Star Struck (Lights, Camera #2) by Laurelin Paige-bilion (Page 7)

Star Struck (Lights, Camera #2)(7)
Author: Laurelin Paige

“Just out of the blue?”

“Sort of.” No, not out of the blue. That was why she hadn’t wanted to talk about it. Because she’d probably deserved what he’d dished and she didn’t want to admit that.

She pressed her face against the window, remembering how into Seth she’d been before…well, before. How into him she was after too. Even though she was pretending like hell that she wasn’t. “He’s also really, really hot.”

“Oh.”

Her head snapped toward Lexie. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Lexie fiddled with her nose ring and shrugged. “It means, oh.” Heather continued to stare at her friend until she sighed. “It means I understand your frustration. He’s cute, but you would never fool around with a guy like that.”

“A guy like what?” Heather held her breath, half dreading, half hoping Lexie would confront her on her shallowness.

“An ass**le.”

“Right.” Heather nodded, accepting the lie. “That’s exactly the problem.”

“What else would it be?”

But of course, that wasn’t what Lexie had meant by a guy like that. She’d meant that Heather would never date a blue-collar type of guy. She’d meant it was beneath her. If Lexie had been brave enough to say it, Heather couldn’t have denied it.

She was so f**king petty it made her sick.

But she couldn’t change how she felt. A lifetime of hard knocks had tattooed her soul and her conceit was born of her attempt to leave that part of her behind. Heather didn’t talk about it much, but she’d shared bits and pieces of her past with her assistant. Though she didn’t have to explain, she was flooded now with the need to be understood—to validate her emotions, to maybe come to some understanding herself.

“Do you know what my father said to me the day he kicked me out?” Heather looked straight ahead, afraid of the intimacy of eye contact. “I was sixteen. I’d told him he was a piece of trash. He said, ‘Trash breeds trash, baby doll. That’s all you’ve ever been, that’s all you’ll ever be.’”

Her eyes stung with the memory. Her mother passed out drunk on the beat-up loveseat they’d covered with a ratty mustard-colored quilt, her father buzzed from coke, smelling like old food and sweat—the scent he always bore after finishing his shift as a dishwasher for a local restaurant. Heather had gotten home late after a show she was in at the community theater and he’d gone off on her, complaining that she didn’t pull her weight around the house. He told her she had to quit all that “acting stuff”, drop out of school and get a real job.

And in retaliation, she’d told him she wasn’t going to give up her future just because her parents were trash.

He’d laughed at her. Told her she’d never amount to anything.

Then he told her to get her things and get out.

So she had. And she never looked back.

Well, maybe she did look back. More like kept peering over her shoulder. The past found a way of slamming into her from time to time and keeping an eye out for it at least helped her prepare.

Now, Heather bit her lip before any tears could fall and was surprised when Lexie’s hand landed firm and comforting on her thigh.

“But you’re not trash,” Lexie said. “And you never were. Even if you messed around with a guy who reminded you of the trailer parks, it wouldn’t mean you’re living up to your daddy’s prophecy.”

“I know.” But didn’t Heather sort of believe exactly that? That if she didn’t rise above her past in every area of her life that she would have proven her father right? Even now, as successful and rich as she was, she always felt like she was just one wrong choice away from being right back where she came from. “I know,” she said again. “But I don’t know. You know?”

“I know.”

Heather returned her gaze out the window and saw an actor she knew entering the Broad Stage. “There’s Matt Shone. I should go in.”

She reached for her oversized bag, but the strap caught on her seatbelt latch and the whole thing tumbled forward, the contents spilling on the car floor.

Heather cursed as she began shoving items back in her bag. This was totally a sign that she should clean out her purse more often. Did she really need three packs of gum and four different flavors of lip-gloss? Not to mention the random papers and trash and empty pill bottles.

Her hand closed around her birth control pills container—her empty birth control pills container—and she cursed again.

“What’s wrong now?” Lexie asked, pointing her cell phone light toward the floor so Heather could see what she was doing.

Heather held up her pill container. “I was supposed to pick up my refill today and I forgot. Can you go?” She’d already missed starting her pack by a day. Maybe two. She didn’t quite remember. Mostly she used them to regulate her period these days anyway, since sex wasn’t in her recent repertoire.

“Of course. At your pharmacy back in Bel Air?”

“Yeah. Do you mind?” Heather felt awful. It would be more than an hour round trip. “I’m really sorry.”

Lexie shrugged. “No problem. Can you manage the check-in without me?”

Heather considered. “I’m sure I can figure it out. Just be back to pick me up when we’re done with the intros, which should be around eleven.”

“Then I’ll see you at eleven.”

“Cool.” Heather opened the door and stepped outside of the car, slinging her purse over her shoulder.

“Don’t let anyone call you a bitch,” Lexie called after her.

Heather rolled her eyes but smiled before she shut the door behind her.

At the entrance of the Broad Stage, she was greeted by a member of the stage crew she recognized from previous years, though she couldn’t recall her name. The tag on her breast pocket displayed it as a reminder. Oh, Vera. That was it.

Vera led Heather through the sign-in process. First, she took her picture against a black backdrop for the programs and together they composed a short bio. Then there was the equity paperwork that, had she been there instead of driving off to Bel Air, Lexie would have filled out. Heather struggled through it herself, asking for a new form when she’d written down the real year she’d been born instead of the one she kept on file with Actor’s Equity. It was pathetic how much she relied on her assistant.

Throughout check-in, Heather kept her eyes on the people roaming the theater. Though she wouldn’t admit it aloud, she was searching for Seth. His call time had been earlier and he was likely already there, probably backstage. Still, she couldn’t stop hoping he’d pop up in the lobby. She wanted to see him again in the worst way. Wanted to see if that weird attraction she had for him was really as strong as she remembered, or if she’d heightened its intensity in her mind.