Take Two (Page 51)

Take Two (Lights, Camera #1)(51)
Author: Laurelin Paige

You shouldn’t text in the theater. It’s rude.

Ah, sweet Maddie. Crying her eyes out in the lobby and she wasn’t letting on at all. He hated that he was glad. Wished she could be honest with him. Wished he wanted her to be honest with him. Wished he wanted to be honest with her.

He sent her a text that matched the tone of hers. Neither should you.

I’m not in the theater.

Neither am I. He hoped she’d look for him now.

She did.

She stood and crossed to the railing to look down on the lobby below her. Then she peered across the lobby on their level and their eyes met. His heart skipped a beat. She was so beautiful. Even tear stained and mascara streaked she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever met.

He took a deep breath and walked to her.

“Congratulations on the Santini film,” she said as he neared her.

He shrugged, his hands in his pockets. “I haven’t accepted yet.”

“You will.”

This was good. She’d opened the door for him to agree. He could just say it and that would be that. They could skip the more serious aspects of his conversation with Stu and his mother. He could take the out she was giving him so freely. It would be so easy…

She leaned on the railing next to him, close enough for him to touch her, and he did, reaching a finger under her eye to wipe at her mussed makeup. “What if I don’t want it?”

He met her eyes, tumbling into them as he always did when she gazed at him so trusting and soul-piercing. “You do.”

Ah, she knew he wanted that role. Of course she knew. She saw him. Always. “I do.”

Her breath hitched as he put a hand around her waist and swiftly pulled her to him. “I want you too,” he whispered, his nose circling hers.

“I know.” She wrapped her arms around his neck.

He cupped her face and kissed her lips, sweetly and softly. She tasted of tears and makeup and something else—sorrow or heartache, maybe. He didn’t want to taste that on her mouth, wanted to take her away from all his bullshit. Wanted to escape with her. “Let’s get out of here?”

“You can’t abandon your mother, silly.” She smoothed his black silk tie, and he wished she was removing it instead.

“Then let’s find some place more private.”

She glanced around, and he followed her gaze. There was an usher behind them and a woman leaving the restroom.

“There’s too many eyes here.”

Yes, too many eyes. Eyes that could make their moment a scandal in a minute. They shouldn’t even be holding each other like this in public, not if he wanted to protect her from that. Still he couldn’t let her go.

After they’d held each other for much too long, she pulled away. “You should get back. You’ll be missed.”

In her words, he felt the chains that bound him, the constant monitor of the public that he wore like shackles. “Yes.”

She stepped to leave him, but her hand lingered in his, and he pulled her back to him, not wanting to let go. Ever. “Maddie, I—”

She searched his face and he almost finished his sentence, told her how he felt about her. But saying those words, there would be no going back from that. That would be his decision and he just…couldn’t.

“Kiss me again,” he said instead.

She delivered a light kiss. But he seized her lips with his own, his tongue possessing her with demanding need, claiming not only her mouth but her soul. With his kiss, he marked her as his, reserved her for a future that he wasn’t able to give her. Yet.

When he could bear to break free, he leaned his forehead against hers, his chest rising and falling in her rhythm. “Maddie, I’m glad you’re here.”

Lame. He had given her nothing tangible, nothing that told her how he felt, no hint that he was confused about her—that he wanted what they had to become something more. The only words he had for her were, “I’m glad you’re here.”

Totally lame.

He vowed he’d give her a clue. And while he sat in his box seat, pretending to watch the rest of Beaumont’s interview, he made his plans.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Maddie twisted in her seat belt so she could lean against the backrest and watch Micah as he maneuvered the rental car. She had never seen him drive. Even on the rare occasions that they shared a call time, she always rode up with the crew or Fudge, maintaining the secrecy of their affair.

He enjoyed driving. She could tell. His body relaxed behind the wheel and he wore a silly boyish expression on his face as he jammed to the music coming from his iPod over the car’s speakers. She liked seeing him this way.

She liked seeing him period.

She smiled, recalling a conversation from a few nights before. They had gone for drinks and pool with the crew, and afterward as they walked down the hall of his hotel, buzzed from beer and the company of friends, Micah had taken her hand and said, “Is this what normal people do? Come home every night and be happy?”

And for a minute she believed that they could be normal people.

But that was before the Joss Beaumont evening. Before the conversation she’d overheard between Stu, Lulu and Micah. She’d been so thrilled for Micah the minute she heard he’d been offered such a coveted role as the lead in a Santini film. Then, when Stu said that Micah would have to be in New Zealand for the better part of a year, she felt crushed. Absolutely and completely crushed.

How had she let herself forget that was how the business worked? Films took actors and crew all over the world—to different parts of the world. They’d be separated. Of course they would be.

And then Lulu had encouraged Micah to take the part, as she should, and Maddie agreed with his mother’s stance. But the exchange still hurt. A lot. Especially when Micah was unwilling to tell his mother that his hesitations revolved around the way he felt for Maddie. If he couldn’t tell Lulu, if he couldn’t admit it even to himself, how could they have any hope of making a real go of it? If they had any chance of surviving long periods of time apart, they’d have to be strong enough to declare their feelings openly. At the very least, declare them to each other.

Micah glanced at her from the driver’s seat, interrupting her thoughts. “What are you thinking about?”

“Your sad choice of music,” she answered, steering clear of the topic they’d avoided the three days since the Joss Beaumont night. Not that they’d ever talked about a future, but now their avoidance of it was heavy and glaring at the periphery of every moment together.