Would you go to extremes to live the life of your dreams? That’s the question at the heart of Kaira Rouda’s new novel, All the Difference…
I’m so excited about my new novel, All the Difference. Here’s a question: Would you go to extremes to live the life of your dreams? All the Difference is a story about three women whose lives become entangled by the choices they make and how, ultimately, one of them turns to murder to achieve her goals.
If you enjoyed Here, Home, Hope, you’ll find yourself back in the suburb of Grandville with a new cast in All the Difference. In this story, though, you’ll find – well – more sexy, more fun and some suspense. I wanted to try my hand at a suburban mystery along the lines of one of my all-time favorite novelists, Susan Isaacs. If you’re a chick lit fan and haven’t read her books, drop everything, and give one a try. Truly. Oh, and then, try All the Difference.
Friday, May 23
Tossing the script onto her desk, Dave told Laura, “Here, read this,” as he sped past. “The teleprompter is set, Sunshine. We go live in two.”
“Thanks, Dave,” Laura said, not adding “you jerk,” although she wanted to. She hated Dave Robinson, producer for WCOL-TV5, and didn’t care that the feeling was mutual. Laura Mercer didn’t care about much except ratings, beating the local competition to a story, and looking like big-city-market material. Laura knew she was the latter. She looked like the girl next door and sexy at the same time. That’s what her adoring fans kept writing since she had leapt onto the screen in Columbus four years earlier. She was promoted from reporter to anchor of the noon and early evening news two years later. Already her name was a household word. Especially in households with male viewers.
Laura knew she was considered a draw at charity events. She agreed to lunches with local power brokers and marketing folks. Accessible, beautiful. And she was always perfecting her presence. Changing the tone of her voice, practicing inflections, tilting her head just a little farther left, or simply picking up a new adjective to drop into idle anchor babble. Laura was learning, absorbing, and mimicking everyone at the station. When the general manager asked her to do the news bulletin cut-in, she felt it was her big chance. Maybe this could lead to a network feed or even CNN Headline News pickup?
Eschewing a read-through for further primping time, Laura arrived in the studio with twenty-two seconds to spare, Dave’s script in hand. Clipping on her microphone, she smiled at the cameraman, Rob. Soon, the cameras would be automated robots, but until then, she needed Rob to like her. Glancing up at the booth where Dave sat hunched over the control panel, Laura sneered – but it could have just been a squint because of the lights.
“Ready and three, two, one, music…”
“We interrupt our regular programming to bring you a special news bulletin from WCOL-TV5,” the station announcer’s voice boomed.
Suddenly, Laura’s face popped into the middle of one of the station’s highest-rated shows, prompting hundreds of calls from angry show addicts. Laura’s hair was perfect – she was the brunette Breck girl. Her squeaky-clean image had boosted the number-three station in town to a tie with the perennial number-one. The soft orange and yellow backdrop complemented her skin tones. Set approval was part of her contract by now, and she exercised it.
“This is Laura Mercer, News Channel 5, with a special bulletin,” she read from the teleprompter. “An hour ago, an explosion from unidentified causes ripped through a large home in Field City, five miles northwest of Grandville. Sources on the scene tell News 5 the two adult victims were airlifted to an area hospital in critical condition. We will have more about this story as information becomes available, and, of course, tonight on the eleven o’clock news. This is Laura Mercer. We now return to regular programming.”
“And, we’re out. Nice job, people.” Dave’s voice boomed from the control booth above the studio. Hoping to cover the story first, and thus smack an early, crippling home run useful for self-promotion for months to follow, he had obviously decided to break into programming with a news bulletin containing little news. It was May, sweeps week, a critical time to lure viewers to the station. It wouldn’t matter to him how stupid Laura would look, interrupting a program to give no news.
“Goddamn it! Heads are going to roll for this one,” Laura screamed after she’d removed her microphone. She held her breath then, waiting until Rob sauntered out of the studio. She needed him on her side until the studio was automated. The camera equaled power, since his choice of angles and camera position could make the difference between her nose seeming prominent or ugly. Someday she’d have the money to fix those faults, but not yet.
“Is it too much to ask to have a few facts before we jump on the air?” she yelled to Dave, her invisible producer above. “I know this is TV news, but facts, some facts, are important!” Feeling better after the tirade, she walked out of the studio, back to her desk.
Over the speaker, Dave said, “Have a nice day, Sunshine.” Sunshine was the nickname he had given her two years ago when she arrived to save their sagging news ratings, fresh from a Dayton Fox affiliate. At first, he had seemed to like her. Six months later, he began complaining that “Sunshine” was raining on his parade.
The public loved her. Laura knew most of the staff at the station hated her as much as Dave did, but the station owners – the only people who mattered in the end – decided she was their “it” girl. Her ticket was written. She was biding her time until an anchor spot opened up in a bigger market at a sister station. Her departure could not come soon enough for Dave or the rest of the staff, Laura knew.
Once back at her desk in the center of the noisy newsroom, Laura thought, Today was intriguing. For once, the news registered. She’d actually felt something, deep inside, almost like a stomachache, as she read the story. It had to be his house, she thought. But who was the woman? Even now, Laura’s heart was racing, and she realized her fingernails were drumming the fake wood veneer of her desk. Fortunately, no one else seemed to notice her agitation.
Turning in her chair, Laura yelled, “Tony, call all the hospitals in town. They airlifted the victims, so they’re probably at Grant or University. I want the names of both people injured in that explosion, and I want their status. Now, Tony, move!” Laura knew the stone-faced assignment editor couldn’t tell the orders were a personal request; she always treated him in the same demoralizing manner. Consistency is key, she thought to herself as she watched him fumble with the computer keyboard at his desk.
For a moment Laura wondered whether anybody at the station would connect her to the explosion. No, she’d been discreet.
“Hey, Mike, is Headline News interested in a feed?” she called out to another editor, before jumping out of her chair to hover over his desk. This could be big.
Kaira Rouda is an award-winning entrepreneur and author. She lives in Southern California with her husband and four kids and is at work on her next novel. She’s a social media addict and would love to connect with you on:
And on her website: http://www.KairaRouda.com
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