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Seidel, Kathleen Gilles

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More Than You Dreamed by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

A favorite old movie
... a
leading man as dashing as Clark Gable in
Gone With The Wind
... and a dream that someday you'll meet someone as romantic and perfect to love...

Jill Casler, an elegant guest at Beverly Hills' best hotel, stared in shock at the handsome man on her doorstep: Phillip Wayland, hero of Weary
Hearts,
the movie that launched her father's career as a Hollywood director
forty years before.
It was as if Phillip had stepped off the silver screen— her imaginary lover appearing before her in the flesh!

In an uncannily familiar Virginia drawl, the visitor explained that he was Doug Ringling, nephew of the actor who played Phillip Wayland. With a chilling sense of deja vu, Jill heard Doug's suspicions about the existence of a secret version of
Weary Hearts
that could shatter Jill's precious memories of her deceased father and smear him in the film industry.

Now, illusions and truth weave a tangled web around Jill as she begins a journey into a past long hidden from her; to the family her father left behind in the Shenandoah Valley; to the poignant reality behind a film classic. Now she will embrace life with a man determined to pursue his own dreams, a man who fills her empty heart as fantasy never could—with love.

"I'M SORRY," JILL APOLOGIZED. "I was absolutely in love with you when I was twelve... although I suppose it wasn't really you."

"No." He smiled, and it was—oh, God—Phillip's smile, Phillip's long, lazy smile. "It was my uncle Bix you were in love with. When you were twelve, I was afraid of girls and had zits."

"Don't
say
that. Speak softly, you're treading on my dreams."

It was not like Jill to blurt out her adolescent fantasies to strangers. She was not a person who talked about herself. But she couldn't help it. How could she not be honest with this man? She had known his glowing blue eyes so well, she had loved them so long.

She shook her head, laughing at herself. "Can you come in for a cup of coffee?"

"If you show me where to walk, so I don't tread on any more dreams than necessary...."

A Pocket Star Book published by

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Copyright © 1991 by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

ISBN: 0-671-66217-1

First Pocket Books printing December 1991

Printed in the U.S.A.

 

for Marlene Drucker

 

A grateful mind

By owing owes not, but still pays, at once Indebted and discharged.

—Paradise Lost

From
The Pocket Books Guide to Movies on Video.
Ed. Michael J. Brockhiser and David Ternisky. 3rd edition. New York, 1992.

Weary Hearts*****

N.R., 128 m., 1948

__________________________________________________________

Bix Ringling (Phillip Wayland), Charles Ringling (Booth Way-land), Alicia Burchell [Mrs. Charles Ringling] (Mary Deas Way-land). Directed by Oliver McClay and produced by Miles Smithson. Screenplay by Bix Ringling and William Casler.

___________________________________________________________

Second only to
Gone With the Wind
as the most popular Civil War drama,
Weary Hearts
tells the story of two brothers who flip a coin to decide which one will ride with the Confederate cavalry and which will stay home and raise horses. A bittersweet love blossoms between the brother who stays home and the other one's wife.

This is the last of Oliver McClay's movies, made when his talents were fading. Much of the movie's enduring appeal has been attributed to the work of William "Cass" Casler, the editor and co-screenwriter. Casler later went on to win Oscars for his direction of
Nancy
and
Mustard Lane. Weary Hearts
was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Olivier's
Hamlet.

CHAPTER 1

She didn't have to ask who he was. She knew. It took one heart-stopping glance. He was Phillip Wayland.

Were the shadows of the Dracaena palms playing a trick on her? No, there was no question. He had the dark, curl-tousled hair, the sharp cheekbones, the full lower lip. With a face promising everything in gallantry and dash, the man on Jill's doorstep was Phillip Wayland. He couldn't be anyone else.

Except Phillip Wayland was a character in a movie made forty years ago; even the actor who had played him was long dead.

So he probably wasn't Phillip Wayland. But still...

"Miss Casler?"

Miss Casler?
This man—or at least his face—had been the heart of all her girlhood dreams, the secret intoxicating crush of her preteen years. Time after time he had come down off the screen to smile at her, to crush her in his arms. Why was he calling her
Miss Casler?
Why wasn't he sweeping her off her feet and taking her to whatever starry land in which fervent adolescent crushes dwelt?

"—Doug Ringling, and I got your address from—"

How Jill loved that movie. She had lived it, breathed it, imagined herself in it, living in Civil-War Virginia, a world of gleaming spurs and perfumed rosebuds. When she took her Pony-Club lessons, riding her obedient little pony around and around a sawdust-covered ring, she was, in her own mind, not a quiet child with blonde braids and a black velvet riding cap, but a girl-Phillip, braving the pounding rains that had come rolling in across the Appalachians, mastering a powerful steed whose breath was hot and whose flanks glistened. When she would lead her little pony back to the stable, she would be driving a string of fine Virginia thoroughbreds into a dark clearing of the Massanutten Mountain, hiding them from the plundering Yankees.

Even when she no longer wanted to be a girl-Phillip, she still loved the movie. Now she wanted to be the girl for Phillip's boy. He was everything a new-awakened girl could want. He had glowing eyes, courtly manners, and dark hair that danced in the wind. His sun-browned hands closed firmly around the leather reins, and his commanding legs urged his horse into a gallop. When he came on the screen, Jill would hold her breath and feel her mouth grow dry. Then, at night, she would dream about the times when he would come down off the screen.

And now he was standing at her door.

Except, of course, he wasn't. This was someone else. He had been talking to her, and she didn't have a clue as to what he had been saying.

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I was absolutely in love with you when I was twelve... although I suppose it wasn't really you."

"No." He smiled, and it was—oh, God—Phillip's smile, Phillip's long, lazy smile. "It was my uncle Bix you were in love with. When you were twelve, I was afraid of girls and had zits."

"Don't
say
that. Speak softly, you're treading on my dreams."

It was not like Jill to blurt out her adolescent fantasies to strangers. She was not a person who talked about herself. But she couldn't help it. How could she not be honest with this man? She had known his glowing blue eyes so well, she had loved them for so long.

She shook her head, laughing at herself. "Have I frightened you? Except for these occasional lapses, I really am a well-adjusted person. Can you take that on faith long enough to come in for a cup of coffee?"

"If you show me where to walk, so I don't tread on any more dreams than necessary."

He followed her inside. At the moment she was living in a two-bedroom bungalow on the palm-treed grounds of the Holmby Court, a small luxury hotel off Wilshire Boulevard in the Westwood section of Los Angeles.

A pair of oyster-colored damask sofas faced each other at one end of the bungalow's living room. Jill gestured to Phillip—no, no, he wasn't Phillip. Good heavens, what had he said his name was? She hurried to the triple windows that took up most of the far wall. Scooping back the edge of heavy damask drapes with one hand, she found the cord with the other. The curtain's rings rasped along the brass rod, and the bold California light flooded into the room. The sunlight made a bright stage of the little seating area. In its center sat this man. He did look like Phillip.

How fun was this. If Phillip Wayland really had knocked on her door when she was twelve, she would have been self-conscious and awkward, embarrassed and painfully young, a child to the man. But now she was twenty-eight, and he seemingly only a few years older. This could be truly grand.

She sat down across from him, moving a big bowl of tulips so that she could see him better. "I ought to be embarrassed"—but she was not—"I went so starry-eyed when I saw you that I didn't catch your name."

"Doug. Doug Ringling."

She could have guessed the Ringling part. "You said Bix was your uncle. So are you Booth's son? No, I'm sorry... Booth, that was his name in the movie. I mean Charles. Are you Charles's son?"
Weary Hearts
was about two brothers, Phillip and Booth Wayland. The parts had been played by real-life brothers, Bix and Charles Ringling.

"Actually not. Bix and Charles had a little brother. He's my father."

"There were three brothers?" None of the
Weary Hearts
 publicity—and Jill had read it all, every blessed word of it—had mentioned a third brother.

"He was just a kid when the movie was made," Doug explained. "He never came West, so—"

"Don't tell me you grew up in Virginia?"

"Ah... yes." He was surprised by her interruption. "In the Valley, the Shenandoah Valley."

"The Shenandoah Valley? How wonderful." Jill clasped her hands over her heart. This might be getting sillier and sillier, but it was also getting better and better.
Weary Hearts
was set in the Shenandoah Valley; Jill had always thought of it as a magical land, sparkling with small stone churches and apple orchards rising over the crests of green hills. Now this man who looked exactly like Phillip said he had grown up there. "You didn't ride horses, did you?"

She couldn't help herself. She had to ask that. Phillip had been a born cavalryman.

He shook his head. "No. I played basketball. I look like Bix and I'm built like him, but I'm taller."

"Are you? I suppose that's good." Jill didn't suppose that she sounded very convincing. "What can I get you? Coffee, tea, something soft? I don't think I have any beer or wine, but I can call for some."

He refused. "I don't want to take any more of your time than—"

"Do you get tired of this? People falling all over themselves because you look like a character in a movie? Or do most people have more dignity than I seem to?"

"I don't mind. Folks in the Valley do idolize Bix because he died young, and maybe if I hadn't had things I was good at, then it might have been tricky... oh, well—" He broke off, dismissing what might be a very complex psychological issue with a wave of his hand. "The people I know are used to me. But your falling all over yourself does make it easier to get to my point." He drew some papers out of the breast pocket of his blazer. "Have you seen this?"

Jill took the papers. They were folded, but she could guess what they were. There were only two reasons why someone who looked like Phillip Wayland would knock on her door. He might have come to sweep her off her feet and make all her prepubescent fantasies come true. Or he was here to talk about
Weary Hearts.
While Jill's devotion to the movie was as irrational as any twelve-year-old girl's flowery dreams, she did have some reason to claim the movie as her own. Her father had edited it and had helped write it. That was why, in the days before VCRs, she had been able to watch it as often as she liked. Her father maintained a screening room in their home, and the studio let him take a copy of the movie whenever he asked.

Made in 1948,
Weary Hearts
was a Civil War movie. While not quite
Casablanca,
it was right up there with
It Happened One Night
and
It's a Wonderful Life.
Everyone had seen it, and everyone loved it. It was not a classical masterpiece, it was no ground-breaking work of art. It was just a good, solid, romantic movie that had been entertaining people for more than forty years. Recently there had been an article in
The Journal of Popular Film and Television
about the making of the movie, a story whose two key figures were Bix Ringling, Doug's uncle, and William "Cass" Casler, Jill's father.

The original idea for the movie had been conceived by Bix Ringling, a young contract writer for one of the big studios. He had done the initial treatment, which the studio took through script development, then decided to produce. Although the film eventually turned into one of the studio's biggest moneymakers, the production had initially had a very limited budget. Assigned to direct had been Oliver McClay, an aging alcoholic, and none of the cast had more than "featured player" status.

BOOK: Seidel, Kathleen Gilles
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