She laughed, the light sound awakening his cock. “You don’t know that. You saw two minutes.”
He held his messenger bag in front of him to hide the protrusion in his pants. “More like ten. I was watching long before I said anything.”
She looked up at him through her long eyelashes, her eyes seeking affirmation and suddenly he felt like a total dick. He’d pestered her and flirted with her, as if the most important thing in her life could be getting laid by Micah Preston. But all Maddie wanted was someone to tell her she was good.
He swallowed, then said the words he knew he shouldn’t. “I’d back it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Ha, thanks.”
Another woman would have taken advantage of his attraction to her and tried to weasel money out of him. But Maddie didn’t even take it when he offered. Was that her game? Was she playing him slowly?
No, he didn’t believe that. She hadn’t ever meant for him to see her film.
He tried again. “I’m serious.”
“Ah, no, that’s not a good idea.” Her defenses were up. He was surprised she’d let them down at all. Didn’t she realize how weak he was? How hard it was for him to uphold his promise to leave her alone? Defense mode was a good thing.
“Okay, if you don’t want my money, which I have plenty of and have been looking to invest in production opportunities, well, I totally understand. But I can hook you up with other producers.”
She swiveled in her chair and met his eyes again. She held his gaze for several long seconds. Finally she spoke. “Don’t be nice to me. It confuses me.”
He grinned. “Sorry. I won’t let it happen again.” She returned his smile and he had to force himself not to wrap her up in his arms. Why did he have to be such a shit with her? Maybe he could try to be something different with her. Could attempt a real relationship.
But even if her hesitancy wasn’t from fear, his was. He was scared. A big fat chicken. And he didn’t see that changing anytime soon.
He straightened and pulled his bag to his shoulder. “Consider the offer, okay?”
She turned back to her computer. “Okay.”
“You don’t mean that do you.”
A small smile crossed her lips. “No, not really. Now go away.”
He scrutinized her, studying the soft features of her face, wishing he could get inside her head. She was proud, but not haughty, simultaneously strong and fragile. She longed to be free, to fly, so to speak, in her own way, but refused to take a handout. It was so refreshing in the world of show business where so many people were pompous self-serving ass**les. He loved that about her.
Though he shouldn’t be loving anything about Maddie. That completely broke his no-strings rule.
She shifted in her chair under his long stare. “What?”
“Just…you never cease to amaze me. Maddie from the party.” He walked toward the door, refusing to look back at her. He knew if he did he wouldn’t be able to turn away from her again.
Maddie was pissed.
After a whole week of avoiding any Micah drama, he had to go and wreck it in the sweetest way possible with compliments and praise and long intense gazes. Seriously? What the hell was she supposed to do with that?
It had been bad enough when her attraction was all sexual, her body betraying everything her mind commanded. But after her encounter with him the night before when he’d said all those nice things about her film and had recognized very private things about her in her art, she had fallen, smack, head-over-heels for the guy. And that flippin’ sucked.
Now, like any lovesick fool, she could think of nothing but him. She kept searching for him during setup, kept looking off toward his trailer. Even that afternoon during her daily run, which usually distracted and calmed her, she could not rid her mind of Micah, Micah, Micah. Of course, it didn’t help that she continued her running course past his hotel. Because it was the best view, she told herself. Yeah, right. Damn, she had it bad.
Just get through the next two nights, she thought as she prepared her calculations with the stand-in. Two last nights of shooting before a whole day off. Then they’d be back to day shoots and everything would be clearer in the sunlight.
Getting through tonight wouldn’t be easy though. The scene they were shooting took place around a campfire. The unsteady light source was sure to play tricks on the focus and the dark night made it difficult for actors to hit their marks correctly. She threw herself into the preparations, double- and triple-checking each measurement, trying to foresee any possible change that might arise during filming. By the time the actors were due to arrive, she thought she actually had a good handle on the situation.
But then Micah appeared on set and she was a goner. He wore baggy jeans that hung on his h*ps in a way that got her juices flowing, and he had no shirt. God, he had no shirt. Was that in the script? She’d never seen his bare chest in person and my, oh, my, was it a pretty sight. His stomach was perfectly sculpted, his pecs rock-hard. The small trail of hair at his navel caused her core to clench. She longed to trace it with her fingers. Who was she kidding? She longed to trace it with her tongue.
Damn Micah Preston and his hot body.
Yep, she was completely pissed.
When Micah took his place by the campfire, it was even worse. His blue eyes smoldered in the low light and the flames, as they licked and furled unpredictably, seemed to echo the unstable electric pulses deep in her belly. He wound her up so tight and distracted her so thoroughly, how could she possibly make it through the evening’s filming?
And that was only the beginning of the disastrous shoot.
By the time they made it through one full take, there had already been three false starts and two “cuts” because of lighting issues. Beaumont had to be throwing a fit. Maddie was glad he was directing over the headset so she didn’t have to witness his displeasure. Even Joe, normally easygoing and laid back, didn’t bother to hide the tension, snapping and barking the directions he relayed to the cast and crew. Before an hour had gone by, everyone was in as foul a mood as Maddie.
With all the problems, the thing that continued to piss Maddie off the most was the actors. Well, one actor, who kept missing his mark. Micah had run his blocking perfectly during the run-through, but in every take thereafter he stopped his movement in the wrong spot. If he’d be consistent with the mistake it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it wasn’t even the same wrong spot. With the unpredictable fire, Maddie found it impossible to adjust to his mistakes.