An excerpt from “It’s In His Kiss”… in which our heroine arrives in Palm Springs.
by Vickie Lester
While her father ran a media conglomerate, Uncle Manny (once a medical student whose aspirations shifted in the gore on the beaches of Normandy) drafted up skyscrapers, Spanish galleons, space ships, and transformed them all into movie sets. As a child, Anne was under the impression that her uncle made the magic happen and her father merely bossed people around. Now nearly ninety, he had left the film industry far behind and filled his time with Viking Cruises and flight attendants.
Anne looked out the window and into a bank of clouds. Her reasons for a winter return to California were many: her beloved uncle’s birthday, the task of retrieving his car keys (last she’d heard from her half-sister he’d taken out a rank of newspaper kiosks somewhere near his favorite deli on Sunset), and sorting out an option renewal on a novel she had written. Her first novel, a novel that had been remaindered at bookstores years ago but for some reason, after the project had languished for nearly a decade in turn-around and the rights were about to lapse her agent had received a call. In the first flush of publication, at the age of twenty-six, she figured the option had been an indirect gift due to her father’s enduring influence. He had retired at seventy. One year out people still owed him. The money from the studio was triple what she eventually made from her book sales. Now the studio was offering to renew and it put her in a quandary. Her dad was old. His sway was a thing of the past.
Anne, as a writer, had never been very well known. She wrote the kind of literature that was discussed and debated hotly by graduate students at the University of Iowa and UC Irvine; she was, in a word, obscure. Or, as her mother liked to put it, setting a sweaty glass of gin and tonic down squarely on Anne’s second literary effort, “Honey, they pay you for this?” The answer was always, just barely.
Anne continually assured Jill Shayes she hadn’t given up her day job as an instructor at City College and her mother would peer at her, trying to discern the flash of her runway model genes in her mystifyingly cerebral offspring, then she would shrug and wander into the recesses of her Upper East Side apartment, clinking ice cubes as she went.
Anne was somewhat small and bespectacled. She was pretty in a subtle, stealthy way and, one had to be paying proper attention to notice. Her gamine appearance tended to put people subconsciously at ease. She wasn’t in any way challenging, she listened, she kept confidences, people told her the most extraordinary things and she would file their secrets away. “Still waters,” her Uncle Manny would say. Later, she would twist the secrets into unrecognizable forms and it came out as “spare, lapidary prose, highlighting the hypocrisy, pain and political unease of the 21st century,” that’s right—her very low paying area of expertise was fiction—and she was about to reenter Papa’s bailiwick, Hollywood. Or, as her half-sister Natalie was fond of saying, “Nepotism central.”
Whatever, or whoever, was the cause of her sudden twist of fortune Anne wasn’t disembarking in Los Angeles. The travel itinerary from the studio specified her arrival in Palm Springs. Having flown in from slushy, dingy, frigid New York City in the middle of February she walked outside the terminal. She felt her shoulders drop and her neck loosen. It was warm. It smelled good—just like the cosmetic counter at Barneys. She looked up, a clear unobstructed shot of the sky, which was an uncanny shade of blue. Magenta flowers spilled over white stucco walls…
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© Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (text) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.