This chapter is for you. Thank you for taking the time to read my books, blog posts, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. I really appreciate it. Here is Chapter 1 for I Choose You.
No sunglasses in the world were dark enough. The sun’s splintering rays still burnt through the lenses. And sunglasses couldn’t hide the fact she was shattered. The grainy pictures in the gossip magazines displayed at the newsstand ensured the whole world was aware of her devastation.
“Passenger Miss Helga Hansen, please make your way to gate number seventy-three. Your plane is about to depart. This is your final boarding call.”
This is what she got for flying economy. She had figured fewer people would recognize her if she wasn’t where she was expected. Now, thanks to American Airlines, every eye would be focused on her as she boarded the plane. Gone were the days when she could travel by alias – security was just too tight and she didn’t want to be detained for questioning for traveling with a fake identity. She shuddered at the thought of being locked in a room for hours with men and rubber gloves.
It wasn’t even her fault she was late. Gerry, the producer of her latest film, had held her up at the studio for so long that her driver hit rush hour traffic. That they made it here at all was a miracle. But with the not so subtle whispers following her as she rushed to catch her flight, Helga wished she’d missed her plane all together.
As she boarded, the airhostess vaguely waved her to her seat: 47B. She really should have flown business class at least. She squeezed down the narrow aisle past harassed mothers, whiny kids and self-important businessmen. She would have gladly paid the extra eighteen hundred bucks if she’d known today would have ended so horribly.
She wrestled her shoulder bag into the overhead locker and tried to get into her seat. The man on the aisle just sat there, looked at her but made no move to let her in.
“Could you let me in please?” she finally asked when the airhostess cleared her throat rather obviously, for the third time.
The man grunted and moved his legs two inches to the side but other than that made no attempt to move.
“You’re that actress, aren’t you?” he asked as she tried in vain to squeeze past him. He picked the unfortunate moment when her ass was right in front of his face to start the conversation. “The one who’s always breaking up with her boyfriends.”
Helga sighed and backed up, dragging his knee with her.
“That’s me,” she said, trying to plaster a smile on her face.
She couldn’t push past him and he wouldn’t move out of her way. She used the advantage of her height and, standing on her tiptoes, stepped over his legs, finally managing to arrive in her seat. She sank as deeply into it as possible. She could feel a bar through the seat, running across her lower back. She let out a huge sigh and wiggled. This was going to be a long flight.
The captain’s voice came over the speaker garbled and unclear but more than likely telling them about the weather and flying conditions. The flight attendants started their safety briefing and although Helga made this trip practically every week, she made a point of paying attention to the demonstration. With the way her day was going, she wouldn’t be surprised if they came in on a crash landing.
The lady on her right flipped through a copy of one of the gossip magazines featuring a lovely photograph of her with red puffy eyes and running mascara. The man on her left spent the first ten minutes leaning over her to peer out the window, and breathing heavily onto her breasts. She shifted as far away from him as the close confines of cattle class would allow. Would this day never end?
All she wanted to do was to crawl into her bed and sleep for a month. This had been another week from hell. She briefly entertained the idea of asking the airhostess if she could upgrade but the one who greeted her at the door was still shooting daggers her way whenever their eyes met.
She was exhausted and vulnerable and the last thing she wanted to do was discuss her personal life with strangers. Unfortunately that was exactly what her traveling companions seemed to want to do for the remaining 5 hours and 23 minutes of the flight. Oh why hadn’t she purchased a first-class ticket?
Once the lady overflowing the seat next to her looked up from her magazine and saw who she was sitting next to, Helga couldn’t get her to stop talking.
“You can’t let him walk all over you, honey. You have to stand up for yourself.”
Helga squirmed away from the lady’s concerned patting of her knee and shifted closer to the heavy breather who was now clutching both his armrests in a death grip as their plane took off.
“You know, honey, my sister used to be just like you, going through men like they were outfits. And I said to her, I said, “Honey, you gots to stand up for yourself. Where’s your self-respect? Well, you know what she did, honey?”
“No, I’m sure I don’t.” Helga dearly wished she’d taken some sleeping tablets before she boarded. She’d just have to get some out of her bag. Oh shit, no. Her bag was in the overhead locker and there was no way she’d be able to get past Heavy Breather to get it. She slumped back into her seat and waited for the words of wisdom to come from Honey’s mouth.
“Well, she got herself a decent job and found herself a rich lawyer man, uh huh, that’s what she did. They’ve been married now for six years and not once has she had her heart broken again. You stick with me, honey, and I’ll steer you right.”
“Thank you for your advice,” Helga said and closed her eyes behind her sunglasses. “If you don’t mind, I’m awfully tired. I think I might just get a few hours’ sleep while I can. It was sure nice to meet you though.”
As much as getting ‘advice’ from strangers grated on her nerves, Helga made a point of always being gracious to everyone she met. Firstly, she’d like to be treated with respect herself and somewhere in the back of her mind, locked far away, was the hope that someday she would be. And secondly, she knew only too well what one nasty review or comment could do. If she let her frustration out on this woman and that woman talked to her friends and they to their friends, well, it didn’t take a genius to see what kind of damage could be done. And let’s face it, the way her career had gone this last year, she needed all the supporters she could get.
Come back tomorrow for Chapter 2.
Lights. Camera. Cowboy.
Helga Hansen is the movie star of the moment. Wealthy beyond her wildest dreams, beautiful and girlfriend of sexy Myles of the world-famous band The Knights: life could not be better. Until Myles cheats on her, that is. Then her latest movie is ‒ again! ‒ a career-threatening flop. She’s sacked her friend/agent in a fury. And, to make matters worse, her little sister’s life seems to be spiraling out of control and Helga’s just not sure how to help her out of the abyss.
So the invitation to star in Brian Hargrave’s new movie – yes, the Brian Hargrave ‒ is one she just can’t turn down. And if it means filming in Hicksville for what’ll seem like an eternity, so what? It’s time away from the big smoke and a chance to lick her wounds. And did someone say something about cowboys?
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