Behind the scenes, beneath the covers...
Hollywood Heat, Book 3
Jenna Byers approaches her first day as a background actor on Sexy M.D. with one goal in mind--impress the right people with her acting, make connections, and prove she's a hard worker. Things go sideways when an up-close-and-personal encounter with the uber-sexy lead ends with Jenna flat on her butt, and she's noticed for all the wrong reasons.
In all his years of acting, there's only one thing Micah Watley hasn't done: accidentally punch an extra in the face. Going against protocol, he hunts her down to apologize and discovers a rare phenomenon in the entertainment industry. A sweet, uncorrupted-by-Hollywood woman, whose smile grabs him by the heart--and other not-so-innocent body parts--and won't let go.
Their attraction is instant and intense, and Micah finds himself desperate to believe the woman with the beautiful smile, hot body and naughty mind wants him, not the doors he could open for her. When the press catches on, twisting Jenna and Micah's love story into a Hollywood scandal, they're forced to fight for their happy ending--both on and off camera.
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February 21, 2012
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Excerpt from Starstruck by Ashleigh Raine
Jenna tightened the drawstring on her too-big scrubs and prayed that this time they'd stay above her hips for more than a minute. Thirty seconds later, as she walked toward a chair in the catering area, her pants inched south. She needed a smaller costume stat or her television debut would happen with her bottoms around her ankles. Although the show was called Sexy M.D., her butt wasn't the reason viewers tuned in.
Stifling an inappropriate giggle, she tightened the drawstring--again--and rolled the waistband. Okay, she was nervous. Terrified even. Today she was acting in a real television show, living her Hollywood dream. Although she didn't have any lines, her goal was to impress the right people, make connections, and prove she was a hard worker and a great actor.
All while keeping her clothes on.
Maybe she could score a safety pin, paperclip, a stapler, or even some duct tape or glue from wardrobe, then she could focus on not making an ass of herself in other, non-posterior-related ways.
Or maybe not...
A ponytailed woman Jenna recognized as the Production Assistant from check-in, walkie-talkie on her hip and a bunch of stapled papers hanging from her now-upraised hand, walked in the room and commanded everyone's attention. So much for Jenna's quick escape to wardrobe.
With an, "Okay, background, listen up," from the PA, the room grew quiet, the eyes and ears of a couple dozen extras dressed as orderlies, doctors, patients, visitors, security guards and nurses like Jenna focused on the woman who currently held their acting fate in the palm of her hand.
"Hello, my name is Lindsey. I'm the PA, which means you have to listen to what I say and do everything I tell you to." She gave a shark-tooth grin, which did nothing to alleviate Jenna's nerves. "A couple rules before we go in. Do not look at the camera. Do not make eye contact or talk with the principal actors. Some actors will have you thrown off set if you look them in the eye. They are here to do a job, as are you, so stay focused on work. Stay quiet and out of the crew's way between takes. They have limited time to get-- Hang on." Lindsey touched a finger to her earpiece while grabbing the mic clipped to her shirt. "Copy that. I'll bring them to you now."
Lindsey scanned the crowd. "You heard it. We're going in. Follow me. I'll take you to Brad, the second AD, for placement. And for goodness' sake, make sure your cell phones are off. Let's go."
Full of pre-show adrenaline, Jenna hopped to her feet, ready to wow her audience...until gravity reminded her of her precarious pants position. Crap.
"Hey." Another extra, dressed in matching scrubs--although this woman's appeared to actually fit--sidled up to Jenna. "I thought you might need this." Between two clasped fingers, the extra held out a shiny safety pin.
"You are a miracle worker." Jenna took the offered lifesaver and skewered the gathered fabric at her waistline. She let out a relieved breath when she pinched the pin closed, wiggled her hips and her pants stayed in place. "Thank you sooo much. I was seriously afraid I'd end up getting kicked off set for accidentally mooning the camera."
The other woman laughed as they climbed the stairs. "No problem. I always keep pins in my bag. You won't believe the number of times that or tape kept me from flashing any T and A. I'm Sylvia by the way."
"Jenna." She lifted her hospital ID and waved it. "Or as I'll be known today, Rina McLaughlin."
Sylvia tapped her own, identical badge. "I'm Rina too." She winked. "As is every other dark-haired nurse extra here today. Rina really gets around."
Jenna's answering laugh shifted to wide-eyed awe when they exited a narrow hallway and made a left into chaos.
There were people everywhere. Guys with tool belts climbing ladders, positioning lights, taping cables into place. Women waiting with big bags of makeup and accessories, looking ready to primp and brush and adorn. A man and two twenty-something boys hustling by with armfuls of doctor coats and scrubs. A group of three guys and one girl stood around two cameras, sliding things in and out and turning other parts while a fourth guy sat on the camera dolly. And everyone was talking. To each other. On radios. All about things Jenna didn't understand but couldn't wait to learn.
This was so much bigger than the community theater productions she was used to back home.
A thirty-something guy wearing a baseball cap and clothes that had passed grubby two days ago shoved a fistful of papers into one of the pockets on his cargo shorts as he scrutinized each extra in the line. "You, you and...not you...no..." He got to Jenna and motioned. "You, nurses, the three of you, come with me."
He cut a path through the crew, effortlessly maneuvering among the working throng of people. Trying to stay on his heels, she sidestepped to the left to clear the way for a man carrying a potted plant, then zigzagged around a woman rearranging a waiting-area chair at more of an angle. Somehow she ended up back on course behind the grubby guy, whose walkie-talkie was labeled Brad 2nd AD. That was strangely reassuring. Like even though she might be following the guy straight into hell, at least he was the guy she was supposed to be following.
Stopping on a dime, he spun and pierced Jenna with his dark brown eyes. "What's your name?"
Oh heck, had she already done something wrong? "J-J-Jenna." Great. So much for impressing people with her skills. She swallowed the knot in her throat and tried again. "Jenna, just one J."
"Okay, just-one-J Jenna." His sweet grin softened his expression, lessening her nerves, as he pointed down a side hallway. "What you're going to do is start right there, and on 'Background', you're going to cross to the nurses' station." He did just that and picked up two file folders. "Start with these and when you get here, drop off a file and hold in this spot for a couple beats."
"Got it." That was easier than she'd expected.
"Good." Brad shifted focus to the other nurses behind Jenna. "Nice to see you back, Alicia. You're going to be here answering the phone, and when Jenna walks up and hands you a file, you two will share a moment, maybe about the hot guy with the broken leg in room four, then you'll hand Jenna a different file and she'll leave to check out that hot guy in room four."
"Okay, cool." Alicia sat on the swivel chair and got situated amid the files, computer and various other props at the nurses' station.
"You still with me, Jenna?" Brad walked toward a janitor cart.
"Someone else will get this cart out of the way, but you're going to go into this room right here and wait until either myself or Lindsey sends you back out. You'll be my ace in the hole if there's a dead spot. When you come out, I might have you go toward the camera, but stay close to the wall so you don't block Micah and Crystal." He barely waited for Jenna's nod before going back into the fray.
Okay, she really didn't want to get kicked off set for showing her extreme dorky side, but getting to act in a scene with Micah and Crystal--two of the biggest stars on the show--was a serious thrill she'd celebrate with a whoop, a fist-pump and a happy dance later, when no one was around to see her do it.
She mentally ran through her blocking until a man called out from somewhere beyond the nurses' station, "Last looks, everyone. Here we go!"
That announcement lit a fire under the crew. Technicians and various other set people moved behind the camera or disappeared out of frame. A tall man dressed in scrubs and a white lab coat filed past her, and it took her a second to realize she was staring at Micah Watley in the flesh.
Her heart skipped a beat. Somehow seeing Micah in person made this experience even more real. That would be her some day, the lead actor in the scene, while an extra watched her walk by.
A spring in her step, she headed back to her number-one starting position.
"And we are rolling!" the same disembodied voice called out and several people answered, "Rolling!"
"Speed." A different voice. Jenna wanted to look around the corner to see who was saying what and what exactly was going on.
Everyone started moving, so Jenna took her cue and headed straight for the nurses' station.
Orderlies, security guards, visitors, patients and doctors wandered about, making it look like a real hospital from just about every angle. At Jenna's approach, Alicia pointed and whispered some gibberish, which Jenna mirrored. She'd done plenty of these exercises in her college acting classes.
Micah and Crystal strode into the wide-open space in front of the nurses' station, arguing about whether or not a patient needed surgery. Their characters used to be married, so this scene was probably more about that than anything medical.
Alicia handed her another file, nodded toward room four and mouthed the word, Go! so Jenna did just that and safely landed in the empty room.
Lindsey was hiding in the corner with a handheld monitor. She looked up as Jenna entered and whispered, "Leave the files here. Go out and to your left and stay close to the wall...now."
Jenna set the files on the floor before doing as directed. Still arguing, Crystal and Micah had stopped in the middle of the hallway.
There was just enough room to get by next to the wall, and suddenly she was heading right for the camera and didn't know what to do. She couldn't block the two actors from the camera.
The argument between the doctors grew more heated.
"I think you're wrong."
"Didn't you see those films?"
"Did you see them? Maybe if you weren't blinded by jealousy..."
Crew members stood right where Jenna needed to go. Think fast. As she got next to the camera, she ducked and pretended to pick something up off the floor.
Makeup, hair stylists and women Jenna guessed were from costuming descended upon Micah and Crystal, primping the duo.
"Going again. Reset, everyone. Back to one."
She'd done it. No mistakes, no accidental moonings, and she would even share screen time with Micah Watley and Crystal Jackson when this episode aired. Maybe only her elbow would be visible, but she'd know it was her elbow.
Pleased with her performance, she started to go back to her first position, but remembered her props.
"Right away, people. Let's go!" Whoever this guy was shouting all the directions, he had a voice that meant business. Jenna grabbed her stuff and scooted to her section of hallway just in time.
Jenna headed toward Alicia.
Making sure to exactly mimic her last take, she did her little spiel with Alicia and then went to room four. Lindsey watched her put down the files before gesturing for her to make her final move.
"I think you're wrong."
"Didn't you see those films?"
"Did you see them? Maybe if you weren't--"
A muffled pop tune interrupted Crystal's line. Even as the actress dug a cell phone out of the pocket of her white lab coat, Jenna stayed on her path. Was Crystal actually interrupting a scene to take a phone call?
The ringtone cut off as the actress lifted the cell to her ear and began jabbering to whoever was on the other end.
"Cut! Crystal, what the hell are you doing?" Anonymous-voice guy was finally revealed, and boy was he pissed. Standing behind the camera, he removed a beat-up straw cowboy hat from his head and slapped it against his thigh. "I don't believe this."
Another man Jenna hadn't seen before approached Crystal. He may have been at least half a foot shorter than the actress, but his demeanor demanded respect. "Off the phone now, Crystal."
The blonde turned her back and kept talking.
To avoid gaping at what Crystal was doing, Jenna put on her best poker face, though she couldn't help but notice the looks passing between other crew members. Anger. Frustration. Resignation.
"Back to one, everyone," the cowboy-hat-wearing man called.
Shaking his head, Micah turned away from his costar. Even with annoyance straining his expression and a five o'clock shadow staining his jaw, he was ruggedly handsome. Of course she'd seen him in magazines and on TV--he'd pretty much grown up in front of the camera--but two-dimensional visuals didn't do the man justice. His dark blond hair was perfectly coiffed in the messy, I've-been-too-busy-being-a-doctor-to-do-more-than-run-my-fingers-through-my-hair look. A makeup lady approached him, and he chuckled at something she said, his green eyes dancing at whatever the two were sharing.
Jenna smiled at his mirth, then panicked when she realized Micah's green eyes were now focused on her.
Oh crap. Crap, crap, crap. She shifted her gaze away, hoping against all hope that he hadn't noticed her.
"It's a wonder she's still employed," his deep voice rumbled, and the blood rushed out of Jenna's head, dropping along with her stomach. Was Micah one of those actors Lindsey had warned about who'd get her thrown off set for breaking the don't make eye contact rule? "What will she do if the show gets cancelled? With her reputation, you think anyone will want to work with her? She's legendary for making every show hell."
Relief washed over Jenna so fast it left her dizzy. He wasn't talking about her, he was talking about Crystal. Hands trembling, she headed back to grab her props and get to her starting point.
"Rolling!" was shouted, and the makeup lady stepped away from Micah.
Jenna repeated the same actions, glad she'd already done it twice before since her mind was still whirling from her close call. Crystal's unprofessional phone interruption had done one good thing in this case--increased the tension. Both actors were more in the moment, the argument resonating with a stronger passion than earlier.
"I think you're wrong." Crystal spun toward Micah, glaring, hands fisted at her hips.
There was less room to get around Micah and Crystal, but Jenna figured she could still ease by without looking too unnatural. If her fake ducking drop before hadn't been a problem, sliding behind the arguing duo shouldn't be either.
Micah whipped around to face Crystal. "Didn't you see--" Punctuating his words, he swung his arm out in a wide gesture.
Jenna tried to duck, but there wasn't enough time or space. Micah's arm struck her across the face, and she fell backward, landing flat on her ass, staring up at Mr. Sexy M.D. himself.
Crap. Somehow she didn't think she would escape unnoticed this time.