Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald

Book: Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald Read Free Book Online
Authors: Abby McDonald
asked, following Brandon through the crowd. It looked like she was wrong about his beach-bum look: the guys here all wore designer polo shirts, or skinny denim, or were bare-chested over board shorts.
    “Not exactly,” he replied. Hallie barely had time to wonder what that meant before Brandon stopped by a group in the corner. It was the prime spot, Hallie quickly noticed: loungers and canopies, with a full view of the rest of the party. Two shirtless guys with artfully mussed hair were trying to rouse a trio of girls clicking at their cell phones with matching distracted expressions.
    “Hey.” Brandon approached, low-key. There was a beat, then one of the guys laughed.
    “Brandon Mitchell, what the hell?” He enveloped Brandon in a backslapping hug. “We haven’t seen you in forever! Thought you’d run off to Mexico, or, like, rehab or something.”
    “Nope. Still here.” Brandon had his hands bunched in the front pockets of his pants. He turned to Hallie. “This is Hallie, she and her sister just moved to town. They’re Auggie Jennings’s nieces, or cousins . . . ?”
    “Something like that.” Hallie switched on her brightest smile. “Hey!”
    “Hellooo . . .” one of the guys drawled, waggling his eyebrows lasciviously. The girls looked up from their phones, and Hallie realized suddenly that they were the ones from the boutique in town. The dark-haired girl beside him smacked his stomach.
    “Ignore him. Welcome to L.A.” She flashed a warm smile. She was wearing bright-pink lipstick, and a high-fashion swimsuit constructed from so many straps and cutouts and metallic rings that Hallie wondered how exactly it was held up at all.
    “I’m Ana Lucia,” she introduced herself, moving close enough to give Hallie a faint air-kiss on each cheek. “And that’s Tai, Carter, Brie, and Meredith.” She nodded to each person in turn.
    Hallie smiled back. “It’s great to meet you all.”
    Carter turned to Brandon. “We were just heading out for a game.” He jerked his head toward the beach. “You in?”
    Brandon looked toward Hallie, almost as if he were asking permission. “Go ahead,” she said quickly. “Please, I’m good here.”
    “We’ll take care of her.” Ana Lucia laughed. “Come, sit.” She patted the lounger beside her.
    “See?” Hallie took a seat. Brandon still looked reluctant, so she shooed him away. “I don’t need babysitting. Have fun!”
    He nodded, still looking reluctant. “I guess I’ll see you later.”
    The guys hustled off, Carter and Tai charging down the staircase with Brandon following slowly behind. Hallie settled back, feeling relieved she’d had such a warm welcome so far. The shiny TV shows had lied: nobody was throwing her into the pool and telling her, “Welcome to Malibu, bitch.”
    “So, tell us about you.” Ana Lucia turned to Hallie with an inquisitive smile. She pushed a handful of hair back from her face; it slowly slithered over one shoulder in a move Hallie made a mental note to practice herself. “Where did you move from?”
    “San Francisco,” Hallie replied, making herself comfortable. “We’re living with my mom’s cousin, Auggie Jennings, over in Beverly Hills.”
    “He’s a producer, right?” Ana Lucia paused, brow furrowed.
    “Yup. He makes movies.”
    “TV movies,” the blonde called Brie corrected. She had a face that was all narrow angles, and she was wearing one of the designer dresses from Hallie’s red-carpet fantasy list — damp and crumpled over her bikini like it was a cheap cover-up.
    “Oh.” Ana Lucia’s nose wrinkled, just a bit. “And your parents, what do they do?”
    “My mom’s an artist,” Hallie answered carefully. “And, my dad is a stockbroker. Was,” she added dramatically. “He just died.”
    “Oh, my God, I’m so sorry.” Ana Lucia gasped. There was a chorus of agreement from the other girls.
    “That’s awful.”
    “You must be wrecked,” Meredith added, eyes wide with

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