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He's going to kill me.
Mackenzie rushed out of her apartment, struggling into a pair of boots, nearly tripping as she hopped on a single foot down onto the first landing of her building's rickety stairwell. Checking her watch as she barreled down the last flight, she swore a streak as blue as the peeling paint on the walls.
If I don't make it to the studio in twenty minutes, Lyle is going to lose it.
The job hadn't come easy. She'd scratched and clawed for years, sometimes even worked for free, a lowly lens jockey on dozens of projects before she landed the coveted job of cinematographer on Going for Broke. The movie was a romantic dramamoody, heartrending awards fodder. It required diffuse lighting, lots of angles and lots of close-up work.
Also, being on time for screen tests helped with the whole keeping-the-job thing.
She tried to control her churning stomach, the rise of panic at the back of her throat. Getting a taxi at noon on a Friday was a near impossibility. She felt in her purse for loose cash, knowing that if she flashed a little green, it might encourage the brake reflex that didn't normally exist in Los Angeles taxi drivers.
She reached the bottom of the stairs, sliding into her second boot. Hoisting her purse on her shoulder, she leaned into the scarred wood of the building's heavy front door and pushed out into the bright sunlight, clutching the two errant twenties she'd found in the detritus of chewing gum wrappers and coffeehouse receipts.
"Hey!" she called as a cab flew past. She trotted down the concrete front steps and bounded across the sidewalk to throw an arm up after another passing taxi.
Away from the building, the difference between the seeming warmth of the bright day and the chilly bite that blew in the fall air was marked. Mack frowned as the cab kept going. Her long hair whipping wildly in the wind, she sidestepped a woman with a rolling basket of groceries and zigzagged into the street. Damned Santa Anas.
She nearly launched herself onto the hood of the next taxi that passed, causing the driver to screech to a stop. When the cabbie got over the initial shock of nearly having a woman on his hood, he began to curse to rival Mack's earlier barrage. Her heart raced, her adrenaline ramping up. She waved the cash at the driver. He paused, squinted at her through his grimy windshield, and motioned to her to get in. She peeled herself off the hood and climbed inside, relief settling over her and steadying her.
"What the hell's wrong with you, lady?" the man in the driver's seat hollered. "I could have mowed you down!" He craned over the seat to give her a hard stare as she scrambled into the backseat, lugging her bag behind her.
Whoa. The stare was leveled from pair of deep green eyes, and it momentarily struck her silent. "Venice and Main. Fast," she said, waving the money at him again. It hadn't been her stupid idea for half the damned crew to be involved in the screen tests, but the director would flip if she wasn't there.
"Venice and Main," he said, leaning forward to gauge traffic. "You got it."
Mack bent to fuss with the heel of her boot, a cover to sneak a glance at his display license. She couldn't make out his name, age or anything else in the smaller text. Narrowing her eyes, she leaned toward the glass divider. His voice was even, mid-deep, baritone but not bass. He had an accent. In the rearview mirror, she could make out a sharp wedge of jaw shaded by stubble. How tall was he?