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Just To Be With You (Page 50)

“Pretty much. Thanks for asking, Ian.” With a look at her watch, she said, “David and I have a few final pre-flight preparations to take care of, and then we should be on our way to Alaska before the storm rolls in.”

As soon as his pilots disappeared into the cockpit, Tatiana told him, “I know you sent me a list of other CEOs to shadow this week, but I’m not here to shadow you anymore.” Before he could respond, she added, “And I’m not here to talk about Thursday or Friday night, either, I promise. You see, the character I’ll be playing next week was born and bred in Alaska, and I was hoping you’d consider letting me catch a ride with you so that I can do my final bit of research for it. Getting a feel for where my character grew up will really help me.”

In the week he’d spent with her, Tatiana had never shied away from confronting him. So then, why wasn’t she bringing up their conversation from Friday night? And why wasn’t she trying to pin him down, trying to get him to change his mind about being with her? She’d planned to give him some time to change his mind, but had hers been the feelings that ended up changing instead? Had she realized he was right when he’d told her that she was simply so overwhelmed by finally making love that she’d wrongly assumed that meant she was in love with him?

Or, was it simply that she knew him better than anyone else ever had…and understood that it was killing him to try to stay away when the very best moments of his life had been with her in his arms?

“I’m happy to give you a lift to Alaska if it will help you with your research.” Hell, he was miles beyond happy about the chance to spend more time with her when he’d missed her more with every hour that had passed since she walked away from him Friday night.

When she was buckled into the seat across from him, he let David and Linda know that they were ready for takeoff. Just as the plane began to taxi down the runway, Tatiana pulled out her script and scowled at it.

Though he had planned to get some work done on the flight, instead of taking out his laptop, he asked her, “How’s your work on your part going?”

Though her scowl deepened, it did nothing whatsoever to detract from her incredible beauty. “Not well. And I’m supposed to do a read-through of a couple of scenes with my male co-star on Thursday so that we can see where we are and feel each other out a bit.” She shook her head as the plane lifted into the air. “I can already tell you how he’s going to feel. He’s going to beg the producer for a new leading lady.”

She looked so upset that Ian didn’t think twice before offering, “Would it help if I read through it with you now?”

Her eyes widened with surprise. “That would be amazing.”

Ian had to move to the seat beside her so that they could share her script. Lord, he thought as he breathed in her scent, it was good to be close to her again. So damned good.

“I’m Rose, and you’ll be reading the part of Aiden, the man who’s…” She lifted her gaze to meet his. “He’s in love with her.”

Her eyes were so green and so beautiful that he nearly forgot that he couldn’t kiss her.

“This is the scene where he finally tells her exactly how he feels, and she reacts badly.” Tatiana’s voice was a little breathless now as she told him, “Aiden leads off the scene when he barges into Rose’s office.”

“Rose.”

“Aiden? What are you doing here? Didn’t you get my message?”

“Did you think I’d just let you leave like that, with a note that said you were sorry, but you couldn’t be with me anymore?”

“I’m already late to my next meeting. I can’t do this now.”

“What about after your meeting, Rose? Will you finally admit that what we have is rare and beautiful and that you love me? Or will I have to come back again tomorrow and the day after that for you to admit it?”

“I do love you! But that doesn’t change anything. I can’t be that girl I used to be, the one you fell in love with. Not now that I have to manage all this. Not when so many people are depending on me to make sure they don’t lose everything if I screw this up. And not when, for the first time in my life I finally feel like I’ve found the place I’m supposed to be.”

“Do you think I’d ever want any less for you? Do you think I can’t see how well the suit, the office, even the pressure of it all, suits you? And do you think I’d ever ask you to give it all up for me? That I won’t love you anymore because you’re not the girl I first fell for?”

“You say that now, that you’ll love me no matter what, but just because it’s easy to say the words doesn’t mean it will be anywhere near easy to actually pull it off. People make promises all the time, but they rarely keep them. And I can’t risk everything here on a promise, on a hope that love will actually last. I just can’t. So, please, I have a meeting now, and I need you to leave. And I won’t change my mind after it. Not today or tomorrow.”

After they read through a couple more pages, Tatiana laid the script down with a sigh on the table in front of them.

“It sounds good. Why are you so frustrated?”

“Good. Not great. I swear, I know the script backward and forward, but I can’t get to the heart of Rose at all. If I can’t root for her, then how is the audience going to be on her side?”

In the same way that Ian analyzed every angle of a potential investment for a business deal, he figured it couldn’t hurt to try the same thing with this character she was so stuck on. “What’s your biggest issue with Rose?”

“Who would choose money over love?”

“Someone who knows just how hard it is not to have money. Someone who knows just how unpredictable love is, that it isn’t all roses and sunsets. Someone who can see the rhyme and reason to making money, but knows there isn’t any whatsoever to love. Someone who’s willing to believe in what she can count and add up, but who has only ever known chaos when it came to her heart.”

“Okay, I can see that makes sense, but this hero, he’s laying it all on the line. He wants to love her. And he’s a good guy. A really good guy. I still don’t see how I can play her so that it makes sense that she’d keep holding back.”

“From the part we read, it sounds to me like she knows the damage love can do. And she also knows that the sacrifice and compromise needed to make it last are bigger than a quick flash of lust and the promises some guy is making to her.”

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