See Part 1 for Disclaimers.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope you'll continue to bear with me as it takes far less time to read a section than it does to envision it, write it and get it edited. As always, comments, suggestions, praise, criticisms or other forms of feedback are accepted and desired. I'm begging here - really. A few words does wonders to recharge my energy for this project. And, I always reply. So, please, if you've got a thought about the story, I would really like to hear it. Just drop me a word or two at: Dreams2Fly Thanks and enjoy.
Lee opened his eyes and stared at the sky in confusion. Stars? What the heck? He blinked slowly but the stars remained, though he could have sworn they moved slightly as his eyes focused.
Alright, why aren't the set lights on? Lee frowned. And when the hell did it get so dark out?
Lee lay still as he tried to piece together how he had come to be laying flat on his back – when he realized that's where he was – and staring up at a sky full of stars. For some reason he couldn't quite grasp, his mind kept skittering away as if it were an errant puppy free from its leash. It was frustrating and he felt his jaw tensing tighter and tighter the longer he tried to recall how he had ended up on his back.
Giving up on the immediate past, Lee cast back farther until his mind finally gave up a memory. In his mind's eye, he saw the sudden flash as one of the set lights exploded above his head. He remembered curling himself over a child – he hadn't had the chance to identify which child – to prevent the hot glass fragments from hitting either of them in the face. He remembered closing his eyes protectively and the pain in his leg when the stand hit him, a pain that was now awake and reminding him of just what a stupid trick he'd pulled. The painful throb in his leg seemed to awaken an even more painful throb in his head, but he could recall nothing that would explain this particular ache.
As he lay probing at the empty spot in his memories, the starry night sky slowly resolved itself into the meshed rain shield that had been erected to deflect most of the water away from the main filming area. At about the same moment that he realized what he was looking at, Lee felt a hand grip his shoulder and give it a light shake.
Lee rolled his head to the right to look at the person addressing him. However, the explosion that erupted in his skull at the movement halted the motion before it had really gotten started and elicited a sharp hiss instead.
"Shhh, don't try to move," the voice directed. Without seeing the speaker, Lee couldn’t even begin to guess who was addressing him; though he wasn’t sure whether it was the rush of blood thumping in his ears in time with his heartbeat or the general fuzzy disconnectedness of his mind that prevented him from identifying the speaker.
"Ow," Lee finally moaned when the pain had settled back down to the ache it had been before.
As if that one word had opened a dam, a flood of voices suddenly swept over Lee, some directed at him, but just as many at each other. "Holy shit, Boss!" "Wait'll I tell my wife about this." "What the heck were you thinking?" "Did you see him jump–" "Damn, man." "Is he alright?" "Jesus, Lee, are you nuts?" Lee flinched at the tide of sound, his eyes closing and his arms coming up as if to protect his face. He was unable to keep up with the cacophonous wave of comments directed his way and simply chose to ignore them for the time being.
"All right, quiet down folks!" a different voice commanded from somewhere above and behind Lee. The effect was immediate. Even Lee was stunned to hear that voice deliver a demand with such authoritative volume, though he couldn’t say just why. When he realized that the quiet remained unbroken, he slowly lowered his hands.
The voice was much closer. Lee slowly opened his eyes and stared at the dark face hovering inches above his own. It took several seconds for the rounded features to resolve themselves into his soft-spoken security chief. Lane. Good. Lee relaxed, letting his eyes slide shut.
"Lee?" Lane called again. "C'mon, lemme see those baby blues again."
"In a minute," Lee muttered as much to her as to himself.
"Now would be better," she informed him. "C'mon, Lee. You've done enough sleeping and I really need to have a look at those eyes."
Lee sighed. "Only if you promise to do something about this headache," he finally told her. "And, tell me what the hell happened."
Reluctantly, Lee slowly cracked his eyes open. It took a moment for his vision to clear again but when it did, he found Lane hovering over him with a concerned expression on her face. He waited while she studied him, her eyes at first locked with his and then roving over his face and down the length of his body.
"Well, it looks like you're going to have one heck of a headache," she informed him.
"No, really?" Lee growled at his security chief as he reached up to gingerly touch the sore spot at the base of his skull. "Remind me again why I pay you extra for your medical background."
Lane smiled at his grumpy retort. "No one ever said I was a doctor, Lee." She sat back on her heels. "But, I'm pretty sure you're gonna live. Mild concussions aren't generally lethal in this day and age."
Lee gave her a grim smile. "Well, that's a relief."
"Yeah, well, don't get too excited just yet," she warned him, a palm pressing his shoulder firmly to the ground. "They tell me you took a pretty good hit to the neck and back. Until the real medics get here to check you out, I need you to just lie still."
Lee frowned. "You're kidding, right?"
"'Fraid not." Lee blew out an exasperated breath at the answer.
At the same time, he heard a loud answering inhalation from beyond Lane as if a large group of people had all gasped at once. He watched Lane frown as she glanced over her shoulder and raised his brows. Curious despite the throb in his head and leg, Lee rolled his eyes until he could just make out a crowd gathered around the director's monitor.
Lee couldn't tell for sure, but it looked to him like everyone on the lot besides himself and Lane was there. Judging by the furtive glances he was receiving, he could guess exactly what they were looking at. Even the children, freed of their mounts, were peering at the monitor then at Lee with looks ranging from awe to outright fear.
Seeing the kids still in the costumes from the shoot peeking out around the adults at him brought on a flash of memory. Green eyes, wide with fear, beneath unruly damp sandy-blonde curls floated through Lee's foggy mind. It took him a long moment to place the memory but, when he did, Lee felt his stomach lurch with worry.
Lane brought her attention back to him immediately. "Yeah?"
"Where's the kid?"
Lane flashed him a grin then turned toward the crowd and bellowed, "Hey, Dillon!" Lee watched and, when a tawny head appeared between two horse wranglers, Lane shouted, "C'mon over here."
"He's fine," she explained to Lee as the boy trotted towards them. "I had to send him with Jackie while we pulled the equipment off of you. He was pretty upset when you didn't respond to him when everything had stopped falling."
"Ah," Lee grunted, his eyes never leaving the approaching child.
Dillon stopped at Lane's side and looked down at Lee, uncertainty and concern at war on his expressive face. Lee's eyes widened in surprise when the visage before him was overlaid by a memory from earlier in the week. The boy whose mother Lee had protected from attack was the very same one standing before him now, the one Lane said he had pulled free from the maddened horse.
As Lee stared, Dillon turned to Lane. "Is he okay now?"
"Yeah, he's okay. Mostly. We're going to wait until the ambulance gets here, though, just to be sure."
Lee watched Dillon’s green eyes, a shade darker than his mother’s, get wide at mention of the ambulance and felt a stab of compassion for the boy who had been through quite a lot for someone his age. “Hey, buddy,” he called hoarsely. When Dillon turned towards him, Lee lifted his hand out and gestured the boy closer.
Dillon came to Lee’s side and squatted near his head. Lee waved the boy closer until he was leaning close to his face. Lee rolled his eyes left then right before speaking. “Don’t tell anyone,” he whispered, “but I’m fine. This is just an excuse so I can take a break.”
Dillon’s face lit up, the worry blown away by the words that echoed those he had spoken to the child earlier in the week. He glanced over his shoulder at Lane then whispered back to Lee, “I won’t tell anyone.”
Lee smiled. However, the smile soon slipped as a pair of emergency response technicians stepped into his line of sight carrying all sorts of gear. Lane tapped the boy on the shoulder. “Okay, Dillon, let’s the medical people have a turn at Lee. You can talk to him again later.”
Dillon gave Lee a questioning look to which he received a wink and a smile. At the reassurance, the child placed a hand on Lee’s shoulder and leaned over until his lips were nearly on Lee’s ear. “Watch out for the ferro-mom-met-her,” he warned, carefully pronouncing each syllable of the difficult word.
Lee’s grin broadened at the warning. “I will,” he assured the boy.
“C’mon, kiddo. Let’s leave the hero to his attendants.” Lane’s eyes twinkled in her serious face at that last jibe.
Lee’s brows lifted as he watched Lane lead Dillon back to the crowd gathered around the director’s monitor. Hero? Lee mused. Oh, boy.