Chapter 1 of “Silver Screen”

sheritta325-72dpi-1500x2000Ok, so I started the edit for Silver Screen a little later than I wanted, but I spent the first day of 2017 with my husband, so it wasn’t a wasted day. We went out to a nice lunch and saw Assassins Creed in theaters, which is a fantastic movie if you’re thinking of going to see it. As a fan of the games, I was thoroughly satisfied. I hope they make a second one.

Anyway, so I’ve been working on Silver Screen and I’m starting to get a little excited because I used the winter break to develop the characters a little more and flesh them out with bolder details of their likes, dislikes, and personality. Here’s the first chapter and y’all let me know what you think. I still may never publish it, but at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t do a half-baked job.

Chapter 1

Josie muttered under her breath as she fished out the pence and pound notes buried in the bottom of the front pocket on her backpack. The taxi man waited patiently, understanding that she was a foreigner and obviously in a hurry. If Josie hadn’t slept in that morning, she would have been able to catch the shuttle bus with the rest of the film crew from the hotel. Instead, she had to count out what money she had kept for herself before wiring the rest of her paycheck to her mother in the states.

She hastily pushed the currency into the calloused hand of the Scotsman behind the wheel, shoulder her backpack, and scooted out of the back seat of the taxi. The air was cleaner there in the country, miles away from Edinburgh, if not a little muggy from the morning fog that still lingered over the town.

Winchburgh was a charming village and perfect for shooting the remake of The Wolfman. The production team scouted for months to find a place that already had the perfect backdrop and possible sets for the shots they needed. Without much help at all, Winchburgh looked just like the village overlooked by Talbot Castle in the movie.

This was Josie’s first time abroad and she expected to have a sense of awe and wonder towards the place that was so unlike her home in Arkansas. But Scotland had taken her breath away in ways that she couldn’t describe. It wasn’t just the fresh air, but the people and the rich history that seemed to scream at her from every street corner. The country had its modern conveniences, of course, but it retained its past well and Josie felt herself swept up in the romance of it all.

Even as she sloshed through the muddy shoulder of the road to make her way up to the cluster of trailers just outside of the village, Josie admired the pale gray sky above and the light breeze that was beginning to blow the mist down the rolling hills of farmland and away from the village.

Josie had wanted to make herself more presentable this morning, but three missed alarms later she had no time to fix her hair in her usual loose half-pinup style or even apply a basic application of mascara or eyeliner. Instead, she let her face go completely naked and pulled her hair back into a loose ponytail while in the taxi, taming back her slightly wavy, chestnut brown hair that she normally tried to straighten first thing in the morning.

She wasn’t eager to look at herself in the mirror and see the hot mess that was about to greet the world. Despite her failure, Josie tried to remind herself that she was not the one the cameras wanted to see. It was her job to make the real stars look their best.

The set was already buzzing with activity as other makeup artists, costumers, script writers and assistants all scurried from one trailer to another. Some of the more important players in the movie making business, like Landon Torff – the director -, and Kirk Levins – the lead writer of the script -, were exchanging some heated words about how they thought the next scene should be shot.

Landon was a world renown director, as was Kirk. She put them on the same pedestal along with Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, and Orson Welles.

Landon’s commanding leadership personality was truly a gift. Some may have read his demeanor as aggressive or demanding, but Josie knew better. She had been in the business of performance long enough to know the difference between guidance and cruelty.

In the same way, Kirk had a creative mind for storytelling. He knew what worked and what didn’t and how to keep the audience captivated. Josie had read the script just after accepting the job as the star’s makeup artist for the film. Not being a love of literature or prolific bookworm, Josie was amazed to find herself still awake at three in the morning, reading the screenplay.

Seeing Landon and Kirk butt heads in this way, considering their great talent and passion for the art of filmmaking, wasn’t surprising.

Josie slipped past everyone and made straight for the refreshment tent where a few frazzled crew members were setting out donuts, coffee, and other breakfast pastries for the team. Too focused in their task, no one paid her a single acknowledgment. Sometimes, she preferred it that way. She was involved in behind-the-scenes work for a reason.

After checking the time on her wristwatch – the same one she had been using since she was a freshman in high school with the worn and peeling leather band – Josie quickly poured herself coffee in a Styrofoam cup. She took even greater care in preparing a cup of Earl Grey tea, making sure that the water was the perfect, scalding temperature and that she stirred in exactly one and a half spoonful of sugar to sweeten the bitter taste. Josie never cared for tea, but she knew someone who did.

With a cup in each hand, she proceeded to the leading actor’s trailer situated on the far edge of the makeshift studio campsite. Josie tried to focus more on the warmth that seeped into her fingers from the cups that she was holding, rather than the anxious pounding of her heart beneath her rib cage.

Unable to knock, Josie took a steadying breath and tapped the tip of her shoe on the door, making the thin plastic and metal material rattle noisily.

“It’s open,” came the masculine voice from inside.

Josie’s face scrunched for a brief moment, wondering how she would manage the door with only a finger or two to undo the latch. To ask the great Rodney Bator to open the door for her was out of the question. Josie didn’t have the nerve to ask a man who had won so many Academy Awards and dozens more nominations, to take the time of day to open the door for someone who hadn’t even made her name in the movie industry yet. Especially when she was perfectly able to figure it out for herself. There was no reason to waste his time.

Being careful not to spill either drink, Josie worked the latch on the door and stepped inside. The trailer was a little larger than the rest, complete with a bathroom and sleeping area in case the star wanted to nap between shootings. The makeup vanity was lit and ready for use, but Rodney was occupied on the other side of the trailer where a small flat screen monitor was set up.

He was facing away from her, the back of his head just visible above the edge of the plush armchair that sat in front of the built-in media center in the trailer. It was a special request Rodney made when they were preparing his trailer. He wanted it so he could watch the original movie and study it for reference. Josie couldn’t help but admire his dedication to the craft.

“Good morning, Josie,” Rodney greeted as he always did. Despite the slight distracted note in his voice, Josie knew he was sincere. Rodney was always sincere.

Josie hooked her foot under the door and snapped it shut, isolating herself and Rodney from the rest of the world. She walked up behind the armchair and turned her attention to the movie. The original The Wolfman movie, starring Lon Chaney Junior was playing in black and white. The scene, she recognized, was from the beginning of the story long before any serious action had taken place.

“How did you know it was me?” Josie asked, her slight drawl giving away her southern roots.

Rodney finally turned his attention away from the screen and looked up at Josie with his piercing, but kind slate blue eyes. Even in the low ambient light of the trailer, they were hypnotic and bright. Maybe it was the stark contrast between his nearly gray eyes and short black hair that made him look so alluring.

It wasn’t any surprise that all the magazines back home rated Rodney Bator the sexiest man alive for three straight years in a row. His looks were reminiscent of the old movie days of Gregory Peck, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, and Rock Hudson, with strong and masculine features like a square jaw covered in dark stubble, slender nose and a charming gaze.

Yet, there was always a gentleness about Rodney. He was the perfect actor for action movies and romantic comedies alike. He never needed a stunt double and had mastered every art of fighting for the sake of his method acting style. He could bash skulls into brick walls and tenderly caress the face of his co-star to make her swoon without needing to play the part. He was truly a work of art and as her mother said once, God broke the mold when he created Rodney Baton.

Working in the world of theater for so long, Josie had never known what it was like to be truly star struck. They had been working on this project for a few months now and every single day, without fail, Josie had to reel herself back into realty.

When she first saw Rodney sitting in his seat on the plane bound for Scotland, Josie had to contain her fit of squeals and giggles that wanted to rattle her body all the way across the Atlantic. Luckily, she had Natalie sitting in the aisle seat next to her, keeping her grounded until they could get to the hotel in Edinburgh.

For the first few days on set, it was hard to keep herself under control. The urge to burst into smiles while she brushed his cheeks with light powder was almost too much to bear. Slowly, the newness wore off and she could work with Rodney more professionally and they talked alone in the trailer for quite a while each day.

Sometimes, she wondered if he ever suspected that she had to stop herself from asking for his autograph every day for those first few weeks. And even though the excitement over the fact that she was working so closely with Rodney Bator had worn away, Josie still blushed when he treated her with unfounded kindness and respect.

Josie had to catch her breath before silently handing him the cup of tea. It was Rodney that she had wanted to look good for and God only knew what he thought of her now, standing in front of him looking like she had just rolled out of bed. While he looked perfect in his basic short sleeved shirt and pair of faded jeans.

Without answering her question, he grinned and showcased his pearly white teeth as he took the cup from her. “You know, you’re the only one who remembers that I don’t drink coffee.” He sipped quietly and Josie could see the satisfaction in his face. “All those drones out there try to give me energy drinks or coffee and I have to keep telling them to go take a powder.”

Josie couldn’t help but giggle. Another thing that made Rodney so endearing was his colorful use of older terms that few others on set might understand. On more than one occasion, they talked completely in slang and lingo from over seventy years ago and laughed hysterically afterwards. It was just another memory that Josie held close to her heart on those days when Landon was grumpy and Kirk wasn’t explaining his vision succinctly.

“I don’t normally have to be told something twice.” To keep herself from falling deeper into Rodney’s mystic eyes or handsome face, she lifted her gaze back to the television. “You’re watching it again?” she asked, feigning astonishment.

Rodney glanced back to the screen as well and propped his chin in his hand. “Yes,” he sighed. “We’re doing this scene today and I want to make sure I’m getting the feeling right. I know Kirk has his own mind about Larry and his personality, but I still want to stay true to the original.”

Josie shrugged and casually leaned against the back of the arm chair after dropping her backpack to the carpeted floor. “If there’s nothing wrong with it, don’t fix it,” she quoted the all adage.

Rodney peeked over his shoulder, flashing her another gorgeous smile. “Exactly… By the way, did you do something different with your hair?”

Josie pulled a face. “That bad, huh? I was running late this morning.”

“Not bad.” She saw his eyes briefly skim over her features and shook his head. “I always preferred women without makeup. It only gets in the way and hides the true beauty underneath.”

Rodney turned away to watch the movie and Josie tightened her lips together to keep her smile small and subtle, even though she wanted to burst into peels of childlike giggles. He didn’t blatantly say that he thought she was beautiful, but it wasn’t an insult either. And even thought she didn’t agree with is opinion, she wasn’t about to ruin this precious moment. Maybe she would let her hair be a little wilder from now on.

Josie had never worked with a better actor. Perhaps it was Rodney, but somehow, she felt like they truly clicked somehow. She hadn’t observed Rodney become so casual and informal with any other crew member, not even the director. Yes, he was friendly and amiable in his professional ways when on set, but Josie felt a real bond with him. Whether he felt the same, Josie was sure she would never know.

For now, they watched in silence as Larry Talbot spied on Gwen Conliffe from his conservatory at Talbot castle using his father’s new telescope. Even though Josie would have been eager for conversation, she knew that this was Rodney’s quiet time to study and fully form how he wanted to perform later. Far be it from her to interrupt a master at work, even if they were going to run behind schedule. She didn’t even protest when he skipped to the beginning of the scene to obsessively study it again and again.

She had been in his place once before. She remembered late nights spent studying lines and rehearsing them in the mirror repeatedly until her perfectionism was satisfied. Of course, that was a long time ago and that past life only served as a commonality she had with the professionals she had served over the last six years. It helped her to relate to her performers, nothing more.

When Josie had finished her coffee and Rodney was on his seventh replay of the scene, the director’s assistant entered the trailer, breaking the fragile peace inside. The assistant only stuck her head and shoulders through the doorway, her thin hair pulled back into a tight bun that was coming undone in the chaos that must have been going on outside.

“Josie!” she cried, out of breath. “We need you in Bianca’s trailer.”

Rodney didn’t flinch at the rude interruption and calmly paused the movie.

“Why?” Josie asked, trying to conceal her annoyance.

“Bianca’s makeup girl called in sick and everyone else is busy.”

Josie shook her head. “I’ve got to do Rodney’s makeup first. Bianca’s scene doesn’t come until later this afternoon.”

The assistant wasn’t amused. “Listen. Bianca wants her makeup done now and Landon is too busy with Kirk right now. Just get over to her trailer and do your job.”

Josie bristled and opened her mouth to argue, but felt Rodney’s hand settle on her forearm.

“Go on, Josie. I’m not going anywhere.”

With Rodney’s approval, all the fight melted into her shoes and Josie nodded. Regretfully, she slipped her arm out of his grasp, picked up her bag, and exited the trailer with the assistant. Not only didn’t she want to leave Rodney, but Bianca was the last person she wanted to work with this morning.

Rodney was the perfect movie star on the outside and amazing person on the inside, Bianca was a talented actress, but she was not about to win any personality contests. When Josie first met her, she thought Bianca had the pretty looks of Kim Novak. But when her mouth opened and words started coming out, she was more like one of the prissy popular girls from her sophomore class that used to spread nasty rumors about everyone across the campus.

Even before she opened the trailer door, Josie heard the high-pitched voice of Rodney’s co-star ranting away at a hundred miles an hour. She rolled her eyes and entered, quietly praying for strength to survive the diva.

“Oh, and you wouldn’t believe what she was wearing!” Bianca squealed, reeling in the stool in front of the makeup vanity. She was dressed in a silky, cream colored robe with a sash tied around her thin waist. To any man, she was the picture of seduction and modern beauty. One might have thought she was taken straight out of a Victoria’s Secret magazine and brought to life by lattes, hairspray, and sassiness.

When Josie closed the door, Bianca tossed her long, ice blonde hair over her shoulder and sneered. “Where’s Vanessa?” she asked.

Josie looked to whom Bianca was talking to and was relieved to see her friend Natalie, one of the head costume designers for the production. She was sewing something to one of Bianca’s vintage ensembles and looked to be enjoying the conversation as much as Josie would have.

Ever since they met in film school, Natalie was known for her passion to make everyone look their best. She graduated a few years before Josie, so she had been in the business for a little longer and climbed the success ladder just as quickly. They saw the potential in each other back then and clung to one another, despite their differing choices of professions within the movie business. And if it hadn’t been for that insight, Josie wouldn’t have been accepted to work on this project at all.

Natalie was an unsuspecting girl and dressed plainly in jeans and a shirt that showed off her tall and lanky frame. Her dark hair was pulled back away from her face in a messy bun behind her head and equally dark eyes peered through a pair of fashionable thick-rimmed glasses as her hands deftly worked the needle in and out through the fabric.

“Vanessa called in sick,” Josie simply stated as she set her backpack down and began to pull out her supplies.

Bianca scoffed. “I don’t know you. Couldn’t Landon get someone who actually knows my makeup?”

Josie gave her a fake smile. “Landon is busy at the moment, so his assistant sent me. I normally do Rodney’s makeup.”

“Like he needs it,” Natalie mumbled through the several pins that were stuck between her lips.

Josie just shrugged. She was right. Rodney was practically perfect and despite the occasional dusting of foundation just to even his skin tone a bit, he was flawless. Josie was mainly employed for later scene when Rodney would be acting as the Wolf Man or during scenes when he didn’t need to look so perfect.

“You got that right, girl,” Bianca crooned before continuing her harrowing tale of surviving some unwanted dinner engagement in Edinburgh the night before.

Josie assessed Bianca’s face, even though she wouldn’t sit still for very long, and began pulling out the foundations and eye shadows to compliment her complexion and dark blue eyes. When she finally had to direct Bianca to face the mirror, the actress looked to Josie with utter disgust.

“You better not get it wrong. Landon won’t be happy if my mascara clumps, you know.”

Josie bit her lips together to refrain from snapping at the spoiled diva. Instead, she picked up her tools and set to work doing what she knew best.

“Josie’s one the most competent makeup artists I know,” Natalie remarked as she finished up her sewing project.

Bianca gave a cunning smile. “Oh? And where did you learn how to do makeup? Some school?”

“My older sister, actually,” Josie replied with a matter-of-fact tone, as if every girl learned how to do makeup from their sister or mother at home. “But I did go to cosmetology school.”

Bianca turned in her stool and puckered her lips like she had tasted something sour. “How could Landon hire an amateur?”

Josie propped her hand on her hip, an eyeshadow brush still lodged between her fingers. “I also went to college for film production, so I know a thing or two about lighting and angles.”

The actress scoffed. “What does that have anything to do with makeup?”

“Plenty,” Natalie mumbled as she cut the thread on her product.

“It helps in applying the correct amount of makeup for each scene.”

Bianca turned back to the mirror, not convinced by either of them. However, she didn’t continue the argument and segued into something else. “So, you do Rodney’s makeup?”

“Pretty much,” Josie replied as she leaned in again to finish out Bianca’s right eye makeup, using quick strokes to get the right effect and blending them accordingly.

“Does he talk about me at all?”

Josie glanced over to Natalie who was hanging up Bianca’s dress on the other side of the trailer. She gave her friend a questioning look, but Natalie only shrugged and made a face while twirling her finger around her temple, giving that universal sign of “she’s crazy”. As if it needed to be said at all.

“Not really,” Josie said as she moved to Bianca’s other side and continued.

Bianca turned thoughtful, as if Josie’s answer was not what she had been expecting. “Huh… I wonder why not.”

It might have been dangerous to give her opinions, but Josie shrugged and said, “Maybe he’s trying to focus on his job.”

Bianca made a sudden move that Josie didn’t anticipate and poked at the actress’s eye by mistake. Bianca jerked away and covered her eye as if Josie had just plucked it straight out of the socket.

“What’s your problem!” she shrieked. “Maybe you should be doing your job too.”

Josie looked heavenward and bit back the foul words she wanted to say. “I’m sorry, Bianca.”

“Just hurry up and get this over with,” she snapped and resumed her straight and rigid posture on the stool. Yet, the evil look in her eyes told Josie that she was going to get a good tongue lashing from Landon about it later.

In turn, Josie rushed through finishing up Bianca’s foundation and blush, knowing full well that the prima donna would mess it up before her scene anyway and Josie would have to fix it within a few hours.

Natalie stuck around and waited for Josie to be done, then they walked out of the trailer together, leaving Bianca just as she was about to pull out her phone and take a few selfies for her Twitter followers.

“How can someone be that nasty and be as popular as she is?” Josie asked as they made their way towards Rodney’s trailer.

“She makes six figures a year or more and she’s pretty.”

Josie guffawed and rolled her eyes. “So, that’s the winning combination?”

“Well, maybe something to do with genetics too. Rodney’s not that way.”

“Thank the universe for that.”

In all seriousness, Natalie was completely right – again. Bianca and Rodney were nearly equals in the world of Hollywood and movie acting, but the former had let the prestige go to her head. Half of the time, Rodney never even acted like he had money. “He’s just a simple guy,” Josie added.

“If only the world had more guys like Rodney,” Natalie said. “Then maybe some of us single ladies would have a chance at happiness. Speaking of which, have you talked to your mother lately?”

Josie groaned. “Thank the universe for that too. You know, last time we talked she asked me if I had met any Scottish men in a kilt that I’d like to bring home.”

Natalie laughed. “She’s bent on marrying you off, huh?”

“That’s probably the only reason she even let me travel this far from home.”

“Does she know you’re working with the hottest man on the planet?” Natalie asked as they drew nearer to Rodney’s trailer. In correlation, Josie’s heart began to beat a little harder.

“She knows he’s working on the same movie, but she doesn’t know I’m doing his makeup. And I’m not telling her or I’ll get even more phone calls. She already asks about if I’ve seen him on set and gotten his autograph yet.”

“And you keep brushing her off and lying?” Natalie asked, sliding a suspicious glance her way. After so many years, Natalie hadn’t changed. Always the proper one and straight-laced when it came to dealing with people. Never offend and never assuming.

Josie cringed. “I don’t like calling it ‘lying’ per se. I’m avoiding the truth to save myself the hassle of dealing with Rodney’s number one, over-the-hill fan.”

“You should at least get his autograph for her before we’re done filming.”

Josie was the first up the steps to the trailer door and the first to walk through and see Rodney standing near the bedroom door with his shirt off. Even with his back to her, his form was magnificent. As he turned and displayed what a perfect male specimen he was, Josie realized how all those magazine photo shoots hardly did him justice.

Suddenly, she felt like Mary Pickford and wanted to faint dramatically like in one of the old silent short films. Looking at Rodney, standing there in his glorious half-naked state was just about enough to make Josie lose herself. Even though the air was cool, she felt heat run up and down the length of her back and the blood gushed south, leaving her a little light headed.

Natalie came up alongside her and stared. Rodney gave them a smug, closed-lip smile and reached for the white button down shirt slung over the seat of the sofa beside him. It was another part of his costume and as Josie’s eyes trailed downward, she now noticed that he was wearing a pair of vintage trousers instead of his jeans.

“Good morning, ladies,” he greeted as he shrugged into his shirt and began working the buttons to conceal his chiseled chest and abs. Only then, could Josie begin to focus.

“Good morning, Rodney,” Natalie spoke first. “You don’t need to get dressed on our account. Besides, you need to put on the undershirt before all of that.”

Josie was shocked at her friend’s attempt at flirting, but moved out of the way so she could pass and help Rodney find the sleeveless top that was supposed to go under his shirt. Hardly knowing what next to do, Josie set down her bag and envied the knitted cloth that fit snug across Rodney’s broad chest and slim waist.

“I was trying to save you the trouble,” he responded, either oblivious to the pass she made at him or unconcerned by it. He slid his arms back into the button-up shirt and made quick work of the vest in turn.

She turned away and realized her hands were shaking as she pulled out her makeup kits and placed them on the vanity. Some of the other makeup artists on the crew preferred to keep their tools in the trailers, but Josie had lost too many brushes in theater backstage dressing rooms to trust leaving anything on set over night.

“Did Bianca behave for you, Josie?”

Josie turned and met his fixed gaze and felt her stomach do a few more backflips before she could reply. “No more than what was expected. She asked about you though.”

Rodney’s brows pinched together over the bridge of his elegant nose in confusion. “In what way?”

It might not have been wise to gossip, as many of the crew were in habit of doing, but Josie could never lie to his face like that. “She asked if you talked about her a lot. I told her that you didn’t.”

Rodney huffed and looked to Natalie who was fiddling with a cuff button at his wrist. “I should have figured as much.”

“Why is that?” Natalie asked as she moved to his other cuff.

Rodney sighed, his chest heaving with one great breath. “She’s been… how should I say… presumptuous since the first day of filming. I indulged it for a time, rehearsing with her after we left site, but that’s all.”

Josie suddenly felt like she had been cheated on. Rodney spent time with Bianca after the cameras were off? She turned her back to them, trying to get a grip over her silly emotions. Her reaction was significantly disproportionate to his words.

What claim did Josie have over Rodney in the first place? She shouldn’t have felt jealousy when he didn’t belong to her in the first place. Nor would he ever. He was an actor and made more money in one month than she made in six. Josie always fell hard for the guys that were so far out of her class that they wouldn’t have noticed her if she wore a bright pink guerilla suit in the middle of a crowded subway station.

That thought sobered her dizzy head and she could think clearly for the first time all morning. Josie had a job to do and she was being paid for that alone, not to make friends with the cast and ogle at a shirtless movie star.

Natalie carried on some small talk about his costume and when Rodney came to sit in front of the vanity, he was completely dressed and ready for his scene. With the professional attitude of a heartless lawyer, Josie draped a cloth across his chest to protect the fabric from any loose product that might fall from her brush.

Since Rodney would be getting a lot of close shots in this next scene, Josie knew that she had to pay special attention to his makeup. It was pointless to look at the camera’s script for lighting and angles because Landon was notorious for changing the arrangements at the last minute, which usually frazzled Kirk in the process.

Josie kept her thoughts focused, but also distant from the task so she wouldn’t think about how close she was to Rodney’s face and how she was the only one permitted to touch his skin in this way and get paid for it. She had never considered doing someone else’s makeup to be so intimate before she starting working on this project.

She could vaguely tell some conversation was passing between Rodney and Natalie, but none of it seemed important enough for her to listen. Most of it consisted of Rodney asking questions about Natalie’s experience as a costume designer, all of which Josie already knew.

Natalie excused herself from the trailer rather suddenly, as if she had forgotten that she needed to be someplace else. This plunged both Rodney and Josie into an awkward silence, with only the feathering of makeup brushes and steady breaths to fill the void.

When Rodney’s gray eyes shot towards Josie, she wondered if he could see her face flush.

“Natalie is certainly good at what she does,” he said. Josie wondered, judging by his tone, if Rodney was looking for some mutual ground to talk about.

“I’m surprised you didn’t know any of that about her already.”

Rodney looked into the mirror at their reflection. “I don’t get much chance to talk to the crew. Landon and Kirk pull me in every direction sometimes.” He paused, mouth open as if he were considering his next words carefully. “I’m sure you’re the only one of the crew that I talk to on a regular basis.”

Josie wanted to feel flattered, but restrained herself with the cold, hard logic she had used before. She was just the makeup girl. No one special. “When everyone gets into the right groove of the filming schedule, you’ll have more time to talk.”

“I think there’s only four scenes in the entire movie that I’m not in. I’ll have little free time.”

“Some of the crew go out for a few beers at the Tally Ho Hotel after shooting. You could always join them.” Josie didn’t mean to make it sound like she was asking Rodney out on a date. She didn’t even mention herself or the idea that she would be at that small pub too – which she wouldn’t be, but somehow it came out that way and Josie wanted to hide under the trailer for it.

“I’m not sure that would be a good idea. It may give some of the crew the impression that I favor some over others.”

Josie felt she could breathe a little easier. If favoritism was a concern of his, she was in no danger of being singled out. Yes, they spent quite a lot of time together in this trailer alone, but if Rodney didn’t want to give the wrong impression, their association would stay professional in some way.

“That’s a good thought,” she replied as she took a step back and evaluate her work, making sure that any and all imperfections were carefully and naturally masked. Though, she had a hard time finding anything wrong with his face to begin with.

“But I’ll think on your suggestion.” Stunning eyes turned on her again and Josie had to look away to the vanity top that was nearly covered in makeup compacts and brushes.

“I think you’re all set and ready for the cameras,” she said, gathering up her brushes and sliding them into their designated slots in her foldup carrying case.

“I’m not so sure that I am,” he remarked as he tugged off the bib and walked away to retrieve his script. “I still don’t feel like I’ve got the right emotion down, somehow.”

Josie watched him study the script between his hands. “You watched that part of the movie, like, a dozen times. How can you not have it down?”

Rodney began pacing, his thumb sliding across this bottom lip. It was something he did when he was focused and thoughtful and Josie realized that he was completely serious. Her pulse quickened a bit as he stroked his perfect lips, wishing against her better judgement that it was her lips that he was touching just then.

Wanting nothing more than to be helpful, Josie left the vanity and crossed her arms over her chest. “What are you having trouble with, exactly?”

Rodney stopped and held out his hand as if he were waiting for the answer to fall from the ceiling. “Larry is looking through his new telescope in the middle of the day,” he read from the script. “He turns his sights on the town in the valley and spots Gwen sitting in her bedroom window. He’s intrigued and attracted to her. He then turns to leave the room with purpose.” Rodney looked up from the script. “Intrigued and attracted?”

Josie mentally pulled up the scene from the original movie and nodded. “Sounds right.”

“Yes, but to what level? Is it lust? Is it just a desire to meet her? I know how the rest of the movie goes, but what must have Larry been feeling at that first moment.

“Maybe it’s love at first sight?” Josie offered, one shoulder lifting shyly.

If this had been a cartoon, the lightbulb would have materialized over Rodney’s head and blinked to life. “Love at first sight… I like that idea. Why didn’t I think of that before?”

He rolled up his script to resemble a telescope and played out the scene.

It was not surprising that Rodney had won so many awards for his performance on screen. With very little effort, he could adequately portray the face of a man who was falling in love for the first time and so suddenly. And with one try, Josie knew he had the expression down even better than Lon Chaney Junior. If only the cameras had been crammed into the trailer for them to capture it.

“That’s perfect,” Josie praised when he looked to her for critique. And she didn’t say it lightly. She had seen plenty of performances and never once had she proclaimed them to be perfect. Adequate and good, perhaps. But never perfect.

“Are you just saying that because we’re running late?”

Josie smiled and shook her head with gusto. “No, really. That was perfect. I’m no Landon Torff, but I’d print that.”

Rodney grinned and unrolled his script. “Thanks, Josie. I appreciate that.”

One might have thought it was the best compliment Rodney had ever received in his entire career, the way he beamed back at her with eyes as sparkling as midnight stars in the countryside.

Landon’s assistant poked her head through the door, unannounced once again, face nearly beat red. “Have you been in here this whole time?” she cried. “You’re needed on the set, pronto!”

And then she was gone, slamming the door shut behind her. Josie quickly shoved her supplies in her bag in case she would need them and followed Rodney out of the trailer, savoring the clean scent of his cologne that left a trail behind him as he went.


Like this? Let me know in the comments and I’ll post the next chapter!


About Sheritta Bitikofer

Sheritta Bitikofer is an author of eclectic tastes. When she's not writing her next paranormal or urban fantasy novel, she can be found volunteering at her local animal shelter, shooting archery at a medieval reenactment event, doing Zumba, watching a historical documentary, or having coffee with her husband at their favorite café. A wife and fur-mama to two rescue dogs, she makes time to write engaging and moving stories about shifters, vampires, and magic that enthrall readers from cover to cover.
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