Behind the Scenes

By: Jessica Blake

CHAPTER ONE


“Sydney Andrews. It’s my first day here,” I say brightly to the heavy-set security guard staring at my driver’s license so hard I think she’s trying to memorize the number.

“Mm hmm,” is all she offers before handing the license back to me and hitting a button that opens up the gate in front of my little 2005 silver Chevy. She doesn’t look at me once. Not that I care. I’m too occupied watching the magical divide in front of me rise up to admit my entrance into the heavenly land I’ve always dreamed of — Hollywood.

A car behind me honks and I realize I’m just sitting there, staring at the clean, mostly white studio lot. I slip my license into my pocket, intending to put it back in my wallet some time later, and hit the gas, cruising slowly onto the lot of Mulroney Pictures.

Three weeks out of film school at UCLA and I’ve got a job with one of the major seven film production studios in the world. Take that, Manteo, North Carolina, and all the people who said “no one actually becomes a film director” or “your job at the seafood restaurant will be here for you when you come back.”

Well, I’m never going back to that podunk spot on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m starting my new job as an office production assistant, and it’s only a matter of time before I move up the ladder to one day direct the kind of slow thrillers I spent the entirety of my high school years sitting in my basement watching. It’s only a matter of time before I become the first person in my family to work some kind of job that doesn’t fall under the category of blue collar. Start a life as an independent woman. Become the artist and person I always knew I was meant to be. It’s only a matter of time before I —

Run over the man right in front of my car!

I hit the brakes, and the car screeches as my chest bumps against the steering wheel.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” I gasp as I look up and over the dashboard. My windows are open, so I know he must have heard me. Instead of responding, though, he just glares, taking off his sunglasses to shoot daggers in my direction.

I open my mouth to apologize again, but can’t seem to get the air needed to form words. The man I’ve almost just killed on the very first day at my new job looks like he just walked out of the pages of Playgirl.

He’s tall and broad shouldered, with wavy blond hair and a strong jaw. His eyes — which are currently staring at me like I’m trash that needs to be taken out — are large and crystal blue.

I didn’t know until now that you could be attracted to someone who so obviously despises you, but human hormones are powerful, I guess. He could be snarling at me like a dog and I’d still be salivating all over the steering wheel, begging him to bite me.

“Watch it, lunatic,” he snarls before walking off towards a nearby car. My face burns with heat. God, what a douche… What a hot, delicious, douche… With a nice rear-end.

Another car honks at me and I snap to. Focus, focus, I tell myself, scanning the numbers on the buildings in front of me. It’s time to rock this.

The buildings stretch out on both sides of me. Mulroney Pictures is huge, with multiple buildings for offices and a gigantic back lot with half a dozen sound stages.

I stare wistfully in the direction of the back lot as I drive, imagining all kinds of magic happening there. From where I am, it just looks like white, windowless factory buildings, but I know it’s so much more. The back lot is where the cameras, directors, and stars create cinematic history.

The office area is where paperwork — and now me — is located.

It’s still better than nothing. Hell, scratch that. It’s still amazing.

The office building I’m looking for is a small one story with a square parking area in front. No shade, unfortunately. Trees are scarce on production lots, I guess. Most of what I’ve seen so far is either made out of asphalt or steel.

I take a deep breath and practice grinning like a cheese ball — something I do when I need to calm myself down.

“You got this,” I whisper to myself. “Here we go.”

*

“Lunch is at noon for an hour, and if you smoke, there’s a spot out back. Just make sure not to leave your cigarette butts on the ground, or Mr. Mulroney will wring your neck. And not in a good way.”

I take the ID badge Stacey handed me and clip it to my jeans, wondering why she’s even suggesting there’s a good way to get your neck wrung.

“Thanks,” I say to the receptionist, choosing to just forget about the topic.

“You’re really pretty,” Stacey continues, matter-of-fact. She’s maybe in her early thirties, with short, black hair, and heavily mascaraed eyes.

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