate spray of yellow roses—my mother’s favorite—and a gift from her co-workers at the nursing home before the cancer got bad.


Her best friend, Dina Morris, the manager of the nursing home, stood beside me, her hand soothingly rubbing my back as the preacher she’d recommended began the brief service.


I didn’t hear a word.


On my left side, my girlfriend, Shonie, stood quietly, her hand in mine. I wanted to pull her against me, bury my face in her hair and pretend we were anywhere but here—anywhere but watching the seconds tick away before it was time to walk back to our cars and leave my mother here—in the damned dirt.


The knot in my throat tightened, and I squeezed my eyes shut. I hadn’t cried. Three days earlier, she had passed away, and I hadn’t shed a tear.


“This concludes the graveside service.”


I snapped my head up as the preacher offered instructions to those who wanted to pay any final respects. It was over?


Shonie tugged on my hand, but I couldn’t move. I wanted to tell her to go ahead without me, that I’d be fine, but the words wouldn’t come out.


It hit hard when one of my mom’s old friends, a fellow nurse who had visited weekly right up to the end, came up and placed a hand on the casket. She spoke to the preacher, and he looked my way, hesitating.


“Sheila probably wants a rose from the floral spray,” Dina said quietly, leaning in.


Shonie stirred next to me. “That’s weird.”


“No, it’s not,” I said, nodding at Sheila and smiling stiffly. I’d been to funerals with my mom and had seen the rituals. They could take all the damn flowers. Just the smell of roses alone was going to turn my stomach after this.


As the woman with kind, red-rimmed eyes selected two roses, then started my way, I got up from the chair, bending down so she could hug me. “You’re such a good man, Riley. She’d be so proud of you—she was so proud.”


“Thanks.” I nodded at the casket. “Take more flowers if you like. I don’t want them.”


“No. I’m fine.” She gave me a sad smile. “Maybe Dina can take some back to the home for our residents.”


Words still had a hard time coming out, so I just nodded.


More people passed by the coffin, and I realized many had stuffed themselves under the cover of the tent, including some of my colleagues from the restaurant. I’d been off work the past few days, and my manager had told me to take the rest of the week off, but fuck, it tempted me to call and see if they needed me today so that I didn’t have to think.


“Who is that?” Dina asked.


She glanced toward the woman by the coffin, then at me, but I had to shake my head. The thin, tall woman wore a wide-brimmed black hat and a black raincoat that went several inches past her knees. While she looked in her early forties, something about how she held herself made me think she was older.


“Maybe she worked with Mom?” I suggested.


“I don’t think so. I would have recognized her.” Dina frowned as she watched the woman place a single yellow rose on the casket, then step back, her lips moving as if she were saying a prayer.


“I’ve got no idea, then,” I said, keeping my voice low. The woman turned toward us, and although she offered me a polite nod, she walked by without stopping.


“That coat is to die for,” Shonie said in a low voice, humming a little in greedy approval. “I bet it’s Burberry—costs over a thousand bucks. Man, I’d give a kidney for it.”


“It’s a raincoat, honey.” I smiled, long used to Shonie. She liked pretty clothes. She liked pretty things, period.


Dina leaned in to give me a kiss. “I’ll go pay my respects, sugar.”


As she left me with my girlfriend, I closed my eyes. I hated that phrase. Pay your respects. What the hell did it mean, anyway? Cancer had ravaged my mom and killed her. What good did it do to her for people to pay their respects?


“Son, is there anything else I can do for you?”


As the preacher offered a hand, I forced myself to speak. “No, sir,” I said, accepting his hand, giving a single shake before pulling back.


“I’ll keep you in my prayers, Riley.” He gave a polite nod to Shonie, then added, “I’m here if you need to talk. Anything, really.”


All I needed was for people to stop touching me—leave me alone, so Shonie and I could—


“Riley,” Shonie whispered, squeezing my arm.


I turned to her. “What?”


“I have to leave,” she said, glancing at the watch on her wrist. “My grandma’s birthday party is today, remember?”


I nodded numbly.


“I’m sorry,” she said. “I told her I’d be there.”


“It’s okay,” I said. “I understand.”


She hesitated a beat. “Are you sure you’ll be alright?”


“I’ll be fine.” I turned my face into her hair and breathed her in, as I wrapped her in my arms. “Just have dinner with me tomorrow. I’ve got something special planned.”


“Of course.” She kissed me on the cheek and pulled back. “Don’t stay here in the rain too long. Go home. Get some rest.”


A minute later, I stood alone.


As the rain came down harder, I went to the coffin, took a yellow rose, and touched the silken petals. “Bye, Mom.”


A thorn jabbed into my palm as I crushed the flower in my fist, then let it fall to the ground.


I ignored the pain and turned around, walking away from the last of my family as I left the cemetery.


 

* * *


Days of letters crammed the mailbox, protected from the rain by the porch. I grabbed it all after unlocking the door. Once inside, I fell back against it, tossed the mail onto the small corner table just inside the entrance, and jerked at the tie that choked at my neck. Once it was loose, I stripped off my suit coat and threw it, then shoved my hands into my hair.


My phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it free and checked to see if it was Shonie. The four walls around me were closing in on me, and fuck, I didn’t want to be here alone.


It was the lawyer.


Fuck.


I answered it.


“Riley, it’s Mark.”


I dragged a hand down my face, and said, “Hey, Mark.” Small-town manners kicked in, and I asked, “How are you?”


“I’m fine.” He hesitated, then asked, “I won’t ask how you are, but I hope you’re holding up as well as can be expected. I know today was hard.”


“Thanks.” I didn’t feel like lying or trying to fake my way through a conversation, so I hoped this would be quick.


“I won’t keep you on the phone long, just wanted to remind you about tomorrow. There’s the reading of the will. It will be at ten. Does that still work?”


“Yeah, sure.” The will. Looking around the small house where I’d lived my whole life, I decided not to contemplate the appointment. I was depressed enough. “See you then, okay? I need to…go.”


“Sure thing, Riley. I understand. Get some rest.”


I disconnected saying nothing else, mostly because I almost lost it, and shouted, “I don’t want to get some fucking rest!”


Why the hell did people say that after you buried somebody?


Was rest supposed to make it all better?


I dropped my phone on the table next to me and rubbed my neck. A couple of bills drifted off the pile of mail, and I pinched the bridge of my nose, not even wanting to open them. I knew what they were—gas, water, electricity.


I’d turned the landline off a month ago once hospice started coming to stay with Mom. At least that was one disconnect warning I didn’t need to trash.


Sighing, I tore open each envelope and checked the balance until I’d worked through the whole damn stack of mail. Either I’d figure out the money situation tomorrow—or…not.


As I was heading out, a kitchen cabinet caught my eye, and I stopped. “Don’t do it, Ry,” I muttered.


But I was going to, and I knew it. I reached up and grabbed the bottle of whiskey that had been there for so long the label had faded. I brought it into the living room, dropped onto the couch, and turned on the TV. Finding a ball game, I dumped the remote and opened the bottle of whiskey.


Here I was, getting drunk, alone, the day I buried my mom.


Man, what a fucking miserable day.



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