“Let’s not even continue this line of conversation.” He laughed. He turned his focus again to Lulu. “She loves these things. Look at her milking up all the attention my manager is giving her.”
Maddie followed his gaze. “That’s your manager?”
“She does look awfully comfortable.” And a little bit smitten. Did Micah realize his mother had a thing for his manager? From the oblivious look on Micah’s face, she guessed not.
They watched Lulu and Stu for a few seconds in silence. Then Micah cocked his head. “Do you want to meet them?”
Maddie’s heart stopped. Them. Stu and Lulu—two of the most important people in Micah’s life. “Only if you want me to.” Her response was barely louder than a whisper.
“I do.” His eyes lit up with excitement, verifying he was sincere. “But I’m warning you now—I’m going to be vague about our relationship.”
“You don’t want to tell your mother and manager all the amazing things I do to you on a nightly basis? I guess I can live with that.”
“Thanks for understanding.” He waved to catch his mother’s eye, then summoned her and Stu toward them.
Maddie braced herself, hoping she appeared casual despite her sudden overwhelming anxiety about meeting Micah’s mom. His mom. It had been years since she’d met a boyfriend’s parent.
Of course, Micah wasn’t her boyfriend. Not technically. But he was much more than just a lover. Somehow she had to keep all of that from showing on her face, in her body. Though how could she when her entire soul lit up like a firecracker in his presence?
No time to figure it out. Lulu was there. In front of her. Micah’s smile was easy, casual. He gestured nonchalantly at Maddie. “Lulu, Stu, this is Maddie Bauers. She’s a camera assistant on the film.”
Maddie offered her hand first to Stu. His shake was firm but brief. The manager seeming to be more interested in speaking with Micah. No matter. Impressing Stu wasn’t high on her list of goals.
Then she swiveled to greet Micah’s mother. Lulu’s eyes, Maddie noticed, were exactly the color of her son’s—less piercing, but equally as bright. Her hand was warm and smooth, her grasp firm though not as tight as Stu’s.
Instantly Maddie loved her in a way she would find difficult to explain if ever pressed to do so. Loved her for bringing Micah into this world. Loved her because Micah loved her.
Loved her because, Maddie was beginning to suspect she also loved her son.
When she took back her hand, Maddie was breathless from the waves of emotions that had accompanied the simple contact. She was also keenly aware that all of it had been one-sided.
Which was fine. More important was the widening of Micah’s eyes that suggested he’d understood and that he was pleased.
“It’s always a pleasure to meet people Micah works with,” Lulu said in a voice that hinted she was good at mingling. Sincere enough to be charming, but not personal enough to make a real connection.
“Adam LaForgeon’s on camera, right?” Stu asked. “He’s excellent.”
“He is,” Maddie said, grateful for the easy subject. “I’ve been lucky to be his assistant for several years now.”
“But she’s also a brilliant director,” Micah interrupted. Maddie didn’t miss the pride that tainted his words. “I was telling you about her film earlier, Mom.”
He told her about me.
Goose bumps clothed Maddie’s arms. He’d told Lulu about her. And even though she’d rather the talk had been on a personal level instead of about her film, she was moved. He’d thought about her.
Lulu’s eyebrows raised and her interest in Maddie sparked. “Oh, the one you want to invest in?”
Micah brought a finger to his lips. “Shh, Mom. That’s not common knowledge. But if you’re a good girl, maybe we can talk Maddie into showing you some of her footage over breakfast.”
“That sounds wonderful.”
And just like that their breakfast date was a reality.
Stu seemed to have something on his mind. “Maddie, would you care if I steal Micah and his mother for a moment? I need to talk business.”
“No, of course not.” She would have loved to be included on a personal business conversation, but she barely cared at the moment. Right now she was soaring. Despite his reservations and fears, Micah had introduced her to his mother. Under his own conditions, yes, but she was grateful for the compromise. Relationships were about compromise, after all, and his actions proved he understood that.
Proved he might even be thinking about the two of them in exactly those terms—relationship terms.
Even as Stu led Micah and Lulu away from her, Maddie felt closer to Micah than she ever had.
It took all of Micah’s strength not to glance back at the woman behind him as he and his mother followed Stu to discuss whatever was apparently too important to keep. And how he’d be able to concentrate on anything Stu said, he had no idea. His mind was all on Maddie.
When he’d first seen her in the foyer, he had to admit, he’d been startled. Maybe even a little irritated. Then he was turned on. How could he not be with her looking like that, all dolled up and sex on heels? Seriously turned on.
And then he felt relieved.
A blanket of serenity that he’d never felt at these sorts of public events fell over him just by knowing she was in the room. After seeing her, his smiles became easier, his laughs a little less fake. Yeah, she’d done that to him.
And when he’d introduced her to Lulu…
Why did his insides feel so warm and soft with their meeting? As though he’d just finished a glass of bourbon, but ten times better. Not at all nerve-racking as he’d expected, but pleasant.
More than pleasant. Perfect.
But leaving Maddie to talk to Stu? That wasn’t easy in the least. That was one of the reasons he had wanted her to stay home. It was too hard to be in the room with her, especially looking so f**kable in her short silver dress and high heels. He wanted to be with her, to never leave her side.
Maybe he was being dramatic.
Steel up, man. Stop acting so f**king pu**y-whipped.
Stu led Lulu and Micah just beyond the theater doors but far enough away from the crowded foyer to speak in private. Micah abandoned his full cup of coffee in a trash can—he’d only ordered it to get himself near Maddie, anyway—and tried to ignore how he felt like a total ass**le leaving her alone like that.