Authors: Anne Styles
Sins of Sarah
Published by Anne Styles 2013
Copyright © Anne Styles 2013
Originally published by Scarlet
Formatted by Bas Fountain
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Director Nicholas Grey and producer Charles Hastings have been friends and rivals since their childhood but will their friendship survive (and Nick’s fragile marriage) survive their casting of pretty actress Sarah Campbell in their latest film?
She couldn't put the chocolate in her mouth again, she was sure she couldn't! Her stomach heaved just at the thought of it, her skin felt itchy and hot from the lights and the layers of make-up caked on it, and her scalp ached from the constant fussing of the hairdresser's brush over her hair. All this anguish just for a chocolate commercial!
It hardly seemed worth it to the tired star. Why, oh, why, she wondered, did they always leave the close-ups until the end of the day, when everything was at its worst?
The small studio, apart from the island of tranquillity created by the sofa where she and her co-star were lying, was total chaos, with the detritus of the day's shoot littered all over it. Discarded polystyrene cups, stubbed out cigarettes, unwanted props were scattered everywhere, and the crew and agency personnel lounged wearily on any available perch. It was near the end of a very long and exhausting day for everyone, and it showed. Even the director, normally a cheerful, ebullient type, drooped as if he had had enough.
'Just once more for luck, dears,' he coaxed, trying not to see Sarah's anguished look. 'We were just a fraction off.'
'Sorry, Sarah,' her co-star apologized. 'It was me that time; I missed my cue.' Sarah did her best to be her usual calm self, and submitted to the make-up girl yet again.
'I'll throw up all over you if I have to do it again after this time,' she told him sweetly, however. 'So you have been warned!'
'And I thought you were such a well brought up girl!' He grinned at her, totally unabashed.
'So I am, normally.' Sarah, one of the newer stars of children's TV, smiled the charming smile that had made her such a favourite with colleagues and viewers alike, and settled back to try to reproduce the same enthusiasm for the chocolate all over again. Somehow she marshalled her brain into gear as the studio quietened and the familiar 'Speed - mark it - action!' call rang through the set.
This time they got it totally right, and they all heaved a sigh of relief as the director called, 'check the gate,' thanked them and told them that they could go, forgetting them immediately as he shouted for the pack shot to be set up.
'Thank God for that!' Robin sighed as they made their way to their dressing room. 'I was beginning to buckle at the knees! Shall we go for a drink to recover?'
'Sorry, Robin, I can't.' Sarah sighed. She had known this was coming - it usually did after a shoot. It never ceased to amaze her how the men she worked with seemed to think she was available to them just because they had spent the day with her. 'My boyfriend wouldn't like it, and anyway if I hurry I can just make it to Sally Jacques's ballet class at the Dance Centre.'
'A ballet class?' Robin stared in amazement. 'Heavens above, woman, you started work at seven this morning - haven't you done enough for one day? Your body looks in good enough shape to me!'
'That's because I work at keeping it that way.' Sarah shrugged. 'Just so that I can go on earning a living. Anyway, I'm doing a fitness video over the weekend for Sally - I have to turn up tonight.' 'Don't you ever stop working?' he demanded sulkily, eyeing her with some regret. He could think of a far better exercise routine for her body than Sarah could at that moment.
'My modelling life-span is much shorter than yours' she reminded him tartly. 'I'm twenty-four, I'll be over the hill before I know it. I just pray I'll get a real acting job soon, instead of all this bimbo stuff. I'm beginning to get really fed up with modelling, but, as I'm leaving Do or Dare after this series, I need every penny I can make right now just in case!'
'I don't think you'll have very much difficulty finding work, my darling,' Robin assured her. 'Once the word gets out that you're available, that is. You've had a fantastic amount of exposure with that programme.'
She grabbed a handful of tissues and began energetically to scrub off her make-up. 'Yeah! But only if directors watch kids' TV - and even then they might only think I can race about and do stunts! Still, my agent is working on it; don't you worry.' She laughed. 'That's why I got that magazine cover this month. I just hope it leads to something other than chocolate or shampoo ads, that's all. I didn't do eight years' training just for that, I hope.' She hoped. It seemed ages since she had done a really meaty drama, like the police series she had been so proud of last year. Bits and pieces were all she seemed to have been doing for months, besides the programme, despite all Oscar's efforts on her behalf, and she was bored with all of it.
Wearily, she dragged on her familiar jeans and sweat- shirt, rammed an old baseball cap over her hair and, after polite goodbyes to the crew and agency personnel, made her way out. The Soho streets were crowded with office workers going home and theatre-goers on their way for an evening out as she slipped through them on her way to the Dance Centre in Covent Garden. All she really wanted was to go home and sink into a hot bath, but the discipline formed by long years of training drove her to push for that little bit of extra effort from her tired body that evening -as it did most days.
Sheer determination got her through the hour of gruelling ballet, leaving her sweating and exhausted as she changed again later, in the crowded changing room that smelled of too many hot bodies and discarded old socks.
She was comfortable, though, with the crowd of dancers there, many of whom she knew. It was one reason she had opted to come to that class, since Sally only taught chosen pros and Sarah was not likely to be an object of curiosity as she often was in more open classes.
They gossiped cheerfully afterwards in the coffee-shop, about who was auditioning for what show, what Andrew Lloyd Webber was rumoured to be doing next and, most importantly, who was sleeping with who - a constant source of interest to them all. Amongst them, Sarah was well liked for her quiet friendliness, despite her TV contract which made her better known than most of them. The other dancers teased her unmercifully about her TV work rather than envying her, and in their company she relaxed for once as they pored over the evening newspaper, with its banner headlines about an actress's horrific car accident.
'She was going to play the lead in Nick Grey's new film,' Sarah commented. 'Now, that is the kind of part I would kill for,' she added wistfully.
'Well, she won't be playing it now, unless they postpone for months, and I can't see them doing that somehow.' Another girl grinned cheerfully. 'You look a bit like Harriet - why don't you get your agent to put you forward for it?'
'I wish!' Sarah groaned. 'I don't have the prestige or the experience that Harriet has. All I'm known for lately is kids' stuff.'
'You have two years of RADA and countless TV dramas to your credit,' Polly pointed out. 'Stop selling yourself short, Campbell! You're a bloody good actress - we all know that, damn you. Go for it.'
'Profit from someone else's misfortune? I'd rather not!'
'You're far too soft-hearted for this business,' Polly retorted. 'Do you really think Harriet would hesitate to whip the part from you if it were the other way round? Of course she wouldn't!'
'Yes, well, I'll wait for Mr Grey to ring and beg me,' Sarah said with a grin. 'Anyway, you know what his films are like. They may well be good box-office, but the leads usually have at least one nude scene, and that's not my idea of being a star. I prefer to keep my clothes on, thank you!'
'He's one of the best, though,' Polly reminded her. 'Does it really matter that much? I know I'd strip off for him - personally, anyway. He's gorgeous! Far too sexy to be behind a camera! I always did go for the dark, brooding type.'
'It matters to me.' Sarah stood up. 'Anyway, it's hardly likely to happen, is it? I'm off - I'm not sure I'll even stay awake till I get home, the way I feel. Bye, girls.'
* * *
Her flat in Oakley Street had been paid for with the legacy she had inherited on her parents' death, and it was cherished by Sarah and furnished with her favourite pieces from the family home. She paused on her way through the living room as she always did when she went in, mentally saying good evening to the oil painting of them that hung over the pink and blue sofa, a happy reminder of the days when they had all been together, and then she sank finally into a long and very welcome bath.
There had to be more to life than this, she thought bitterly to herself as she soaked in the steaming water and sipped at the one glass of white wine her fitness regime allowed her. All she ever did was work and then struggle to keep her body in the top physical shape that the programme demanded.
Tomorrow, she decided. Tomorrow she would persuade Peter to take her out after they'd finished the programme, instead of simply going to the health club to work out as they normally did. He needed a break from routine just as much as she did. He liked to call himself her boyfriend, after all, so let him behave like one for once! Decision made, in a slightly more cheerful mood she climbed into bed and switched on the news - so much for the glamour of an actress's life, she grimaced, and was asleep even before the first commercial break began.
* * *
Two days later, oblivious of the people around him in the busy club foyer, a weary Nicholas Grey stood transfixed by the photograph on the magazine cover. Honey-coloured hair was flung out to the wind, and the girl's huge hazel eyes sparkled straight at him, challenging him as he stared at it. Change of direction!' the cover shouted, Do or Dare star Sarah Campbell moving on!
'Not quite your usual scene, Mr Grey.' The RAC club porter smiled at him as he picked up the magazine to pay for it.
Nick smiled back in agreement. He usually bought car magazines on his way in and out of the club when he went for a swim or to play squash. 'Maybe not,' he agreed. 'But just this once it may be exactly what I need!' He glanced at his watch and suddenly realized how late it was getting. He would be cutting it pretty fine if he was going to go back into the office before he went home, and now he knew he had to. 'Any chance of a taxi, Harry?' he added, knowing it was pouring with rain but totally confident that he would be successful.
Over six feet tall and well-built, his dark hair thick as it curled on his jacket collar, at thirty-nine, Nicholas Grey exuded a strong masculinity and an unmistakable air of power. Frequently bloody-minded, to the point of down- right rudeness, he did, however, command total respect from every crew member of his units for his dedicated attitude to his work - even if they were always wary of his periodic outbursts. He was already tapping his foot impatiently as the harassed porter came back to report - thankfully - that he had a taxi for him.