Thursday, August 27, 2015

3L Publishing's Editor's Pick

Title: Passenger from Greece
Category: Mainstream Fiction/Mystery/Romance/Multicultural
Author: Norma Jennings
Publisher: 3L Publishing, Sacramento, CA
Phone: 916.300.8012
Pages: 300 pages
Release Date: October 2015
Binding: Soft cover
Bar Coded: Yes
Retail Price: $19.95
Book design: Erin Pace-Molina

This book is well-written and interesting. The story of young love and naive innocence is an accessible tale most of us can relate to. Haven't we all been embroiled in some intense love affairs that moved us in capricious ways? But that is not what this book's central theme is about. It's so much more than romance. The story revolves around nefarious and criminal behavior, and the people caught in the web of deceit.

Why is this Editor's Pick? The opening plane crash was the most well-written action sequence I've read on paper. I felt like I was right there in the blaze of the incinerating inferno. The fear and gripping reality of the moment when someone realizes the plane is plummeting into the pits of hell (a swamp of all things) is enough to draw in even the most jaded reader who thinks they've read it all. 

As a nonstop reader, editor and publisher, I highly recommend you pick up Passenger from Greece by Norma Jennings. You will enjoy every fast-paced, intriguing, erotic, emotional and duplicitous moment. Buy your copy at Amazon or or

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

National Dog Day - Celebrate with Animal Rescue

Dropped-Off Dog
Catherine Lagorio
Order your copy on Amazon (click here

Life is good for the Little Tiger-Striped Dog.He has food to eat, water to drink, a safe place to sleep and someone who loves him until one fateful day ... His world turns upside down when he is left alone in the country to fend for himself! Dropped-Off Dog (A Mostly-True Tail ) tells the fictional history of a real dog and how he came to live in rural California's San Joaquin Valley. After a journey from happiness and plenty through abandonment, hunger and fear, the Little Tiger-Striped Dog makes his way to a house with another dropped-off dog and two people who recognize his struggle. They adopt him and he really, truly lives happily ever after. Dropped-Off Dog is a children's picture book based on a real story about an animal. It is written to give children a stunning visual story with the theme of hope to raise awareness about the issue of animal abandonment and homelessness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Worst Sales Technique I've Ever Seen

I think sales can be one of the most difficult parts of any company. I have recently received a spat of what I'm going to call "the-put-you-down" method to help "fix you". Any business owner who has been solicited with unwanted "put-downs" to get his/her business can relate to this story.

I once dated a very successful businessman. He was a nice looking older gentlemen. Now when I say "dated" it was only one date for breakfast. I'll now explain why it never got to lunch. This gentlemen proceeded to tell me sales techniques and how colors affect people's impressions of others. He talked about cool and warm colors. Without getting too much further into this story, he told me my blond tresses needed to be lighter (a cooler color would be best). I want to remind you this was a "first" date and I barely knew this man.

Later on he went onto my website and provided a critique of our shopping cart methodology. He called me (naturally) to explain why my shopping cart didn't work (for him).

You might call me too sensitive, but ultimately on a first date the gentlemen was ready to change my looks and my shopping cart. As you can guess, he wasn't given a second date.

Now I've used this experience to help sales people (or single people for that matter) avoid the pitfalls of the "put-down" sales. On an almost daily basis I receive emails from sales people who use this technique to try and win my business. It doesn't work. Telling someone what is wrong with their site (or their fashions) isn't going to persuade them to do business with you. It might work on the businessperson who feels insecure in some way. A highly successful businessperson will not be interested in your sales method (AKA "critique").

We all have room for improvement. We can always increase our business through meaningful suggestions. But benefits and value propositions are much more well received than telling someone "how bad their hair looks". Do you see my point? Always start with the good and then pitch how your product or service CAN ADD value to what exists.

If you would like to hire us to do marketing or public relations (without this technique employed), call us at 916-300-8012 or send email to

Friday, August 21, 2015

California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break - Chapter 10

Purchase on Amazon (Click Here)


I walked into Bardot and immediately spotted Ryan sitting alone in a corner, drinking what looked like gin and soda with a twist of lime. He was wearing a thin royal blue long-sleeved shirt that hugged his biceps and made me horny just looking at him. His shorn sandy-colored hair had light gel running through it. He waved me over, and I moved with a sexy sway to my hips. I was wearing a low-cut, leopard-print, long-sleeved blouse with a silver-and-cream-colored beaded choker and matching earrings.

Ryan stood right up and hugged me. I felt his warm, hard body against mine. He was handsome, rugged and built. He kissed my cheek, ordered a margarita for me (I supposed to pay homage to our tryst), and then we settled down and sat across from each other.

An awkward silence fell between us, and I finally looked down and asked, “Are you sure Johnny would be okay with this?”

“Johnny moved out,” he said bluntly. “I don’t give a shit what he thinks.”

“What? When?” As I said this, I dared to ask what could be construed as a major ego question. “Not because of me? I mean — I don’t. Well, we aren’t together.”

Ryan really laughed and said, “No.” He took a sip of gin and then patted the seat next to him for me to come sit closer.

I looked at where his hand landed and then back up at his cheeky smile. I relented and moved over just as the margarita arrived. Ryan moved in close and wrapped his arm around the top of my shoulders and gave me an endearing squeeze. He then released me and sat forward to take another drink.

“He accepted a part on my dad’s new film and got all chummy with him – fucker,” he said with seething resentment.

“What?” I asked and didn’t understand.

“Johnny’s a user,” he spit back. “Watch out for him.”

“A user?” I felt awkward with my series of questions that were clearly inciting Ryan’s anger. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the evening in “angry” discussion over cocktails.

Ryan turned toward me and suddenly leaned in to kiss me passionately – now this was preferable to an acidic, going-nowhere Q and A. “Let’s not talk about them, all right?”

“Okay,” I agreed.

“You want to be my girlfriend?” he suddenly asked.

I pulled away, frowned and slowly shook my head. “I don’t think so. We barely know each other.”

“Ah, come on, let’s pretend,” he said as he pulled me up to my feet and gently guided me to the dance floor. We started slow dancing to Cold Play’s Parachutes. Our bodies were gently tangled together, swaying in perfect harmony like a tree in a soft breeze. He ran his hand down my bare back and softly moved his fingertip inward and under the edge of my dress and the very beginning of the soft mound of my breast. It was so gentle and such an erotic moment. He reached up and caressed my cheeks, and he gently moved a wisp of hair away from my face and back. The music stopped and paused before an electric dance tune I didn’t recognize started. Ryan stood up and just stared at me with such tenderness. What happened to my playboy? His spirit tonight was calm and soft.

And then, being the expert at shredding a nice moment, I asked, “What happened to a new girl a night?”

Ryan’s light blue eyes flickered in the light. “You like that better? Pretending over now?”

We walked back to our table and sat down. I weighed my answer and said, “Yes, I like that – and pretending … for now.”

Ryan nodded and picked up his drink again. I took a sip of the margarita. When he turned back to me, his eyes were aglow with light and playfulness. “Ah, fuck it. Let’s go have sex!”

Well, that was straightforward. I guess the dance was foreplay. Since a tryst with Johnny was out no matter what because he was cast in my film – and these two were no longer roommates, I decided to enjoy it. We drove in his black Range Rover straight to his house up in the Hollywood Hills. As we pulled up, a gate opened, and we drove up into a small lot with a ranch-style house sitting in the middle of trees and well-manicured flowerbeds. Ryan and I were just laughing and enjoying each other.

He parked in the driveway, jumped out and opened the door for me. I got out, and I swear we were like two little kids. He grabbed my hand and pulled me forward. He used his key, swung open the front door, turned and, like a piper, he turned and used his finger to draw me toward him in a come-to-me motion. I laughed at his silly gesture and walked into the house. It had three huge floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the Los Angeles basin below. It was another stunning view.

He went to the bar and poured two glasses of champagne. I sat down on the sofa and stared at the view. He walked over and handed me a glass.

“And you live off your daddy?” I asked.

“And my granddaddy,” he said with a smile.

“You make no apologies?”

“Nope, I do what I want – and that doesn’t bother either of them,” he said frankly.

“Are you sure about that? Freeloader,” I teased.

Ryan started to laugh and said, “Freeloader never! It takes hard work to be me.”

I nodded and smiled. “I believe you.”

Ryan leaned in and smelled me with a soft inhale and then moved in closer like he might bite me like some vampire. Instead, he kissed me softly three times up the neck. Then he pulled back and said, “I want to take you skydiving.”

“What! No way!” I firmly replied. First, I was terrified of crashing in a plane. I even once had a psychic tell me I had died in a plane crash in a previous life – and I believed him. Second, I was scared of heights. And third … well, third, I valued my life.

“Come on, Brea! You, of all the women I’ve met, would love it!” he chortled.

I shook my head and replied, “Really no!”

“I can change your mind,” he said and suddenly grabbed my legs and pulled them up and onto the edge of the sofa. He then slithered up them like a snake on a ladder, reached under my skirt and slowly pulled off my silk thong. While he did this, he kept his eyes fixed on mine. I didn’t blink and met his intensity with my own. He then moved his face up to my bush, found the right spot, and began a slow, seductive lick-and-kiss maneuver that sent a shudder throughout my body. I leaned back and let the wave of pleasure come over me. I moaned as his tongue got busier.

“Oh my god,” I breathlessly stammered. I felt the tension stir and build. He was patient and talented. I moaned again, and he reached up and with impressive talent unbuttoned my blouse buttons with one hand. It quickly flashed through my mind that this guy knew his way around women’s apparel too well – not to mention their body parts. I let that thought pass – this pleasurable tension was building up quickly and unbearably close to release. And then the orgasm hit fast – over and over again. I moaned in deep, uncontrolled pleasure from the powerful sensation. It had been some time since I had experienced such an intense orgasm. Darn! This guy was really good.

I sat up to kiss him. He pushed my blouse back and off. He reached around and artfully undid my black bra and pulled it off. Then he was on me again, cupping and rubbing my breasts with passion and softness all at once. He teased and played. Before I realized it, he was naked and on top of me. He kept kissing me full on the lips, with just a little tongue but not overkill. He made his way down my neck to my chest and kissed my breasts. I just wanted him in me. So, I reached down and found him aroused and ready. I pushed him inside of me, and he began to oblige my hunger by moving up and down with a passionate, perfect rhythm.

He did it on top of me for 10 minutes or so, and then he reached around, held my back and artfully flipped me on top of him to take ride. He held my hips with his hands and guided me. I was lost in pleasure, and the alcohol now found its way into my thighs and bloodstream. I quivered a bit and felt a raw, pleasurable numbness. I sped up to give him more pleasure. He groaned, and I could actually feel him cum inside of me. This sensation turned me on so deeply that I came again right with him. I fell forward onto his chest like a puddle of relaxation and satiation.

We lay together quietly, both breathing heavily. After a few moments, we retreated to his bedroom. He lay down naked and waited for me, and then pulled me back on top of him. I sat looking down on him, smiling so happily. Ryan was an energetic, happy-go-lucky guy. I didn’t feel any need to assign any complexity to it. I had no idea if we would hook up again now or later or ever – and that was okay. I had not lost track of my desire to right things with Kale.

“You’re fun,” I suddenly offered as a compliment.

Ryan sighed. “And you would be more fun if you would go skydiving with me.”

“I said no,” I replied and fell off him and onto the bed.

“Come on, Brea, it’s unreal. You will feel nothing like it in the world.”

“You know what? You get a job, and I’ll go skydiving,” I replied.

“Why do you want me to get a job so bad?” he asked.

“You can’t possibly think that this is satisfying?” I objected.

Ryan rolled over on his side and looked at me. “This is very good!” he said as he reached and caressed my breast.

I looked down, smiled and nodded. “Yes, but this gets boring fast!”

“Not with you,” he countered and then leaned forward to kiss me. He gently grabbed my hand and pulled it down to cover his hard bulge. He was ready so quickly. I obliged and pulled him on me for round two. And it was just as great as round one.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Come Out Tonight (Aug. 20) and Learn to Write Screenplays

Insider Secrets to Successfully Writing and Marketing Sales-Worthy Screenplay: $99

Want to write a marketable screenplay? Have you already written a screenplay but can't seem to sell it? Join
Scott D. Roberts as he teaches the Insider Secrets to Successfully Writing a Sales-Worthy Screenplay. In this
3-hour workshop you'll learn 10 Key Tips to Screenwriting:

  • How to write an enticing log line
  • What is the "acceptable" structure to Act 1, Act 2/second part of Act 2, and Act 3?
  • Why does exciting "pacing" make or break a script?
  • What is the value of storyboarding?
  • The importance of writing scenes on 40 index cards
  • How to use the "Pacing Breakdown" as your pitch guide
  • How to utilize your storyboard to write your script
  • Do's and Don't's and bad habits to avoid
  • Why you're not finished when you think you're finished
  • How to get your script read with the right people
Date: August 20, 2015
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Location: Red Lyon Inn, 500 Leisure Lane, Sacramento, 95815, Executive Board Suite

Cost is $99

This event is being sponsored by Writers Who Mean Business hosted by Michelle Gamble. You can pay at our member site or at the door. Please RSVP so we can get an accurate attendance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two Hearts

As I rest in your arms
The top of my head snuggled in the crook
and the faint sound of chimes
in the wind of silence
and in the magnificence of a feeling
spreading throughout my soul
like a slow flow of water
and the coming of the tide.

of the gentle suggestion of the moment
that lingers between us
like a well-spoken inspiration
and quiet smile of appreciation
as we enjoy the true bond of friendship.

of the heart without strings
of the loyalty without question
of the beauty of essence.

in the afterglow of touch
in the slow, sensual nature of kiss
in the quiet laughter of knowledge
in the serenity of perfect connection.

If I say this is love
If I say this is friendship
If say I love you ...

And you love me ...

Then the stillness embraces the joy of two hearts.

~ Michelle Gamble

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break - Chapter 9

Available for Sale on Amazon in print (click here)
2.99 in Kindle (click here)


A few days later, I received a strange “summons” – and when I say summons I mean command – from Curtis. He asked me to meet him at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf the next morning. It was how he said it on my voice mail: “Meet me at nine.” No “please” or “would you” just a demand to meet him. I assumed it was business, and from the tone of his voice, it was serious business. It made me nervous, and my overly active mind went crazy with thoughts. Were they going to fire me? Replace me with another writer? Was Kale too chicken to do it himself? No, Kale was, if nothing else, respectful and decent. He wouldn’t fire me that way. He would do it himself. But wait! Kale had said numerous times how I was talented and all. Why would he fire me? Maybe it was more script notes and production would be delayed. Maybe they were canceling the entire film?

“Ah stop!” I said aloud to myself alone in my bedroom.

I realized I was baking the cake, and it wasn’t even in the oven. Denise had left some Ambien in her medicine cabinet. If ever I needed a sleep aid, it was tonight. She wouldn’t care if I took one. So I got up in my peppermint-striped nightgown and headed to the bathroom, where I opened the cabinet, grabbed the marked prescription bottle and took a little white pill. I immediately felt my tension ease – not because of the pill, but because I knew I could now sleep. I returned to my room and the warmth of my comforter. It felt good.

I awoke suddenly and promptly at 7:00 a.m. the next day. That pill really had worked – I felt like I had closed my eyes and then opened them. Quiet and peaceful sleep had been a treat. My phone honked to indicate I had a text message. I picked it up and looked. It was from Ryan. Ryan? Now he was texting me?

“Meet me at Bardot?”

I was intrigued, smiled and asked him what time. After all, Ryan was not a production hazard. So why not meet him? He was fun, and I needed some fun.

“Late. Around 10:00?”

I said yes, and then I rushed to get in the shower. I wanted to hurry up and meet Curtis so I could find out what he had to say. I decided the best approach was to stay in the moment and see what was really going on. All this wasted worrying was killing me. I got dressed and wore a cute red sundress with a black bolero with flowers around the edges and over the shoulders. I looked chic without being too fussy. I slipped on plain, black pumps with an open toe, braided my blond hair so that it curved over my shoulder next to my face and tied it with a sweet blue band. I wanted to stay conservative today. Curtis really made me uncomfortable.

I arrived at the Tea Leaf, and he was sitting out front reading his Blackberry, engrossed in something. He looked up, smiled and set it down. I pulled out the iron chair, which made a scraping noise on the pavement. Curtis had two cups sitting in front of him and slid one across to me.

I looked down, smiled and asked, “For me?”

“I took the liberty of ordering hazelnut.” He smiled. “I noticed you liked it.”

“How sweet,” I replied. “Thanks!” I said and took a sip.

Curtis looked at me with a curious tilt to his head, grinned and asked, “You have a manager?”

“No,” I replied. “Kale said they’re all bloodsuckers and that I should get an entertainment attorney.”

“Kale said?” he asked with a strange look.

“Well, yes,” I replied and frowned.

Curtis looked down at his coffee cup and seemed to weigh his response. He then carefully spoke, “I think you need a manager – someone to take you to A-list writer’s status. You need someone to think ahead for you. You know, watch out for you.”

“Kale watches out for me,” I said plainly.

Curtis slid forward and lowered his voice. “Kale watches out for Kale. Don’t be so naïve.”

I sat up straight. “I’m not.”

“Yes, you are,” he said and stretched out his arms. “This is Hollywood, baby.”

“And what’s your point?” I retorted.

“My point, baby, is you need me,” he said in a low voice as he slid his hand on top of my thigh.

I looked down at his hand and back up at his face. He was serious. I looked back down at that hand and cautiously slid it off. “Not sure what you’re suggesting, Curtis.”

Curtis moved in even closer and whispered, “You know exactly what I’m suggesting.”

He sat back in his chair and had the smuggest look on his face. He was still my boss. I felt a surge of adrenaline and fear. I sat there and wasn’t sure what to do or say. He could do damage no matter what. I needed him on my side, but I didn’t want him on my side this way. He was eye candy that was for sure, but he was also potentially dangerous.

“I’ll think about it,” I replied in what seemed like a pat answer to buy me time. “But maybe you ought to woo me a little.” I smiled in my own creepy way just to needle him and put him a little off-balance, too.

Curtis sat up a bit and looked at me in surprise. He laughed. “Maybe,” he replied.

I took another sip of my hazelnut-flavored coffee and let it slide slowly down my throat. I looked off for a moment in the distance so I could think. Curtis grabbed his cup and briefcase and stood up. He walked partway round our little table, leaned over and kissed my cheek. He then leaned in and whispered with his hot breath right into my ear, which made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. “Maybe,” he breathed in a soft, seductive way.

I tilted away just slightly and looked up into his eyes – our eyes locked in a showdown. He leaned in and kissed my other cheek this time. I let him.

“I have a meeting,” he said. “See you.”

He took off and left me sitting there alone, pensive and nervous. He could hurt me. I knew that much. I could tell Kale, set off a war in the office and destroy the production that way, too. Just as I was fretting over my dilemma, I heard a terrible and familiar voice. I looked up to find Drew standing over me.

“Well, where have you been?” I asked.

Drew just took the chair across from me without asking. “Tour.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I forgot about that. How’d it go?”

“Going back to school,” he chuckled.

Drew always said that if the band didn’t work out, he would return to UCLA and pursue something else. As I looked at him, I thought I should hate him. I didn’t feel hate or anger. We had a chasm between us now that consisted of space and time. I was moving on. He was apparently moving on, too. I actually, surprisingly, was happy to see him. I also felt completely at ease, which was a surprise given our last encounter where we had sex and he told me he loved me but couldn’t be with me.

“Are you disappointed?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “You look good.”

“Thanks.” I nodded and smiled.

“Relaxed, happy,” he said. “Did you get back together with that guy?”

He just had to go and spoil it. “No,” I replied in a guarded tone.

Drew looked down, and I thought I saw an actual guilty look on his face. “I thought you would,” he said, and now he couldn’t make eye contact.

I felt my stomach tighten. I took another drink of coffee. “Hey, Drew, it’s really good to see you,” I said and rose.

Drew looked surprised that I was leaving and slid back a little. I grabbed my Gucci bag off the other chair. “I have to go. Work.”

Drew stood up, and we were standing face-to-face. I felt a familiar attraction, but resisted. I touched his arm to say good-bye, Drew nodded and I walked off.  I didn’t ask him where he was working now that he was back from tour and no longer earning a living at the bikini shop – and I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want any more temptation or connection to him. If I saw him, I would always be respectful and kind, but the damage was done – and there could be no going back. Besides, I had far more serious things to put my attention on. Now that I had the Curtis problem brewing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Insider Secrets to Successfully Writing a Sales-Worthy Screenplay

Insider Secrets to Successfully Writing and Marketing Sales-Worthy Screenplay: $99
Want to write a marketable screenplay? Have you already written a screenplay but can't seem to sell it? Join Scott D. Roberts as he teaches the Insider Secrets to Successfully Writing a Sales-Worthy Screenplay. In this 3-hour workshop you'll learn 10 Key Tips to Screenwriting:
  • How to write an enticing log line
  • What is the "acceptable" structure to Act 1, Act 2/second part of Act 2, and Act 3?
  • Why does exciting "pacing" make or break a script?
  • What is the value of storyboarding?
  • The importance of writing scenes on 40 index cards
  • How to use the "Pacing Breakdown" as your pitch guide
  • How to utilize your storyboard to write your script
  • Do's and Don't's and bad habits to avoid
  • Why you're not finished when you think you're finished
  • How to get your script read with the right people
Date: August 20, 2015
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Location: Red Lyon Inn, 500 Leisure Lane, Sacramento, 95815, Executive Board Suite

Cost is $99

You can pay at the door, but please RSVP by replaying to this email so we can get an accurate attendance rate.
For more information, call 916-300-8012 or send email to

Sunday, August 16, 2015

California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break - Chapter 8

Purchase a copy on Amazon (click here)

I walked into the production offices. No one had arrived yet – it was 6:00 a.m. Most people in this industry didn’t get up this early unless they were working on set. Kale’s office door was wide open; I assumed to let me know to come in. I walked up and knocked on the open door. Kale was nowhere in sight. I felt a presence come up behind me. I turned around to find Kale smiling at me, and I watched his eyes scan me up and down in my white organdy sundress and flat white sandals. He handed me a latte in a Peet’s cup.

“Good morning, sweetheart,” he said and took a sip. “I see you got my message.”

I sipped and tasted the latte – my favorite. I was touched that he remembered. “Thanks for the coffee,” I said and nodded in appreciation. “I was surprised you wanted me to scout locations with you.”

He looked very relaxed in khaki cargo shorts, a slate-blue T-shirt and brown leather sandals. Kale walked over and picked up a black leather backpack and talked over his shoulder as he did so, saying, “I want you to learn the entire business.” He lifted the backpack and swung it over one shoulder. “Producers don’t always scout locations, but you and I will go look. Then we’ll hire a production designer.”

He walked out toward the front door. I trailed behind him, and a small smile slipped onto my face. It occurred to me that this was Kale’s veiled way of spending time with me under the guise of work. Just as we were about to walk out into the hallway, Monica came off of the elevators. I saw a strange look on her face as she looked at both of us. I didn’t know what to make of her. Was she upset or jealous? She stopped in front of Kale.

“Are you coming back in later?” she asked and moved very close to Kale, so that her line of sight was at his muscular chest. She was much shorter than my gentle giant.

“No,” he replied with little emotion and walked onto the elevator that had just opened its doors.

I walked past Monica, who shifted her posture. She looked visibly troubled, and then she looked down and away from me. I ignored her and entered the elevator with Kale. It felt so good to be with him again. His presence was always a comfort to me. It was so hard not to reach out and grab his hand. He did stand very close to me, and today he didn’t seem as guarded. I wasn’t sure if this trip was an olive branch or just some paternal act of mentoring. I never said I intended to produce, but it occurred to me that maybe I should make it a goal.

His silver Mercedes was waiting downstairs for us with the valet. I slid into the passenger side and Kale got in the driver’s seat. He turned on his iPod and old Cold Play’s Glass of Water played. I thought to myself. Kale drove a little over the speed limit, and we zipped down the freeway. The convertible top was folded down. The wind blew through Kale’s blond hair, and the sun shone bright and luminescent on him. He looked like some ethereal, glowing god. He glanced at me and gave me the warmest smile. What had changed? He was barely talking to me last week, and here today he seemed relaxed and genuinely happy.

“You look good,” I said quietly.

Kale shifted and glanced at me. “You, too,” he replied and reached across the seat to stroke my upper leg. It was gentle and sweet. The moment was also deeply loaded in unexpressed emotion. So many things we had not said to each other. Was he willing to forgive me? Should I bring it up and spoil this peacefulness between us? Or could we get past it if we didn’t discuss it?

We soon arrived at Highway 1 and drove north. I didn’t even know where we were going. “What’s first?” I finally asked.

“Malibu Lagoon,” he said. “It’s the big surfer spot. You have all those beach and surfer scenes. We need to look at local choices.”

“Maybe I don’t want to produce,” I said suddenly.

Kale laughed. “You say that now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked with a furrowed brow.

“It means you’re working with me,” he said. “I get your vision, but just one producer or director who doesn’t and you’ll be begging to produce.”

“Why?” I ignorantly asked, eager to show him I was open to learning.

“Ask my last writer,” he replied with a laugh. “You don’t have the last say, Brea. Producers and directors can change your vision entirely. You end up not recognizing your own story just once — and well! You’ll be begging to produce.”

As the car drove over the hill, I saw the ocean and sighed – the endless blue horizon spread out in front of me. I heard Kale, and I didn’t want my writing trashed. Maybe he was right. I had certainly had enough magazine editors rewrite some of my articles and not for the better. Some people just had to mark their territories and much to my chagrin.

“Are you going to trash this script?” I suddenly asked.

Kale shook his head. “No, we had you do that,” he said and laughed.

“What?” I asked and frowned.

“All those rewrites.” He gave me a reassuring look.

“Oh,” I replied and looked down at my hands. I realized he had upset me. I had been nervously picking at my nails.

Kale glanced at the physical proof of my edginess. He frowned and reached across and rubbed my arm. “What’s this?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I said flatly, not wanting to address the insecure swell in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know why, but I felt completely off and anxious. Maybe it was the undercurrent of tension between us. I felt an urge to lean across and kiss him, but quickly suppressed it. I had assured myself Kale would have to make the first move if we were to reunite. And I still felt certain – especially after running into her that he and Monica were together. I didn’t want Kale to think I would ruin their relationship if it meant something to him. I just didn’t know how to ask.

He pulled the Mercedes into the parking lot, killed the ignition, leaned back and grabbed his backpack. He didn’t say anything and got out. He pulled his sandals off and tossed them into the backseat. He walked ahead of me and then turned and waited. I tossed my own sandals and rushed to catch up with him. He was so much taller that he walked so much faster, and it forced me (despite my own height) to hustle slightly quicker than usual to keep up with him. Kale seemed like a man on a mission. The crashing of the waves made a regular and soothing background noise. I loved the steady roar of the waves and the foaming bubble noise. He found an outcropping of rocks and began taking pictures from all angles. I figured he would give the pictures to the production designer.

After about 30 minutes, he knelt down, opened his backpack, pulled out a blue blanket and rested it in the sand. Then he pulled out Tupperware loaded with vegetables and fruits. He sat down on the blanket and looked at me expectantly. I realized we were going to picnic and sat down next to him. As I sat, he felt familiar and close. He extended a plastic bowl loaded with fresh blackberries, from which I happily took a few to eat.

“Fresh summer fruit,” he said quietly and leaned back as he lazily chewed.

I nodded. “I love cherries, blackberries, raspberries.”

Kale looked at me with his clear, light eyes – his eyes were at once intense and yet very expressive. “Are you still seeing the guy?” he asked.

I sat up a bit and looked at him, searching his face for anger. He looked interested, but relaxed. I supposed we could talk about it since he brought it up. “No, and I was not seeing him when we were together,” I replied.

“No?” he said. “Didn’t look that way to me,” he said with a slight hint of rancor.

I knew it was now or never. “Kale, what we have — had,” I corrected myself, “had nothing to do with it. Have you ever gotten involved with someone and you know it’s wrong, but there is something so deeply chemical between you that it’s inexplicable?”

Kale nodded a bit and then looked down. “I thought that’s what we had,” he said.

I moved so that I was now sitting on my knees in front of him. “No,” I said flatly. “We’re real!”

Kale nodded and asked, “Do you know how many nights I sat around trying to get past what you did? I want you back, but I can’t trust you. How am I supposed to get over such a fundamental part of any relationship?”

“Maybe you don’t force it,” I said and moved up closer to him. I wanted to kiss him so badly it hurt. I deeply missed him.

His eyes met mine. He stared at me with such force. We didn’t say anything at all when my phone rang in my purse. I knew I should ignore it.

“You should answer that,” he said.

I picked it up and saw what it said and put it back. Kale looked at me suspiciously. “Let me see it — please.”

I stared him straight in the eyes. He just unflinchingly looked back. I knew right then I would have to be transparent whether it was good or bad. If I quit hiding things, then maybe we would at least heal our friendship in some way. I handed him the phone, which was still ringing, and he saw the name. His eyes widened a moment, and then he handed it back to me. It stopped ringing.

Kale rose to his feet. I, too, stood upright. He picked up the blanket and shook the sand out. He carefully folded it and tucked it back away. Then he moved very close to me and hovered, but not in a menacing way. His eyes looked somewhat sad, but still focused as he held my gaze.

“I have to warn you, sweetheart,” he said. “Unions are nasty things. That actor could take down the whole production.”

He started walking back to the car. I didn’t know what to say. We finally got back to the Mercedes, and each put on our respective pairs of shoes. I walked up to him and blocked his way into the car. This move stopped him in his tracks. I pressed in very close to him. He held my gaze for a moment, but seemed paralyzed by indecision. He wanted to kiss me too, but I could see the internal struggle going on by the expression on his face. I didn’t want to prematurely rush anything, so I eventually relented, stepped aside and got in the passenger side. We said nothing on the drive back.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break - Chapter 7

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I awoke alone on the sofa. Sometime in the middle of the night Ryan had left me sleeping. I could barely remember what we did – there was a fog clouding my brain. I lay on my back and stared at the enormous pine ceiling beam running down the center. I blinked and looked down – yes, I was still naked. I sat up and grabbed yesterday’s clothes and started getting dressed. My head was pounding from a hangover-induced headache. I heard the back door opening and closing. I turned to find Johnny walking in and wearing swim trunks and drying his hair.

He stopped in front of me. He laughed and said, “You look like hell.”

I nodded, sighed and got up. “I’m going to shower.”

“You want me to leave you some Tylenol?” he asked.

I nodded and headed up the stairs all the way to the third floor. I should have felt embarrassed, but my head was pounding much too hard to care about anything. I walked into the grand master suite, which, by the way, was absolutely stunning – a four-poster bed covered in a big, fluffy burgundy-colored comforter took up most of the room, flanked by handmade pine dressers and side tables. A big armoire with a 56-inch flat screen TV sat on one wall. I had really missed out on sleeping in this amazing room with the bright morning light streaming in through the huge picture windows. I noticed my bag sat on the burgundy leather lounge chair in one corner. I grabbed it and headed for the oversized master bath, which was wall-to-wall, off-white marble with a big bathtub in one corner and a three-nozzle shower in the adjacent corner.

After I showered and felt somewhat better, I decided to face my “audience.” I felt confused about Johnny since he literally handed me over to his friend. I might have been a little more proactive about this “pass” had I been right in the head and not saturated in alcohol. When I got downstairs, both Johnny and Ryan were eating breakfast at the table near the windows with the amazing lakefront view. I tentatively walked over – and they both looked right at me with grins on their faces. I didn’t know what to make of it.

Johnny motioned to the head seat. “Breakfast cures most hangovers,” he offered with a grin.

I sat down and looked at both of them, uncertain of what to say. The minute I sat down, I felt Johnny’s hand move right under the table to my thigh. What the heck was going on? Ryan just gave me a sweet smile. No one acted uncomfortable at this table. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They both looked completely self-satisfied.

“Are we going to talk about last night?” I asked.

Ryan got up, leaned over, kissed me right on the lips, winked and asked, “Do we need to?”

He went to the kitchen and just left me there stunned.

Johnny leaned over toward me and said, “I’m good.”

“Okay … ” I replied as my voice trailed off in confusion.

Ryan returned to the table with a tray of buttermilk biscuits, which he slid right into the breadbasket before setting the tray back down on the counter. I reached out, grabbed one, smelled it and realized it was homemade. I immediately put it on my plate, scooped some eggs and grabbed bacon. These two guys could cook. What a strange moment. I started eating and glancing back and forth at them. They just began talking easily about the day’s plans and doing some fishing later on. I realized we were staying the afternoon and decided to read onshore while they fished. No mention was made again about the confused relationships in this room.

We returned to the city late that afternoon. The boys were happy. They had caught three brown trout and planned on eating them for breakfast the next day. I was still completely thrown by this Twilight-Zone­-like situation. Johnny had continued to act affectionately all day, touching and kissing me. Ryan, while less obvious, kissed me a few times, too. I liked them both, but this was absolutely the most bizarre triangle – and neither guy seemed the least bit bothered by it.

That evening they dropped me off in front of the apartment. I climbed the stairs and went inside. Denise was actually home, which surprised me. I put my bag down and went and sat next to her on the sofa. She was watching an HBO show called Boardwalk Empire.

She glanced at me. “How was your trip?”

“Bizarre … and nice.” I sighed.

“How’s that?” she asked nonchalantly.

“Um, well, I don’t know how to describe it. Johnny asked me to go on the trip, but Ryan, his roommate, had sex with me.”

Denise’s eyes grew big, and she sat up and shifted toward me. “What?”

“Don’t ask me,” I said with a sigh.

“Why did you screw the friend?” she asked.

“I was drunk,” I replied.

“Oh, got it,” she said as she laughed and nodded.

“How was your weekend?” I asked.

“Not as interesting as yours,” she replied with a chuckle. Then she reached over, grabbed a note and handed it to me. “Kale called.”

I looked at the note with Kale’s name and number. My heart must have jumped clear up into my throat. The note said to meet him early at the office. Production was starting, and he wanted me to scout locations with him, which writers didn’t usually do. I smiled. Maybe it was a peace offering. I sat back against the sofa and started mindlessly watching the show. I felt somewhat hopeful for the first time in a long time.