Read Change of Scene: A 100 Page Novella Online

Authors: Mary Kay Andrews

Tags: #Contemporary Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction

Change of Scene: A 100 Page Novella

Change of Scene: A 100 Page Novella
Andrews, Mary Kay
St. Martin's Press (2016)
Rating:
****
Tags:
Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Women, Literature & Fiction, Women's Fiction
Contemporary Fictionttt Contemporary Womenttt Literature & Fictionttt Women's Fictionttt

This 100 page prequel novella to Mary Kay Andrews's bestselling novel
Beach Town
is sure to delight fans and new readers alike.

Greer Hennessy is a movie location scout whose latest project has literally gone up in flames. After an avocado field accidentally catches fire on the set of her new movie, she is out of a job and practically run out of town. With her feisty grandmother Dearie, a Golden Age starlet who still has a lot of vigor left in her, complicating her life, Greer needs a bit of a rest. But Greer's own mother then drops a bombshell on her that will change Greer's life completely, and raise questions about her own father that she can't ignore. In desperate need of a second chance, can Greer find what she's looking for in the one last job she can get: a movie called BEACH TOWN? But first, she needs to find the perfect spot...

 

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Table of Contents

About the Author

Copyright Page

 

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CHAPTER 1

Thursday morning, day four of the
Moondancing
shoot in the California Pacific Coast mountains, Greer Hennessey stood with her hands on her hips, surveying the set painters as they transformed the dingy white Cayucos First Methodist Church into a barn-red schoolhouse.

The painters wore full-body white zip-front disposable suits, and as they aimed their spray guns at the weather-worn siding, any passerby might think they were possibly movie-made aliens, launching a paint attack on planet Earth.

Greer clicked off six or seven photos of the paint job, moving quickly around the perimeter of the church, before texting them to the director and art director for their approval.


Love it
,” Hank Reitz, the director, texted back.
“Running behind here today, so probably won’t get to church shoot until Saturday.”

Saturday. Greer sighed. This would mean moving back the rest of her locations as well. Lots more work. Lots more red tape. A typical day in the life of a location scout.

As she stood in the church parking lot, a white Toyota pulled alongside Greer’s own dusty Ford Explorer. The Toyota’s driver, a young blond woman with an unusually elaborate updo hopped out of the car and stood, staring at the church.

“What’s going on?” The woman gestured toward the church.

“Filming a movie here this weekend,” Greer said, not bothering to look up from her phone.
“Moondancing
.

“This weekend? You mean, like Sunday or tomorrow?”

Greer glanced over. The woman’s face was flushed pink.

“I mean like Friday and Saturday,” Greer said. “Maybe Sunday afternoon, too, if things run over.”

“That can’t be right,” the woman said, her voice growing shrill. “I’m getting married here Saturday. At two o’clock.”

“Here? As in this church?” Greer frowned.

“Right here. At Cayucos First Methodist Church. We’ve been planning this wedding for almost a year now. Does Reverend Barrow know about this movie thing?”

Without waiting for an answer, the woman flung open the door of the church office. She steamed past a startled-looking elderly receptionist, with Greer in her wake.

They found Reverend Barrow in his study, working on his Sunday sermon. He looked up from his computer, smiling when he saw Greer. But the smile dissolved as soon as he saw who was standing beside her.

“Hi, Carolyn,” he said smoothly, standing to shake her hand. “All ready for the big day?”

“I am, but
she,
” Carolyn said, shooting Greer a murderous look, “says they’re shooting a movie here Saturday. Which is when I’m getting married.”

“Oh no,” the pastor said, frowning as he looked over the bride’s shoulder at the location scout. “Our understanding was that the movie people would be done Friday night.”

Greer bit her lip. “I realize that was the original plan. But we need to reschedule. I’m going to need the church Saturday. All day.”

Carolyn’s pretty bridelike features contorted with anger. “Well, you can’t have the church. It’s
my
church. And
my
wedding. Tell her, Reverend Barrow.”

The pastor gave Greer a helpless look. “I’m sorry, but Carolyn is right. You told me you’d only need the church Friday, and maybe Sunday afternoon, after our services.”

Greer gave Carolyn a long, appraising look. This was going to be an expensive complication. “Could I speak to you outside, please? Excuse us, Reverend.”

Carolyn was in tears. She pointed at the painters. “What are they doing? Why are they painting this sweet white church red?” She pointed an accusing finger at Greer. “Why are you ruining the biggest day of my life?”

Greer took the
Moondancing
checkbook from her backpack.

“How’s five thousand?” she asked.

“Five thousand? Dollars? For what?”

“Five thousand dollars. That’s what we’ll pay you if you’ll move the wedding to another church. Or your mother’s house. Or anywhere but this church, this Saturday,” Greer said.

“You think you can buy my wedding day?” Mascara streamed down Carolyn’s face. “This is my church. My parents were married here. My grandmother was buried here. This is a holy place for my family.”

“I know,” Greer said, handing the bride a tissue. “And it’s beautiful. But think what kind of a honeymoon you could have for five thousand dollars.”

Carolyn’s eyes narrowed as she did the math. “Six thousand,” she shot back. “For six thousand dollars we’ll have the wedding in my stepfather’s backyard. Also? You get Channing Tatum to show up at my bachelorette party at Sweet Willy’s.”

“I’ll try,” Greer said, scribbling the check. Channing Tatum wasn’t in this film. She’d never met the man and didn’t even know if he was in California. She just knew she had to make this bride believe he
might
show up.

*

She was driving the Explorer back down the mountain toward Paso Robles when she heard the blare of an oncoming emergency vehicle heading in the opposite direction on the narrow winding road. She managed to edge onto what passed as the shoulder but the fire engine came within inches of her SUV, closely followed by two more fire engines speeding in the same direction.

Fire trucks? She picked up her phone and called Hank Reitz. No answer. She tried the art director, one of the set dressers, and as a last resort, Blaine, Hank’s assistant. Nobody was answering their phones. She turned around and headed up the mountain toward the Miller place and the
Moondancing
shoot.

*

She smelled the fire before she saw it. And then she rounded a turn on the road and she saw it, oily black plumes of smoke rising from the side of the mountain.

“Oh no,” she whispered. “Please, not that.” She felt a chill run down her spine, despite the summer heat.

Two more fire engines sped past, followed by an ambulance.

“Oh no, no, no,” she muttered. She floored the nine-year-old Ford’s gas pedal, and felt the automatic transmission downshift.

Another mile up the road, a sheriff’s deputy had pulled his cruiser across the road. He stood in front of it, waving her to a stop.

Greer leaned out the Explorer’s open window. “What’s going on, officer?”

“There’s a fire up the road. We’re only allowing emergency personnel to pass through.”

“Can you tell me where the fire is?” she said anxiously. “I work for the movie company that’s filming up here at the Miller place.”

He shrugged. “All I know is they’ve got it under control now, but the chief doesn’t want a lot of rubberneckers getting underfoot.”

“Is the fire at the Miller place?” Greer repeated. “I saw an ambulance go by, after the fire engines. Is everybody okay?”

The deputy lowered his mirrored sunglasses. “I’m not authorized to release any information, but I can tell you we always dispatch an ambulance for a fire, just as a precaution.”

“Can you just tell me if the fire was at the Miller’s?” she pleaded. “I work with these people. Please?”

He glanced around, as though somebody might overhear him. “Yeah, okay, it started on the Miller place. Some
a-hole
decided it would be a good idea to start a fire for your movie. Even though we’re in the middle of a drought, with a no-burn ordinance in effect.”

Greer bit her lip and looked away. She knew exactly which a-hole had made that decision.

“We had some wind gusts up there this morning, the fire got out of control. From what I hear, it burned down an old barn, then spread to the avocado grove.”

A radio clipped to the deputy’s shoulder squawked. He turned his back to her, walked over to the shoulder of the road to confer, and stayed there for nearly five minutes.

She again called everybody she’d tried reaching earlier, but with the same results. Nothing.

The deputy walked slowly back to the car. “Okay, that was the chief. They’re sending the ambulance back down. One of the movie guys is gonna be treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation, but that’s it. No burn injuries.”

She felt herself slowly exhale. “Thank God. Is the fire out? Can I go on up there now?”

“They don’t tell me the details,” the deputy said with a growl. “I just block traffic and arrest anybody who gives me any shit.” He looked over the rim of his sunglasses at her, in a way that suggested she shouldn’t contemplate asking too many more questions.

*

For an hour, Greer sat in her car, fumed and worried. Three or four more cars approached the roadblock, and after a few words with the deputy, turned around and headed back down the mountain.

Finally, the deputy took another call on his radio, and shortly after that, he walked over and got in his cruiser and started to pull away.

“Hey!” Greer called, leaning halfway out the window of the Explorer. “You’re leaving? Does that mean the fire’s out? Can I go up there now?”

“You can go up as far as your people’s base camp next door, but no closer. They’re telling me the fire’s out, but the crews are still on the scene, and we’ve got an investigator on the way, so stay away from the Miller place. Got it?”

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