The further adventures of Bob Pendleton as he travels the world in search of a good story.
Bob took his literary creation home where he found his best story yet while picking up a new character… And a new girlfriend. Three years later he’s taking them all to England, the place where his career really took off, for what he thinks is just another ‘Rick Kimberly’ tale of adventure, intrigue and romance. What he gets, as an added bonus, is a series of uncomfortable run-ins with his past.
Alicia Martinez has been following Bob around the world, providing inspiration for Rick and Alice, his attractive and sensuous sidekick. It’s been fun and interesting but when she travels with him to the UK to help research his new book she’s faced with challenges she never expected, one of which might threaten the relationship.
The Rick Kimberly Guides have never been more popular but will they survive when real life intrudes and the birds come home to roost?
“I think we should go to England.”
And we were off and running. With the simplest of phrases uttered over breakfast just before she stabbed a triangle of pineapple from my dish and put it in her mouth Alicia started us on what I should have seen was inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, I love England. It’s a beautiful country full of history and culture and interesting people. I’d go in a heartbeat and stay indefinitely, or would have done. In retrospect I probably should have responded a little differently. Been less dismissive. Maybe even suggested an alternate destination. Someone should invent a time machine that takes you back to the very moment you screwed up so you can have a do-over. I should be fair and admit the trip wasn’t quite as painful as it could have been. Still, there were one or two uncomfortable bits I might have lived without. Given just the one chance, what I said was, “I’ve been to England.”
“That was London.”
“Did they move it or something?”
“No. Smart ass.”
“Well, then, I stand by my statement. I’ve been to England.”
“Yes, and I enjoyed reading about it but I haven’t. More importantly, neither has Alice.”
Ah, yes, Alice. I love her. She’s great. She’s been great since I had the brilliant idea of listening to my friend and adding her to the storylines. I wouldn’t lose her for anything. Of course that’s Alice. Not to be confused with Alicia, whom I also love but in a different way. I wouldn’t lose her, either, naturally. Both have added immeasurably to the “Guides”, Alice by giving Rick a new focus and Alicia by giving me a different outlook on what I do, how I do it and where I go. That first trip to Hong Kong, for example, was definitely a kick in the pants. It was very cool experiencing the excitement of international travel through novice eyes. The thrill of getting your passport followed by another on seeing the itinerary proving you’re really going. The anticipation of boarding the plane that’s taking you to a place you’ve only read about but never dreamed you’d go. Suffering the seemingly endless line through security, when accompanied by someone who’s never been through it, can regain some of its luster to a jaded and world weary traveler like me. Even Montréal was exciting to her. By the time we went to Quito, though, I could tell that while she still got pumped up for the destination she was starting to dread the drudgery.
The thing is, I’d go anywhere with Alicia but it was starting to feel like, just three volumes in, it might be time to change the title of my series to “Alice’s Guide to Tormenting Rick Kimberly.” I briefly considered killing her off. We were about half way to Cotopaxi, with the intent of climbing up far enough to get some good pictures overlooking Quito, and as I looked up at the glacier topped peak I wondered how difficult it would be to get Alice up near the caldera and maybe have … eh … to be honest that’s about as far as I got. In the first place, Alicia would be livid, which is something you just don’t want to encourage in the woman you’re sleeping with. Secondly, Beth showed me the numbers and sales had never been higher since Alice showed up. And, of course, the whole sequence would have been completely out of place. The only way to get Alice to the top of the mountain without devolving into a cartoonish caricature of secret lairs and impossibly rich megalomaniacs intent on world domination would have required completely rewriting the story, which would have required major revisions to “Montreal” that I could have done but would mean pulling the manuscript out of set-up, which might have prompted my editor to kill me, assuming Alicia didn’t save her the trouble. Assuming I didn’t beat them both to it. Which is not to say I felt stuck with Alice. Stuck is, after all, a strong word.