Red Carpet Kiss - Melissa Brown

Don’t look at me like that.” Gina glared at Nolan, her eyes searing into his. Her hair fell in loose waves, tumbling past her tan shoulders.

“Like what?” Nolan crossed his arms in front of his broad chest, smirking at her, blocking the doorway she was determined to cross.

“Like you have me all figured out,” she snapped. “You don’t and you never will.”

Right on cue, Gina pushed against the taut muscles of Nolan’s arm, attempting to leave the room, the tension, the heat. But instead, she walked right into his embrace. Nolan angled himself properly and wrapped one arm around her tiny waist. She gasped, avoiding his prying stare.

“I think I do, baby. And it scares the hell out of you.” His hand pushed into the curve of her lower back, bringing her closer.

Gina’s eyes softened, and her hands wrapped around Nolan’s neck. Nolan’s lips curled into a satisfied smile before making contact with Gina. He turned her slightly to the left, pressing her into the door frame as he kissed her. Hard.

“Annnnd . . . cut!” Rob, the director, hollered from his chair. “Nice work, people. Let’s do it one more time.” He stood and walked to the actors, rubbing the blond scruff on his chin. “This time, Nolan, be a little more forceful when you turn her. We want the audience to feel the urgency.”

“Got it,” Nolan responded, saluting Rob and returning to his spot beneath the open door frame, standing on the tape stuck to the floor. Members of the makeup team appeared at his side to wipe the lipstick from his skin and to freshen Gina’s appearance.

Everything had to be just right.

Elle Riley wouldn’t have it any other way.

Eleanor “Elle” Riley was the creator, head writer, and show runner of Follow the Sun, the most popular television drama to hit the airwaves in over a decade.

She was also a perfectionist—a complete and total perfectionist. Her director knew it, her producers and crew knew it, and the actors were reminded with each take that Elle would not accept anything but the very best performances for her show. Dozens of names were listed in the closing credits, but the show was based on her novels. It was her baby, her pride and joy—it meant everything to her.

In its first season, Follow the Sun had earned three Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Drama Series. When they were cast as the leads, Nolan Rivera and Gina Romano were relative unknowns in Hollywood. But after just a few months on the air, they were plastered across gossip magazines, followed by paparazzi, and raised to celebrity status. Gina embraced her fame—posing for fitness magazines, conducting interviews between takes, and dining at the trendiest restaurants.

Nolan had chosen to be more private, retreating from the attention—he led a quiet life in the Hollywood Hills, only appearing publicly when necessary. Both actors lit up the screen, captivating audiences. Combined with Elle’s writing, Follow the Sun had become the show to beat. And Elle was determined to maintain its spot at the top.

When filming resumed, she pulled her attention away from the actors and thumbed through the script to the next scene to be filmed. Rob returned to his seat next to Elle and leaned his elbow on the wooden arm of his chair. “Thoughts?”

“I’m not sure she’s ready for the next scene.”

They’d been going strong for over ten hours, and Elle was contemplating skipping the scene until the next day. After all, it was a tricky one, and she worried Gina might be too exhausted to nail the emotion required to pull it off.

Rob shook his head and Elle tilted hers, looking at him over her wire-rimmed glasses.

“What?” she asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest as her knee bobbed up and down.

“You’re too hard on her.”

“I disagree.” Her tone was harsh, dismissive.

“She can handle it, Elle. She always does.”

Gina was a good actress. In fact, most of the time, Elle thought she was the perfect match for the character. But there were specific scenes that gave Elle pause. Those were the scenes based on him. Based on the man who had inspired the entire concept for Follow the Sun. The man who had left her heart wounded and exposed.

In the quiet moments, the thoughtful moments, the moments when Elle could tune out the noise of Hollywood, she let her mind drift back to the chapel in Las Vegas. To the man whose heart she had broken, who then stifled hers in retaliation.

Their love