Cait was already a basket-case of nerves, but arriving at the studio in LA, 23 minutes late, just made her even more so.
“Fucking LA traffic…” she uttered to herself, as she quickly scrambled to get her purse and phone in one hand and open the car door with the other.
‘Fuck…I’m so late. I’ll be lucky if they even still agree to let me do this screen-test! Plus, what a great way to create a first impression…’ she thought to herself, with panicked sarcasm. ‘I don’t think this tartan dress will be enough to make up for it…’
She arrived at the door of the studio. Before knocking, she closed her eyes, took a long, deep breath, and waited until her heart slowed.
She put her shaky hand up to the door and knocked three times.
“Yeah, come in.” was the answer to what sounded like an older man.
Upon entering, this man stood up and walked towards her, a small smile on his lips. He had shoulder-length, grey hair, and a sensible, serious look about his face.
“Hello, Caitriona Balfe?” he held out his hand to her.
“Hi, yes. I’m so sorry I’m late!” she said as she fumbled to get a free hand to shake his.
“That’s alright. Traffic? You’ll get used to it. Ron Moore, good to meet you.”
Cait giggled nervously, “nice to meet you.”
She felt more at ease and could finally breathe a little slower.
“Alright, well that’s Sam Heughan in there. He’ll be playing the part of Jamie Fraser. You’ll be doing a screen-test with him today. We’re going to see what sort of chemistry you two have together. I’ll let you introduce yourselves if you just want to leave your stuff here and step in,” Ron directed with his arm.
Cait peered into the screen-test room, through the rectangle, glass cut-out in the door, before entering. The man she saw quickened her previously calm pulse. A man with a strong jawline, finely-toned muscle definition visible in his arms, chestnut-coloured hair, which slightly curled behind each ear. He was fiddling with his watch, bent over in the chair, with his elbows resting on his knees.
Cait turned the handle, opened the door and took a step. Little did she know there was a slight elevation in the door frame. She tripped quite suddenly, luckily with one hand still holding onto the door handle.
‘Fuck!’ she thought to herself, squeezing her eyes together, feeling her face flush.
It happened within a blink of an eye, but as she regained her balance and stood up straight, this man, Sam, was less than five feet away, coming toward her. The size of this man took her by surprise. She herself was tall, 5”9, but this man towered, at least, another half a head over her. Strongly built body, with a kind face.
“Oh, you alright?” he said, with concern in his English-Scottish accented voice.
Cait giggled nervously and straightened her dress. “I’m fine, thank you. I’m Caitriona Balfe. I’m sorry I’m so late, I hope I haven’t kept you waiting long,” she said, shakily putting her hand out to him.
“Oh no don’t worry about it. I was late too, took me long enough to get here. The traffic is insane, twenty-four hours a day. Sam Heughan. Nice to meet you Caitriona,” he said sweetly, with a smile that touched his eyes. He gently shook her hand, his hand warm and large.
The second thing Cait noticed was this man’s eyes. Such a light shade of blue that stood out against his slightly sun-kissed skin.
‘His eyes…and so tall…quite handsome…and sweet too.’ Caitriona thought to herself, as she smiled back at him, shaking his hand. This man she had known for ten seconds had already put her at ease.
“Great dress, very fitting,” Sam giggled, looking from the top to bottom, before turning around.
“Thank you, I thought it would make a good impression,” Cait smiled, looking down at it also.
Sam turned around and let out a little laugh and nodded.
Cait walked over to where Sam was, in line with the camera. She looked at the camera lens and saw Ron talking to a few other members of the crew.
“How are you feeling? Are you nervous?” Sam asked, turning towards her.
“A little,” Cait said, slightly biting her lip and peering up at him.
“Ah, I’m sure you’ll do fine. I’ll try and help you through it,” he said, with a small grin, giving her back a soft pat.
“Thank you,” she replied, with a small smile.
The screen test was only seven minutes long; a short but very passionate scene.
Sam softly pat her on the back again and let his arm fall around her, holding onto her upper arm, enveloping her with his large form. She reciprocated by slipping her arm around his waist; a subtle confirmation that she was comfortable. He then moved his hand from on top of her arm, to underneath her arm, so that he was touching her side. This gave her a pleasurable sort of ache in her stomach and chest. A feeling that shocked her; it was so sudden. It was slightly awkward, having to stand there with the camera still rolling, being put under that pressure to be comfortable. Especially since they had just met and had no time to talk prior. Cait gained enough confidence to slightly and briefly lean her head against his neck.
His body was very firm and very warm against hers. She could feel the strong lines in his back, waist and arms. She noticed that he had big, armpit sweat patches. It didn’t bother her though, because his smell was intoxicating. She couldn’t figure out whether it was his skin or his clothes.
“I lost my ring, during that, as well”, Sam giggled, pulling Cait from her fantasy.
Cait glanced up at him, not being able to hide the fact that her smile fell, then she looked down and furrowed her eyebrows slightly. She tried to play it off as if she didn’t hear him or didn’t understand what he meant.
‘Ring. His ring. His ring fell off, during our steamy, passionate, and quite physical, chemistry test. Married? Most likely, look at him. Why wouldn’t he be? Well…plenty more fish in the sea. Him telling me that, right after I leant my head against his neck, was obviously his way of saying “okay, too much”. Right, you are going to let this slip right off. It doesn’t bother you, why would it…? You’ve known this man for 5 seconds, dammit.’
She nervously peered up at him again, and saw that he was no longer smiling, but had a tiny frown; he was questioning her.
“Oh…oh! Did you?!” Cait forced herself to laugh, looking down behind them, trying to make it believable.
This seemed to have recovered things. Sam laughed and replied, “yeah it went under the chair!”
Cait continued to laugh. Then they both fell silent, looking at the camera.
“Well done,” Sam smiled down at her, giving her another soft pat on the back.
“Thank you very much,” Cait grinned, blushing slightly. She briefly looked at the floor, embarrassed.
“I’m sorry for putting you in a bear hug,” Sam giggled nervously, then bit his lip.
“Oh, that’s absolutely fine. I’m sorry for punching you in the face,” Cait peered up at him, laughing.
Sam laughed with her, “my fault. No, it was good”.
“That was pretty terrific…” Ron said, with raised eyebrows.
“Awesome, thank you very much,” Cait said, with a modest smile touching her lips.
“You should hear from us within a few days. Thanks for coming out,” Ron nodded, with a smile.
“Okay, no worries,” Cait replied, breaking away from Sam’s body, instantly feeling the difference, away from his body heat.
“Well, it was nice to meet you, Sam”, Cait smiled up at him.
“Yeah it was nice meeting you too, and good luck”, Sam replied, winking at her and smiling.
Cait quickly looked away, ‘don’t wink at me when you’re married.’
Then she nodded, “we’ll soon find out if I was good enough”.
Cait walked towards the door and said, “see you, and thanks”.
Sam was sitting back down on the chair, putting his watch back on. “Bye see you later”, he smiled sweetly at her.
“Thanks so much, Ron”, Cait said, picking up her things and smiling.
“No worries Caitriona. Great work, see you later”, Ron smiled.
Cait walked towards the studio exit, then briefly looked back at Sam, who was still sitting in the chair. He suddenly looked up and met her eyes, through the glass, and she quickly whipped her head back and went through the door. On the other side of the door, Cait let out a huge breath of air, one that felt like it had been held in for hours. She leant her back against the door and closed her eyes.
Hearing the door open and a slight thud, Sam broke from his daydream. He looked up just in time to see a long-legged, brunette leaning over, mid-fall. He sprung to his feet and walked over to help her. When she regained herself and stood up straight, Sam was able to take her all in, and it startled him.
‘Flawless, fair skin…she’s tall…the most sparkling blue-grey eyes... Legs for days, too. This woman is beautiful, no denying.’ Sam thought to himself as he swallowed, trying not to stare.
Sam smiled at her, and shook her hand, trying to be as gentle as he could; she was tall, but also very petite.
Her hand was cold and clammy. ‘Poor thing is obviously nervous. Such a great smile. It lights up her whole face. Now I’m nervous. An Irish lass, with a Scot dress. It’s a fine dress. Well now comment on the dress! Don’t just look her up and down like that, you’ve just met her! Great first impression…stop biting your lip, she might take it the wrong way!’
‘My god…she’s got so much talent! If Ron doesn’t pick her, he’s an imbecile. Why the fuck did I put her in a bear hug though…got lost in the scene I guess. I think it pissed her off when I restricted her like that…or was she acting? Shit. She gave me as much as I gave her. She wasn’t afraid to be so physical. She gave this scene her all.’
Sam briefly touched her back, to give her reassurance, and gently put his arm around her, testing the waters. He felt a boost of confidence after that very physical scene. Perhaps it would be alright to innocently touch her.
‘Well she’s okay with my arm, otherwise, she wouldn’t have immediately reciprocated. It feels good…she’s moving her thumb…don’t bite your lip. Oh no, I’ve put my sweaty hand on her skin…I hope she doesn’t mind me putting my hand underneath her arm…Wait did she just…did she just move her head into my neck? She did. I guess she’s quite comfortable. Don’t smirk. What…oh no, fucking ginormous sweat patch! Oh god please don’t notice. Need a diversion, quick…I’ll tell her how my ring fell off!’
‘Hmm, did she not hear me when I told her my ring fell off? Did she find it weird, me telling her that? She looks annoyed…or confused?’
‘Okay, she obviously just didn’t hear me. This is good, she feels comfortable enough to joke right back with me. She makes me a bit nervous, but at the same time, she’s very easy to talk to. This could be good if Ron picks her…’
Sam was getting out of the shower when he saw Ron’s name light up his phone.
“Hi Ron, how are you?” Sam asked politely.
“Hey Sam, good. Listen, so we’ve gone with Caitriona for Claire’s part. Now obviously you two are going to be working closely together for a good three years, if all goes well, so I’m going to email through her number and email, in case you’d like to meet up before we begin shooting. You both have perming appointments in London in a few days, all good?” Ron explained.
Sam’s eyes lit up upon hearing that Ron did indeed pick Caitriona. It’s what he’d been hoping for. He hasn’t been able to stop himself from thinking about her, since the chemistry test, two days ago. It was strange. He was both nervous and excited to see her again. His heart picked up the pace a little.
“Oh yeah, that’s great! Yes, it’d be nice for us to get to know each other better before we go to Scotland,” Sam replied happily.
“Yeah. Alright, I’ll send that through. I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks, Sam,” Ron said.
“Alright Ron, thanks,” Sam replied, then hung up and plugged in his phone.
Still, with a towel around his waist, he sat on his couch, leant over to his coffee table where his MacBook was sitting and opened his email. The little beep felt like it took forever. As eager as he was to race to his phone and enter her number in, he thought better of it, and took a few things into consideration.
‘Wait. First, Ron would’ve only just gotten off the phone with her to tell her the news…I don’t want to pounce on her like some needy sod. Secondly, and more importantly, she could be fucking married! Or at least involved…Way to jump the gun there Heughan…I don’t recall any rings…although I didn’t look. Alright. I have a good excuse to spend time with her, should she allow it. It’s important for the show that the characters’ chemistry remains top-notch, even though we seem to already possess that natural chemistry together…Ach! I’ll wait until tomorrow and see what she says. Getting to know each other involves learning about each other’s life. I’m sure a husband, boyfriend, or even a child would be mentioned straight up…’
Sam let out a loud sigh and cracked his knuckles. “Patience,” he said to himself, as a reminder.
The next day, Cait was busy running around her LA apartment, packing up furniture, for the impending adventure in Scotland, in a couple of short weeks. She would be living in Glasgow for the next 12 months or so, once getting to Scotland. She had to be in London the next day, to get her hair permed, and there she was going to stay, until going to Scotland; in a fully furnished London apartment. She was quite preoccupied with organising her handbag when she heard the muffled sound of her phone ringing. She buried underneath the pile of clothes on her bed and grabbed her phone. The incoming call was a number she didn’t recognise. She was about to hang up, but her instincts told her to answer, and so she did.
“Hello?” Cait answered.
“Hi, Caitriona. It’s Sam Heughan. Congratulations on getting the job!” Sam replied shyly.
It felt like her heart had stopped, jumped up into her throat and got stuck. Then she couldn’t help but grin like an idiot.
‘Okay, breathe. Don’t sound like an absolute moron!’
“Oh, hi! Thank you so much. How are you?” Cait managed to say.
“I’m good, I’m good. How are you?” Sam replied happily.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Nervous and excited for what’s ahead. I’ve never done anything like this before,” Cait replied, biting her lip and stroking her forehead.
“An all-new experience for you. Don’t worry, it’ll be good. Erm, anyway, so I just…you know I just…was wondering…erm, since you and I will be working together for a large amount of time, would you like to just spend a day getting to know each other? I think it’ll make, erm, the transition easier, going from total strangers to working closely together every day. If, if you’d like, erm,” Sam suggested nervously.
Cait moved her face away from the phone. She couldn’t help but giggle at the fact that he was so obviously terrified.
‘Is this a good idea though? I mean…he’s right, it would be good for work. It would be very hard working so closely with someone I know basically nothing about. Okay.’
“Yeah, that would be great. Ron told me you’re also going to get your hair destroyed tomorrow in London,” Cait giggled.
Sam laughed softly, “yes, unfortunately, has to be done. That’s why I thought tomorrow would be a good opportunity.”
“Yeah, definitely. We would have the same flight too?” Cait asked.
“Erm… 11:20 am?” Sam asked.
“Yep, that’s mine. Alright, well I’ll see you at the airport in the morning, say 10:30?” Cait said.
“Yeah, I’ll see you then! It’ll be good. Okay, see you later Caitriona!” Sam said happily.
“Bye Sam,” Cait replied. Then she hung up and exhaled slowly.