I throw the last of my stuff into my bag, check around to see if I’ve forgotten anything, and head for the door.
This film is done, and with it, my life here. Not my actual life—I’m not going to die or anything—just the person I’ve become over the last few months.
The lovesick teenager. The grown woman. The friend. The colleague.
All that gets packed up in a box and reinvented for the next shoot.
Time to get drunk, get my party on and maybe make a few terrible sexual decisions before going home.
I walk out of my work trailer—about to tick off the first thing on that to-do list—when my co-star, all-around hot guy and quencher of thirsts, Gil Carter, completely throws me by being on the other side of the door, stopping me dead in my tracks.
This is not part of the plan. Damn it, G.
“Shee.” He glances down at the bags in my hands. “Oh, you’re already leaving?”
“Yeah, I wanted to get a head start on packing up.” And moving on.
He rubs the back of his neck, avoiding my regard, like he’s pissed at me. “I…uh…I got you something.” He reaches into the battered canvas messenger bag that he totes everywhere—the one which makes him look like a hot history professor, or at least how I imagine a hot history professor.
In my mind he’s wearing one of those tweed jackets with the elbow patches, tight button-up jeans and suede shoes. He’s rushing to a lecture, in the rain, holding that scruffy old bag over his head to protect his unruly curls. I open the door for him, my hair held up in a messy bun by a well-placed pencil, my glasses sliding off my nose. “Oh, Professor…”
That man does impeccably good hair. He has a mass of curls softer than a kitten’s belly. They tumble into this perfect crown that I, oh, I want to run my fingers through and maybe tug at a little when the need arises.
I’ve had dreams about that hair.
Anyway…I digress. After rummaging around for a couple of minutes, he pulls out the most beautiful brown leather journal.
“This is for your private thoughts, if you need to talk but there’s nobody around. And you can write shit about people, and they’ll never know.” He runs his fingers through that infamous head of hair, still avoiding my gaze.
“What if they read it, though?” I reply, earning me a smile.
“Promise I won’t. If you promise to only write nice stuff about me.” He glances up at me and ruffles those curls again, sending my lady-parts into meltdown.
I look down at the journal. The only things running through my mind right now are the really, really dirty things that I’m going to write about him in this thing.
“Thanks, G.” I smile, then, no word of a lie, I punch him in the fucking arm.
Not hard. Just enough to show that we’re only friends. Just good buddies. Pals.
“You’re welcome.” He shrugs and shuffles his feet again. The silence is painfully awkward as we stand there, avoiding each other’s gazes. My mind is racing. Why did I punch him in the arm? Who does that? It’s lucky he didn’t get down on one knee and offer me a diamond ring. I might have knocked some teeth out.
Ask him out to dinner. Offer to buy him a drink. Say something… Anything.
Reaching down to open my bag, I unzip it, pop the journal in and look up. “Would you—” But he’s already gone.
Why am I like this?
I should have said, “Maybe I’ll write about all the fun things we’re going to do together.” Then I could have batted my eyelashes flirtatiously, thrown back my head, giggling in a sexy way. He would have pulled me into his arms…
But no. I went in for the buddy punch.
It’s not my fault. No, really, I don’t do flirting. Dr. K calls it “intimacy issues”. She leans back into her brown leather armchair and says things like, “Did you bond? Are you connecting with people?” My fist connected with his arm. Does that count?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a virgin or anything. It’s just that I don’t like touching people, or, more to the point, I don’t like them touching me. Grandma was the only person who ever gave me hugs, and she’s gone now. They were earned when I did good at an audition or won a pageant.
There is one kind of flirty thing that we’ve done. Gil’s always loved that I call him G—pronounced ‘Jee’. Like it’s our little inside joke or something. He also gave me a nickname right off the bat.
It’s our thing—or it was. It’s over now.
When I call him G, he sort of lights up, like it makes him happy. That’s the kind of nice that counts, the kind that gives a girl that fuzzy feeling inside.
There’s something very intimate about nicknames. People call me Soph—as if they can’t even be bothered to say my whole name— but when someone you’re close to creates a new, private name for you, that’s another thing entirely.
Especially when the man in question is Gil Carter—the deep-thinker, the philosopher, the person who’s kept me sane since the beginning of production.
The object of my carnal desires.
Admittedly, if you were one to judge someone by their appearance, and you were unaware of the grubby bag, you might not know what to make of him—Italian leather shoes, tailored trousers and the crispest of shirts. Even on his days off, he looks more like he’s just stepped off a Parisian catwalk than a Canadian sound stage.
G’s clothes are a whole mood, and that mood is ‘best man at a wedding in The Hamptons’.
He always has his nose in a book, and when he doesn’t, he’s napping, more often than not in my trailer. I’ve lost count of the number of times he has nodded off on my shoulder while we’ve been going over our lines, his hair tickling my nose.
I don’t mind that kind of intimacy—pure and uncomplicated. He keeps me warm and smells like bergamot—or whatever they put in men’s fragrances these days. Manly and a little sweaty. It’s a good thing. Trust me.
Like me, he’s not a people person. Except the difference is that he’s totally okay with it. I’m out here trying to be friendly and ‘normal’, and he’s just doing his thing—and totally pulling it off. There’s nothing more attractive than a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. I’d give anything for a spoonful of that confidence.
Our nicknames mean more to me than just words. They’re a sign of our friendship, and I count on that far more than I’ve ever counted on us getting together.
* * * *
August 1, 1 a.m.
So, here it is people, the life and times of Sophie Smith.
Actress, influencer, star.
Also, messy bitch, hairy legs, lives alone—except for her favorite juicer—and is in a personal relationship with Uber Eats.
I haven’t written a journal since I was thirteen, and even then, it was just thirsty Ian Somerhalder thoughts.
I would legitimately have run away with a vampire at that point in my life—or a werewolf. Let’s not forget my werewolf phase.
Teen-me was freaky, and I miss her. She had guts, confidence and big plans.
Present-me has seven million followers on Instagram—who think my life is perfect—and a bunch of dead plants.
Why did he give me the journal? Why? Was it supposed to be like, a thing, or am I reading too much into this? Is it too late to give him a gift?
It’s too late, isn’t it?
Ugh. I need sleep.
Sleep isn’t normally a problem for me. I’m so busy when I’m working. I doze off whenever and wherever I can. Some of my best naps have been on G’s couch.
I’d pull the lever to make the bed pop out. G would appear with a bottle of beer in each hand. “You want to watch a movie?”
“What time do we have to be on set tomorrow?” He’d yawn and lay his famous crumb-catching blanket down before scooching up the bed to make room for me. The man keeps a clean house. Then he’d hand me a beer. “Don’t spill it.” Once. One single time I’d spilled, like, the tiniest amount. He was never going to let me forget it.
I’d grin and pretend to drop it, making him visibly nervous. Then I’d scroll through my phone. “Ugh, if you can even call it tomorrow… We’re on set in three hours.”
“Stick on The Godfather, then,” he’d command, pointing at the DVD player. This man, with his DVDs and his journals and his strange obsession with self-help books… I’d grown up in a small town and didn’t always fit in with the city folks, but G had traveled here from the last century. He still fit in better than me, though.
“Again?” We must have watched that movie at least ten times.
He’d ruffle his hair and throw me a smile, knowing that nobody could resist his charm, especially me. “Oh, go on, please. You can tell me all about that time you went to Comic-Con while we watch.”
G had been nothing if not predictable.
“I’ve told you that story already,” I’d say.
“I know, but I love it. Tell me again.” He’d get comfy. This involved one hand slung over his head and the other scratching his abs, his shirt all ruffled up.
I swear, he had no idea of the effect he had on me when he did that—or he did and he simply didn’t care.
I’d tell him about mistaking a real actor for someone in cosplay, and how we’d done interview after interview so we never got to see anything anyway, and how people queued in the street overnight just to take a photo with me.
He’d listen and laugh and ask questions, then I’d slump down onto his shoulder, desperately trying to stay awake. My eyes would get heavier, the image would get blurry and I’d fall asleep. He’d wrap his warm arm around me—his chin resting on top of my head—and he would watch the rest of the movie in silence. I still have no idea how it ends.
The movies changed but the couch—and the company—were the same every time.
I wish I were there. I could really do with a good nap right now.
In fact, I wish I were anywhere but here, alone in this empty, echoing apartment, waiting to go back to an empty, echoing house. Two more days and I’m LA bound, and about to be a million miles away from him.
Shit. I really need some sleep, a warm shoulder, a good movie and a friend.
I’m going to miss him terribly, more than I've ever missed anybody I've worked with. And that, my dear Dr. K, breaks my heart.