Take Two (Page 56)

Take Two (Lights, Camera #1)(56)
Author: Laurelin Paige

He swallowed his surprise, his frustration, his desire to come clean about the woman he adored and improvised. “All right, Ariahn, you caught me. I made a pass. Hot girl at a hot party? I’ve been known to do that.”

Ariahn raised an eyebrow. “Let me put it this way: Micah, are you off the market?”

“Come on, am I ever off the market?” He added a wink. Time to bring out flirtatious Micah.

It worked. She smiled coyly in return. “So you’re still Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor?”

“Definitely.” He leaned back in his seat, putting on a relaxed air contrary to the uneasiness he felt at dismissing his relationship with Maddie. “Without a doubt. Free and single as ever. In fact, I’d ask you if you were busy later, but I see you’re wearing an engagement ring.”

“Hey, you got that hard drive for Beaumont?” Joe’s voice drew Micah to peer behind him to see who he was addressing.

His heart stopped.

Maddie.

She was standing right behind him, clearly in earshot, hard drive in hand as Joe approached her from the set. Micah didn’t have to wonder if she had overheard his interview. Her face said that she had heard every word.

And that every word hurt.

Fuck.

But this shouldn’t matter, he told himself. They’d agreed no media. A shift had occurred between them, he couldn’t deny that, but they hadn’t said they were ready for this. He would remind her of that. He’d tell her how he felt about her and that would make up for this. It had to.

Except the pain in her eyes said that nothing could make up for this.

Maddie didn’t speak, but she turned and waved the hard drive at Joe.

“Cool,” Joe said. “I’ll tell him you’re on your way.”

Micah almost rose to follow as she left briskly toward video village. He almost called after her.

But he couldn’t. Not without negating everything he’d just told Ariahn Jessler. Not without inviting chaos into their relationship.

No, he had to sit and watch her walk away, hoping he wasn’t watching her walk out of his life forever.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Maddie’s eyes welled, an infuriating inconvenience since she was only steps away from video village. Dammit. She couldn’t let Beaumont see her cry. She blinked, clearing her tears.

She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop on Micah and his interview, hadn’t even really been interested in it. Beaumont had summoned her to bring him the footage from that morning—a job that should have been relegated to a P.A. or one of Adam’s other assistants. So she shouldn’t have even been walking past Micah in the first place. And then she’d heard her name. How could she not be intrigued?

“So you’re still Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor?”

“Definitely.”

The words stung more than she could have imagined. And then he’d flirted with the journalist…

Dammit all to hell. She was definitely hurt, but more than that she was embarrassed. What had she expected? Did she think that he’d proclaim his love for her in some entertainment magazine when he hadn’t even said the words to her? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And okay, she shouldn’t care what he said to the press. She knew it was all fake.

The problem was she did care. Fake or not, she couldn’t stand it. Maybe if he’d given her some indication of what he really felt for her she could deal with whatever lies he told others. But since he hadn’t, the words he’d told the reporter were the only ones he had to cling to.

“There’s Maddie,” Sam said as she reached video village. Beaumont had been antsy waiting, she could tell.

“Here I am.” She was surprised at how controlled her voice sounded. Inside she was reeling. Shake it off. “If you scoot over, I’ll load it.”

An assistant sitting in front of the main monitor relinquished his seat. Maddie slid into the chair and connected the hard drive into the USB slot of the computer. Micah’s words rang in her ears as she pulled up the contents of the drive. “Without a doubt. Free and single as ever.”

She shook her head and redirected her focus to her job. She dragged the folder to the computer’s desktop and a warning box came up. The file already exists do you want to replace the existing file? Maddie paused. There shouldn’t be a file with the same name. She squinted at the file’s title. It should have said which scene they had filmed that morning, but it didn’t. The file name still said the date and scene from the previous shoot. The second assistant must have forgotten to change it.

What scene had they shot that morning? She closed her eyes, trying to clear her head. “Free and single as ever.”

“Get outta the way.” Beaumont pushed her out of her chair. “You’re taking too long.”

Numbly, Maddie stepped aside. She watched as Beaumont grabbed for the mouse in front of him. “Wait,” she said. Scene fourteen. That was the scene they’d filmed. Beaumont needed to change the name to say Scene Fourteen. “You need to save as—”

But Beaumont had already clicked.

Panic coursed through her veins. “What did you just do?”

“I saved the file.”

“But it had the wrong name! You just saved it over the last footage!” Hoping she was mistaken, she leaned over the director and grabbed the mouse from his hands. She clicked open the file on the desktop with the previous scene’s date and watched in horror as that morning’s footage played. “No, no, no.” She scrolled through more of the files. All of the footage from the last shoot was lost. “It’s gone. Scene twenty-four is all gone.”

Beaumont furrowed his brow. “What do you mean it’s gone?”

Maddie’s words came soft and measured. “You just clicked ‘yes’ to replace the file and it had the same name as the other day’s shoot.” A lost scene was a disaster. They would have to hold actors over, adjust the shoot schedule. And they were already behind schedule.

“Fuck!” The director stood abruptly, knocking his chair over in the process. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“No. I wouldn’t do that.”

Beaumont’s face reddened. He swept his arm across the table in front of him, throwing a stack of papers and clipboards to the ground. “Fuck.” He turned to Maddie. “How the f**k could you make that kind of a mistake?”

Maddie usually kept her cool, no matter what her boss threw at her, but she’d reached the end of her emotional rope. “I was the one who was fixing it when you pushed me out of my chair. If you hadn’t been so goddamned anxious and just let me do my job—”