The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Love You Madly

And so the Season of Love begins! Fourteen days until the romance author's holy day!! Sacrilegious, I know. Aside from that, I begin the day to day treat with a director and her leading man. Switch! I'm taking notes on which story connects the most, to see which ones I can extend into a full story. This time last year, Coming Around Again was just a blog post. At the end of the Season, I'll be packaging all fourteen stories for a free download on Weyward Thoughts. Without further ado, here's the first of fourteen...

Camera's Gaze © Billy London

The pressure of smiling and posing for the cameras was really starting to irritate Salina. As the lone female director nominated for an award, the attention she garnered for merely appearing was nothing compared to the attention she commanded posing with one of her most high profile male stars – the very single and very eligible Cael Murphy. Not that anyone knew he was no longer very single or very eligible because of her.
Salina's script for Home from Home had done the rounds in production companies. Rejected for being to “ethnic” despite the story following two, parallel stories; a family of African immigrants arriving in early 2000s Ireland and a family of Irish immigrants arriving in the States in the early 1800s. The similarities of the stories were to unify rather than divide, but it didn’t catch anyone’s interest until Cael’s agent shipped it his way. Then suddenly with his questioning why the film wasn't already financed, companies were falling over themselves to throw money at her. Dicks. 
Cael spoke openly about members of his own family who were very Irish and very Ugandan and decried the reluctance of production companies to fund the film. He talked endlessly about Salina’s creative talents behind the camera and her persuasion with actors. Magazines swooned at how gentlemanly he sounded towards Salina. Quote after quote praising Salina’s grace, her persistence to have the story told, and her generosity as a director that pulled from him and each actor cast, as what seemed to be repetitively stated as “the greatest performance of his/her career.”
“Mr, Murphy!” a reporter called from the throng of cheering film fans. “You’re here with your beautiful director, a few words?”
With his arm around Salina’s waist, he tugged her in front of the camera for Channel 2 Entertainment News. “Of course,” he offered in his smooth, heartbreaking Irish accent. “She scrubs up well doesn’t she?”
Salina sent him a look of death. “I am fully willing to hurt you. Even with witnesses present.”
“Is that how you brought such a moving performance from Mr. Murphy?” the reporter asked, a sly look on her overly made face.
Cael lifted his eyebrows, mouth twitching with mischief. “She used whatever she had in her arsenal to make me Donnall McArthur. I lived and breathed that man. Just like my superior Mr. Tejan Dembele played the beejesus out of Dr. Mahama. If he doesn’t win tonight, there’s something terribly wrong in the world.”
Tejan wrapped his arms around both Salina and Cael. “Good evening, all! Are they talking about how I should win tonight?”
“Naturally.” Salina said with a slight sneer. That man’s ego was something else.  
He pointed over Salina’s head. “Best director I’ve ever worked with. And I’ve been doing this for about fifteen years.”
“And what do you think about the rumours?” The reporter swung her microphone between Salina and Cael.
Tejan blew a raspberry. “You can’t have a female working with a bunch of men and not have her be accused of shagging all of them in some massive orgy.”
“And we’re before the watershed,” the reporter said, flustered.
“Fuck it. Edit it. See you in there!” Tejan released them, only to collect the youngest star, who played his daughter on screen, Melissa Fayre, in a huge embrace and give her a piggy back into the theatre. Cael ushered Salina inside.
“You know there are polls running? Between me and Tejan? Which one deserves you more?”
“He’s married!” Salina protested.
Cael leaned in a little closer. “So are you. Almost…”
She hadn’t even told her family yet. Yesterday happened to be their first anniversary. She’d been so busy it didn’t occur to her that the first time the dirty man put his man meat anywhere near her was on Valentine’s Day one year ago, yesterday. Cael’s persuasion was just as if not more powerful than her own. The sly bastard.
The minute he’d called her and told her she had to get the script filmed as a matter of urgency, she’d been besotted. Flattery worked for anyone, especially a writer. When he told her that his own family had experienced hardships as migrants, she really didn’t want to like him. She wanted to keep her professional distance from a man who for all intents and purposes, faked his entire life for show. 
Until one day, he stayed on set to watch a scene between Tejan and Melissa, where father and daughter talk about acceptance. Cael had tears in his eyes, almost distracting her from capturing the delicately and beautifully played part. As soon as her assistant called cut, Cael beckoned to her and whispered, “You know you’re going to get nominated, right? That is every single migrant’s life. In that few minutes.”
“Just take that, whatever that is, on set in the next two hours and you’ll join me.”
At the end of a gruelling day, she knocked on his trailer to check on him, as she did with all her actors. The script demanded nothing less than tears and passion and rage from each of them. She couldn’t help be concerned she’d pushed him too far. Cael caught her by the wrist and pulled her inside. He closed the door, sandwiching her body between the wood and his own torso.
“Yo, this isn’t part of your salary,” she protested, placing her hands on his pecs, trying to ignore how hard they felt beneath her palms.
“I feel like shit, you need to make me feel better.” Without taking his eyes from her own, he bent ever so slightly, to hook her arms over his shoulders and kiss her. Salina thought about her production costs. She thought about the rushes she needed to watch tonight, and brief editing she should do. Everything she tried to think of to give her the strength to push the brainless idiot away, and perhaps hit him over the head with one of his award statues, faded away with the sweep of his hands on her bare skin. When did she lose her shirt? And her jeans? Did he just throw her two hundred quid boots across his trailer? Before she knew it, she was butt naked on leather seats, one leg on Cael’s shoulder and the other wrapped around his waist.
“No one finds out about this,” she threatened, wagging a finger near his eyeball.
With a blink and mumbling around the foil packet between his teeth, “Eh? Yeah. Of course. Scout’s honour.”
And no one did. Not that time. Not the next time he seduced her in the middle of a night shoot. Definitely not the time he asked for extra notes at his hotel only to follow her to the ladies room and seduce her again. Well, only because he paid the attendant to leave the room. And paid her again when he left. The film wrapped a few weeks later and Salina abandoned the wrap party to enjoy the comfort of her own bed. Only to find Cael in her bed, very naked with a rose between his teeth. She tried to throw him out, yelling, “The film’s finished, I’m not going to edit you out, so do one!”
He removed the rose from his mouth to point it at her accusingly. “Don’t play with my feelings, woman. I actually like you.”
“Can you put your penis away?”
“No. Look at him and the hurt you’re causing him.”
“For god’s sake,” she muttered. “All right, look. These sorts of things have a shelf life. Expires today.”
“Nope. You’re the most sensible person I’ve met in years. I need that. You have no problem telling me if I’m being selfish, or if I’m over doing it, or if something doesn’t sound right from me. So you heard me. I said nope. Now can you take this damn rose?”
She snatched it from his hand and stepped back. “Cheers. And I like you, too.”
Somehow, she continued to tell him when his head grew too big, and she picked other intermediate projects for him while she edited Home from Home. The awards night seemed to be a culmination of everything. The acceptance of her peers of her work and the recognition of Cael’s chameleon-like skills. And while she would have preferred to spend another day in the quiet of her home in London with him, they had to show up for this shit and pretend her queasiness was to do with fear. Rather than paying attention to the pretentious host, she remembered every bit of their anniversary instead. The flowers. The gifts… Goodness, the man knew how to shop. It had been a perfect day. Perfect and private.
Salina sat in shock as Melissa won the award for Up and Coming Star and the little girl waved in Salina’s direction. She barely heard Cael’s name called for Best Supporting Actor, too surprised and stunned to react to him cupping her face and kissing her hard on the lips. In full view of cameras. Everyone’s damn. Camera.
“…thank my ma and my da for moving heaven and earth for me to do my most favourite thing in the world. Second to doing that woman over there.”
Oh Jesus Christ. Everyone in the theatre turned to look at Salina, and then back at a grinning Cael.
“Salina Christie is a force to be reckoned with. To be able to write and direct like she has, is no mean feat. It takes intelligence and care and skill. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and I asked her to marry me.”
Oh good God. She couldn’t close her mouth.
“Winning this tonight is second to her saying yes.”
Oh my fucking god, my mother’s going to kill me.
“So thank you for this award. I only do well with the material I’m given. And I worked with extraordinary material. Oh and if anyone thinks Salina looks a little glowy, it’s not just the ceremony, we’re having a baby. Thank you very much folks, and goodnight!”
Salina pressed her hands to her face so hard, the ring that hid in her cleavage pricked her skin. People clapped raucously, still sending her surprised and envious glances. 
Fuck. she thought, I’m going to have to re-write my acceptance speech.

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