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Jonathan has sixty-three hours to woo the woman of his dreams. And a lifetime to regret it.
In the midst of the Great Depression, Hollywood’s dream factory still churns. For twenty-two years, it’s lured dutiful son Jonathan O’Donnell. But when he finally sets off to make movies, he meets a beautiful woman on the train heading West and falls hard.
Minnie is as dazzling and distant as the star she’s determined to become. While the train rolls along, Jonathan woos her with his winning charm. But as time runs out, he realizes he has more questions than answers. So many things about her don’t add up.
And when they reach L.A., Jonathan’s dream descends into a nightmare. He finds his sanity, his sobriety, and ultimately his life threatened. All to answer one question:
Who is the woman on the train?
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49 hrs. to Los Angeles
The next morning, Jonathan found her in a dining car, her eggplant dress striking against the white tablecloth, a hand turning a cup to her mouth. When she pressed her ruby lips to the rim of the bone-china confection, he realized that he’d never considered tea cups so much as wanting to be that one in that moment. Then he tucked his newspaper under his arm and strode to the table across the aisle from hers.
“Is the coffee any good?” he asked, taking a seat facing her.
“I wouldn’t know. This is tea.”
“Tea,” he repeated as if considering the idea, then signaled a waiter and ordered coffee. “You must feel like the wrath of God this morning. I trust you slept horribly in those ridiculous couches-cum-beds.”
“No worse than you, I trust,” she said.
“Far worse. I have a sleeper.”
She smirked. “Of course, you do.”
“Now what does that mean, I’d like to know?” Then he took a sip of his coffee and choked out, “No. I meant to ask you one thing first and receive a satisfactory answer. But you distracted me with your cup and your… tea.”
“How did I distract you?” she asked, peering determinedly ahead and not at him.
“What is your name?” he asked, craning his neck to catch her gaze.
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Pardon? What haven’t you decided? Your name or whether you would tell me?”
“I plan to change it when I get to Hollywood.”
“Are you an actress?”
“Something like that.”
Her evasiveness was becoming quite the annoying habit. Frustrated, for a time, he watched a mother at the next table shovel scrambled eggs into her toddler’s mouth. “All right. For now, what may I call you?”
“Minnie, I suppose.”
“Like the mouse?”
“I’m nothing like a mouse.”
“I didn’t think so. And you obviously came first.”
“By how many years?”
She considered. “Ten?”
Jonathan quickly did the math. “You’re seventeen?”
“No.” Her mouth was ajar to say more.
“How old are you really?”
Color flooded into her face.
“Please tell me the truth.” Still she remained silent, and suddenly it occurred to him that her eluding might not be a matter of romantic mystery...