California Dreaming

by Elaine Cantrell

The only time I’ve ever been to California is when I flew over Los Angeles when I was coming home from Alaska. It was night time, and all the city lights were on. It was the most amazing thing to a small town girl like me! It took absolutely forever for the plane to fly over the city. My nose was pressed against the window the entire time. When we finally cleared the city, I said to my husband, “We’re going there on vacation.”

Well, we haven’t made it yet, but I haven’t changed my mind about that vacation either. We’re going to start in LA, rent a car, and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Until we actually get there, I decided that California would be the setting for my novel Return Engagement. Here’s an excerpt from Return Engagement that describes Venice Beach, one of the tourist attractions I’d like to visit. If you’d like to read the entire chapter after you read this excerpt, you can find it at Whiskey Creek Press.

Venice Beach was a California institution. Founded in the 1890’s, the beach’s popularity had waxed and waned across the years until the 1984 summer Olympics turned it once more into a major tourist attraction. You could always find something to do in Venice.

Richard merged into the crowd and spent a few minutes watching a street artist at work before deciding he’d really rather spend his time near the water. He made his way toward the shore and sat down to admire the view. Shading his eyes, he watched some surfers trying to ride the waves and chuckled to himself. They weren’t very good. He had tried surfing years ago, but he didn’t especially like it. If he had free time, he’d rather go riding. He smiled when he thought of his new horse. Too Bold would give him a challenge.

A little further down the beach a group of volleyball players yelled encouragement to each other. Girls vs. guys, thought Richard. I’d rather play for the girls any day, especially if they look like that blonde with the nice butt.

Hoping to get into the game, he jumped up to make his way down the beach, but out of the corner of his eye he spotted a group of people surrounding a roped off area. What were they looking at?

Curious, he wandered over to see. “What’s going on?” he asked one of the bystanders.

“Someone’s making a movie. They’re supposed to start in a few minutes if you want to stay and watch.”

Richard decided he might as well stay. Since he was on vacation, he had no appointments to keep. A brief, familiar slash of pain cut him. Movie making had interested him ever since…a long time ago.

He saw the actors making their way to the set and tried to identify them, but he didn’t see anyone he recognized. Either this was a low budget movie, or the stars hadn’t made an appearance yet.

The director, a small man with a bushy, red mustache that made Richard think of a walrus, introduced himself and addressed the crowd, saying, “Any of you want to be in the movie? We could use some people in the background. If you’re interested go to my right and see the man in the blue shirt. He’ll fill you in. The rest of you stand back, and try not to get in the way. The name of this movie is Paradise Bay, and our star is one of Hollywood’s finest leading ladies, Elizabeth Lane.”

Elizabeth Lane. Elizabeth Lane Elizabeth Lane. The director droned on and on, but Richard didn’t hear a word he said. For ten years Elizabeth Lane had been the mark against which other women had been measured and found wanting. Richard’s heart lurched and a lump in his throat threatened to choke him. Now, when he least expected it and hadn’t had time to prepare himself, he would have the chance to see her again.

Richard uneasily shifted from foot to foot and tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He had often dreamed of seeing Elizabeth again. Once or twice he had even picked up the phone to dial her number, but he never had completed the call. He couldn’t; another rejection would have killed him.

An icy chill swept across him in spite of the warm sun. He was still afraid she’d reject him. Now one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Elizabeth Lane could have any man she wanted. In fact, he’d heard on TV that she’d gotten engaged to some lawyer. He couldn’t think of a single reason why she’d have any interest in seeing an old boy friend again. The last time they saw each other he’d been a green, inexperienced kid which was probably the way she still thought of him. A grim smile crossed his face. He hated that damn lawyer. He’d give anything to have the guy in front of him for five minutes.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life… Love


  1. Ah, i'd love to go to California! Would be great to just travel along the coast - but also to see some of the celeb hot spots in L.A. :D

    Isn't it great how a place can inspire us to write a book!

  2. It sure would! I'd love to see a big star!


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