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The weather was gorgeous. The sun was shining, skies were clear, the temperature was high, but not too high, yet Florence Lockhart knew that this hellish day was far from over. She stared at the shrinking Californian shoreline in dismay as the boat she was on drove further and further into the Pacific Ocean. It took almost an hour for the people at the docks, and then the buildings to blur into an amorphous blob of land.
Behind her, she heard cheerful whistling. Of course, he was enjoying himself. The devil enjoyed the suffering of others so it would make sense that his hatchling would enjoy her suffering. Not that a six foot three, built man with dark hair and soulful hazel eyes could accurately be termed a hatchling, but Florence was sure that he had started out as a hatchling and then grew into the beast that he was now.
Even as she hated him fiercely, she was still entirely too aware of the fact that he was gorgeous. It was completely unfair. Dressed in baggy black shorts and half-sleeved, button-up white shirt left open to display his perfectly sculpted chest, he was mouthwatering. Until he opened his mouth, Florence thought darkly. She was also entirely too aware that she probably looked frumpy in her bathing suit and cover up compared to the women he would ordinarily take with him on this boat. Her shoulder length, straightened hair reacted to the water in the air by immediately transforming back into an uncontrollable mass of golden, frothy curls.
She didn't turn around to face him. It wasn't because she was afraid of him, she was slightly afraid because he was not what she expected. No, the reason she didn't turn around was because she was afraid to move. Her head still ached something fierce from the last time she attempted to walk along the slippery deck with just her flip flops. It probably wouldn't be so bad if she wore those ugly looking deck shoes, but she had only seen one pair and those were on his feet.
Slowly, ever so slowly, she lowered herself so she could sit on the deck. She wished she had her cell phone. Florence guessed it wouldn't have mattered if she did have it; it made sense that there would be no cell service in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but still, it would have been nice. If not to call for help, well then at least to inform someone where she was and who to prosecute in the case of her death. Florence stared glumly at the turquoise water which stayed pretty unlike the Atlantic Ocean which was more of a dark, ominous greenish blue hue except for the white caps of breaking waves, at least that's what it looked like up north. If she lived through this, she would blame her parents, Florence decided.
They wouldn't accept the blame. They were immigrants so anything Florence did that was positive was a reflection of their parenting skills, but anything negative was a reflection of American influences corrupting their daughter. Her parents worked hard for what seemed like most of their life and they expected her to repay them by being more successful than they were by tenfold. Her parents had immigrated to Canada from Scotland with almost nothing, but now ran a successful antique shop in a middle class neighborhood in Toronto.
Florence had worked in that antique shop both part time and fulltime until she graduated from the University of Toronto with a BA in journalism. She had always been more interested in writing fiction, but her parents were strongly opposed and demanded that if she pursued writing, then she should write serious articles in journals and newspapers. In a way, they had gotten their wish, but as a journalist in the hot new tabloid, GOSSIP, she was writing mostly fiction.
Her job pretty much entailed receiving a paparazzi photograph and making a juicy story to go along with it. If her story was good, her full article was included in the issue and she made more money. If it was not very interesting, then it was cut down to a caption consisting of sentence or two by the editor, Jason Larson, and she received not as much money. For awhile, Florence had been doing this from Toronto, but just last week, she had moved to L.A.
Although she had been working fulltime, she didn't make as much as she could for the simple reason that too often her stories were considered not edgy enough. They wanted more interesting things, but how could Florence write about an actress' drug addiction if the actress didn't have one? The repercussions that the lie would have if spread usually stopped Florence from adding more false, but juicy details the editors were looking for.
However, living in LA was expensive, more so than living in Toronto. Florence needed money and so she began adding more of the details her editors were looking for. She mostly just hinted at possible pregnancies or pending charitable adoptions of kids from third world countries by mega-rich stars. She took two pictures of feuding actresses entering the same club (although on a different night) and wrote about the possible end to the feud since they were both apparently partying together. She took a picture of a once happy couple and wrote an article bashing the guy for leaving his wife to take care of their many children while he waltzed around Europe with a much younger woman, who was not the same woman he had left his wife for.
Lastly, she had hinted at an affair between two costars in an upcoming romantic comedy. The picture she had received was of a half nude, Calder Drake hugging the gorgeous Melody Wong. Florence watched so many of Drake's movies, she loved him. The picture could easily be considered a friendly hug since both were laughing, but the article Florence wrote hinted at a torrid love affair since Wong was currently engaged. She thought, seriously, who would mind the idea of having an affair with Drake? Besides, tabloids had made larger false claims, like the president's divorce. In addition, each issue of GOSSIP came with the disclaimer that not all stories were factual. Everyone knew that.
What made this story worse was the disintegration of Wong's engagement that coincided with the printing of the issue that held Florence's article. Suddenly, the entire world seemed to be paying attention to GOSSIP. Her editor, Jason Lars was in heaven! In every tabloid that covered the breakup, there was a reference to Florence's article. Even Entertainment Tonight showed the article when discussing the possible reasons behind the breakup. With one article, Calder Drake went from onscreen romantic hottie to possibly being the sexy, but dreaded 'other man'.
That week Florence, new to L.A., had her first interaction with a bonafide Hollywood star. It consisted of a message left on her answering machine at home because her voicemail was full. It was short, but definitely not sweet. Calder Drake spoke in tones she had not heard before in the various movies she saw him in. No, for her, his voice was low, succinct and mean. Mean also described the message he had left for after reaming into her for her lies and for being a vulture picking at the lives of others since she didn't have one of her own, he ended with "I'm going to destroy you. Welcome to L.A."