Somewhere in the English countryside
Early September, 2023
“I tell you, mate…this is going to be bloody wizzo. I have already looked into golfing and hunting resorts, and I have been in touch with a friend of mine who owns a little nightclub over there…” Rupert Royston-Fellowes, one-half of the wrestling tag team known as the Best of British, grins and winks at his partner and lifelong best friend. “…nothing but fit young fillies as far as the eye can see.” The blond man punches his darker-haired counterpart in the shoulder good-naturedly. “So, again…bloody wizzers. We need it, as well, after the half-year we have just gone through, eh, old chum?”
“Defo.” Nigel Kensington III returns his partner’s grin, though not the blow to the shoulder. “It is Summer until the middle of bloody October over there, as well, is it not?” Rupert nods, and Nigel’s grin widens. “I thought so.” He lets out a small, wistful sigh. “I can hardly wait to be sprawled out on a beach somewhere, with a nice drink, and an even nicer bird…actually, make that one to EITHER side of me…!”
The two men are still sharing a companionable guffaw over this remark when a nearby door opens, and a deeply tanned blonde woman in a blonde pixie cut and eye-watering hot pink skirt suit welcomes them in.
“You are looking positively radiant, Kerry!” Kensington flashes her his most winning smile, which the woman makes a show of fawning over.
“Do you nbsolutely LOVE it?” She gives a little giggly twirl. “Ibiza. I was over there for a few weeks, staying with my friend Anna. Rupie knows Anna…don’t you, darling?”
Rather than reply, however, the typically blunt Fellowes chooses, instead, to bring the conversation around to the salient point at hand.
“How is she?”
Kerry grimaces. “Well…I DID try working on her a little bit…you know, to soften the blow…but still…””
“…I see. We had better be prepared, then.”
“Yes. I would definitely say so, darling.”
Rupert nods. “Very well. Lead the way.”
Kerry promptly obliges, leading the two men through another room and into a private study, where a brunette in a power-suit sits behind a desk, smoking and having a glass of wine. As the two men enter, she pushes herself up straighter in her chair, glowering daggers at the pair.
“Stella! The boys are here to see y—”
Kerry forcedly cheery spiel is, however, cut short by a single word, which drops on the two men with all the blunt force of a large boulder.
Always the most tactful half of the duo, Kensington seeks to deflect his employer’s rage, a goal his partner’s aghast reply immediately renders impossible.
“…well, that bloody turncoat betrayed us, and he sided with that—that—lumbering IMBECILE, and the blasted freak is the size of a small bear, and we—”
“That is enough.” Once again, Stella Chalmers-Blythe barely has to raise her voice to bring her interlopers to silence, her eyes scorching a hole into each one. “I am growing tired of constantly hearing excuses. I want to hear solutions.”
This, predictably, has the two men fidgeting and exchanging hesitant glances, as though they were small children caught in a collective misdemeanor. No less predictable is the eyeroll from Stella, as she once again tongue-lashes her associates.
“You are not QUITE as outspoken or proactive when it comes to bettering yourselves, are you? I might have known.” Her gaze now moves to her Public Relations officer, whom she addresses with a slight sigh. “Kerry, please tell me YOU have something…”
“Actually, darling, I do.” Kerry’s impeccably white teeth stand out for a moment against her deeply tanned skin as she smiles.
Stella, however, does not yet lose her frown. “…well…?”
Kerry’s smile grows wider. “Two words, darling: reputation management.”
The two men and the Stella all collectively frown in puzzlement at the blonde, who begins to pace back and forth across the office as she expounds on her point, like a lawyer making a case for a client.
“The way I see it, what these two fine boys need is a little bit of a makeover. I feel…”
“I am NOT mincing about in some clown outfit every other week!” Rupert Royston-Fellowes’ outburst draws an angry glare from his employer, who clears her throat crossly before prompting Kerry to continue.
“No, no, no…don’t worry, Rupie, darling…I would NEVER do that to you boys!” The blonde giggles airily, either not having taken offence to the interruption or admirably masking it. “I was referring to a change in the public perception towards you two, both as athletes AND as people.”
Their concerns mollified, it is now the two men’s turn to nod encouragingly at their PR whiz. Kerry smiles brightly again, returning the nod, before continuing.
“See, as of right now, people are none too fond of either of you, I’m afraid. I was thinking perhaps we might work on changing that…”
“How do you propose we go about it?” Stella leans forward, clearly interested.
Kerry grins. “Well, darling, all good redemption stories start with a few unselfish acts. Look no further than these two boys’ opponents from last week.” The mention of Aleczander and August draws a scowl from Rupert, but neither woman notices it. “Leczi was just as disliked by the general public as either of them, yet, at the last show, he was being applauded. All because he helped that other fellow…”
“…purely out of INTEREST…the rotten bastard…” Rupert’s muttered growl once again goes unnoticed, as Kerry reaches full swing with her idea.
“…so, if we could somehow establish the fact that these two gentlemen are perfectly capable of being decent chaps…”
“Yes…yes…I see it…” Stella’s chin is now resting on her closed fist, as she takes in Kerry’s plan with rapt attention. “…what do you suggest?”
Kerry’s grin comes with a hint of mystery this time, as she gives her employer and friend a mischievous look. “Do you trust me, darling?”
To the men’s surprise, Stella grins back, giving Kerry a slight nod which makes her beam yet again.
“WONderful! You shan’t regret it!”
The blonde turns towards the two suddenly apprehensive-looking men beside her, affecting what might charitably pass for a strict tone.
“As for you two…come along! There is a lot to be done if we are going to rehabilitate your image. Quickly, now! Chop-chop!”
With that, the slight, slender middle-aged PR Barbie leads the two much larger, muscular, yet visibly uncomfortable men out of her employer’s office, their heads hung and their steps shuffling like those of schoolboys sentenced to Summer detention by a particularly strict headmistress, their dreams of a boozy fly-and-flop beach holiday among like-minded debutantes effectively and irrevocably shattered.