NEXT IN LINE (90 Pages)
Written by Stacy Porteus
Copyright Registration Number: 1-1948647459
It’s 1975 in one of the world’s most seductive royal capitals. The country’s beloved royal
family, including the king, his queen and their sons, is mysteriously kidnapped from the
palace in the middle of the night, never to be seen or heard from again.
Fast forward to Christmas 2014. New York’s iconic high-society magazine is on the brink of
bankruptcy. Tough-as-nails editor-in-chief, MAGGIE THOMAS (65), has the personal inside
scoop on a global story that could bounce the legendary publication back into the
She sends up-and-coming junior editor, LIZ HUGHES (32), on a whirlwind adventure to a
forgotten country in Southeast Asia. Her assignment? To unravel the puzzling identity of
the country’s next king, an unassuming heir to the overthrown monarchy that vanished
over 40 years ago.
Liz is allured by the mystical riverfront landscape, gleaming golden temples, and French
colonial architecture, yet feels completely at odds with her mission impossible. She relies
on help from URBAN, (70), a longtime expat and Maggie’s closest confidant, MASTER
CHAN, (70), head of the royal monastery and TEO (40-ish), an enigmatic monk that has
been groomed for Master Chan’s position since birth.
After an awkward first meeting in the royal temple, Liz and Teo are properly introduced in
Master Chan’s garden courtyard. Master Chan is weak and doesn’t have much time left.
There is an instant connection between Liz and Teo. Urban tells Master Chan and Teo
that Liz is in town to conduct research for a romance novel that she’s writing. Master
Chan discloses a riveting local tale of unrequited love, a story that is not openly
discussed in the tightly governed country:
Prior to the kidnapping of 1975, the royal family’s eldest prince falls in love with a young
American journalist. They are expecting a child, and since royals are not allowed to
marry foreigners at the time, the young woman’s identity has to remain secret. On the
night of the monarchy’s overthrow, a baby boy is born, delivered by the monks and
smuggled into the royal monastery by Master Chan. With Urban’s help, the boy is brought
up in secrecy to protect the royal family’s legacy.
Liz is encouraged by the facts revealed within Master Chan’s story and feels that she is
making progress in her quest. Shortly after Teo and Liz’s first meeting, Master Chan passes
away. On his deathbed, he reveals to Teo that he is indeed the prince’s secret son.
Although Teo is surprised, the vague memories from his childhood and unusual
upbringing make sense to him now. For security reasons, Urban and Master Chan believe
it is best to move Teo from the monastery and into Urban’s private Mekong River Estate.
As Teo grapples with the potential responsibilities of his future, his friendship with Liz
blossoms. Teo takes Liz under his wing, showing her the unparalleled beauty of his
country, far beyond the French cafes. He introduces her to his long-time childhood
friend, XAI (40-ish), and together they turn Liz on to the real traditions of Laos.
Liz documents her investigative journey with stunning photography of the places and
people she meets, one image more captivating than the next. As Maggie cracks the
whip from New York, eager to hear progress on Liz’s research, Liz tries to keep Maggie at
bay with emails and photos showing what is happening on the ground. As Teo continues
to help Liz with research for her ‘romance novel’, they find themselves nurturing a
romance of their own.
Teo understands that with his royal bloodline, his life will never be the same. If he is
chosen to be next in line, he will need a queen, and he confesses his feelings about Liz to
Urban. Although it is painful to tell him the truth, Urban reveals that an arranged marriage
to label-obsessed socialite CANDACE LEE (28), has been in the works for years. Candace
is Ivy League educated and the spoiled daughter of a wealthy Laotian family that
relocated to China after the monarchy’s overthrow. Candace’s father, DR. LEE (70), a
long-time friend of the former royal family, is the man responsible for developing the new
super highway, connecting paradise to the industrialized world beyond.
After a sultry picnic beside a waterfall, Teo and Liz return to the estate on Teo’s
beautifully carved longtail boat. Their bliss is short lived when threatened by two soldiers
with automatic weapons. When they return from the river, Urban is there with the Lee
family, where a special evening has been planned to introduce Teo to Candace. Teo’s
childhood helper, AELAN (70), dresses Liz in a beautiful Lao outfit, knowing that Teo won’t
be able to keep his eyes off of her. After hearing about the scary experience on the river,
Candace’s mother, DAPHNE LEE (65), a long-time friend of Urban, Maggie and the royal
family, phones Maggie in New York to warn her about Teo’s safety.
The next morning, Liz and Teo spend quiet time together at the river estate. Feeling close
to Liz, Teo admits that he is indeed a possible heir to the throne, but does not know
himself whether he will be appointed as the next king. Although her feelings for Teo make
her want to protect his secret, Liz makes the difficult decision to phone New York, telling
Maggie’s assistant that she is almost certain that Teo is next in line.
After the publicized fatal shooting of a Laotian couple with royal ties in Bangkok goes
viral, Maggie takes Daphne seriously, fearing for Teo’s life. Maggie and her graphic
design team work through the night, using Liz’s stunning photography to create a cover
story for the magazine. As the news of Teo’s true identity spreads quickly across social
media, Teo and Liz are blissfully unaware of the buzz and instead enjoy an overnight tryst
on the grounds of the former royal palace.
The next morning, Liz and Teo awaken to reporters outside. Not understanding why the
reporters are there, Teo sneaks into the royal monastery to partake in the traditional
rituals that if completed, will mark his transition from humble monk to king. Liz races back
to the river estate, only to find more reporters setting up outside of the security gate.
There, she finds Maggie, who has flown in from New York on the magazine’s private jet to
attend the evening’s coronation as well as to confront some lingering ghosts from her
Maggie confesses to leaking the story, defending her decision to protect Teo from
possible threats by disgruntled members of the outgoing government. Angered by
Maggie’s lack of sensitivity and honesty about how much she knew about the story, Liz
accuses Maggie of using her. Maggie points out that falling in love with Teo was not on
the agenda, and thanks to the international popularity of the story, informs Liz that she
might just walk away with a Pulitzer Prize. Liz becomes suspicious about how much
Maggie actually knows, forcing Maggie to admit that there’s more to the story than
keeping the magazine alive; Maggie was the young journalist in love with Teo’s father.
While on his way to the coronation, Teo spots a copy of the magazine’s cover photo of
himself with Candace, secretly taken by Liz during their dinner at the river estate. The
headline: “Long Live the King: Asia’s New Prince Charming”. Teo assumes that Candace
and her family have procured the media blitz and is shocked to hear from the Lees
instead that Liz is an undercover journalist for the magazine. Stunned by Liz’s infidelity, he
is cold when Liz, Maggie, Urban and Xai arrive at the coronation.
Urban asks Candace and her family to give them a few minutes before the event begins.
Maggie takes the blame for the media blitz, relieving some of Teo’s misconceptions, and
apologizes for allowing her unresolved feelings for his father to keep her away from being
actively involved in his life. Realizing that Liz really does have feelings for him, Teo and Liz
steal a few moments alone together, seconds before he’s expected to join Candace on
stage in the ballroom. Teo hints at the possibility of giving up the throne and living a
normal life, but Liz knows that what the country needs most is a man like Teo to protect it
from greed and commercialization.
As the world’s most influential leaders wait in the golden hilltop palace for the
announcement of the new king, Teo must decide between following his heart and
fulfilling his destiny.
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