Josh Tanner pushed out a breath as he jumped the steps up to his trailer door and slipped inside. How the hell was it only noon? It felt like he had been awake forever. Then again, he supposed getting up at three in the morning for hair and makeup made the day feel that much longer. And he had, what, another seven or eight months of this shit? Whose bright idea was it for him to contract into a damned franchise? Oh, right. His. Because Mackenzie had begged him to do it. He was a sucker for those adorable bright green eyes. A picture of his daughter caught his eyes and he grinned. Nine years old and nothing but trouble. No regrets. He would sign that damned contract again in a heartbeat to see that smile.
Regardless of how tempting it was to take a nap during his filming break, he dropped down onto the couch and pulled up his laptop to fire off an email to his daughter. At the end of the month, she would be coming to visit and he could not wait! They were going to have a blast; Kenz hadn’t been up to Canada yet. Niagara Falls, the museum, the science centre - weird Canadian spelling included - the tower thing, the aquarium!
If he had a normal ex, he could have sent Kenz a message with all the details. But Mel had access to Kenz’s phone. So Josh had set his daughter up with an email account without her mother’s knowledge.
Almost the second the laptop started up it acted weird, though. The mouse pointer thing went everywhere but where he told it to go, every click felt like wading through molasses, the email app closed almost the second he opened it….
“The fuck is going on,” he muttered. What was he supposed to do with this? Computer shit went well over his head; hell he struggled to type with both hands, even then he had to look at the keyboard. How the hell people did that without looking baffled him. What was the old joke? Have you tried turning it off and on again? It couldn’t make the damned thing worse.
The trailer door opened and Kris’s voice hit his ears, “No, I think he’s good, thanks, Annie!”
Rebooting the laptop, he lifted his head and grinned at Kristian as he closed the door on the poor girl. By the look on Kris's face, he'd be tempted to guess he had been fending off a pack of lions, not one teenaged intern.
“Honestly, Josh? I can’t tell if she wants to date you or go full Misery on you,” Kris said as he dropped down next to him.
“Maybe she wants to date you,” Josh said, teasing him. God, he was so glad he managed to convince Kris to be his assistant all those years ago. They had known each other since they were kids, practically inseparable since kindergarten. He couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone but his best friend.
Kris snorted a laugh. “She’s 19, Josh, almost half our age.”
“No judgement, man,” Josh said with a laugh. “Long as you’re happy.”
Kris levelled him with what he’d come to call ‘the look’. “I have twice as many options as most people, dude. I’m not hard up for a date.”
“You telling me she’d be a worse option than Jeff?” he teased. From the moment Kris had introduced him, he hated Jeff. It was obvious the jackass was only in it because he wanted to meet the celebrities in Kris’s friend circle. What an asshole.
“Don’t remind me,” Kris muttered, wincing.
Josh smiled. “If I’m not allowed to live down Emily, you’re not allowed to live down Jeff.”
“I’m pretty sure she dumped you the second you introduced her to Harris!” Kris laughed.
“Not my finest hour,” Josh admitted. As soon as he got back into the laptop the weird behaviour started up again. “Dammit!”
“You break it? Again?”
“Funny,” he grumbled. “Just trying to send Kenz an email, but the damned thing is…here, see for yourself.” He handed the laptop to Kris, frowning as he pulled out his phone. Sending emails on his damned phone was a huge pain in the ass. Then again, he supposed he could send her a voice note instead and surprise her when she got there. If he was lucky, she’d send one back. Even thinking about hearing her voice again made him smile.
“Jesus, Josh,” Kris said. “You shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near technology, man.” Pushing the lid closed, he sighed. “I’ll call Oli, see if he knows how to fix it.”
Oliver Lucas worked as an attorney for Josh’s talent agency back when they first met and had left when his wife got pregnant to form his own private practice. They had become friends while Josh was filming his first movie and he had worked hard to convince him to sign on as his personal attorney. While Oli had refused, they had remained in contact with Oliver sometimes taking on one-off jobs to review legalese for him. The bonus was his wife had some sort of IT job and some of her skills had rubbed off on Oli. That meant whenever they were in Toronto, they had their own personal IT support. In exchange for a few open bar nights at whatever place Josh was renting. “Thanks, man. I need to let Kenz know what I have planned for her visit, see what she thinks.”
Kris smiled. “She won’t give two shits as long as she’s with you, Josh. You know how much she looks forward to seeing you.”
A half-assed laugh escaped him. “Maybe if she had a mom who cared more about her than the child support checks….” The only damned reason Mel wanted to keep Kenz - the thousands of dollars he paid out a month in child support. Better than a full-time job and with none of the work. What the hell he had ever seen in that greedy woman he would never know….
“Speaking of,” Kris said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a piece of paper. “Court’s agreed to a hearing in your request for sole custody. Bad news is the court date is after you wrap here.”
Josh sighed and had a quick read over the letter from the courts. It was an uphill battle; he knew that. Judges tended to favour the mother and he worked long hard hours acting. Before Kenz had more or less guilted him into signing for this role, he had been ready to give acting up to raise her. But she said she’d never speak to him again if he did that. Manipulative little shit. “She’s gonna hate this,” he groused.
“She’s made it nine years, Josh, she’ll make it another eight months. Kid’s as strong and stubborn as you,” Kris teased, nudging him in the ribs with an elbow.
“Anything we can do to speed this up?”
Kris shook his head. “Unfortunately not, man. I know you’d throw your entire fortune at this if you could, but we’ve gotta play by the rules here.”
“This sucks,” he sighed, dropping the letter on the small table beside the couch. Lolling his head back, he scrubbed a hand across his face and let out a frustrated groan.
“Yeah,” Kris said. “It does. But you got that weekend to look forward to at the end of the month. Kenz is gonna have a blast! Maybe we can get her out here during the summer too - they have that exhibition thing!” Josh was pretty sure his excitability had rubbed off on Kris years ago - the exclamation points were almost audible as Kris spoke.
“Yeah.” The Canadian National Exhibition - a giant-ass carnival thing with animals, rides, and all kinds of neat shit. Rock climbing walls, rodeos, hell, he seemed to recall reading the thing had an ice rink. Or was that a one-off? Either way, Kenz would love it. If he could convince his ex to let her come visit. What a pain in the ass.
A knock at the door interrupted his train of thought.
“Mr. Tanner? They’re ready for you on set again,” a woman’s voice called through the door.
“He’ll be right there,” Kris called back. “Come on, time to go save the planet from an alien invasion.”
Josh laughed a little at that. “You’re not saving shit, you’re watching me do all the hard work.”
“Someone’s got to get your prissy ass those lattes you love so much,” Kris shot back, grinning as he pushed off the couch and walked to the door. “Let’s go, fly boy.”
“You know, technically I’m royalty,” Josh said, following his friend out the door.
“This movie’s going to your head.”
With a smirk and a salute, Josh followed his friend.