Lauren has unwittingly been caught up in a major scandal that rocked Hollywood. Thinking her career is over, she plans to start a new life in Colorado, but Chuck wants to tell her goodbye before she leaves. Please enjoy this sample read from The Scandal.
A Reading Sample from The Scandal by Marina Martindale
Chuck looked at his phone and sighed. The call had dropped. Obviously, Lauren hadn’t found her charger quick enough. As he waited for her to call back, he wondered if he should offer to buy her dinner. Several anxious minutes passed, and he looked down at his phone.
“C’mon. Ring, why don’t you?”
He was about ready to give up when he received a text message from her tablet. She couldn’t find her charger but would call him the following night.
“Sorry Lauren, but you’re not getting away that easily. I’m going to see you in person so we can talk.” He quickly typed his response. She replied a minute later with the name of the hotel and her room number. Barney raised his head as Chuck stood from his chair.
“I’m going out for a little while,” he said, “but it won’t be late because I have to be up early tomorrow morning.” He gave the dog a quick pat on the head and hurried out. Twenty minutes later he arrived at the hotel. Knocking on Lauren’s door, Chuck greeted her with a smile as she answered.
“Your soda, Madame.” He looked her up and down as he stepped inside. “Well that’s certainly not what I expected.”
“I’m not Hayley,” she said with a grin. “I go for comfy, not sexy. Those teddies may have looked hot on camera, but they pinched in places I didn’t want pinched.”
Chuck felt his cheeks flush. “I had no idea you were being goosed by your costume. You never, ever let on. Not even for a moment.”
Lauren grinned. “It’s called acting, but trust me, I was gritting my teeth the entire time, and we won’t even discuss the drafts I was feeling. Now I’m forever grateful to never have to wear another teddy again.”
He felt a sudden twinge of disappointment as she pointed out the ice bucket.
“I made a run to the ice machine, but I’m afraid the only glassware I have are these lovely plastic hotel room cups.”
“They’ll do just fine.” Chuck quickly unwrapped them and dropped in some ice. Pouring the soda, he waited for the foam to bubble down before handing a cup to her.
“So, here’s to both of us coming to our senses and getting the hell out of this freaking town.” Both took a sip and sat down at the small table in the corner.
“So, Lauren, what made you change your mind?”
She gazed out the window at the city lights and her mood turned serious. “I think you already know the answer. My dream of stardom turned into my worst nightmare when I inadvertently took out one of the biggest power players in Hollywood.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
She looked him in the eye. “So everyone tells me, but nonetheless, I’ve been blackballed as a result. My phone hasn’t rung in weeks, not that I even care at this point. My heart’s no longer in it. I still feel the same as I did the day I shot my last salsa commercial.”
“I’m sorry, Lauren. I had no idea it had gotten this bad.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Stuff happens, but hey, I’m still young. Maybe not by Hollywood standards, but certainly by the rest of the world’s standards. I have a degree in interior design, and before Hayley came along, I was working for a design firm in Pasadena. Other actors have left Hollywood to pursue other careers, and so can I.”
“Some have even said their lives were happier and more meaningful after they left.”
“Which is what I’m hoping for as well. So, what about you, Chuck?”
“It’s like I said that day on the beach. I grew up in the business, and everyone assumed I’d follow in my father’s footsteps, but it’s not the life I would have chosen for myself.”
“So what would you have done, had it been up to you?”
“You know, I’m honestly not sure,” he said. “I’ve been tinkering around with a couple of screenplays, and I’ve always envied the cinematographers because I love looking through a lens and figuring out what would be the most artistic shot. On the other hand, I might possibly be interested in directing independent films, the more offbeat, the better. The only thing I’m certain of is that I don’t want to do anymore rushed, talking head crap, but hey, I came here to talk about you, not me.”
“All I can tell you is I had an incredibly good run. I got to experience things most people never will, but now it’s over, so it’s time to move on.”
“Lauren, if it means anything to you, this whole incident has made everyone rethink the way they conduct business. Eric Conway is making some big changes and he’s rebuilding Cloudland from top to bottom.” Chuck noticed Lauren flinch as he spoke. The wounds still hadn’t healed. “So, I think you should focus more on where you want to go from here.”
“Actually, I’m still not sure. I’ve never been to Colorado, so I’m going to explore the place while I’m there, but I have no idea if I’ll stay or move on.”
Chuck’s heart sank. He would have to find a way to convince her to stay. “In that case, take your time and at least stay long enough to get to know it first. Then you can decide whether you want to move on or not.”
“All right. I can do that for a while. All I have is time right now.”
The Scandal is available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and with other online book sellers.