Authors: Petrea Burchard
Tags: #hollywood, #king arthur, #camelot, #arthurian legend, #arthurian, #arthurian knights, #arthurian britain, #arthurian fiction, #arthurian fantasy, #hollywood actor, #arthurian myth, #hollywood and vine, #cadbury hill
CAMELOT & VINE
CAMELOT & VINE
Copyright 2013 Petrea Burchard
Cover Art Copyright 2013 Kate Wong
All rights reserved.
This book is available in print at most online
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away. Thank you for
respecting the work of the author.
Lying is second nature to Casey Clemens,
whether she’s selling cleaning products on national television or
talking to her mother on the phone. But on her 40
birthday, Casey loses her job, her boyfriend and maybe even her
sanity when she falls through a gap in time and accidentally saves
King Arthur's life. War threatens, Arthur's rule is tenuous, and a
liar from Hollywood has no place in his camp—not if she wants to
return to the 21
century alive. Not that she wants to
What others are saying about
“This tale of an LA poser in King Arthur’s
court combines character-driven writing with great pacing and
action. The fact that it also includes fascinating period details,
a tweaking of ancient legend, and a sexy King Arthur for grown ups
makes it the perfect indulgence for those days when you just need
to live in another millennium.”
Margaret Finnegan, author of
“...a clever intersection of a delightful
contemporary heroine and well-researched historical fiction.
Burchard has used the beloved Arthurian legend as the background
for a great time-traveling tale. The setting is lush and rich and
the characters are familiar but fresh at the same time. It's filled
with humor, myth, warmth, wisdom and a loyal steed! What more could
you ask for in a book?”
Lian Dolan, LA Times best-selling author of
Helen of Pasadena
, Oprah.com blogger and Chaos Chronicles
“This captivating tale takes readers on a
journey from a Hollywood set to King Arthur's castle, and it has it
all: adventure, humor, love, and peril. A fresh take on the legend
Colleen Dunn Bates, Founder/Publisher,
Prospect Park Books:
“Fanciful, fun, and touching.”
bestselling author of the Detective Nan Vining
and our Camelot
“It is all
true, or it ought to be;
and more and better besides.”
“If you tell the truth,
you don't have to remember anything.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The day before my fortieth birthday was my
last day as Mrs. Gone. For nine years, every American who turned on
a television knew me as the wacky neighbor with the solution to
their household cleaning problems. They’re
cleans everything! Which it didn’t. I bought it
once (not that the
company would give me a free
bottle) and never bought it again. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t
endorse it on national television for a cut above union scale.
Being a product spokesperson was good work.
I owned a sunny condo in the fashionable Los Angeles suburb of
Toluca Lake. I drove a relatively new BMW coupe. The cleaning lady
came on Tuesdays. I ate take-out and never cooked. I went to yoga
occasionally, and occasionally showed up at acting class. I
auditioned for and sometimes got parts in low-budget films.
I thought of it as an acting career until
the day before my fortieth birthday when, on the set of my latest
commercial, the director shouted, “That’s a wrap!”
As usual, I handed over the empty product
bottle to the props guy, returned my earrings to the costume girl
and, avoiding the candy bowl at the craft services table,
strode directly out the studio doors.
The director followed me to my trailer.
“Casey,” he said.
He dug his Nike toe into the asphalt of the
studio lot. I waited. He cleared his throat and stared at his feet,
like a kid who’s afraid to tell his mom he got a bad report card.
Finally he looked me in the eye and squinted, moving his scalp and
making his lonely forehead hairs sprout like weeds. “This is our
last spot. They fired us.”
“Wow. What’d you do?”
“All of us. The client’s ‘re-thinking’ the
My empty stomach flinched. “Can we talk to
“They left already. Whaddaya gonna do, call
Actors don’t call clients. Actors call their
agents, agents call casting directors, casting directors call
producers and producers call clients. Or nobody calls anybody.
“I’ll work for scale.”
“It’s not about money, Casey. They want to
appeal to a new demographic.” He looked away and rubbed his
temples. “You gonna be all right?”
“Sure,” I lied, the acid level building in
my stomach inch by inch. “I’ve got irons in the fire.”
“Yeah, irons,” he grumbled. “I feed my
family on irons.” He slumped away.
I gripped the handrail alongside the
trailer’s metal steps. I knew what it meant to re-think a campaign.
I knew what a “new demographic” was. It was younger. I lied about
my age but it didn’t matter. Hollywood had discovered the truth and
lost interest in me. Actually, no. Hollywood had never been
interested in the first place.
Inside the trailer my hands shook while I
changed from Mrs. Gone’s flowered, cotton blouse and pressed khakis
into my long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans. I zipped on my gorgeous,
high-heeled boots (a Rodeo Drive splurge), slung my giant, lime
green purse/bag thing over my shoulder and stepped out into the
Hollywood sun, hoping to get off the lot without talking to
The props guy wheeled a cart across the
tarmac. “Have a good Fourth!” he called after me. Obviously, he
hadn’t gotten the word. Another voice, I think it was the makeup
woman, said, “Happy birthday, Casey!”
It would have been nice of me to respond.
But I was in a hurry to get lost.
I turned the BMW north on Cahuenga
Boulevard, blasting the air conditioner. Traffic was heavy so I cut
east on Fountain to take Vine Street to the freeway. A bad idea.
That route took me past the Motion Picture Academy’s Pickford
Center, a nicely-timed reminder that I would never win an
Vine wasn’t much better than Cahuenga.
Forced to wait at light after light, I gazed out of my tinted
windows at billboards advertising Hollywood blockbusters to the
trapped traffic. A hapless beggar pirouetted amidst the cars,
singing and shaking his 7-11 cup of coins. For a backdrop he had an
old pawn shop, an empty book store and a brand new Schwab’s
Pharmacy, two miles east of where the famous original had been
demolished long before I moved to Los Angeles.
I inched the car uphill past Sunset toward
Hollywood Boulevard. Out-of-towners cruised the streets, hoping to
spot a movie star. It amused my cynical side that among the
tourists a girl (always a girl) teetered in high heels and tight
pants, glancing from side to side to see who was seeing her. Girls
like her paraded through Hollywood every day, hoping to be
I had not been prey on the streets of
Hollywood. I’d been smart. Being born on Independence Day was
significant to me only in that I depended on no one. But Hollywood
was a business, and my only current credit was Mrs. Gone. It wasn’t
exactly awards show material but it was what I had, and even that
would soon be as valid as last year’s box office flop. If nothing
else came up I’d eventually have to get a real job. I didn’t know
how to do anything except act, and I’d proven to be less than
stellar at that. Could I make mortgage payments waiting tables?
People would recognize me, and the thought of Mrs. Gone saying,
“Would you like fresh ground pepper on that?” was too horrible to
My nose tingled as the BMW finally burst
onto the freeway. Would a normal person cry? I wouldn’t. In less
than two hours, Mike was returning from the set of his reality show
in Mexico City. He might stop by on his way home from the airport.
A forty-year-old woman whose boyfriend thinks she’s thirty-seven
doesn’t need puffy eyes.
I grabbed a tissue from the box on the
console and blew my nose. Then I had a great idea: surprise Mike at
the airport! Even if he couldn’t get away that evening, we’d have a
few minutes together. I hadn’t seen him in a week. I’d just lost my
job. I deserved a dose of comfort before he went home to his
“Aren’t you on TV?”
Inside the international terminal at LAX I
scowled into the restroom mirror and tried to run my fingers
through my bottle-blonde hair. Nothing doing. Too much hairspray
from the day’s shoot. The makeup itched, too, but I resisted the
impulse to plunge my head under the tap and wash it off. Mike liked
me in makeup.
“I reconnize you. You’re Mrs. Gone. From the
commercial.” The woman splashed water but no soap on her French
manicure. A tiny thing, she teetered on precariously high heels.
Her bleached grin sparkled from between shiny, pink lips. “If you
wanna be incognito, I won’t tell.” She winked.
I’d bought an iPod just for the earphones so
I could avoid such conversations, but the skinny, white cord was
buried somewhere in my huge, green purse. I nodded to the woman and
slung the purse over my shoulder. I almost hit her with it but it
would have been an accident.