Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Endings Part 2

Hey, peoples! Hope you enjoyed the first installment of my new romance 'Happy Endings'. On to Part 2:

“It’s just one date. I don’t want you to marry the guy,” agent to the stars Madeline Simpson pouted at her client and friend Maya Thorne over dinner. “Plus, you can’t deny he’s a talented performer.”

The actress shuddered. “He may be talented, but he’s also an egotistical fame whore. I’ll pass.”

The older woman couldn’t help but laugh. Although Maya had taken LA by storm with her breath-taking looks and natural talent, she was still very much the straight-talking island girl Madeline had discovered while on holiday in Barbados.

It had taken a lot of persuasion to convince the then 19-year-old law student that she had what it took to make it as a model, to make the sacrifice of leaving friends and family behind worth it.

Six years later, Maya had transformed from a runway sensation and every blue-blooded male’s fantasy into a creditable actress, owning every part sent her way. Bill Condor’s new romantic comedy was her first leading role, and she had immersed herself fully in the production, grateful to the director for taking a chance on her.

Maya toyed with her seafood salad, wishing she had ordered the baby back ribs instead. Damn diet. “Why do you keep pushing these guys at me, anyway?” she grumbled.

The agent gave an impatient sigh. “Are the men I’m choosing so terrible, or are you still hung up on Liam?” she asked pointedly.

Maya grimaced at the mention of her former boyfriend. Her move to the States had brought fame and fortune but it had come at the cost of her relationship with the love of her life, Liam Carter.

In the beginning, Maya tried commuting between her base in New York and home, but as her popularity grew it became more difficult to spend time with Liam. He wasn’t exactly sitting idly by either; his career as a sports journalist had taken off and he travelled regularly on assignment. The relationship eventually crumbled beneath the pressures of distance and busy schedules.

“What would be the point?” Maya set her fork down, her appetite gone. “He’s there, I’m here. Our lives have moved in two different directions.”

Madeline patted her hand sympathetically. “Then keep it moving, darling. Find yourself a man. I’ll even back off and let you choose one yourself. As long as he’s rich, gorgeous…did I mention rich?”

Maya laughed. “I hear George Clooney’s available again. Maybe I should try my luck.”

Her cell phone rang before the agent could retort. Maya’s face lit up when she saw the number on the caller ID.

“Gran, how are you!”

Four thousand miles away, Francine Thorne shifted uncomfortably in her hospital bed.”Not so good, sweetie. I had a little accident. Broke my leg.”

Alarmed, Maya tightened her hold on her cell. “Oh my God! What happened? Did you fall? How…”

“Shush, calm down. Your gran is getting clumsy, is all. I slipped climbing down from the loader. Good thing Roger’s son wasn’t around with his blasted cell phone or I’d probably end up on YouTube.”

Maya knew her grandmother was trying to make light of the incident for her benefit, but there was no disguising the pain in her voice.

“Where the hell was Roger? Why were you on the loader in the first place?” she asked angrily.

Francine owned a 10-acre sugar cane plantation in the north of the island. Her manager Roger Clarke supervised a team of workers responsible for harvesting the cane and transporting it to the nearby factory where it was ground into sugar.

“He was out sick yesterday, that’s why I was pitching in,” Francine explained. “We’re working against the clock here, you know how it is.”

“What I know is a 70-year-old woman doesn’t have any right operating a cane loader,” Maya fumed. “You’re the only family I’ve got, gran. What if you had hit your head, or worse?”

“But I didn’t,” Francine insisted. “I should be discharged tomorrow and I’ll be staying with Elise for a while. Roger will handle things until I get back on my feet.”

Elise Carter was her grandmother’s closest friend and Liam’s mother. When Maya was nine, her mother passed away from cancer, and Elise and her family took the grieving Thornes under their wing.

“I’ll rearrange a few things and then I’m coming home. I need to see for myself that you’re okay.”

Maya disconnected a few minutes later and turned to Madeline, who had already signaled for the cheque. As the two women hustled out of the restaurant’s service entrance to avoid the ever-roaming paparazzi, Maya contacted her assistant Andrea to arrange travel plans.

Madeline clicked through her electronic diary. “You have the Si Belle magazine photo shoot next Friday and the Max Miller interview on the 21st. You’re clear till then.”

She hugged her friend as the valet attendants arrived with their vehicles. “Keep me posted. If there’s anything I can do to help, call me.”

As Maya piloted her vehicle down the freeway towards home, Andrea called to update her on her travel arrangements. “I informed your grandmother as you asked and she said Liam will pick you up.”

Maya’s eyes widened in surprise. On the last few occasions she had been home she and Liam had studiously avoided each other, which was no easy feat as their families were close and they shared mutual friends. She mentally calculated the distance from the airport to Elise’s house and was tempted to have Andrea arrange alternative transportation.

Suck it up, she scolded herself. Try to be the bigger person, even if he hates your guts.

Part 3 tomorrow.

Image: Fustic House, St. Lucy

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