Unfortunately, Scene Five still needed to be finished. Austin was somewhat intimidated by Elaine’s presence, but he wasn’t nearly as nervous as Liat. Fortunately, they got through the scene without having to a lot of takes, and were able to move on.
At the end of the day, Elaine walked onto the set, arms wide. She embraced her daughter, then Austin.
“Beautiful! I think that’s the best you’ve ever performed,” she complimented him. “And you,” she turned to her daughter. “Darling—” She embraced her again, tears threatening her makeup. “Dinner on me,” she commanded. “Go get cleaned up and meet back here in half an hour.”
Everyone did as they were told. She even invited the rest of the cast and the crew. When they were ready, they discussed a location. Naomi and Dexter solved the problem of where to go by inviting them to their home. They all loaded into cars and trucks, playing follow the leader.
Austin thought it sounded like a huge crowd to have all in one place, but didn’t argue. Instead, he hopped in the car with Liat driving.
“Is their house big enough?”
“Wait until you see,” she said, grinning.
The convoy turned off the bypass and headed up a narrow country highway. Soon, they turned onto a much narrower private road, which eventually became a well packed and graded dirt road. The trees closed in around them, forming a deep green haziness that was relaxing and intimidating at once. Austin opened the window, inhaling the fresh forest scent. His city-dweller eyes devoured the country sights hungrily. When the car stopped, he hopped out, dashing around the front to open Liat’s door.
“I love it here! I want to marry it! I want to make love to it and have its babies!” He picked up Liat, swinging her around excitedly.
Laughing, she held tight, enjoying his enthusiasm. Finally setting her down, he held her close, gazing into her eyes.
“It’s beautiful here. Do they really live here?”
They were all parked in a large gravel parking lot. A well tended pathway led to the left, up a slight incline. Liat grabbed Austin’s hand, tugging at him to follow the crowd. The path turned a few times, then ended in front of a huge log cabin. It was three stories high, with a deep, wide porch around three quarters of the building. Bentwood rockers lined the porch. White ruffled curtains accented the windows.
“This is amazing!” Austin ran up onto the porch, turning in circles once more, drinking it all in. “A real log cabin?” He touched the wood lovingly, green eyes sparkling. “Marvelous! Absolutely brilliant!”
“Mate, you act like you never saw trees before,” Dexter said, chuckling.
“I’m a city boy. Most trees I’ve seen are in the park.”
Everyone stopped talking, watching him. Something they took for granted was fresh and new to him. Liat wanted to cry. His enjoyment both delighted and saddened her. She’d had so much in her life—country estate, city house, horses, private schools, wealth. She’d never done without, never been hungry. Here was a man who hadn’t had much of anything, looked at the reality of his fame and lived modestly. He took nothing for granted, but relished what he had while it lasted.
She took his hand, pulling him to their right. “It’s a surprise,” she murmured as they walked.
After a few moments, the distinctive sound of rushing water met their ears. Austin grinned at her, speeding up. He ran, following the sound, until he reached a wooden dock. Two boats were tied up, a small skiff and a cabin cruiser. The water rolled by, but not far down stream, low rapids clamored noisily over the rocks. A long, narrow island, split the river in half.
“There’s even more rapids on the other side,” Liat said. “People come from all over to shoot them.”
“Oh, let’s go!” He ran out onto the dock.
“No, Austin! Do you know anything about shooting rapids?”
“Not a lick.”
“Can you swim?”
“Of course!” He spun around, grinning. “Sort of. With a life jacket, or those floaty thingies.” He waved his bent arms like a chicken.
“Let’s go eat dinner,” she said sensibly.
“Yes, perfect. Food first, then nature!” He spread his arms, embracing the great outdoors.
They bustled back to the house. The doors and windows were open and people sat on the porch or milled around the yard. Inside, more people bustled about, most of them from the catering staff. Dexter and Naomi were in the huge kitchen with their staff around setting tables, cooking and chatting.
“I told them I’d take everyone out,” Elaine said. “I meant to a restaurant.”
“Dex lives for this,” a waitress said. “He’s in his element with spontaneous meals for fifty. You’ve made him happy as a dog in a puddle.” She swished off, grinning.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes