The cast of the latest Hollywood blockbuster held their collective breath and counted to ten, waiting for the all clear to move. A short burst of obscenities from the director’s chair did not bode well for getting much else accomplished during what remained of the day. Makeup artists and hair stylists flitted about, assessing the damage to their creations as the damp air played havoc with each twist of their combs.
The craft table looked inviting, but the young star had given up sweets and empty calories years ago. His body was now fit and trim, a testament to hard work and determination, yet also his insurance for landing spectacular roles such as this. Picking up a bottle of spring water, he twisted off the top and looked around at the crew. They scurried about like so many tiny ants at a picnic, as if they could change the weather by sheer force of will.
“This weather sucks.” Dorian Wise, his tall lanky co-star, reached past him, snagging an apple as her stylist smoothed and fluffed her long blonde mane. “DC is gonna be pissed.”
Nick laughed heartily. “DC should know better. This is Vancouver in the spring.” He didn’t say it, but there was an implied ‘duh’ in the tone of his voice. “I give it a half hour before he cancels shooting for the rest of the day.”
“Five bucks says he only makes it to fifteen minutes.”
“You’re on,” he grinned.
“Take ten minutes, people, then be back here ready to roll!” the assistant to the director announced.
Ten minutes. Big deal. Nick looked around at his surroundings. Stanley Park was beautiful, but much too large to see in the whole ten minutes of down time he’d been allotted. Maybe once they shut down filming for the day he could wander around a bit. The location of the shoot was one of the reasons he’d accepted this role in the first place. Western Canada was a place he’d always wanted to visit, and for some reason he felt strangely drawn to this place.
Raucous laughter drew his attention to what appeared to be a pickup football game just across the way. Smiling, he tipped his water up to his lips, took a long drink and set off to watch. Just the thing to kill ten minutes. He found a deserted park bench and sat down, his eyes crinkling with laughter as he watched the two opposing teams vie for points. The winning team had to have been all of six years old on an average, while the other team was made up of several moms and teenaged babysitters. It was hysterical. What the kids lacked in speed and dexterity, they made up for in determination.
The one young woman who had any hopes of scoring at all was currently limping down the field with five children hanging off her legs. She was five feet from the finish line when one last little monster tackled her from behind, sending all of them spilling to the hard earth with a resounding ‘thud’. The children cackled with glee as she pushed them all off and began picking the grass and leaves out of her hair. Most of it was tucked up under a knit hat, but the tendrils that had escaped were a brilliant auburn.
Nick caught his breath for just an instant as a distant memory tugged at his brain. The errant thought remained just that as he heard the call for ‘places’. He shook it off, and without a backward glance returned to work.
Half an hour later Dorian nudged him sharply. “Pay up, Carter,” she smirked.
“Me?! You’re the one who lost the bet. You owe me, chickie,” he insisted.
“Well hell, and here they told me you were a dumb blonde.” Fishing through her bag, she pulled out a ten dollar bill and asked for change.
“Change? I don’t think so,” he grinned. “I’ll keep it as collateral on the next bet you decide to make with me.”
“Hmph,” she sniffed. “Just you wait, Carter.”
“You’re so cute when you lose.” Nick grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close, planting a quick kiss on her soft pouty lips. “See ya tomorrow,” he added, swatting her backside playfully before scooting out of reach.
“Watch your back Carter!” she called out with a laugh.
“Yeah, yeah,” he chuckled, waving her off and walking away. He found himself once again at the site of the earlier football debacle. Most of the kids had gone home, and just a few stragglers remained, packing up their things and bundling up against the cold dampness that was creeping in off the ocean. The mist swirled about the ground now, almost totally obscuring the paths and adding a hushed sound to the footfalls of the sightseers and joggers.
Turning back toward the secured movie set, he saw the young woman from earlier; the tackled wide receiver. Dutifully she was picking up the scattered bits of picnic papers and cups and stuffing them into a plastic bag, or at the very least, making a concerted effort. As soon as she’d get one stack under control the breeze would pick up again, blowing at least three or four napkins or paper plates out of her hand. Her mouth was set in a grim line and even from far away Nick could see her lips move as she cursed her predicament.
One superhero to the rescue. Nick sprinted across the path, catching the last wayward cup and returning it to its rightful place. Bending over the flimsy trash bag, his chin connected with a crooked knit hat, and the hat, the bag and its owner went sprawling.
“Oh man, I’m sorry. You okay?” he asked, extending his hand. Her small hand fit securely within his grasp, almost swallowed by his own large hand, and he apologized again. “I was just trying to help and-“
“It’s ok,” she laughed, “really.” Lifting her wide green eyes, the moment stretched into a lifetime as they connected with his own of crystal blue. Her breath caught in her throat as she pushed her tangled hair away from her face. She was speechless, he was not.
“Katy?” he whispered, his voice suddenly rough. “Katy is that really you?”