Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 50


Just find the juice, Judy. I told you already I was thirsty.

Ellen stares for another breath, and then sighs. A light has left his eyes. He’s lost to the dementia again.

Gwen calls cut, we quickly transition into the closer shots, and then we’re done for the day, letting the younger cast take over to close out the back porch set. Giddy with relief, I look over at Dad as he stands from the rocking chair and walks over to me with a smile. The feeling in my belly is effervescent. As much as I hate his approval, I know I crave it, too.

His arms go around my waist, he lifts me up, and I feel the eyes of the entire crew on us. I feel like I’m becoming Ellen. I’m completely falling for Nick as Richard: obsessed with his shy smile, his understated confidence, good heart, and the shape of him in the suit.

And Dad was brilliant: clear, wise, then blustery; his portrayal of beloved, lost William tugged at something deeper in me, some realization that he will age, that he might forget this—and me—someday. I pull him tighter, my generosity fueled by adrenaline and relief. I wonder how many pictures are taken of this father-daughter moment. It may be the first genuine embrace we’ve ever shared, but I know no one else hears him when he says calmly, “You’re almost there, kiddo. Keep at it.”

Gasoline dumps into my bloodstream and I fear it will ignite if I let him get another passive-aggressive word in, so I pull back and smile warmly, turning to leave the porch. At the bottom, I’m pulled up short at the sight of Sam there, talking to Liz, his eyes red-rimmed. He reaches up, laughing, and swipes at his cheek.

Was he crying?

It’s hard to imagine, frankly, but if I try to frame him in my mind the way I’ve seen other writers on set—deeply moved to see their work being translated—I can only imagine what this experience is like for him. A tiny fracture forms in my Hate Sam wall.

Before I can even process this, Charlie steps in front of me, blocking my view. I am so busted. “Why are we staring at Satan?”

“I wasn’t.”

“You were. Are you feeling nice things, Tate Jones?”

“I wasn’t—I just . . .” I lean to the side to peek again. “Is he crying?”

She doesn’t even turn around. “We don’t care if it cries. We aren’t even sure it has feelings, remember?”

“I remember,” I say dutifully, straightening and grinning at her.

“We have much better choices for bad decisions in the boy-toy category: Devon, Nick, even Jonathan is still here.”

“Ew.” I scrunch my nose. Not only has Jonathan Marino had a good deal of plastic surgery, but he’s almost as old as my father. Besides, studio execs and talent are a match made in hell. “No Jonathan.”

“No Sam,” she counters and takes my arm, guiding me away from the set. Once we’re clear of the farmhouse, the breeze hits us—a glorious burst of cool, apple-scented air. “It’s only two. Trey and I are going swimming down at the lake,” she says. “Wanna come?”

An entire afternoon here, free? Normally on set I’d head back to my local apartment or, when we were shooting Evil Darlings, home. But here the location changes from set to camp as soon as Gwen dismisses us for the day. The idea makes me giddy.

“Can we bring some beer and bad decisions?” I ask her.

Charlie’s eyes light up. She looks back over her shoulder. “Nick! Lake! Swim!”

The lake is small but deep, with a beautiful crystalline-sapphire surface that reflects the trees to almost a mirror image. It’s in the middle of a circle of forest, far enough away from the farmhouse clearing that we’re unable to hear anything on set and, more important, they’re unable to hear anything from us, either. The four of us hike out to the far end of the lake, where there’s a large, smooth, sloped boulder, just big enough for all of us to lay down our towels and bask in the sun.

Nick and Trey wear board shorts slung low on hips, and I envy the obvious, shirtless ease in the male body. In my simple black one-piece, I’m slathering on sunscreen like I’m actually going to be traveling to the surface of the sun, but Charlie stretches out beside me in a minuscule bikini, her golden skin shiny with oil.

“Are you trying to catch cancer?” I ask her.

She opens one eye just wide enough to let me see that she’s rolling it. “Shh.”

From behind us, higher on the rock, Nick jogs down and takes a running leap over our prone bodies, cannonballing into the water. When he comes up gasping, yelling that the water is cold as hell, Trey holds up both hands, giving a score of eight.

“Eight?” Nick protests. “Eight? I jumped over two people!”

“Point deduction for form.” Trey lifts his beer, sips it delicately.

“I went in so clean!”

“I think a cannonball is about the splash,” Charlie explains, without opening her eyes.

“Man, that’s some bullshit.” Nick scrambles out of the water and lies, stomach down, body dripping on the warm rock. He lets out a long, happy groan. “Oh my God. This is the best rock on the planet.”

We all hum in agreement.

“That was good,” Nick murmurs, and then catches my eye, squinting from the brilliant sun. “Today, I mean. That was good, Tate. Today was good. We were great.”

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