Micah yawned again.
Beaumont patted him on the back. “Get some sleep. Next week we’re back to day shoots. We’re all struggling, but we’ll get through.”
Yeah, right. This week video village had been set up inside the cabin. Beaumont got to sit in comfort while his cast and crew slapped at bugs and waded through stickers in the meadow and the woods outside in the dark. Hardly seemed like Beaumont was struggling.
But Micah nodded and looked at his watch before picking up his messenger bag. Four in the morning. No wonder he felt so out of it.
He bid good night to Beaumont and the actors still conversing around the table in the cabin dining area and walked into the main room. At the front door, he glanced at the monitors that made up video village in the corner. Maddie sat there, her back to him.
She hadn’t noticed him so he took the opportunity to feast his eyes on her for the first time in days. Her dark brown hair was swept up into an untidy bun, long tendrils hanging down her neck—her long, graceful neck—curling around the cord of the headphones she wore. She’d discarded her overshirt and Micah could see the thin, baby-blue strap of her bra peeking around the edge of her tank. He relished the times she bared her firm, strong arms and her sun-darkened flawless skin. He longed to touch her, run his hands over her shoulders, feel his arms around her.
But that was a fantasy for another life.
What caught his attention now were the images on the thirty-inch monitor she sat behind. Picturesque shots of a young couple filled the screen. The woman knelt in a red wagon, her arms spread as the man ran, pulling her behind him. Both laughed, the camera catching the pure and exquisite joy of such a simple moment. It was shot as the sun was setting, and beams of light reflected off the camera lens, creating a whimsical effect. Micah was enthralled.
He moved closer to watch over Maddie’s shoulder. Eventually, he was unable to contain his curiosity. “What is it?”
She jumped and swiveled toward him. “Oh my God, you scared me.” She removed her headphones and hung them around her neck. “We have a production meeting in a bit. Joe said I could use the monitor until then. Are you guys done?”
She wouldn’t meet his eyes. God, what he’d done to her that she couldn’t even look at him? “I’m done. Beaumont’s still with the others. But I meant, what are you watching?”
“Oh, I…it’s just something I’ve been working on.” She hit a button on her laptop and the screen froze.
“Don’t stop it. Please.”
Maddie shrugged and restarted the film from the beginning of the section.
“Working on,” Micah repeated, his eyes not leaving the screen. “Editing? Directing?”
“Beautiful,” he whispered.
He cleared his throat. “It’s beautiful. I can’t hear any sound, don’t even know the storyline and I’m totally drawn in. The images are so vivid. The lighting is perfect. The quality is excellent. Digital film?”
“Yes, I shot it on RED.”
“You shot it? Gorgeous.” Man, he wished he could’ve seen that. The idea of her behind a camera was a total turn-on, mentally and physically. First, she’d look hot on a camera dolly. Hell, when didn’t she look hot? But more profoundly, he’d always admired people who ran camera. They dared to see the world in front of them in such a way that it created an exact story. It was much easier to act—totally self-absorbed—than it was to see everything completely outside of yourself.
He realized then that she probably saw him. Saw him in a way that few women ever did—with her photographer’s eye and her crazy insight and her brief glimpse of him in his youth. It scared him.
He shook away the thought and focused on the screen. When he spoke again, it was as if he hadn’t been quiet for several minutes. “But it’s not just that, it’s the editing. Those jump cuts are awesome.”
Her eyes widened. “They take forever to put together.”
“I bet. But it’s worth it. It reminds me of Soder. Or early Arsky.”
“Really? I was going for Goade, but I’ll take Soder and Arsky any day.”
“Goade.” He chuckled. “Of course. Back to the roots. Yes, I see the influence of Breathing.”
She smiled, meeting his eyes for the first time in the conversation. The sudden connection shocked him and they both looked away quickly.
“What’s the story?” he asked, returning to the film.
“Young woman stuck in a mundane life. She becomes obsessed with wanting to fly.”
“To fly?” He wasn’t expecting that.
“A symbolism of her desire to be free. Free to do what she wants, free to follow her heart, her dreams.”
She didn’t reply, and he realized from her downcast eyes that he’d said something too personal.
He moved back to safer ground. “What are you doing with it? Is it a short?”
“It’s full-length.” She stretched and leaned back in her chair. “I’m slowly putting it together whenever I have down time. I worked like crazy for years to save up for production and then I hired some friends real cheap and took some time off to shoot. That’s what I was doing while you were filming in L.A.”
So that was why she joined the crew late. “And when it’s finished?”
“I don’t know. Enter it in festivals maybe.” She sighed. “It’s hard to find time to work on it. I don’t know when it will be done. If I could afford more time off…”
Her voice trailed off and Micah felt the yearning in her unspoken words. Not for the first time in his life he recognized how lucky he’d been to “make it” in the business, so to say. It hadn’t been easy, but some people—many people—didn’t ever get the chances he had. They worked and struggled and hit brick wall after brick wall. What obstacles had Maddie come up against?
He could help her, if he wanted to. He shouldn’t, he’d been burned before. But he could.
He leaned back against the arm of the leather sofa. “Have you tried to get some backers?”
She shifted, looking uncomfortable. “Uh, no.”
She shook her head. “Um, I just…I wouldn’t find anyone who’d invest. Trust me.”
He was puzzled by her response. Maddie worked with a lot of big names. Surely she could get interest from the directors she knew alone. Maybe she was scared. He could understand that. But she didn’t need to be. “It’s good, Maddie.”