In Case Of Lightning
Chapter 1: The New Job
'First trip to New Zealand, dear?'
Lari jumped at the sound of the old lady's voice, not having
realised she was awake. 'Yes, actually,' Lari replied.
The other woman nodded in a sage sort of way. 'Ah yes. You'll
love it, dear. Are you here on holiday?' she asked kindly.
Lari couldn't help but smile. The old woman had gotten on the
plane in Brisbane and promptly gone to sleep without having a
spoken a word to Lari. Now, as they were trundling along the
tarmac in Auckland International Airport, she was awake and
feeling very sociable.
'Actually, I'm here for work,' Lari replied. 'Are you here on
holiday?' she asked before the old lady could question her
'I'm visiting family,' she replied. 'My son, Benjamin, lives an
hour out of Auckland.'
'Oh?' Lari murmured politely, realising that she was about to
hear all about Benjamin.
Sure enough Caroline Hodge, as her hand luggage proclaimed,
launched into the tale of her son's work.
Lari made all the right noises and tried to be attentive but
really, her nerves were jangling and she was completely
preoccupied. Two weeks ago, Lari had gotten a call from her uncle
who had contacts in about every industry. He'd heard of a certain
job vacancy through friends of friends and he'd told Lari about
Apparently, the personal assistant to Cooper Stanton (who was
only the biggest film star of today) had been looking
for a replacement so that she could go on maternity leave. At the
time, Lari had been looking around for a better job and she'd
called the number her uncle had passed along and Lari had been
given the job a week later.
So here she was, flying into New Zealand to meet THE Cooper
Stanton on the set of his latest film. It was both terrifying and
'What's your name, dear?' Caroline asked, having apparently
realised how distracted Lari was.
She smiled. 'Larissa Hurst,' she replied. 'And yours?' she asked,
despite knowing full well.
'Oh, you can just call me Caroline,' the old lady replied.
Lari smiled politely and waited until Caroline had stood up and
moved into the aisle before standing up too and collecting her
bag from the overhead luggage compartment. It was relieving
beyond belief to stand up and Lari felt her spirits rise
She quickly grabbed her bright red oversized handbag and black
coat from the overhead compartment. Slipping the coat on over her
black dress and tights, Lari followed the crowd toward the exits.
She shivered a little, not at all surprised by the cool weather.
Tucking a loose piece of her dark hair behind her ear, Lari
wondered what Cooper was going to think of her. She was quite
short and "petite", as her best friend liked to say. Lari knew
that, with her mid-length wavy dark hair and lack of height,
people often mistook her for someone younger than a twenty-three
It was a little annoying, actually. Lari lived in Australia, a
land of beaches and sun, yet she looked more like a pixie than a
sun-bronzed goddess. Life just wasn't fair sometimes.
It was only as Lari finally stepped inside the actual airport
building that she saw the rain falling gently through the floor
to ceiling windows. A small smile tugged at her lips; she liked
this country already.
It didn't seem to take long to get through customs and baggage
collection. All too soon, Lari was stepping through the arrivals
gate and looked around, more nervous than she could ever remember
'Larissa Hurst?' a brisk, cheerful voice questioned.
Turning her head, Lari saw a tall, elegant young woman looking
expectantly at her. 'Yes,' she replied, her nervous butterflies
changing to full-grown dragons in her stomach. 'Melissa
The efficient-looking blonde smiled and waved her hand. 'Please,
call me Mel. It's nice to meet you, Larissa.'
Lari accepted the hand the other woman offered. 'Thanks, you too.
And call me Lari.'
Mel smiled and nodded towards the doors. 'Lari? Thank goodness
you don't tell me that over the phone. I might have thought you
were a guy.'
Lari laughed and followed beside Mel towards the exit. 'Would
that have been a problem?'
Mel hesitated, choosing her words as they walked towards the car
park. 'Look, I'll be honest with you. Cooper specifically asked
me to find a female replacement because one of your main jobs
will be dealing with certain fan clubs. That requires a certain
amount of... tact... that most men don't possess.'
Lari smiled. 'Probably because they can't understand the fans'
'And you can?'
Lari cut her eyes sideways to find Mel watching her. 'I assure
you I'm genuine about this job,' she said frankly. 'I'm kind of
excited to meet someone so famous but other than that...' Lari
Mel grinned, satisfied. 'Excellent. I just thought I'd ask.'
Lari nodded, not upset by it. 'Of course. I can imagine he'd be
pretty upset if you found him a replacement that was a crazy
'Ahh, yes,' Mel said, her voice a little reluctant. 'You are
prepared to deal with a few crazies, aren't you?' she asked,
pointing towards a little red matchbox of a car.
Lari headed obediently towards it. 'How crazy?' she asked, a
little wary now. They stashed her bags into the boot of the car.
'I don't think I'm a qualified bodyguard or anything,' she added.
Mel grinned as she unlocked the car. 'Nothing that crazy.' They
got in and Mel started up the car. 'Mostly, if you two are
somewhere in public, you're going to be approached by a lot of
people. And I mean a lot of people.'
'Okay,' Lari said with a nod. 'But they're usually pretty...
Mel laughed. 'Cooper's fans are mostly women and young girls -
age isn't a factor. The most they usually try to do is get a hug
from Cooper and he's old enough to handle that by himself.'
Lari smiled. 'I'm glad to heart that.'
'Did you get my email about your duties?' Mel asked as she joined
the main throng of traffic a little too quickly for Lari's
She quickly dug around in her handbag for the sheets of paper.
'Yes, I did. Is now a good time to ask you questions about it?'
'Go for it,' Mel invited, crossing several lanes of traffic while
Lari held her breath, her eyes wide.
The woman was going to get them both killed.
'What did you want to know?' Mel prompted when Lari said nothing.
'Oh. Actually, I just wanted to get this straight. As far as I
can tell from your email, the job is really a day-to-day thing.'
Mel nodded, darting into another lane. 'You'll see that over the
next week but basically you need to follow Cooper around and get
everything done that he can't do while he's filming. Also, you're
going to liaise with a number of people from the film studio.'
She paused as she opened the glove compartment in front of Lari
and extracted a folder, one hand left on the wheel. 'That's for
you,' she said and Lari took it quickly, relieved when Mel had
two hands on the steering wheel again.
'It's basically all the contacts and phone numbers that you'll
need for the job,' Mel explained. 'I'm going to be calling them
all this week and letting them know that you're taking over my
job and you're the real deal basically so you shouldn't
experience any troubles there.'
Lari nodded slowly and she glanced through them. 'Alright.'
Wow. Cooper Stanton's agent, his manager, his family members,
representatives from a number of fan clubs... the list went on
'Did you bring the notepad and stack of pens I told you to?' Mel
'Yes,' Lari replied. 'I brought stacks of them.'
'You'll need them,' Mel told her. 'Never be without them any time
of the day - it doesn't matter if it's two in the morning. Never
be without them - it will save your life.'
Lari nodded quickly. 'Okay, got it.'
'You'll find your work hours will align with Cooper's,' Mel added
and she cut in front of another car and veered onto the exit,
ignoring the other car's indignant honks. 'You'll spend a lot of
time on set with Cooper. On other projects I used to run errands
for him but you won't be doing that during this film because the
film's being shot on an island. Most of the time you'll be able
to do your work by phone.'
The nervousness was back and Lari tried not to think about the
task she'd taken on. Cooper Stanton; 6'3" of pure gorgeousness.
He was partly a global sensation due to his acting talent and
partly due to his handsome blonde hair and blue eyes.
Lari hadn't been a fan exactly but she could appreciate his
success. It was quite intimidating to think she was about to meet
the actor who was tipped to win several awards in his near
future. Kate, her best friend at home, had been nearly speechless
with cheerful envy.
Right now though, Lari couldn't decide if she had the best job in
the world or the worst. If she screwed up so many people were
going to know about it.
'You've gone quiet,' Mel commented, glancing at her passenger.
'Are you nervous?'
Lari bit her lip and then laughed. 'Very,' she admitted.
Mel sent her a compassionate smile. 'You'll do fine,' she told
Lari. 'You'll have a full week to learn the job and I'll be with
you the whole time. I've booked us both into the same bach so
you'll be with me twenty four seven for the next week. You'll
follow me around for the first day or two and then after that
I'll hand over the reigns. I'll only step back in if you fu- uh,
mess something up.'
Lari grinned. 'Sounds great but... uh... what's a bach?'
Mel smiled. 'It's really a two bedroom little holiday house.
They're nothing flashy but they have wonderful views of the
water. Or so I've been told anyway.'
'You haven't seen it?'
Mel shook her head. 'Actually, Cooper only just went to Waiheke
Island - our destination - a few days ago. I stayed back in the
States - he lives in LA - to finish a few jobs there and then I
timed my arrival with yours.'
'Oh. You seem pretty familiar with where we're going,' Lari
'I've had weeks of dealing with our arrival,' Mel revealed. 'I
would hope I'd be familiar with the island after checking the
details so much. I'll go through the preparations with you
later,' she added.
It seemed like no time at all that they were getting onto the
ferry that would take them to Waiheke Island, the film location
that would be Lari's new home for the next few months.
'So how big is this island, exactly?' Lari asked, wishing she'd
done a bit more research online.
Mel flashed her a grin. 'There's only about eight thousand people
who live on the island. Waiheke's big on tourism though and as
you've seen we're really quite close to Auckland. Plus it's a
beautiful place. You'll love it.'
Lari nodded and tried not to think about the fact that they were
moving over a large body of water on a floating metal
contraption. It was ridiculous; being Australian and hating any
form of beaches.
Luckily, it was only a short trip and the girls spent the time
gossiping about nothing in particular. It was a nice distraction
from Lari's nerves which returned in full force when the time
came to disembark.
'Not long now,' Mel said happily, completely oblivious.
'Great,' Lari said faintly.
Less than ten minutes later, Mel was leading them to another
waiting matchbox car. 'Here we are,' she announced.
Lari blinked. 'Uh... whose cars are these exactly?'
Mel laughed as they got in. 'They're rentals,' she explained. 'We
have a pretty good deal with the rental company. More flexibility
that way,' she said.
Lari nodded. Flexible indeed - this was the second car in a very
short space of time. Looking around, Lari had to admit the island
was incredibly beautiful; green and blue everywhere.
All too soon, they were arriving at a perceptively busier part of
'This place usually has quite a few tourists,' Mel told her as
they found a car park with a row of other cars. 'But it's low
season at the moment, hence why filming is happening now. Still,
the film crew has basically taken over the entire island.'
'I see that,' Lari said as they got out of the car.
Everywhere she looked there were people hurrying around. She
could see a number of security staff watching them already.
'Here you are,' Mel said, holding something out to Lari. 'Guard
it with your life.'
Taking it, Lari felt a strange flare of pleasure to see her name
printed on a security pass. Glancing at Mel, Lari clipped it to
her coat lapel as well.
'Let's go,' Mel said cheerfully. 'Time for you to meet Cooper.'
The nervousness flared to life but Lari firmly banked it down.
She was a mature, confident woman. She could do this.
Mel grinned at her. 'No need to worry; Cooper doesn't bite.'
Lari grinned but said nothing as they headed into the main hub of
activity. Their security passes were checked and they slipped
past, Mel making a direct line for a row of trailers in the
Mel paused, turning to look at who'd called her. Lari paused with
her. A tall man in the distance was waving frantically at Mel.
'Oh,' Mel said, clearly surprised. 'Hey, Lari. Do you mind going
and introducing yourself to Cooper? I just need to go speak to
Steve for a minute.'
'His trailer will be one of those,' Mel added, pointing to the
two on the end. 'His trailer's number 2. Just go right in.'
'Great,' Mel said quickly, patting her shoulder reassuringly
before heading off a brisk pace.
'Well, damn it,' Lari muttered in resignation. With a sigh, she
turned and kept walking over to the trailers, deciding to just do
it. It would be like removing a band aid - it had to be done
quickly and with minimal thought involved.
Trailer 2 was not surprisingly the second to the end and Lari
took a deep breath, putting her hand on the door handle. Then she
opened the door and stuck her head in.
If Lari had expected anything, anything at all, it wasn't to see
Cooper Stanton, lying on sofa, blood covering his chest. His eyes
Sooo... welcome to my new story =D
Oooh, and while I remember... the picture for this novel is
indeed my muse for Larissa =) I know the actress in the photo has
blue eyes so just keep in mind that Lari's are brown.
Much love ~ oleander.