Home > The Jaguar Star

The Jaguar Star
Author: Bianca D'Arc

 

Prologue

“I got the part? Seriously? You’re not pulling my leg, are you? I really got the part?” Katrina could hardly believe what she’d just heard.

Mel Lazarus, her new agent, laughed on the other end of the phone. “You really got the part, kid,” he told her again. “They want you on set next week.”

“Next week?” She couldn’t help the way her voice squeaked with excitement. “Where?”

“They’re filming in a little town in Virginia. They got some kind of sweetheart deal to do the majority of the set work there, though they’ll fly you to England for some of the location shots later.”

“England!” She could hardly wait.

Her passport hadn’t been stamped since she was a little girl, traveling with her family to meet relatives in the old country. She’d kept it current, just in case, and now, it looked like she’d finally get to use it again. All expenses paid.

Katrina Valiando had never thought she’d be paid to act in a movie. She’d given up on her thespian dreams years ago, but a chance meeting in the trattoria owned by her family had given her the chance of a lifetime, to star in a movie—albeit a low-budget one—opposite one of her favorite actors.

Rendall Smith had starred in a television crime drama when Katrina was a teenager, and most of the girls her age had immediately fallen in love with his good looks and tough guy image. He’d enjoyed the fame and fortune that had come with it, by all accounts, but then had become something of a recluse. He only showed his face for promotion of his film projects these days, and each one was met with a great deal of media hoopla.

The fact that he was starring in this low-budget movie was a bit of a coup for the female director, and rumors abounded as to why a star of Rendall Smith’s caliber would deign to participate in such a production. However, none of that mattered to Katrina. She was both intimidated by the idea of playing Maid Marian to Rendall’s Robin Hood and stunned that she had been given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It was that director. Sonia Melisande was her name. She was an up-and-comer in the film world, and she’d dined at Katrina’s family’s restaurant a few weeks ago with a party of friends. The woman had spent a good portion of the meal glancing toward Katrina, who stood at her usual spot by the door, running the hostess station.

Katrina had noticed the other woman’s interest, when she had time to spare. It had been a busy night, and Katrina had been run off her feet. She did occasionally get stares from patrons of the restaurant, but usually, they were male. When Sonia had approached Katrina after the meal, she’d been floored to be handed a plain white business card and invited to do a screen test.

Not one to let an opportunity pass, though she’d been a bit leery not knowing all the particulars, Katrina had gone to the test and read for the part of Maid Marian. To her surprise, she’d received a call from Mel Lazarus, the well-known theatrical agent, a few days later. He’d offered to represent her, which was a little backwards from the way things normally occurred, but Katrina knew of his reputation in the industry, having once had dreams about being a professional actor. Mel Lazarus was a top-tier agent, and he didn’t represent just anybody. Katrina had agreed to meet him, and then, after talking with him for a bit, she’d signed on to let him represent her in any negotiations relating to her recent screen test. She hadn’t been too surprised to learn it had been the director who had given him Katrina’s number.

Fast forward to the present, and Mel was calling to tell her she’d gotten the part. It was like a dream. Katrina felt like she was walking on air. No way could this really be happening.

She was going to star opposite one of her favorite actors? She was going to be paid to act? She was going to make money while traveling to Europe? She was going to get paid to kiss Rendall Smith?

Holy Toledo! It all seemed just too unreal. And, yet, it wasn’t. She had been chosen, and she would darned well do her best to be the most amazing Maid Marian the world had ever seen.

 

Sonia put down the telephone after speaking with Mel Lazarus. Katrina had accepted the part. Sonia had set things in motion. She wasn’t entirely sure where this would all lead, but she had a good feeling about it. And, if her suspicions were right—and her visions—then she’d just taken a very important step for the jaguar people as a whole.

Not that she was a jaguar. Far from it. But she had a special place in her ancient heart for them and their recent troubles. Plus, she owed the Alpha jaguar a few favors. Helping some of his Clansmen was a good place to start. Sonia couldn’t say for certain, but she sensed that the jaguars would be important in the trials to come. She would do all in her power to help them recover their numbers while they helped her establish herself in this new world of man.

“And, so, it begins.”

 

 

Chapter One

“I hope you know what you’re doing, Sonia,” Ren chided the director of his new film as they walked down the hall toward her hotel suite. “Plucking an unknown from obscurity may seem romantic, but will she have the chops to deal with me…with all of us?”

“I have a good feeling about her,” Sonia insisted. “The moment I saw her, something clicked. I knew she had to be here. To be part of this.”

“But to make her the leading lady?” Ren wasn’t convinced that Sonia, an immortal fey returned from that magical realm only a few years ago, knew what she was doing in the world of man. She hadn’t been around this part of the multiverse in centuries. A lot had changed in the interim.

“Just wait ‘til you see her wide-eyed innocence. She’s absolutely perfect for Maid Marian. Her acting skills may be a little rusty from disuse, but she’s really a natural fit for this part. As long as you give her a little encouragement, she should be perfect,” Sonia reminded him of the promise she had extracted from him when he’d agreed to do this movie to help establish her credentials as a director. He’d promised to help Sonia in any way she asked, and what she’d asked had been his indulgence of the human actress Sonia had chosen to play his leading lady.

“I should’ve been more specific when I promised to help you. You have no idea how little encouragement it takes with some human females to make them clingy and annoying.” He made a face. “I can only promise to help her with her lines and acting. I won’t encourage her to like me,” he grumbled.

“With an attitude like that, don’t worry. She won’t like you at all,” Sonia scoffed, laughing.

Sonia opened the door to her suite to find most of the cast already there. Since most of them were relatives or Clanmates, Ren went right in and said hello. Sonia hung back. Ren liked the way the ancient fey gave the shifters a chance to greet each other before entering. Ren knew Sonia was also effectively guarding the door to give the shifters warning when the humans arrived for the table read.

There were only a handful of humans in this cast. Maid Marian’s part was the biggest role filled by a non-magical actor, though there were some bit parts that had gone to older folks and a few extras had been locally sourced. The cast couldn’t all be six-foot-tall, athletic jaguar shifters, after all.

Ren heard Sonia’s musical voice when she greeted the woman playing Maid Marian in the hall. He took that as his cue to sit, as did the others. They had to cool it in front of the human, as they all understood. The shifter secret was sacrosanct.

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