Is the prologue the beginning?

I have already posted the prologue and it is the beginning, before Chapter I, but this is the start of the main body of the book. The start of Chapter I. I hope you found the prologue interesting. This will give you an even better idea of what the story is about.

This is the beginning of Chapter I of ‘Old Money’

“Haunted or not – this picture’s jinxed – it’s dangerous.” ​“Calm down, Karen. Nobody died. Let’s talk this over.” ​“I gotta see Davy, all right?” “Sure, but not now, OK?” ​I tried to ignore the hubbub outside and concentrate on the matter in hand, that of going through a client’s latest accounts and advising on his business’s finances. My client, Davy Jones, whom I liked and slightly envied, looked up to the ceiling and said, “You know, Frank, sometimes, I see what Hitchcock meant about actors being the worst part of making movies. Of course, it doesn’t apply to me. I was never a self-absorbed, oversensitive, spoilt child … was I?” He gave me a lopsided grin. ​“We accountants have our share of difficult clients, you know.” It had begun like any other meeting with a client, except that Davy Jones was a film producer, known professionally by a more exotic name, who had returned to Wales only a couple of years before, after an absence of some twenty years spent pursuing a successful career in Hollywood. His office was in a castle in Wales, which he and his wife had turned into a studio and a home. We were going over his accounts in a room furnished with an interesting mixture of items: modern, mock-antique and some possibly genuine. The smell of our coffee mingled pleasantly with that of polished wood. I was about to run through a few pieces of financial advice, when the door opened and two women came in, accompanied by a blast of cold air. I knew that the big blonde in her thirties was Angie, Davy’s wife, a well-known Hollywood actress, but I couldn’t think why the other woman looked familiar. I got up and closed the door, while a medium-sized brunette in her mid-twenties took several deep breaths, clutching her hands together and said, “It’s happened again. That’s enough. I’m off, back to Pontypridd, right now. All I want’s me money.”

Here’s a bit more of the beginning.

Angie stood with her hands on her hips and sighed, “Sorry, Davy, honey, I tried to stop her. I’m sure we just need to talk this through. We can sort it out.” The brunette glanced around as she circled the desk. When she looked in my direction, I saw what was familiar about her before she turned to Davy again. “Rubbish! Listen, see? Idris was right to get out when he did. I’m not waiting for summat else to go wrong. All right?” Davy put down some papers and took off his glasses. “OK! I hear you, Karen. You can go if you want to. Nobody’s a prisoner here. But it’ll sure hurt the film losing you now, after Idris, when we’re so nearly finished.” Karen looked far from satisfied. Before she could respond, Davy added, “OK. Angie and I will work out how much we owe you and send it to you. Won’t we, Angie?” The blonde replied, “I promise it won’t be long. I’m sorry about everything that’s happened, but you know we’re not to blame.” Karen stood still long enough to say, “All right. Fair enough. But I’m leaving now and I’m not gonna wait forever for me money. OK?” Davy held his hands in front of him, palms upwards, as he answered, “Yeah, sure. But before you go, just tell me what the hell’s happened now?” Karen snapped, “The bloody electrics went again. What do you think?” Angie added, “Down in Studio B this time. I guess it was pretty scary, everything going dark all of a sudden, but the emergency lighting came on and no one got hurt.” Karen retorted, “This time! Anyone could’ve been killed, what with all those props and whatnot all over the place. You nearly knocked a lighting tower over before the emergency lighting kicked in.” Angie looked at her husband and nodded. Davy looked earnestly at Karen. “OK. You’re right. It’s got to stop. I’m gonna do my damnedest to see it does. But you got a right to be scared and if you want out, well, that’s your call. So long and good luck.” Karen made a dramatic exit, slamming the door so that everything hanging on the wall shook and the windows rattled. Angie said, “She never put such feeling into any of her acting.” Davy ran a hand through his bushy fair hair and shook his head. “Honey, can you get someone to take another look at these electrics? There must be something they missed last time. And get Tariq to check the CCTV for any intruders. I just can’t believe any of the cast or crew would be stupid enough to pull a stunt like that. I guess this counts as a dangerous incident. What about letting our health and safety guy know?” “They’re all already on it. You’re not the only one who’s good at his job around here.”

Castell Coch, from a watercolour by George Dolman

Castell Coch, from a watercolour by George Dolman

Now for the end of the beginning.

Angie stared at me, then looked at Davy. She was wearing a simple sweatshirt and trousers, but still looked every inch the film star that she was. “Say, whadda you know? We’ve been busting our guts trying to find a lookalike for Idris Pugh, and one just walks right in.” He looked at her blankly. She looked at me. Davy stood up and walked around the desk, keeping his eyes on me, and sat down again. “Well, I’ll be. It’s incredible.” I asked, “What are you two talking about?” She patted me on the shoulder, “Say, buddy, how do you fancy doing a bit of acting?” “Are you serious? Why?” Angie perched on the corner of the desk, as she answered, “Idris Pugh had an important part in this movie we’re making. He left us yesterday. He’s scared, ’cos things keep happening that we can’t explain, and we’ve been trying to replace him at short notice. That’s not easy. Well, it didn’t seem like it would be. But you look just like him. You could replace him as easy as anything. Nobody’d guess.” I realised what Davy had meant by ‘incredible’ and inwardly complimented him on using the word correctly, as I tried to take in what had just been said. Davy frowned and held up a hand. “Not so fast, honey. Do we want to take a chance on an untrained, inexperienced amateur, just because he looks right? Sorry, Frank. No offence.” Angie twisted to face him and said, “Ordinarily, I’d be worried too, but you know how desperate we are to get this movie finished, and we’ve got almost all we need from Idris in the can. There’s only a few simple scenes we need to shoot and there’s hardly any lines.” Davy looked at the desk, then at each of us in turn. “OK, it’s worth a try.” I said, “I can’t give up my business at the drop of a hat, you know.” Angie said, “It’d only be for a little while. Surely you get to take holidays at times?” Davy added, “Yeah, Frank, we could work out a shooting schedule to let you keep your business going in between. We’d see you didn’t lose out financially, isn’t it?” “Hmm … Maybe. I expect you’ll need an answer soon. I’ll talk it over with my family tonight.” At once, I had a picture of my family killing themselves laughing at the thought of my acting in a film. I said, “Surely there must be experienced actors who could take this part, who’d be better than me? There’s bound to be one who looks as much like this Idris as I do?” Davy nodded and spread his arms out as he said, “Oh, sure. But time’s against us. You’ve no idea how much another delay could cost us, and even if we found someone tomorrow, he’d likely be tied up for a while unless we were damned lucky. As if!” “Would a delay matter that much?” “It sure would! Not only would we have to keep paying the rest of the cast and crew, but we got deals with distributors, publicists and I don’t know who else. And they’re all time-related. We could wind up with a movie and nowhere to show it and no way to advertise it.” Angie turned back to me, pursed her lips and raised one eyebrow. “Say, Frank, you don’t know anyone who looks like Karen do you?” “Yes. I do. Believe it or not. My wife, Sian, looks a lot like Karen. Just a bit older. Well, actually she’s forty-four, but don’t quote me on that. What are you thinking? Oh, well, I should say she’s a vet – I mean a veterinary surgeon, not a war veteran – and she may be less able than I am to make time for a second job.” Davy looked out of the window at the wooded hillside which sloped away below the castle walls, before turning to me and saying, “Phew! Does she really look like Karen? She was Miss Wales a couple of years ago or so. I didn’t think we’d find another like her so easily. I’ve got to see this wife of yours.” Angie agreed.

Read more than the beginning – buy the book – e-book or paperback.