Don't Look Down Read online

  The light went out of his eyes. "There's nothing wrong with Daisy."

  "She's taking something-"

  "She's a single mother working long hours and trying to home-school her kid," Connor said. "She's just tired."

  "No," Lucy said, "she's taking something."

  "You know what? This is none of my business." He opened the door and looked back at her. "You shouldn't be talking about your sister with anybody, Luce. You want to know something, ask her."

  "Hey," Lucy said and then he was gone. You bastard, she thought. Making taking care of Daisy sound like a betrayal. Anything to get her off his back. Yeah, we'll talk tomorrow. And not about you and me getting together, either. The last thing I need in this mess is a man to deal with, too.

  J.T. Wilder came back to mind, and she tried to shove him away, thinking, How pathetic is that? If ever a man had shown no interest in her, it was Wilder. Forget him, forget all men until she finished the damn shoot and fixed her sister's life.

  She began to clear off the table and saw the script where she'd dropped it. She picked it up and remembered why she'd been confused; she was sixty pages in and there was nothing in there but a basic romance plot. Where were the helicopters going to come from? The armored car? And that damn SEAL. In this script, Bryce's character was a stockbroker.

  Out in the parking lot, Connor honked the horn of his van, and Lucy shoved the script into her bag. She could finish it tonight in bed, she would finish it so she'd know exactly how screwed up this shoot was. And then she'd fix it. And Daisy. And Pepper.

  And Wilder, she thought and stopped, surprised. There was nothing about J.T. Wilder that needed fixing. Well, he could use a little warmth. She could do that.

  No, she couldn't. He probably had a wife or a girlfriend keeping him warm. She did not need to add him to her To Do list.

  She slid in behind the wheel and turned the ignition, trying to concentrate on her problems but her mind keep skewing back to Wilder and whoever was keeping him warm.

  Lucky her, she thought and followed Connor's van out of the parking lot.

  Lucy was still yawning when she and Pepper headed for Jax Comix at eleven the next morning with Kirsty MacColl singing "Us Amazonians" on the stereo, one of Pepper's favorites. A late night with the script hadn't made Lucy feel any better about the movie, but sunshine and Pepper beside her belting out "Us Amazonians make out all right" at the top of her lungs were going a long way toward cheering her up.

  "You're not wearing your hair braided," Pepper said when the song was done.

  "I'm not working." Lucy stifled another yawn.

  "It looks pretty when you leave it down." Pepper leaned back against the seat. "I bet J.T. would like it down."

  Lucy grinned at her. "You and J.T. are pals now, I guess."

  Pepper nodded. "He got me that Wonder Woman stuff, so that means he likes me."

  "Men who give you things usually like you," Lucy agreed.

  "He got me very good stuff."

  "Yes, he did. Are you going to get him anything?"

  "Should I?" Pepper said.

  "It would be polite. At least a thank-you note."

  Pepper nodded solemnly and sat silent, evidently planning her thank-you, and Lucy sat equally silent, thinking about Pepper's J.T. Maybe she should get him a thank-you, too. Her mind veered off course and she thought of Pepper's song, MacColl singing that Amazonians just wanted somebody to hold in the forest at night. That would be good, she thought. Connor was volunteering, but for some reason, J. T. Wilder had more appeal. And no interest in her. The least he could have done was stared at her breasts or something, although with Althea on the bridge, she really wasn't a contender there.

  They reached the strip mall, and Lucy parked in front of the comics store.

  "What's a gentlemen's club?" Pepper said as they got out, staring at the sign that said maraschino's.

  "A misnomer," Lucy said.

  "What's a misnomer?" Pepper said.

  "It means the wrong name," Lucy said. "That's not a club and there are no gentlemen in it. The comic-book store is over here." She pointed in the direction of Jax, trying not to be annoyed by the fact that Wilder's big appointment the night before had probably been with a stripper. There was a lot to be said about a man who scheduled time to see naked women, but none of it could be said in front of a five-year-old.

  The inside of Jax was not impressive, including the twenty-something clerk with the limp mustache who looked half asleep, but Pepper was oblivious. She went up to the counter, lifted her chin to see over it, and said, "We want Wonder Woman comic books, please."

  "You want the latest stuff or collect-" The clerk's voice trailed off as he caught sight of Lucy.

  "Whatever she wants," Lucy said, figuring somebody should get what she wanted.

  The clerk nodded, staring. "You know, you look a lot like-"

  "New comics," Pepper told him. "And a Wonder Woman Barbie."

  "We don't carry Barbies, kid," the counter guy said, and Lucy frowned at him. "But we have other action figures. Like..

  Lucy's cell phone rang and she took it out and looked at the caller ID. Blocked. "Can I take this, Pepper? It might be about the movie."

  Pepper nodded, absorbed in her shopping.

  The counter guy had backed up to the shelves behind him. "The action figure from the Kingdom Come comic, that's a good one. Looks a lot like your mom." He gave Lucy a smile that said, Hello, I'm kind to kids and good with women, and Lucy gave him a smile back that said, Fat chance. Her cell phone rang again, and she answered it.


  "Ms. Armstrong?"

  "Yes?" Lucy said, trying to place the voice. An Irish brogue? She didn't know anybody Irish.

  "This is James Finnegan."

  Finnegan, the backer. "Hello, Mr. Finnegan." Lucy shot a glance at

  Pepper, who was staring past the counter guy, up on her tiptoes now to see better.

  "What's that?" Pepper pointed at a mannequin on the shelf behind him.

  He turned around. "Wonder Woman WonderWear. One hundred percent cotton. Cami and-"

  "Does it come in my size?" Pepper said.

  No, no, Lucy thought as Finnegan said, "I wanted to thank you for finishing my movie for me."

  "You're welcome, Mr. Finnegan," Lucy said, watching Pepper watch the WonderWear.

  "The extra-small might sort of fit you," the counter guy said to Pepper, putting the package on the counter. He looked at Lucy. "Your mom would look good in the extra-large."

  "My mom wears a small," Pepper said, following his eyes to Lucy. "That's my aunt."

  "I know it was short notice," Finnegan was saying, "and I appreciate your help."

  "My pleasure," Lucy said, giving up on Pepper for the moment. "Mr. Finnegan, about the script-"

  "May I call you Lucy?" Finnegan said. "Such a sweet name."

  "Sure," Lucy said, thinking, I have a choice?

  "What's your aunt's name?" the counter guy said.

  "Lucy," Pepper said. "I'm Pepper."

  The counter guy stuck out his hand. "I'm Jax. Your aunt married or anything?"

  "No," Pepper said. "I want the underwear."

  Lucy tried to block them out to concentrate on Finnegan. "About the script, I think there's a problem-"

  "So that's an extra-small, a small, and an extra-large in the WonderWear?" Jax said to Pepper.

  "A problem?" Finnegan said.

  'Yes," Pepper said to Jax. "And I want to see the King doll."

  "Kingdom Come," Jax said. "It's from the Kingdom Come comic. Looks just like your aunt."

  Finnegan said, "The script is very simple."

  "Well," Lucy said. "I've only read through it once, but basically it doesn't make sense. Brad isn't even a Navy SEAL until the last half hour, and Rip is a stockbroker, not a thief. Then all of a sudden there's a helicopter chase and then another helicopter with a cargo net and an armored car exploding."

  "Most movies don't make sense," Finnegan s