The accidential Hacker

Harriet is a struggling painter.. One day she accidentially hacks into someone computer and it turns her whole life upside down


4. Less than perfect


*Harri POV*

My mystery man was occupying more and more of my thoughts, which was

disturbing considering that I had no idea who he was. Zac wasn't a lot to go on.

I did try looking up the psych movie on IMDB but there was very little info, and no 

Zac or Zachary listed on the cast.

I tried to talk myself out of liking him, he could be a serial killer, or rapist, or

thief, or a liar, or a cheat.

The list of what he could be was endless.

Unfortunately the list of what I knew he was, was very tempting. I knew he got

my weird sense of humour. I knew he was kind, thanks to his compliments and

willingness to forgive me. i knew he was charming, I knew he was intelligent and

I knew he was funny.

Of course, I didn't know if he was interested in me. Probably not, certainly not to

the degree I was interested in him.

Maybe he was gay. I could live with that, we could be good friends and moan to

each other about our respective boyfriends.

I did my best to put him out of my mind, spending my days painting in my studio

so I wasn't always waiting by my computer for him to message me.

Besides, he was right, I should visit a few galleries again and for that, I needed

some new original work because I'd been gradually selling most of them. I would

probably never stop painting pop culture because I love it, but I was short on

abstract work, so I definitley needed to bulk that area of my portfolio up before I

visited any galleries.

Zac and I texted back and forth a little but nothing serious, and we didn't get a

good chat going like we had the last time. I sent him a meme I thought was funny,

he texted back with a meme of his own. I suppose we averaged about two texts a

day. I tried to start conversations with him, asking what he was up to and when

he said he was working, I asked if he was filming anything fun. He replied that he

was working on reshoots and had to have his phone off for most of the day.

I mean, he was perfectly nice about it, and apologetic even but for whatever

reason (after all, he could be lying about work) he didn't want to speak to me.

I tried not to take it to heart and got on with my life.

I thought the reshot thing was bollocks too. Please, I've met my fair share of 

socalled actors since I've been in LA, or more accurately, waiters who call

themselves actors. I didn't call him out on it though, if his ego needed to tell

strangers that he was an actor, then I wasn't about to burst his bubble.

It did make me cringe when I thought about when I told him, that I didn't want a

boyfriend who was trying to prove something. Was that why he hadn't ask me

out? Had I put him of ? Truth is, as long as he is happy with what he is doing, I

couldn't care less if he was a professional extra or a mega star.

However I had told him the truth about my dog portraits, so why couldn't he be

honest with me too?

I had a run of orders on my geek shop and addition to my usual orders, I ended

up selling one painting each of painting of each Avenger, as well as Fury, Coulson

and Loki, plus a commission of Maria Hill (I've never been asked for her before)

to a single buyer in London, which was very odd but not unwelcome. I assumed

that he or she was an avid fan of the film.

I was a little sad to see them go as they were all six foot by three foot canvases

(except the Hulk, his was six by four) so they were nearly life size and I loved

them all.

But it was very welcome to know that my rent would be paid through Christmas

and up until March (hey, paintings that size don't come cheap). Now I only

needed to worry about eating but I'd survived enough periods existing on bake

beans on toast, so I knew that even if I didn't sell anything else before the New

Year, I'd survive.

Now I could concentrate on updating my portfolio (in between animal pictures)

with the intention of visiting a few galleries in the New Year. And I painted new

Iron Man and Loki portraits too. My studio didn't feel like home without at least

some Avenger's pictures hung in there.

I knew December would be busy, as people commissioned last minute paintings

of their dogs as Christmas presents. For some reason, hardly anyone stopped to

consider that an oil painting wasn't like a print, it took layers of paint and time

for each layer to dry, then more layers, adding texture and detail each time, and

then more drying time.

Sadly, I knew that I'd miss out on a lot of Christmas business, simply because the

paintings wouldn't be ready to ship by December 23rd. Why couldn't more people

think ahead?

Still, you can hardly complain while you're busy, and I would certainly be busy.

My Christmas shopping was already done, because I knew I wouldn't have much

time for it in December.

In between updating my portfolio, I painted backgrounds, which is what Zac

caught me doing when he phoned one Wednesday evening. I put him on speaker

phone so l could still work.

"So, what thrilling adventures are you having this evening?" he asked after we'd

exchanged pleasantries.

"Are you implying that I don't live a rock star life?"

"Never, darling. So, what are you up to?"

"I'm painting a wonderful midnight blue canvas."

"All the same colour?"

"Well, it's slightly graduated.'"

"Right... is, uh, is there much of a market for that?"

I laughed. "I'm painting backgrounds for my pet portraits." I explained. "I get a

run in December so I thought I'd get ahead of myself. It's also very soothing,

surprisingly enough".

"Like a palate cleanser?"

"Exactly!" I loved how he just understood me (when I gave him the chance and

wasn't teasing him). "How's our week going?"

"Oh, fine." He was good at evading questions.

"Still doing the reshoots?" You can't say I haven't given him plenty of chances to

come clean with me,

"I am. It's quite nice in a way, a taste of a movie without all the month's of slog

that usually goes into them.'"

"Oh?" I hoped to draw some more information out of him. Maybe I was wrong

and he did act fairly regularly.


Well, that didn't work quite as I'd planned. I decided to drop the Pretence. "Are

you ever going to tell me what you've been in?"

 "I hadn't planned on it."

"What about the reshoots, what are they for?"

"Oh, just a small indie thing." I could hear the humour in his voice as he thwarted

me. Again.

"Indie films do reshoots?"

"Um." A-hah! I'd caught him in a lie. "I, uh, well, some do," he hedged his bets.

"Indie just means they're not attached to a major studio."

"Uh huh." I was smiling as I nodded.

"How's work?" he asked again. It wasn't like him to repeat himself, so I guess I'd

freaked him out by asking too much about him.

"Told you, I'm painting backgrounds."

"And sales?"

"Sales are really good, actually. A mega fan must have found my store, they

bought ten Avengers paintings from me!"

"That's amazing, he must be a huge geek."

"I prefer the term nerd."

"What's the difference?"

"Geek implies a lack of social skills."

"Wow, I never knew that." I could just imagine him scratching his neck, looking

confused. Given his voice, vocabulary and other indicators, I guess he probably

wasn't often corrected on language, especially not by a dyslexic.

"You learn something new every day," I quip.

"So you do," he agreed. "So who is this fan?"

"No idea. He had the paintings sent care of someone called Luke, to an office

address in London. I have no clue if Luke is the buyer or not, but you'd hardly

send a package care of yourself, would you?" I asked rhetorically. "Sellers don't

get to see credit card info or anything, just their checkout details."

"You must be happy to have such a big fan."

"Actually, I'm a little sorry to see them go. I kind of liked having them around. It

can get a bit lonely, painting all day."

He laughed, able to tell that I was joking. Well, half joking.

"Maybe you'll see some of them again one day," he offered

"Maybe." I couldn't see how, but I wasn't about to argue when he was trying to be

nice. "Anyway, despite the impression I might have given you, I'm not actually a

total social leper, I do leave the house sometimes."

"How often?"

"Oh, once a month, maybe, if it's a good month."

He laughed

"Actually I'm going out tomorrow. There's a new exhibition at the Getty center I want

to see".


"The photography of Horst."

"Phew, for a second I thought you were going to see the wedding dress


"Excuse me, Captain Hammer, but a woman's biggest desire in life is no longer to

get married." I sounded suitably aghast. "Besides, I saw that back in July."

He laughed before admitting, "I've seen it too".

"It's wonderful, isn't it? To see the detail on some of those gowns. I think I'd have

worn my fingers to bloody stumps sewing some of those by hand. And they must

have been so heavy, like wearing a small child around your body".

"I'm not sure wedding dresses have changed that much, I'm sure some of them

still weigh a ton."

"Maybe," I agreed. " I've always preferred the simple ones though. Something

classic with simple, flowing lines, you know? I think the british princess 

Kate Middleton's dress was almost perfect, not too ostentatious."

"Almost perfect?" he sounded incredulous. "They'll revoke your woman card if

you don't love her dress, you know."

I laughed. Yeah, but I'm dyslexic, which always comes with a degree of

dyspraxia, which in simple terms is balance and coordination issues. That dress

may have been perfect for her but for me? That train would kill me before I'd

even got to the church."

He had such a rich, warm laugh, I could listen to it forever.

We chatted a bit more, then he told me his plans for the evening was to watch

Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon's film of the Shakespeare play.

"Oh no, please tell me you aren't a Shakespeare freak?" I literally begged.

"Wouldn't say freak, but don't everyone like Shakespeare ?" he sounded 

incredulous that I would even dare to suggest such a thing.

"I have a hard enough time reading regular English, let alone Middle English. It's

just mean to do that to a dyslexic!"

"I see your point," he said, seriously. "I've never asked before, is your dyslexia


"Well, not as bad as some," I admitted. "I can read quite quickly these days but

only because I found Star Trek novelisations when I was a teenager, which gave

me a reason to want to read."

"You weren't given any specific help?"

"I wasn't diagnosed until my third year of college and even then, I'm not sure how

much help would have been around in the 8os and 9os. I mean, I get by and

everything, it's not like I've been held back, but my Mum has to proof any official

type letters I want to send, and yes, things like Shakespeare and films with

subtitles are a real chore.'"

"Have you ever tried watching Shakespeare?"

"We had to watch some 70s recording of Romeo and Juliette in school. It was

better than reading it, I have to admit. If only the acting had been a little better,

might even have enjoyed it. No, scratch that, I think that's a stupid play".

He gasped theatrically. "I know someone who would faint if he heard that".

"Oh please, a grown man dates a thirteen year old girl and they're both so stupid

they die needlessly. That's not my idea of romance."

"Well, I can't argue with that." He sounded defeated. "Have you not even seen

Joss's film?"

"I couldn't bring myself to."

"Look, I won't badger you about it or anything but I beg you, please give

Shakespeare another shot. Those plays were never meant to be read, only

watched and I'm sorry to say, schools have a lot to answer for when it comes to

killing passion about Shakespeare and other classics. I beg you, watch Joss's version 

and if you still can't understand it or don't like it, then that's the last you'll hear about it from

me. Can you do that, for me?"

He sounded so earnest that I felt bad for wanting to say no. Still, a night with

Shakespeare was my idea of hell.

The silence stretched out between us.

"Okay, I promise l'll watch it if, and only if, you tell me something you've acted in.


He actually hesitated. Damn lying toe rag! He had no business telling me he was

an actor if he couldn't at least show me one thing he'd acted in.

"Fine, but I'll only tell you after you've watched it."

"Ooh, you're sneaky," I teased.

"Do we have a deal?" he asked.

"We do."


I shook my head at the enthusiasm in his voice,

"I can send you a copy, if you want," he offered

"Thanks, butI'm sure Netflix has it. Besides, I still have no proof that you aren't a

serial killer."

"Good point. Let me know when you've seen it and once I'm sure you haven't just

wikied a synopsis of the play, I'll tell you something I've been in.”

I looked at my canvas, and the other six blank ones I wanted to start tonight.

Suddenly I didn't have the heart for it.

"I can hear you thinking," he said.

"I'll watch it tonight," I said on impulse. "Give me half an hour to wash up and

cue the movie, then call me back and we can watch together."

"Brilliant idea, darling.I'll talk to you soon then".


Zac was right, watching Shakespeare, especially a slick production such as Joss

Whedon's, was far better than reading the plays. I always understood what was

going on, even if I didn't understand the exact language used.

I did have some issues with the plot though. Seriously? Mistaken identity? Faked

death? Well, I suppose I'd overlooked worse plot holes in the past, and Zac

helped to make it fun too.

Once the movie ended, we continued talking.

"You should really see it on the stage, there's a presence, a magnetism that you

get with a quality stage production, that film can't always convey."

"Are you asking me out?" I teased.

"Um, yes, I suppose I am."

It's a good thing we weren't on webcam, because I was grinning like a loon. "Well,

I suppose I can see if I'm free."

"The next good production that I'm in town for, we're going, even if I need to drag

you there, kicking and screaming if I have to."

I considered saying 'It's a date, but worriedI'd scare him off I went with "Deal!" instead

"Great." I could hear the smile in his voice

"And now, I believe you owe me the name of something you've been in."

 I heard him sigh and felt bad for pressing but seriously, what was his issue? He

knew what I did. I'd even be happy to give him my full name now (I was 99% sure

he wasn't a serial killer) so why was he so hung up on me not seeing him?

"Less than perfect."

"You were in Less than perfect?" I asked. I had watched some of the show but I couldn't

remember many details.

"I was."

“Okay, which episode?

"Oh no, you asked for the name of something I'd been in, and you have it."

"Fine." I'd stream the whole thing if I had to.

We chatted for a little longer and when we hung up, I immediately went to my

laptop and looked up Less than perfect, pulling up the complete cast listing and

searching for any Zac's.

There was Zachary Levi of course. Yeah, right, like he would spend his days talking to a

nobody like me. Zac Beard, nahh he looked much older than my Zac. Then there was a

Zac McCall, who played someone called Peters in one episode. That sounded

suitably bit part-ish slash jobbing actor to be my Zac, so I clicked through to his

profile. He didn't work much, only 6 shows listed, all small parts but he could be 

making his living on the stage.

A google search for a picture of him proved fruitless, so I was still no further

forward. I'd just have to watch the episode, so I queued it up on Netflix

Unfortunately if there was a character called Peters in it, I didn't notice him

Must be blink and you'll miss it part. Still, I'm sure his Mum was proud and he

sounded like he enjoyed his job.

Oh well, l'd gone this long without putting a face to the name, I could go a bit
























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