It wasn't the first time Hollywood came to Blue County but it was one of the more exciting times. Production on The Ball Player was being shot on location on the campus of Green College in Greenville and in the amateur baseball park Beano Field in nearby Hillsboro among other places.
The movie was a love story between a college ball player (played by Quinn Blake) and a young professor (played by the popular Jet Johnson). Local movie fans were thrilled to have two top notched Hollywood actors in their quaint local area for nearly a month.
Annie Haight was among those giggly co-eds who spent all of their time standing around the location shots hoping for a glimpse of the actors. Several students were being used as extras in the campus shots and Annie hoped to be one of them even though it involved a lot of 'hurry up and wait'.
Annie had been a big fan of Quinn Blake all the way back to his television acting days when he was a young teen star playing the heart-throb son on The Mackin Family for six seasons. Blake was featured in several made for television movies and guest appearances on several weekly series before making the successful transition to film when he co-starred in the mega hit The World Ends Tomorrow. Since then, Blake had co-starred in a number of major motion pictures including the recently released comedy Peeps which was just opening in Greenville.
Annie nearly got fired from her summer job at The Green Boutique for being late and missing a shift, to busy hanging around the locations shots for The Ball Player to be a conscientious employee. She was hardly ever home either, hanging around with her friends at night in various Greenville nightspots hoping to run into one of the actors. They also joined crowds staked out in front of the Greenville Hampton Inn hoping one of the actors would make appearance.
There were reports of star sightings all over Blue County. Jet Johnson was at Applebees. Quinn Blake showed up for a Serguci League game at Beano Field and shook hands with customers at Dunkin Donuts. People called into the local radio stations to report where they saw the stars and the autographs they had gotten. The Greenville News and Dispatch had several front page photos of the various actors during shooting sequences.
But Annie had been disappointed that in more than two weeks of standing around and waiting she had only caught a glimpse of co-star Tag Matthews once although she did get to chat with Quinn Blake's stand in for about twenty minutes one afternoon. Annie's friend Rachel watched a scene between Blake and Johnson being filmed in Mt. Griffin one day (Annie was at work) and Annie was jealous when she saw some of the photographs Rachel had gotten of the two stars.
Annie was up early on Friday morning. She didn't have to be to work until eleven and she and Rachel were heading over to Hillsboro where they hoped to see Quinn Blake in front of Beano Field for a brief scene being filmed there. Annie's father did a double take when he saw his daughter seated at the kitchen table trying to wake up with a cup of coffee.
He glanced at his watch. "It's six-thirty, Sweetie," he laughed. "What are you doing up?"
"Hoping to catch a glimpse of an elusive star," she groaned. "It's been futile these past two weeks. I can't believe how much time and energy I've wasted on this stupid effort."
"Ah, yes, Hollywood in Greenville," her Dad laughed. "What a joke, huh?"
Annie looked at her father, a popular and well known local lawyer who also served on the town council and was politically active. She had hoped he had connections that would get her a private audience with one of the stars but he hadn't seemed interested in such tactics.
"I save my favors for important matters," was his response when Annie first brought the idea to him weeks earlier.
She saw her father eyeing her as he sat at the table in his three piece lawyer's suit.
"What?" She asked with annoyance. "You think I'm some sort of teeny-bopper fanatic?" She sounded defensive.
Her father laughed. "You're twenty one," he said. "How could you be considered a teeny-bopper?"
"Look, I know this is stupid," Annie said with a sigh. "But I just think it would be exciting to meet a famous person, that's all."
"Celebrity does make us foam at the mouth," her father remarked.
"I remember that time you defended that famous writer who was staying at Sun Rise Lake," Annie said. "You had a story every night about him."
"I did, didn't I?" her father smirked, his graying hair shining in the morning sun light coming through the window of their expensive house built out in the middle of nowhere in the green fields of north Greenville.
"Anyway, I should get going," Annie said, finishing her coffee.
"Are we going to see you tonight?" Her father wanted to know.
"I think I'm going to hang out with Rachel and some of the other girls, hoping to see one of the stars somewhere," Annie reported.
"I'd really like to see you for dinner tonight," her father replied.
"Come on, Dad, its Friday night," she sighed.
"I'd really like to see you for dinner tonight," her father repeated.
She frowned. "You just don't want your daughter out gawking," she complained.
"I'd really like to see you for dinner tonight," he said one more time.
She groaned. "Okay, Daddy, I'll be here. But I'm going out afterwards. And if Rachel sees somebody before I get there it will be all your fault."
He grinned and nodded in understanding. "So I'll see you tonight for dinner?"
"Yes, okay, fine, I'll be here," Annie grumbled before rushing out of the house to the three bay garage where her little sports car sat waiting for her.
The house reminded her of the opening shot from the old Dallas television series because the modern twelve room modern home sat alone in a huge field a half mile back from the road. The nearest neighbors where a half mile away on either side of the Haight home and there were woods along the other side of the road in front of the house so it was a private and secluded place to live. Jet Johnson or Quinn Blake would be much better off out here away from the mobs staking out the Hampton Inn.
Annie caught up with Rachel outside of Beano Field in Hillsboro and they stood around for three hours watching the film crew set up but the shot did not include Quinn Blake after all. Instead, long time veteran character actor Drake Hanson (playing the baseball manager) showed up for a ten second shot of him walking out of the park looking concerned that took seven takes and nearly three hours to film.
"I've seen that guy somewhere before," Rachel remarked as they watched the filming.
"He's one of those guys you see all the time playing all types of characters but you never remember his name," Annie replied. "He was the grandfather in that movie with what's her name a few years ago."
"Oh, yeah," Rachel agreed with a nod.
Annie was disappointed that Quinn Blake wasn't around and she barely made it to the boutique in time for her shift, getting a dirty look from her boss, Shannon, who could care less about the movie being made in the area unless it meant more sales for the shop. Apparently, a couple of production assistants stopped by a few days earlier but there had been no star sightings.
Annie was happy when her sift ended at five and she went home to take a relaxing shower. She threw on a nylon jogging suit and smeared her face with cold cream before heading downstairs. Her father said nothing about dressing up for dinner!
Annie's mom was making dinner when Annie entered the kitchen.
"I thought you were star searching tonight," her attractive mother grinned when she saw her daughter appear with the gunk all over her face.
"Later," Annie replied. "Daddy begged me to have dinner with you guys."
"He did?" His mother asked with surprise. "He didn't mention that to me."
"He's probably just feeling the empty nest syndrome because I'm in college now," Annie replied.
"You go to Green College and live at home!" Her mother said with a laugh.
"You know what I mean, Mom," Annie rebutted. "I'm all grown up."
"Yes, you are," her mother replied.
Annie went into the expansive living room and grabbed a magazine, plopping down on the couch with her bare feet up on the coffee table as she flipped through the pages, her face cool with the cream on her cheeks.
Annie hadn't heard her father's car coming up the half mile driveway and she barely looked up when the front door opened.
"Annie?" She heard her father ask.
Annie dropped the magazine down from her face. "Yeah, Dad?"
And there standing in the room was her dad and…..Quinn Blake!
"Oh My God!" Annie screamed, leaping up and flinging the magazine across the room while putting her hands in front of her face knowing she had to look like Casper the Ghost. "Daddy! What is he doing here?"
"He's hiding out," her father replied with a grin.
The white facial cream hid Annie's red blush as she stared at…..Quinn Blake!
He was just as handsome in person as he was on screen. He wasn't quite as tall as she had thought and his face looked a little different without the make up and lighting but he had those eyes. He was wearing jeans and a yellow tee shirt with sneakers and to tell you the truth she might have walked right by him on Main Street in Greenville and not really recognized him. Maybe she had already seen him and just hadn't realized it.
He was grinning at her appearance and smiling at her embarrassment.
"So, you're Annie?" Quinn Blake spoke his first words to her.
Annie didn't know what to say in response as she stared at the movie actor looking at her white face. "I'll be right back," she muttered, rushing from the room into the kitchen and up the back stairs wanting to die from embarrassment.
"Don't tell anybody he's here!" Annie heard her father yelling after her.
What fun was that!
"Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!" Annie said aloud with excitement as she rushed into her bathroom and quickly washed off the gunk from her face. She took a few minutes to put on some make up and she brushed out her long blonde hair from its pony tail before stepping into her room and rummaging through her closet for something to wear.
What do you wear to meet Quinn Blake!
Annie settled on a pretty printed summer dress and sandals. She stared at herself nervously in her full length mirror hoping she looked presentable before she awkwardly headed down the front stairs convinced that Quinn Blake already took her for a buffoon.
The movie actor was sitting in the living room with a drink talking with Annie's parents when she joined them.
"Daddy, I will never forgive you for this," Annie grumbled as she made her grand entrance.
The two men stood to greet her.
"Sorry, Sweetie, but I knew you wouldn't have kept the secret," Her father replied. "I didn't mean to embarrass you. I thought you would be thrilled."
"Oh, I am," Annie replied with a smile. "I just wasn't expecting it, obviously."
"Don't worry about it," Quinn Blake told her. "I apologize for invading your privacy."
"Well, I'm sure you're used to that!" Annie replied as she took a seat. "So, what's going on?"
"Mr. Blake just needs a time out," Annie's Dad explained with a grin.
"I love meeting the public and all that but sometimes it gets to be too much," Quinn Blake explained. "We've got another week of shooting to go and I'm getting fanned out."
"We thought Mr. Blake could hide out here for the weekend," Annie's Dad said. "But you can't tell anybody," he warned. "We don't want the mobs here."
"So, you mean, just us and Quinn, Dad?" Annie asked, thrilled to have the private audience.
"Sure," her dad replied. "Can you keep it quiet?"
"Of course," Annie laughed. "Why would I want to share this!"
"I appreciate the hospitality," Quinn Blake said with a smile. "Sometimes I just need to hide out."
"How did you get involved, Daddy?" Annie wondered.
"Your old man has connections, Annie," her dad deadpanned. "I'm an important guy."
"No, really, how'd you pull this off, dear?" Annie's mother asked her husband.
The others laughed.
"The Green College Chancellor called the Mayor who called me," Annie's father explained. "They figured nobody would think of me when it came to Quinn Blake!"
"Well, we're thrilled to have you, Mr. Blake," Annie's mother replied.
"Nobody saw you come here?" Annie asked.
"Na, we did the whole cloak and dagger, 007, three time switch with the help of my stand in routine," Quinn Blake laughed. "Believe me, I've done this before."
"You must get tired of it," Annie's mother remarked.
"It's the price you pay for fame," Quinn Blake replied. "And I'm not complaining. As I said, I just need to get away from it sometimes."
Annie's mother excused herself to finish dinner and Annie's father finished his drink and then left to freshen up and change, leaving Annie alone with…Quinn Blake!
"Anyway, sorry for catching you in an awkward moment," he said.
"Oh, that's alright," Annie laughed. "Worse things have happened to me."
"Like what?" the house guest asked.
"One time I slid down a cement dam at some swimming hole," Annie replied. "I hadn't realized the surface had fayed away the shorts I was wearing so I was walking around with my fanny hanging out," she said.
Quinn Blake laughed. "Well, that's more embarrassing," he agreed.
"So," Annie sighed. "I don't want to be one of these stupid groupies who asks you the same dumb questions about what its like to be a movie star and all that so what are we supposed to talk about?"
"Just pretend I'm regular guy," Quinn Blake suggested.
"Are you a regular guy?" Annie smiled.
"Pretty much," he replied. "Just got lucky, that's all."
"I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'm a big fan though," Annie revealed. "I used to skip going out just so I could watch The Mackin Family on Friday nights."
"Well, thanks for the support," Quinn Blake replied. "I enjoyed that show."
"Okay, I have a million questions I could ask you but there not the type of questions I'd ask a regular guy," Annie said.
"I know," Quinn Blake replied. "But try your best."
She laughed. "Do you ever date regular girls?"
He grinned. "It's not easy," he said. "I mean how am I supposed to meet a regular girl?"
"Well, how many times have you hidden out?"
"Four or five," he revealed. "Usually with families."
"Any with regular girls?"
"None that I dated," Quinn Blake replied. "I'm not around long enough."
"That's too bad."
"I stayed with a Mormon family once," he revealed. "They treated me like their son and brother."
"I'm sure that was different."
"And I stayed with a farmer and his family another time," Quinn Blake said. "Milked the cows and everything!"
"Of course, the more I pretend that I'm just a regular guy the more I realize that I'm anything but," he sighed.
"I suppose," Annie agreed.
"So what does a regular girl like you do around here?" Quinn Blake asked.
She laughed. "Oh, just regular stuff. College. Work at a boutique. I was born and raised right here in Greenville. Haven't been out of town much except for vacations."
"I'm always traveling to different locations, it seems," Quinn Blake sighed. "I'm gone from home for months at a time. When I'm not shooting, I'm on a publicity tour."
"Yeah, I see you on Entertainment Tonight and stuff," Annie said.
"My goal is to stay out of the tabloids," Quinn Blake told her. "Constantly being in the public eye and being judged for whatever the press finds out about my personal life is a drag."
"Real invasion of privacy stuff, huh?" Annie guessed.
"The lives of celebrities seem so glamorous when we watch them on TV and in the movies," Annie's dad remarked as he returned to the room. "Politicians say all the right things and their families look so picture perfect in those campaign ads. But imagine being followed twenty-four hours of every day."
"You always go out looking your best for fear of a haggard picture appearing in a magazine," Quinn Blake said. "You can expect no respect for personal or family boundaries. Gossip columnists are relentless at finding out every single detail of your private life, including potentially embarrassing details you would never want publicized. Your life is not your own with the constant invasion of your private life."
"If they found out he was here, you'd probably be reported as carrying Quinn Blake's love child by tomorrow," Annie's father laughed as he poured himself another drink at the portable bar.
"The aggressive paparazzi go to great lengths to snap intimate pictures of famous people engaged in less than savory acts," Quinn Blake said. "They have little or no respect for the privacy of celebrities or their family members. They'll chase their targets, hide, camp out and disguise themselves just to get that elusive shot and then they publish personal photos without our consent. They would have been happy to get a shot of you on the dam that day, Annie."
"I would have had to move," Annie groaned.
"People generally expect a lot more from you when you're famous," Quinn Blake continued. "Fans expect celebrities to be absolutely perfect in every aspect of their lives, every single day which of course is an unrealistic expectation so when famous people are reported as having done something wrong they are highly scrutinized by the public. If the offense is small, you may be able to work your way back into good standing with good PR guidance but if the offense is nontrivial fans may quite possibly turn their backs on you forever."
"Like poor Danny Morrison from The Mackin Family?" Annie sighed.
The teen actor had been fired from the series after four seasons because of off-set problems including three drug busts and a vehicular homicide charge.
"Yeah, Danny didn't do himself a lot of good no matter how hard we tried to keep him out of trouble," Quinn Blake sighed. "Last I heard, he was working construction somewhere.
"How did you manage to escape the perils that many child actors fall into, Quinn?" Annie's mother asked as she stepped into the room to re-join the conversation, taking a seat next to her husband on the love seat.
"I had good mentors, mostly," the actor replied. "My parents treated my career as if it was a job and not an entitlement. I was expected to follow the rules at home no matter how successful I was at work. Ben Currie Ryan, the star of The Mackin Family kept me honest and grounded, teaching me to stay humble and not get a big head just because I was getting rave reviews and a lot of press."
"Not too many can make the transition to adult roles," Annie's father observed.
"There are certainly disadvantages starting young," Quinn Blake agreed. "You're learning on the job, you face the danger of being typecast and stereotyped and everybody sees you as Bobby Mackin when you're trying to do different stuff. People were horrified when I played a date rape perpetrator on one of those Liftetime movies."
"I remember that movie," Annie laughed. "You were such a bastard!"
"Thank you," Quinn Blake smiled. "That means I did my job as an actor! But this profession is a young person's medium and I was actively being begged not to grow up, as if I had a choice in the matter. I probably would have left the show if The Mackin Family hadn't been cancelled because I knew I couldn't be playing that role forever."
"So you made the transition," Annie said.
"I lucked out with that role in The World Ends Tomorrow," Quinn Blake replied. "I hadn't had a job in nearly a year when I got that call. I was starting to think it was over."
"Now it looks like it might never end!" Annie laughed.
"You never know," Quinn Blake said with a shrug. "My goal as to have a successful career and not fall prey to all the weirdness that happens in this profession. There are a lot of wonderfully gifted young people who get burnt out before they even develop."
"You're lucky you weren't one of them," Annie's mother remarked.
"One of the things that saved me was the realization that I didn't care what my peers thought of me," Quinn Blake said. "If I'm one of those Hollywood outsiders because I don't party and get in trouble, I don't mind. I feel sorry for my peers who feel the pressure of public opinion. You have to put your blinders on and just work. I did a play a few years ago and I was savaged in the reviews but if people want to write nasty things about me, that's their choice. If you can't handle those types of situations well you'll never make it. You can be sure you're washed up one week and then you're treated like a star the next. You have to be in it for the long term and be willing to ride the highs and lows."
Annie's mom told the others that dinner was almost ready so they moved into the dining room and Annie's mom brought a crock pot from the kitchen.
"It's just American Chop Suey, I'm afraid," Mrs. Haight said. "I hope that's okay, Quinn."
"It's regular food, Mom," Annie joked. "He'll live."
The four sat at the table and served themselves the casserole along with buttered bread.
"Is this normal enough for you?" Annie teased as they ate.
"Beats a restaurant or room service any day," Quinn Blake laughed. "I don't get home cooked meals very often."
"Now that just sounds sad," Annie's mother remarked.
"Movie stars aren't any happier or sadder than normal people," Quinn Blake theorized.
"But I bet they're more likely to struggle with addictions, sadness, and even depression because of their public lives," Annie offered. "They have the money and access to that sort of stuff."
"Actually, famous people may actually be prone to more bouts of unhappiness and despair than people who aren't celebrities," Annie's father the lawyer remarked. "Famous people are almost four times more likely to commit suicide than the average American because of their public struggles, for example."
"Gee Dad, since when did you become such an expert?" Annie asked.
"I prepared a case for a colleague's client who happened to be famous," he replied.
"Actually, it's true," Quinn Blake sighed. "Famous people may lose touch with who they really are and what they really think and like. The media and fans have their own ideas about who a movie star is and that makes it difficult for the celebrity to stay grounded in his or her own self. Plus you're always playing somebody else. Your happiness could be affected by knowing that the world perceives you inaccurately or doesn't know who you really are and that sort of gossip can lead to misery!"
"It must be lonely sometimes," Annie's mother sighed.
"Some I've known are bewildered by their fame, knowing that they're not perfect or as wonderful as their fans think so they feel they don't deserve their success. Fame has its benefits but it can be a stressful existence and there are no guarantees."
"Well, you seem pretty well adjusted," Annie's father remarked.
"The chop suey is good," Quinn Blake grinned.
The rest of the dinner included a conversation about Blue County and what Quinn Blake thought of the area. The Haights told the actor several stories, antidotes and historical tidbits about the area and Quinn Blake offered his insights about what he had seen and observed during his stay.
When the meal was completed, Annie's mother insisted that the others adjourn to the living room while she cleaned up. Refusing their protests, she shooed them away and Annie sat on the living room couch next to Quinn Blake while her father took his seat in the love seat with his after dinner drink.
Annie's cell phone went off and she answered it out of habit.
"Hello? Oh, Hi Rachel….Oh….yeah, I know….no, I don't think I'm going to make it tonight…." She glanced at Quinn and her father and smiled. "Nothing….I just have a bit of a headache….plus my Dad wanted me to help him with something….I know…..well, you call me if you see anybody, okay?...alright….okay…..good luck. 'Night."
Annie hung up the phone and smiled with amusement. "Rachel heard a rumor that Quinn Blake is going to be at The Bullpen Tavern outside of Beano Field tonight," she giggled.
"Well, poor Rachel is going to be waiting an awfully long time for that guy to show up," Quinn Blake laughed.
"I feel kind of mean being deceitful," Annie admitted.
"Annie, the whole point is to give Quinn here some cover," her father reminded her.
"I know," she replied. "I'm just not used to be so sneaky."
"Since when?" Her father challenged knowingly.
"Do you like baseball?" Annie asked Quinn Blake, purposefully changing the subject to avoid her father's scrutiny. "I mean, you're playing a ball player right?"
"Yeah, I'm a fan," the actor revealed. "I never got a chance to play in high school or anything but I hung out with a minor league team for a few weeks while preparing and researching this role. I worked with a couple of coaches to get the swing to look real and the fielding to be authentic."
"You look like a ball player," Annie's father replied.
"Thanks," Quinn Blake grinned.
"So, you never played ball in high school?" Annie wondered.
"I barely went to high school," Quinn Blake replied. "There was an on-set tutor for most of The Mackin Family run. I got a few semesters in at public school but not enough to graduate."
"Wow, I guess I always took high school for granted," Annie said.
"Most kids do," her father observed.
"I always had an unstable schedule of school and even social activity," Quinn Blake revealed. "I had normal friends in the neighborhood where I lived but I was never around to hang out with them. And no matter how much my parents and others shielded me from the dark side of the entertainment industry I was still exposed to heavy stuff that was difficult to process at a young age. When I was ten, I played the kid of a mother who was murdered in a TV movie. That sort of stuff forced me to grow up a little too soon."
"But you knew it was just acting, right?" Annie asked.
"Sure, but when you're around adults all the time and thrust into adult situations it can have an affect on you," the actor replied. . Even with constant adult supervision, there are bad influences lurking around every corner."
"Did you ever talk with other kid actors about this stuff?" Annie's mother asked when she was finished with her kitchen chores and joined her husband on the love seat again.
"Oh sure, all the time," Quinn Blake replied. "It's a special club and everybody understands. But every actor has different memories and a different story to tell. Some adjusted and are very happy and contented, others are bitter and resentful, especially if they were unable to make the transition. I had a small part in a Jodie Foster movie – she was one of the few who made the transition smoothly and we had a chat about it. I talked with Ron Howard about it for ten minutes backstage at some award show. Remember Jodie Sweeten from Full House?"
"Oh sure," Annie said. "Watched the reruns all the time."
"She said one minute everyone loves you, everyone wants you, and you're it and then the next minute, they're like, 'Who? Oh no, never mind,'" Quinn Blake said. "Fred Savage, one of the most talented child actors ever, directed a couple of The Mackin Family episodes in our last few seasons. I was just getting to the age by then to start transitioning and he was very helpful. He turned to directing when some of the adult roles started drying up but he's still out there as an actor too. He told me to keep all my options open which is why I directed one episode of Mackin and wrote the draft script of another episode those last few years."
"But you made it," Annie reminded him.
"So far," Quinn Blake replied. "You never know when your next job's coming though. You know how sometimes you'll see your favorite actor in some piece of crap?"
"Yeah, I hate wasting eight bucks on some terrible movie," Annie admitted.
"That's because sometimes we'll take anything just to keep working," Quinn Blake explained. "Of course, other times, they edit and cut it so badly that it doesn't even resemble the original script but that's a different story."
"What's the worse thing you've ever been in?" Annie challenged.
"Co-eds from Outer Space II was pretty bad," Quinn Blake admitted. Then he looked at Annie. "Hey, I thought we were going to have only normal conversations!"
"Anybody want to play cards?" Annie's father suggested.
"Sure," the actor agreed readily and the foursome adjourned back to the dining room and played Hearts for a few hours while enjoying a light banter and some back and forth joking around.
Annie's parents called it a night shortly after ten.
"Ann, you can show Quinn the guest room when he's ready to turn it," Annie's mother remarked before her parents retired to their room.
"Very nice people," Quinn Blake remarked as Annie led him into the living room.
"They're great," Annie agreed. "Hey, do you want to watch The Mackin Family? I have some of the DVDs."
"No, that's okay."
"Really?" She asked with surprise.
"Annie, do you want to watch some of your home movies when you were thirteen?"
"Not really," she admitted.
"Well, that's what it feels like sometimes going back and watching those old shows," the actor told her. "Nice memories, but I don't need to see it again."
"That's kind of sad," Annie determined.
"I'll watch them sometimes," Quinn Blake revealed. "It's always nice to review the work, see old friends again, and catch guest stars I enjoyed, but I need to be in the mood for that stuff."
"You're not in the mood tonight?" Annie asked.
"I'm trying to be normal, remember?"
She laughed. "I'm sorry, Quinn, but this is hardly normal for me."
"I know," he sighed.
"How old are you now?" She asked. "It's hard to keep track."
"I'll be twenty-five in a few months," the actor replied as he took a seat on the couch. "And you?"
"Twenty-one," Annie said proudly. "I'll be a junior at Green in the fall."
"How's that going?"
"I'm having a good time," she smiled, taking a seat on the couch beside him. "You never went to college?"
"I've taken a class here and there when time allows, and I was doing some on line stuff too to kill the boredom on location," Quinn Blake answered. "I know some kid actors take time out from their career and go full time but I didn't have the guts to do that."
"Because you thought it might kill your career?" Annie guessed.
"Yeah, keep on working while the jobs are there," he answered. "I can always go back to school later. What's your major?"
"Political Science," she replied.
"You like it?"
"Yeah, it's interesting," Annie said. "What's your politics?"
"I'm one not to use my celebrity to make public political statements," Quinn Blake replied. "I like to do it behind the scenes with donations or showing up for a cause somewhere. I hope I have fans on both sides of the political aisle and I don't want to alienate any of them with my opinions. People pay to see me act not to hear my political profanations."
"So, I take it you won't be running for Congress anytime soon," Annie joked.
"Are you?" He asked with raised eyebrows.
"No, I'm sure I'll be some aide to one of my father's local political friends or something," Annie laughed. "But you never know what the future might hold."
"This is true," Quinn Blake agreed.
"So, with all the leading ladies you've had and all the on screen kisses and love scenes, I bet sitting here talking to me is pretty boring," Annie said.
"Love scenes are the hardest of all," the actor told her.
"I thought nude scenes would be the worse."
"Those too," Quinn Blake laughed.
"I bet you've seen a lot of naked actresses."
"Always in character though," Quinn Blake assured her.
She rolled her eyes. "How come you're not dating Abigail Sweeney anymore?"
"Ah, you've been reading the tabloids," Quinn Blake remarked.
She shrugged, suddenly embarrassed to be found out. "Opps. I'm asking the stupid questions again, aren't I?"
"Where's your boyfriend?" he wanted to know.
"We broke up after freshman year of college," she sighed. "He went to Brown and it became a distance thing."
"I know that feeling."
"Plus I think he found someone else anyway."
"I know that feeling too!" He groaned.
"Oh, is that what happened with Abigail?"
"Sure," Quinn Blake replied. "She's was off in Paris for six weeks. Now I'm here for three. When I get back, she's going to New York to do a play."
"Why don't you go with her?"
"I'm doing a six week arc on one of the cable shows," he said. "Films in Vancouver."
"This life is tough on romance too," Quinn Blake said. "It's tough having a relationship out of a suitcase."
He looked sad and Annie actually felt sorry for him. She was so excited about meeting Quinn Blake the movie star and her favorite actor from The Mackin Family that she forgot to think about Quinn Blake the person.
"Do you ever think about just quitting and having a normal life?" She asked.
He laughed. "A normal life? What's that?"
"You could teach theatre at some community college or something," Annie said. "Did you ever think about doing something like that?"
"Occasionally," he admitted. "But not very often."
"Why not?" Annie wondered.
"Because despite all the disadvantages and down sides and miseries and frustrations and loss of privacy and everything else that comes with this way of life, there's still the high of doing the work, Annie," Quinn Blake explained. "The satisfaction of doing good work. Of acting with other quality actors exploring the craft. Of capturing the essence of a character. Of being praised for doing good work. Of knowing you nailed a scene when a director yells cut. The satisfaction of being in a hit movie. Of a good review. Of being recognized for your work. You just can't beat being seen by millions of people."
"I suppose," Annie sighed. "But it still sounds lonely sometimes."
"Oh, it is," Quinn Blake assured her. "That's the price we pay sometimes."
"What makes a good actor?" Annie asked. She had kicked off her sandals long ago and now she put her feet back up on the edge of the coffee table.
"Practicing the art," he replied. "Doing it. Understanding the character you're playing and getting inside that person. Watching other actors act. There's nothing more exhilarating then watching another actor losing themselves so much in a role that they become that character and you don't even recognize them. By observing other people. Real life everyday people - their mannerisms, their attitudes, their behaviors, and fellow actors and how they practice their craft. A good actor is willing to be vulnerable, exposed, raw and open."
"I did a couple of plays in high school," Annie replied. "I always felt like I was just reciting the lines. I didn't identify with the role. I didn't feel the emotion of the character."
"Acting is like peeling an onion," Quinn Blake told her. "There are layers after layers to get through. Sounds like you just went down one layer."
"So who's the guy you're playing in this movie?" Annie asked.
"Billy Baxter," he reported. "When you're eight, everybody plays baseball. But as you get older and progress through the various levels of the sport, no matter how good you are you discover that there's always somebody who's better than you. Only seven hundred and fifty players can play in the major leagues at any one time. There's a lot of pressure on a ball player."
"Just like an actor. Only one guy gets any one role," Annie observed.
"Very good," Quinn Blake replied with a smile. "You're right. There are a lot of similarities and that has helped me get in touch with Billy's psyche. Being confident on the outside while having doubts on the inside. Approaching the Professor the same way he approaches the ballgame - with determination and a zest to win."
"Is that how you approach your love life?" Annie asked.
He smirked. "Not quite," he replied. "See the problem for an actor is he's always following a script. The ending is always written for him. In real life, there is no script and there is no known ending so I guess that becomes a problem."
"You don't know your lines," Annie replied.
"Not all the time," he admitted.
"Doesn't shooting this movie on the campus of Green College make you want to go to college?" Annie asked.
"It's make believe, Annie," Quinn Blake reminded her. "I'm playing a baseball player but that doesn't mean I want to be a ball player."
"I guess," Annie replied.
"I hope I'm not disappointing you," he said with a smirk. "I know the make believe world of The Mackin Family and some of my other work may have given you a different perspective of who I am."
"I find all of this fascinating," Annie told him. "I'll never get an opportunity to meet someone like you again."
"That's probably a good thing," he deadpanned.
"Opps, I just asked you a bunch of questions I wasn't supposed to ask," Annie laughed. "I'll show you your room if you'd like," Annie said, standing. "You must be pretty tired after a long day of shooting."
"I did have a 6:10 Call this morning," he said, holding back a yawn.
"Yeah, Rachel and I went looking for you at Beano Field this morning," Annie laughed. "We got the baseball manager instead."
"We were doing a quick walk by up at Sun Rise Lake," Quinn Blake told her. "Sorry you missed us."
"Well, this more than makes up for it," Annie replied. "Rachel is going to be so miffed when she finds out."
"I've enjoyed our evening together," Quinn Blake assured her.
Annie walked her guest across the room. He grabbed the overnight bag he left by the front door when he arrived earlier and followed his hostess up the stairs to the second floor, down the long and wide hallway to the guest room near the end of the hall.
"You have your own bath and a nice view of the back," Annie let him know. "I hope you have a good night."
She opened the door and stood back so he could enter.
"Thanks, Annie, you've been very kind."
She smiled and nodded, letting him pass her and enter the bedroom.
"Good night, Annie."
"Good night, Quinn," she replied.
Annie waited until he closed the door before she practically skipped down the hall to her room.
"Oh My God! Quinn Blake! Quinn Blake! Quinn Blake!" she giggled as she disappeared into her room and fell on her bed. "Who can believe this?"
She needed to remember to get photographic proof so Rachel wouldn't call her a liar. She smiled at the thought of having such a big deal over Rachel. Quinn Blake!
Quinn Blake was already dressed and seated in the kitchen drinking coffee with her parents by the time Annie made her way downstairs after nine the next morning.
"Oh, look who's up!" Her father teased. "Good morning, Sleepy head."
"Morning, Daddy," Annie replied with a half-smile. "Did I miss anything?"
"I told Quinn he couldn't elope with you," her father replied.
"Oh, Daddy!" Annie blushed.
Quinn Blake laughed. Annie took her seat and her mother gave her a bagel to go with her coffee.
"I thought you'd sleep in," Annie said to the visitor.
"It's hard to when you're used to six o'clock calls," the actor replied, sipping on his coffee. "Your parents were just showing me all your naked baby photos."
Annie rolled her eyes. "Very funny."
"Quinn's going to mow the lawn today," Annie's father announced proudly.
"You're kidding?" Annie replied with surprise.
"How often does a guy like me get to ride around on a riding lawn mower?" Quinn Blake asked with a grin.
"Daddy, you usually hire that job out to the professionals," Annie said.
"Not today!" He replied with a laugh.
Sure enough, when they were done with breakfast, Annie's Dad led Quinn Blake to the garage where two riding lawn mowers sat in the back of one of the bays. The machines hadn't been used in a while but after fiddling around for a while and jumping the batteries, both fired to life and the two men spent the next four hours (with breaks) mowing the massive yard.
"I don't suppose Quinn gets to play like this very often," Annie's mother remarked as the two women sat on the back patio watching the dueling mowers.
Rachel called while Annie was sunning herself.
"Hey," Annie greeted.
"What are you doing?" Rachel wondered.
"Nothing, just hanging out," Annie replied, dipping her sunglasses down her nose to see how far along Quinn Blake was in the mowing project. "Any star sightings last night?"
"Nope," Rachel grumbled. "But we heard a rumor that Quinn Blake might be taking in another Serguci League game this afternoon at Beano Field. You want to go see the game? I think its Browns-Giants."
"No, I told my parents I'd help them out around here," Annie replied.
"What's with you all of a sudden?" Rachel wondered. "Why are you turning into a stick in the mud?"
"I'm not," Annie said defensively. "I just don't want to let my Dad down."
"Well, you'll be sorry if I see Quinn Blake and you don't," Rachel warned.
"Just be sure to get a picture," Annie replied.
It was after two in the afternoon by the time Quinn Blake and Annie's father finished mowing all the acreage. They hosed down the riding mowers and returned them to the back of the garage bay.
"Now you can understand why I farmed this job out," Annie's dad told Quinn Blake when they accepted the beers Annie's mom offered them. "I'd start at eight in the morning and I wouldn't be done until five in the afternoon when I did it by myself."
"I helped a few times," Annie protested.
"Yeah, a few times," her dad replied sarcastically. "I did it every other week!"
"That's the first time I've ever mowed a lawn!" Quinn Blake informed them. "That was great!"
Annie laughed, surprised at how excited the actor was over something as mundane and routine as mowing a lawn. She also noted how sexy he looked all sweaty and dirty.
Both men excused themselves to shower, clean up and change and Annie took the opportunity to do the same after lying in the sun for hours in her shorts and halter top. Annie's Dad offered to take the group for an ice cream when they reconvened in the living room later and the foursome piled into Mrs. Haight's SUV with Annie's Dad behind the wheel. They drove nearly twenty miles to an out of the way ice cream place that was part of a farm stand and only a few people recognized Quinn Blake behind his sun glasses and baseball cap. He signed a few autographs and chatted with a few fans for a while but the Haights didn't mind.
Annie got her mother to take a few pictures of her with Quinn Blake before they left. Now she'd have her proof for Rachel.
"It only takes one fan," Quinn Blake explained once they were back in the car and returning to Greenville along the beautiful back roads. "Once one fan recognizes you and is bold enough to approach you everybody else standing around usually follows."
"It must be such an imposition sometimes," Annie's mom said from where she sat in the front passenger's seat with Annie and Quinn Blake in the back.
"I usually don't mind so much,' Quinn Blake replied. "I appreciate my fans and I understand them wanting to meet me. But sometimes you can't stop and talk forever and people are easily offended if you blow them off or have to leave."
"I met Tom Brady once after a Patriots Game," Annie revealed. "He was nice."
"Because of me," her Father reminded her.
"Yes, Daddy knows all sorts of famous people," Annie laughed. "Bill Cosby has a house not so far from here. Daddy does some legal stuff for him."
"Never met the guy," Quinn Blake said. "People always assume that because you're in the business you know everybody but unless you've done a show or met them at some event why would you?"
"But you probably know who are the jerks and who are the nice guys," Annie laughed.
"Word does get around," Quinn Blake agreed. "That's why I always try to be professional and polite no matter where I am."
They returned to the house and Quinn Blake excused himself to make some phone calls.
"He really does seem to be a nice guy, doesn't he?" Annie remarked to her mother.
"Yes, sweetie, he does," Mrs. Haight agreed. "But don't get too attached to him. He'll be gone soon."
"Don't worry, Mom," Annie replied with an eye roll. "I'm not going to fall in love with Quinn Blake!"
"Why not?" Her father teased as he got a beer from the refrigerator.
"Because he's not really real, if you know what I mean," Annie explained. "I mean he's real but not in a real way. He's a guy you see on television and in the movies. He's a guy who plays some other guy. He seems great and I'm enjoying his time here but in a few days he'll be gone. I know we're just another family he'll add to his list of hide outs and that's a compliment but its not as if he's ever going to see us again or anything. How many movies are filmed in Blue County?"
"Five in the last forty years, I think," her father replied.
"Well, I'm glad you've taken such a mature, rational and sensible approach to all of this, dear," her mother replied. "But he's still a man, isn't he?"
"Mom, give me some credit," Annie groaned. "It's not always about sex."
"Well, I'm glad to hear that," her father replied.
"Of course, Rachel would sleep with him in heartbeat," Annie laughed.
They heard Quinn Blake's footsteps on the stairs and ended the conversation.
Annie's Dad cooked steaks on the outside grill and the foursome ate dinner on the back patio with Quinn Blake entertaining them with a few inside Hollywood stories that made them laugh. Annie really did think the actor was an interesting, humorous and likeable guy but she knew there was no point going beyond being a friendly hostess with him. She took her relationships seriously and saw no chance of one with him.
Rachel called again while Annie was taking an after dinner walk with Quinn Blake around the property.
"Hi Rachel," Annie said into the cell.
"No Quinn Blake at Beano Field today," Rachel complained.
"Amber hung out in front of the Hampton Inn most of the afternoon but there were no sightings there either," Rachel said.
"We heard a rumor that he's going to be at some of the clubs by Green College tonight," Rachel reported. "You in?"
"No, I think I'll pass," Annie replied.
"What, you don't like the guy all of a sudden or something?" Rachel asked.
"I just don't want to compete with a hundred other fans just to say hello to the guy," Annie explained. "My life is not going to be drastically changed just because I saw Quinn Blake in a nightclub somewhere."
She heard Quinn Blake chuckling next to her.
"Well, what about Jet Johnson?" Rachel said. "Maybe we'll see her."
"Maybe," Annie agreed. "Good luck."
"You'll be sorry," Rachel laughed before she ended the call.
"So, I'm no big deal, huh?" Quinn Blake asked with a grin.
"You know what I mean," Annie replied, slightly embarrassed.
"Yes, I do," he replied. "And I must say I'm relieved."
"Really?" She asked with surprise.
"Young women are always trying to sleep with me, Annie," he sighed. "It's been nice that you haven't been coming on to me to tell you the truth. It's been nice just to have a pleasant time together without all that stuff."
"Am I supposed to be flattered?" Annie joked.
"You're a great person," he let her know. "In a different time and place and reality, who knows? But not here and now."
"I agree," she said with a smile. "So, what's Jet Johnson really like?"
Quinn Blake laughed. "Actually, she's a bit of a pain in the ass," he revealed. "But let's just keep that between you and me."
Annie giggled. "So, she's full of herself?"
"Yeah, just a needy type of person who is always making demands of the crew. I get tired of people who like to push others around like that. Just show up on set and do your job and let other people do theirs," he said.
"So how do you work with people who are hard to work with?" Annie wondered.
"It's called acting," he laughed. "And when we're away from the camera, I just avoid them."
They walked back to the house and it was Annie's mom who suggested that they go to a movie.
"To many people, Mom," Annie replied.
"We can go to the outdoor," Her mother said.
"The outdoor!" Quinn Blake said with surprise. "There's still some of those around?"
"The Night Owl in Mt. Griffin is the only one left in Blue County," Annie reported.
"What's playing?" Quinn Blake asked, sounding interested.
Annie found the paper and looked at the moving listings. "I Don't Get You and"…..she laughed… "Peeps!"
Quinn Blake groaned.
"You don't want to see your own movie, Quinn?" Annie's mother asked.
"Not really," he admitted. "But I guess we can go anyway," he said.
"It might be fun to listen to your play by play behind the scenes commentary while we watch," Annie's father replied.
"Sure," Quinn Blake agreed.
So the four waited until it was nearly dusk before piling into the SUV with a bag full of munchies and drinks and some blankets and Mr. Haight drove them to Mt. Griffin's The Night Owl Drive In. Annie couldn't believe she was going to the outdoor with her parents of all people but when she thought about it she realized how fun it really was.
Quinn Blake slouched down in the back seat with his ball cap covering his face as they drove through the ticket booth so he wouldn't be recognized and they could enjoy the movies in peace.
Annie was amused to be sitting in the back seat with Quinn Blake like she was on some high school date but her parents sitting in the front seat took that idea away quickly.
"Remember when you were a kid and we'd go to the outdoor and you'd take Jimmy Reynolds?" Annie's mother asked while they waited for the movie to start.
"Thanks, Mom," Annie groaned.
"Oh, so I'm playing Jimmy Reynolds?" Quinn Blake asked. "What's my motivation? What's the back story? What's my character like?"
"Jimmy was a good kid," Annie's father said. "A little bit of an egghead and kind of squirrelly though."
"He was my friend, Dad," Annie replied.
"Yeah, I didn't have to worry about you running off with him," her father laughed.
"We were twelve!" Annie groaned.
"Jimmy was a terrific kid," Annie's mother agreed.
"What happened to him?"
"He went to the Sun Rise Lake School for Boys and we didn't see each other much after that," Annie reported.
"They grew up," Annie's mother clarified with a sigh.
"It happens, Mom!" Annie said.
The first movie began and the watchers settled down and watched I Don't Get You with Quinn Blake offering his insights and commentary about the script, the acting, the directing, and some of the actors he worked with before. The movie was okay – a romantic comedy about a preppy falling for a jock but Annie agreed with Quinn Blake's assessment that the characters weren't fully developed and the script semi-juvenile in its approach toward the twenty-something characters.
"I try not to criticize other peoples work," Quinn Blake remarked when the final credits were rolling. "But that wasn't very good. I mean it was fine as far as what people expect – to be entertained, to laugh, to feel good, but as far as looking at the film critically it wasn't anything to write home about."
"You better hope that Peeps doesn't suck then!" Annie teased.
Annie's parents left the vehicle to use the restroom during intermission, leaving Annie alone with Quinn Blake in the back seat. If she had been interested in making the moves on the guy, this would have been her moment. Instead, she reached into the bag of Doritos and ate some of the orange chips.
"Do you think I'm a jerk because I didn't like the movie?" Quinn Blake worried.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion,' Annie answered with a shrug. "There have been movies that have bombed at the box office and been panned by the reviewers that I've loved," she said. "And I've seen some Academy Award winners that I thought were terrible movies."
"Yeah, it is all subjective in the end," Quinn Blake agreed.
"For example, I thought The House on the Dune was your best movie and it practically went right to video," she said.
Quinn Blake laughed. "Well, thanks. I was disappointed that one flopped," he said. "But you never know what the audience wants."
Annie's parents returned and they watched the dancing hot dogs on the screen while making small talk until the second feature began.
Peeps was supposed to be a comedy about the social network world. Quinn Blake plays a lonely guy who spends most of his time on the computer visiting his various social pages and communicating with his friends (his peeps), most of whom he's never met. Most of the peeps are pathetic losers and the comedy is aimed at their own ineptness. Unknown to Blake's character, he works with a woman (played by Bunny Bobilin) that he can't stand but who is one of his best peeps (they both use aliases on their social media pages).
Annie didn't like Quinn Blake's character ("Boy, he really is a loser," she said) and she thought the comedy was mean spirited at times plus she really didn't care if the two love interests got together ("Because they're both so unlikable") but she did enjoy Quinn Blake's behind the scenes commentary about how the movie was made and what the director was thinking in various shots.
Her father did whoop-whoop whenever Quinn Blake's character got to make out with Bunny Bobilin's character and he whistled when Bunny's bare backside was featured in one shot but he settled down when his wife gave him an annoyed look.
Annie gained a new appreciation for how a movie was made and what it took to but it together and she was amused by some of Quinn Blake's observations and stories, but in the end she thought Peeps was a terrible movie, probably Quinn Blake's worse.
"Well, they all can't be great," Quinn Blake replied with a shrug as they left the Night Owl as the credits still rolled.
"Why did you sign on in the first place?" Annie asked.
"It was mostly as a favor to the director," Quinn Blake explained. "He was the guy who directed Shadows that I was in a few years ago."
"I liked that one," Annie replied.
"I knew this wasn't going to be that but I figured I owed him," Quinn Blake said. "We all want to be in the best movie ever made but there's only going to be a few of those. People make movies for all sorts of reasons."
"The money, usually," Annie's father cynically remarked from the front seat.
"I was compensated pretty well for this one," Quinn Blake admitted.
Annie's parents turned in as soon as the foursome arrived at home but Quinn Blake joined Annie for a nightcap on the back patio since it was a nice night.
"Sorry you didn't like the movie," Quinn Blake said as they sat sipping on beers.
"It's not necessarily your fault," Annie replied.
"Sorry I disappointed you."
"It's not that," Annie said defensively.
"You just think I shouldn't be making crap."
She shrugged. "I guess."
"I've got a small role in the new Josh Brolin movie coming out soon which should redeem me some in your eyes," Quinn Blake said with a grin. "And I think The Ballplayer will be a good movie. The script is solid and the characters developed."
"I'm looking forward to seeing Blue County featured in a major motion picture," Annie said with approval. "It will be fun to try to catch all the spots the movie was filmed in."
"So I guess I should be embarrassed that you liked I Don't Get You better than Peeps," Quinn Blake smirked.
"Only because you were so critical of I Don't Get You," Annie laughed. "I wonder what those actors are saying about your movie!"
"That it's a piece of crap," Quinn Blake laughed.
Annie smiled and they finished their beers under the stars.
"So, thanks for being so hospitable, Annie," the Hollywood actor said with sincerity. "It really is important for me to get away from it all and hide out once in a while."
"I'm glad you came," Annie replied. "I hoped you weren't too bored with me."
"You've been a lot of fun," Quinn Blake assured her. "I really feel recharged and relaxed from these last two days."
"Anyway, tomorrow I need to return to reality," he told her. "I need to study the script for Monday's shoot and get back into the character's frame of mind."
"So, you're leaving?"
"Yeah. But why don't we do breakfast out in public?" He suggested. "I'll 'come out' and you can be seen with a celebrity."
"You'd do that for me?" Annie asked with a smile.
"Call your friend," Quinn Blake smirked. "Have her meet us somewhere at ten."
"How 'bout Johnny C's Diner in Hillsboro?" Annie said. "It's a great place to eat on a Sunday morning."
"Sounds good," he agreed.
"Rachel will absolutely die!" Annie laughed.
"Good," he smiled.
"I don't want you to think I'm using you though," Annie said with worry.
"It'll be my way of thanking you for hiding me these last few days," he said.
"Okay," she agreed as they both stood.
For the first time since he arrived, there was an awkward moment.
"Something wrong?" Quinn Blake asked.
"No, not really," Annie replied, suddenly feeling sad. "I guess I've been enjoying this private audience more than I realized."
Quinn Blake smiled. "All good things must come to an end. Tomorrow I go back to being the actor and you go back to your normal life."
She smiled. "Yeah, my normal life."
This is where she would have put in the kiss if she was writing the script and for a split second she wondered if she should try but why ruin everything?
"Good night, Annie," Quinn Blake said, sparing her the embarrassment of rejection as he stepped away from the table.
"Good night, Quinn," she replied, watching him disappear into the house.
She glanced up at the stars and sighed heavily. Was she foolish not to try to hit on the famous actor?
Annie woke up in the morning feeling both excited and sad. She was excited because she was going to be seen in public with a real life celebrity but she was sad because her secret little personal audience was coming to an end and she knew she would miss having Quinn Blake all to herself. She had never felt so special before.
She sighed when she came down the front stairs and saw the actor's bag sitting by the front door.
"Did you call your friend?" Quinn Blake asked Annie when she joined him and her parents at the kitchen table for coffee. It was nine-thirty.
"Yeah, she's going to meet us at ten," Annie replied.
"Well, we should get going then," Quinn Blake said, standing. "Mr. and Mrs. Haight, I really want to thank you for your kindness."
He reached over and shook Annie's dad's hand and then kissed her mother on the cheek and gave her a hug.
"It was our pleasure," Annie's mom smiled.
"It was a lot of fun," Annie's dad agreed.
"Okay?" Quinn Blake asked Annie.
"Let's get going," she agreed.
Annie felt her mother rub her back and her father gave her hand a squeeze before she followed Quinn Blake into the living room. Annie's mom grabbed the camera and started taking some posed photos of Quinn Blake with the various family members both in the house and outside.
"Annie, here take this," Quinn Blake said before they climbed into the car to go.
"What is it?" she asked.
"My business card," he replied. "It has my personal e-mail on it. Don't give it out to anybody else, please," he said. "But if you want to check in with me, I'd love to hear from you."
"Wow!" Annie said with wide eyes. "Thanks!"
"You need to know that I don't give that to just anybody," Quinn Blake told her.
She blushed, really feeling special now.
They were quiet during the ride to Hillsboro, both knowing that the gig was up and the game had ended. Annie pulled the car into the parking lot of Johnny C's Diner and she was surprised when Quinn Blake took her by the hand and held it like they were a couple as they entered the diner.
It didn't take long for the buzz to start as Annie stood with the actor waiting for a booth to open. People were looking over their shoulders from their stools at the counters, the waitresses were staring at the actor as they came and went and Annie felt both thrilled and awkward at the same time.
Quinn Blake wrapped his arm around Annie's shoulder and whispered in her ear, making her giggle with appreciation as some of the customers stared at them with stunned amazement. Finally, a waitress was bold enough to approach.
"Do you think it will be long for a booth?" Quinn Blake asked, giving the waitress a wink."
"Oh, no, not at all," the red faced waitress replied. "It will just be a minute, Mr. Blake.
"Thanks," Quinn Blake smiled, giving Annie a squeeze.
"Man, you sure can work the magic," Annie giggled.
"Sometimes, being a celebrity has its advantages," he admitted.
A few people nodded their hellos and a young teenaged boy who was bussing the dishes stuck a place mat in front of Quinn Blake's face and stammered out a request for his autograph which the actor obliged.
The waitress seated the couple a few minutes later and Annie was surprised when he sat next to her on the same booth bench instead of across from her.
"Let Rachel sit there," he said with a grin.
The Johnny C's cliental were respectful of the actor's privacy. A few people stopped by asking for an autograph while looking at Annie with envy.
"So, my stand in is going to pick me up at 10:45," Quinn Blake told Annie.
"And this is my few minutes of fame," Annie realized.
"Enjoy it," Quinn Blake said with a smile, reaching out and putting his hand over hers on top of the table.
"People are going to think we did it last night," she whispered with embarrassment.
"Annie, people are going to talk no matter what," Quinn Blake told her. "You can't worry about that stuff."
Rachel entered the diner and she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw who Annie was sitting with in the booth.
"Just sit down, Rachel," Annie said, glancing around as others in the diner stared at them.
Rachel nearly fell into the booth with her jaw hanging open. "What the hell is this?" She finally asked when she got her jaw to work.
"This is Quinn Blake," Annie replied.
"I know that!" Rachel groaned, taking her cell phone out and snapping three quick photos. "What's he doing here?"
"Having breakfast with Annie," Quinn Blake replied.
Rachel sat back in her seat and stared at her friend. "You've been holding out on me," she realized.
"She's making it up to you now," Quinn Blake replied.
"How long….." Rachel started.
"Friday night," Annie admitted sheepishly.
"Why you little…"
Quinn Blake held his hand up. "Be careful," he warned.
He slipped out of his chair and sat next to Rachel, handing her cell phone to Annie. "Here, get the photos Rachel's been trying to get for days," he grinned.
Rachel stared at the actor with wonderment as Annie took the photos.
"I can't believe any of this is actually happening," Rachel admitted.
Quinn Blake smiled and returned to Annie's side of the booth.
"Tell me everything!" Rachel insisted.
They ordered their breakfast and Annie filled in Rachel on their weekend hide out and then Rachel asked Quinn Blake the usual questions about being an actor and a celebrity and a famous person and all the rest of it.
Quinn Blake went out of his way to make Annie sound like the Queen of Blue County and more and more people stopped by the booth to say hello and get an autograph.
Annie saw the stand in enter the diner first and her heart sank.
"It's time," she whispered into the actor's ear.
"Get your camera ready," Quinn Blake told Rachel as he wiped his mouth, put his napkin down, tossed a hundred dollar bill onto the table, grabbed Annie's hand and pulled her out of the booth with him.
"Goodbye, my sweet," Quinn Blake said loud enough for everybody in the diner to hear before he wrapped Annie Haight in his arms and gave her a movie star movie scene kiss worthy of tear drops everywhere. "I shall never forget you!"
Annie gladly kissed him back while people in the diner began to clap and cheer and Rachel nearly melted out of her seat.
"Peel that onion," she whispered and Quinn Blake laughed.
"Oh my God," was all Rachel could say as she watched her friend make out with the actor.
"So long, Normal Girl," Quinn Blake whispered into Annie's ear.
"Goodbye, Quinn Blake," Annie said warmly as she ended the kiss and gave him a hug. "Thanks," she whispered into her ear.
"She's a great lady, folks," Quinn Blake announced to the diner as he broke the hug and stepped back.
He winked at Annie and waved at Rachel and then left the diner stage left. Annie fell back into the booth and watched out the window as Quinn Blake got his bag from her car and jumped into his stand in's car and sped away.
Annie sighed before turning to Rachel and smiling.
"Geez, Annie," Rachel marveled.
"That was fun," Annie remarked contently.