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About the author:
Sally Mason loves to love and loves writing about it! Her two novels, RENT A HUSBAND: A ROMANTIC COMEDY and GONE HOLLYWOOD: A ROMANTIC COMEDY, are both available on Kindle.
What inspired you to write your book?
I was brought up on a diet of Hollywood romantic comedies and I’m at my happiest with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face.
Here is a short sample from the book:
A Romantic Comedy
© 2013 by Sally Mason
All rights reserved
“In Hollywood brides keep the bouquet and throw away the groom.”
Bobby Champagne and Cord McCann meet beneath the Hollywood sign when Bobby, blood boiling at her ex-husband’s latest outrage and foot flat to the floor of her Ford truck, totals Cord’s puny Japanese rental.
Now, Cord McCann may be a big time movie star, but the sign in question is not on that famous Los Angeles hillside, it’s on a dirt road leading to Hollywood, Texas (Population: 467 and falling) where Bobby “Don’t never call me Roberta!” Champagne is a failing cotton farmer.
To fully appreciate the irony, let’s rewind a couple of hours and see Cord waking in the pre-dawn dark, unsure for a moment where he is.
The giant face of a neon cowboy, leering at Cord through a gap in the drapes, gives the answer: he’s in a motel room a hundred miles west of Amarillo, Texas, on location for his latest movie.
Cord’s playing Tommy “T-Bone” Buford, an alcoholic singer-songwriter who scratches out a living by doing one-night gigs in small-town bars until his ex-wife, a country star on the wane, tracks him down to convince him to write new songs for her in an effort to boost her flagging career.
The country star, of course, is played by Cord’s own wife, the agelessly luminous Kat Mansfield.
Cord switches on a lamp, revealing the full glory of the Western-themed room with its peeling wood-panel wallpaper and garish throw rugs.
A room just like the one farther down the corridor, still cluttered with lights and camera gear, where T-Bone first rebuffs his ex-wife.
Kat had been outraged that they had to spend the night here after technical problems had caused the days’ shooting to go way over time, but even she’d been able to understand the folly of traveling back to their suite at the Savoy Hotel in Amarillo when they had to start work right here at the motel just after dawn.
Cord, exhausted after a day that had required of him to repeatedly sing a particularly maudlin country ballad, get into a bar fight and jump from a first-floor balcony in order to escape T-Bone’s loathsome ex (why the hell was he still fool—and vain—enough to do most of his own stunts?) fell asleep early, vaguely remembering Kat saying that she was going to join the crew for “just one little drinkie.”
“Kat?” Cord says.
He goes into the bathroom, blinking at himself in the mirror when he switches on the buzzing florescent.
He looks like a broken-down juice head.
His dark hair is long and greasy, with white streaks artfully added by the make-up department.
A thick black beard, shot with gray (thanks again to make-up) covers his leading-man features.
Cord is forty-one, but the hair and beard make him look a decade older.
As the movie progresses, when the hero is seduced by money and the promise of fame and heads off to Nashville with his ex-wife, the beard will go, the hair will be trimmed and the movie will end with a handsome and rejuvenated T-Bone turning his back on his ex and finding love in the arms of her twenty-something back-up singer.
Cord isn’t looking forward to being shorn and shaved.
He’s grown attached to the beard and the hair and anonymity they lend him.
Wandering back into the bedroom he calls out again: “Kat?”
Has she gone off early to wardrobe and make-up?
As Cord parts the curtains and steps out onto the balcony that overlooks the motor court, the door to a room on the ground level opens and light spills out, and for a moment a couple is silhouetted in the doorway.
A couple locked in a passionate embrace.
When Kat Mansfield—she of the tumbling raven tresses—drags herself from the arms of a half-naked stunt man barely in his twenties and hurries across the parking lot, Cord slips back into the room, kills the lamp and slides into the bed, a sick feeling in his gut.
By the time the door opens and his wife creeps in, he’s pretending to be sleep.
In a moment he hears the sound of the shower.
Cord lies in the gloom, fighting hurt and rage.
It’s happening again.
Kat’s doing what she promised she would never again do.
Cord, despite the carefully placed tabloid stories, is boringly monogamous.
A one-woman man.
Unfailingly faithful to his wife of twenty years.
A wife whose taste for stunt men, grips and camera assistants is legendary in the movie industry.
Whose appetite for men half her age seemed to double when she turned forty a year ago.
They split up around that birthday—Cord, finally refusing to be the eternal cuckold, moving out of the mansion on Mulholland Drive, taking a suite at the Château Marmont.
After a month apart Kat asked him to meet her poolside one afternoon and he agreed.
Truth was, he missed her like poison.
When Cord got down to the pool Kat was waiting for him, dressed in jeans and boots. She’d chosen a table carefully: positioned perfectly for the paparazzi to get flattering shots, in the shade but with enough backlight to halo her hair.
She was sitting with her best profile—her left—toward the lurking photographers.
When Kat stood and hugged him, real tears flowed from beneath the huge Bulgari sunglasses she wore.
She sat and dabbed at her eyes, not disturbing her flawless make-up.
“Kat,” he said.
After he ordered a Perrier, she said, “I’m so glad you agreed to meet.”
“It’s against my better judgment.”
“Well, I have news.”
“Yes, I’m seeing someone.”
Cord felt his gut clench.
Kat had one night stands by the score.
But she never saw anyone.
This was serious.
She grabbed his hand.
“Oh, god, darling, not seeing someone like that. I mean a doctor.” A Hollywood pause. “A shrink.”
He stared at her.
“No, I swear. His name is Dr. Karpov and he has rooms in Beverly Hills and I see him three times a week. He has given me some very illuminating insights into my behavior.”
“Like, I’m becoming a loathsome old cougar and what I’m doing is both sordid and sad.”
“Guy sounds smart.”
She gazed out cross the pool then met his eyes again.
“I’m sorry, Cord. I’ve never stopped loving you. These dalliances—”
“Let’s call it as it is. You’re a sex addict.”
He saw a flash of rage touch her face, then she shrugged and smiled.
“Fine let’s call a spade a spade. This sex addiction preceded you.”
She stopped when she saw his expression.
“So I wasn’t your first?” he asked.
“No, darling, not by a long shot.”
“Why did you lie?”
“Because you wanted me to, simple as that.”
“Maybe I did. But I don’t need your lies now. Can you kick this thing?”
“Yes. Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. I can do it.”
The glasses were removed and he was lost in her huge green eyes, feeling his resolve melting into the pool.
“Come home, Cord, please.”
They stood and embraced, and the cameras loved them as they walked hand in hand to the elevator and went up to his suite and made long, slow, sweet love.
The next day Cord moved back home, slowly relaxing his vigilance as the months passed with no evidence of infidelity.
When the script for this movie was sent to them, Kat urged him to do it with her.
It was always Kat who looked at the scripts and said yes or no, even scripts that were solo vehicles for Cord.
That was her hold on him.
She’d never given the nod to a bad script, even when the money on offer seemed too vast to resist, her instinct infallible.
It was ambitious Kat who had got them from Nowhere, Kansas to Hollywood.
Kat who had changed his name from Fred Wilks to Cord McCann.
Changed hers from Betty Brown to Kathleen Mansfield.
Got them an agent and got them noticed.
Only later did Cord discover the methods she’d used, but by then Kat had made them one of the richest power couples in Hollywood.
And never stopped reminding Cord that he owed her everything.
But, lying in bed in this god-forsaken motel room, listening to the hiss of the shower as his wife washes away another man’s sweat, Cord understands that he has repaid that debt a thousand times over.
He owes his wife nothing.
Wants no more of her.
Wants no more of this movie.
He stands up from the bed and pulls on jeans and a T-shirt, grabs his boots and tip-toes to the door.
He lets himself out and sits on the stairs in the strobing glare of the neon, pulling on his boots.
Then he walks down to the parking lot where a gofer, a kid of maybe twenty, steps out of one of the production vehicles, a tiny Japanese compact.
“Morning,” Cord says.
The kid comes to attention.
“Morning, Mr. McCann.”
“I need a favor.”
“Name it, sir.”
“I need to use this car.”
The kid stares at him, then he holds out the keys.
“Absolutely, Mr. McCann.”
Cord folds his six-foot-plus into the tiny car, fights back the seat to accommodate his long legs and drives away from the motel, passing beneath the smirking cowboy.
Cord turns onto the highway and speeds toward the sun peering over the distant hills, with not the vaguest notion of where he’s going.
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