Thursday, July 9, 2009

All My Dreams by Jennifer Mueller

It was early morning when the old bell for the door rang. Loryn had hardly seen anyone for weeks. Going to the market for food and supplies was her only outlet, other than Ramón and Carmen. Other neighbors only invited her when they saw her. They never came to the door; only Ramón dared to invade her sanctuary, wretched though it was. Loryn stumbled to the door the only light a lamp she carried with her.

“Nice pajamas,” a voice purred as she opened the door, and a pair of blue eyes met hers. The same blue eyes she had lusted for in a lost stranger.

Only then did she look down at the black lace she wore that showed beneath her untied robe a good deal more than was appropriate when going to the door. She was too groggy to care about her lack of clothes or who saw her in them. “What do you want?” Loryn groaned. It was winter, and the cold air hit her through the flimsy cloth. The sun wasn’t even up—soon, but not yet.

“A very big favor.”

“Couldn’t it have waited for a decent hour in the morning? I get little enough sleep as it is.” She could still see the faces of those she loved being lowered into the ground. They filled her dreams most nights, their faces dancing behind her eyes the moment she closed them.

“I brought coffee.”

She eyed the coffee in his hand; it was half-empty before she faced him again. At that hour of the morning, she didn’t care if she kept him waiting. “What is it you need?”

“Have you heard of the movie being shot here on the island?”

Loryn shook her head. “With as many celebrities that live here and come for vacations, I learned to tune it out.”

“We wanted to shoot almost half the movie in a country house, but the house that was scheduled fell through. Fell down, actually. I came with a way to get your house fixed quicker than you scraping away a few minutes a day. Thought perhaps you might want to make some money, and we would fix the décor for the privilege. They would use set pieces to fill it, but when they were done you’d have the place finished.”

She didn’t appreciate the insinuation. “I’m not hard up for money if that’s why you’re doing this, just too few hands.”

That devastating smile came to his lips as he shook his head. “Aren’t many of these old places left that haven’t been refurbished, so they look like they came out of the twenty first century instead of the seventeenth. When I got there, I was told the site was gone, and the backups are in need of more work than we can afford to spend the time on at this late date. Immediately, I thought of this place. This one was cosmetic work, not structural. I did say I needed a favor from you, not that I was doing one for you.”

“You work for the production company then.”

Business cards for half a dozen people came out, not to mention a contract. “I’m producing the film. Thought fixing what a movie star did to your house might give you a better impression of them.” Loryn raised her eyes. “What do you say then? Can we work out a deal?”

She stared at the contract for what seemed forever. “This is my home, all the life I have. You have to work around my schedule, and if I get woken up this early in the morning again, I’m kicking some butt from here to the sea.” He smiled, and her fantasy shattered. She’d learn if he was a jerk or not.

“Guarantee it personally.”

“When do they want to get started then?” Loryn muttered, resigned that her retreat from life had invaders. Nevertheless, she wouldn’t complain too much. She was sick of staring at all that wallpaper and paint, even after only one and a half rooms.

“The crew to get the place fixed up would need to get in here as soon as possible. Supposed to start shooting in a month. We can reschedule shooting around what we would need to do here. There are other scenes in Alcudia, Palma, and the countryside. One or two of my people are so anxious to get in here that they’re out waiting in the car, hoping you’ll agree so they can start rewriting the script and planning the work.”

“Then I suppose I better get dressed.” Loryn was already walking away.

“No need on my account.”

It had been a long time since anyone had even flirted with her. The dates she had gone on since Gabriel’s death were with desperate men. It was probably the reason that everyone had set her up with them. They figured she had to be as well. She wasn’t desperate, not by a long shot.