Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

If You Want Something to Read …

on June 5, 2015

In celebration of dropping the price of my romance novella, Cold Read, to only .99 cents, I thought I’d share the first chapter:

Cold Read - Mosey by papaija2008

Image courtesy of papaija2008/freedigitalphotos.net.

 

Chapter 1
Stephie

… because it is not always that the hopes of deserving, loving human beings are blessed …
                                                                                                 ~N. Richard Nash, “The Rainmaker”

 It is, quite possibly, the first time I’ve ever seen anyone mosey, other than John Wayne. So, the first time in real life. But mosey he does, right through the double doors of the Holland Theatre and straight into my heart, dragging a chill rush of autumn air in his wake. All six-foot-four of him, with his bald head and smirky swagger.

Please God. Please let him be here for the auditions.

Auditions always make me nervous, whether I’m posturing for a part onstage or casting from the seats below. This time it’s the latter—my first directing job at the old, historic theatre in downtown Bellefontaine, Ohio. We had just started auditions and I was already swiping sweat from my forehead at the lack of men showing up. Leave it to me to choose a play that requires six of them. Everyone knows you have to beg, borrow, and steal to get more than a handful of guys to audition for community theatre. So far, eleven women have read for the one female part compared to three men for the six male roles. And of those three, two were teens and the third was perfect for H.C., the main character’s dad.

Which meant I still haven’t found my over-the-top leading man, Starbuck.

And now, here he is, standing in front of me, grinning and handing me his slightly wrinkled audition form. How it got wrinkled from the lobby to here, I … well, maybe he was nervous too. I stick out my hand. “I’m the director, Stephie Graham, and this is my assistant, Merle Borscht.”

He takes my fingers in a firm grip. “Andy Tremont. Is this a cold read?”

“Yes.” And if that isn’t confirmation enough, I nod so hard my blue-green beret tips forward, knocking lavender-highlighted bangs into my eyes. I brush my vision clear.

“But if you have something ready,” I say, “we’d love to see it.”

“Uh, nope.” He scuffs a shoe on the floor and looks toward the door he just walked through. “I just found out about this today, so I’m not too prepared.”

“Oh, that’s okay!” I say, tossing out a hand breezily and accidentally smacking Merle in the chest. Which jolts the elderly man out of his reverie long enough to say,

“You have any experience, son?”

Good old Merle. He shuffles everywhere and has thick, white hair and warm eyes and doesn’t think anything interesting has happened since the Rat Pack broke up. I mentioned once I felt the same way about the Brat Pack and he looked at me with such disappointment, I imagine he went home that night and wept for my generation.

But he knows theatre like Sinatra knew Vegas, so I’m lucky to have him on my team. Such as it is.

Andy hooks a thumb into his belt loop, Duke-style, and says, “Oh, sure.” He leans over the table I’m perched at and points to the “previous experience” section of his form. “When I lived in Columbus I did a bunch of stuff. Motel in Fiddler, the Stage Manager in Our Town, and Porthos in an outdoor production of The Three Musketeers. That was fun.”

I’ll bet.

He stands up and his head seems to brush against the star-studded theatre ceiling. His green eyes light into mine and I take a deep breath. That’s when I catch a whiff of soap and leather. I almost sigh.

Trouble, thy name is Andy.

I stare. I blink. My, but he is tall.

He clears his throat.

Say something, Stephie, before he moseys out of your life.

I finally exhale and whisper, “You sing?” Because that is the most important information necessary for someone who isn’t auditioning for a musical. I almost smack myself.

He doesn’t seem to mind, though. “I do okay.”

“Because we’re doing a musical in the spring.” Good grief, Stephie.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Well,” I say, trying to regain control of what I’d momentarily lost sight of, “we, um, don’t have any other women here at the moment, so would you mind reading for Starbuck with, uh, me?”

“Sure.”

I hand him the sides for the scene I want him to read and follow him up the ramp and onto the stage.

And he nails it. I have my Starbuck. He’s so perfect, I fight the urge to just play Lizzie myself. My youthful fantasy of falling in love with my co-star during a show calls out to me. But how could I? We have plenty of talent in Bellefontaine and, well, I don’t really look the part.

Darn it.

Merle grins and gives me a thumbs-up. As I make my way back down the ramp, something crashes to the floor backstage. Andy jumps.

I laugh. “Don’t worry. It’s just Juniper.”

“Juniper?” Andy glances behind him. “Is she auditioning?”

“Oh no,” I say, and waggle my eyebrows at him. “She’s our resident ghost.”

Merle nods. “Every decent theatre has one.”

Now Andy smiles. “I’ll have to take your word on that.”

And then two more women arrive to audition and the moment is over. I don’t see him leave but I have his number.

“Andy’s perfect,” Merle tells me later. “He even reminds me a bit of Peter Lawford.”

“I thought Burt Lancaster played Starbuck in the movie.”

Merle frowns and sighs, gaping at me like I’m a high school girl speaking in hashtags.

Shoot. I might have just said something else that will make him weep.

 ❆❆❆

Later that night, I let myself into my small, one-bedroom apartment. My cat, Cozy, meets me at the door, purring and weaving around my ankles. I pick her up and carry her to my only seating area, a ragged, but clean, red-plaid couch. It isn’t much of an apartment—old, ugly, and it somehow always smells like bacon—but they let me have a cat for a reasonable price so it’s home enough for me.

“Home is where the heart is, right, Cozy?” The cat looks at me and meows, then bats a paw at my arm. She jumps down and meows again, teeth bared. I sigh. “Oh, all right.”

I follow her into the kitchen and refill her food dish, then grab a bottle of cream soda from the fridge. Taking a seat at the kitchen table, which also serves as my work desk, I open my laptop.

First thing I do is Google search for “Peter Lawford.” A Rat-Packer, of course. Tall, handsome but with a full head of hair. So, for the most part, Merle was right. Personally, though, Andy reminds me more of a bald Jeff Goldblum.

All in all, he’s a nice combination of wonderfulness and swagger and just the guy I need to play Starbuck.

Couldn’t ask for more than that.

After turning on a 50s Pandora station, I open the marketing packet I started yesterday for a Marysville dermatologist and get to work.

I finally crawl into bed around two a.m., which is actually pretty early for me. But I toss around all night, messing up the carefully tucked sheets and dreaming about the tall, bald actor who seems destined to break my heart.

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