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Like Dylan in the Movies

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Maddie's never met a film star, but then she answers Cassandra's door while Cassandra is in the loo and Stephen Colley is there.

"Hello, is this Cassandra's flat?" he asks. Stephen Colley! Maddie's sure it's him, she's seen him enough. He doesn't look like he does in films, serious and romantic. He looks earnest and a little confused, just like anyone would if a strange woman answered someone else's door.

She's trying to get over her surprise enough to answer when she hears Cassandra say, "Stephen!" and he just lights up. His smile switches from polite to brilliant and Maddie steps out of the way without even realizing it, feeling like an intruder. "I thought you weren't coming until tomorrow! Is father here too?"

"He's still in London," says Stephen Colley. "Something caught his attention, you know how he is. My meeting was canceled, so I thought I'd come early and surprise you."

"Well, it's wonderful to see you. Oh!" Cassandra looks away from Stephen for the first time, remembering Maddie. "I'm sorry. Stephen, this is Maddie, the pilot I was telling you about."

Stephen Colley knows about Maddie. Julie would be so jealous.

She hopes he knows about Julie too.

"Maddie, this is Stephen. We grew up together."

"It's a pleasure, Maddie," says Stephen, with the smile Maddie's been swooning at since his first film.

"Yes," she stammers, shaking his outstretched hand. "A pleasure."

*

"You could have told me your actor boyfriend was Stephen Colley!"

They had an awkward tea, and then Maddie left the two of them alone to catch up, feeling left out and fifteen again, blushing like a school girl. Cassandra told her to come back the next day, and she's relieved and a little disappointed that he isn't still in Cassandra's kitchen, being devastatingly attractive.

"He's not my--" says Cassandra, strained. "He's--Stephen."

"Did he give you that wireless?"

"No," says Cassandra. "He gave me another one."

Maddie gives her a stern look. "You know, I tell you about my life every week, dead serious stuff I've never told anyone."

"And this is dead frivolous," says Cassandra, smiling a little. She looks down at her fingers on the typewriter. "He was quite devoted to me, when we were children. He was our servant, before he was discovered."

"He still looked quite devoted to me," says Maddie. She'd known Stephen Colley had never married, although his name had been linked to loads of actresses. Cassandra doesn't fit the image--she's lovely, but not like film stars are. Julie used to say she'd be a good match for Stephen Colley--he'd only just started out before the war, but she and Julie had fancied him madly.

"This isn't nearly as interesting as you in the war," Cassandra protests.

"We talked about this kind of thing all the time in the war. We talked about how much we liked him."

She laughs at that. "I suppose you would have." She sighs. "He stopped being devoted. I was in love with someone else, and he would have had me, but I couldn't do that to him. He went to America to be an actor and I stayed here. But--we met up again, while I was there, and we became proper friends, now that we had both grown up a bit."

"Did he really come all the way back to England to visit you?"

"No," says Cassandra, smiling softly. "He's going to be in a play. But he might not have done the play, if we hadn't become friends again," she grants.

"If there's ever a film of your book," Maddie says slyly, "he'll have to play the love interest."

Cassandra laughs. "There isn't a love interest in the book."

"I'm sure if there were a film, there would be. There always is, in films. And Julie would want it to be him. Since you've got an in and all."

"Well, if that's what Julie would want," says Cassandra. "I'll see what I can do."