“Wardrobe! Get in here!”
Betty jumped and dropped her pad of paper. It smacked the mug perched on her knee and spilled lukewarm coffee on her pink woolen skirt. Groaning, she grabbed the closest material at hand—her ivory cardigan—and swiftly patted at the stain before tearing off for the soundstage.
In the two weeks since she’d started as dressmaker’s assistant at Paramount Studios, Betty had already lost her starry-eyed naiveté. Ten days at the beck and call of everyone in Building 12 had exhausted both her energy and self-esteem.
Filming on Boy Meets Girl had wrapped the previous afternoon, and with only the final promotional shots left to shoot, the building was nearly empty. Frances Schmidt, head of the costume department, had taken the rest of the staff out for a leisurely lunch in celebration, leaving Betty behind to deal with any loose buttons.
“You? Where’s Miller?” Sid, the set director, growled as she entered the room.
Ivy Miller, the senior assistant, was popular on set both for her sewing skills and her vivacious personality.
“She … she’s at lunch, Mr. Stanton.”
“Lunch? It’s 2:30!”
“I’m sorry,” Betty apologized automatically, as though it was her own fault Ivy had abandoned her post for so long.
“Well, you’d better get up there and start fixing. What a mess! And just when we’re on the last of the promos.”
Betty spotted leading lady Lara Lerner standing in the nightclub set from the film’s finale. There was a large tear in her red sequined dress, running from hip nearly to hem.
“Well? What are you waiting for?,” spat Lara. “Get up here and do something.”
Betty hurried over to observe the gown with what she hoped was a professional air, but inside her stomach churned. This dress was the piece-de-resistance of the film, and Mrs. Schmidt – still hoping for that elusive Academy Award – had hand-sewn each vertical row of sequins herself.
“How did it happen, Miss Lerner?”
Lara’s baby blues rolled impatiently. “My royal co-star over there doesn’t know how to cross a room, that’s how. The idiot knocked me over.” Lara’s voice dripped with ice as she waved a hand toward Lord Andrew Forsythe, Hollywood’s very blond, very British heartthrob—and secret object of Betty’s affection—leaning against the set wall, smoking a cigarette.
“Touché. But you should know by now it’s not wise to be yourself in front of staff. They all talk to the tabloids, and your reputation can’t take much more dirtying, I’m afr—”
“I would not.” Betty was startled to hear her own voice cut in.
Brows raised, Lord Andrew’s eyes fixed on Betty as if seeing her for the first time. “So she can talk,” he drawled, his gaze lazily sweeping from Betty’s bouffant to her stained pencil skirt to her pink high heels. She caught an approving gleam in his eyes.
“Of course I talk,” Betty responded archly. “But not to tabloids, although from what I’ve seen you spend a lot of time in them yourself.” She returned her attention to the torn gown, pretending not to notice Andrew’s appreciative grin at her rejoinder. “I’ll be right back. I need my kit.”
“Nonsense.” Andrew appeared at her side. “You’re the hero of this scene, and I’m a mere extra. Where’s your bag?”
Betty stared up at him blankly, then felt a smile spread across her face as she gave the requested directions. Andrew returned the smile, a twinkle in his chocolate-brown eyes making her heart beat faster. She was thankful he couldn’t possibly know she kept a photo of him tucked into the frame of her bedroom mirror.
Brushing aside Lara’s fidgety hands, she tugged at the two sides of the rip, frowning in concentration. She let out a squeak when Andrew’s face materialized next to hers, close enough to feel the warmth from his skin.
“Think you can save it?” He handed over the sewing bag, and a shiver shot down Betty’s spine when his hand brushed hers.
“I have to, don’t I? Now give me some space.” Or I’ll never be able to think, she added silently.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” asked Lara, yanking the dress away.
Betty finished threading her needle and took a firm hold on the material again.
“Sid! Are you really going to let this apprentice work on my dress?”
The director shrugged. “It’s her or no one, Lara, and we’ve got to get these promos done today if they’re going to run on time.”
“I can do this.” Betty inserted her needle, pleased at the confident tone she’d managed. Her hands flashed along the large rent, leaving loops of thread in its wake. Reaching the end, she took a deep breath and began to pull the two sides together. As she’d hoped, the carefully placed loops aligned the rows of sequins perfectly, hiding the actual stitches from view.
“Amazing!” Andrew returned to his spot next to Betty, running a finger along the repair. “I can’t even see it anymore.”
Lara sniffed and swatted his hand away, leaning over to look for herself. She pulled and prodded, but the seam held.
Sid, with a grateful smile, rushed Betty off set to observe the rest of the shoot. She had a hunch she wouldn’t be relegated to the backroom anymore.
Once the final photos had been taken and her services were no longer needed, Betty packed up to return to her desk. Carefully winding the leftover thread back onto its spool, she snapped her bag closed, then jumped when Andrew’s low, smoky voice sounded in her ear.
“Hey there, Cinderella. Available for a late lunch?”
Betty beamed up into Andrew’s friendly, tanned face. “I’d love to have lunch with you.”
“Boy Meets Girl. I’ve always found that to be a ridiculous name for a film, but it’s starting to grow on me.”
Andrew took Betty’s arm, and they stepped out together into the sunshine.
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