I’m visiting Elle’s blog today. You can find me here.
I welcome Elle Rush to the blog today with her thoughts on an alternate Valantines Day for those of you who would like something different from the hearts and flowers.
You know how for the entire month of December, television channels play at least one holiday movie a night? And how by the time the 15th rolls around you are ready to do something completely illegal and probably non-survivable to the next Santa or Christmas tree salesman you see on your screen? There is a cure for that – a movie that that celebrates the holiday without actually celebrating the holiday.
Yep, it’s set on Christmas Eve and there are holiday decorations on display and even Christmas carols playing in the background. But mostly it’s about John McClane shooting the hell out of Nakatomi Plaza. “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…” and “The quarterback is toast” and most memorably “Yippie-kay-yay!” It’s the perfect cure to your holiday blues.
We need the equivalent for Valentine’s Day. And not some schlocky horror movie either. That’s been done to death (get it – to death?) Please, those people all deserved their run-ins with the madman’s chainsaw or wood chipper or what-have-you for being out celebrating the romantic holiday in question. I’m talking about a good, old-fashioned blow ‘em up with Cupid hovering in the background dodging flying cars after the getaway vehicle explodes through the plate glass window. I’m talking mayhem in the chocolate goodies aisle and little white heart-holding teddy bears littering the floor with cotton stuffing falling out of their mortal bullet wounds. You know, fun stuff.
Alas, no such movie exists that I know of. Instead, I offer you a story about a woman who doesn’t have time for such lovey-dovey stuff and tries to escape it but gets sucked in to a happily-ever-after ending anyway.
Sydney Richardson should have trusted her instincts and locked the door when a Greek god appeared on her doorstep at sunrise. After months of work, she needs every second of the day to wrap up a two-part fundraiser for burn victims like herself and she can’t afford to waste time with a TV hunk, no matter how good he looks in a toga.
Chris Peck, worshipped by millions as Zeus on the hit drama Olympus, desperately wants to prove to the producers of a soon-to-be-cast romantic comedy that he doesn’t need fight scenes or special effects to make the jump to the big screen. Acting as the slave-for-a-day in the show’s fan appreciation contest was supposed to cement his everyman credibility but the winner wants nothing to do with him.
Chris is captivated by the woman who refuses to fawn over his looks and fame, and he promises to put her fundraising efforts over the top if she’ll spend the day with him. However, just when he convinces Sydney they could have a chance together, the movie’s producers offer him an audition that would mean breaking his promise and leaving Sydney in the lurch. The king of the gods has until sunset to prove to his new off-screen love interest that Hollywood magic and reality can co-exist.
Elle Rush is a Canadian romance author from Winnipeg, Manitoba. When she’s not travelling, she’s hard at work writing her contemporary romance eBooks which are set all over the world. Elle likes to write smart heroines, funny dialogue, and heroes who are a little scared of the women they’re falling for. Follow her at Elle Rush or on Twitter @elle_rush.
There shouldn’t be a six in the morning on a Saturday unless you stayed up for it after an exhausting, exhilarating Friday night. It was a rule somewhere. If a person were demented enough to get up before daybreak on a weekend, there were only three acceptable reasons: a newborn, a paycheck, or a fire alarm. Answering the door didn’t make the list. Nobody should ever knock on someone else’s door at such a perverse hour. It was uncivilized, but since the moron in question seemed to be unaware of this polite societal convention, it was up to Sydney Richardson to educate him. Possibly with a brick to the cranium.
She had planned this Saturday down to the minute, and she needed every second of it. Her precise schedule was supposed to start with her alarm going off at six fifty-two, allowing her a single eight-minute snooze cycle before she rolled out of bed at seven on the dot to hit the shower. This was the first weekend in a month that she hadn’t pulled an extra shift or two, and neither Saturday’s nor Sunday’s to-do list had “answer the door before sunrise” on it.
This was the weekend. Months of blood and sweat and tears and migraines had gone into today’s events. She’d started her charity with the hope of raising enough money to help one or two people afford the same medical procedures that got her out of the hospital and back to her life. The snowball effect had caught her unaware. The more she raised, the more people got involved and the bigger things got, until the small fundraiser had become a multi-part, day-long fundraiser with dozens of volunteers who all looked up to her. She wasn’t going to let anyone down today—not her donors, not her volunteers, and absolutely not the people she was supposed to be helping.
But it wasn’t supposed to start yet.
Sure, now she was awake a whole hour early, but she’d stayed up half an hour later than she intended to the night before and watched an old M*A*S*H re-run after she’d come home from a girlfriend’s birthday party at Yellow Fin Sushi. Sydney had told her body it could sleep until seven, and now it got back at her for lying by walking her into the open closet door. Dammit. After grabbing her robe and feeling her way out of the bedroom, she ricocheted off the wall between the framed Beverly Hills Cop and Raiders of the Lost Ark posters on the way down the hall. At this rate she might not make it to the door.
Her cupcake nightshirt didn’t matter, she thought as she limped through the house. Her red hair pulled into a Pebbles Flintstone-style ponytail on the top of her head didn’t matter. The plastic framed glasses she had to jam on to find her way down the main hall since she wasn’t stopping to put in her contacts didn’t matter. What mattered was making the pounding on her door go away so she only had to deal with the Japanese drumming group inside her skull. Sake was evil.
She peeked through the peephole and spied a man in a black tuxedo. A suit she would have ignored, but the shock of a tuxedo woke her up a little. She squinted and took a second look: tall, dark hair, light eyes. He was very handsome in a movie star kind of way. At least, Sydney assumed he was handsome. The fish-eyed view and lack of caffeine might have been coloring her perception. “Who are you?”
“Your slave for the day.”
It was much too early for this. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m Chris Peck.”
“You look like him. Kinda. Why are you at my house?”
“I’m really Chris Peck. I play Zeus on Olympus. You entered the show’s sweepstakes on the network website and won first prize of a Greek slave for the day, namely yours truly. You got a confirmation call to expect your slave from sunrise to sunset today.”
Her synapses started to fire. Slowly. Olympus was a hit primetime cable drama about a group of Greek gods on Mount Olympus during the decline of Greece’s golden age. It was part Spartacus, part Game of Thrones, and part Hercules. She had submitted a ton of entries to the sweepstakes. They were offering a $1000 DVD library of historically-based television shows and documentaries as second prize. The first place prize never even registered because she wasn’t a diehard fan of the show.
She watched it semi-regularly. She liked a lot of the actors but despised one in particular, so it came out a wash. To be honest, the only ones she made sure not to miss were the episodes where her favorite drama actor was guest starring as Dionysus. Seeing the defunct FBI show’s once team leader playing the god of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll in a toga was a beautiful thing to behold. Sydney enjoyed splashing around in the shallow end of the pool on occasion, and she wasn’t ashamed to admit it.
She hadn’t paid much attention to the show’s lead actor. In hindsight, that might have been a mistake, because the king of the gods was standing on the other side of her front door, and—from what she could tell—he was heavenly.
Sydney flipped the deadbolt off and cracked open the door, leaving the security chain on. She rubbed her bleary eyes and repositioned her glasses. It was definitely him. Chris Peck. Zeus. The peephole didn’t do this guy any favors. He was much cuter in person than he looked on television. Taller too. And not in a toga. Whoever had said that a well-tailored suit was to a woman what lingerie was to a man hadn’t been kidding. His tuxedo was giving her some naughty ideas about going back to bed that had nothing to do with an extra hour of shut-eye. It had been a very long while, but she was pretty sure when a clean-cut, brown-haired, hazel-eyed Greek god magically appeared on a woman’s doorstep, sleep was not the first thought that should come to mind. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, tingles or no tingles, she had too much on her to-do list to waste any time on a toga party fantasy, let alone on an actual god at the door. Sydney tilted her head and stared at him. “Wow. You really are Chris Peck.”
She was rewarded with a blinding smile. “And you are Sydney Richardson. At least I hope you are, because if you aren’t this is really embarrassing.”
“What do you mean I got a call? Nobody called me,” she insisted. If she’d won a prize, they should have at least contacted her to make sure she’d be home for delivery. This was a hell of a delivery.
“Yes, they did. My assistant says she did. She left a message confirming the date and time. And she sent flowers.”
“No, she didn’t.”
“Yes, she did.”
Tuxedo Boy was going to argue with her before she’d had any coffee? “I’m pretty sure I would have remembered somebody telling me I was going to have a slave show up at the butt crack of dawn on a Saturday,” she snapped. There was no way in hell she would have agreed to this Saturday. Next weekend, or the one after that, would have been much more convenient. Today was absolutely not an option.
The suicidal actor opened his mouth to defend himself again when Sydney waved him off. “Wait a minute.” It was difficult to push through the fog without any caffeine, but there was something there. “Is your assistant’s name Kristin?”
“There was a message on my machine, on Wednesday, I think. Some girl named Kristin said she was cancelling my regular nine o’clock appointment on Saturday. She didn’t leave a number. Since I don’t know a Kristin, and I didn’t have any regular appointments scheduled, I didn’t worry about it. I think the message is still on my voicemail.” Sydney smiled in victory. She had a memory like a steel trap. A rusted trap, on occasion, but it was working fine this morning.
“It sounds like my fight trainer got a dozen roses and a note saying I was looking forward to my day of servitude.”
She wasn’t pleased to be awake, and this whole waste of time was a pain in the ass, but that was pretty funny. “Maybe she likes roses.”
“His name is Russ, and he’s former navy. I’m thinking not. So how can I serve you this morning?”
Sydney stood corrected. This was hilarious. It was always good to begin the day with a laugh. It set the tone for what followed. Now that she was up she had the chance to get a jump start on her list. With some juggling, she could shift her first appointment of the day forward, which would gain her about half an hour. Her schedule had been tight to the point where a couple minutes could have cost a bus connection and thrown off her entire afternoon. This could work in her favor. All she had to do now was send Zeus on his way.
Sydney stifled a yawn. “You could leave. I’m sorry about the missed message confusion, but today isn’t going to work for me. Maybe you could have your assistant contact me again and we could reschedule. Happy Valentine’s Day.”