Today’s excerpt is from a Work in Progress – or should I say a work that I need to get back to one of these days. This untitled work is about a stunt woman who will discover some amazing things about herself, namely that she has unusual powers! The heroine, Sara, is a former gymnast who turned to being a stunt woman to provide for herself and her grandmother who lived with her. Sara is an avid surfer and lives in Huntington Beach, a great surfing town in California.
Hope you enjoy this Wicked Wednesday excerpt and wish me luck in placing it somewhere.
Sara Mendoza had taken no more than a step or two from the temple excavation when an explosion rocked the structure behind her.
She hurtled through the air, arms and legs flailing. A huge fireball from the detonation chased after her. As she neared her objective — a strategically placed crash mat — Sara tucked tight, preparing to absorb the blow from the landing. At the speed she was travelling, the mat could still be as hard as cement.
Her shoulder connected with the foam, but she maintained her natural momentum by rolling. Then that sixth sense that had served her so well in the past kicked in. Something was different from the earlier rehearsals.
Flattening instead of continuing with her controlled tumble, Sara raised her hand in anticipation of the blow. A tingle danced along her fingertips a second before sizzling heat skimmed along her body. A large piece of fiery debris sailed past her. With a dull thud, part of the scaffolding from around the excavation landed only a few feet away. It was a section that shouldn’t have come off the set.
The trio of pullers who had been busy helping her fly through the air thanks to the harness at her waist now quickly rushed forward with fire extinguishers to keep the crash mat from igniting.
Sara rose and stretched to work a kink out of her back. Reaching behind her, she undid the shackle which attached the cable to the harness beneath her shirt. Seeing that her co-workers had things under control, she hurried toward the trailer reserved for the stunt crew’s use. The RV was set quite a ways back from the temple built in the Puerto Rican jungle by the film crew.
She had one more scene to shoot today. She needed to mentally prepare and eventually change into the duplicate wardrobe that matched what the heroine of the movie would later be wearing. Plus — although she would deny it if anyone asked — she was a little shaken about how close she had come to being pancaked by the flaming piece of the set.
“That was awesome, Sara. Way cool,” said the new assistant, a young man who was more boy than man and hoped to break into the business.
Sara forced a smile while they walked along and the assistant continued to carry on about her luck during her recent exploit. Her past luck during such feats had made her famous throughout the industry. No stunt was too hard or too dangerous for Sara Mendoza. The amazing part was that after nearly four years in the business, she was still in one piece, uninjured except for the occasional minor bump, bruise or road rash.
She snapped her hand up to silence the overeager assistant. “Gracias, Billy. Let’s just concentrate on the next one.” She hated the talk. Not that she was superstitious, but acknowledging her luck was almost like tempting the gods to remind her that she was human. Humans broke and bled and worse.
Right now soreness was gradually awakening in the shoulder that had absorbed the brunt of the landing’s force. She opened the door to the trailer, but stopped the young assistant as he went to enter. “Do you think you can scrounge up an ice pack for my shoulder?”
“Do you need to see the doc? Is it bad?” he asked, almost too eagerly.
“An ice pack will do. Thanks.”
He scurried away, and Sara took a deep breath and entered the trailer.
Once inside, she walked to the small refrigerator, grabbed a can of Pepsi, and slugged down a good portion of the soda. Bracing her shaky hands along the counter in the kitchenette, she thought about the fact that she had just survived a close call. Not her first, but nevertheless scary.
Weakness slowly crept into her limbs along with a chill. A byproduct of the adrenaline rush from doing the stunt, she told herself, and finished off her drink. Combined with a little rest and some meditation to center herself, she would be ready for the next stunt later that afternoon.
A knock came at the door. Billy with the ice pack, she remembered, walked to the door and opened it.
His face was in shadow as he stood in the entryway, but Sara would have known it was Matt even if it was pitch black.
“Heard you had a slight problem,” Matt said.
Great, Sara thought. The shittiness of her day was now complete.
“I’m fine,” she said with a shrug, then grimaced at the twinge of pain and rubbed her shoulder.
Matt was at her side instantly, easing away the collar of her shirt to expose the reddened spot at the top of her shoulder. Gently he ran his hand over the area and said, “I’ve already seen the crash mat and heard what the crew had to say. That’s not my idea of fine.”
She jerked back from his touch, flinching at the slight pain it created in her shoulder. “It’s nothing to worry about, ‘Mom’.”
“I checked and double-checked everything. That piece of the set shouldn’t have — ”
“Come off? We both know the unexpected can happen during a stunt. So just leave it alone already,” she nearly shouted, tired of Matt’s overprotective smothering. No one would intentionally rig the set to cause harm. Everyone on the crew was almost like family. None had a grudge to settle. At least, not that she knew, but in a cut throat business like Hollywood, anything was possible.
Matt clearly thought the accident might have been something else, but then again, Matt had been in paranoid mode since an accident on the set nearly two years earlier had badly injured him. He had been lucky to survive, but their relationship hadn’t. The stress and fear that remained with him after the incident had made it impossible for them to stay together.
Sara sensed that Matt was just itching to dredge up their battle about her stunt work. But he just stood there as she removed her shirt, followed by her black jeans to expose the flying harness. The main part of the harness encircled her waist snugly, while two straps slipped down and around the uppermost portion of her thighs. They were there to keep the harness from being jerked out of place during the stunt.
She tried to ignore Matt, who seemed disinclined to leave, but it was difficult. Too much history joined them. A funny thing really. Matt had been the one to introduce her to the business. He had taught her much of what she knew. Had become her first lover.
Her hands fumbled with the webbing of one buckle and suddenly he was there, brushing her hands aside.
He loomed over her, close to a foot taller than her own 5’4″ height. Broad-shouldered and still well-muscled despite the fact that he was now normally a stunt coordinator rather than an active participant.
She wouldn’t look at him while he undid the safety binding as easily as he had once undressed her. Caressed her.
She refused to notice the slight tremble in his hands when he accidentally brushed her skin with the back of his hand as he undid the second buckle and main lacings of the equipment.
The harness slipped off and Matt grasped it. She rushed to the opposite side of the trailer and grabbed her robe off a hook. Belting it securely, she turned and watched Matt check the equipment carefully, making sure that it was still in usable condition.
“It worked just fine,” she said, wishing he would leave so she could get a little respite from his presence and prepare herself mentally for the next stunt.
“It’s great that the harness worked fine. What about the friggin’ piece of lumber that nearly flattened you? Was that fine as well?”
“I’m in once piece, Matt. That’s all that matters.” Despite saying that, she was a little spooked. Matt was right about one thing — he ran a tight ship where accidents rarely happened. She would have to keep a close eye on the preparations for the other stunts which remained to make sure no one was up to no good.
Meeting Matt’s gaze, she faked unconcerned and said, “There’s nothing to worry about.”
Matt nodded and seemed about to say something, but an angry buzz from her phone as it rested on the table prevented it.
She grabbed the cell phone and even though she wasn’t familiar with the number showing up on the caller id, answered in order to avoid continuing the fight with Matt. “Sara Mendoza.”
“Ms. Mendoza? This is Detective Alvarez from the Huntington Beach PD. There’s been an incident at your home.”