By Trish Hubschman
Janie was going to be a production assistant with the movie people. her friend, Deanna, told her about the opening with the company she worked for.
The movie crew was going on location to a small country near England called Lenise. They’d be away for two months. Janie immediately packed and gave the keys to her apartment to her landlord.
Two days later, the crew boarded a chartered plane and was on their way to Europe. Lenise was beautiful. It wasn’t much of a tourist trap. That was good for Star Movies.
Now it was time to work. Her instructions were to move this prop an inch to the right, so she did that, or move it a bit back to the left, slightly forward or back. By the end of the first week, her arms and back hurt. She was exhausted. Everybody needed a break.
The executive producer had the answer. Everyone gathered around him. “Because you’ve all worked so hard this past week…” he began. “And in gratitude of our hosts for picking Lenise to film our new movie, we’ve all been invited to a small gathering Sunday at Prince Martin’s palace.” There were cheers. “Now, please, present yourselves in the dignity of Star Movies and citizens of the United States of America,” he added.
Deanna sidled up to Janie as they moved away from the producer. “What are you going to wear?” Deanna asked.
Janie was nervous and thrilled. “Oh gee, I have to check my wardrobe to see which outfit I brought would be the most appropriate – jeans, t-shirts, shorts,” she teased.
Deanna giggled. “I guess I have the same problem but we can go shopping tomorrow,” Deanna added. Janie’s eyes widened. Deanna giggled again. “Yes, people buy clothes around here.” “Did you bring your American Express card?”
Janie nodded. “Of course, I did.”
The next day, they went to a boutique. Neither had a clue how much they charged on their credit cards. This was an important event and they had to be at their best.
Four jeeps were sent to pick up the movie crew. Deanna was furious. “I’m dressed in my finest and I have to crawl into that military-looking thing?” she snapped. Janie had to fight to keep from laughing.
“Maybe this is the best they can do,” Janie surmised. “Lenise isn’t a rich country.” She got in to the vehicle. The interior was immaculate. “See, that wasn’t too bad,” Janie said when they reached the palace forty-five minutes later. She got out and smoothed down her skirt. “Barely a wrinkle.”
Deanna giggled. “Let’s join the party,” she said, pointing to a huge gathering of nicely dressed people. Tuxedoed waiters walked around with platters of food and drinks. Colorful umbrella-shaded tables were set up everywhere. There was a live band playing. Janie and Deanna had to restrain themselves from racing over to the gala.
They joined a table with a few other Star crew members. They were drinking ice tea and eating delicious canopies. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Standing not far away and looking at Janie, was a tall, drop-dead gorgeous man. “Who is that?” Deanna asked, nudging Janie.
Janie didn’t know but Carol, a makeup and wardrobe assistant, did. “That’s Prince Gregory, Prince Martin’s middle son. There are three boys and one girl. Camille’s the beautiful woman over there,” Carol said, pointing.
Deanna squinted suspiciously at Carol. “How do you know so much about the royal family?”
Carol smiled. “MY husband, Michael, does business with this country.” No spouses were allowed to come along on Star’s budget but Michael was here on his own company’s tab. “There he is now.” Carol jumped to her feet. “Got to run.”
Deanna rose too. “I think I want to mingle. You coming?” she asked. Janie shook her head. “Miss out on all the fun then,” Deanna teased, moving off.
Janie stared after her. She was lost in thought. “Can I join you?” came a man’s voice. Janie snapped to attention. It was him, Prince Gregory. Without waiting for Janie to respond, he pulled out a chair and sat down. It was just the two of them. “I’m Gregory,” he introduced himself.
She swallowed hard. “I’m Janie, this is a lovely party.” To her own ears, that sounded weak, but what else could she say?
He gave her a winning smile. His blue eyes twinkled. Janie’s heart was jumping wildly. She wanted to kick herself under the table, but didn’t – what if her foot missed and she kicked him? “It’s run of the mill, if you ask me.” He sounded bored about it. “Have you met my parents?” he asked. Janie shook her head. “Come on,” he said, pushing back his chair and rising. “I’ll introduce you. Mom and Dad are great people.” He had her arm and was pulling her up. But wait, she wanted to scream. How was she supposed to handle this? What was she supposed to say? “Mom, Dad,” Gregory said when they stood beside his parents table. “This is Jane Taylor from Star Movies,” He said with a flourish and dignity. Janie nearly looked over her shoulder to see who he was talking about. “Janie, meet my parents’, Martin and Lisa Kingston.”
“It’s very lovely to meet you, Miss Taylor,” his mother said, winking her eye. Janie was confused. Had she missed something here?
“It’s very nice to meet you too and thank you so much for inviting us here today. It’s an honor,” she said.
“Are you going to be joining us for dinner later?” Prince Martin asked Janie. “Or do the two of you have other plans?”
Janie’s eyes bounced up to Gregory.
“Dinner here, of course, Dad,” Gregory said, excusing them and leading Janie away.
“What was that all about?” she pressed. He chuckled.
“They think you’re my girlfriend.”
Her mouth dropped open. “But we only just met,” she protested. Gregory shrugged. “And another thing…” She wagged her finger. “Who’s going to be hungry enough to eat dinner after this extravaganza?” She waved her hand around. “I don’t know how you people dress for dinner. I also came here in one of your father’s jeeps. I have no way of returning to the hotel if I stay here after my crew leaves.”
“Dinner’s not till nine. You’re dressed fine. Most nights we go casual around here, but because of this tea thing today, dress attire is acceptable.” Janie rolled her eyes. “And I’ll drive you back to your Star bungalow afterwards.”
His arrogance infuriated her.
. . .
“I want to know everything,” Deanna said when Janie came into their hotel room at midnight. She was sitting up in bed. Janie didn’t feel like talking. She was tired. If she didn’t get some sleep, she’d never be able to get up at six a.m. to be on the set by seven. Deanna was still talking. “Did you have a nice time with the Prince? Does he like you?” she answered her own question. “Of course, he likes you. You were with him since two this afternoon. Are you going to see him again?” Deanna crossed her arms over her chest and gazed dreamy-eyed the ceiling. “You’re going to fall in love and become a princess?”
Janie rolled her eyes. She was putting on her pajamas. “Go to sleep. We’ll talk more tomorrow,” Janie said, climbing in to bed.
Deanna wasn’t ready to give up. “At least tell me if you’re going to see him again. Give me something to dream of.”
Janie turned onto her side to face Deanna. “Yes, he’s picking me up tomorrow after we’re finished on the set.” Janie had no idea what time they would be rounding up for the day. But Gregory said he’d wait. “He’s taking me out to dinner.” With that, she rolled over to face the wall. She didn’t say another word. A few minutes later, she heard a sigh of resignation, then silence. Deanna was asleep. Janie could relax now and get some rest herself, Only, as she discovered, she was unable to fall asleep.
Gregory arrived on the set the next day at five. They weren’t finished but the producer signaled to the director to round things up. Over the next few weeks, Janie and Gregory spent a lot of time together. He took her to parties. They went for strolls on the beach and drives up the coast. He wanted to show her the sights and share his home with her. She had countless dinners at the palace. Sometimes Deanna came along and never stopped talking about it afterwards.
“You fit in so well with the Prince’s bunch,” Deanna said.
“We’re just friends,” Janie insisted. She couldn’t let it be more than that with Gregory, couldn’t risk another broken heart. When they finish filming the movie, she’d return to the States.
She knew she was becoming much too attached to Prince Gregory. She enjoyed every minute they shared together. She knew she had to protect herself but couldn’t come up with anything. She didn’t want to be hurt but she didn’t want to lose out on being with him.
The time in Lenise seemed to fly by much too fast. The shooting was wrapped up right on schedule. That last evening, she and Gregory sat at their favorite outdoor café, a plate of shrimp on the table between them. Neither was hungry. Neither knew how to proceed with the conversation, whether to keep it light or be serious.
He spoke first. “My parents like you a lot.”
Janie smiled. “I like them too. They’re wonderful people, really down-to-earth.” She lowered her head and giggled. “I would have thought royal families were stuffy.” She blushed.
He chuckled. “There are a lot of things about my family that would surprise you.”
Janie didn’t doubt that. “How did you know my last name was Taylor?” she asked. He looked at her quizzically. “That first time, at your parents garden party, you introduced me to them as Jane Taylor, I never told you my last name.”
He leaned his head back and laughed. “I’d like to say that I have access to all sorts of information and can find out anything I want to, wherever or whoever it’s about, kind of like your FBI.” Janie giggled. Gregory shrugged. “To make things easier, I asked your producer – who is that pretty lady over there?” Gregory made a disdainful face. “Unfortunately, his taste in women differs from mine greatly and he didn’t know which lady I was asking about,” he said. Janie burst into a fit of giggles. Gregory picked up a piece of shrimp and turned it over. “It cost me twenty bucks American money to pry the information out of him.”
She smacked him with her hand. “I’m worth far more than that and you know it.”
Janie wished she could take those words back because they had an effect on him, one she was trying to avoid. His face grew serious. I wish you didn’t have to go,” he said. Janie’s head popped up. She stared at him with wide-eyes. “The past couple of months have been the greatest,” he went on. Her heart was pounding. “I can’t ask you to stay, it wouldn’t be right,” he added. Janie’s heart dropped, so did her mouth. “That decision has to be yours.” She wanted to kick him. Why didn’t he just ask her to stay, if that’s what he wanted, then she’d make the decision? “You have your life there,” he added.
You have yours here, she finished silently. Tears were welling up in her eyes. She lowered her head. She swallowed hard and nodded. “Sure,” she whispered, uncertain what she meant with that one word.
He lifted her chin with his fingertips. “Don’t look so sad, Princess. We can still talk to each other on the phone, email, and I’ll come visit you?
Big whoop, she thought, friends forever. Well, that’s what she had wanted all along. “I have to get up early to catch the flight home with the crew.”
And she did. She sat in the window seat. She didn’t speak to anyone.
When she got back to her building, Janie went to her landlord’s apartment to get her keys. “I did what you asked, Miss Taylor,” Mr. Jarvis said. “I let my nephew stay in your apartment to keep an eye on things while you were gone.” Janie was please and relieved. Mr. Jarvis went on. “I charged him half the rent you were paying.” He paused. “So, you owe the other half, which would be equal to one month’s rent.”
Janie’s heart dropped. She hadn’t expected this, but, at least, half was better than having to pay all. “I don’t have it right now,” she said. “Can I owe it to you till I get my next paycheck?” He agreed. She turned to head up the stairs to her apartment.
Mr. Jarvis continued. “Oh, one more thing I have to tell you.” Janie stopped abruptly on the third step and turned back. Her heart was thumping too quickly. “My nephew left a mess in there. I hadn’t had the time to clean it. Hope that’s okay.”
If that was all, she’d deal with it. She raced up the steps and put her key in the lock. What faced her looked like a cyclone hit it. Well, she would grab a shovel and some garbage bags and it would keep her busy.
By the third night, the apartment was sparkling again, just the way it had been when she left two months ago. Janie was exhausted, sweaty and her back and arms hurt. She was ready for a hot bath and some relaxation. She headed for the bedroom, pulling the red bandana off her head and tossing it on the sofa. The front door buzzer sounded. Frustrated at the interruption, Janie swung back around and glared at it. It had to be Mr. Jarvis coming to bug her about the rent. She didn’t want to deal with him but the buzzer sounded again. Sighing with exasperation, Janie marched across the living room and pulled the door open, about to give her landlord a piece of her mind. Then she stopped. Her caller wasn’t her landlord. It was Gregory, looking even more handsome than he had a few days ago.
“Here I am,” he announced. “I promised I’d visit.” Janie stared at him, unable to speak. “Is that okay?” he asked. “I missed you and I couldn’t stay away anymore.” Her eyes were wide. He was becoming nervous. “Would you say something already, I feel like I’m bleeding out my heart to myself.”
Slowly, a smile drew to her lips. “Your heart should be falling apart, mine is.” Tears were dripping down her cheeks.
He came inside and closed the door behind him. He took her in his arms. “I deserved that,” he said into her hair. “Is there anything else you want to add to that before I really spill my guts and tell you how much I love you and beg you to come home with me.”
She pulled away from him, laughing. She smacked his shoulder playfully. “Yeah, we’ve been apart four whole days. What took you so long to get here?”
MORE ABOUT TRISH AND HER WORK…
JUST PUBLISHED: the prequel to the Tracy Gayle mystery series
by Trish Hubschman
Available in e-book and print from Amazon and Smashwords.
Details, cover image, link to a free text sample, and purchasing links: https://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/
Tidalwave’s tour bus bursts into flames while the band is relaxing on the beach. The band’s leader, Danny Tide, hires private detective Tracy Gayle to do some discreet investigation into the matter. She’s joining the band on tour as security chief. The arsonist is discovered, but much deeper, more dangerous things come to light as well: an assault, an attempted murder, and then two murders. Tracy is faced with far more than she bargained for, and her stint with the band goes further than just that summer tour. She is fully determined to protect America’s favorite rock and roll heartthrob, and they become the best of friends along the way.
About the Author
Trish Hubschman and her husband, Kevin, along with their dog, Henry, recently moved to Northern Pennsylvania. They formerly lived on Long Island, New York. Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a Bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She is the author of the popular Tracy Gayle mystery series, Stiff Competition and Ratings Game. Tidalwave is the eagerly awaited prequel to the series. For more information about Trish’s three books, please visit her website, linked to above.