SERIES: Red Carpet Romance #1
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Ambassador International
RELEASE DATE: July 16, 2019
A Hollywood bad boy. A pastor’s daughter.
What could possibly go wrong?
Movie star Ben Prescott arrives back in Hollywood after causing a scandal with his ex-girlfriend in Rome.
Chased through the airport by paparazzi, he jumps into a limo hoping for a quick getaway. Instead he finds Lily Shaw, a pastor’s daughter and preschool teacher. When the paparazzi capture a photo of the two of them together, Ben’s agent demands that he do whatever it takes to keep the story from hitting the gossip pages . . . even volunteer to work at Lily’s church.
Sparks fly as the movie star and the pastor’s daughter work side by side. When Lily accompanies Ben to the premiere of his latest movie, Hollywood takes notice. Under intense media scrutiny and pressure from the movie industry, Ben must risk his career to follow his heart, but Lily wants the one thing he doesn’t have, faith.
Mission Hollywood is an inspirational story about love, faith, and second chances.
Lily swung her carry-on bag over her shoulder and waited for the slow moving line of passengers to shuffle down the aisle. There was no need to fight her way into the crush of people trying to make connections. She wasn’t in a hurry.
Yawning and rubbing the stale airplane air from her eyes, she glanced out the tiny, plastic window. The lights of Los Angeles glittered in the distance, an endless field of manufactured stars that lit up the night. She smiled at the distant neon glow as a single word whispered through her mind.
It had been a long day, followed by an even longer flight from Boston. Her annual pre-Christmas visit with her former college roommate had been fun, as always, but she was ready to see her family again. They never complained about her yearly trip to Boston. Kate was family in every way except genetics, but Lily also knew that she was needed back here. And quite frankly, jumping into Kate’s fast paced lawyer life had been exhausting.
As she walked through LAX, carefully dodging tourists with their amusement park hats and giant cameras, she wondered how big the pile of dishes waiting in the sink would be and how many pizza boxes would be stacked up beside the recycling bin. Her dad and brother were good at a lot of things, but housework and cooking were nowhere on that list. If her mom were still alive things would be different. The thought leapt to her mind before she could stop it. Taking a deep breath, she waited for the sadness to pass. It didn’t matter how many years went by, losing her mom was a wound that would never heal.
She rode the escalator down to baggage claim, letting the frantic passengers pass her as she stood to the side, content with the slow descent. As she stepped off the last metal stair she spotted a handsome chauffeur holding a white sign with “Brat” written in flawless penmanship.
Rolling her eyes, she headed straight for him. “Nice, Noah. Way to make your baby sister feel loved.”
“Of course, you’re loved. It doesn’t say Spoiled Rotten Brat, does it?” Noah wrapped her in his arms and lifted her off her feet. ”Welcome home, Brat. How’s Kate?”
She surrendered her bag to him and they walked towards the passenger pick up exit. She had made this trip enough times to know better than to check a bag. It was easier to travel light.
The automatic doors slid open and she breathed in the exhaust and smog of a winter night in Los Angeles. Honking horns and the squeals of family reunions bounced off the concrete walls and slammed into each other in a symphony of chaos.
“She’s good. She enjoys her job at the law firm, but it’s been crazy busy for her. I think she’s pushing herself too hard. She has no idea how to slow down.”
Noah’s face wrinkled into a frown. “You should tell her to come out here for a few days. A nice vacation would do her some good.”
Lily glanced at her brother. “And seeing her again might do you some good too, right?”
Noah bumped her with his shoulder and avoided her gaze. “Shut up.”
She giggled and let it go. Her brother had been nursing a crush on Kate since their junior year in college. He had been devastated when Kate packed up and moved to Boston to attend Harvard Law School and Kate had been happily oblivious to his broken heart. Now there was a continent sized pile of pride and regret between them. Noah refused to come with her to Boston and Kate refused to come back to Los Angeles. Lily sighed, trusting God had a plan for both of them. She hoped that plan might someday bring them together.
“So how’s Dad?” Instead of pressing, she opted to change the subject. Noah’s shoulders relaxed and he was able to make eye contact again. “He’s fine. He’s working around the clock on the church’s block party. He’ll be happy to see you and your organizational skills again, that’s for sure. Here . . . ” He reached into his jacket and pulled out a folded brochure. “This is what he’s been working on.”
Lily glanced through the advertisement for the upcoming event, a free block party for the residents of their low-income Hollywood neighborhood. It was a rough area and most of the kids living there witnessed, or experienced, a crime before they ever made it to their first day of school. Her parents had built the Hollywood Mission together smack dab in the middle of the poverty, crime, and graffiti, believing that was exactly where God wanted them. After her mom died, Lily and her brother joined the staff to help their dad keep it going.
Noah clicked a button on his keys and the black, stretch limo in front of them beeped. He popped the trunk open and dropped her bag inside before opening the rear passenger side door. “Your chariot awaits, Madame,” he said in his best limo driver voice.
Insecurity tugged at her as she tried to ignore the curious stares from people on the sidewalk. It would have been helpful if she had a sign that simply said, ‘I’m nobody.’ Then maybe she could go back to being invisible and anonymous. “You know, you could have brought the truck.”
“This is more fun. ” Noah grinned and offered her his hand. “And it gets me great parking.”
She slid into the dark, plush interior, and Noah closed the door. The irony of it wasn’t lost on her; she was probably the only girl in Hollywood who had never dreamed of being a movie star. Fame, celebrity, interviews, and photographs all sounded more frightening than exciting to her. But as she let her hand run down the soft leather seat and breathed in the lingering perfume from whichever celebrity Noah had last driven, she thought she wouldn’t mind a little bit of pampering every now and then.
Tossing his chauffeur’s cap onto the passenger seat, Noah jumped behind the wheel. He looked over his shoulder. “Ready to go home, Brat?”
Before she could reply, flashes sparked outside the limo, bright white lights danced off the tinted glass like tiny fireworks. A roar of voices and the slap of feet against pavement washed over the car. The rear door flew open and a man leapt into the limo beside her. An endless stream of camera flashes blinded her as dozens of paparazzi surrounded the limo. The car shook as they leaned against it and banged on the glass.
“What happened in Rome?” someone shouted.
“What do you have to say about Giselle’s interview?”
“Do you think the scandal will hurt your new movie?”
“What are you going to do now?”
The questions tumbled together as the reporters shouted and shoved each other, fighting to get closer. Camera lenses and flashes invaded the limo and Lily shrank back against the leather seat. Nerves exploded in her stomach and her heart raced in the chaos.
“No comment!” The man who had jumped into the limo snarled the reply and yanked the door closed. The sudden quiet was like finding a sliver of shade in the desert. She blinked her eyes, trying to get rid of the glowing, white circles that swam in her vision.
“What are you waiting for?” The stranger yelled at Noah. “Let’s go.”
Lily looked at Noah who was staring wide-eyed at the man beside her. She followed his gaze and her mouth went dry. Sitting next to her in faded jeans and a rumpled black shirt was none other than Ben Prescott, movie star and Hollywood A-lister.
His chestnut brown hair was a tousled mess, as if he had spent the past few hours running his hands through it over and over again. Dark circles shadowed his deep brown eyes and several days of rough stubble covered his clenched jaw. She blinked again, certain her eyes were playing tricks on her. How could one of the biggest movie stars on the planet be sitting next to her? Opening her eyes, she found herself staring into the face she had glimpsed on posters at the movie theatre and passing buses chugging through the crowded downtown streets. Her heart skittered. He was staring right back at her.
Outside, the paparazzi yelled and the limo rocked. Noah cleared his throat. “Mr. Prescott I think there’s been a mistake. I’m not your driver.” He nodded his head towards Lily. “I’m hers.”
Ben Prescott tilted his head as he turned the intensity of his gaze on her. “And who are you?” he asked.
She stuttered and for a second, she forgot her own name. Nobody, she thought, I’m nobody. She opened her mouth and hoped words would come out. “I’m Lily. Lily Shaw.”
Ben smiled and took her hand, shaking it once. “Hi, Lily Shaw, I’m Ben Prescott. It’s nice to meet you.” She felt the heat of the contact zip all the way up her arm. “Do you mind if we get out of here?”
A reporter slammed his camera against the window and she jumped. “No. I don’t mind at all.”
“Great.” Ben turned to Noah. “I will give you a thousand dollars to drive me anywhere but here.” Noah hesitated, his glance darting back to his sister. “Please,” Ben looked at her, desperation coloring his words, as he gripped her hand, the warmth of his touch enveloping her fingers. “Please don’t make me get out of the car.”
Flashes popped and not even the solid walls of the limo could stop the sound of the endless questions being thrown at Ben. In the dim light of the limo, Lily could see the weariness in his eyes, the lines of fatigue that crossed his face. He held her hand solidly, like it was a lifeline he was afraid to lose. Turning to her brother, she prayed she wasn’t making a huge mistake. “Get us out of here, Noah.”
Michelle is a wife, mom, homeschooler and an author of inspirational fiction and nonfiction. Her books are fueled by Jesus and caffeine. If she isn’t writing, she’s baking, hiking or hanging out on Twitter.
Michelle has an MA in Systematic Theology and had planned on pursuing her Ph.D…until she met a handsome Marine officer named Paul. They have now been married for 19 years. Paul and Michelle have two amazing children and one spoiled dog.
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