Take Two (Page 22)

Take Two (Lights, Camera #1)(22)
Author: Laurelin Paige

It tugged at her heart and before she could think too much about it she slipped her hand out from under Sam’s and said, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind, but I invited Micah to go with us to the festival tomorrow.”

“And Fudge,” Micah said, not missing a beat. He winked at her.

“Yes, and Fudge. That’s not a problem, is it?”

“Uh, no, of course not.” Sam’s disappointment was evident but he recovered quickly. “Is there anyone else who wants to go? I can seat one more.”

“Hell, I’ll go,” Chloe said. “We could take the van I rented. I could fit one more.”

Joe reached for the hoodie next to Micah, wobbling as he did. “Awesome. I’ll join you. Might as well see what crap the next gen of filmmakers is working on. Which means I need to get to bed. I might have had a little more to drink than I thought.”

The bunch agreed to call it a night. Phone numbers were exchanged and specific times set for those meeting in the morning. Maddie trembled as she handed her phone to Micah for him to enter his info. His number. She tried not to let that thought excite her.

The waitress brought over the final tab. Micah grabbed it first, then pulled out a gold American Express and returned it to her.

“It’s on me,” he said.

Surprised and grateful “thank yous” passed among the lot. “Thanks, man, that was really nice of you,” Sam said. “You’re welcome back anytime.”

“It’s no problem. The waitress wanted my autograph anyway but couldn’t get the nerve to ask. Now she’ll have it.”

So he had noticed the waitress. Sure Micah had more money than God, but treating everyone was a nice gesture and Maddie saved her own acknowledgement until she had his full attention. “Thank you.”

He nodded and she felt his eyes as she stood, grabbing her purse from where it hung on the back of Sam’s chair. She waved and started out of the bar.

Before she’d made it to the street, her phone buzzed with a text from Micah from the party. She grinned at his entry then read his text. No, Maddie. Thank you.

She wasn’t sure if he was thanking her for Breckenridge or the handjob, probably the latter. What struck her was the effort he was making to get her…it made her tummy swirl with a storm of butterflies.

But it also made her dizzy and disoriented. Why her? She’d said no, more than once. If he was really only interested in a lay, why was he still trying to win her? Was it the thrill of the chase? Had her refusal read to him as playing hard to get?

It was the uncertainty and the fear of leading him into pursuing her more that kept her from responding to his message. Instead, she closed his text and pretended she could put the man out of her head as easily as she stowed her phone in her pocket.

Chapter Ten

“The last one intrigued me,” Maddie said as they neared the venue of the next movie they planned to see. Out of the three films they’d seen so far, the last had been the only one halfway decent. Still, she was having fun with Joe, Chloe, Sam, and even Fudge and Micah. As promised, Breckenridge was beautiful, and she enjoyed getting in touch with what other artists were doing. Such days never failed to inspire her.

“Agreed,” Joe said, walking into the old movie theater. “It wasn’t exceptional, but it had something.”

“It was sort of creepy,” Fudge said, holding the door for Maddie.

“It was brave,” she said, walking in to the lobby.

“The satire was perfect,” Micah chimed in behind her. “Clearly influenced by Brandon Ellis.”

Maddie faced him. “Ellis? I’d say more Armon Petri.”

“I’ve never even heard of Armor Peteri or whoever.” Chloe rubbed at her mouth. “My God, it’s so dry here. Does anyone have any lip shit?”

“No, definitely Ellis,” Micah insisted, removing his baseball cap and pushing his sunglasses to his head. “I think Maddie has some ChapStick.”

Maddie blushed, ignoring the glint in his eye and the memory of her hand on his privates as she dug into her purse for her ChapStick. “It’s almost gone, but take it.” She handed the tube to Chloe. She turned back to Micah, not letting the intimate flashback interrupt the debate. “Insanity in America would never have existed without films like Suspicion.”

“But I guarantee you that”—Micah pulled his crumpled program from his back pocket and flipped until he found what he was looking for—“Todd Nichols never in his life saw a Petri film or Derr or Sello, for that matter, so I’m calling Todd’s influence Ellis.”

Maddie pursed her lips. Few people could keep up with her on film history. Even in the biz, she never ceased to be surprised by how many people had no idea about the background of their art. Micah’s ability to intelligently and convincingly hold his end of the debate warmed her core. “Just because the artist is unaware of the influence doesn’t mean it isn’t valid,” she argued, less forcefully than before.

“I think you’re mistaking influence with roots.”

“I got the tickets,” Sam cut in. Maddie hadn’t noticed he’d gone to the ticket counter. “This one’s popular. We need to get in if we want to find seats.”

“Lead the way,” she said. Thankfully, Sam wasn’t acting weird after the drive up. In the backseat of the van where he sat with Maddie, he’d taken her hand. Maddie had pulled away—gently, but definitively—and shook her head. He got the point. If only Micah could be so easily dealt with. Except maybe he had been. He hadn’t made any moves on her the whole day. Maybe he meant what he said about being just friends.

“Oh my God, Micah Preston!” A female voice came from a group next to them. “Can we have your autograph?”

Fans. They’d been lucky so far not to be noticed, but Micah had worn his cap and sunglasses for most of the day. Now with them removed, he was recognizable.

Maddie stood close enough to him to hear his soft sigh. The admirers saw nothing but his bright smile. “Sure.” He stuck his cap into the back pocket of his jeans. “Do you have a pen?”

They didn’t, but Maddie did. She handed him one from her purse, vaguely aware of someone snapping a cell phone picture as she did.

“Micah, what are you doing in Colorado?” another of the girls asked.

“We’re shooting a film near Golden.”

“Cool! Do you need any extras?”