The activity on set had reached a fever pitch. The talent was arriving and rehearsals would begin the next day. That’s why I was sitting on a hill watching the action instead of participating in it. They didn’t need me getting in the way. Sitting still wasn’t easy. I’d conquered my leg bouncing habit, but my toes still tapped in my sneakers. At least no one could see that.
This was my first time on a movie set in six years. I was finally free. My fingerprints were all over this production, way more than just the script that bore my name. It was the same way with the television show that had consumed the past five years of my life. Death Sucks was my best friend Samantha Augustine’s creation. Our third musketeer, Kassi, rounded out the writers’ room. Sami was the showrunner, but I had input on everything from the lighting to the background music. Sami said I was a control freak. Kassi recognized that I had to do something with all my nervous energy.
Jarrod Colosi, yeah, the award winning actor turned brilliant director – that Jarrod Colosi – jumped into my line of site, startling me and jerking me out of my reverie.
“Jeeze, Jarrod!” I cried. “I’m going to hang a bell around your neck!” I wondered how long he’d been watching me and if I’d been doing anything weird with my face. That happened sometimes.
“That would rather defeat the idea of quiet on the set,” Jarrod said. He crouched in front of me. His eyes, the color of dark chocolate, danced with mischief. He wore a cap with his production company name, Trouble Incarnate embroidered on it. Once the actual filming began, he’d wear his lucky fedora every day. Jarrod was superstitious, but there were plenty of legends around that fedora.
“I’ll do it if you don’t stop sneaking up on me,” I insisted. We’d hit it off the first time we met. He treated me like the little sister he’d never had. It was a tad disappointing since I’d had posters of him plastered all over my college dorm room walls. As it turned out, he wasn’t my type. He was still nice to look at though. “What’s going on?”
He regarded me seriously. “Des, darling.”
“Jarrod… I can’t think of an endearment that begins with J. You’re going to have to change your name.”
I thought about it. “Lionel maybe. Then I can call you Lionel, love. Or Sam, sweetheart. That’s what I call Sami when she starts the ‘Des darling’ nonsense. Usually it means she wants me to do something. Have you been talking to her?” There might not be any sparks between Jarrod and me, but there were definitely some between him and the Death Sucks showrunner.
“Sami only communicates with me via text. Lately, they all concern you.”
Oh boy. “Should I even ask?”
“Let’s see, ‘Take care of my writer,’ was one. ‘Do a better job with her screenplay than you did with mine,’ was another.”
I snickered. “You’ll never be forgiven for that.”
“Next time I see her, I’ll just drop to my knees and apologize,” he said.
As if that would ever happen. I hadn’t known Jarrod for long, but he struck me as the type to have his partners on their knees, not the other way around. If he wanted any sort of submission from Sami, though, he’d be in for a long wait.
“I’m guessing you’re not here to discuss Sami,” I prompted.
Jarrod glanced over my shoulder. I was about to turn and see what he was looking at, but he drew my attention again.
“Who did you originally want to play your villain?”
“Timothy Popiel is playing Franklin Leeds, and he’s going to be terrific.” If that sounded well-rehearsed, it’s because it was. On Death Sucks, we had a high profile for writers. The fans and the press loved us. If anyone asked about the casting of this film, I was ready with positive answers. As for the truth… No one wanted the truth in Hollywood.
“Yes, but who did you want in the roll?”
“Don’t do that, Jarrod. Don’t make Timothy feel like he was second choice. That’s mean.” I didn’t actually like Timothy very much, but we hadn’t had much of a choice. I tried not to take that personally.
“He’s an actor, Des. Being second or third choice is part of the job. Either way, he backed out,” Jarrod dropped this bit of information as casually as if he were saying it was going to rain.
I jumped up, because this wasn’t the sort of news to hear sitting down. Jarrod followed me in a smooth motion. My whole foot tapped now. I paced to cover it. “What do you mean, he backed out? What happened? He was fine in pre-production. Will he come back? We start filming in three days. What are we going to do?”
Jarrod smiled, actually smiled. “We’ll get someone else.”
“Who?” I demanded. “Who can you get at such short notice?”
“Who did you want in the role?” he asked again. “You said you had him in mind when you wrote it?”
“What difference does that make?” My heart pounded. Don’t freak out. I told myself, but my stomach wouldn’t listen. It twisted into a knot. I could barf on Jarrod’s shoes, but that wouldn’t replace my villain. This was my comeback film, and I’d already lost my supporting actor. Finding a replacement would take time. The costumes would need to be altered. We’d be behind schedule before we even started filming. That meant more money. The studio heads would not be pleased.
“Hello? Earth to Des?” Jarrod snapped his fingers in front of my eyes. I knocked his hand away.
“Patrick Flannigan,” I finally said, naming the Irish actor who starred in many of my steamy fantasies. “But what difference does that make now? He’s in Croatia or something.” There was no “or something” about it. I knew for a fact he was in Croatia filming the latest Aiden Maguire season. It was the role that brought him international fame, though I’d been following his career long before that.
“That’s who we got.” Jarrod appeared entirely too pleased with himself. He rocked from his heels to his toes and back again.
“We got Patrick Flannigan?” My heart pounded for a completely different reason now.
“Patrick Flannigan is going to be in my movie?” I fought hard to contain the fangirl squeal bubbling up in my throat. “The Patrick Flannigan? Is it too late to turn this into a musical? The man has a voice like an angel. He’s…”
Jarrod raised an eyebrow and gave a, what did I tell you? look to someone over my shoulder.
I froze. “He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?”
“Jarrod, jerk,” I said without much venom, “There’s a good name.”
“I’ve been called way worse,” he teased. I gave Jarrod s clear, I’ll get you for this, glare and tried to brace myself. Heat suffused my face. That always happened. My ears were probably red too. Why did the earth never open up and swallow me when I needed it to? Pinning on a carefully pleasant smile, I turned. And there was Patrick-freaking-Flannigan in all his glory. I had to tilt my head up to meet his twinkling green eyes. He was fighting a smile, which made his dimples peek in and out of his cheeks. His black hair was combed straight back except for a bit that fell forward on his forehead. My fingers itched to fix that for him. He had bulked up for Aiden Maguire which made his shoulders even broader. I tried to remember if he’d be appearing shirtless in any scenes. If not, maybe I could write that in.
“Patrick Flannigan,” he said, offering his hand.
“Desiree Martin,” I said, shaking his hand and hoping mine wasn’t as damp as other certain other tingly bits. “Love your work,” I said, because I had to say something.
“He can tell,” Jarrod said helpfully.
I turned to scowl at Jarrod. His gaze dropped to my chest and rose again. One of his eyebrows arched. I turned back to Patrick, and dammit if he wasn’t looking at my chest too! He at least had the good grace to seem embarrassed when caught. What the hell?
Realization, followed swiftly by horror, filled me. I looked down and extracted my hand from Patrick’s. Had I been holding on too long, or was that him? It didn’t matter now. What mattered was that I was wearing cutoff jeans and one of my many fandom t-shirts. On this one, Detective Aiden Maguire, a.k.a. Patrick freaking Flannigan appeared below his catchphrase, Do you want me to repeat the question?
“Oh, fuck me,” I said.
I raised wide eyes to Patrick. This couldn’t be happening. Amusement crossed his face and was quickly suppressed. He kept his gaze fixed on my face. I appreciated that.
“I’m honored,” he said kindly.
“I’m mortified,” I answered.
He laughed then, and the sound was as beautiful as the rest of him. This wasn’t fair. No one should be so good looking. I should not be swooning at his feet like a silly schoolgirl. He opened his mouth to say something, but I cut him off.
Gathering what little dignity I had left, I said, “If you’ll excuse me, please.”
“She’s going to go find a different shirt,” Jarrod said, still laughing.
“It’s a good thing you’re brilliant, or I wouldn’t take this abuse.”
“Abuse?” Jarrod scoffed. “Wait, you think I’m brilliant?”
“That’s what Sami says.” I had to get a poke in somewhere. “Nice to meet you,” I told Patrick and walked away.
“When did she say that?” Jarrod called after me.
I looked back and arched one eyebrow. I didn’t know what exactly was going on with Jarrod and Sami, but there were definitely sparks flying. Score one for me.
There weren’t any personal assistants around with golf carts, which was odd, because they’d been underfoot every day before this. The studio had insisted I needed a PA as vehemently as I’d insisted I didn’t. They won the argument, but I still rebelled by sending my PA, a nice young woman named Ruby, off to learn everything she could on set instead of waiting on me. I’d admit it would have been nice to have her around at that moment. I ended up walking back to my trailer. It wasn’t too far, and walking helped to flush out my nervous energy, but it was a warm day and I’d need a shower before the table read later. I got inside and texted Sami and Kassi together.
Desi: Patrick Flannigan is going to be in my film! He’s the new Franklin Leeds.
Sami: That’s wonderful! What happened to the southern boy? Did you scare him away with your Yankee ways?
Desi: I don’t know what happened. Jarrod just said Timothy backed out.
Kassi replied with a series of wide eyed emoticons followed by fireworks.
Desi: I just met Flannigan. I included a selfie shot in the full length mirror.
Sami: You look cute.
Desi: Jarrod told me about the change. I expressed my pleasure upon hearing the news, not realizing Flannigan was standing right behind me.
Kassi: OMG!!!! More wide eyed emoticons followed by red faces.
Sami: Are you wearing an Aiden Maguire shirt?
Desi: Yes. My emoticon did a face palm.
Kassi: You met Patrick Flannigan while wearing a shirt with his face on it?!?
Sami: Jarrod is an asshole.
Desi: Not really. He just got lucky with the shirt. Don’t worry, I’ll torture him later.
Kassi: You mean you’re leaving your trailer sometime in the future? I would just run away.
Desi: You would. I have a comeback film to make. Besides, PATRICK freaking FLANNIGAN!!!
Kassi: How is he in person?
Desi: Gorgeous! I hope I didn’t drool.
Sami: Jarrod would have pointed it out if you did.
Desi: Truth. Patrick didn’t say much. He seemed nice enough.
Sami: Enjoy that while it lasts.
We’d all been around actors long enough to know that the magic and Hollywood glamour wore off quickly in the harsh light of day. There were still a few people that impressed me. The male side of that list consisted of three people: Robert De Niro, Jaime Ruster and Patrick Flannigan. I would probably be down to two very soon. Sami was right. I should enjoy it while it lasted.
Desi: I have to get ready for the table read. Later, gators.
Kassi: Change your shirt!
Sami: No, keep it. Show that you don’t care.
Desi: In front of the entire cast, I care. I’m not that brave.
Emoticons in varying expressions came from both my friends. I dropped my phone on the bed and pulled off the offensive bit of clothing. Having met Patrick in person, the image on my shirt didn’t do him justice. Not even close. I thought about his eyes, his smile, those damnable dimples. I’d been around plenty of actors before and none of them affected me this way. Meeting Jarrod the first time should have made me nervous. I’d had a major crush on him through high school and most of college, but in reality, he was only human, just another talented individual I had the privilege of working with.
How long until Patrick was only human or worse? Actors were… well, actors. I loved them most of the time, but they could be silly, demanding and helpless. One had actually asked me to open a bottle of water for him because he usually had his PA do that. It was hard to keep someone on a pedestal after that. Something would change in the coming days. Some frown or careless comment about the dialogue would destroy my sexy Irish fantasy, and there would go my final Hollywood crush. It was kind of sad to think about. So maybe, before that happened, I could indulge one last time. One last session with the fantasy would get it all out of my head. Then I could see him for who he really was and focus on the production.