Lucy sat on the couch in her best friend’s living room and gratefully accepted the cup of tea that she was handed.
Harriet was a petite beauty from Ireland with strawberry blond hair and green eyes. The two had met several years before when they both worked for the same airline, they had started chatting at recruitment day and hit it off right away; when the time had come to find a place to live in London they had found a flat together and had been inseparable ever since.
Now they worked for different companies and lived separately, as life had worked out differently for the two of them, but were still “sisters from another mister”, as they liked to say.
“So how was your trip?” Harriet asked. “Saw your pics on the ’Gram. Looks like you head a great time!”
Lucy nodded “The trip was great, had a good time”.
“So, what do you want to talk to me about?” the blond asked sitting on the sofa.
Lucy sighed heavily “Right, I need you to keep an open mind, OK?”
Harriet looked at her friend suspiciously “Now I’m worried...”
The brunette shook her head with a giggle.
“Well...on the way to LA I had that actor onboard, James Kent...”
Harry’s eyes widened “Oh my God I love him! He’s such an amazing actor! Did you talk to him?”
Lucy nodded “Yes he was sitting on my side of the cabin. I spilt red wine all over him”.
The blond’s mouth dropped and she covered her face with her hands “Embarrassing!”
Lucy nodded again “He was really nice and chilled about it though. When the guys were on break he came to the galley and we talked for a while about this and that, kept me company for a while...”
She could see an excited smile on her friend’s face.
“Anyway, long story short, he forgot his credit card onboard and I made sure it was returned to him, cos I’m amazing. This is where it gets interesting...”
Harry’s face now changed to worry “What have you done?”
Lucy punched her on the arm “Don’t have much faith in me, have you?”
The blond held her hands up “You told me to keep an open mind, I’m ready for anything! What happened then?”
Lucy picked up her phone “Well he contacted me. To thank me. On Instagram. Well, I’m still only ninety-five per cent sure it’s him, really...”
Harriet jumped up the sofa “Oh. God. Woman. Don’t. Toy. With. Me!”
Lucy gave her phone to her friend and showed her the interaction.
Harriet read through with growing excitement
“How are you not sure it’s him?” she asked.
Lucy thought for a second “Well because these things don’t happen in real life”.
The blond opened the Instagram app on her own phone, scrolled through a couple of times and finally, with an accomplished look, showed the two screens back to her friend.
The sender’s profile pic and that of James Kent matched.
“I checked before, I just didn’t want to believe it...” said Lucy with an incredulous smile.
“Why do you think he’s looked me up on Instagram? Why not send a Thank You letter through the airline?”
“You said you talked for a little bit, do you think he was flirting maybe? Did he give out any signals?” Harriet asked.
Lucy thought back for a second “I’m not sure. Jack, the guy who worked First with me, kept saying James was looking and smiling at me all the time. And he kinda called me pretty...”
“He did what?” asked her friend growing impatient “And you withheld this information because? What did he say exactly?”
Lucy shrugged and explained what had happened on board, during their talk.
Harriet patted her friend’s leg “Oh honey, I love you but sometimes you’re so dumb. I wasn’t there to judge the way he was looking at you but based on what you told me and what I read, if you think there’s no second goal behind those messages, then you need a new pair of glasses. Cos you’re blind”.
Lucy stared at her friend for a few seconds, then grabbed a cookie from the box on the table, toying with it for a little while
“This is so surreal. What do you think I should do?”
Harriet took a sip of her tea.
“Whatever you feel like. Just don’t overthink it, it’s only a message after all”.
Lucy finally took a bite of the cookie.
“You’re right, the whole thing might be over by tomorrow anyway!” She sighed. “It’s just that I don’t want to put myself in an overwhelming situation. I’ve already got a lot on my plate as it is...”
Harriet gave her a hug, which Lucy reciprocated, then added
“Either way, it goes without saying that it’s a secret. First level classified”.
The blond gave her an “of course” look and grabbed Lucy’s pinkie with hers to bond the promise.
James was sitting on the big sofa in his dressing room, going over the agreement for the question he was going to be asked in the upcoming interview. He was about to record an episode of a well know evening show and his agent was adamant that he should agree on all the questions before the show, to avoid sticky situations, like had happened in the past with other clients, especially knowing James’ jealousy of his private life.
“All seems good”, the actor said satisfied.
“Great, I’ll run this to productions and I’ll meet you later. Sofia will come to do some makeup and fix your hair shortly”.
James passed a hand through his blond locks.
“What’s wrong with my hair?”
Ian smiled at him and left the room without saying anything.
Sofia, a middle-aged beauty with backcombed hair, entered shortly after and introduced herself in a thick southern accent. She opened her case displaying all her products on the table and promptly started to work on him.
James sat in the chair in front of the big, lit mirror, closed his eyes and let the lady do the magic that he, apparently, so desperately needed.
“The weather really turned for the best eh?” Sofia asked, in what he thought to be a very British ice breaker.
“It did, although I must say it’s the first time I ever witnessed rain in LA”.
“I’ve been living here 10 years and it’s probably the second for me” she smiled at the mirror, meeting his eye.
An eighties melody broke loud in the room and Sofia blushed.
“Oh dear, it’s my phone I’m so sorry” she checked the screen “It’s my daughter. She’s pregnant, mind if I take it?”
James shook his head as per no and the lady replied to her phone, placing it in between her ear and shoulder while keeping on trimming his hair.
He closed his eyes again, cuddled by the melodic sound of Sofia’s voice and the familiar conversation between mother and daughter.
His trance was broken by the sound of his phone vibrating against the desk, he opened his eyes and saw the Instagram messaging notification on the lit screen.
He unlocked his phone with a feeling of anticipation and read
Yes, the book was indeed very interesting. I highly recommend it!
Noted! He thought for few seconds then added: Are you up to anything nice?
An immediate response
Just sitting on my sofa watching Netflix and having a cuppa, the weather is quite miserable today. What about you?
James imagined the gloomy and grey skies of England and the wet streets of London then looked outside the window to the blue sky, the sunshine and the palm trees and he felt homesick.
Oh, I am quite jealous. Haven’t done a proper Netflix binge in a while. I need to add that to my to-do list. What are you watching? Also, I am working, about to record an interview.
Oh Crikey, Mister big shot there :P And just some old Friends episodes. Debating opening a new Ben and Jerry’s... it could end up ugly. What do you think?
Friends is always a safe choice. And I think of course! Yes is always the right answer when it comes to ice cream. No exception.
A few seconds later a picture of an ice cream tub and a spoon.
OK, so far you’ve made me homesick, jealous of you relaxing at home and of your snack. Peanut butter and cookie dough is my favourite too, I’ll have you know.
James smiled at the screen
You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Is there more to see?
You tell me...
I hope so...
James sent this with a mixed feeling of excitement and unease.
He didn’t know the girl, he just knew he was curious and couldn’t stop thinking about her. Was he playing with fire?
Lucy replied with a GIF of one of his characters nodding and smiling.
James laughed softly.
“Anyone special?” Sofia asked looking at him through the mirror again. He hadn’t even noticed she had stopped talking on the phone.
“Just a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while” he lied.
He was a private person in general, but Lucy was his secret. He felt a weird pleasure in this, a sort of protective and exciting feeling that this girl only belonged to him in his world.
Both James and Sofia’s head turned as Ian walked into the changing room.
“You’re on stage in fifteen, get ready”.
James thank him then texted
Excellent GIF choice. Listen, I have to go now as we’re about to start. Can I text you later?
An immediate reply
I don’t think I could do much to stop you. But yes you may text me later. Good luck with the interview!
James thanked her and put his phone back in his pocket. He checked his image in the mirror. A much less shiny and much more combed version of him looked back.
He was in this now.