Authors: Alie Williamson
Love and Lies
Novella by Alie
Copyright @ 2015
POWWOW Books, Canada
Giroux and Tyler Bergeron
Three weeks had gone by,
and early January was taking its toll on April. She was used to cold weather,
not the luke-warm air that rushed through the Hollywood hills. There was also
no snow. It didn’t seem like winter.
April’s work on the movie
lot hadn’t changed much; she brushed horses, tacked them up for Damian,
supervised shooting and discussed training tactics with actors. But she did her
utmost to avoid bumping into Lex. She wouldn’t have known what to say to him. Seeing
him from a distance, moving around the lot, was hard enough, and he always seemed
to be where she needed to go. It was impossible to steer clear of him.
April chose to spend her
free time watching Prime Time work. The only downside was seeing how little Violet
knew about horses and Prime Time’s patience gradually, but steadily, decreasing
every time she mounted.
She tried to spend as
much time as possible in the studio because she hated the looks she got from
the grooms as she went about her business in the barn. They followed Violet
around like puppies, worshipping her, and to them, April was the enemy.
Even Damian seemed angry.
Nothing she did was good enough; grooming the horses, mucking the stalls,
cleaning the tack. Damian looked at her work with a blank expression and moved
on. She was beginning to think leaving had just made everything harder. Not
only had she ruined her relationship with Kip, she had destroyed all respect
she had gained from her co-workers in L.A.
She wondered how long it
would be before everything went back to the way it was before.
The movie had put her up
in a hotel across town for the first few nights. Then claustrophobia set it.
Re-learning how to function in L.A was hard enough; with the constant noise and
flashing lights at her windows, April’s sleep was suffering. After only a week
in the hotel, she found a small cottage to rent on the outskirts of the city, on
farm land. She didn’t know how a one acre lot that bordered three others was
considered rural, but it was better than the dark hotel room.
Her new home was small,
but functioning, with an open-concept kitchen/dining room and a spacious
en-suite bathroom. The only problem was the loneliness she felt whenever she
was there. She didn’t know more than a handful of people in this strange and
intimidating city, and most of them hated her.
Entering the barn on the
lot was still her favorite part of the day, as the horses seemed to be happy to
see her in the mornings. She went from stall to stall, feeding them mints from
her pockets and scratching each one behind the ears. She purposefully steered
clear of Prime Time, as she didn’t want to give Violet even the smallest reason
to think she had interfered with the horse.
He nickered softly as she
passed, remembering her scent as that of a friend, and she bit her lip. It was
difficult to ignore him, but she knew it must be done, if she had any chance of
keeping her job.
“Good morning, Damian,”
April said, grabbing a mug from the shelf in the staff lounge and filling it
replied. His face was somber, as usual.
“What do you want me to
do today?” April wanted to get started, so she didn’t have to be around
Damian’s irritable attitude for long.
“Lex needs a hand with
his escape scene. The horse is giving him problems.”
“Benny is giving him
trouble?” Benny was one of the easiest going horses in the barn. Nothing seemed
to faze him.
“No, he’s been on Trinity
for a week now. The little grey mare in stall sixteen.”
the firecracker mare.
“What happened to Benny?”
“Nothing. Campbell thinks
a lighter colored horse looks better with the dark clothes Lex wears.” Damian
looked at his watch. “Lex is coming in early. He’ll be here in ten minutes. If
I were you, I’d go tack up and be ready by the time he gets here.”
“She’ll be here at 2:00 pm,
April nodded, and left
the staff room, holding her coffee mug in both hands to warm them.
Miss Trinity, as April
called her, was a spritely dapple-grey mare. She had the most attitude of any
other horse in the barn. The only horse that was a close second was Prime Time,
and his was an entirely different story. Needing an experienced handler kept Trinity
away from most of the actors on set. She was usually only ridden by the
stunt-riders, the experienced equestrians that bore an unlikely resemblance to
the actors. After his stint at Blue Haven, Lex had chosen to do some of his own
stunts, but April still didn’t think he was experienced enough to ride Trinity.
The plucky mare nibbled
April’s sweater as she tacked her up, being careful not to get kicked as she
tightened the cinchy horse’s saddle. Trinity turned to bite her and April held
up her finger.
“Now little miss, are you
gonna give me trouble today or be a good girl?”
As she pulled on the
cinch once more, the horse reached around to bite her again.
“Miss Trinity, you are
lucky it’s not me who’s gonna be riding you. Just don’t throw Lex, because he
won’t be happy if he gets his jeans dirty,” April said.
“Didn’t know you thought
I was so vain.” Lex suddenly appeared at the stall door and slipped inside.
Seeing him after avoiding
him for so long hit April in the stomach like someone had punched her. She
found it hard to breathe. His eyes were bright, his pupils small. She felt
herself drowning in them, much like the first time she had looked at them. She
felt like Icarus flying too close to the sun, bound to get burned.
“Lex,” she said.
“Good morning, April.”
Lex leaned over the stall door and peeked down the aisle.
“What are you doing?”
“The grooms won’t leave
me alone. They follow me everywhere now.” He turned to the horse and stroked
her face. “You gonna give me a hard time again, missy?”
“What’s she been doing?”
“It’s like she’s bored,
if you ask me. We do the same thing over and over again on set, and by the
third or fourth time, she starts acting up, like a teenager, almost.”
“Bored...” April mused,
looking at the horse. That could explain why she was nibbling and aggressive.
“You might be right. Let’s test that theory today.”
“I’d be bored too if I
was you, girl. It would suck being in this box for your whole life.” Lex looked
at April. “Don’t you think?”
April nodded. Watching
them together gave April an idea. “Let’s take her out. I’ll tack up Benny and we’ll
go on a trail ride.”
“I don’t think we’re
allowed…” Lex said, “The gates are crawling with paparazzi.”
“You think I’m gonna take
you down the paved road on a trail ride? We’ll go out the back, into the hills.
I’ll just clear it with Damian.”
“I’ll tack up Benny while
April went to find
Damian. She noticed a couple of grooms drop their heads quickly as she passed,
having obviously been eavesdropping. She hoped they would have the sense not to
follow them into the hills.
She found Damian in Prime
“Damian, I have an idea
“What is it?” Damian
poked Prime Time roughly in the ribs, causing the horse to exhale a lungful of
air so he could tighten the cinch quickly.
April winced for the
horse. She shook her head; not her business. “I want to take her and Lex on a
Damian looked at her,
raising his eyebrow like he usually did. “We aren’t in cattle country anymore,
April. We don’t go on trail rides. Just do what you’re paid to do; take the
horse in the arena and fix the problem.”
He led the horse from the
box stall, giving him a sharp slap on the rear when he didn’t want to move.
April followed them down
“But I think that’s the
problem, Damian. She’s bored. She’s been in the arena or on set, or in her
stall, for months now. When was the last time she even smelled grass? I think
it’ll work. I can fix this; I know I can. Just give me a chance.”
Damian looked at her,
stonily. “You have four hours until Violet gets here to start shooting with
Lex. Be back in three. And make sure your radio’s on loud when you leave the
lot. If we need you back, you’d better make it snappy.”
“I was gonna ride Benny,
if that’s okay?”
He nodded. “He hasn’t
been used in a while; it’ll be good for him.”
Giving Prime Time another
hard tug on the halter, he led the horse into the arena and away from April.
She hurried back to Lex.
She found him arguing with a groom.
“I’m tacking up the
horse,” he said.
“Sir, I insist...” The
groom reached for the bridle in Lex’s hand.
“Seriously, man, thanks
for the offer but I can tack up a horse for myself. I don’t need your help.”
April smiled and went to
“It’s okay,” she said.
The groom turned to look at her, his eyes cold. “I can take it from here.
Thanks for your help, though.”
“We’re supposed to tack
up the horses,” the groom said, stubbornly.
“We’re also supposed to
mind our own business,” April replied with a hint of a smile on her face.
The groom dropped his
head and shuffled away from them, embarrassed.
“See what I mean?” Lex
April nodded. “Thanks.”
She took the bridle from his hands and their fingers brushed minutely. Pulling
away quickly she turned from him, trying to calm her beating heart.
“I’ll go get Trinity,”
April bridled Benny and
led him from his stall. The leggy chestnut followed her obediently.
The Hollywood Hills were
laced with hiking trails. Hoping not to see many people, April and Lex headed
for the overgrown ones. April was looking for one thing in particular; a meadow,
where they could give Trinity a long gallop.
They barely spoke for the
first few minutes, the silence welcome to both of them, versus the constant
chatter on the lot, where you could never get any peace to think.
Finally, April took a
deep breath and said, “It’s nice to see you, Lex.”
Lex looked over at her,
his fingers moving from his leg for a moment like he was going to reach for her
hand. “It’s good to hear you say that. I was afraid you hated me.”
“I don’t hate you. You
“I know, but you avoided
me for two weeks. Since you came back, I haven’t even seen you once.”
She nodded, closing her
eyes for a moment. “But I do understand. I know you have to be with Violet now.
For the baby. I guess I just wish...things weren’t so complicated.”
“You have no idea how
much I want things to go back to the way they were, even if it was difficult. I
know how hard it is to be okay with what’s going on, because I feel it too,
April. It’s killing me to be this close to you and not be able to touch you,
April nodded. “It’s nice
to know I’m not the only one having a hard time.”
“You’re definitely not. Should
we give ‘em a run?” Lex picked up the pace, lengthening Trinity’s stride. April
followed, grateful for the distraction.
They left the trees
behind as a long stretch of undisturbed meadow grass opened up in front of
them. The sky was clear blue and the wind was crisp, with just enough chill to
make the horses energetic.
“Let her fly!” April
shouted ahead to Lex.
Trinity’s stride lengthened
even more and she bolted into the meadow, tossing her head and sticking her
tail straight out behind her. Her hooves pounded into the soft earth. Benny
barely kept up with the much smaller mare. April could see the horse having
fun, throwing her lithe body to the side every now and then in high jinks.
Lex laughed. “She’s
having a blast!” he called out.
“Bring her down. We’re
almost at the trees again.”
They had crossed the long
meadow in record time, and when they stopped, both horses were beginning to
sweat and breathing hard.
“Let’s walk for a bit and
find them a drink.” April lead the way into the trees, feeling Lex’s grin on
The trail curved this way
and that, weaving through the fir and spruce like it was man-made. April could
see the difference between this and the park trails lower down the mountain;
the trail here often went underneath low hanging branches or down steep hills,
showing it had been made by the deer and other wild animals that called the hills
Ahead, they could hear
They sat on rocks at the
base of a small waterfall, which fed a slow travelling river, winding its way
through the forest. The horses grazed nearby, happy to find fresh grass,
instead of the dried hay they were used to at the lot.