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 further.
‘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 it.
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 exhilarating.
‘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 exponentially.
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 year old.
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
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 Andersen?’
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’ obsession.’
‘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 stalker.’
‘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... well... non-violent?’
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 liking.
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 and on.
‘Did you bring the notepad and stack of pens I told you to?’ Mel asked.
‘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
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 observed.
‘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
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
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
‘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 the island.
‘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 distance.
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 were shut.
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.
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