NOTE: PLEASE READ THE AUTHOR'S NOTE AT THE END OF THIS CHAPTER. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT. Thank you.
The room nearly shook from the sheer volume of the scream- two screams actually, in perfect unison, both filled with the same amount of rage. The aforementioned director's dark skin paled.
"Hey, ya'll!" he grinned broadly, using all his acting skills to hide his fear. "What's cookin'?"
"Don't you dare talk to me like that, Jonah," Natalie hissed. She waved a packet of papers in his face, nearly slapping him with it. "Explain."
Jonah frowned. "Explain what? Isn't the script clear enough?"
"Yeah it's clear enough," Hamilton glared at him, his sizeable fists clenched menacingly at his sides. "That's the problem: Why are we doing a movie based off the Clue Hunt?"
"Oh." Jonah fiddled with his beret nervously. "Well, d'y'all remember how my dad wanted to film the Clue Hunt back when it was actually going on? That's because it's the kinda thing that'd be perfect for a movie! I figured that it's been long enough since then, and the branches get along better now, so why not? Don't worry, I did change the character names, and the main focus of the movie-"
"We figured that out," Natalie snapped. "You changed it into some Romeo-and-Juliet love story type… type thing, with the main characters being" -she looked down at her script-"Anna K. Hill and Ivan Cobra." Her eyes narrowed to mere slits. "You can see why I'm not pleased."
"No, I don't see, actually," Jonah retorted. "A'ight, you're probably not happy about me turning your last name into Cobra, but the characters' names can be changed easily enough-"
"Jonah, this is a breach of security," Hamilton cut in. "Once this movie comes out, every single Cahill- and you know that there are a lot- will know what it's based on. So will all of the Cahills' enemies. They'll know all about the Clues, the Hunt and our family- this is dangerous, Jonah! You could get someone killed!"
"As much as I hate to agree with a Dolt, he's actually being sensible for once," Natalie nodded. "Have you even discussed this with the other Branch Leaders? They, at the very least, need to know. They deserve to know. After all, you're taking their identities!"
"And you're playing them. Don't ya'll get it? This is a movie. One with a fairly cliché plot at that. Who's going to think that it's real? All the Cahills already know about the Hunt; so do all of our enemies. I don't see a problem with fictionalizing it. If anything, it'll send people on the wrong track-"
"You didn't answer her question. Have you talked to the other Branch Leaders about it?" Hamilton asked.
The director's following grin was so sly that for once, Natalie could believe that Jonah was related to the noble Luke Cahill, however so distantly. "I've told at least one leader from every Branch that I'm going to do a movie about the Clue Hunt."
Natalie regarded him suspiciously. "Don't play sneaky on me, Wizard, I'm a Lucian. You say you told at least one leader from every Branch about your pathetic little movie? I'll believe that. But you're keeping something from us. Who did you talk to from each branch?"
"From the Janus, yours truly," Jonah flashed his movie-star grin. "Dan Cahill for the Madrigals; he thinks it'll be hilarious. At least someone has a sense of humor in this family! For the Ekaterinas, Ned Starling-"
"Hang on," Hamilton frowned, "Ned's not head of the Ekats! He has brain problems, he can't think straight most of the time!"
"He's Alistair's protégé, and Alistair was busy when I went to go talk to him, so I got the 'okay' from Ned instead. Don't worry, y'all, he was coherent as I am right now! Now let's see, who else… oh yeah, Ivan Kleister told me I could do the movie on the Tomas' behalf- he said something about wanting the Holts' stupidity and betrayal exposed to the world."
Hamilton muttered something incomprehensible under his breath; Jonah and Natalie could only make out a few words, none of which they dared repeat.
"And from the Lucians?" The girl flipped her hair over her shoulder. "I'd be very surprised if Ian agreed to that."
"When'd I say that everyone agreed to it?" Jonah countered. "I just said I told a leader from every Branch about it. And I did; I just told you, didn't I?"
Natalie's jaw dropped. She spluttered in outrage. "Why you little-"
"-Boss," Jonah finished in a sing-song voice. "Remember who's in charge here, Natalie. I'm doin' this movie whether you like it or not, and unless y'all want to forego your careers- don't give me those looks, I'm not stupid, I know exactly why y'all are doin' this- you're doing this movie, too."
Silence. One moment; two; three. Finally Hamilton stated, "You're not dying my hair, you know. Ivan Cobra's not gonna look very much like the guy he's based off of."
"And red hair would not go with my skin tone. Not to mention the clothes." Natalie shuddered. "Can I design my wardrobe for the movie? Please? If I have to wear Amy's clothes, I think I might die."
Jonah beamed and jovially put his arms around the shoulders of his two leads. "See? Ya'll are already demanding you have things your way! You're practically professionals!" With that, he led his cousins out of the room.
The director slumped in his armchair tiredly, massaging his throat. He rang a bell on the table next to him; a woman with a clipboard and thin spectacles instantly dashed in. "You called, Mr. Wizard?"
"Yes, Peggy. Could you get me some herbal tea? With a spring of lemon." He massaged his throat again. "Screaming all day really isn't good for you."
"Of course, Mr. Wizard. I'm on it!" Peggy sprinted away; Jonah smiled. He should really give her a raise.
He turned to the man sitting on the couch across from him, reading a newspaper. He chuckled. "Real subtle, Dad, real subtle."
A humorously innocent voice came out from behind the newspaper. "What? I'm reading!"
"It's upside-down, Dad."
Broderick Wizard sighed and lowered the paper, revealing his ever-loyal Blackberry. "Someone has to manage your business, I don't care what Peggy says about me being obsessed. So how'd rehearsal go today?"
"Okay," Jonah shrugged. "Those two really don't get along… I mean it's great chemistry and all, but it makes it impossible to get anything done!"
"Maybe they should see a relationship counselor," Broderick suggested, not looking up from his phone. "Someone who could help them sort out their issues. Besides, it might make them more comfortable with being in a romantic situation. After all, it's called couples therapy for a reason."
Jonah sat up straighter, thinking it over. "That's a good idea, Dad. D'you know anyone?"
Broderick thought for a moment. "I have someone in mind. Want me to contact them?"
Just then, Peggy returned. "Here's your tea, Mr. Wizard- Mr. Wizard!" she exclaimed in a scolding voice when she saw Broderick. "I thought I told you to put that away; spending too much time on cell phones is bad for your health!"
"But Peggy, it's work, I'm in the middle of something-ˮ
Jonah could help but laugh.
"I'm your boss."
"I control your salary."
"Let me finis-"
"I control your job."
That finally shut Natalie up. Hamilton snickered as Jonah breathed a sigh of relief. Sometimes he wondered if Isabel Kabra's evilness had anything to do with her daughter's utter obnoxiousness… And then he remembered that it was most likely the other way around. His brain quickly shut up after that.
The more-than-triple-threat performer looked at his leads seriously. "Right, so y'all know that I love your fights- lots of chemistry there, great chemistry, and I want y'all to keep that, but I need y'all to stop fighting so much. I can't work with you guys if you're constantly screamin' at each other! So Dad set up an appointment for you two with L.A.'s leading relationship counselor-"
"Hey! We aren't in a relationship!" Hamilton protested. Jonah went on unperturbed.
"-You two are gonna see this counselor, and deal with it, until y'all can sort out your issues with each other enough to work together. 'Cause lemme tell ya, no one's ever gonna hire a football player who can't put aside a grudge for one game"-Hamilton rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly-"or work for someone who'll scream at them twenty-four/seven." Natalie's jaw dropped in outrage, but she managed to keep her tongue this time. Jonah grinned.
"Great. So y'all ready? Yeah? Good, let's head in!"
He pushed the door open wearing his brightest movie star grin, his two cousins following him with straight backs, if stony faces. The counselor spoke before any of them got the chance to: "You still don't know how to knock, Jonah? Pity- one would think you would've learned by now."
Three pairs of eyes widened in shock as they landed on the woman whose icy statement dripped with superiority: auburn hair in a carefully styled bun, fashionable spectacles over blue-grey eyes, and, her most striking feature, the countless tiny scars that marred her otherwise pale, freckly skin.
"Sinead?" Natalie, Hamilton and Jonah chorused in shock. The Starling stood up with a sly grin; she wore a grey suit that covered all of curves, Jonah couldn't help noticing.
He quickly shook the thought out of his head, instead asking, "You're the counselor my dad called? But- why would you want to be a counselor?"
Sinead shrugged nonchalantly. "I went to college enough to get a degree in psychology, as well as some others. Believe it or not, I'm excellent at understanding and helping people- it came out of helping my brothers after the explosion." Hamilton winced guiltily, though it went unnoticed. "So I decided to try my hand at being a counselor, just sort of as an experiment. It's been going pretty well- as your dad told you, I'm L.A.'s finest." She smirked. "I'm thinking of quitting soon, though, and going to medical school. Ted's doctors are taking too long to get rid of his blindness."
Natalie arched one perfectly sculpted eyebrow. "And you think you'll be able to?"
Jonah's eyes instantly latched onto the scene. He knew that Sinead's answer would make or break whether she would succeed at being Natalie and Hamilton's counselor; after all, Natalie would only ever take advice from someone who she respected. And that meant someone who could match her nastiness.
Sinead arched one eyebrow back. "Well, I am an Ekat who attended and finished college enough times in the course of ten years to acquire more professional degrees than you can count on one of your tiny hands. So, yes, I do think that I could help my brother better than his current non-Cahill doctors."
The two women stared each other straight in the eyes for a few moments. Jonah held his breath; their seemed to be a silent tremor in the air and then, Natalie smirked.
The director could've fainted. He would've if he could've trusted Hamilton to catch him, but the NFL hopeful looked to have a similar opinion of the situation.
Sinead nodded, a small, satisfied smile on her lips, before speaking again. "Jonah, you can go. Natalie and Hamilton, please, sit down, and we'll start the session."
All three did as she told them. Jonah beamed as he left- hoping that maybe, Sinead caught a glimpse of it before he left, since he knew it was his best million-watt grin; maybe this would work at all.
Maybe, everything would actually work out in the end.
He knocked on the wooden railway just in case.
Six months is a long time. I know. I'm sorry. In addition to the worst Writer's Block of my life, I've been through a lot. In fact, there are still a lot of issues that I'm dealing with.
Which is why, after this [awful] chapter, I am officially putting this story- as well as all my other multi-chapter stories- on hiatus.
Making that decision has been hard for me. Believe me, it's not a spur of the moment thing; I wouldn't do it if I didn't feel like I genuinely needed to. However, it just so happens that I do genuinely need to, for the sake of my sanity. I'm not using that phrase lightly.
I'm sure that you're all disappointed in me, angry at me. Heck, I'm disappointed in myself! I'm angry at myself! But please, if you respect me at all, if you care about me even the tiniest bit, don't yell at me for doing this. Don't nag me to update again. Please, just leave me be, and I'll update as soon as I feel able to. I don't know when that will be, but I'll try to make it as soon as possible. I've gotten some inspiration back for this story, so I'm going to try to write at least half of it during this hiatus- the whole thing, hopefully, if I can- as well as write more for my other multi-chapter stories.
Again, I'm so terribly sorry. If you truly need to know why I'm doing this- if you won't be able to accept my decision otherwise- then send me a PM. I'll tell you the truth, but I warn you, it's not in any way cheery, because you reach a point in life where it's not all thunderclouds replace the rainbows and wasps the butterflies, and doesn't make happiness at all.
Thank you so much, to everyone, for all your support. Special thanks to KLBooks for helping me get over my writer's block for this story and Iris Cornelia Jade for pushing me to update at least this once. We all owe them a round of applause.
Yours no matter what,