• Sheila & Swede

The Hills Have Lies - Ep. 13


The Hills Have Lies © 2018 Lili Grouse

After a not-so-relaxing spa visit where I was grilled by Lauren until I wanted to stuff my ears with seaweed, I go back to the room to get changed for dinner. Luckily, Derek is still out somewhere, so I have the bathroom all to myself. I bring a change of clothes into the bathroom with me so I don’t have to be running around in a towel when Derek does show up.


We’re going to an Italian restaurant tonight, and there’s no dress code, so I pick out a white tank and matching knitted wrap to wear with a patterned green and blue skirt.


I try to be quick in the bathroom, but I’m still drying off when there’s knocking – no, banging – on the door. “Someone’s in here!” I call out, realizing at once how lame and redundant that sounds.


“Kinda figured!” Derek calls back. “Any chance you’ll be getting out of there anytime soon? It’s something of an emergency.”


“You can’t use Tom’s bathroom?” I call back, struggling to get my bra hooked in a hurry.


“It’s occupied.”


“Okay, fine, I’m coming out,” I call back and wrap the towel around me, grabbing my clothes before I unlock the door. Derek practically rushes past me and I quickly close the door behind me.


“Thanks!” he calls out and I roll my eyes when I hear him break wind like a whole friggin’ mast just toppled over.


Somewhat certain he’ll be in there for a while; I drop the towel and give the bra another go.

I’ve just managed to pull my tank top on when the door opens and I scramble to cover myself. My panties may be of the boy shorts variety and more modest than most swimsuits, but it’s still my underwear.


“Sorry,” Derek mumbles and walks over to his suitcase. I make for the bathroom door, but he calls out before I can open it. “I wouldn’t go in there right now if I were you.”


Grinding my teeth, I return to the bed and, while his back is turned, slip on the skirt. There. I feel much better now that I’m clothed. I don’t mind putting on my makeup in front of someone, that’s even part of the job.


“You know…” Derek starts and I look over as he pulls his T-shirt over his head, exposing his strong, muscular back and a tattoo on his right shoulder blade that I didn’t know he had.

“While I completely respect your right to privacy, we both have to get used to seeing each other in our underwear if we’re going to be shooting love scenes together.”


I sigh, realizing how silly I must seem to him. He’s right. We’re going to have to be comfortable around each other while we’re partially nude. Maybe my character can get away with wearing some kind of camisole in bed, but we’re still going to be really close together.


“You’re right. But we’re not working right now, so taking our clothes off might not be the best idea.”


“Don’t worry, I’m not going to walk around naked,” he says and pulls off his khaki shorts. “But I am going to strip down to my boxers, so avert your eyes if you don’t want to have wet dreams tonight.”


My jaw drops at his crude joke, but then I grab a pillow and throw it at him. “Perv!”


“Prude,” he grins at me and throws the pillow back as he walks into the contaminated bathroom. I hear the shower turn on so I finish up my makeup and put my hair up before grabbing my purse and leaving Derek to his own devices.


I’m not sure exactly where the restaurant is, so I head over to Reception to wait for the others there. Cole is waiting just outside and I slow my steps as I approach.


“Hey.”


“Hey. You look great.” He smiles and opens his arms for a hug. I stop just short of his reach, which doesn’t go unnoticed by him.


“Is something wrong?”


“You tell me.”


“Come on,” he says and ushers me over to a small patio enclosed with shrubbery. Once we’re out of sight of the windows and the courtyard, he continues. “What happened?”


“I don’t know, that’s what I want to ask you. Somehow, you’ve got both Lauren and Derek asking questions about us. Which is especially strange since you made it perfectly clear there is no ‘us’.”


“I was merely concerned about-“


“Oh, save it. We’re the only people at this place. There are no reporters around. My reputation is safe and sound. That’s not what this is about.”


“I know Lauren, okay? I know she can bulldoze people and I didn’t want you to be pushed around.”


“Lauren is my friend.”


“You didn’t really want to share a room with Derek, did you?”


“Well, no, but it’s not like it’s a huge problem for me. We’re friends, too. Besides, what other option would I have had – bunking with Crystal and Sally? With you? Would that have been a better solution, do you think? Derek rooming with Nick and you and I sharing a room?”


“At least then I’d know you were safe.”


“I’m safer with Derek.”


“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cole’s eyes blaze and his nostrils flare. He’s angry. Maybe rightly so, but once he hears my explanation he’ll understand.


“I’m not attracted to Derek, okay?” No. Damn it, that wasn’t what I was going to say.


Cole just stares at me, his chest rising and falling with every deep breath he takes. “I can’t do this anymore,” he says finally.


“Do what?”


“I keep trying to put up walls between us, and they keep falling apart like card houses.”


“It doesn’t have to be that way,” I tell him, my heart cracking. I screwed up and ruined everything. The thought of not having him in my life… I can’t stand it. “Friendship doesn’t require walls.”


Cole shakes his head. That small gesture knocks the wind out of me and I hug myself against the onslaught of pain.


“Okay. I’ll stay out of your way from now on,” I choke out and turn my back on him, desperate to get away before he can see the tears brimming in my eyes. I’m almost back in the courtyard when his fingers touch my arm.


“Hannah. After dinner. Let’s go for a walk. Please?”


I must be a glutton for heartache, because I give him a quick nod before putting some distance between us.

“Come on, we’re going dancing.” Lauren tugs on my arm and almost makes me drop my fettucine on the clean, white tablecloth.


“I’m not done eating yet,” I object.


“Are you on some weird slow-eating diet or something?” she frowns and grabs a breadstick off the table.


“Leave her alone, Lauren,” Cole says and she lets out an exaggerated sigh.


“It’s a club down the street from here, called Flashdance. Find me later, okay?” Lauren tells me, shooting me a look to say ‘be careful’. I know it well by now.


“Cole, you coming?” Crystal asks seconds after Lauren has gone off with Tom and Derek.


“Yeah, I’ll be there in a few,” he says, not looking at her. He’s not looking at me, either, but into his wine glass.


We’re both stalling, and it’s bound to look suspicious. The only people left at the table besides Cole and me are Marsha and Greg, and from what I understand, they’re not going dancing anywhere. When Greg orders another pitcher of wine for the table, I excuse myself.

As I move to stand, I hear Cole’s chair scrape on the floor.


“Well, this has been great. Thank you, Greg, Marsha,” Cole says as he slides the chair in under the table. “I’ll see you in the morning.”


“The dance floor calling you, huh?” Greg says and grins at the waitress bringing wine.


“You know it,” Cole says jovially and looks over at me. “What do you say, Miller?”


“Um… sure. And thank you for dinner,” I smile at Marsha and Greg, who raise their now refilled glasses in acknowledgment.


Cole waits for me outside the restaurant and when I look around to see what direction we’re supposed to go in, he takes my hand.


“Beach is this way.” He tugs on my hand and I follow him, crossing the street and going down a path that leads to the beach.


It’s dark out, but there is a boardwalk with lamps to light the way. And despite the chill in the air coming in from the ocean, the warmth of Cole’s hand wrapped around mine warms me to my core. If he doesn’t want to be friends anymore, why is he holding my hand? I don’t want to pull away, though. For a few seconds more, I can pretend all is right with us.


“Hannah,” he says, bringing us to a stop by the railing. “These past couple of months I’ve gotten to know you have been great. I really enjoy your company, and sometimes… I think I enjoy it too much.”


I slip my hand out of his and hug myself against the chill creeping in now that our connection is broken. “So now you’re punishing me for caring about you? For being naïve and silly and falling for-“ I shake my head and look out over the ocean; a black, thundering expanse matching my mood perfectly.


“You messed with my head, Cole. You acted like I meant something to you, like I was your friend-“


“You are,” he cuts me off. “You’re one of the few people I feel like I can talk to about anything. That’s what scares me.”


I turn my head to look at him and stifle a scoff. “You’re scared? What, you think I’m going to run to the tabloids just because we’re not friends anymore? That’s not who I am, Cole. If you knew me at all, you would know that by now.”


“That’s not what I meant. I’m scared because I care, Hannah. From the moment you walked on set, I’ve felt protective of you. You were so innocent, like a kid, and I wanted to help you find your place in this business.”


Great. What every girl wants to hear – that the super-hot actor they’ve been crushing on sees them like a kid. I start to turn away from him so he won’t see how much his words hurt me, but he grabs my shoulders and keeps me in place.


“But, Hannah, I was wrong. You didn’t need my help. Instead, you reminded me of something I’d forgotten about – how it feels to connect with someone who’s real. I don’t want to lose that connection, but I worry that crossing the line from friendship to something more will destroy it.”


“Is that what you want, though? Something more?” I ask, biting my lip. I want so badly for him to say yes. No matter how that may complicate our lives.


His hold on my shoulders tightens briefly before he releases me and takes a step back. “I have no right to ask for more.”


I rub my temples, trying to wrap my head around what he’s saying. This conversation is unreal, and I can’t help but let out a groan of frustration. “What do you want from me, Cole? You keep giving me mixed messages – one minute you’re telling me about faking a relationship with Crystal when you haven’t told anyone else, then you ask to come over in the middle of the night, then you say we’re just friends, and today you’re upset about me sharing a room with Derek. You clearly don’t want me for yourself, so what is it that you do want, because-“


Cole cuts me off without words – pulling me close and crushing his lips to mine. I’m startled at first, completely at a loss for words, but then my body overtakes my brain and I’m lost to the sensations. As I open myself to him, he holds me closer and takes what I’m offering. The wind is whipping my hair around at will, but I don’t hear the waves anymore, nor do I feel the chill off the ocean breeze or smell the salt in the air. All I can feel is Cole’s heat seeping into me, all I can hear is the blood rushing through my head, and all I can smell is the cologne he’s wearing.


A sudden flash of lightning splits the sky and we jump apart. The telltale thundering of a thunderstorm is not far behind, and when that sound actually makes me sigh in relief, I realize exactly what we were both afraid of.


Most people would probably laugh at themselves for being spooked by lightning, but Cole and I just end up staring at each other for a moment until the sky opens up and the rain starts to pour. Only then does Cole take my hand in his and we set off in a sprint to find cover. Neither of us voices the ‘what if’ no doubt burning in both of our minds. What if those had been cameras flashing?



To be continued...

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