Wonder Boi Writes

It’s Excerpt Time

It’s May! May is a happy month. My wife wraps up her school year in May. My son’s little league season starts in May. And In Development comes out in May! Yay for May!

To celebrate, I am sharing the first excerpt from the book. What follows is the opening scene, so there’s no set up needed. Read, and hopefully enjoy, my gift you to.  Then scoot on over and pre-order your copy today!

In Development – Chapter 1

The office of Levy and Levy was a whir of human energy vibrating off glass and steel. Everywhere phones rang or buzzed, and there wasn’t a surface that didn’t glisten or gleam. All the bustle and brightness made Cobie Galloway feel even more out of place than she had outside in Times Square. The lights there were brighter and the noises louder, but at least she’d blended into the crowd. As soon as the elevator doors had opened on the forty-second floor, every eye trained on her. Well, maybe not her so much as her clothes or her hair or perhaps the way she slouched and shuffled up to the desk.

Then again, maybe her demeanor made her stand out more than her low-slung jeans and plain cream waffle-weave shirt. She didn’t act like she owned the place, unlike every other sleek, suit-clad person bustling back and forth, talking on a myriad of devices: phones, tablets, Bluetooth earpieces. One guy even seemed to be chatting with his watch. She glanced down at the thick script in her hands and considered trying to have a conversation with it. Instead, she chose the old-fashioned approach and smiled at the receptionist with a severe up-do.

“Hi.”

“Yes?” the woman asked, drumming her jet-black fingernails on her frosted glass desk.

“I’m Stan’s eleven-thirty appointment.”

The receptionist pursed her lips in a way that suggested she highly doubted the truth of the statement but clicked open a document on her iPad. “Mr. Levy has an eleven-thirty appointment with . . .” Her voice trailed off, and she regarded Cobie with a little more interest. Gray eyes flicked over her attire and settled on her face, clearly searching for something to tip the scales of recognition. Cobie decided to make it easier on them both, so she shook her shoulder-length brunette hair from her face, then fluttered her eyelashes a little.

The receptionist’s entire demeanor changed. She leaned forward in her chair, showing a startling amount of cleavage, her cheeks flushing pink and her lips curving upward. “Oh, honey, you’re much taller than you look in all the movies.”

“It’s the angles they shoot from,” she said frankly. “Jeremy doesn’t like anyone to know how short he is.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “How short is he?”

Cobie smiled. “Five-seven on a good day. When I’m barefoot, I look him in the eye.”

“And is everything else about him . . .” She glanced around like she knew she shouldn’t ask but couldn’t pass up the chance. “Proportional?”

Cobie shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. He uses a body double for love scenes.”

The secretary’s mouth dropped, and Cobie felt the tiniest bit of guilt. She didn’t care a wit about protecting Jeremy’s fragile ego, but she didn’t want to do anything that might serve as tabloid fodder. She worked hard to protect her own life. She wouldn’t want to carelessly subject someone else to that kind of scrutiny, whether she particularly enjoyed their company or not. “That’s just between us though, okay?”

The woman pantomimed zipping her lips, locking them, and then depositing the imaginary key in a wastebasket under her translucent desk. The little display made Cobie realize the young woman likely had acting aspirations, which reminded her why she’d stopped by in the first place. “Is Stan in?”

“Oh, yes, of course.” The woman rose. “Right this way.”

Cobie followed her through a series of hallways reminiscent of a shiny anthill. She wondered if she should leave breadcrumbs to find her way back, but she was sure one of the starving actresses or musicians waiting in the wings would eat them before her meeting finished.

Finally, the last hallway dead-ended into a massive set of frosted glass doors accented in polished chrome. The receptionist pressed a button Cobie couldn’t see and whispered, “Cobie Galloway to see you.”

The doors swung open seemingly of their own volition, and the receptionist motioned for her to go inside, even though she didn’t cross the threshold herself.

“Thanks,” Cobie said, hesitating slightly, as though she’d been summoned by the great and powerful Oz. Then she remembered she’d called this meeting with her manager, who worked for her. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her chin and stepped purposefully inside.

“Hey, Stan.”

He smiled at her, holding up one finger and motioning to a cell phone against his ear, and turned to stare out the large windows. “I don’t care how much money he thinks the project is going to make. That’s a problem for the producers. I only care what my client makes, and if there’s not another zero on the next contract I get from you, we’ll go shopping.”

She should probably be glad he said things like that. Hell, maybe he’d said it for her benefit. He’d likely said it on her behalf several times in the last ten years, and judging from the view of Times Square from his office, he got the answer he wanted more often than not. That’s why she stayed with him, she reminded herself. He knew how to get what he wanted, which was what she wanted.

She took a seat in what she assumed was a chair, even though it was made entirely of chrome and angled in a way that kept her feet from touching the ground. Staring down at the script in her lap, she flipped it open and ran her fingers over the title.

Vigilant.

The word stood in bold print. When she closed her eyes, she could still see it. She’d dreamt about it last night. This was the project she’d waited a decade to be a part of, a project that could make, or rather remake, her career into something she could be proud of.

“Cobie.” Stan’s voice boomed from across the room as he tossed his phone onto the desk. “What a treat to see you in person. What brings you to the city?”

“I heard my manager works here.”

“He does. He works very hard here, makes the big deals too, but enough about me.” He flashed her a smile, showing teeth too bright not to have been enhanced somehow. “Tell me about you. Surely you didn’t fly in just to meet with me. You got a hot date?”

She shook her head. “No, I really wanted to talk to you about my next project.”

“Oh, yes. Let me see.” He tapped his temple, drawing attention to the fact that his dark, wavy hair had grayed considerably at the sides. “You just wrapped the last Nick Sparks adaptation, right? Hey, how’s Jeremy?”

“He’s Jeremy,” she said with a sigh. “So very . . . Jeremy.”

“Ah, I remember you two canoodling outside my office when you were just kids.”

She wanted to say she’d never canoodled. Not with Jeremy or anyone else, especially in his office. But she needed to stay focused.

“The time sure does fly, and now you’re practically all grown up, both of you.”

“Actually, that’s what I’m here to talk about,” Cobie cut in. “I have grown up, and I’m ready for the roles I take on to reflect my maturity.”

He stopped abruptly on his stroll down memory lane to look at her seriously for the first time.

“I was looking over the script for Vigilant last night.”

His eyes went wide, signaling she had his full attention now. “Vigilant is a New York Times bestseller. Where did you get the script?”

She shook her head, not wanting to go there. She couldn’t let the conversation become about her contacts versus his. “That doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it’s drafted and in my hands to negotiate with.”

“Negotiate?” He eyed the document like the Pope might look at a crucifix.

“A full treatment, script, screen writer, and female lead,” Cobie said in her most businesslike voice. “It’s a package deal. All or nothing.”

“Nothing is all or nothing,” he mumbled and began to pace. “I heard the author wasn’t willing to negotiate, or I’d have beaten down her door myself.”

“Yes. But would you have pitched me for the lead?”

“Uh, well.” He smoothed his thumb over his eyebrows. “The thing is this will be a very sought-after role.”

“So no, then?”

“It’s not that I don’t think you could handle the acting.” He started patronizing, and she gritted her teeth to stay calm long enough to see if he could turn it around. “But since so many people have read the book, they’re going to have an image in their heads for the character of Vale.”

“And I don’t fit the image?”

“No. But do you know who I spoke to last night?”

“Not a clue.”

“Christopher Columbus, the director, not the explorer.” He chuckled at his own joke.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m sure he’s never heard that one before.”

“He’s doing Night at the Museum Four, and there’s going to be a love interest for the son this time.”

“The son that went to college in the last movie?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“So I’d play a college student?”

“Exactly, but there’ll be a few fun action scenes.”

She sighed and wiggled her way out of the awkward art chair. “I’m twenty-six years old, and I’ve never played a character over the age of nineteen.”

“Okay, well, Jeremy is in talks for one where he plays a city kid who gets offered a job on a dude ranch for the summer.”

“Target audience?” she asked drolly, already knowing the answer.

“Girls, twelve to eighteen.”

“I’m too old for teen movies,” she said flatly.

“Oh, honey, don’t talk about yourself that way. You could easily pass for a high school student. Did you know Olivia Newton-John was twenty-nine when she played the role of Sandy in Grease?”

“You’ve mentioned it before, but the thing is, I don’t want to pass for younger than I am.”

He opened his mouth but didn’t seem to know how to respond to the comment. “Say again?”

“I don’t want to be Olivia Newton-John. Don’t get me wrong. She killed that role, but I don’t want to be America’s sweetheart anymore. I don’t want to do teen flicks or musicals either for that matter.”

“But really you do sing, right?”

“Stan,” she said forcefully, “I want to do Vigilant.”

He shook his head slowly.

“I’ve got the skills. I’ve got the build. I’m in great shape.”

“All true, but you don’t have the image. The character is dark, morally ambiguous, a drinker, a fighter, a lesbian shit-kicker.”

“I’m a lesbian shit-kicker.”

“Are you?” he asked, his voice a little higher, like someone talking to a puppy or a child.

“Yes,” she said emphatically.

“Look.” He cut the patronizing tone. “I’m glad you want to branch out, but no one is going to buy you as a lesbian.”

“But I am a lesbian!”

“Oh, I know. I wrote that press release, but this character is actually going to sleep with women, plural, on screen, and you’re just not that kind of lesbian.”

“The kind of lesbian who actually sleeps with a lot of women?”

“Exactly,” he said, almost triumphantly.

“Excuse me?” she spluttered. “I have slept with women. I mean not in the last few months, but it has happened.”

“Good for you. I have a lesbian niece, and I am a sponsor of the big parade in the Village, but—  and I mean no offense—  to the rest of the world you’re still sixteen. And they love that about you. You’re a safety gay.”

“A safety gay?”

“Like Ellen Degeneres or Ellen Page. Really, it’s a shame you’re not named Ellen. Hey, that reminds me, how do you feel about a sitcom? We need someone to read for the role of Jane Fonda’s granddaughter on that Netflix thing. She’s a lesbian, right?”

“No. Lily Tomlin is.”

“Really? Since when? Never mind, she’s funny! You could be funnier, you know.

“Thanks. And I don’t want to play Jane Fonda’s granddaughter. Is there an audition for the role of her lover?”

Stanley about choked. “Was that a joke? If so, it was a funny one. If not, then it wasn’t funny.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be funny.” She practically exploded. “I want to be challenged. I want a grown-up career. I want a manager who wants to make me happy.”

“How about a manager who makes you boatloads of money? Then you can buy whatever makes you happy.”

He didn’t get it. At least not the way she wanted him to. She would have really liked for him to jump on board with her. His enthusiastic support would have been a boon to her confidence, but ultimately, she didn’t need him to share her vision of herself. She did, however, need him to go to bat for her, so she twisted a silver, three-string ring on her right ring finger and played the biggest card left in her hand. “Is your wife in the office today?”

Stanley practically jumped out of his Italian loafers at the comment. “What?”

“Mimi. Is she working today? I haven’t seen her in a long time, and I was wondering what she’s up to.”

“She’s very busy. Big meeting on the music side today.”

“Do you think she’d make time for me?”

A muscle in his jaw twitched, suggesting he knew she would. They might love each other dearly, but they also loved the job. They were as competitive with each other as they were with outside agents, maybe more so. She’d long wondered how that kind of competition could work in a marriage, but she understood that’s what made them work as business partners. If it also made Stanley work a little harder for her, great. If not, Mimi certainly would.

“Can I see that script for a second?” Stan came around the front of his desk. “I promise I’ll give it back.”

The change in his tone, from polite to purposeful, told her everything she needed in order to hand the document over.

He scanned the first page, the line of his eyes indicating he’d stopped on the short background sketch of the lead character.

“Dark, tall, brooding, magnetic, sexual, powerful, edgy.” He read the adjectives aloud. Then he looked up to study her. “Your hair’s too long.”

“I can cut it. Dye it, too, if need be.”

“Your eyes could be right, especially if you wore some eyeliner.”

“Okay.”

“You’ve been working with a trainer?”

“Weights and cardio.”

“Double your routine,” he said flatly, “like yesterday.”

She nodded. She’d gladly push harder for a shot at the role.

He handed her the script and walked around the desk, falling into his chair and leaning back so far he stared at the ceiling. “How bad do you want this, Cobie?”

“I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Even something you can’t undo?”

She paused, wanting to clarify a little bit, but worried he’d see it as a sign of weakness if she did. “Yes.”

“There will be no more teen movies, no more sappy cowgirls or cheerleader roles.”

“Good.”

“You’ll need a complete image overhaul. Six months minimum of your working the press and photo shoots and being seen playing with the big kids.”

Her stomach turned. “I can’t just go up for the part?”

He frowned. “I can’t pitch this with you as you are. Not if you want a major studio and the budget needed to do this right.”

“I do. I want everything about this project done to perfection.”

“Then you need to make a long-term investment.”

She nodded. She wanted long-term. She needed it. “Tell me what to do.”

He pushed his palm down his forehead as if trying to smooth out the wrinkles forming there. “Give me twenty-four hours to see what I can come up with. Show up tomorrow, same time, same place, ready to take big steps.”

“I will, Stan. I promise I won’t let you down.”

His smile was faint, showing none of his shark teeth now. “I’ll see you then.”

Sensing the need to get out while she was ahead, she backed toward the door.

“Tomorrow, eleven-thirty,” she repeated, but he’d already picked up the phone. She kept backing away down the hall as she heard him telling someone to clear his schedule. She couldn’t believe this was happening, even though the details of what this was were kind of shady, very shady actually. Still, it felt big, and she didn’t want to do anything to mess up.

She took another step backward and stepped on something hard.

“Ouch,” someone said, causing her to jump and bump into a wall, then trip and stumble again.

She might have flailed all the way to the floor if not for two strong hands catching her roughly under her arm and hauling her up.

“What’s the matter with you?” a different voice snapped.

She teetered a bit, trying simultaneously to right herself and see the people around her. As she planted her feet firmly back on the ground, she realized she was staring at a massive chest topped off with big shoulders and a sequoia-sized neck. Only when she tilted back farther did she see a strong jaw and deep-set, dark eyes. The African American man was good-looking enough to be an action star, but the set of his features and his crossed arms and his bulging biceps screamed bodyguard.

“Sorry,” Cobie said, flustered. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“Do you know who you just walked into?” someone behind her asked.

She turned to see a much smaller Latino man in maroon skinny jeans and a paisley shirt purse his lips at her.

“You?”

He started to roll his eyes, then stopped abruptly and narrowed them. “Hey, are you the girl from that one movie, with the guy, the one who’s got those pecs?”

“Yeah.” Cobie didn’t need any more description. She was always that girl in that movie.

“Ooh, girl, you look better with the make-up on,” he said dramatically.

“Thanks,” she muttered and tried to edge past him, but the bodyguard shot out his arm.

“It’s fine, Malik,” a female voice said from behind him. “I don’t think she’s a threat to anyone.”

He didn’t argue, either out of actual agreement or knowing better than to disagree. He simply lowered his arm and stepped to the side.

Cobie’s breath caught at the sight of the woman he’d shielded. Honey blonde hair fell to slender shoulders, framing a pale face. Startling blue eyes flashed amusement from under thick lashes, and painted red lips sparked a heated contrast to the otherwise pastel pallet. Cobie actually took a step back at the sight of her. Not that she hadn’t seen the face a million times, including the billboard towering several stories high just outside, but she’d never stopped to really notice the perfection of its symmetry and precision. It was almost too flawless to be real, and only after too many seconds of being stupefied did she manage to look away.

Not that lowering her eyes actually did anything to improve her brain function, because that only left her staring at a low-cut, white blouse and a long, flowing black skirt with a slit so far up the side even a gentle breeze would reveal anything underneath. It wasn’t a wholly unpleasant prospect. Finally, though, when her eyes reached floor level, she noticed a glaring scuff where the heel of her Doc Martens had clearly tread across the toe of patent leather Manolos.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, snapping her head up, “about your toes.”

The woman’s smile was slow. “They’re fine.”

“Well, your shoes are scuffed. And probably expensive, so if, um, you want to bill me, you can send an invoice to Stan’s office. They can get it to me.”

“You’re going to buy me new shoes?” she asked, clearly amused by the offer.

“I would,” Cobie said earnestly.

“That’s adorable,” the woman said with the faintest hint of a Southern drawl. Then with a minimal wave of her hand, she turned and walked away.

Cobie stood, bewildered, watching her go, skirt blowing in the breeze she created, entourage trailing dutifully in her wake. She may have even craned her neck a bit as they turned a corner, but when finally left alone in the hallway, all she could manage to think was, “So, that’s Lila Wilder.”

In Development_2

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May 2, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

4 Comments »

  1. I can’t wait to read this!

    Comment by Quinzwin | May 2, 2018 | Reply

  2. I would really have liked to pre-order it, but there has not been an option to do so. Only a paper format can be pre-ordered. I switched all my book and magazine reading to digital only years ago. Checked the publisher sites as well, don’t see any option there either.

    Comment by JazzReader | May 13, 2018 | Reply

    • Yes! We have just finished formatting the ebooks, and they are working their way into the Amazon system as we speak!

      Comment by rachelspangler | May 15, 2018 | Reply

  3. […] heard about the awesome women who helped inspire my characters’ looks. You’ve read an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. And you’ve read the first review telling you this book is well worth your time […]

    Pingback by In Development eBook Release! « Wonder Boi Writes | May 22, 2018 | Reply


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