Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - ScoutingGrey clouds overtook the clear blue sky as Stan Smith watched from behind the steering wheel of her rented Land Rover’s windshield.  She pressed the refresh button on her email app and frowned again in frustration as the spinner continued to revolve.  It was either the incoming weather or the fact she was in the middle of nowheresville but the cell service was beginning to fade and she needed a few things confirmed before she disappeared into the woods.

With a lavender painted fingernail, she pressed the Bluetooth.  “Call Addison.”  After one ring, Stan’s perky assistant answered.

“Calling Shots, Stan Smith’s office, this is Addison.”

“Addy, did you call John and let him know I’d be back next week?”

“Yes, Stan.”

“You’ll be able to prep all my notes in time for the meetings?”  Stan signaled a turn and pulled off onto a side road.

“Yes, Stan”, Addison’s exasperated response came through the car’s speakers with a slight crackle.  Stan thought she made out the sound of a gum bubble popping.

“Oh wow, this is gorgeous,” Stan remarked as her next turn took her down a tree-lined drive.  The fading sun darkening the path up ahead and giving the road an ominous look.  “Perfect.”

Stan could envision the way John would film the opening shot of the series.  He’d fly a drone in the vast open fields she should see off to each side.  Then easily, the drone would swoop down the drive, leading the audience straight to the estate at the end of the drive.  The idea sent chills down Stan’s spine as her anticipation of finally finding the right location built up.

“Stan?  Huh?  What did you say?” her assistant’s voice broke through her creative eye moment.

“Addy?  Hello?  Addison, you’re breaking up.”  Stan slowed a bit to try and keep her connection.  “Look I’m almost here.  I’ll try and send photos tomorrow and my first notes tonight-,” she heard the line cut out.  She took a quick look at her phone and saw service was no longer available.  “Guess I’m really in the woods now, cue the rain,” she jested and not a minute later the first drops of water dotted her windshield.

If she remembered correctly, it was about two miles down the road to the estate.  She put her foot on the gas and sped up a bit in hopes of missing out on the impending downpour.  Stan didn’t know why the image of the estate had popped up in her memory banks, it was just kismet.  Or that was the lie she was telling herself.  It was better than thinking about Justin and their epic failed relationship of 10 years.

The tree line slowly began to widen as the estate began to take center stage.  Floodlights beamed up from the foundation and showcased the vastness of the property.  It was as if the house were alive and glowing, despite the gloomy circumstances.

“Holy Moses,” Stan exclaimed.  She turned her windshield wipers on faster to clear her view so her eyes could roam from wing to wing, floor to floor and then back again and finally on the grand entrance.  It was more than what she had imagined or dreamed.  Something whispered in her ear that it would be perfect.

As she pulled in front of the large staircase, she gave a sigh of relaxation.  Stan put the car in park and rested her head against the headrest.  Just a couple of days here, she thought.  It was the 8th location in a row she had scouted but work was better than her broken heart.

A sudden break in the light caught her eyes making her squint.  A blurry figure appeared at the top of the stairs, an umbrella hiding the face.  She could just make out the shape of the person through the rain streaked passenger window.  It was a man and he was racing down the stairs towards her.

“Justin?” her heart flipped at the thought of him surprising her and apologizing.  Could it be?


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