Ellie and Scott walked into a massive canteen where most of the cast and crew of ‘Out of the Fire’ seemed to be. A buzz of conversation filled the room. Ellie looked around and smiled. She felt complete again as she watched the crew hurriedly prepare props and sets. Writers and editors were quickly re-doing scripts. Ellie’s gaze moved from the crew, to the tables where the cast were sitting. At one table there were six people – three women and three men.
The three men were in their early forties, dressed smartly. One was small and blonde, the other two were taller and both had light brown hair. Two of the three women were a bit younger than the men, whilst one was older. One of the younger women was flame-red haired and the other was blonde. The older woman was grey haired, though other than that, her age wouldn’t have been obvious. They were all reading scripts and learning lines together.
Another table sat four men and two women. John and Claire Hawson sat there. These six were younger than the first table, a couple by quite a way. But Ellie knew Claire was the same age as her, and guessed John was around their age too, so thought it strange they were sat at that table. Everyone at that table were laughing and joking, and had discarded their scripts onto the floor. Ellie’s eyes fixed onto John, who seemed to be the ring-leader of this revolt against work.
Despite everything Ellie had just heard about John, she couldn’t help but remember the shivers up her spine she’d had when he’d touched her. With his finely chiselled jaw, that had an ever-so-subtle hint of stubble; strong, athletic arms and obvious soft skin, Ellie had become completely mesmerised by him. John looked up at Ellie, and their eyes locked onto each other. Ellie felt her heart racing faster and faster.
“There are three groups of our cast.” Scott whispered to Ellie, and startled her out of the longing stare. “There’s the diligent workers.” Scott pointed to the first table. “The ones who aren’t, but somehow still deliver.” The second table. “Then, there’s one person on her own.” Scott pointed to a table right at the back of the canteen that Ellie hadn’t noticed before. Sat there was a young girl. Ellie decided to herself that she was about eighteen.
“She’s young, and this is her first job, so she doesn’t quite know what to make it of it all. She’s talented though, but shy. She reminds me an awful lot of you, and coincidentally, you are her idol. So, when I introduce you, she may just go completely mad.”
“I’ll prepare myself for it.”
“Everyone, could I have your attention, please?” Scott suddenly boomed.
Ellie jumped – she’d forgotten how loud he could be.
Almost everyone stopped what they were doing, and turned towards Scott. The two people who didn’t were John and Claire. They were whispering and giggling to each other. Claire’s left hand was placed on John’s arm. Ellie felt a knot of hate and jealousy in her stomach
“John and Claire! Can I have your attention, please? You’re not children.”
Claire rolled her eyes, and looked towards Scott.
“Thank you. And, John, we don’t want a repeat of the other week, do we?”
John looked slightly confused, but then he darted his eyes to Ellie, saw the anger in her face, and embarrassedly apologised. Ellie scoffed.
“Now, I would like to introduce you to Ellie O’Keeffe – our new arrival.”
There was a squeak of excitement from the back table. Hannah, the young actress was staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at Ellie.
“Ellie’s going to be with us for a while, so I hope you all make her feel welcome. I’ll let you all have twenty minutes introductions, and then it’s back to work, please.”
Ellie walked to the tables. She momentarily thought about going to the table John was sat at. He also thought she was going to because he stood up as she was going past. But, Ellie completely blanked him and went to Hannah instead.
Hannah didn’t reply.
“This is your first job?”
“Umm, yeah. Yeah, it’s is. I’m Hannah Nelson.”
Hannah stuck her shaking hand out. Ellie grasped it warmly with both hands.
“Ellie O’Keeffe. Nice to meet you.”
“It’s an honour to meet you.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far.”
“No, seriously it is. I think you’re the most brilliant actress ever.”
“I hear you’re very good yourself.”
“Thank you.” Hannah smiled widely.
Ellie realised what Scott had meant – Hannah was very much like she had been – shy and blissfully naive. Then, there was a call of Ellie’s name from another table. She recognised it as John’s voice.
“You’d better go and meet everyone else. I don’t want to keep you to myself.”
“Yes, I had. I’ll talk to you some more later.”
Ellie turned away, but swiftly turned back. “You know, Hannah, if you ever need someone to just talk to, I’ll be here whenever.”
Hannah looked perplexed, but smiled again. “Thanks.”
Ellie went past the second table. She saw John smiling at her. She sarcastically smiled back and went to the first table.
“Hi, everyone. I thought I’d come and introduce myself properly. So, yeah, I’m Ellie O’Keeffe.”
The small, blonde haired man introduced himself first, followed by the other two men.
Next, it was the red haired women, the blonde and lastly the older woman.
Each introduction was followed with a quick handshake.
“Are you playing Imogen?” Reece asked.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Great. Well, I play your husband.”
“Good. I’m looking forward to it. So, who do the rest of you play?”
“I play Kieran Rice – the head chef.” Leon replied.
“I’m Aaron Law – I’m a chef too” said Isaac.
“Sophia Reed - the head waitress”;
“Abigail Bull – the manageress”;
Rebecca, Georgina and Sarah replied in turn.
Ellie smiled “Well, I’m really looking forward to working with you all.”
“I bet you are” Rebecca replied. “We’ve all been told you’re going to be rather near John a lot of the time. I think all us women wish we had your role.”
“I very much think that Claire has taken it a bit further than wishing.” Isaac muttered.
Everyone else nodded their agreement.
“There’s no worry of me doing that. It’ll be strictly just work between me and John.”
“I’m glad you see sense. He’s a right bugger.” Georgina added.
“I’ve already worked that out. Unfortunately, I have to go over to him now, but as I said, I’m really looking forward to working with you all.”
Ellie walked towards the second table. Instead of smiling, this time John awkwardly looked away. Ellie had a twang of guilt for ignoring him, but she quickly told herself not to. When she got to the table, Claire immediately sprang up from her chair and hugged Ellie.
“I can’t believe we’re going to be working together again, El.”
“Neither can I. It’s so great.” Ellie brightly replied, but with an obvious sense of falseness. Obvious, except to Claire.
“I know. It’ll be like the old days. Well, just not with Ewan.”
Ellie tensed up at this name.
“Oh, sorry, El. I forgot about….” Claire trailed off. She then quickly whispered “I never told anyone what happened.”
“You better not have.” Ellie retaliated, angrily and quietly.
Claire was taken aback by the anger, and briskly sat back down. Everyone else around the table had noticed this conversation promptly die and all looked a little bemused. Especially John, who seemed quite concerned.
“Are you alright, Ellie? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
Softened by his concern, Ellie nodded. “Yeah, I’ve just gone nervous.”
“There’s nothing to be nervous about.” A voice said. “We’re all friendly. I’m Alexander Glover.”
The other people introduced themselves.
“John, aren’t you going to acquaint yourself?” Claire asked.
“I don’t need to. We already know each other, don’t we?”
Ellie saw the frown on Claire’s face and smugly said “Yes, we do. And, we’ll be getting to know each other a lot more.”
“Mmm, we will.”
All at once, a bell rang around the canteen. Various chairs scrapped along the floor, and everyone made their way outside. Ellie followed and waiting for her was John.