“I gotta go,” Joe said hurriedly, quickening her pace as she walked down the main street of Blue Creek.
“Why? Why?” Tom Dooley asked, rushing to keep her pace.
“It’s late and I… we’re leaving early in the morning.”
“But I want to see you again,” Tom desperately flung his hands.
Joe slowed her pace and dared a gaze at him. “I wish I could but I… I can’t.”
“Of course you can,” Tom insisted.
“No!” Joe instinctively crossed her arms protectively. “Really, you don’t understand.” her voice quivered a little.
“Fine!” Tom said agitatedly, racking his hand through his hair.
“I’m sorry,” Joe continued. “I gotta go, really --”
She was surprised and a little frightened when she felt his hand on her arm spinning her towards him. Before she had the time to respond his lips were on hers.
“Cut!” Tyler’s voice rang out. “CUT!”
Lou looked bewildered at Teaspoon, then Tyler.
“Tyler,” Teaspoon rose slowly from his chair. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“She…” Tyler started. “He… he was harassing her.”
Lou looked apologetically at the guest actor beside her.
“That’s the character.” Teaspoon tried his damnedest to remain cool. “He’s supposed to be harassing her. That’s this whole scene.”
“Yeah… but… he took it too far,” Tyler spluttered. “Louise was upset - -”
Teaspoon ran a hand over his face and flung his clipboard across the room. Turning his back, he took a deep breath, then smiled calmly and turned back around. “That’s because Louise here and this young gentleman beside her are doing their job well. Now, maybe you should just go back to your office so we can reshoot this scene without you getting all worked up over it. Jesse, why don’t you take your uncle to drink some water and then see him to his office. NOW.”
Everyone stopped and stared at the director and the producer. Jesse crept forward and tugged gently on DeWitt’s sleeve. “Let’s go, okay Uncle Tyler?”
DeWitt shrugged and started off, Jesse at his side.
Teaspoon watched for a moment as the young assistant followed his uncle out. “You okay to roll again, Louise? Steve?”
The actors nodded, and Teaspoon climbed back into his director’s chair. “Then let’s try it again from the top.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Lou walked to her trailer, a satisfied smile on her lips. Teaspoon had actually complimented her on her performance, saying she did a good job. And he had gotten rid of Tyler, who always seemed to be hovering around when she was trying to act and making her nervous.
“Thank God he finally left me alone,” she muttered, just as she rounded a corner and ran into someone waiting around the other side. Looking up, she sighed.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Tyler,” she managed to gasp. “I was so caught up…”
“I saw that, Louise,” he smiled warmly at her and reached to touch a strand of her hair. “So are you liking the job as much as I said you would when I told you about the audition?”
She ducked awkwardly out of his reach. “I… I can’t thank you enough for that, Tyler. This job is so much more fun than I even thought.”
“I'm happy to see you so excited, my darling. I always knew you’d be the perfect Joe.” He stepped forward as she backed away, and put his finger under her chin to lift her face to look at him. “If you really want to thank me, Louise, I’d like you to join me for dinner. In my house...”
“Um... Tyler... I don’t think...”
“Oh, come on, Louise. You owe me that much.”
Lou looked alarmed, “I’m grateful for this opportunity, Tyler, but I don’t think a dinner with you would be appropriate.”
“Well, you’re my boss, for one thing. And you're really old.”
Seeing his face fall, she said hurriedly, “I mean, sophisticated... worldly. We have nothing in common. And you are my boss, it just doesn’t look right.”
He laughed patronizingly.
“Louise, darling. Nobody has to know. And the truth is, that is how things work in this business. In any business. You get something ... and you give something in return. You got the part, and now you give me the pleasure of your company.”
Lou sighed. “And if I don’t?” she asked dully.
She knew the answer before he said it.
“Then there are plenty of other actresses who are willing to play the game. You think it over.”
He leaned over and kissed her, his mouth hard and insistent against hers. She passively accepted his kiss.
“That's a good girl,” he murmured. “I’ll send my driver to pick you up at eight.” Not waiting for her response, he turned and walked away.
Lou plodded back to her trailer and went in wearily. Once inside, she leaned on her closed door, fighting back tears. She’d hoped she had gotten this part because she was right for it. She thought it was true. She loved her character so much, understood her. Was her. She was finally succeeding at something, making friends. But it was obvious there would be a price to pay.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
“Well, if anyone needed any proof of that, I just saw it.” Cody called as he eyed Lou entering her trailer.
“What are you talking about?” Buck asked from where he was practicing his knife throw.
Kid and Ike sat idly by, waiting for their turn on the set. Doritha was sitting close to Kid, her head resting on his shoulder.
“I just saw Lou kiss Tyler. I told you that’s how she nailed this job.”
Ike shook his head. “Cody, I’m not saying what you just said isn't true…”
“Come on, Ike. I saw it with my own eyes.”
“I don’t know, Cody. She just doesn’t seem the type…” Ike tried to defend Lou.
“What does it matter anyway, Cody?” Doritha asked. “So you know she’s DeWitt’s girlfriend. Why does it matter to you?”
“Well, I thought it should matter to you, Doritha.” Cody answered with a grin.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Kid asked angrily.
Cody smiled and shrugged. “Nothing. I just thought your girlfriend will be happy to know that she doesn’t need to worry over Lou falling for her co-star.”
“Cody, I never worried over Lou. I trust Kid, or I wouldn’t marry him. And anyway, I agree with Ike. She doesn’t seem the type.”
Kid smiled at his fiancee, happy with the vote of confidence. He kissed her and whispered “I love you” before he stood up. "Look. I am committed to my fiancee and that’s all there is to it. Now I have to go get ready for my next scene.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Tyler opened the door wearing a silky robe and lounge pants.
“I’m so glad you came here, Louise. I’m really happy you changed your mind,” he said as he led her into the dining room. He took her coat and hung it, smiling happily at her.
"Well if it's part of the job, it's part of the job," she muttered.
“You won’t be disappointed, Louise. The chef prepared this dinner especially for us. Would you like a glass of wine?”
“I… I’m not sure…” Lou mumbled.
“Oh, come on, Louise. It’s just a little wine. I’ll watch over you, and it’s not like you’re driving afterwards.”
“Well, okay, I guess.”
Tyler poured her a glass and handed it to her. “I brought this champagne from France on my last visit there.”
Lou sipped from her glass, then put it down on the table. Tyler pulled a chair for her and she sat down.
“So, how was your day? You had some exciting scenes to shoot?”
“It was ok, I guess.”
“You’re getting along with everyone?”
Lou nodded and took a gulp from her glass.
“You know, Louise, I’m currently working on a couple more shows. One of them already aired and got great reviews. The Times called it one of the most intelligent, innovative, fresh TV shows of the last decade…” he chuckled. “There I go again… bragging…” He leaned back in his chair. “I’m sorry.”
Lou shook her head and smiled. “It’s alright. I like it," she lied.
“Well, I just get sick and tired of hearing myself talk. That’s enough about me. What about you?”
“What about me?”
“For starters, why would a beautiful young girl like you settle on a dry cleaning job in LA, when she said she wasn’t an actress?”
Lou shrugged. “I needed the job. But I guess I was wrong. I just didn’t know yet that I was an actress.” She lifted her glass and nodded at him. “Thanks to you I was able to find my true calling.”
Tyler poured more champagne into her glass.
“No,” Lou declined feebly.
“You see, there’s something you should learn about men in my line of business - we never take no for an answer.”
“Apparently. Okay, why not...” she held the glass as he refilled it.
“That’s the spirit.”
Lou clinked her glass with his.
“No, not like that,” Tyler said and looped his arm through hers. “Like this.”
They each drank from their own glass and Lou sighed.
“How do you like it?” Tyler asked.
“It tickles my nose,” Lou giggled, grateful for the buzz of alcohol in her brain.
“How do you like the salad? You're hardly eating anything."
Lou laid her fork down abruptly. “The thing is… I can’t stay long, Tyler. It’s been a long day and there’s a full day tomorrow before the weekend.”
“You can stay here tonight, Louise. I’ll make sure you get to the set tomorrow morning in time for makeup. I… I promise I’ll make it worthwhile for you…”
The alarm bells started in her head and she hastily rose from her chair. “I… I can’t tonight…”
“Well, maybe we can get together again during the weekend…”
Ignoring him, Louise headed for the door quickly. “Tyler, thank you. I really enjoyed this dinner with you, but I’m not feeling well. I'm... I'm not used to champagne.”
Tyler caught her at the door, placing his hand on the door to prevent her from leaving. “Maybe you should lie down?”
Lou looked frantically around her. “Tyler, please let me leave.”
“You can’t get away from me that easy.” He grabbed her arms and held them tight before he claimed her mouth.
Lou shook her head, trying to get away from the kiss. He brought his hands to hold her face still, and she pushed him hard and ran out of his house. She ran out to the driveway, looking around for the studio car that had driven her here. It was nowhere in sight. Tyler appeared on the landing in front of his house, cellphone pressed to his ear.
“Julio? Yes. Sorry to inconvenience you but I’ll be needing you to come back to the house and pick Miss McCloud up.” He eyed Lou coldly. “She’s decided she wants to leave.” He pressed a button on his phone and nodded shortly to her.
“Tyler - - I - -” she shivered in the cold desert night air. “I left my coat - -” she stammered, awkwardly.
He turned without acknowledging her, slamming the door and locking it behind him.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Jimmy was fumbling with the coffee machine, his sunglasses covering his eyes, trying to figure out how to operate it. “Dang it, this damn thing’s broken,” he muttered, shoving the paper cup against the spout.
“There’s a little trick to it,” Jesse said teasingly. He reached around Jimmy and turned the power switch on.
“Yeah, thanks,” Jimmy mumbled, looking slightly embarrassed.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I just don’t understand who thought it’s a good idea to start shooting at 6 am.”
Jimmy smiled ruefully as he poured coffee into a paper cup and and handed it to Jesse before pouring one for himself.
“You have any idea when we might be wrapping up?”
“Sorry,” Jesse shrugged. “I think there are also some night scenes planned at the end of the day.” He picked up the sugar shaker.
“You like it sweet, do you?” Jimmy asked. Their eyes met for a moment.
Jesse blushed, nodding.
Jimmy looked away. “Well. I should really talk to my agent about these hours,” He tossed his cup into the garbage and started walking towards the other actors, who were already taking their marks on the set.
Jesse sighed dreamily as he watched him go, letting too much sugar run into his coffee.