Plot Twist

Plot Twist by Bethany Turner

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Plot Twist

Plot Twist

By Bethany Turner

“No, I mean it,” I said through my laughter fifteen minutes later as we continued standing and chatting by his car—some little convertible thing that seemed perfect for him. It wasn’t showy at all. Not super fancy or expensive and far from new, but very cool. Like, legitimately cool. Not midlife-crisis cool. “I’m sure your big break is just around the corner.” 

“See, you keep saying that, but you also keep giggling when you say it. Forgive me for not being convinced that your faith in me is absolute.” He smiled as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I do actually get work occasionally.” 

“Good for you.” 

The heartiness of his laughter overshadowed mine. “‘Good for you’ means ‘Bless your poor hopeless heart,’ right? Kind of a ‘Yeah, good luck with that.’” 

“No, not at all,” I insisted, though of course that was exactly what I meant. “I mean ‘Good for you following your dreams!’” I punched him on the arm in a way I knew conveyed all of the emotional depth of “Go get ’em, Sparky!” 

This guy was cute. And he was charming. And funny. In life, he was unquestionably a leading man. Becoming a leading man in Hollywood was a completely different thing, though. But maybe he would make it. Maybe I’d be sitting in front of my television one day, writing condolences for bereaved pet owners, and he would pop up on my screen as a comatose body in a soap opera. Or in a Rogaine commercial. The guy had nice hair. Lots of men would buy Rogaine if they thought it would give them hair like his. 

I sighed. “Sorry. I’m not trying to be patronizing. It’s just that I know how hard it is to make it in this business. In this town. But if you’re getting any work at all, that is fantastic. I mean it.” 

“You sound like you know that of which you speak. You’re an actress?” 

I guffawed at the thought. “No. In fact you were just wit- ness to my entire acting reel.” 

“Well, you were a modern-day Ingrid Bergman.”

“I was impressive, it’s true.”

We were quiet for just a moment, and it was far more comfortable than stillness and silence with a stranger should ever be. I found myself hoping I could actually become friends with this guy. He was gorgeous, I realized more and more with each passing moment, but that wasn’t it. I liked him. I didn’t necessarily even want to date him. He was too handsome. Too rugged. Too charming. Too perfect, perhaps? He wasn’t my type at all. I had long ago accepted the fact that I was a supporting character, and supporting characters don’t fall in love with leading men. But it’s perfectly acceptable for them to be friends. In fact, that’s the whole reason supporting characters are there. 

“So not an actress,” he finally said. “Though I would hold ‘I really am so very desperate to be alone with you’ right up there with the great performances of our time. Brando in Streetcar, Welles in Citizen Kane . . .” 

“And at least one or two of the award-winning performances from Saved by the Bell: The College Years,” I added with a grimace, which made him laugh again. 

“Then what is your Hollywood dream? We’ve all got one, right?” 

I was hesitant to give the predictable West Coast answer, true though it might be. “I’m working on a screenplay.” 

“Wow! You’re a screenwriter? Have I seen anything you’ve written?” 

“Not unless you read a lot of Heartlite greeting cards. I write for Heartlite. The screenplay is just a dream.” 

He leaned up against his car and crossed his arms. “As a matter of fact, I think I’ve read everything Heartlite has ever done. I’m a bit of a fan boy, actually.” 

He wasn’t belittling what I did for a living any more than I had meant to showcase my skepticism about his impending big break. He couldn’t help but ooze charm and sincerity from every pore. 

plot twist

“Try me. I think I’m all caught up through the Fall Collection.” 

“Okay, let’s see.” I grinned and played along. “Oh, I know. Here’s one of my biggest hits. ‘You’re lovely in the way you dress, and how you fix your hair. You’re lovely for the way you always make me feel you care.’” 

“Ooh! I know this one!” he shouted, standing up straight. “But I know, you no-good loser, that you’re having an affair . . .” 

“And if you don’t stop seeing her, I’ll have you killed, I swear.”

“Happy anniversary!” we exclaimed in unison through our mirth.

“Maybe I should start a line of cards like that,” I said as I swiped at the moisture in the corner of my eyes. “The ‘Real- Life Collection,’ you know? My job would be much more interesting. Husband having an affair? There’s a card. My kid beat up your kid on the playground? There’s a card. Can’t pay this month’s rent but you want to let your landlord know that you at least thought about it? Well, we’ve got a card for that.” 

He nodded. “I like it. That would have been so handy when I accidentally ran my grocery cart into that BMW last week.” 

I was still chuckling as my imagination ran on. “Just think of all the possibilities in LA alone. When you have to fire your agent. When your agent has to fire you. For your friends when they have a horrible audition. The ‘Break a Leg’ line alone will be a game changer.” 

His eyes widened, and he looked down at his watch. “Is that the time?” The panic and urgency suddenly invading the relaxed air between us was nearly tangible. “I am so sorry, but I’ve got to run. I’m about to be late for an audition. I completely lost track of time. I hate to cut this short,” he insisted. 

“Oh, no. Don’t think anything of it. Just get going.” I stepped away from his car so he could open the door. “I’d send you a card if I could, but, you know, break a leg.” 

“Thank you.” He climbed into the driver’s seat, but his eyes didn’t leave mine. 

“And thanks for getting me out of that situation back there,” I called out as he shifted the convertible into gear and adjusted his rearview mirror slightly. I didn’t want him to go. Not yet. It felt like there was more to say, but this guy—of all guys—deserved every shot at his big break, and I wasn’t going to be the reason he missed it. 

“You wouldn’t have had any trouble at all getting yourself out.” He grinned. “But I do think my way was more fun.” 

He backed out of the parking spot. I waved and smiled and began making my way to my own car. I’d only walked about ten feet, however, when I heard running footsteps approaching. I glanced over my shoulder and laughed as I turned around. “Do I need to come up with a ‘Sorry you missed your audition, but it’s your own dang fault’ card?” 

“Let’s make your movie.” 

Amusement turned into bafflement. “What movie? What are you talking about?” 

“Your screenplay. Let’s take a big leap for no other reason than maybe we can believe in each other’s dreams when it gets tough to believe in our own.” 

Tears began to pool in my eyes, and I didn’t even know why. “I’ve barely even begun my screenplay—” 

“That’s okay. I’m pretty sure I’m not worth casting at this point anyway. But you keep writing and I keep auditioning . . . and then we meet back here in, what? Five years?” 

I laughed as I thought of the meaningless doodles in my notebook. “You definitely have more faith in yourself than I have in myself.” 

“Okay, then. Ten.” 

I shook my head in dismay. “I’m pretty sure you’re a crazy man.” 

“So what if I am? Worst-case scenario, I get to spend the next ten years knowing there’s a screenwriter out there writing a role for me, and you get to spend the next ten years knowing there’s an actor whose greatest ambition is to be in your film.” 

“I think right now your greatest ambition should be to be in any film! You’ve got to go, before you miss—” 

“I know. I’m going. But ten years from today—” He looked at his watch. “February 4, 2013, I’m going to be sitting in there on our couch.” 

“I may not even recognize you. Once you hit the big time and have fake teeth and a fake tan,” I said in the sincerest tone I could muster. 

“I’ll be the one with an armful of Academy Awards.” He began walking backward toward his car, parked a few spaces away with the door still open and the engine running. “So, are you in?” 

“Sure. Why not? February 4, 2013. I’ll be here, completed screenplay in hand.” 

He reversed his backward trek and hurried over to me one more time, cupping my shoulders and drawing me in for a gentle embrace. As he pulled away, he brushed his lips against my cheek and whispered, “It’s a date.” 

My skin tingled from his unexpected touch, and my heart pounded with adrenaline and illogical hope. 

“This is insane! A lot can happen in ten years!” I called out once I regained use of my voice. 

“I’m counting on it.” He climbed in his car and smiled at me as if there was nothing else to say. But as he drove past, he shouted, “Regardless, we’ll always have Sri Lanka!” 

I shook my head and laughed as he disappeared from view. And then I realized there had, in fact, been one more thing we should have said. But maybe there was something about feeling like you’d known someone your entire life that made you forget to ask their name. 

Read Bethany Turner’s new novel PLOT TWIST!

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