Authors: Denise McCray
ROLE OF A LIFETIME
shifted uncomfortably in her seat while the man on stage strutted and recited his lines like they were written especially for him. Heat coursed through her body and settled in between her legs. She’d seen him on television and knew he was hot, but the real thing was no comparison. Not even close.
He’s good huh?” she whispered to Dennis O’Neal, the director of the play, her eyes glued on the handsome actor. She scrunched up her forehead when her friend dabbed her chin with a handkerchief. “What are you doing?”
Just wiping the drool off your face, sweetie.”
e scowled in his direction, but quickly returned her gaze to the man on stage. She’d watched others as they recited the same lines, but there was no doubt in her mind that this man, Joseph Proudfoot, should be her co-star in the production. “Yeah, he’s gorgeous, but more importantly, he’s the best man for the part.”
Dennis gave a noncommi
ttal grunt which grabbed her complete attention. “He’s doing
He’s doing a whole lot better than okay, and you know it. What’s going on here?”
The director simply pursed his lips and s
tared off into space. “He doesn’t have what the producers are looking for.”
Let’s just say he may not be acceptable to the ones paying for all this,” he said as he waved his hand around. “Some real important people are pouring millions into this production. They’re expecting a profit and a large one at that.”
e knew what the producers wanted. They certainly paid her a great deal to star in the play, and advised her from jump they expected not only substantial profits but also critical acclaim. “You can’t tell me that man isn’t made for this part, Dennis.”
He turned his head away from her and paused a moment.
“Between you and me, he’s the best man for the role, but—”
The decision is not only up to me, and you’ve been around long enough to know that.”
She certainly did, but it still didn’t make sense. So much of show business wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t performers be judged on their talent alone, rather than
a bunch of nonsensical factors. A good acting job is why people bought tickets to their plays. “You’ve heard my opinion.”
He leaned over, patted her on the head and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Yes, I have. Now sit back and enjoy this.” He stood up and signaled for the actor to halt his recitation. “Alright, Joseph. Since the play involves some nudity, we need to see your body. Can you remove your clothing now?”
Sharese’s breath hitched and
her heart began to hammer as if it was trying to crack a rib or two. She’d seen him shirtless on television, but to see him naked in person was a dream come true. He slowly slid his shirt over his head and tossed it onto the gleaming stage, exposing his famous washboard abs and tattooed chest. She leaned forward to get a better look at his perfect form. Her fingers itched for the opportunity to touch him, run her hands all over his hard physique. When he popped open the button to his jeans and lowered the zipper, Dennis had to lay his hand on her arm to keep her from leaping out of her seat. In one smooth movement, he stepped out of his pants and stood before them in a pair of tight black briefs. The underwear clearly outlined his cock. She licked her lips when he hooked his thumbs into the sides and allowed them to fall around his feet. Finally he was completely naked and seemingly unmindful of what he was doing to her and probably every other person in the theatre with a pulse.
She had never seen a more beautiful human being. As Dennis directed him to turn around so they could see his whole body, her eyes widened as they took in his tight ass and magnificent tattoo displayed over his back. She knew it was an image of a dream
catcher, hell, anyone who watched his show knew what it was. The soap opera had no qualms about showing off his upper body, so everyone who watched the show had seen it. But to lay eyes it in person made her breathless.
Joseph,” Dennis said as he broke the spell and brought her back to earth. “Quick question for you. Are you interested in another role? I’m thinking Sammy would be a better match for you.”
She could see hi
s eyes flash with something between anger and surprise before quickly returning to their previous look.
No,” he replied, not bothering to add anything else to his response.
Thanks for coming in.”
head whipped around to face the director. “What do you mean, ‘thanks for coming in’?” she hissed. “Tell the man he has the part.”
No can do,” he whispered while he patted her hand.
She watched with sad eyes as Joseph bent over and snatched up his clothing, not bothering to put them on before he marched off the stage. A shiver of awar
eness sprinted up her spine as her gaze followed his retreat. She had to have him as her co-star, no matter what it took. “Why are you so opposed to casting him as the lead?”
Dennis took a deep breath and stared at her with an intense look on his face.
“Baby girl,” he started as he took her hand in his, “Like I said before, it’s not my call.”
You saw his audition. Has any other actor come close to his performance?”
He shook his head and looked away.
“No, not even close. Between you and me, he’d make a great Russell.”
Then tell me the real reason why you can’t choose him.”
He lowered his voice to make sure they were not overheard and bit his lower lip before continuing.
“This part was not written for a Native American.”
Keep your voice down. I’m not supposed to be saying this.”
Why did you let him audition then if you knew you couldn’t pick him?”
As a favor to a close friend, his agent. But I was told there was no way in hell he could have the part.”
That’s bullshit,” she spat out.
It may be bullshit, but that’s the way it has to be.”
Like hell! It was on. With a snap of her fingers and wave of her hand, she dismissed all the support staff s
o that she was alone with him in the theatre. She donned her best pissed black woman expression and rounded on her friend. “I’m not happy. And you know when I’m not happy, no one is allowed to be happy.”
A look of trepidation spread over his face and
he inched back in his chair as much as possible. “Doll, if there was anything I could do –”
There is. Insist that Joseph get the role.” She ran her hand through her long, wavy hair. “You’re the best fucking director around and if you tell them you need him, they’ll listen.”
You’ve got a lot of faith in me.”
Sharese teared up at his remark. He pulled her out of obscurity and set her feet onto the path of fame. Because of his direction in a later production, she won her first Tony award. She returned the favor when she insisted he direct this play. The producers were leery of him because of a couple bad plays over the last few years.
“I’ve got more than faith in you, sweetie. You’ve made me what I am today.”
Her friend blushed and waved off her compliment. He sat there for a few moments then suddenly sprang up and motioned for her to remain seated.
In less than five minutes he returned with a solemn look on his face. She braced for more bad news but was surprised when he suddenly smiled.
I’ve got good news.”
He’s got the part?”
No, not yet.”
What do you mean, not yet.”
The producers are willing to offer him the role of Sammy—”
He already told you no.” She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
Let me finish. I told them what he said earlier, but they think he just needs some time to think over the idea. They also think you could persuade him to change his mind.”
They are giving you the weekend to get him to change his mind. In my opinion, he’d make a great Sammy. If not, Dalton West will get the part.”
To say she truly disliked Dalton West would be an understatement. The man thought the world revolved around him and made everyone he worked with miserable. For the moment, he was Broadway’s golden boy, in more ways than one. Sure, he was handsome and had a little talent, but they were offset by his over the top arrogance.
“I don’t want him anywhere near me.”
You my dear don’t have a choice in the matter. You are under contract, and if you make too much of a fuss, I can assure you the producers will have no problem suing your cute little ass.”
Her heart sank as she mulled over her choices and realized there was only one thing she could do. She called one of the stagehands over, scribbled a short note on a piece of paper, and sent him running in Joseph’s direction. I know he’s worth all this.
Joseph hopped on one leg while he put on his jeans. What a big fucking waste of time! He zipped up the pants and pulled his shirt over his head as he continued to fume. I nailed that audition. No one can tell me anything different. And what was that shit about Sammy’s role? It would be a cold day in hell before he accepted that skimpy part.
He thought things would be different with this director. He’d heard so many good comments about him: how he went out of his way to give performers a chance to prove themselves. Hell, the woman who sat next to him was proof of that. O’Neal discovered Sharese Moore behind the counter of a local deli. Word is that he offered her an opportunity to audition for a small part in his play and the rest was history. He’d give anything for that same chance to prove himself, to show the world that he
was more than just an actor in a soap opera.
s he reached the door to the theatre, his cell phone buzzed. He stepped into a corner and recognized his agent’s number on the display. Might as well get this over with. “Yeah,” he yelled into the receiver.
I’m going to assume by your tone of voice that things did not go well,” Candace Knoll slowly said.
Go ahead and say it,” he bit out. “Tell me I told you so.”
They didn’t offer you the lead, I take it.”
He swiped his hand down his face and tried to tamp down his soaring blood pressure.
Staring in a soap where they played up his Lakota heritage was one thing. But trying out for a part in a Broadway play where the male lead in the script was described as all-American and clean cut was another matter. “The director offered me another part.”
Told the man ‘hell no’.”
You do realize that was not a smart thing to do, don’t you?”
Smart or not, I’m not willing to settle for a smaller role.”
I don’t understand you, Joseph. Everyone has to start someplace. This is Broadway, for God’s sake.”
I can’t explain it, Candy.” And truly he couldn’t. His heart was set on the lead role, and nothing else would satisfy him.
Then I suppose you need to move on. I got a fantastic script in the mail today for a movie role. Wanna swing by and pick it up?”
If you don’t mind, I’ll come by for it in a couple days. I need to get my head straight.”
No worries, hon. It’ll be here for you when you’re ready.”
With that, she rung off, leaving him with the phone still plastered to his ear. His mouth tilted into a rueful smile as he pocketed the device and smoothed back his hair. Despite their occasional tiffs, he had much love for his agent. She took a chance on him when he’d
been rebuffed by dozens of others. He knew she wanted the best for him and his career.
Taking one last look over his shoulder at the stage area, he again started for the exit. Just as his hand curved around the doorknob, a young man yelled for him to stop.
“Mr. Proudfoot,” he panted, out of breath. “I have a message for you.” He held out a folded piece of paper and Joseph eyed it suspiciously before accepting it.
For a second, he got his hopes up, but just as quickly squelched them. The director probably wanted the copy of the script back so it could be used by another actor. He took his time opening the missive and read it quickly. What the fuck? Sharese Moore, the Sharese Moore wanted to speak to him!
A part of him wanted to throw the note into the trash and stalk out of the theatre without a word. How dare she summon him as if he were some lackey, some star struck kid. Who was he kidding? When it came to the woman, he was a star struck kid. He devoured every magazine and newspaper article written about her, amazed at her meteoric rise. He knew she had been in the audience when he auditioned. Maybe she wanted to gift him with some pearls of wisdom? What would it hurt to find out? He looked up to see the kid in the same position, waiting for an answer. “Lead the way,” he said and stuffed the paper into his jeans pocket.