The Forbidden (Krewe of Hunters #34) - Heather Graham Page 0,1

Boris had called her, despite it being her day off.

Lauren was accustomed to working bigger budget projects. She’d done many movies with big-name actors and established directors, even heading up the makeup department for several. She was moving swiftly up the ranks in the field, and possibly had more experience than Cindy, who had been hired first.

Working on a cheesy B-movie vampire flick was not something Lauren would have agreed to if it hadn’t been for her friendship with Avalon...and for Kevin Dunlevy, too.

Many in the cast and crew were friends before this filming had begun. Boris had been a visiting lecturer when they’d all been in college. Alumni often helped alumni, and other connections were made through the school. Kevin Dunlevy was the lead actor. He considered this to be his big chance; with the way the world of film was moving, it just might prove to be a cult hit. There were now so many venues for film, even if a movie didn’t hit the major theaters.

Avalon had been offered a pretty juicy role, too. While the king of the vampires had many wives, she was his most beloved.

“The camera is loving this, Boris!” the director of photography, Brad Fallon, called out.

Brad wasn’t a friend from college but had become tight with them all when they’d been hired for an internet show. A gangly blond man with a perpetual smile, he acted when needed for various projects, but his true love was working with the camera. Catching the light, composing the shot—everything working in unison was his dream.

Terry Jenson, production designer, was also a friend from school, and had done a fantastic job with the little area of the cemetery in which they were working, without doing harm to historic markers and funerary art.

Leo Gonzales, actor—tall and stalwart, portraying the detective—had taught a class in mime, which was not so important for this film, but a great learning experience that might well be useful at a different time.

Filming was proving to be a fun ensemble experience. It was an interesting script. Kevin was playing Lucian, king of the vampires, and he’d learned over hundreds of years to produce a blood strain that endured light, even the sun, and thus they could only be destroyed by one of two methods—a stake through the heart or complete decapitation. But rather than be bested by the cop who became his friend, by the end of the script Lucian came to rue his bloodlust. He would hide his past and become a scientist, working to cure all manner of blood-related diseases, at the end of the movie. Naturally, this meant there could be sequels with Lucian remaining good and fighting for justice and the American way...or reverting to his old ways.

All was set; Avalon waited for Boris to call out the rest of the cast who were in the scene and start filming.

But she knew he lingered, surveying the scene. Boris was still enjoying seeing his vision brought to life—he’d also written the script. “You’re truly gifted,” Boris said, and Avalon knew his words were for Lauren. “I knew you were good, but...well done,” he said lightly, and Avalon could imagine him grinning. “Now I’m not going to have to throttle Cindy—I don’t think she’d have done half so well.”

Not showing up was not going to be good for Cindy’s career. Boris could choose to let her go. He wasn’t just the director and the writer—he’d used his own funds and a personal loan to fund the film.

“Thank you,” Lauren replied. “But Cindy is very good, too, and I’m sure she had an emergency or something. She’s very professional. This isn’t like her.”

Avalon cracked her eyes open. Lauren looked concerned. Of course, she did. Cindy was her friend—and she hadn’t even bothered to call in sick. She had, however, been seen doing karaoke late the night before on Bourbon Street after she’d joined the rest of them for an evening drink. Still, failing to show up for work was not something she was known to do. Then again, she’d never been to New Orleans before.

“Cindy will have an explanation,” Lauren said.

Avalon added, “Cindy is a good kid. She might have had her schedule marked wrong or something. She’ll have an explanation.”

“Well, thanks for coming in, Lauren,” Boris said. “You are the best.”

“The best!” Avalon told Lauren quietly, offering her friend a smile and a slight nod. Things happened; they didn’t want Cindy’s reputation marred, nor did they want her fired. But they