**So this week’s challenge was one of those that I saw in my head almost as soon as the Admiral issued it. Trying out for a play and a cop he said, and so I introduce you to Cole and Rafael. Enjoy!**
I had no aspirations of being famous. But I loved to act, and I could sing and dance, so when I heard that our local theater was putting on a production of Once Upon A Mattress, I couldn’t resist auditioning. I hadn’t done any sort of theater since high school, but I thought it would be fun. I was hoping for the part of Sir Harry, and I’d put that down on my paperwork, but I was sort of glad it was general auditions for everyone. The same scene and the same song. It took some of the pressure off, and I could just enjoy the process.
Not that I wasn’t nervous as all hell.
I thought I covered up the shake in my voice pretty well. I sang my heart out, emoting expressively on the big stage, my strong tenor voice clear and on pitch. I read my lines with feeling and vevre. When all was said and done, I thought I’d done pretty well, despite the fact that it had been nearly fifteen years since I’d set foot on a stage. I knew better than to read into the director’s huge smile, but I thanked him for his time and told him I looked forward to hearing from him.
Callbacks happened a week later. When I got the email asking me to come in a read another scene, I actually shouted out loud in glee. It scared the cat, she hissed and took off like a shot, but I didn’t care. Knowing I would at least be a part of the production, even if I didn’t get my chosen role, was thrilling.
I raced to my second audition that night, excitement and nerves making my foot heavy on the accelerator. I was talking to myself out loud, going through the scene again, making sure I had it memorized. I was so absorbed in what I was doing, I almost missed the flashing blue and red lights behind me.
I eased off the gas and steered the car to the side of the road, coming to a stop. All hope that the cop was going to fly by me disappeared as he pulled in behind me. Double fuck. I eased the window down with a push of a button, then placed my hands back on the steering wheel.
The officer cut an imposing figure in his dark blue uniform as he sauntered toward me. Tall, wide shoulders, dark hair, and an easy roll to his gait. I peered up at him when he got to my window. His nameplate read Rinaldi, and the last name somehow fit his swarthy good looks. I swallowed hard.
“License and registration, please.” His voice had a deep bass timbre that slid down my spine. Christ, really? This was not the time for such thoughts. I nodded and dug in my wallet to produce my license, and then reached for the glove box and fished around until I found my registration. I handed them both over.
He was silent for a long moment as he studied them. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“No, sir,” I said. I used the honorific on purpose, keeping my voice low and non-confrontational, hoping that my cooperative deference would work in my favor.
“You were going sixty in a forty-five,” the officer said conversationally. He looked up and his dark brown eyes seemed to pierce right through me. “Where were you going in such a hurry, Mr. Martin?”
“An audition,” I responded. When one dark eyebrow quirked in question, I blew out a breath and elaborated. “For the local theater? I have my second audition tonight.”
For a very long, tense moment, he said nothing. Then he handed me back my license and registration. I was a little stunned as I took them. He leaned one arm on the top of my car, and bent down to peer inside. His gaze found mine. “Be more careful.”
I was still nodding when he stood up and walked away.
For a moment, I just sat there, stunned. I’d been sure I would get a ticket. But he’d let me off with a warning. I knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. I shoved my registration back in the glove box, tossed my wallet and license on the passenger seat, and drove off at a much more sedate pace.
The audition had gone extremely well, the director all but told me I’d be playing Sir Harry, and I was riding high as I practically floated out of the theater and to my car. I was beyond thrilled, and I knew I was going to have a fantastic time. I couldn’t wait for rehearsals to start.
I came back to earth with a nasty bump when I saw the cop leaning against my car. What the hell was he doing here? Had he followed me? Was he going to give me a ticket afterall?
“Officer Rinaldi,” I greeted with a head tip when I got close enough. I did my best not to let my nerves show.
“Cole Martin,” he said, his voice going low. Seductive even. His gaze traveled up and down the length of my body and I fought the shiver. “Please, call me Rafael. I’m off duty now.”
Okay then. Not here to give me a ticket. This was something else entirely. I swallowed hard. Then I tried his name out on my lips. “Rafael.”
His grin was breathtaking. My own mouth quirked in response. God he was beautiful.
He pushed off from my car with an easy nudge of his hip, standing up straight, but his posture was relaxed. He took a couple of steps toward me until he was in my space.
“How did the audition go?”
“Good,” I said. There was a slight crack in my voice. I blushed slightly as I cleared my throat. “Really good. I think I got the part. I won’t know for a couple of days though.”
He nodded slowly, that smile still in place, and then he reached out one hand and ran his fingers down my arm.
“How would you like to go for a cup of coffee? You can tell me all about it.”
I grinned and nodded. This was turning out to be one of the best nights of my life.