LEADING MAN – sneak peek #1

leadingmanOnly twelve more days until LEADING MAN makes its way onto the world’s stage. Or, you know, the Internet. Here is your first glimpse of Nick Thurston, hero of the day, and leading man with a serious problem. Available March 16th from Amazon. Currently 20% off if you pre-order it from Liquid Silver Books.

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“Naked is better.” Nick Thurston was deadly serious in his declaration. “I would rather have a scene with full-frontal nudity on an outdoor stage in January in Alaska than go to one more dance class with that—” Damn his parents for teaching him not to curse when referring to a lady, although the lady in question didn’t meet the moral definition of one.

“Woman,” his salt-and-pepper haired lawyer suggested.

“She is not a woman. She’s some kind of handsy, tap-dancing nightmare. The world may know I have two left feet but I swear she has at least four arms because one of them is pinching my ass while the other is picking my pocket.” He glanced over at the man who had shepherded both him and his parents from their first-roles to superstardom and was not impressed to find him laughing. “Brian, I mean it. This isn’t a little mutually fun flirting. It’s sexual harassment and regular harassment and I am done with it.”

“Nick, I believe you.”

“Then fix it. I’m one of the producers for ‘The Last Bachelor.’ I should have the ability to fire her for harassment, shouldn’t I? At this point I’d be willing to buy out her contract in order to be rid of her and take the financial hit to replace her. Find me a loophole, please. Or some Kevlar slacks if you can’t—my backside is one big bruise.” Nick ran his hands through his lightly gelled hair, which reminded him he needed to refresh the sun-streaked blond highlights he added for the summer. He leaned against the bookshelf along the wall. He winced and stood up straight again. He wasn’t kidding about the bruise.

As much as he griped, Nick wasn’t certain there was much the man could do. Brian had done his best to talk Nick out of hiring his then-girlfriend Sandrine Gold as their choreographer, insisting Nick had enough on his plate with his role and financial contribution in the production. Nick brushed aside Brian’s concerns, insisting he wanted to be involved in all aspects of the play, including hiring the stage hands and specialists. He wasn’t going to miss any part of the next phase of his career.

Nick loved playing Ares on Olympus and was thrilled the hit drama was heading into its fourth season. The Spartactus/Game of Thrones/Hercules mash-up was a lot of work and a lot of fun and he wouldn’t trade it for the world but the simple truth was he wanted a change from togas. The hiatus after the show’s thirteen-episode third season offered him the perfect opportunity to try something new. In this case, Colby Sinclair, one of his former co-stars from his Paradise Point days, had moved into directing and had called Nick with the offer of a lifetime—the title role in a revival of a Richie Washington play. Actors were fans too, and Nick was a huge admirer of the unfortunately short-lived playwright.

“You realize this wouldn’t even be an issue if you hadn’t signed up for a role which required dancing. You know I love you, Nick, but…”

Nick sighed. “But I’m lucky I don’t trip over my own feet. I know. Everybody knows.” It was a joke at this point. He could do many things. He could put on a passable Australian accent, and had for “The Year It Rained.” He could decorate a cake with bakery precision after “Sugar on Top.” He was an admirable tenor. But absolutely, in no way, shape, or form, could he dance. His brain and his feet had a feud which began at birth. They’d eventually hit a détente. His feet conceded on walking and running, but refused to cooperate beyond that. Nick had driven Russ Vukovich, Olympus’s former fight coordinator, to tears when it came to sword fighting footwork.

Brian was one of the highest paid contract attorneys in the city. If anybody was capable of finding a way to save Nick’s bruised ass, it would be him. Nick pulled out a stack of contracts and set them on Brian’s wide redwood desk.

“There’s got to be some way around this,” Nick pleaded. “It was bad enough when she kept hinting it was time to meet my parents after a month. Then I had to deal with her at work and to top it off, she’s a crappy teacher. I have no idea how she ever got her reputation for being the best instructor out there. I’ve had lessons for six weeks and I haven’t learned a thing. I don’t know a single step. I might even be dumber than when I started. We only have another month ’til the curtain rises. Colby and I are having fits.” Nick would eventually recover from a single career disaster in a medium he didn’t plan to return to. Colby, on the other hand, would likely never get another meeting with a potential backer if his first venture flopped as badly as they feared it would.

Nick wandered around Brian’s office while the other man lifted the stack of papers on his desk. He looked over the Los Angeles cityscape and solemnly vowed to the Our Lady, The Queen of Angels, he would never, ever do another production with dance numbers if she got him out of his current situation.

Brian flipped in a few pages, and stopped at a section Nick had marked with a Post-It. “According to this, you are paying Sandrine for choreography and instruction. I see no reason why you can’t be rid of her if you pay her fee.”

“Thank you, God.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Funny.”

“Of course, this leaves you with another problem. The curtain lifts in a month. Who can you get to teach you that quickly? Essentially, you’ll be starting from scratch,” Brian said. “I can make some calls but you’ll be paying through the nose at this late date. Does the production even have the budget for this?”

“I’ll cover the cost if I have to. Thanks for the offer but don’t worry about me. I have a line on somebody who is highly recommended.” Okay, “highly recommended” was a stretch but he wasn’t about to admit he needed more help on top of the contract extraction. Nick had already tried his next top seven choices and no matter how much money he threw at them, they remained unavailable for a short-term, last minute engagement. He was getting desperate and when he’d mentioned his situation to his Olympus co-star Chris Peck, he got an unexpected suggestion. Since he was desperate enough to consider it, Chris promised him a meeting which might lead to his salvation. He’d find out tomorrow but he was happier knowing he’d go into it with Brian’s blessing.

“Nick?”

“Yes?”

“What are you going to do before you offer your new choreographer a contract?”

Nick knew the answer to this one. “I’m going to have you look at it before, during, and after it’s signed.”

“Good boy.”

Now all Nick had to do was find a dance instructor to offer it to.