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When Stars Align

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Chapter 2


I fully expected to be staying in a trailer for the next three months. Or sharing a cabin with other people. I wasn’t important. So, when they handed me a key to my very own cabin, I was pleasantly surprised.

My cabin was perfect. A cozy little one bedroom hideaway, right on the water. It wasn’t fancy. There was a kitchenette stocked with drinks and snacks, a small living area, a bathroom and a bedroom. The walls were covered in knotty pine, exposed rafters in the ceiling making it feel a lot larger than it was. There was even a wood stove. I couldn’t wait to make a fire. It probably got downright chilly at night. We were in the Canadian North, after all.

I took a bunch of pictures and tried to send them to my family, but the cell reception was terrible. I’d have to try up by the store, where there were fewer trees.

A wave of homesickness washed over me. I’d been gone over twenty-four hours. The longest I’d ever been away from home in my entire life, with the exception of my short-lived honeymoon.

Actually, not true.

My honeymoon trip to Boise was over in less than twelve hours. And this was definitely the furthest I’d ever travelled. I’d never been outside the state of Idaho before yesterday. Never flew on an airplane.

I unpacked my suitcase, stowing it away in the closet before I settled at the table with my three thousand piece puzzle.

My agent said the director was kind of vague about what I would be doing while the movie was filming. I didn’t write the script. Somebody else did that, adapting the story for the big screen.

Richard Uttridge was one of the most powerful directors in Hollywood. When he decided he wanted me on the set, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said he wanted the movie to be as close to the book as possible, and he felt the best way to guarantee that, was to have me present to offer my insight into the scenes.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was getting paid very well for my services, whatever they might entail. I packed lots of books, my puzzle, and my laptop, to keep me busy when I wasn’t working.

I chuckled to myself. My definition of working was probably very different from that of my current co-workers. Especially the big man himself.

Grove Goodwood was an ass. I already knew that prior to meeting him, but my initial encounter with the movie star confirmed what the tabloids said about him.

I was engrossed in my search process for edge pieces when someone knocked on my door. Elwood was on the other side of the screen, his hands pushed deep in the pockets of his cargo shorts.

I rode with him, his assistant, and another cameraman, from the airport in Pickle Lake. He was the still photographer. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but it must’ve been important, since he required an assistant.

“Hi, Elwood,” I said. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m on my way to dinner. Do you wanna eat together?”

“Sure. I didn’t realize it was supper time already.”

“Your cabin looks nice and cozy,” he observed, peering over my shoulder. “You’re lucky. I’m stuck sharing a trailer with my assistant all summer.”

“I’m sure it won’t be that bad,” I said, pulling the door shut behind me before I joined him on the path.

“Any idea who your neighbour is?” he asked, glancing at the cabin next to mine.

“No,” I replied just as the front door swung open.

The bearded ass emerged, pausing at the top of his porch steps when he saw us. “There aren’t any moose out here,” he said, his eyes doing a quick scan of my body, stopping briefly on my chest.

What a pig.

I’d always been skinny.

I know. Such a hardship.

But it would’ve been nice to have some hips and ass.

I had muscles, developed from years of hard, physical labour on the farm. But most men I met weren’t interested in the size of my biceps. My breasts weren’t massive, but they looked that way on my thin body.

I know. Another hardship.


Poor Gertie Grady, with her thin figure and giant knockers.

But big boobs were a hardship. Especially when I didn’t have the build to support them. Not to mention the constant leering from almost every man who crossed my path. Fortunately, the only males I usually encountered back home were my dad, brothers, and farmworkers who knew better than to gawk at the farmer’s daughter. On the rare occasion that I ventured into Tuber Creek, I kept my head down and completed my errands as quickly as possible.

I was still wearing my plaid button-up shirt and my jeans, but I’d removed my ball cap, my long brown locks secured in two braids.

“What?” he snorted. “The famous author is speechless?”

“I was taking a moment to formulate a polite response,” I bit back. “But I’ve decided that you’re not worth the effort. You are quite rude, Mr. Goodwood. Just because you’re the star of the movie, does not give you the right to be condescending to the other people on the set.”

“I wasn’t rude,” he huffed. “All I said was there aren’t any moose out here. But since you’ve accused me of being rude, I’m going to go ahead and be just that. The cabins are for the cast and producers. I requested the furthest cabin from the lodge, because I value my privacy, and I don’t want members of the crew bothering me when I’m not working, or walking by and trying to sneak pictures of me to sell to the tabloids.”

“I can assure you, I have no interest in taking pictures of you,” I snapped.

“I can’t say the same,” Elwood chuckled. “Because, you know, that’s my job.”

“Make sure your girlfriend stays away from my cabin,” he ordered gruffly.

“I’m not his girlfriend,” I informed him. “And you should really be nice to your neighbour. You never know when you might need to be rescued from a moose. They’re very aggressive creatures, who love to eat big jerks.”

“There’s no way you’re my neighbour!” he bellowed as we walked away.

“Moose don’t really eat people, do they?” Elwood asked.

“No,” I sighed, shaking my head. “They’re very passive, unless they feel threatened.”

“I’m guessing there are lots of moose in Idaho?”

“There sure are.”

“He’s kind of crusty. The media portrays him as a cantankerous guy, but I figured they were exaggerating.”

“Apparently not,” I muttered. “He’s an ass.”

A large tent had been set up in the field next to the parking area to serve as a dining hall for the cast and crew. I walked along the serving counter, my stomach growling as I perused the options.

There was so much food!

I settled on lasagna with garlic bread, and a Caesar salad.

“I’ll be two hundred pounds if I eat like this every night,” I said when we were settled at a table.

“I’ve yet to work on a movie set where they didn’t feed the cast and crew well,” Elwood said.

“Have you worked on a lot of movies?”

“A few.”

“Which ones?”

“Dandelion River, for one.”

“Oh, wow,” I gasped. “That was a very popular movie.”

“It was.”

I glanced up when Gentry appeared with a tray. “Mind if I join you guys?” she asked.

“Not at all,” Elwood said.

“How’s your cabin, Gertie?”

“It’s lovely,” I said. “Very cozy.”

“Have you met your neighbour yet?”

“Unfortunately,” I muttered.

“My brother can be a bit of a grump.”

“Why is he mad that I’m here?”

“Grover doesn’t like change,” she explained. “He’s never worked on this type of movie before.”

“That doesn’t give him the right to be nasty with Gertie,” Elwood said.

“No, it does not,” she agreed. “And I’m going to have a word with him about it. If he continues to harass you, Gertie, you tell me, and I will deal with him. My little brother can’t get away with that crap when I’m around. I’ll set him straight.”

“I don’t want to cause problems,” I said.

“You’re not, sweetheart.”

“Have you always been his manager?”

“Not always. He starred in his first commercial when he was six months old, so I was just a kid. And then he was cast in The Crackeys, the sitcom that launched his career. But I went to all of his stuff. He made his first movie when he was three. By the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to work in the film industry. After I completed my degree in marketing, I officially took over as his manager.”

“Do you ever get a break from him?” I asked.

“Not really,” she laughed. “I’ve dedicated my life to my little brother and his career. But I do take the occasional vacation with friends in between projects.”

“You don’t have a husband, or kids?”


“What about you, Gertie?” Elwood inquired. “I don’t see a wedding ring.”

“I’m not married,” I said.

“No special guy back in Idaho?”

“I have six special guys at home,” I teased.


“My dad and five younger brothers.”

“Oh, that’s a relief,” he chuckled.

“You thought I had six husbands?”

“I’ve heard that goes on in some parts of the world.”

“Not in Idaho!”

“I bet you’re anxious to see the castle,” Gentry said as she mixed dressing into her garden salad.

“I can’t wait,” I said. “The castle in the book wasn’t on an island, but that’s okay. I wish I’d written the book that way.”

“They weren’t looking for a private island,” she shared. “But as soon as Dean showed Laura and Richard the pictures, they booked a flight up here to check it out.”

“I’ve talked to Laura many times,” I said. “But I’ve never met Dean.”

“He’s the location scout,” she explained. “They’re responsible for finding a place to shoot the movie. Dean read the script, then he worked with the pre-production team, and of course, Laura and the screenwriting team, to find the perfect place.”

“Laura said as soon as Richard saw it, he didn’t want to look at any other properties,” I said.

“That’s correct,” she confirmed, glancing over her shoulder. “And we all know, whatever Richard wants, Richard gets.”

“He’s very intimidating,” I whispered. “I’ve never met him in person, but even on Zoom, he was scary.”

“He’s a big teddy bear,” she laughed. “Once you get to know him.”

“Who’s a teddy bear?”

My eyes widened when the director appeared behind Gentry, his booming southern drawl bringing the chatter in the tent to a standstill.

Richard Uttridge was a short, heavyset man in his early sixties. He had more money than all the potato farmers in Idaho a thousand times over, but he always wore the same outfit.

The media loved to poke fun at the eccentric director, mocking everything from his bald head and curly white skullet, to his collection of cable knit cardigans. Even in Hollywood, where the average daytime temperature was seventy-five, you would never catch Richard without his sweater, with a matching tie underneath, and dress pants.

I’d never seen a picture of him outside. Maybe that was why he could wear a sweater twelve months a year.

The health critics were constantly scrutinizing his weight, and his affinity for cigars and Hog Bars. The popular Hog chocolate bar was filled with nuts, caramel, wafer, peanut butter, coconut, and tons of sugar, delivering a whopping five hundred calories and eighteen grams of fat.

Elwood cleared his throat.

How long had I been staring at Richard?

“Nice to meet you in person, Gertrude,” he said, chuckling as he pulled a cigar from his pocket.

“You can’t smoke in here, Mr. Uttridge!” someone called out from the next table.

“Why not?!”

“Because you’re in a tent, sir. You could burn the whole thing down with one spark.”

“This entire fucking world has lost their spotty, onionskin marbles,” he grumbled. “I can’t smoke in the dining room, can’t smoke in my cabin, can’t smoke in the car. Where in the fuck can I smoke?!”

“Outside?” Gentry suggested.

“Ah, Gentry Goodwood,” he sighed. “Always with the snappy comebacks.”

“How was your flight, Richard?” she asked.

“My flight was fine,” he boomed. “Do you know why?”


“Because I own the damn plane! And nobody can tell me I can’t smoke on it!”

“Those cigars are gonna kill you, Richard,” she sighed, shaking her head.

Gentry Goodwood had balls of steel!

I stared at my half-eaten lasagna, my mouth going dry when he shifted his attention back to me.

“Are you prepared to work, young lady?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” I replied quietly.

“Good answer,” he said. “Making a movie is hard work. We will be filming six days a week, sixteen hours a day. That’s how it’s done. Time is money.”

“I was going to take Gertie over in the morning to see the castle,” Gentry said. “Grover has a six am call for hair and makeup.”

“I’m going over at five. Be at the dock, ready to spend the day.”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“Stop calling me sir!” he barked. “It’s Richard.”

“Sorry,” I whispered, my voice trembling.

“Don’t be sorry, kid.”

I released the breath I was holding when he headed to another table to make somebody else pee their pants.

“Relax, Gertie,” Gentry said, reaching across the table to pat my hand. “His bark is worse than his bite.”

I settled on the porch with my chamomile tea to watch the sunset. The sky was painted with splashes of red and orange, glimmering in the reflection on the lake, before the last rays of light disappeared.

How could it be so quiet, when there were so many people nearby? The faint sound of music from the campground drifted through the trees, barely audible over the cicadas. An owl hooted in the distance.

Gentry said there were three hundred people on the cast and crew.

Three hundred people.

All spending the summer together in a remote fishing camp, to turn my book into a movie.

Sometimes, I still had to pinch myself to believe it was real.

I jumped when I heard footsteps coming down the trail. My mug slipped from my hand, hot tea spilling all over my lap.

You’re such a klutz!

The hot liquid soaked through my nightgown, burning the tops of my thighs. I suppressed a cry, biting my lip as I waited for Grove to pass by.

He stopped when he reached my cabin, studying me with his upper lip curled in disdain.

Why did I come outside in my nightgown?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My thighs were on fire!

“Did you need something?” I snapped.

“Not really,” he said.

“Then move along.”

“What’s wrong with you?”


He ventured slowly up the porch steps, his eyes dropping to my tea-soaked lap. “Did you spill your coffee?”

“Tea,” I choked out, wincing in pain.

“Did you burn yourself?”

“No. Please, just go.”

“Pull up your nightgown,” he ordered, twisting the cap off the bottle of water in his hand.

“No!” I cried, tears pouring down my cheeks.

“Then I guess I’ll call the medics, and you can sit here and suffer until they arrive.”

“Fine,” I snapped. “Do it. But I’m not pulling up my nightgown.”

I screamed when he poured the entire contents of the bottle over my lap.

“Holy fuck,” he muttered. “Relax, or you’re gonna have security out here.”

“You can go now,” I said, pushing up from my chair.

“You need to get that granny gown off, before it sticks to your burns.”

“I can take it from here,” I said, heading inside.

He followed me.

“What’s it going to take to get rid of you?” I asked.

“There’s a first aid kit in the bathroom,” he said. “Let’s go.”

I followed him, sitting down on the closed toilet lid when he pointed to it. The first aid kit was on the counter. He opened it, gathering the items he wanted.

“Pull up your nightgown,” he ordered gruffly.

I reached down to grab the hem, pulling it up over my knees. At least I shaved my legs before I left home. Sometimes, I couldn’t be bothered.

I moaned as I peeled the wet fabric from my tender flesh.

“It’s not that bad,” he said. “Just first degree burns. You were lucky.”

I squeezed my eyes shut while he went to work tending to my burns. My dirty mind kicked into gear, unwanted images flashing in my brain when I felt his fingers graze over my flesh.

It was the first time I’d been touched by a man in seven years.

Get a grip, loser.

He’s cleaning your burns.

This isn’t one of your dirty books.

He’s not going to carry you to the bedroom and slam his dick inside you.

I held tightly to my nightgown when he tried to push it further up my thighs.

“I can’t get at the top burn,” he said.

“I’ll do that one after you leave.”


“Because I’m not in the habit of letting strange men see my underwear.”

“I’m sure your granny panties have all your bits well covered,” he snorted.

“Thank you very much for all your help, Mr. Goodwood,” I said curtly, pushing up from the toilet.

He headed out the door, ducking under the frame before departing without another word. I watched him walk to his own cabin and disappear inside.

Grove Goodwood was a strange man.

He was a miserable asshole.

Why did he help me?

He could’ve just kept walking, or called the medics.

And the bigger question?

Why were my panties damp?

It wasn’t from the water he poured on me.

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