or Narniaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” The cry resounded throughout the small meadow full of lowing cows. It had sounded pretty good—my best one yet—and I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend Elle about it. She was going to be psyched that my war cries were getting better.
I smiled to myself and strode off through the grass licked with dew, my shoes making pushed-down spots to show where I’d stepped. Up ahead I could see my house, the little white Victorian with the cherry-red Blazer out front. Yep, that’s my house.
As I opened the door, my two dogs, Disney and Aslan, slipped out, yapping nonstop at the cows; well, Disney was yapping, and Aslan was barking. ‘Cause I don’t know if you know this, but Yorkies yap and golden labs definitely don’t.
“Olivia?” Mum’s question floated out from the kitchen. “Are you ready to go to The Club?”
The Club was our name for my acting club at my local school. It was pretty big, and we’d already had more than one movie company go through looking for actors. I’d just joined a few months ago, and no movie companies had been here yet. But I wasn’t going to give up hope.
“Almost,” I answered, pulling off my boots and padding towards the stairs. “I was just practicing my Narnia cries.”
“I know,” Mum nodded, coming out of the kitchen and leaning against the doorway, folding her arms. Her eyes twinkled. “I could hear you yelling all the way from here. You’re getting good, Liv.”
I grinned at her and skipped up the stairs. “I’ll be ready to go in a few minutes!”
I changed out of my normal clothes and into school clothes. We’d had a day off today of school because of a parent-teacher conference that my dad was still at, but that didn’t mean that my acting school’s practicing was stopping.
After changing, slipping on a new pair of non-soiled socks, and running a brush through my straight, long light brown hair, I slipped on a pair of flats, grabbed my bag with my gear in it, and rushed down the stairs.
“Come on, Olivia!” Mum called from outside.
I could already hear the Blazer running as I made sure that Disney and Aslan were back inside of the house. Old Aslan had collapsed on his bed in the corner, but Disney was going berserko and rushing around the house yapping his head off. Good thing we lived in the country.
“Olivia!” Mum yelled again.
“Coming!” I shouted back, rushing out the door and slamming the Blazer’s passenger door with a loud slam that didn’t even make Mum cringe.
I knew that it didn’t take long to get to town. Then we’d go to the school. There was a set of rooms in the huge school set-aside just for the acting club. When we were practicing our plays, we always used the huge auditorium.
“Honey,” started Mum, her eyes flicking across the road she drove, “I got a call from the club yesterday.”
“What’d they say?” I asked excitedly, leaning forward against the strain of my seatbelt. I’d been waiting for about forever (well, ever since we’d moved here) for another movie company to come through. The last movie had been some movie called “Takers Keepers”, but only one person had been taken from our club and they only had one line.
Mum pursed her lips. “They said another movie was coming through.”
I didn’t even try to hide my squeal. I was so excited I started to pound the dashboard, shrieking, “Really?!”
“Yeah,” Mum sighed. “It’s supposed to be some kind of action movie, but not nowadays. I think it’s based on the book Avalon Keepers.”
“Oh my gosh!” I cried. “That’s like one of my favorite books, Mom! This is going to be so sweet!”
“Of course movies always change stuff…” Mom reminded gently.
“But, Mum!” I practically screamed. “I LOVE that book! Wouldn’t it be totally sweet if I got to play the part of Shara! Wouldn’t Mum? Wouldn’t it?” I pressed.
“You’ve lost me,” she admitted, “but sure, that’d be cool.”
“Mum!” I laughed. “She’s like the main character girl! Of course the book series Avalon Keepers is about a boy, but who cares?! Shara’s awesome! Not to mention that she looks like me!”
“How do you know that?” Mum wanted to know, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.
I laughed. “Mum, they describe her almost exactly like how I look—straight long light brown hair, green eyes, slightly tanned skin. It’s sweet! And I have high cheekbones, just like her! Mum, wouldn’t it be…” My eyes grew big. “MOM! Deer!”
“What?” Mum’s eyes went back to the road. She barely managed to screech the Blazer to a halt before the deer ran off. She glared at it, muttering, “Bloody deer,” and then we started to drive again.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself. The movie of Avalon Keepers was coming to my acting club! Oh my gosh! I couldn’t wait!
We pulled into the high school along with dozens of other cars. Our acting club was pretty big, and stretched all the way down to fourth grade. I mean, come on—Georgie Henley, the actor of Lucy in the Narina movies, was like what—ten?—when she started the movies.
I grabbed my gear bag and rushed through the parking lot towards the doors, Mom following at a more subdued pace. My best friends, Elle and Harry, were just coming in from their opposite cars. They rushed to my side.
“Did you hear about…?” started Harry.
“…Avalon Keepers?” I finished. “Definitely. Isn’t that so sweet? It’d be so cool if we all could get cast in it!”
“If you would be anybody, you’d be Shara,” declared Elle with a grin. “You look exactly like her, and you’re so pretty and great at acting, you’ll definitely get some kind of part.”
“Hey,” Harry laughed, “just because I didn’t get a part in Takers Keepers doesn’t mean I’m totally hopeless!”
I chuckled. “Come on, you guys!”
We rushed through the empty school hallways, the murmuring of teachers and parents coming from the auditorium. Elle was breathless with excitement, her blue eyes bright.
“I hope I get something like Hunter’s sister,” she managed through her gasps as we ran. “That’d be so sweet! And then Harry could get Hunter or something!”
“Sure,” I laughed.
Harry sent me a playful look of hurt. We hurried to the acting club’s rooms. Lots of other kids were already there. Our club’s directors, Natasha Jackson and Perry Hall, were at the front of the room talking in quiet voices.
Natasha looked up as we walked into the room, smiling. “Ms. McCarthy!” she called, waving her hand. “Over here!”
I wiggled my eyebrows at Elle and Harry and walked over to her, pulling on my bag’s strap excitedly. I couldn’t imagine what Natasha wanted to talk to me about, but it had to be good.
“I’m sure your Mom told you about Avalon Keepers,” smiled Natasha as I walked up. “I just wanted to let you know before we go on with our practice for the play that I think you have a really good chance of getting a part.”
“Specifically the part of Shara,” grinned Perry, wiggling his eyebrows. “I mean, she’s fifteen, but that’s only a year older than you, and you look older than your age. With the makeup that they always put on you, you’ll be more than perfect.”
“You really think I have a chance?” I whispered.
“Of course!” laughed Natasha. “You’re one of our best actors, Olivia. You can act, memorize, and you’re smart and pretty. You’ll be perfect. Don’t sweat.”
I glanced across the room. I could think of dozens of other girls who’d be great for the part of Shara. But I couldn’t help but think that I would do better.
We all sat down at the tables in the room. This was one of the first days of the new play that we were rehearsing. But since the movie was coming in a few days, they were just going to get us prepared today. Natasha was already speaking to all of us from the front of the room.
“Just relax and be yourselves,” she advised. “Make sure you pay attention and do everything that they ask of you. They want to make sure that you can follow orders and that you’ll be able to film for hours every day.”
Some of the kids in front of me giggled in excitement. I couldn’t blame them. Being on a stage of smallish town in England just wasn’t the same as being in a movie that could very likely be seen by every person America and Europe.
“Today we’ll go through some exercises to get you guys comfortable, ‘kay?” Perry smiled easily. “And no sweat if you think that you answered wrong or something. They’ll have to decide that later, but remember—just be yourselves, and good luck.”
Perry and Natasha had some interns helping keep the kids in line. They took each of us aside and pretended that they were the people from the movie. It was easy peasy for me. Elle looked sick, as if this was the real thing.
“This is going to be great!” Harry declared as we waited at our table, watched by one of the interns. “I have no doubt that we’re all going to do awesome.” Harry’s brown eyes confidently moved around the room, watching the other kids.
Soon everything was gone, and Natasha and Perry dismissed us. I grabbed my bag and walked out the door with Harry and Elle. I found Mum staring at some of the school’s trophies.
“I’m done,” I grinned. “The movie’s coming on Monday. I can’t wait!”
Mum smiled. “I’m glad you’re so excited, honey.”
I beamed back at her and we walked out of the school together.
onday didn’t seem to come soon enough. I was so excited I couldn’t even eat breakfast. I’d had Mum and Elle help me pick out my outfit, which was really nice and helped me to relax more because I knew that I’d be comfortable in it. It was like my favorite shirt, anyway.
“You ready, honey?” Mum asked as I bounded down the stairs with my actor’s bag slung over my shoulder.
“Of course!” I practically shrieked. “Can we go now? Can we?”
Mum laughed. “Sure.”
We made sure Aslan and Disney weren’t going to escape out of the house before we drove off down the road. I was so excited I couldn’t even speak.
We passed our neighbor’s fields of lowing cows and I couldn’t help but remember about my Narnia yell. Maybe I’d have to use my practice in the movie. That’d be sweet.
“This is going to be so cool,” whispered Mum, as if it had just hit her that her little girl might be in a huge movie project.
I grinned at her. “If I’m somebody big, that means I’ll get my own trailer.”
Mum pursed her lips. “And bodyguard.”
I gave her a look like “why on earth would Olivia McCarthy need a bodyguard?”, but she wasn’t looking. A bodyguard? It’d never hit me that anything bad would happen.
The drive to the school took like forever. I didn’t see Elle or Harry anywhere, so I assumed that they were already inside. I saw a huge van and I guessed that was the vehicle that the movie people had come in.
I zoomed out of the Blazer the second it was stopped, rushing into the school and into the acting club’s rooms. Like the whole club was almost there. A lady and a few other people I didn’t know were up front.
Elle, who’d been sitting at the table that we usually sat at, quickly got up and ran over to me.
“Hi!” she squealed. She pointed to the lady. “See that? That’s the children’s casting director. She’s named Cara Walker. She’s going to be casting all of the major parts here!” Elle’s brow furrowed slightly. “Except for Hunter. His actor’s already been chosen, even though everybody else’s, except for everybody older, is still pending.”
“For sure?” I queried. The woman was tall and a little chunky, with auburn hair and brown eyes.
“Yep.” Elle pointed to a boy I hadn’t noticed before standing by Cara. “That’s him. He’s from London. I think that Laura said that his name was like Alex D’Lacy.”
“Wow.” The thought hit me—if I had to be Shara, then I’d be working with that kid. Like, a lot.
He looked kind of like what you imagine a cool spy would look like, with straw blonde hair, expressive blue eyes, and tanned skin. He was tall and looked like of like maybe he was a QB on his football team.
“But I thought that Hunter had brown hair in the book,” I pointed out, glaring at the boy’s blonde head. So much for Harry being Hunter.
Elle shrugged. “Well that kid doesn’t have brown hair. I guess they don’t think it really matters. But doesn’t his hair look like straw or something?”
“Whose hair?” interrupted Harry, glancing at us. Elle filled him in.
“So, yeah, I guess you can’t be Hunter,” I finished with a sigh.
Harry shrugged. “That’s OK.”
At just that moment Perry turned to the huge crowd of kids in the room. “Everybody here? Good. I’d like to introduce all of you to Cara Walker, the children’s casting director for the movie Avalon Keepers.”
Everybody clapped politely as the middle-aged woman took the center of attention.
First of all she welcomed us all and started to explain some of the plot. I knew the whole thing by heart, having read all six books in the series, so I kind of just had to see how they’d kind of put all of the books into one movie.
Harry’s knee was shaking so badly that he shook the whole table. Elle kept on putting her hand on it to stop it, but his knee would keep on shaking every time her hand moved. She stopped trying to stop it.
Finally, Cara was done with the monologue.
“I’ll interview each of you personally,” she explained. “I’m staying in town so we’ll be doing this for several days. We want to make sure we don’t miss any hidden gold.” All of a sudden, she stopped. Noticeably, too. And the weirdest thing? She was staring right at me.
“What…?” hissed Elle, glancing from Cara to me.
Cara walked through the crowd of kids right towards me. I glanced over my shoulder, wondering if she was staring at somebody else. But I didn’t think she was. Her eyes looked mesmerized.
She was finally standing right in front of me. “What’s your name?” she managed to ask.
“Olivia McCarthy,” I answered in a loud, clear voice, so that everybody could hear me. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t afraid.
“Olivia…” her voice trailed off. Her eyes seemed to snap out of their dream-state. She nodded. “OK, we’ll do you first.” She turned on her heel and started towards the door on the far side of the room. In bewilderment, I got up and followed her.
Elle and Harry shot me thumbs-up signs as I followed her towards the door that I knew led into a small side room that we usually used for older kid meetings.
The light was already on. There were a few chairs set up inside. Cara set down in one. I sat down in another. We sat, facing each other. A thoughtful look was on Cara’s face.
“OK, so we’re going to do a read-through first,” she started, handing me a thick script. “It’s similar to a certain part of the movie. Everybody’ll be reading it. It’s right inside the binder.”
I nodded and opened it up. I glanced at the words. In a few moments I had them memorized.
“You care to take a shot?” Cara offered.
“Sure,” I shrugged.
It was a scene where the person I was asking, I assumed it would be Shara in the script, is begging somebody else not to go to war. In parenthesis it had “is crying”. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
“Please,” I begged in my most sad, emotional voice, getting on my knees and grabbing Cara’s hand as if I was really pleading, “please don’t go!” real tears pricked my eyes.
I finished the scene, with Cara doing the other parts, which I assumed in the movie would be Hunter’s. When we were done, even Cara looked practically stunned. I could almost read her mind—you nailed it.
“OK, next part,” Cara managed with a smile. “We’re just going to have some questions to get you more comfortable.” And she did. Just some random questions, some of which were funny.
And then, finally—“I’m going to have you act out a scene with Alex.”
“Excuse me?” I asked in surprise.
She nodded. “Sorry about that. I’m talking about Alex D’Lacy, the boy we’ve chosen to play Hunter.” Cara got out of her seat and opened the door, calling, “Alex.”
The boy came in and sat down in one of the chairs.
“First,” Cara started, “I’ll have you guys get to know each other.”
“I’m Alex D’Lacy, if she hasn’t already told you.” Alex extended a hand in a handshake. I shook it.
“I’m Olivia McCarthy.”
“Cool,” he nodded. “I’m from London. You live here?”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Just out of town.”
We exchanged small talk for awhile longer. Then Cara handed us each a script and had us act out a scene together. I had to admit that he was better than any of the boys in our acting group. But I couldn’t help but think I was keeping up right with him.
Cara was smiling so hard by the end of it that I thought her face would split. She nodded and clapped her hands together. “Well, Alex, Olivia, that was great!”
Then she dismissed me. I got out of there and calmly walked over to Elle and Harry. Another kid went in. Elle was chewing her fingernails when I got to them.
“What took so long?” she hissed. “You were in there for over an hour!”
“It’s a sign,” Harry winked. “You’re going to get the part, Olivia. You’re perfect for it.”
Soon my friends had gone through, too. Elle seemed so nervous I thought she would faint and Harry was convinced he’d stunk at his script reading.
“I’m sure it wasn’t that bad,” I managed.
They both gave me a look like “easy for you to say, Queen of Actresses”. I gave them a playful hurt look, which made both of them crack small smiles.
They weren’t done with all of the kids, but it was time to go. I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that it was already six at night. Dad would be home by now.
Elle, Harry, and I parted to go to our parents as we broke through the excited chatter of the kids that surrounded us. Everybody seemed breathless, wondering if they’d gotten a part in the movie, others scared because they hadn’t auditioned yet.
Mum was waiting with the Blazer.
“How was it?” She questioned with a little smile that reached her eyes.
“Great!” I declared. I relayed what had happened when Cara had saw me, and Mom had that smile that made you think that she was almost positive that I’d gotten the part. I laughed and rolled my eyes.
“What?” she shrugged. “I can’t help it that I’m pretty sure that lady picked you!”
“Just because…” I started.
“Just because nothing!” Mum snorted. “That lady must’ve seen that you were the exact match for the likeness of Shara. And when she saw how good you could act…”
My heartbeat quickened—would I really be picked? But Mum’s words echoed in my brain—and bodyguard.
he next few days were torture for me. We were still required to come to the casting, because you never knew when she was going to get done. Cara Walker was done with casting our school’s acting club that Wednesday, and I couldn’t help but notice that she kept on smiling at me.
“We’ve got your tapes,” she confirmed, “and all of you guys did great. If you got a part, expect to be contacted at the end of the month.”
There were murmurs all around the room. Cara was looking right at me. I just wanted to get out of her gaze, but I couldn’t help but wonder if her gaze was a good thing.
We were dismissed. Mum was waiting out in the hallway again with a smile.
“I heard everything,” she grinned. “I suspect that they’ll have to run all of the tapes on the kids in front of the director and then take their pick.” Mom leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “But I think my own daughter’s going to be Shara.”
I couldn’t help but grin at her. I waved goodbye to Elle and Harry and practically skipped out of the school, Mum at my side. What was another month going to bring?
We drove back in a chattering state. Mum was going on and on about how she was almost positive that I was going to make it.
“You need to practice more of your Narnia yells,” she teased as we pulled into the driveway. “Maybe you’ll like have to yell something and you’ll need that practice.”
I only laughed and pushed it off. Aslan and Disney were happy to see us, and quickly tackled us (well, Disney went for the feet and Aslan went for licking the face).
They’d all handed scripts to all of us, so I headed upstairs to start memorizing all of Shara’s lines. I didn’t want to be unprepared if I got chosen. Who knew? Only God.
“This is so great for you,” Dad declared that night at dinner, cutting into his steak. “I can’t believe it. My very own daughter, maybe on the bloody big screen!” he chuckled and shook his head.
“I know.” My new was jiggling crazily. “It’ll be so cool! Even if I got a really small part, just to be around all of those cameras and stuff! Wouldn’t that be sweet?”
“Of course, honey,” Dad answered around the piece of steak in his mouth. I laughed.
“And of course you’ll have your own tutor if that happens,” Mum continued. “It’s not as if you’ll have time to go to the nearest public school. You’ll probably be shooting in like New Zealand.”
I perked up at that. That’d be so sweet, to get to travel the world! I’d always heard how if you’re in a movie, everybody on set always seems like a family. I frowned to myself. I hadn’t gotten the part yet, and already I was thinking about it.
But didn’t that look mean something?
he’s the obvious choice,” Cara Walker was saying some hundred miles away. “Look at her! And her acting…amazing. And did you see the tape that she did with Alex? Brilliant! I couldn’t believe our luck! We found Shara!”
“She was good,” admitted Alex, sitting in the corner with cross arms. “And she seemed like a nice kid to be around.” He shrugged.
“I totally agree with you,” director Jack Grant nodded. “I think you quickly grab her up before some other company gets to her. That kind of talent and everything…she can’t just be ignored.”
“I think Olivia’s the perfect choice,” Alex nodded. “Besides, I thought we worked really well together.” He leaned forward towards the computer and pushed the tape of Olivia and Alex reading together. “See? Just watch us.”
They watched the two teenagers for a few seconds. It was obvious to Jack who Shara in Avalon Keepers was going to be. Not to mention that Alex and Olivia just looked right together.
“OK, it’s final,” Jack nodded. “Call her as soon as possible before somebody else gets a contract with her. We can’t lose this great of an opportunity.”
“Definitely,” agreed Cara. “I’m on it.” She flipped a cell phone out of her pocket and walked out of the room.
Alex and Jack watched the screen together. Alex’s blue eyes absorbed the whole screen. He’d never before met a girl who could act as well as he could. He’d never been in a real movie before, but he knew he was more than good enough. And now his equal.
Jack just couldn’t believe that this girl hadn’t been picked up before this. He was convinced that once Olivia was on the big screen, her career as an actress would kick off. This might’ve been their last chance. He couldn’t believe his luck.
Cara strode back into the room, slipping her phone back into her pocket. “I got a hold of her mother, and she assured me that Olivia would be thrilled to be in the movie.”
Well, it’s not as if she’s a grumpy kid, Alex thought to himself with a small snort. She seemed one of the nicest kids there. It’ll be nice to have a good costar to work with all of the time.
Cara grinned. “I could also tell by the shrieking happening in the background.”
Everybody in the room laughed at that. Alex could just imagine the poised girl he’d seen at the school’s acting club shrieking her head off in some house in the country. He smiled.
“I think I’ve got the actors figured out, too,” Jack nodded. “Let’s watch some more tapes. I’ll show you the kid I want for Alex’s sister in the movie.”
“Is she from Olivia’s school, too?” questioned Cara. “The Elle girl? She was pretty good.”
“Naw, I was thinking of that one girl on Devonshire,” shrugged Jack. “The one that looks more like Alex. Elle could’ve worked, but this girl’s just a little bit better.”
Alex was quiet as they watched more tapes. He listened as Cara and Jack debated on whom they wanted in the movie. But no more phone calls were made that night.
So…Alex D’Lacy and Olivia McCarthy; world famous actors. Alex smiled to himself.
was totally excited. Almost so excited that I was shrieking almost every time I thought of it. It only made Mom laugh.
“You’ll have to tell all of the family that they’re going to have a relative in a movie,” Mum grinned, eyes twinkling. “And of course go and tell Elle and Harry. They’ll be totally psyched that they’re going to know somebody in a movie!”
“Oh yeah!” I cried, grabbing Mum’s cell phone off the counter.
“Oh, and since you’re going to be in a movie,” she winked, “you’ll get your own phone, so that when we’re apart we’ll be able to keep in touch.”
My eyes grew wide in happy surprise. I squealed and wrapped my arms around Mum’s neck.
“Thank you, thank, thank you!” I cried, and then started off for my room to call Harry and Elle.
Elle was totally psyched, just as I thought she’d be. She was saying that she was going to email everybody on her Mum’s email list that her best friend was going to be in a movie.
I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my bed. When I called Harry’s phone, he didn’t answer. But it wasn’t off, because it didn’t go right to voicemail. I wondered faintly if he’d purposely ignored my call, but shrugged it off.
I couldn’t wait for the movie. I was pretty sure it’d take at least until the next year to get everything ready for where we were going to shoot. On the phone Cara had promised us that they’d explain everything and get everything arranged. I just couldn’t wait.
Everything had pretty much been explained; we were going to be shooting in spots all over, starting in New Zealand and ending in somewhere in England.
Since I was pretty much going to be the next biggest actor other than Alex, I was given my own bodyguard, but he was employed yet since the movie hadn’t started. I’d just been told his name—Victor Marlin.
It’d been a few days since I’d been told that I was going to be Shara in the movie. Over the few days Cara had kind of told stuff to us in bits and pieces so that we could handle it. And of course she gave me another script in a special binder just for me.
As far as I knew, Alex was playing Hunter; I was playing Shara; some girl named Jenny Philips was playing Hunter’s sister, Erin; big-name actress Brianna Johnson was playing the queen, Ashlyn; and there were lots of others, too. Cara had given me a list of famous actors and actresses, some of which were Darcy Parsons, Margaret Smith, Leroy Dwayne, and Travis Valor.
Nobody at my school could almost believe that I was going to be Shara in Avalon Keepers. As far as I knew, it was like one of the most popular book series ever. And I was portraying Shara. Shara. Other than being like my favorite character in the book series, in the movie she had the second biggest role to Hunter.
I’d already memorized all of the script, and I’d seen that almost all of my scenes were with Alex, or I was in a scene with Alex in it. It seemed that we were going to be working together a lot. I didn’t get to work at all with Jenny Philips, since Hunter’s sister was only at the beginning before she got killed.
As Shara was the princess of the warring clan Avalon, I got some of like the coolest costumes ever. Cara had sent some of the costume sketches to us and even Dad admitted that they were totally awesome.
It was two weeks after I’d known I’d gotten the part when the phone rang.
“Hello?” Mum answered. “McCarthy residence.”
There was some talking on the other end. Then Mom’s face burst into a smile.
“Oh, that’s great. I’ll have Olivia over there in just a moment. Yeah, you too. Bye.” Mum shut the cell phone and turned to me, excitement etched all over her face. “That was Alex D’Lacy, and he was wondering if you wanted to look around the Avalon Keepers station here in England and get used to everybody!”
“Sweet!” I cried. “I’ll grab my shoes!”
Soon we were driving down the road. I felt bad for Aslan or Disney, but what can I say? I was an actress now.
We finally got to the station, right out of London. It’d taken several hours to get there, but I couldn’t wait to see the facilities. We drove through the gate into the huge area.
When we got out, Cara Walker, Alex, and a man that I recognized as the world-famous director Jack Grant were waiting for us. And all of them were smiling.
“Olivia, Mrs. McCarthy, it’s very good to meet you,” smiled Jack, shaking our hands. He turned to Mum. “You have a very talented young lady, Mrs. McCarthy. She’s just perfect. I promise you that she’s going to be a star.”
Mum laughed. “I’ll still see my little Liv.”
“We thought she just might want to see our station here and her trailer and all that good stuff,” Cara smiled kindly. “And of course kind of get to know the people—like the makeup artist, clothes fitters, designers, and makers, and her bodyguard, of course.”
“Of course,” Mum agreed.
“And you guys can come back at any time,” added Jack. “Olivia’s always welcome here. After we’re done with the official tour, Alex can show Olivia her trailer.”
We started off towards some buildings. I met a lot of different people—Marcy Thomas, the makeup artist for the main actors; Rachel Taylor, Brianna Johnson’s person makeup artist; Allan Lewis, the all-in-all makeup artist for the extras; and tons of others. That wasn’t even all the makeup department.
I was meeting so many people my head started to whirl. Alex smiled kindly and handed me a binder. I gave him a look but he only laughed and told me, “Open it.”
Inside were everybody’s names and occupations.
“Thanks,” I breathed in relief.
He only laughed.
And then finally I met my bodyguard, Victor Marlin. He could only be described as huge and watchful. I couldn’t even think of an animal that would describe him. He just stood there and grunted.
“Mrs. McCarthy, while Alex’s showing Olivia her trailer, would you like to see more of Olivia’s costume sketches?” suggested Cara as Alex started for the door out back out of one of the buildings.
“Sure,” Mum shrugged. “Stay safe, Liv.”
“I will!” I called back, following Alex out the door.
He explained that all of the main actors got their own trailers, and since I was the second main actor, of course I got one. I kind of knew what to expect, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise—it was basically a metal camper.
“It’s just like all of the others,” Alex shrugged. “You’re allowed to customize it, of course—posters, stickers, that kind of stuff. And your own bedding. We don’t provide that.”
I laughed. “If you guys did, I don’t even think I’d sleep in it.”
That made him laugh.
We walked back to the main building where Mum was staring at sketches in a special room.
“Aren’t these sweet, Olivia?” she called from a table were sketches were spread out far and wide. “Look at this one.” She pointed to one of the many sketches.
“That’s what we’re thinking Olivia’s war outfit’s going to look like.” Cara strode up from where she’d been by the corner. “Cool, isn’t it? We have masters designing our costumes.”
I grinned at Mum, but she didn’t catch it because she was busy looking at all of my costume sketches. Then she started looking at another person’s costumes sketches. She seemed to be getting lost in the world of drawings.
“And, remember,” chuckled Cara, “you can come back at any time. We’ll call you for the fittings of the costumes soon, but after we tell everybody who’s going to be in the movie. We always send email updates and that sort of thing.”
“Cool!” Mum cried. “I guess we’d better be getting home, though, Olivia. Your dad’s going to think that we disappeared off the planet.” Her and Cara shared a short laugh before we started out the door.
As we drove back to our house, I couldn’t help but think that this was going to be awesome.
heard the ding of new mail and quickly clicked on it, wondering if it could be from Cara Walker and company. The idea made excitement butterflies come into my stomach. The movie!
To: Olivia McCarthy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Cara Walker <email@example.com>
Subject: Avalon Keepers
We’re having the head actors and actresses’ fittings and costume fittings today. Please tell your mom that you need to be here by twelve.
Children’s Casting Director
I almost squealed in excitement. Fittings?! You bet!
Getting to right outside of London by twelve meant that we had to leave like right away. I remembered the last time I’d been at the Avalon Keepers’ station several weeks before. Could it already have been more than a month since the casting? Yep.
“I bet you’re really excited,” Mum grinned as we drove down the road, Disney’s yapping echoing in our ears.
“I am,” I burst, glancing out the window excitedly.
“I can’t believe you’ve already memorized the script,” Mum laughed. “Dad was certainly impressed.”
“Yeah he was!” I agreed. “That was funny how I got him to do Hunter so I could practice more.” Both of us laughed at the thought. Alex definitely did a better job.
We finally got to the station. I got out quickly, heading towards where I saw Cara standing by one of the entrances of a building, ushering people inside. She smiled and waved when she saw me.
“Olivia!” she called.
I ran over. “Yeah?”
“Glad to see you’re here,” smiled Cara. “You guys made good timing. Just go inside this building. They’ll know what to do with you.” She winked at us.
When I went inside, it seemed everybody knew who I was. I quickly got directed to one of the fitters. Mum watched as they tried on different outfits and got everything fitted to the right size. Everything was awesome.
Even though I was like fourteen, it’s still fun to dress up when all of the clothes are like more-cool-than-Narnia. It ended too fast for my taste, but apparently we’d been there like all day.
They’d managed to pick out all of my outfits. Cara promised she’d send an inventory of all of them via email so that I could see what I was going to wear. She was so nice to me.
Before going home we went into London and got some burgers before we left to let Disney and Aslan out of the house. I felt bad for them because of all the times they were getting locked inside the house.
They were more than happy to see us. I texted Elle and Harry on my new phone that Mum had gotten me about the fittings. Only Elle texted back, saying that that was sweet. I wondered with a frown what on earth was wrong with Harry.
I practiced even more on my lines, even though I already knew them and half the script by heart.
inally—there was the call I was waiting for. Mum picked it up, since it was her cell phone. After the phone call Mum told me that, finally, we were having the actor’s assembly. I couldn’t wait! Finally, I was going to actually meet the other actors in person. I’d already met Alex, but still…all of those other people.
We at once got into the car and drove off to get to the station on time. I texted Elle and Harry again. Only Elle replied—again. I made a mental note to find Harry before I left school the next day and ask what on earth was up.
We got to the station. Seemingly hundreds of other cars were there. Mum and I ran towards one of the buildings were people were streaming in. I knew they were probably waiting in one of the rooms that was similar to one of our acting club’s rooms back at my school.
Turns out I was right. The room that everybody else was piling into was huge and full of tables and chairs, at which everybody was sitting. Each different tables had names. Mum walked towards the “parents” table. I looked around and then saw Alex waving me towards the front of the room. It was the main stars’ table.
I quickly sat down in the chair next to Alex’s. Open in front of him was his script, so I grabbed my special script out of my bag and set it in front of me, too.
“We have to wait for everybody to get here, even the extras,” Alex explained in a whisper. “See those people over there? Those are the real famous people.” He grinned lopsidedly at me. “But soon we’ll be like one of them.”
Finally, everybody was assembled. There were several other people at our table, most of which were costars like me, though technically I was a main character. There was Jenny, Alex’s “sister”, two twin boys that I knew were acting my brothers in the film—I was pretty sure they were named Toby and Tommy Young—and looked exactly alike, and some other people.
Jack walked to the front of the room and started a speech about how everybody’s work was great and all that good stuff. I waited patiently. Then he turned to us.
“We’ll have our main character and costar tables introduce themselves and tell the name of the character they’re playing,” Jack explained. “We’ll start with you, Alex, and just go down.”
“I’m Alex D’Lacy and I’m playing Hunter,” he shrugged, doing it as easily as if scarfing down fries.
“I’m Olivia McCarthy and I’m acting Shara,” I said easily. It was just as easy for me as it was for Alex. I’d done hundreds of plays. The stage was where I thrived.
They continued down the line. It was helpful having everybody say it. Toby said both his and Tommy’s names at the same time so that his brother didn’t have to speak up. I found that my mother, Margaret Smith, had slight lisp that I’d never noticed before on camera.
Finally, we were done with that. Jack wanted us all to get to know each other. For goodness sakes, we were going to be with each for like forever and were basically going to turn into family. Amazingly, nobody that I knew other than Alex and Mum (and of course Jack and Cara) was there. Nobody from my school. It was sad.
There were refreshments, and we were all urged to meet somebody we didn’t know. Alex followed me like a shadow as we walked up to people, meeting them together. I guess he was kind of doing it since we’d be seen as “together” a lot after the movie.
I met tons of people.
“You’ll have to make me another binder,” I teased Alex as we walked up to another person.
“Ha, ha, you should make your own,” he laughed. “You don’t know how long that took to make.”
We’d finally walked up to everybody. Even like the really famous people. They acted really nice and told us that they’d seen our tapes and thought we were both amazing. Alex looked like he was swelling with pride.
As we walked away from Darcy Parsons, Alex whispered, “I wouldn’t ever admit this to anybody else other than you, but Darcy’s been my idol since I was like five.”
“Really?” I glanced back over my shoulder at the Scottish actor. He was shaking the hands of somebody else and smiling.
“He’s like really good,” Alex continued. His eyes grew slightly dreamy. “I’ve always wanted to become an actor because of him. He’s the reason I’ve worked so hard.” He glanced towards me. “What’s the reason you’ve worked so hard?”
I gulped. I’d never told anyone before in my entire life. I quickly glanced around and then said rapidly, “Hey, look, Marcia Jones just arrived,” and quickly went her way. I had a feeling Alex was glaring at me from behind.
I mean, I had just avoided his question. I just hoped he’d forget all about it.
he next few months were kind of a blur for me. There were plenty of things to keep me busy—movie stuff, the station—all that kind of stuff. Cara called Alex and I in sometimes to do read-throughs. It was plenty of fun, and once she was sure both of us knew all of our lines she let us be silly with it. It was pretty much hilarious. We even got Victor to crack a small smile.
I couldn’t wait until filming. It would be an all-new experience, but a great one. I already knew that some of the stuff we were going to do we’d have to do in front of green screens, but a lot of it we were actually going to do.
“Can you ride a horse?” Jack randomly asked on one of my visits to the station.
“Uh, I’ve ridden one once,” I admitted. “Why?”
He shrugged, as though he’d address it later. It made me suspicious, if only slightly. Victor and Alex’s bodyguard, Mike, followed Alex and I when we went around the station seeing how stuff was coming along. The costume designer let us look at our costumes. We visited the costume department almost daily just because it was so cool.
And then came the day.
“Hello, McCarthy residence,” Mum answered her cell phone.
I looked up from my homework that was splayed out before me on the kitchen table. I watched Mum’s features carefully and she nodded and “mmhmm”ed to the person on the other end. Finally, she hung up and turned to me.
“Shooting starts in a week!” she declared. “And you know what that means?”
“What?” I queried, slightly suspicious.
“You leave in a few days for New Zealand!” Mum cried. “Isn’t that great?! I’ll help you pack your bags! Hope you’re ready to leave England and all your friends!”
I smiled. “Not all my friends.”
“And of course you’ll be leaving your father and I,” she continued. Her brow furrowed. “Will you be OK without us?”
“Of course,” I grinned. “You trust Cara and Jack, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” she admitted.
I smiled. “Come on—let’s start getting stuff together to get shipped off to New Zealand.”
She smiled big and wide at that.
The packing seemed to take forever. We ended going up shopping because Mum would’ve been mortified to have others see her daughter, a soon-to-be movie star, wearing the clothes that I already had. It just made me laugh.
Finally everything was packed. The next day we left for New Zealand on the plane. I couldn’t wait. First of all, I’d never taken a plane. Second of all—the starting of shooting the movie a few days after that!
My adrenaline was pumped. Avalon Keepers was the awesomest movie ever, and I was apart of it. In fact, I was Shara. I wondered what I’d look like up on the big screen. What would others think of me when they saw me? Would they think, “hey, the pretty girl’s a stunning actor”, or would they think, “wow, the person they picked for Shara is really ugly and stinks at acting”? Or something in between?
I almost just couldn’t wait to see myself up there. But we hadn’t even started filming yet. The hardest part was still ahead of me, and I wasn’t even like thinking of it.
My alarm blared in my ears. I slapped my hand on it. Adrenaline pumped through my body. Dark night filled the room, the darkness of early morning.
Today I’m leaving for New Zealand.
I couldn’t wait. I hopped out of bed, took a shower, and quickly got dressed. All of my stuff was already out in the car, so after I ate I used the extra toothbrush from the dentist and Dad’s tube of toothpaste. The hairbrush wasn’t a problem because it seems that we always have hairbrushes lying around.
Mum was already up, too, and we quietly ate our rice crispies together. Our bowls of cereal snapped and crackled. I glanced hesitantly at Mum.
“Hey, Mum,” I started. “Are you going to, you know, like miss me?”
“Of course,” she laughed quietly. “You?”
I smiled wanly. “Of course I’ll miss you, Mum. And of course Dad. And Aslan. And Disney.”
She shared my quiet smile. “Well, I’m sure we’re all going to miss you, too. You know you’re going to be filming for like a year, don’t you?”
“And that’s just the filming part,” I sighed with a nod. I brightened up. “But it’ll be fun. I promise I’ll email you like every day if I have time. If I don’t, please don’t freak out.”
Mum laughed outright. “I won’t, Olivia.”
She hugged me, and then we separated to brush our teeth. Slipping on shoes, we headed out the door. I could hear Dad’s snoring from upstairs and reminded myself that I would see him again.
It was still pitch-black as the Blazer pulled out of the driveway. Mum’s eyes were on alert for deer. I remembered back to when I’d first heard about the movie back all those months ago in my acting club. Wow. That seemed like an eternity ago.
By the time London came into view, it was barely hitting seven o’clock. We drove up to the station, and I hopped out, kissing and hugging Mum goodbye. She walked with me out of the car.
“I wonder where on earth…” Mum started.
It seemed like everybody was rushing around doing something. A lot of stuff had already been packed up and moved to New Zealand. I spotted Alex waiting by the door with a whole bunch of baggage. Cara was by his side, Jack on the other. They were all talking.
Mum helped me lug my stuff over beside them. Cara smiled at us as we walked up.
“I’m glad you could make it so early,” she admitted. “We’ll be leaving for the airport soon. We’ll be taking the crews’ bus.” Cara pointed towards a bus that was getting loaded. “I’m pretty sure I could get Victor to get Olivia’s stuff on it.”
“That’d be good,” Mum nodded.
While Alex’s and my stuff were being loaded up onto the van, we listened to the talk. Jack was telling Cara all about the place where we were going.
“I sure am going to miss you, Cara,” Alex confessed. “It’s going to be different without you along.”
I gulped. I’d totally forgot that we were leaving Cara in England when we left for New Zealand.
“Yeah,” I agreed quickly.
She shrugged, smiling. “It’ll be good, though. I’m casting some kids for another movie, too—The Life of Amanda Johnson. They need a cute little girl for the younger Amanda.”
“That sounds good,” said Alex. “I hope you have a great time. What’s that movie about, anyway?”
Cara laughed. “It’s not half as interesting as Avalon Keepers. Don’t worry—you won’t have any rivals for it. You guys will be just fine.”
Rivals? Oh, brother. I’d totally forgot about that kind of thing. I glanced towards Alex but he was still looking at Cara. It was sad that Cara was leaving. She had become like family to us.
Finally, it was time to leave. We loaded onto the bus. Mum waited onto the platform, and was still there when we drove out of the station, just standing there.
We drove into London and went straight to the London City Airport, where we boarded a plane taking us towards New Zealand. My knee bounced as I sat in my seat next to Alex.
“Have you ever been out of England?” I questioned, almost surprised that I’d never asked him before.
He glanced out the window. “No. You?”
“No,” I sighed. “What do you think the filming will be like? I’ve heard of how long it is and stuff, but what will it really be like?”
Alex shrugged. “Beats me. Wanna play hangman?”
Thankfully, Alex’s notebook and pen were nearby. We played hangman for a while, and then practiced some of our scenes again. I couldn’t wait to actually do the scene.
e’re in New Zealand,” smiled Alex, glancing out the window to his right. I tried to glance over his shoulder, but couldn’t quite do it. Besides, his head with his floppy hair was like right in the way. I almost pushed it out of the way. And then I did.
He turned and frowned at me, a smile on his face. Then he laughed, and I laughed, too.
“What’re you two laughing about?” demanded Jack from in front of us, sending us a look like “these kids are crazy!”.
“It’s OK,” I managed, “we’re fine.”
“Oh, good,” snorted Jack in a funny sarcastic way, “then I guess I’ll be spared the expense of a funny-doctor.”
Alex and I bit our tongues to keep from bursting out laughing. Alex’s eyes looked like they were going to pop out from trying to hold in the laughter, which just made me want to laugh more.
Finally we landed and Alex and I practically ran down the steps out of the plane, lugging our carry-ons. The rest of our crew got off the plane and then we picked up our luggage inside the airport.
“Now we have to drive to our filming site,” Jack said. “It’ll be great. You kids are going to love it. Your trailers are already there, of course, with the rest of our stuff.”
We all piled into vans and took off. Alex and I chattered away, with Jenny, Alex’s sister in the movie, glaring at us from the corner. She’d never really spoken to me, but she seemed like a sourpuss.
“I can’t believe we’re here, Olivia,” Alex almost whispered. “This is so cool! I can’t wait for filming! I think that Jack said we’re going to start with the scene where Jenny dies.”
“Yep,” I agreed. “I thought he also said that since we’re kids and we grow, they’re going to try and do the scenes pretty much in order so that if we grow or change that it’ll seem more natural.”
“Which of course is perfect,” nodded Alex.
We’d been driving for what seemed like forever. We were in the country of New Zealand. Everything was green, as far as I could tell. I knew that our filming site was just right outside of a small town called Newton.
“This is going to be so cool!” hissed Alex to himself in excitement.
I felt my cell vibrating in my pocket. In surprise, I took it out. “New Message” was displayed on the screen. I frowned to myself and viewed it. The number wasn’t familiar.
Hey Liv this is Harry. i just got a phone and your mom gave me your #.
“What’s that?” questioned Alex curiously, glancing over my shoulder.
“Snoopy!” I laughed, covering the screen. “It’s from one of my friends back in England.” I quickly texted back a reply.
Gr8! How r u doing?
I then slipped my phone back into my pocket before Alex could pounce on it. He grinned playfully at me.
“Ever heard of ‘private text messages’?”
I gave him a look, but his blue eyes only twinkled. In the corner of the van Jenny rolled her eyes, snorted, and looked away. I gave her a look but she didn’t get it.
i’m doing ok.
My fingers flew.
Kind of. How’s filming going for u?
Gr8! We haven’t gotten 2 the site yet, but we soon will.
Ok. I have 2 get off.
Ok. Talk 2 u later!
I left it at that.
“We’re almost there!” Alex declared happily, his attention thankfully off my phone now and onto the road ahead. “I can’t wait!”
o, this is it.” Alex threw open the door of the van and stepped out, me on his heels. We stood together, staring at the place before us. It was beautiful, just beautiful. It reminded me of some of the scenery in the battle scene of the Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie.
Our trailers were set up by lots of tents and a few makeshift building. It looked like some kind of camp, or maybe even a small village or town or something. A filming town.
“Come on!” urged Alex. “I can see our trailers! They’re right next to each other.”
I laughed. “Have you forgotten our baggage?”
Between the two of us we carried our bags over to our trailers and amazingly got the right bags into the right trailers. Jenny dragged her own bags by herself, but for some reason I didn’t feel bad for her. My “brothers” had some help, though, since they were like seven.
After we’d gotten our stuff unpacked and everything so that everything would be just perfect tomorrow when we started to really dig into stuff, we met outside of our trailers.
“I can’t wait until we start filming!” Alex admitted.
It wasn’t very long before Jack called a meeting that everybody had to go to. We met in the mess tent, which was like heavy duty and was partly made of wood and could stand any rainstorm. At least the guys who set it up said so.
We settled around on the tables, waiting for Jack to speak from the front of the tent. It was weird seeing him without Cara close by. I wondered if anybody else missed her. I knew Alex did.
“Hello, everyone!” he began. “Welcome to New Zealand! Just wanted to say that we’re going to start a few scenes tomorrow, so you’re going to have to wake up pretty early! If you are on this sheet”—here he held up a sheet in one of his hands –“than that means that you need to wake up at 4:45 and get over to the makeup trailer and then to the costume trailer to get outfitted. You can all glanced at it after I’m done speaking.”
Then he went off into monologue-mode, saying how glad he was that we’d all made it down here safely and how glad he was to have such a great group of actors. Then he ended it with a prayer. I was a little surprised but didn’t say anything.
He was finally done talking. Alex and I walked up together to look at the sheet. We were both on it. Figures. It’s not as if they’re going to do one of the scenes without the two main characters.
“Come on,” urged Alex, smiling, “let’s start some games in my trailer, to celebrate our first day in New Zealand.”
“Sure,” I grinned.
We got, amazingly, a lot of the more famous people, and of course my little “brothers”. Jenny, of course, didn’t want to come. It was so much fun, playing lots of different fun games that Alex had conveniently packed in one of suitcases.
“My mom didn’t want me to be bored,” Alex had grinned.
I’d only laughed.
But I couldn’t get one thought out of my mind—tomorrow we’re filming.
y alarm clock blared in my ear. I quickly slapped my hand down on it, turning it off. I slipped out of bed, groggy. I flipped on the light switch and walked over to the small closet, pulling out sweatpants, a T-shirt, socks, and sneakers. After I’d put on those clothes I slipped on a sweatshirt over the bun on top of my head that I always wore at night and, grabbing a flashlight, I started out of my trailer towards the makeup trailer.
We’d all worked out schedules for the makeup. Alex and I would go first. I kind of wanted to know what kind of makeup they’d put on Alex, so I’d gotten up early.
The gravel underneath my feet crunched as I walked through my flashlight’s rays towards the makeup trailer. The tour that we’d had yesterday helped a lot. I had a feeling I was going to get to know this layout pretty well by the end of Avalon Keepers.
I opened the door of the trailer and walked in. There were counters on either wall, full of makeup of all different kinds. There were chairs in the middle of the room, with mirrors in front of them. Alex was sitting in one of those chairs, getting attacked by the makeup artist. What was her name? Oh, yeah—Marcy Thomas.
The African American woman was busy slathering Alex’s face in some stuff. I didn’t even want to know what it was.
“Hey, Olivia,” she smiled at me, looking up from Alex’s face. “Why don’t you sit right there? I’m sure you’d love to see Alex screaming.” She laughed at him, and he did a face that made me laugh.
I sat down on the chair offered and watched as she applied Alex’s makeup. Alex managed to make “protests”, which mostly ended in giggling and laughs.
“Wow, Alex,” I grinned. “You sure look different. No acne of any kind! Wow! It’s amazing.”
He glared at me, but there was a smile behind the glare. Then he was done and it was my turn. It wasn’t even light out yet. Marina Robinson, the hairdresser, had just come in and was busy working with Alex while Marcy worked with me.
We chatted away, and I didn’t really even think to glance into the mirror. Alex was done with his hair before I got done with my makeup. His face was distorted as he watched me “transform”, as Marcy put it.
“Wow…” Alex trailed off. “You look amazing, Olivia—really. I thought you were really pretty before…”
Marcy laughed and playfully punched him in the arm. Then she moved out of the way and asked, “How do you like the new you?”
I’d never worn makeup in my life. My face was unblemished; my eyelashes dark and long; and I couldn’t help but think that I looked pretty much…
“Gorgeous!” declared Marcy. “I have to say, you look perfect, Olivia. You should hurry up and get your hair done.”
I moved over into the hairdresser’s patient seating just as Marcia Jones came through the doorway to have help with her makeup. Alex waited for me to get my hair done.
“Cool!” cried Marina. “Your hair’s perfect for hairstyling. You’re going to love this.”
She was finally done whipping up my hairstyle. It was pretty sweet. They’d left my hair out with a few waves that Marina had made and hair sprayed down. Then she’d done some kind of complicated braiding to pull back the hair by my ears.
“You’ll get a crown with your costumes,” Marina was saying. “You are the princess of the clan of Avalon.”
I grinned at her and got out of the seat. I thought it was pretty funny that from my face up I was gooped up, and then down from there I was just wearing my sweat suit.
“Come on,” Alex urged, “let’s go get our costumes. We have to be on set by seven, I believe, for the sunrise. You know, where I’m up on the hill and then Jenny comes running up…” I knew the scene well from reading it with him, me being Jenny.
“Yep,” I winked. “Come on.”
This scene was one of my favorites. It started with Hunter on this hilltop, watching the sunrise. Then raiders from the clan of Shadow came racing down towards his house. Jenny tries to come and warn him, which she does, but she gets killed.
Just before Hunter’s about to be taken, my clan, the clan of Avalon, swoops down and rescues him. I was kind of surprised that they were starting out with a scene that had horses in it.
We got to the costumes trailer, where the costumes fitters, Neil and Nancy Levine, were just laying out our costumes. They smiled as we walked in.
“Good to see the stars up,” quipped Nancy, winking at us.
“Good to see you guys up, too,” Alex laughed. “We’re here for costumes.”
“Of course,” agreed Neil.
They helped us—Neil for Alex and Nancy for me—to get into our costumes. Mine was like this clan outfit—leggings, long shirt, jerkin, soft boots, crown, and special cloak that draped over me in a special way.
Alex was in his farm boy outfit. It looked kind of funny on him, and really baggy. I guess that was what he supposed to like. I guess.
“You guys could probably get out to the filming area,” suggested Neil when we were done. “Jack will probably want to give you guys a few tips first, anyways.”
We nodded and took off out of the trailer towards the green hill right next to the camp. Over it was another hill, which was the on that Alex was right on top of. As we crested it, I saw that they’d set up a fake set for Alex’s family’s house in the movie.
I could see the cameras and chairs and lots of people gathered on the opposite hilltop. Alex and I ran over there. Jack looked up as we loped into the camp.
“Great to see ya!” he boomed cheerily, rubbing his hands against his warm coffee cup. “You guys look great, just great! How’re the stars this morning? You guys sleep well?”
“Yep,” we nodded.
“Great!” Jack glanced over his shoulder. “I think your chairs are over there. Your names are on them. Oh, by the way, Olivia.” He turned back to me. “You can ride a horse, right? Because you know you’re going to be galloping in on one in this scene.”
“Well…” I trailed off. “Could I try riding one? Right now?”
“Of course!” nodded Jack. He yelled over his shoulder, “Matt, get the horses over here!”
A guy who was probably in his twenties trotted over with a horse’s reins in his hands, the chestnut following his every move. I had a feeling that this guy was serious with horses.
“We’re going to have Olivia try riding Gladiator,” Jack nodded towards the young man. He turned to me. “You’ll be riding him in the film, anyway, so you might as well be able to ride him.” He snapped towards Matt to bring him closer.
The kind of saddle that they had on Gladiator was kind of weird, mostly because it looked like an old raider’s horse or something. It looked like it was made of rough wood with clothes draped over it.
I gave Jack a look, and then walked up to Gladiator, blowing in his nostrils. It was an old trick that I’d learned awhile back. Gladiator blew back. We were friends.
I carefully took Gladiator’s reins from Matt and swung up onto Gladiator’s back. He didn’t even flick his tail. I was pretty impressed with him.
“He’s as calm as they come,” Jack explained. “He’s made for inexperienced riders. Of course, he’ll still go fast…”
At just that moment, I kicked Gladiator—hard. We burst off at a gallop across the hill, rushing down the side before I even had time to blink. I just rode him out and didn’t let get out of the reins, grabbing some of Gladiator’s mane.
I heard people yelling behind me up on the hill. I managed to swing Gladiator around and raced him back up the hill. He seemed to enjoy it, but thankfully he stopped when I pulled softly on the reins.
In one fluid motion, I jumped off Gladiator’s back and trotted him back over to Jack and Matt. Jack’s mouth had dropped. Matt only smiled softly and took Gladiator’s reins from me.
Alex snorted. “I think you can ride!”
“I’ll be,” murmured Jack.
enny and the rest of the actors in the scene finally showed up. Alex made it his duty to assure each and every one of them that I could ride and that I was going to be fine riding Gladiator in the galloping part of the scene where I swooped in and “picked Alex up”. I really couldn’t, since he was so much bigger than I was, but with some trick photography Jack assured us we’d be able to get the scene.
“OK, don’t freak out if we don’t get this right the first time,” Jack lectured. “This takes time. Don’t sweat.”
We all got into our positions. For some parts of the scene it would just be rolling the whole time and different cameras would be filming. Then, we’d cut the film apart later for the shots we wanted. For some, we’d have to literally stop the camera and turn it a different way.
I got to wait behind the hillside with a whole bunch of other actors and stuntmen and other people on the crew there to give us our cue that they’d get from Jack himself in a microphone. Unlike a lot of the other big-name actors, I actually was going to get to be my own stunt-person. The thought thrilled me.
I couldn’t see how Alex and Jenny were acting it, but I assumed they were doing well. We couldn’t hear Jenny and Alex’s voices, but we could definitely hear the yells of the clan “Shadow” as they roared towards them.
“Get ready,” whispered one of the crewmen by us. Then, “GO!”
We kicked our horses in a gallop and shot out down into the valley, where I could see Hunter “running” away from the “Shadow clan”. I raced Gladiator right towards them. I heard the thunderous, “CUT!”, right before I sped past Alex, missing him by a few feet.
Somebody had apparently accidentally fallen off during the ride. We definitely couldn’t have that in the movie.
There were several other incidents like that. Sometimes Jenny and Alex (barely) got their lines wrong (once Jenny stumbled and went rolling down the hill), or sometimes the riders did something wrong. I was glad that I never did anything wrong.
And then, finally, we stopped for lunch. We still hadn’t gotten the shot. I was exhausted and saddle-sore. I gave Gladiator to Matt and walked with Alex up to the mess tent. Everybody else followed us.
I ate lunch like a ravenous dog, as did Alex. Afterwards we started filming again. Just before supper, we finally got the scene right. As we waited I couldn’t hear Jenny and Alex talking, but they must’ve been good because the crewmen still yelled, “Go!”
We shot down into the valley, Gladiator and I leading. War cries escaped from our throats. It was as if it was really real. I flew towards Alex and, before I knew I was doing it, I reached down, yanked Alex’s arm, and pulled him up behind me onto Gladiator as we raced again out of the valley.
To say the least, when we cut the scene, everybody was stunned.
“That was spectacular!” Jack finally burst. “And it was really real! Great job, Olivia!”
Alex looked especially stunned as I let him off my horse. He looked up at me, him on the ground and me on the horse.
“That was amazing,” he finally managed. “How on earth did you lift me? That was, like…I can’t believe you managed to do that!”
“I kind of got carried away,” I admitted. “Was it good?”
“It was GREAT!” declared Jack, coming up behind me. “Now we don’t have to take extra time after supper and shoot the trick photography when you pick up Alex!”
As we all walked towards the mess tent for supper, I could hear murmurs all around me, mostly—“I can’t believe she actually did it.” I smiled to myself.
he days progressed. We finished the first scenes, which I wasn’t in, introducing Hunter into the story and his sister (Jenny), and his parents and everything. They kind of gave you this fake false feeling. I got the same feeling it watching it on the TVs while it was being filmed, sitting by Jack in my personal chair.
Finally, we caught up with the “dead Jenny” part, as Alex and I called it. That was where we’d left off. My next scene was the part where I talked to my father alone while Alex is secretly listening into the conversation outside of the castle door.
I had a cool medieval dress, since I was back at the castle. Marina did an amazing job with my hair, and Marcy with my makeup. Then I was shipped off to our “castle”, which was really a set that they’d set up in one of the buildings in Newton.
The set was really cool, real stone and torches and everything. I was in my place when, “Action!”, was yelled. I strode purposefully into the room, pausing by the doorway.
“Come in, Shara,” my “dad” said, beckoning for me to come in.
I came forward and kneeled before him, keeping my eyes on the stone floor as I whispered, “My Lord, Shadow is getting worse. I myself saw it today.”
“Dad” sighed. I had a feeling that the cameras were showing Alex hiding just outside of the doorway’s light. I continued on with the lines I knew by heart by now.
I continued on with the plight and everything. We had stop a few times, but we nailed it before lunch. As a reward, Alex and I got to eat our lunch in front of the TVs and watch it. It was pretty sweet.
“We’ll be working on the scene where Shara’s taking Hunter back to he castle soon,” Jack said, walking towards us and plopping down in his chair. “When it gets dark, we’ll work on the campfire scene.”
“Gotcha, boss,” Alex nodded, his eyes trained to the screen.
Usually when I saw myself in pictures and stuff, I always thought I looked stupid. But on screen, with my costume and everything, I thought I actually looked like an actress. I was an actress.
After we were done eating, we went and got changed back into our outfits from a few days before—farm boy look for Alex and raider-cool look for me.
We quickly got to where we were shooting us riding into the forests. Alex was on the back of my horse with me. I don’t think he’d ever been on a horse before, because the second he got up on Gladiator he practically squeezed the life out of me, resting his head on my shoulder and squeezing down hard. It hurt.
We started the scene where we were riding into the forest. The cameras kept up with us on a special track that they’d built for it. It zoomed right along with it. I didn’t look at it and kept my eyes ahead, eyes narrowed as I concentrated.
I rode at the front of the pack since I was supposed to be the princess. Finally, I slowed Gladiator down and started my lines.
“We’ll stop here for the night,” I started in a tough-sounding voice. “We’ll leave at first light.”
We all started to get off. The scene cut. Amazing, we’d done it on the first try. Jack was impressed.
We got a little break before the campfire scene. When it was finally dark enough, they started up small campfires and put up all of the special “things” that made it looked like we were actually camping.
I sat at a campfire with Alex and we started our scene. I explained about the Shadow clan to the bewildered Hunter, making sure that I was completely and utterly Shara to the full effect.
Alex accidentally stuttered on part of it, so we had to start it back over. Then he started laughing a little bit. And then we finally got it. I was so thankful. We had supper and then headed off to bed. I was so exhausted that I fell right to sleep.
lex had enjoyed acting with Olivia ever since they’d first done the read-through back at her school. Now, acting in full character, it was the most amazing thing that he’d ever done. She was that good. He’d never enjoyed acting with someone else like this before. He even enjoyed acting with Olivia more than the famous actors, who everybody else thought were the best.
And not only that—she was like the sister he never had. He had three older brothers, none of which would ever be an inkling close to Olivia. And none of them were at all funny. They’d never laughed together. Alex and Olivia laughed together all the time.
But there was something that pestered him every time he saw his costar; that secret. The reason why she’d started acting in the first place, the thing that drove her to act. If it’d been something simple, like she just liked it way a lot, then she would’ve said it. Alex knew she would’ve.
But she avoided it like the plague. If anybody even started to at all talk about how they were inspired to start acting, she got pale and left the tent. Alex could never figure it out.
The days progressed. They were making good time, and Alex knew it. He knew that Olivia enjoyed every second of acting. She seemed to live off it. But other than the secret, sometimes she would get those weird texts. What on earth were they?
Sometimes Alex wondered if Olivia put an act on all the time to hide something from the rest of them. The idea pestered him so much sometimes he’d just stare at her brain as if the answer would pop out at him. Sometimes Olivia would catch him doing it.
“What?” she’d ask, laughing. “Do I have cheese stuck in my hair or something?”
Then they’d both laugh. But it would still bug Alex.
And it always would until he found out what the secret was.
he days were full of fun. I loved all of it. Alex and I could laugh together; we got to act with all of the other great actors; and there was always, always Avalon Keepers. Marcy had started a tradition where she’d read the Avalon Keepers books to everybody out loud in the makeup trailer from 8 PM to 9:30 PM (when we were told to “go to bed!”).
I’d already read the whole book series, but it was still fun to read it. And it was funny watching everybody else as Marcy read it out loud to us all. The funniest was when Alex would go,
“That part’s not in the movie!” or sometimes when we were filming, “That’s not in the book!” Jack was getting famous for his “Alex glares”. It was pretty hilarious, though.
Sometimes we’d be off for a day to go and tour around the small town of Newton. Alex and I always took advantage of this time to the full advantage.
We’d make a total day of it. We’d go in our normal clothes, buy some stuff to eat, and then run around town sightseeing (but there wasn’t much to see) or go watch a movie.
It was on one of those days that my trouble started.
“OK, everybody!” Jack announced. It was 9, almost time for bed. We were all exhausted from a long day of shooting. “So,” he continued, “you guys ready for a break day tomorrow?”
“YEAH!” filled the tent.
Jack laughed. “Well, that’s good. Because you’re going to have all tomorrow free!”
“Whoohoo!” “Yeah!” “We love you Jack Grant!” filled the tent. Alex cheered and gave me a fist. I pumped it.
“OK, tomorrow’s going to be a big day for you guys, I bet,” Jack laughed, “So you should all go to bed. I’ll see you guys sometime tomorrow. Maybe.” He winked us. “Dismissed.”
We all rushed out of the mess tent. Alex looked pumped beside him, running towards our trailers. I lagged behind slightly, thinking about It. No, I’d be fine. It couldn’t follow me here.
I went to bed and set my alarm for seven, as Alex and I had agreed. We wanted to get started early, before the other crewmembers were probably up. Besides, by now that was sleeping in for us.
I woke with a start, sweat pouring down my back and soaking my shirt. I padded out of bed and over to the bathroom. I flicked on the light and stared at my reflection, a sweaty-faced girl with was gasping for a breath and staring at herself, her green eyes big in fear.
I shook off the image that had come with my dream. I glanced at my alarm clock—it was six in the morning. I was up early, but that didn’t matter. I definitely wouldn’t be going back to bed. I walked over and turned off the alarm clock.
I quickly dressed in my favorite sweat suit, brushed my hair, and slipped on my sneakers that were by the door, going out into the cool early morning air.
My mind wandered as I jogged towards the mess tent. In a few days we’d be starting school back up again. The idea was horrible—doing school and acting? That could be hard.
I slipped back the door on the tent and walked in. The tables were all abandoned except for a lone person sitting at one of the tables towards the kitchen at the back of the tent, calmly eating breakfast. It was Marcy.
Before I could back out again, Marcy looked over her shoulder and smiled at me.
“Hey, Olivia,” she called. “You want to eat breakfast early, too?” Marcy grinned. “Go figures. It’s a good idea, since everybody else is still sleeping.” She tapped the chair beside her. “Come. Sit.”
I slowly walked over to where she was and sat beside her. I watched her finishing up her toast, sugar and cinnamon scattered across the paper plate.
“If you want,” Marcy started, “the kitchen’s open. You can just grab what you want.”
I came a few minutes later with a blueberry bagel smothered in cream cheese and a cup of milk. I ate quietly next to Marcy. It was a companionable silence, and it was nice.
Wiping the last of toast crumbs off her lips, Marcy looked at me curiously. “You OK, Olivia? You look a little peachy.”
I shrugged. “I’m fine. I just had a bad dream.” I wanted to slap myself on the forehead—I definitely didn’t want to talk about my dream. But it had just slipped out.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Olivia.” Marcy put down her napkin. “I hate bad dreams. Like, a lot. They used to really bother me when I was younger. Then I didn’t have God.”
I gave her a look. “What?”
“You know. God.” She laughed at the bewildered look on my face. “Like the creator of the universe? The great I Am? Ancient of Days? Messiah?”
“Oh, right.” I glanced at my bagel.
Marcy smiled kindly at me. “He’s always watching you, Olivia. He never leaves.”
I looked right up at her. We stared at each other for a few moments; me softly glaring; Marcy smiling softly. Finally, I looked away, eating the rest of my breakfast.
“I’m going to go into town with Alex,” I said, changing the subject from God. It was always an awkward subject. “So I’d better get going.”
“Guess so,” shrugged Marcy, looking more than a little disappointed. I faintly wondered why.
I got up and walked out of the tent.
lex didn’t know what woke him up. Maybe it was Olivia’s secret; or maybe it was the fact that somebody’s alarm clock was blaring. Alex glanced at his alarm clock—it was 6:20, the time that they’d woken up the day before. He groaned and stumbled out of bed, throwing on the clothes that he’d set out the night before and stepping outside.
He definitely wasn’t going to be able to go asleep again, so he might as well get breakfast. But something stopped him. Alex listened closely and noticed that the blaring alarm clock was coming from Olivia’s trailer. Why on earth wasn’t she turning it off?
Usually she always turned it off on the first chime because she’d always said that she hated the alarm clock’s sound. But what could she say? It was the one that her mom had given her.
Alex sighed and walked up to her trailer, banging on her door.
“Olivia?” he called. “Olivia, are you in there? Please turn off your alarm clock!”
“Olivia’s not in there,” sneered a voice from behind him.
Alex muttered something to himself and turned. Jenny stood there, smirking at him with arms crossed. He did not like that girl.
“And how do you know?” he answered calmly, crossing his own arms in a protective posture.
She shrugged and flipped blonde hair over her shoulder. “I saw her walk off not long ago. Besides, her alarm should stop pretty soon—it always does after a minute.”
As if in league, the alarm clock stopped blaring. Alex only glared at her. He prepared himself.
“So, then, where is she?”
Jenny shrugged, starting to walk off. “I think that she’s in the mess hall.” She snorted. “But what would I know? I’m just a stupid girl.” She glared at him and then flounced off, earphones in.
Alex really, really did not like that girl.
He sighed and started towards the mess tent. He could hear talking so he paused by the door, not even noticing that he was eavesdropping as the voices floated out to him.
From the sounds of the voices, it sounded like Marcy and Olivia. Alex couldn’t help but feel like they were reenacting the scene in the movie where he was supposed to be eavesdropping on Shara and her father.
But this wasn’t a movie, this was real. And for real he could be found out. He knew that it wasn’t meant for his ears. Just as he heard Olivia coming towards the door he quickly rushed away and then started to walk towards the tent again as if he’d just started.
Olivia walked out of the tent and looked at him in surprise. “What’re you…um…doing up so early?” she questioned, looking at him like he’d grown horns.
Alex shrugged. “I don’t know. Come on—let’s get a ride to town.”
e managed to get a ride with some of the crew members, with included Margaret, Darcy, and Jenny. Alex was strangely silent the whole time, and I faintly wondered why. We usually chattered endlessly about like everything—the movie; Jenny’s sourpuss attitude; how we looked on camera; the weird stuff that we’d gotten for lunch that the cook had claimed was food; just everything.
I glanced at him. “Hey, Alex. You OK?”
He looked up almost guiltily. “Yeah, of course.”
The van ride to Newton was both long and awkward. I felt uncomfortable that there wasn’t any conversation. Even Darcy and Margaret didn’t say anything, just sitting there, staring at the other side of the van.
I pursed my lips and glanced back over at Alex. But he wouldn’t give eye contact. It was if I was losing my best friend or something. With a pang I remembered Harry and Elle, but shook off the bad feeling.
I slipped my phone out of my pocket. I sighed. It was Harry again. What on earth…?
What r u doing rite now?
Riding in a van 2 Newton. U?
Yeah. The town that we’re by. We have a free day.
Gr8 4 u.
What r u doing 2day?
Just normal. We still have the play, u know.
Oh rite. I kind of forgot about the play.
Figures. Getting off. Text me when u get back.
I sighed. It didn’t really sound like Harry was really happy with me at the moment. How could I blame him? I was the one who was in a big movie going-to-be hit. Not Harry. Or Elle.
“Who was that?” questioned Alex curiously, trying to glanced over my shoulder.
I shrugged. “It was from my friend.”
We finally got to Newton. Alex and I headed off through the town, getting quickly away from Jenny. I couldn’t help but tell that she was following us.
“So who’s your friend?” Alex prodded as we glanced in one of the shop windows. “I mean, like the one you’re texting all the time?”
I gave him a look. “It’s just my friend in England. He goes to my school.”
“What’s his name?”
“Harry. I have another friend, too, named Elle. But neither of them got parts.” I glanced through the glass but wasn’t really seeing. Harry and Elle’s faces flashed into my brain. I sighed. “They’re still back in England, at our school.”
“Is it hard for you?” Alex whispered. “I mean, like leaving your friends?”
I shrugged. “Yeah. Was it hard for you?”
He looked straight ahead. “I didn’t really have any friends.” He laughed humorlessly. “I mean, who wants to be friends with a total actor?” Alex glanced up at me. “And then there’s you.”
I laughed. “Yeah, the other actor-guru.” I shrugged. “Of course my friends were actors, too. Everybody was an actor in my acting club.”
“Yeah,” he consented, “but a lot of the kids in my club…acting wasn’t their life. Lots of them did other stuff—soccer, football, dancing, blogging, drawing…acting wasn’t their all-in-all.” Alex shrugged. “But it’s mine. I don’t really have any other life. I don’t know anything else.”
I quickly looked away. If he knew my reason for putting my all-in-all into acting… Don’t think about it, Olivia, I scolded myself, glancing over my shoulder towards the small park.
“You OK, Olivia?” Alex inquired, glancing worriedly at me. “You look…scared. I don’t like seeing you scared.”
I shrugged it off, shaking my head to clear it. “I’m fine. You want to go get something to eat?”
“Sure,” he shrugged.
We walked off towards the bakery to get some donuts. It was conveniently right next to the small movie theater in town. Takers Keepers was on, the movie that Harry had tried to get into.
We got our donuts—powered sugar for me and chocolate for Alex—and then started to walk out of the bakery. Just then the little bell on the door jingled. I glanced up. My eyes grew wide, and then I grabbed Alex’s arm and pulled him into one of the aisles.
“What?” he hissed.
I didn’t answer, bending over and walking stealthily towards the other end of the aisle. I glanced over the top of the aisle. The person was going up to the clerk.
“I’ll get one of those.” He pointed to one of the donuts sitting on display.
The woman nodded and grabbed one out, putting it in a bag for him. “That’ll be two dollars,” she admitted.
He handed her the money and said in a curious way, “You know, I’ve heard there’s a movie shooting just outside of town here. Is that true, or just rumors?”
“Oh, it’s true,” she blabbed. “It’s no secret. There’s like more than five famous actors in it, and great new talents, including Alex D’Lacy and Olivia McCarthy.” She said it as if she had this thing memorized. “And there’s Jack Grant directing it. Can you believe it? It’s just New Zealander’s luck, I’d say.”
“You say Olivia McCarthy?” the man asked. I swallowed hard, my mouth suddenly dry.
“Yeah,” she nodded, getting back into speech-mode. “She’s from England. Even though she’s never been in any movie before, I’ve heard she’s one of the best actors that Jack Grant has ever seen, and that’s saying a lot, as you of course would probably know.”
“Yes, um, thank you,” the man interrupted, snatching his bag with his donut. “Goodbye.” Then he turned on his heel and strode off and out of the bakery.
I finally let out the breath I hadn’t known I’d been holding. Alex was tugging on my arm.
“What was that?” he hissed. “Why on earth didn’t you want that guy to see you? Publicity’s good.”
No, not this kind. I quickly pushed my hair out of my eyes and hurried out of the bakery, Alex on my heels. I knew he wasn’t going to give up so easy. Why couldn’t he have not come in with me today?
“Olivia.” Alex grabbed my arm to stop me.
I turned around and faced him. “What?”
“What on earth was that back there?” he demanded. “I know that’s not your normal you. I’ve known you for almost a year. Come on, Olivia. Please.” His eyes begged. “Please tell me what’s bothering you. I can help. I know I can.”
“No, you can’t!” I screamed at him, turning away and running towards the road that led up to the filming site.
“Please, Olivia!” he called after me. I heard his footfalls as he raced after me. “I can help!”
“Just go away!” I yelled back at him, racing blindly, almost stumbling through my tears. “You can’t help!”
I ran, on and on. It seemed forever. I didn’t think I’d ever get back to the site. And then I collapsed.
livia!” Alex screamed, running forward.
Of all the times to faint from exhaustion, he thought to himself, running over. She seemed fine, as far as he could tell. And her pulse was definitely still going.
Alex managed to pick Olivia up and started walking the short distance back to town. She hadn’t been able to run far before she’d collapsed. When he got to the van, the only person who he possibly didn’t want to see was there.
“What happened to her?” sneered Jenny. “She get frightened by a snake?”
“Shut up!” Alex snapped at her. “Go get Darcy! NOW!”
Jenny’s eyes widened in surprise. Then she narrowed them and flounced off towards the theater. They all came back a few moments later, with the glaring Jenny following.
“What happened?” queried Darcy, glancing at his young costar with confusion on his face.
“She, uh, collapsed from exhaustion,” Alex admitted. “We need to get her back to the film site.”
“I totally agree,” nodded Margaret.
They all loaded back up into the van. Only Jenny was muttering about their free day ruined. Alex glared at her. What a jerk.
They finally got back to the site. As far as everybody could tell, what Olivia needed was rest. So they put her in her trailer and left her, Marcy taking care of all the details.
“Is she going to be all right?” whispered Alex as she climbed out of Olivia’s trailer.
Marcy laughed. “Yeah. Come on, Alex.”
The makeup artist draped her arm around his shoulder and walked him away from the trailer.
y body was achy and sore all over. When my eyes flipped open I saw that I was lying in my bed with the same clothes on that I’d worn to Newton. I groaned. My cell phone had been rubbing into my side the whole time. I flipped it out and saw that there was a new message.
Harry again, about an hour ago.
U ok? It’s like four. Shouldn’t u B back by now?
Great. He probably thought I was dead since I didn’t answer him. I rubbed my forehead, everything coming back to me. My stomach was starting to revolt, but I pushed it back into submission.
I glanced at my alarm clock—six. Go figure.
I’m ok. Back at the site.
Finally! I thought u’d died or something.
I frowned. Texting…
Thanks. haha not.
I’m fine, just 2 say. Have 2 get off.
I slipped my phone back into my back pocket and walked over to the mirror. My face looked horrible from when I’d been crying. I’d suggest that if you’re ever a movie star, don’t cry—it runs your makeup.
I sighed, changed into jeans a sweatshirt, and went outside to see what was going on. It was rather obvious to me that I definitely wasn’t going back to town today.
The second I stepped out the door, Marcy was there.
“You feeling better?” she queried. “You definitely look better. Want some help with the smudged makeup?”
I shrugged yes and followed her to the makeup trailer. She patted the seat for me to sit down and I obliged.
“So,” Marcy started, “how was your sleep? You’ve been sleeping for like more than six hours.”
“I feel drowsy,” I chuckled.
“That’s because you just woke up, and it’s groggy,” she corrected with a small laugh. “But anyway, I hope you had a good time before you collapsed.” She paused, applying eyeliner. “So, exactly why did you collapse? Alex never really explained anything…”
Alex. My heart caught in my throat. Would he find out? Find out everything?
“Oh,” I shrugged. “It was nothing.”
“Hmm.” She frowned slightly at me. Almost worriedly. “If you say so.”
She finished retouching up my makeup and then let me go again. I found almost everybody in the mess tent, having some kind of party. At least, it looked like a party. There was a cake, M&Ms, chips, sodas, everything.
Mostly everybody was there with a plate of food, just grabbing stuff and sitting down at random places like it was a snack bar. I kind of guessed that since I’d ruined everybody’s outing that the cook had whipped up some snack food and set it out for everybody.
“Hey, Olivia,” snorted a mean voice from behind me.
I turned and there was Jenny. She smirked at me and flounced past me, hissing over her shoulder,
“If you’re looking for Alex, he’s busy.” She sneered meanly at me. “Too busy for you, anyway.”
She didn’t give me a second glance as she walked off to sit by the famous actors and actresses. I glared at her back and turned out of the mess tent.
I jogged off towards where I was sure Alex was—either practicing his sword fighting or riding. Amazingly, he was doing neither. I frowned and tried his trailer. Nope.
“You looking for Alex?” Jack asked from behind me.
I turned. “Yeah. You know where he is?”
Jack shrugged. “I think he walked off towards the hill where we did our first scene. But he might’ve already moved.” Then he walked off towards the mess tent.
I frowned to myself and took off for the hill, Jenny’s mean words echoing in my brain. Alex and I had been best friends, and, as far as I could see, we still were.
egs aching from the climb, I crested the second hill to where Alex was at the beginning of the first scene we’d ever started. I was partly hoping he was going to be there and partly hoping he wasn’t. But I didn’t really have the choice. Finally cresting the hill, there sat Alex on a rock, chin in hands.
“Alex?” I whispered tentatively.
He whipped around right away and smiled at me. “Olivia! It’s good to see that you’re feeling better.” He patted another rock by his. “Sit.”
I laughed quietly and sat on the rock. His blue eyes met my green. We stared for a few seconds.
“Jenny said you were busy,” I managed, glancing away. I shrugged. “I just wanted…I don’t know…I guess apologize for yelling at you yesterday.” I looked up towards the hill where I’d come swooping down on Gladiator the first day.
“I can help, Olivia,” Alex whispered. “You just have to tell me what’s wrong. Please.”
“I can’t,” I whispered. “I can’t…” I bit off the last of the words.
Just then, Alex’s eyes grew big. He was looking over my shoulder, and he looked scared.
“Olivia!” he screamed.
Before I knew what I was doing, I ducked and threw myself off the rock, starting to roll down the hill. With each bump my body recoiled from the pain, but I couldn’t stop.
Finally I lay in a heap at the bottom of the hill. Groaning, I got up. I glanced to the top of the hill, where Alex was running down towards me. A man with a black bag was chasing after him. But they were both going in the same direction—towards me.
It’s him. The scary thought flew into my head.
Alex had fear in his eyes like fear I’d never seen before in any person in my entire life, except one other person. The same fear. The fear of am-I-going-to-live-to-the-end-of-this-day fear. It’s in Alex’s eyes. And, in that moment, I knew something else, too.
I’m not going to let Alex die.
My legs flew into motion. Alex and I ran towards each other, meeting sooner than I expected. I grabbed his arm and started to drag him towards the forest, where we’d been shooting all of the scenes of the travel to the Castle of Avalon.
The meadow had never seemed so long. The man’s footfalls behind us made me go faster, dragging Alex along with me. And then we were in the forest.
I led Alex in the forest. And I felt a new sense come onto Alex—I know this place. We can escape. And I knew it, too. Fear vanished with the need of the urgency of the moment.
We were outdistancing the man. No longer could I hear his labored breathing. No longer could I hear his footfalls. Alex glanced around and then started running towards one of the trees. I followed, and together we climbed up into the depths of the leaves.
So there we sat, in the limbs of the tree, panting, gasping for the life-giving air that wasn’t coming as quickly as we wanted it to. Alex glanced over me, managing to gasp out,
“Who was that?”
I closed my eyes, but the images came faster than I wanted.
Mom was crying and sobbing. I woke with a start, realizing that Mum’s cries and sobs were real. This wasn’t part of a dream. I got out of bed and padded over to the door, going to the wall right by the stairwell and pausing.
“You can’t make me leave!” Dad yelled.
“You killed somebody!” Mum shouted back in his face. “I don’t care if you’re a world famous actor! You killed somebody. Let those words sink in, Richard! YOU KILLED SOMEBODY!”
“You wouldn’t understand!” he spat. “You’re just a horrible woman who won’t even back up her husband in his time of need!”
“You leave right now and never come back!” Mum yelled. “And don’t you ever expect to see Olivia ever again! I won’t have the likes of you around my poor daughter!”
“Oh, poor daughter?” he sneered. “I don’t care where you hide her. Wherever you go, I will find her, and when I do, I’ll take her and you won’t ever see her again! I will take her, and you can’t stop me!”
“Leave now!” Mum screamed at the top of her lungs. “Leave now or I’ll shoot you where you stand!”
“Oh, and what would that make you?!” Dad cried. “A murder, just like me! You’re a horrible woman!”
Mum’s sobs were getting louder. “I’m calling the police!”
“Go ahead!” he seethed. “They’ll never catch me!”
Mum screamed as glass crashed. I covered my mouth with my hands and leaned against the wall, silent sobs shaking my frame. I heard the sound of Dad’s car starting and then it zoomed off.
I ran into my room and shut the door, hiding underneath the covers on my bed. But Dad’s words echoed in my brain—“I will take her, and you can’t stop me.”
My eyes flew open and I found that I was sobbing in real life, right now.
“It’s OK, Olivia,” Alex soothed. “It’s OK. It’s going to be OK.’
“No, it isn’t,” I sobbed, hugging my knees.
He sighed. “Olivia, please tell me what happened.”
I looked at him fiercely, tears blurring my vision. “My dad killed somebody, that’s what happened!”
Alex’s hand flew to his mouth. He couldn’t anything. I couldn’t say anything. I just sat in that tree and cried my heart out. What if he heard me? I dreaded to think.
Night fell, but we didn’t leave the tree. Finally, Alex whispered,
“Olivia, what happened?”
And then I told him—the whole thing. That my dad was the world-famous actor Richard McCarthy; that he’d killed a couple because he said he was “immersing himself” into his role better in his latest movie; and how he’d threatened, always threatened—“I will take her, and you can’t stop me.”
When I finished, I was in a fit of sobs again. “And then that’s when Mom met Josh. He’s the dad I should’ve always had. He’s the dad I have now, but he’s not my real dad.” I cried even harder, whispering, “I just wish he was.”
We were quiet for a moment.
“We’ve got to get back to the site,” whispered Alex. “We’ve got to tell Jack. He’ll get another bodyguard to help Victor, and they’ll be with you at all times. It’ll be fine.” He took my hand. “Come on.”
He helped me out of the tree and then we hobbled together back to the filming site.
hat?!” Jack was looking at both of us as if we were crazy. But when he saw my tears and saw the smudges of dirt on my clothes from the roll down the hill, I think he believed us, because he said, “I’ll make sure that you’re doubly protected, Olivia, and that you have a bodyguard with you at all times.”
When the story came out, everybody was so “oh my gosh!” and were all sending me presents and everything. It was weird. I hadn’t wanted this to happen. But it had. And at least now I was going to be safe.
And then came what we’d come to the last battle. I couldn’t have been more excited about filming it. Other than getting my mind off the truth of my father, I had an awesome costume, I got to ride Gladiator, and I had a cool sword. And I got to fight back-to-back with Alex.
I had this special outfit armor stuff that went over leggings, tunic, and jerkin, and then I had high boots that protected my legs. Of course I had a special Avalon cape, then the sword and crown.
Alex had his big get-up, too, which was pretty cool. He’d confided in me that I was his favorite outfit so far, and that his farm boy outfit was his least favorite. I had to agree with him there.
But before the battle scene, we were going to quickly shoot my war speech. Yeah.
The riders all lined up in formation. Jack, the cameras, and the crew were all ready. “Action!” was yelled.
I took a deep breath, got my Shara act on, and then kicked Gladiator into a slow canter, getting in front of them. I could tell the cameras were zooming in up on my face. I started my speech.
“Warriors of Avalon!” my voice boomed, loud and commanded. “You are here today to fight evil and restore justice to land. Many before us have fallen, but not us. On many days before us battles have been fought and lost, but not this day. We will fight this day, fight and win!” everybody roared. “Fight for justice! Fight for freedom!” the horses started to get antsy and then I yelled, “Fight for Avalon!”
Everybody yelled war cries and we rushed forward.
Somebody yelled, “Cut!”
“That was perfect!” praised Jack. “Now, for the battle scene!”
Alex and I turned our horses back and waited over the crest of the hill. We had so many extras it wasn’t in funny. Jack had had to call about everybody he knew that could ride a horse just for this scene so that we’d have enough Shadow riders and Avalon riders.
Alex and I waited over the crest of the hill. The horses snorted nervously while people murmured quietly to each other. Alex glanced over at me.
“Your speech was amazing. You ready?”
I nodded. “Yeah.” I paused. “This seems almost real, doesn’t it?”
“The battle?” he asked. “Yeah.”
To make sure I stayed safe, Victor and my new bodyguard, Drake, were going to be riding horses right behind me, even wearing costumes and everything. I wondered exactly why but hadn’t commented.
“It’s like it’s the end my battles,” I whispered. “Like what with my dad and all.”
“I know what you mean,” Alex agreed.
The crew guy told us, “Go!” The first shot. Would we cut it, or not?
We all flew out at a gallop, cresting the hill and thundering down the other side. When they put the movie together, my speech and this part would run right together so as we charged up on one side it would look like we’d just crested the hill.
We flew into the battle. The next part was rather tricky. With animation we were going to have an arrow hit my horse and me fall off into the battle. So of course Hunter jumps off and goes back-to-back with me so that I wouldn’t get killed.
We figured all of that out. Finally Alex and I were back-to-back. I was glad we didn’t have to come charging over the hill again. The battle scene we’d worked out pretty well. A few people charged, but Alex and I had practiced so much with the swords that it was like instinct to push them away, just as practiced.
Everything was going perfectly. We’d practiced all of the lunges that came at us with the extras and everything. And then something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen.
I looked up and saw eyes staring at me from one of the extras. Bright green eyes, glaring right at me. I shivered, and stopped. Alex, back-to-back with me, didn’t even notice and kept right on “battling”.
But I knew the person in front of me.
I was frozen with fright. But he didn’t hesitate. He ran forward and smacked me with the flat side of his sword, sending me jarring right into Alex’s back and sending both of flying.
We landed yards apart. I groaned, but it hurt to move. I ached all over from the hit. “Avalon warriors”, AKA Victor and Drake, whacked Dad away from me, noticing the threat.
But I almost couldn’t move. I tried to, but it hurt too badly.
“Shara?” at least Alex had remembered to call me by my name in the movie. “Shara!” Alex scrambled over to me on his knees.
“I…” I managed in a raspy voice.
“Olivia,” he whispered, cradling my head so that I wasn’t on the hard ground. Real tears pricked his eyes, and I didn’t think it was acting. “Are…are you…”
My eyes flickered. Some of it was fake but not all of it. I could barely see the camera focused on us.
“Fight…for Avalon,” I murmured the words. Then I closed my eyes and I went limp.
“NO!” part of me wondered if Alex actually thought I’d died.
I felt him let go of my head and start whacking at the “Shadow” clan around us. I stayed limp. Let them think me dead. Finally came the words I was waiting for—“CUT!”
Jack rushed over to my side. “You are joking, Olivia? Aren’t you? Oh, please…”
I flicked my eyes open. “Well,” I rasped, “the dying part I was joking, but I still hurt really bad.”
Marcy rushed over, tears of relief mixing with the slight laughter in her voice. “You’re all right! I saw you flying and then…” she trailed off, not wanting to continue.
“Come on, Olivia.” Alex tried to help me to my feet.
“What happened?” demanded Jack, glancing around.
“He happened.” Victor threw somebody to the ground at Jack’s feet. “It’s Olivia’s father. I’m sure of it.”
In disgust Marcy kicked off his helmet. He kneeled, groveling in front of my director.
“It’s him,” I confirmed.
“We’re going to have you sent away to prison, you know that, don’t you?” hissed Jack. “So if you have some confessing, I’d say you’d better start when we get you to the authorities.” He nodded towards Victor and Drake.
“Are you going to be OK, Olivia?” asked Alex.
I sat up, smiling wanly. “Yeah, I think I’m going to be OK.”
“Well, what’re you guys waiting for then?” chuckled Jack. “We’re running a movie here! Last scene!”
Alex and I laughed.
he last scene—the banquet, and Hunter’s and my riding away, the mysterious Avalon Keepers. I knew it was going to be my favorite scene of all, and not just because of the beautiful white dress I got, my fantastic makeup, and practically best ever hairdo that Marina was going to give me.
Maybe it was because I got to wear a cool cape, ride Gladiator, and then ride off into the sunset with my best friend. Or maybe it was because my best friend and me were still alive.
I woke up early that morning and walked in my sweat suit to the makeup trailer. Marcy was waiting for me, and Marina was already doing Alex’s hair.
“Hey, sunshine,” she grinned at me. “Take a seat.”
I plopped down and she wheeled me around, getting started on my face.
“I’d say we have a brave girl on our hands, Marina,” chuckled Marcy as she brushed makeup on my face. “Yes, indeed.”
“I’d say we have two kids who’re the best of friends,” laughed Marina, whirling Alex around. “OK, best friend Olivia, how does Alex look? Pretty good, huh?”
“Yep,” I agreed.
“I’ll wait for you,” Alex promised.
“Thanks,” I grinned, “but it might take awhile.”
He frowned slightly.
Marcy was finally done and I switched chairs. When Marina’s nimble fingers were done, I had to admit that I looked pretty much awesome-gorgeous. Mum would be proud of me.
Alex and I walked to the costume trailer, where we got all fitted up. The dress that Nancy put on me was even more gorgeous than the drawing I remember looking at it.
“It’s perfect,” she said with a smile. “Come on. You guys can get seats in the van—we’re shooting this scene in the studio. Then when we get that over with, we’ll got over to the hills again and film you guys riding off into the sunset.”
Alex looked great in his outfit. In mine, I really did feel like Avalon royalty. I walked like a princess to the van, where Alex and I sat and waited for everybody else to load up. Victor, Drake, and Alex’s bodyguard accompanied us, but stayed out of the van.
“I guess this is the end,” Alex whispered. He glanced up at me. “After today, we won’t be shooting anymore. We’ll return home in a few days, and everything will turn back to normal. We’ll probably never be another movie with each other again.” He shrugged. “Unless, of course, we happen to get picked.”
I grinned. “Of course.” I paused. “Hey, did you hear that in a month they’ll be casting for the movie The Key Secrets. You know—the one about the brother and sister go to that mansion…” I trailed off with a smile and at twinkle in my green eyes.
“You bet,” he winked.
Shara walked into the room. Everything was perfect. The Shadow clan had been defeated; together her and Hunter, as the Avalon Keepers, had brought peace again to the land and to the clan of Avalon.
She glanced across the room where Hunter was standing, staring out one of the huge, ornate windows that stared out of the castle of Avalon. She crossed the beautiful tiled floor to stand next to the huge curtain that was held back by gold curtain holders.
They stood like that for a few moments, just both staring out at the window. The land was full of peace. It was beautiful, like tasting freedom on the tongue. Shara smiled to herself.
“So, I guess our adventure’s over,” she murmured, standing next to him.
Hunter glanced over at her, smiling. “Not yet, princess. We still have the adventure of a lifetime ahead of us.”
Shara smiled slyly at him. “Yes, I guess we do.”
They shared smiles. Everything was perfect.
I clipped on my cloak and pulled myself up onto Gladiator. Alex was on his horse. He smiled down at me. I knew that the camera was capturing every second.
“You ready, Princess?” he grinned.
I smiled right back. “You bet.”
We kicked our horses in a gallop and flew off towards the setting sun in the distance, the brilliance of it nearly blinding my eyes. If there ever was a God, and I was thinking more so every day, especially with Marcy’s talks, this was definitely his design.
“This is it, Olivia,” whispered Alex.
And then we really were flying, going across the plain. I barely even heard them yell “cut”, even though I knew they did. Alex and I wheeled our horses around and galloped back.
But I couldn’t believe were done. Just about a year. More than a year ago I’d auditioned for this part. And now it was all over. It was more than sad. I never wanted it to end.
But now it was done.
I always wanted to remember that last ride—just Alex and I, our capes flying, the wind in our faces, the sunset before us, nothing behind us. It was the way I always wanted to remember my best friend.
he door of the limo opened. Cameras flashed in my face. I smiled and waved. Up ahead I caught sight of Alex and smiled broadly, waving. Hundreds of pictures were taken. People thrust pieces of paper and journals with pens and pencils at me to sign my signature. I signed as many as I could before Victor and Drake rushed me inside the building.
“Hey, Alex,” I smiled, walking beside him.
He grinned. “The premiere of Avalon Keepers. You know, if I wasn’t acting in this movie, I’d still be seeing it. The book series is my favorite.”
“Mine, too,” I agreed. “Hey, look! There’s my mum and Cara!”
We rushed up to them. Of course I’d seen Mum since I’d gotten back. Josh—Dad—was right beside her. I grinned and hugged him, too. I took Alex’s and Mum’s hands and we all walked together—me, Alex, Mum, Dad, Cara, Victor, Drake, and Alex’s bodyguard—into the theater.
It was an even bigger success than any of us could’ve ever imagined, and won more awards than I could count. I’d had worldwide acclaim for my role as Shara.
It was interesting, watching the final thing. I actually looked like really good. It was pretty cool. My favorite scene, though, was the last one. I almost cried. But Alex smiled at me, and that made me smile, too.
It was one of the best days of my life. But as we piled out of the theater, my real father’s words echoed in my brain—I will take her and you can’t stop me.
To be continued…in Olivia McCarthy: The Key Secrets.