She eyed him critically. “Nope, can’t be cute anymore. You’ll have to settle for handsome.”
“I suppose I’ll have to sacrifice, then. Pity. I liked being cute.” He pulled a ridiculous pout, tossing his magnificent mane of hair.
“Austin!” Irving yelled. He gave the impression that he’d spoken to the leading actor more than once. Glowering, he waited several seconds before continuing. “Do I have your full attention?”
“As full as it’s likely to get. You’ll have to settle for semi-divided with an excuse,” Austin replied, holding up a finger. “I’m standing next to the world’s most beautiful woman.” He gestured to Liat. “You can’t expect to win my full attention, mate. Not possible.”
Irving glared at him, clearly furious. He didn’t like how close Liat stood to Austin or the fact he put his hand over hers.
“Ready for blocking,” Irving commanded. “Where’s your script?” He glared at Austin.
Dwight scurried forward, handing it to him. He’d tossed it aside to do his squats. Grinning, Austin waved it and clicked open a mechanical pencil.
“Armed and ready, sir,” Austin replied, wielding the script like a sword.
Liat hid a smile. He sounded less than deferential. In fact, he managed to make sir sound like an insult instead of a term of respect.
They worked on blocking for nearly an hour before Irving was satisfied. He kept changing his mind, then yelled at the actors for getting it wrong.
“Break! Everyone take ten.” He threw up his hands. “I can’t work like this. I can’t work with him. He’s impossible.”
Austin scurried over to Dwight. “Does he mean me?”
“What did I do? I thought I was doing well.”
“You’re fine. He’s trying to make you look bad and he can’t.”
“What’s he doing now?”
Irving was on the phone, talking heatedly, gesturing wildly, from time to time he pointed at Austin. Red in the face, he did everything but yell. He was furious, but controlled. It was terrifying. Had he lost his temper and hollered, it would have been less intimidating.
“I imagine he’s complaining about you.”
“Me? Whatever for?”
“Saving an innocent woman from his dastardly clutches.”
“Oh that. He’s still pissed about that?”
“Guess his ego couldn’t handle it.”
“Do I need to worry about my job?”
Dwight put his hands on Austin’s shoulders. “Have you seen your numbers? Do you know how well loved you are?”
“No. I don’t pay attention. I just want to work.”
“You’re the network’s golden boy. Who do you think they’re more likely to fire, the pain in the ass director who’s inordinately difficult to work with and pisses off the entire cast and crew—or you?”
Austin chuckled. “When you put it that way—guess I’d best pack my bags.”
Dwight laughed loudly, pulling Austin into an unexpected hug. They watched as Irving thrust the phone at the assistant director and stormed off. Sandy took the offending phone, putting it to her ear. She nodded, smiling shakily.
“Yes, ma’am. Yes. I completely understand. You bet. And thank you.” She hung up, grinning. “Everyone, gather round.”
They grouped around her expectantly.
“I just got off the phone with the producer. She’s very interested in what’s been going on over here and plans to visit later today. In the meantime, I’m in charge. It’s Friday. What does that mean?”
“Everyone works on Friday,” they chorused loudly.
“That’s right! Now, you lot!” She put on a fair imitation of Austin’s accent. “Time to work! Hustle, now! Chop chop. Time is money, and all that.”
Austin stepped forward, taking her hand to his lips. “Congratulations. You deserve this.” He raised her hand above her head. “Huzzah!” He yelled. “Hip hip!”
The others yelled “Hooray!”
They repeated that three times, clapped and took their places.
“What’s happening to Irving?” Austin asked her quietly.
“Lost his job in disgrace. Seems she didn’t like what he was saying about you and a certain brunette.”
“What? We didn’t do anything. We had dinner and ran lines.”
“Which is why she didn’t appreciate what he was saying. Go on, get to work!”
© 2015 Dellani Oakes