“Please.” He should make sure his lines were solid. Then he could put away the script and spend the rest of his day focusing on nothing but Maddie.
She rolled out of his arms and sat up to grab his script. He’d left it open to the scene he was studying and he watched as her eyes scanned the page.
When her mouth tightened into a straight line and her brows creased sharply, he guessed he knew the source of her reaction, but asked anyway, “What’s wrong?”
She sighed. “I forgot you had the sex scene this week. I sort of blocked it out.”
He rubbed her lower back, hiding his pleasure at her jealousy. “Is it going to bother you?”
“No.” She paused. “Yes.” She sighed again. “I don’t know.”
He continued to draw lazy circles on her back. “Talk to me.”
She looked toward the horizon, thinking about what she wanted to say or trying to decipher her emotions. “It bothered me when you did the kissing scene. Until you reassured me. That helped. But since then I found out…” Her voice trailed off.
She looked back at him. “That you’ve slept with Heather.”
She kept her voice level and he focused on making his response the same. “Huh.” How did she know? He and Heather had always been on the down-low.
But that wasn’t important. Putting her mind to rest was. And how they handled this would be a major milestone in their…whatever it was they had. One common pressure on Hollywood romances was costar jealousy. “I’m not sleeping with her now. I have no interest in sleeping with her now.”
Good. Yet he could sense that knowledge wasn’t enough. “But…”
She shrugged. “But doing this scene you might recall other times with her.”
It wasn’t a ridiculous worry. For the most part, love scenes were so clinical and uncomfortable that he rarely became emotionally involved. But it did happen with some actors. Spending weeks, months wrapped in the mind of a character, making their actions believable, and then adding physical contact on top of that—yeah, he’d be jealous if it was her kissing another guy.
At another time in his life, this conversation would have been enough to make him run. But with Maddie, he wanted to work it out. There was no way he could get out of filming the sex scene. But maybe he could make it more tolerable for both of them. “What if there was a way to ensure that I was definitely not recalling her?”
She studied him. “What do you mean?”
“I have an idea.” He sat up, wrapping his arms around her from behind, his face against hers. “Let’s do the scene together. Now. The whole thing through to the parts that are only hinted at and not filmed. And then, I promise you, there will be no way that you or I will think about anything but each other when we’re filming. We’ll be the real thing. Heather and everyone else will only get a lame reenactment.”
“That sounds…” He waited for her to say it was a stupid notion, but she surprised him. “Like a great idea, actually.”
She turned to him, her face lit up with excitement. “Should I start at the top of this page?”
“Yeah. That would be perfect.” She opened her mouth to begin, but he spoke before she could. “I won’t know the blocking until we get on set. So you should direct it. Tell us how we should move.”
“Hmm,” she said, a gleam in her eye. She read the page again and he knew she was visualizing it. His heart swelled at her enthusiasm.
She moved to a kneeling position. “Okay. You start there and walk by me, brushing my shoulder. Kind of rough. Then walk to that spot at the corner of the blanket.” She pointed to where she meant. “Pretend that’s the pump. You can be washing your hands at the pump because this scene is right after you skinned that rabbit, right?”
“Yes,” he said. He adored watching the director’s hat come out. He’d only seen it before in the results—in her footage. Never in actual motion. He could feel her thrill and it excited him. He listened through the rest of her blocking. It would look good if it were being filmed. Beaumont would be lucky to come up with something half as good.
He stood and crossed to where she had indicated.
“Wait.” She rose and searched the woods around them. “Are we really going to, you know? Out here? Do you think we’re out of the way enough? To not be caught or anything?”
He couldn’t help but smile at her sense of propriety. He liked that they were just far enough away from the hiking trail that they probably wouldn’t be seen, but were close enough that they could be. “Would you care if we were?”
She gave him a wicked grin. “No. Except that it might invite media into our lives.”
“Yeah, there is that.” He considered. They hadn’t seen anyone all afternoon. “We’ll keep most of our clothes on. It’ll be fine.”
“Well, then. It will be easier if I dispose of these now.” She reached her hands under her skirt and pulled down her panties. She stepped out of one leg hole, and kicked them to the grass.
She winked at him, knowing full well what effect her action had on him. Then she turned somber. “Places.” Director hat back on. “Go sound. Camera rolling. And scene.”
Micah closed his eyes. When he opened them, he was Billy Winter—his character. With a heavier step than usual, he walked toward where Maddie stood with the script in hand and brushed past her gruffly.
He continued to the spot she had told him was the water pump. He felt her approach him from behind. Then she spoke.
“‘Billy, why are you so angry?’” She was acting her lines more than when she’d read with him in the past. He knew acting wasn’t her thing, but it roused him that she was getting into this role playing.
“‘Do you have to ask?’” He spun toward her. “‘They’re gonna come for us, Izzie. They got Danny’s print and it’s going to lead them all—’”
She put one hand up to calm him, the other still clutching the script. “‘You don’t know that.’”
“‘I know I have no future anywhere but lost out here on this mountain.’”
“‘Then I’ll be lost out here with you.’” She took a step toward him and reached for his arm. Softly she delivered the next line. “‘I’ll be your future.’”