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First pages

one

The Morning

Rick

The dream of Bella haunted him again. A slow motion version of everyday routine tasks performed by her, watching her moving through the living room, making an Italian salad, driving the car, fastening distracted hair, feeding one of the babies…Then morphing into the Paris visit, usually the most antagonizing dream sequence, so real, so close, the sound, the smells, the light spring breeze, Bella’s laugh. Then the kiss, Rick holding her in her white summer dress, the world under them, high up on the Eiffel Tower. A lifetime together in front of them, a year before Aga had been born…

 

The alarm killed his sleep and the dream. And like the dreams that would not stop marring his mind every other night, the alarm did not stop until Rick rolled out of bed and reached over to the nightstand to hit the off-button. 5:30. The house was silent again; outside the dark gave way to grey on this March morning. Rick both hated and longed for the dream. Bella was so real and lively in them, like she had been in real life. But Rick’s heart tore in half each time he had it, reliving all those wonderful moments once more, or scenes, or only single glimpses like rapid-fire sequences. All showing a past that no longer was and would never come again. Bella was dead and that made him sad and angry at the same time, each time.

 

Rick had about half an hour to himself before all hell would break loose. During shaving he had the luxury of enjoying the task at hand, concentrating on routine gestures, avoiding killing himself accidentally. His angular straight face with a sailor’s weathered skin reappeared from underneath the foam, his brown hair still unkempt, pointing in all directions. Time for a haircut, Mr. Flint! As he washed off the rest of the soap, his blue eyes usually stopped at his face’s reflection in the mirror. Forty-four years looked back at him. “Ready to go another day-distance?” he asked loudly. As usual, the mirror image refused to answer.

 

At a quarter to six he entered the kitchen, heated water, defrosted bread, and set cereals, milk, jam and cheese on the table. Retrieved the paper from the front porch—a relic as the Flint household had three iPads and three laptops at its disposal. But Rick was old-school and enjoyed browsing the paper. It was made of wood after all, and wood was his profession. While he prepared the various lunches for the kids, he scanned the headlines from the section’s and took sips from his black coffee.

Six o’clock came and went, and after a few minutes of grace, Rick made the rounds on the first floor, knocking on doors. “Aga, time to get up. Charlie, time. Britta, time.” Only little Dana had until six forty-five, but usually the noises of her siblings woke her up earlier, anyway.

 

Charles came down first, as the only boy he had the privilege to start the day in his Dad’s bathroom. The bath-cave, as he had named it.

“Dad, do you know we never landed on the moon? It was all…” Charlie said, holding up his ubiquitous book as he sat down at the breakfast counter. He was a thin kid, ten years old, with a whitish complexion as he preferred reading over physical activities, even though he had indicated interest in picking up fencing recently. Fencing?

“…staged in a film studio to show the Russian’s a long nose,” Rick completed.

“Exactly! How do you know?”

“I am your father and I have more than thirty years on you.

“Think it’s true?”

“See this smooth pan that holds your breakfast pancake? That is NASA technology, a side product of the space program. So when this is true and tangible, the rest must be too, don’t you think?”

Charles brows furrowed and he massaged his nose, thinking. “That does not prove anything, Dad. The astronauts did not eat pancakes. They only had spinach paste from a toothpaste tube. So there is no causal relationship between a new pan and the fake moon landing.”

“What I mean is, when they were able to invent such a great thing as Teflon, why do you think they stopped trying for the moon and filmed the landing in a studio? Satellites are circling the earth; if you need proof, look at Google Earth.”

That shut up Charles as he processed the new information.

Britta slouched into the kitchen, mumbling, “Cereals, lactose-free milk, banana.” Her wild, black, curly hair was a mess, not yet tamed; that would come after the first calories of the day. “And don’t magic-word me, Dad.” Britta had recently turned thirteen and was… well, thirteen!

“I didn’t say anything, I gave up on that, remember?” Rick pointed out and pushed over the requested ingredients. “As long as you eat healthy stuff, I am okay with a little less magic.”

“Dad, your compulsory behavior is written all over your face,” Charles said over his book.

“Nothing wrong with being civil and nice to each other, even if we see each other every day,” Rick tried to argue but knew he was on losing ground with both of his kids.

“Britta is in a phase called puberty,” Charles said with a serious face, not looking over at his older sister, talking into his book. “That is accompanied with erratic behavior, often aggressive, usually passive aggressive, mostly directed against the parents. Apart from many physical attributes changes that may include…”

“No details necessary; been there, done that,” Rick assured his wise-ass son and tried to shut him up with another pancake. He turned to Britta. “Afternoon soccer practice; don’t forget your shoes and protectors like last week. I have clients coming in the afternoon so I can’t do emergency services.” He placed the ordered cereals in front of Britta and finished the lunches.

“La di da, Dad,” Britta mumbled and almost put her chin into the bowl.

“Bri, aren’t you at your best today?” a new voice said. Agnes, turning eighteen later in the summer, the oldest kid, entered the kitchen, and, as usual, Rick’s heart skipped a beat. Agnes was a dead ringer for her late mother from when Rick had first met Bella. She wore her dark straight black hair bound back into a pony tail and wore jeans and a fashionable shirt. Fourteen when her mother had died, she had grown up fast, and to everyone’s amazement had become the ultimate authority figure for her siblings. With their father, there was always bickering or words against whatever proposal was under discussion. But when Agnes cut the issue short; that was that.

And as usual, Rick thought, I am so sorry that you didn’t finish your childhood. May you look kindly on me when you find out what you missed. But you are the strongest of us all.

He was brought back to reality when Charles spilled his milk because he preferred reading over table navigation. Everyone instinctively glanced over at the twenty-four-hour countdown clock on the kitchen wall that showed the remaining time until the school bus was scheduled to appear at 7:25. Spilled milk meant clean-up, which meant lost time, because all three kids were aware that their dad was not the best organizer of a daily morning routine. Agnes saved the schedule. “I’ll get it, Dad. Go grab Dieter.” Dieter had been Charlie’s nick-name for his little sister since right after she was born. Because he wanted to have a little brother so badly, he thought that renaming her was actually his way of bending reality. Reality stuck around, but the name did, too.

Rick gave her a thankful look and went upstairs.

 

Five minutes, later the Flint family was at full force at breakfast. Dana, by three years the youngest daughter, sat on her chair on her knees to boost herself up to her siblings’ height. She came after Charles, with a wise serious-looking round face with curly long blonde hair hanging left and right, genes somehow coming through from Rick’s mother.

“Aga, tell a joke!” Dana demanded while she shoveled cereal with banana pieces into her little mouth.

“You must be joking, Dieter,” was Agnes standard reply.

“The joke is on you, Aga!” came the equally expected return.

“No doubt,” mumbled Britta, and Charles crossed his arms in front of him. He was unable to tell jokes as he always dissected them in his mind to the point where there was no fun left.

“Knock, knock,” Agnes said with a serious face. Her little sister understood the concept of knock-knock jokes.

Dana already giggled, mouth full. “Who’s there?”

“Europe.”

“Europe who?” Dana asked dutifully.

“No, you’re a poo!”

Hilarious laughter from Dana who repeated over and over, “You’re a poo! A poo!”, a snort from Britta, infectious laughter from Agnes, and a groan from Rick ensued.

That’s collateral damage to be mitigated later.

Charles frowned. “But Europe is a continent. Why is it poo? Don’t you like Europe?”

Which caused another round of chiming laughter from Dana.

“Charles, don’t worry, you will get it later when you grow a little older,” Agnes smiled and tussled his hair.

The countdown clock hit T-minus-fifteen, and Rick clapped his hands. “Move, move, move, aliens, bears, chickens and dogs. Brush your teeth!”

Britta, Charles and Agnes got up, put their bowls and dishes into the dishwasher, and distributed evenly to the available bathrooms.

“Hurry up, Dieter,” Rick coached Dana to eat faster, “I’ll pack my stuff and be back in a minute.”

 

The clock was down to two minutes. Agnes, Britta and Charles were downstairs again, checking their school bags.

“Launch checklist: Money?”

“Yes, Dad! We are good.”

“Mobile?”

“Dad, we are not kids anymore!” Britta complained.

Charlie corrected his sister. “Actually, I still qualify as a full kid in all criteria. I am ten years old, junior high…”

“Britta, mobile charged up?”

That shut his daughter up, because it wasn’t.

Rick hurried back into the kitchen. “Take the battery bank, should give you at least forty percent charging…”

“Have you given me the signature for the field trip?” Charles inquired.

“You dare to ask me this with forty-five seconds left on the clock?”

“I asked you yesterday, Dad! And it is less than ten seconds to sign.”

“Without reading?”

“Dad, don’t be difficult. I am the genius of the family; I don’t need to cheat you,” Charlie said with confidence. “And if I did, I’d put all of my 145 IQ points behind it, so that you wouldn’t even notice.”

“Where?”

“On your desk.”

Rick ran across the hall through the kitchen into the den where his home office was located and almost fell over Dana, who came around the corner with some of her puppets in hand.

“Dad, don’t run!” she admonished her dad.

“This is an emergency, and there is no one to punish me,” Rick replied. “Found it!” He scribbled his signature on the form and ran back into the hall. Charlie had opened his bag for the last-second transfer; Britta and Agnes were already out of the door, flagging down the school bus.

Run, Forrest, run!” Rick exclaimed and pushed Charles out the door.

“Love you, Dad,” Charlie said.

“Same here, don’t forget to tell your sisters, too,” Rick shouted after him. A clear way to embarrass them in front of their friends. Little victories!

 

7:25. The countdown clock hit 00:00:00, gave a buzzer sound that was imitated flawlessly by Dana and restarted at 23:59:59.

 

Rick looked at Dana and they did a routine high five because they had time for themselves now. They left the house shortly afterwards. Rick’s old family van gave its low soothing rumble and they rolled out the drive-way towards the daycare, Dana securely strapped in the back seat.

Louise

The 5:30 alarm killed Louise’s sleep and the dream of a hot and smelly bed in a doublewide trailer park home. Her first thought was, waking up from a dream can indeed be a mercy! You should never go back. Here she was, the highest paid movie star of her time, and she still felt inadequate and insecure about her roots and her upbringing in violence and poverty. The security display beside the bed lit up with a quiet pinging noise, showing her the lobby video feed of her personal assistant Emile entering the house through the front door, the perfunctory Starbucks container in one hand and his leather briefcase in the other, closing the door with his foot.

She gave her body a last stretch and got out of bed. She took off her night t-shirt she had slept in, stepped naked in front of a full length mirror and gave her body a once over. Not out of vanity but out of necessity. Her face and body were more than fifty percent of her capital. Independent of her acting skills and her voice, it was her face and her body that determined the monetary value of her next role and the screen impact. Thirty-six years and slowly showing, Lou-Baby, she criticized her mirror-self, and as always, the mirror did not correct her impression. Her blonde hair hung straight and framed a face that an early critic had once labelled “an instant classic, to be put beside Marilyn, Audrey, and Julia”. Her brown eyes held a mysterious sparkle that as early as in her early childhood had evoked spontaneous reactions from passer-by and school-friends. The merest hint of the first wrinkles beside her eyes that the owner commented with, the shape of things to come; I should laugh less. The rest of the body could pass as ten years younger; that’s what a lot of investment into fitness and nutrition regiments could buy. A quick turn to inspect ass, legs, and back—all good. One step closer to the mirror, checking the facial skin for anything developing overnight. Any deviation from the norm meant more time in dressing; time and continuity during shots were of essence, and the leading actress with a big pimple on her nose was not a show stopper but rather a costly round with the digital folks to make her nose appear as advertised.

She put on a robe and went downstairs.

 

A quick wave to Floris, her Dutch bodyguard, who had already finished breakfast, out of the way, in the formal dining room. He was a huge man and looked like the Dutch actor Rudger Hauer at his prime with an additional hundred-pound muscle mass with thin blonde hair and rosy skin that did not do well under the LA sun. An early riser, Floris had already had finished his fitness regime and had made a house and garden round to check for signs of intrusion or attempts thereof. He didn’t talk much and tried to stay out of the way whenever possible. He insisted on calling Louise Madam; she had given up trying to change him. The big kitchen, originally equipped for big-event catering, held both a breakfast counter and a large, white family dining table. Emile and Louise exchanged a set of French air kisses, and Louise helped herself to her Starbucks morning shot. She had stopped eating meat a while ago, abstained from any alcohol, which was necessary after her mid-twenties wild-superstardom years, and managed to hold off coffee over the day. The only exception was the early morning latte with fat-free milk and a second shot. She couldn’t even remember when the last time was she had not one.

“You look fa-bu-lous, Lou,” Emile greeted her. “A million dollars.”

“Don’t paint the devil on the wall; that would be a step back to TV serials or straight-to-video films,” Louise replied.

Emile was maybe her tenth PA and had so far had the longest stamina of all, a straight four years in a row. A gay, Indonesian immigrant, he had tried his luck as an actor himself in Hollywood in his early twenties but had found out the hard way that there are not many roles for ethnic minorities and that the competition was even harder than for the Caucasian ones. At twenty-eight he was in a lot of relationship and boyfriend troubles, but was fiercely loyal to his protégée. Louise was his life. He efficiently unpacked a little binder and sat opposite Louise, who was eating some fresh fruit and sipping her hot coffee.

“The morning edition, my dear.” He pushed over some shooting script pages.

“Any changes?” Louise was a perfectionist when it came to her lines.

“I fear so; from what I could see, they added a two lines in the fast-paced middle section.”

“Then let’s have a look at it first and then you can run me through it.”

Louise memorized the new lines, and the next twenty minutes were spent rehearsing the complete daily shoot schedule, Emile reading all other parts with full concentration, as Louise hated only one more thing more than stumbling over her own lines: others screwing up their lines.

 

At six sharp, the bell rang, and Floris glided towards the lobby like a tiger on the prowl to watch the maid open the door. In breezed a power plant on two legs.

“Stop everything and follow me!” the power plant commanded.

“Yes, sir, madam!” Louise said and got up, attempting to finish her breakfast.

“If you put this piece of calories into your mouth, I’ll give you fifty squats on top!” Simona threatened. She had been Louise’s fitness trainer for the last ten years, a compact Italian athlete with a black ponytail and limitless energy. Simona trained the rich and famous, and Louisa was her steady six a.m. slot. Louise even paid the two hundred dollars when she was away on location or on a promotion tour in order to keep the slot blocked for her forever.

“Then I do what you say,” Louise said, put the piece of melon back, and slid off her chair. Turning to Emile, “We’ll go over the lines in the car once more; the timing is not right yet.”

 

An hour later the hot and cold shower took away most of the muscle pain that Simona had been able to induce with her exercises. They had done a twenty-minutes run on the belt and thirty minutes of crossover exercises, including everything from plain pushups to mock-martial arts drop kicks. The last ten minutes were dedicated to stretching. Simona knew exactly what she could put on the bodies of her clients, and as the fitness and ambition of her clients increased, she was able to adapt to it quickly. Louise came out of the shower, drying her hair. The make-up and hair artists would do the daily routine later, so she towel-dried it and gave it a few brushes to be presentable for the early morning paparazzi. With a towel around her body, she went into the bedroom, where Emile was already waiting with the wardrobe of the day.

“What do we have on the agenda?” she asked, eyeing Emile’s and her personal stylist’s suggestions. Days blurred when she was shooting, and she never could remember the stuff that was planned afterwards.

“For studio day we give you something practical and work-woman wise. The new boot cut Armani jeans, with some gorgeous ankle boots and this wonderful Ralf Lauren sweater. It’s very loosely knit and under the right light will show of your body nicely. We add this sexy bra so that people get a hint of you.”

“Add a light cashmere jacket against the air conditioning, please. You can carry it when we are in public,” Louise said.

“How very sensible of the greatest actress of her time,” Emile said without a hint of irony. “And stylish, too. We’ll take the little light blue thing you got from Donna. Next item: Actors Guild Women’s Association. The poor babies build their event around your shooting schedule, so excited to have you. Red carpet at 18:00, the red dress here, an Alexander Queen legacy piece.”

“Alex Queen has been dead for years,” Louise pointed out.

“Whatever! Dinner starts at 18:45 sharp; your dinner speech is after the first course at 19:00.”

“What do I say about whom?”

Spirited performances of spirited women in film. The honoree is your special friend and talented actress, two time Oscar winner Madge Hardy.”

“Not again!” Louise groaned. Madge Hardy was probably the fiercest competitor for the roles that Louise was usually penned for. Each of them had two Oscar’s under her belt, and they had featured twice in movies together when Madge was an up-and-coming actress and Louise already the established star. Those times were definitely over; both held their own female lead franchises in the romantic comedy and high profile action genres. Calling them competitors was a polite way of saying they hated each other’s guts.

“Yes, again, my dear. Accept it—she’s slowly and surely creeping into your spot.”

Louise had started putting on the work-clothes set to Emile’s critical eye.

“Dessert spoon down is 20:15. We then switch to this nice little black thing here by your great friend Stella, to give your legs room to move on the dance floor.

“I don’t dance!”

“I know, you know, but no one else knows. It’s a dance club location, so the blogosphere and paparazzi expect a dance outfit. Purely preemptive. Red carpet at 21:00, wheels up at 22:00, back at the ranch at 22:30.”

Louise held up the black dress in front of her and gave herself a critical eye in front of the mirror. “Should fit. And looks comfortable. Doesn’t seem to press my boobs too much.”

“Next time I tell them to make it one size smaller,” Emile noted in his iPad.

“You want to kill me?”

“Sex sells, Louise.”

Emile wrapped up the rest of the wardrobe, and Louise went back into the bathroom to put on perfunctory make up.

The studio’s limo service picked Louise up at 7:30 sharp, Floris rode behind in the black Tahoe, and Louise had a second breakfast of a bottle of spring water and an apple. Once more, Emile ran her through all planned lines for the day.

The limo reached the studios after half an hour’s drive. Louise turned to Emile again. “Regarding tonight’s speech for Madge. What spirited performances will I be comparing little Madge to?”

“You know, the usual.” Emile’s eyes flew over his iPad screen. “Bette Davis in All about Eve, Susan Sarandon in Thelma and Louise, Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich... All the nice things.”

Louise waved her hand. “I think it is time that we take the gloves off. Madge is out to get me. She already reached my per-movie guarantee while my last deals were already twenty percent down. Let’s face it, she’s not out to get me—she is already alongside me.”

“Don’t put your position under the wrong light, my dear,” Emile said. “But if you want to discuss the speech, you need to talk to Izzy. One of his staffers wrote it; Arielle, I think.”

“I will,” Louise said making a mental note to talk to her agent later during a break.

The car stopped in front of the studio in which the interior shots for “Sell! Sell! Sell!” were done. It was 8:05; Louise’s workday began.

two

The Job

Rick

“You won’t believe what I am about to tell you,” Hal said first thing to Rick.

“I do,” Rick said and threw his jacket over his chair, sorting some invoice papers and drawings that were covering his desk in numerous layers but in neat little orderly stacks. Their office was built as a gallery overlooking the big wood shop downstairs. One look gave him an idea what was going on. And what wasn’t.

“You know? How? You just arrived,” Hal was taken aback. They had been friends since being college roommates and when they had decided to try something that both of them liked, they formed a wooden ship building company. That had been fifteen years ago, and their friendship and company had endured. Hal was a former university football jock, wide shoulders and all, and had been unattached for years, living in the former house of his parents in Oxnard.

“I said I do. I do believe you, whatever you say,” Rick looked at his business partner. “And why isn’t Styler working on the skiff? We are already a week overdue.”

“No, you won’t believe this one,” Hal insisted. “Guess who called me.”

“John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain?” Rick did his friend the favor. “The Pope? Chuck Norris?”

“Close baby, not Chuck Norris, but close.”

“A movie lead?”

“Yup. I got a call from a lady called Zuzu. She’s working for…” Hal raised his hands expectantly.

“Got me there,” Rick let Hal ride it out at his speed.

“…. working for no other than Josh Hancock! The action star of our youth, burned out in his thirties and back into the big game as seasoned action hero and leading ladies’ man.”

Rick eyed his friend. “That is indeed an impressive claim.”

“What’s to claim? I’m not claim anything,” Hal said, confused.

“No, an impressive claim from a voice on the phone.”

That shut Hal up for a moment. “You mean some sort of prank call? Like analogue spam?”

Rick shrugged and pointed into the wood shop. “Styler? The skiff?”

“Don’t change subjects. Do you really think this is a joke? She sounded professional, not trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I didn’t have to give a credit card or social security number. And she politely made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.”

“Something about a boat,” Rick stated, filled his coffee mug, and started to take the stairs down to the wood shop to talk to Styler himself.

“Do you...?” Hal started to ask and then saw the lack of sense in his question. Of course, they were a shipyard, so it was always about a boat.

Flint and Heller Fine Wooden Boats, as it read on the big sign spanning the street entrance, was a small exclusive outfit that built and repaired wooden boats. Sail boats and motor boats plus the occasional old-style rowing skiff. The US center of the wooden boat universe was clearly the East Coast with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but Flint and Heller had some sort of unique spot on the West Coast, placed in the Oxnard Harbor, north-west of LA, in Ventura County. One big workshop with machinery and enough room to work on anything under forty feet, a yard for storing anything bigger, and a slip and crane to place the beauties into the water was all it took.

Rick roamed the wood shop, shook hands with the two full-time builders, Martin and Morris, called M&M, two rugged grey haired men in their late fifties who took pride in shaping a boat out of logs, beams, and panels. Where Martin was wiry and small, Morris towered over everyone like a grandfather clock on steroids. Besides Hal, who took care of materials, interiors, mechanics, and rigging, the only other employee was Styler, a do-nothing surfer bum with long, white-blonde hair and an athletic early-twenties body, who had a whole different set of work ethics. He had shown up one day unannounced, on a day when a helping hand was needed. He became a minimum wage fixture, not seeming to care, doing good work when he set his mind to it, which was unfortunately not all the time. Hal didn’t care, but Rick spent a considerable amount of time at the end of each week to adjust Styler’s hours to the real amount of work done.

A small sloop was ready for inspection, a maintenance job where they had replaced rotten wood and had updated the rigging. The owner was due to come later that day. It was a beautiful, classic 30-foot boat made of Honduras Mahogany, whose owner had abstained up to this date to equip it with a diesel.

Hal had followed Rick. “I made sure the interior is clean and all. Outside, Styler...”

“...or you...”

“...can give it a final polish.”

“Mr. Keeler comes at two, should be time enough. He will want to take the beauty for a ride, so we should have her ready for inspection and hand-over right after lunch.”

“I can do the honors and accompany him. Fetch a few Coronas on ice to appease him.”

“That would be great; I have Dieter pick-up duty at five.”

Both friends then checked the status of another order, a half ready sixteen-foot skiff in a state of restoration after years of neglect. And another twenty-foot motor boat new design job that currently only showed keel and frames like a bony rib-cage. The outside yard that showed through the big double wing doors was bathed in sunshine. It was pointedly empty, except for some spare wood under a protective shed.

“Does not look good,” Rick said. “We are two orders short to make a real profit this month.”

“Maybe the movie star thing will pan out,” Hal hoped.

“If it does not, we still need to let go of Styler. That’s three-hundred bucks a week we do not have.”

“Maybe the movie star thing will pan out really well,” Hal insisted. Both men clanked their coffee mugs for a silent “Amen.”

Louise

Dressing, makeup, and hair took ninety minutes while the director fawned over his star, giving Louise last minute instructions on the new scene. Another half hour of waiting, continuity check, and hair-and-make-up refresh. The scene took place on the set of a big Wall Street firm, so her dress was appropriately a mid-length skirt and jacket and medium-high heels. Louise sat down on her designated chair close to the soundstage and waited for the crew to finish the setup. Emile roamed in the background but left his boss alone, she preferred to concentrate before work.

“Hey Honey, you look splendid as always,” Josh Hancock, the leading man of the movie, said and sat down beside her, also already in full make-up and wardrobe, in his case a dark blue pinstripe three-piece suit and tasteful tie.

“The continuity check made sure of that,” Louise replied. They had a friendship as far as friendships went in this industry where everyone was out to cut each other’s throat.

“Don’t delegate your beauty,” Josh laughed. He was in his late-forties and had shaved his head for the role, giving him a dynamic and sexy look that, for a Wall Street comedy, added to his disarming shy smile that he could produce on demand.

“You can laugh, Josh; your age is your asset whereas my age becomes a liability.” Where the leading men were able to give it a second shot in action roles, actresses were already relegated either to TV roles or senior supporting roles, the wise mom, the tough lawyer, the mentoring teacher.

“That sounds like discrimination to me,” Josh mused and took a sip through a straw.

The director came over. “How are you today, my friends?” Roger Brauer was a German film wunderkind with four Oscars and four billion in revenues under his belt, and he was still below thirty. Many saw in him the next Spielberg. He specialized in intelligent screwball comedies that went so over the top that people were helplessly trapped in awe and laughter. He was large and thin, with a stoop, and extremely agile eyes that missed nothing.

“Fine, Rog,” Louise said. “Saw you had some changes for today.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Alex Ames always dreamed but never dared to become a famous jewel thief or computer hacker or super spy. After some considerations, the only morally feasible option was to become a writer. Alex is the author of the “Brilliant – Calendar Moonstone” cat burglar adventures and the “Troubleshooter” corporate suspense thrillers. Find his books electronically at most eBook-sellers and in print exclusively on Amazo.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
During our last summer vacations my wife complained about her modern romance novel she was reading. Ever the writer I had a look at it and claimed, "I could write better than that!" She gave me a long hard look which led into a three-story brainstorm the very same evening. The result you see here.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
Dad Rick Flint is definitely a Nathan Fillion role. Watch some of the early "Castle" episodes where he interacts with his teenage daughter and you see Rick in action. Julia Roberts or Audrey Hepburn as the Actress Louise inspiration are a timeless bet; a current casting could be Emily Blount.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
It's the first book in the genre for me, as until now I wrote mystery/suspense novels. The nice part of Romantic Comedy is that the dialogue must be much more punchy and witty. And I immensly enjoyed writing one-liners for the imaginary Jimmy Fallon monologues that comment Louise's daily escapades.

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