Thunder boomed in the distance as the clouds overhead threatened to pour as Eric and Pauline rounded the corner. Pauline took long, determined strides as she kept her eyes locked on the other side of the street. Eric caught her arm and pulled her back jsut as a bus sped past, nearly clipping her.
“What’s your plan here?” Eric asked. “Kill yourself before you make it there?
“The plan, Eric, is to show up where Victor asked me to, and make the trade for Amelia. He’s got us. He’s won,” Pauline said, practically growling at him.
“It doesn’t have to be like that. We can get help. We don’t have to do this alone,” Eric said.
“I have to do this alone, not us, Eric,” Pauline shot back, shaking her head.
“You need to slow down and think for a second,” Eric said, “We can beat this. Just don’t leave me.”
Pauline stepped up to Eric, wrapping her arms around him in a sudden, unexpected hug. They stood there for a long moment, simply enjoying the feeling of touching each other.
“I love you,” Pauline whispered as she pushed away from Eric.
“Wait,” Eric said, grabbing her arm and spinning her back to face him. Pulling her close to him, he touched his forehead to hers and listened to the sound of her breath. “You don’t have to go. You could stay here with me instead of going to-”
“I have to, Eric. They’ll kill her if I don’t! Could you really live with yourself knowing that because we chose each other someone died?” Pauline said shaking her head. She reached up, grabbing both sides of his face and pulled him into a kiss as tears ran down her cheeks. She released him and put her hands over her face.
“CUT!” Dan yelled from the director’s chair. “That’s good, moving on.”
“That was incredible,” Eric said. “I thought I was going to cry. YOu’ve gotta warn a guy before you do something like that.”
“Sorry,” Pauline replied, wiping the tears from her eyes. “I know the script didn’t call for the tears, but I thought it could use a little more.”
“It was great,” Eric said stepping toward her with his arms out. “Just promise me that you’ll never do that to me in real life.”
Pauline stepped into his hug, nestling her face against the nook his shoulder made when he wrapped his arms around her. She closed her eyes and let the warmth wash over her.
“No reply?” Eric said.
“It’s a ridiculous notion, I’m not going to reply,” Pauline said, listening to his heartbeat.
“What’s a ridiculous notion, that you might leave someday?” Eric said, half pulling away from her.
“I love you, Eric. That’s all that matters. We don’t know where we’ll be in a year, or five, or ten. All I can promise you is to stay open and honest with you,” Pauline replied, looking up at him. She felt a little sad that his shoulder wasn’t making the nook any longer. “That’s all you can promise me as well.”
“No, I promise that I’ll never leave you,” Eric said.
“We are both actors, Eric. Be real here. That promise is too much for either of us to make,” Pauline said with a sad smile. “It’s the way of the industry and our world. We can walk together for awhile, but we don’t know what is going to happen going forward.”
“Well, I don’t like it,” Eric said, pulling her back to him. “I never want to let you go.”
“You don’t have to like it,” Pauline replied with a small laugh. “I’m not saying I do either.”
“Let’s go for a walk,” Eric said, taking a step back as he grabbed her hand in his. “Like we used to when we first started dating. We never go for walks anymore.”
“You know we can’t just walk around,” Pauline argued, “The people that would swarm us right outside the gates.
“Come on, we’ll change into one of the crew’s uniforms and sneak out the back. It’ll be fun,” Eric pressed.
Pauline bit her bottom lip, thinking about how exciting it would be to get out, even if it was only for a few minutes. Her mind wandered to getting coffee on her own again. Or eating at a normal fast food place, or even doing her own grocery shopping. Then it wandered to Dan. The next scene would be ready to go in a few minutes and she didn’t want to disappoint him. He always treated her fairly and liked to keep a tight schedule.
“We can’t abandon Dan, though,” Pauline protested, pointing to the director’s chair.
“We aren’t abandoning him,” Eric argued. “We’re merely taking a brief sabatical. It’ll be fine. We’ll be right back.”
“Alright,” Pauline said, looking at the amber eyes that saw right through her. They still made her breath catch in her chest occasionally. “Where are we going?”
“Just around the corner,” Eric said, giving her a wink. “I’d like to be alone with you, like actually alone with you, just for a few minutes again. Do you want that?”
“You have no idea,” Pauline replied with a sigh of relief. “What should we do first? Should we go get some coffee? Should we eat at a sub shop-oh! What about one of those nasty fast food places?”
“I was thinking of something a little more risky,” Eric said, his smile wide and knowing.
“Oh, yeah? What would that be?” Pauline shot back as she followed him toward the back of the lot.
“You’ll see,” Eric replied.
A few minutes later, the pair of them stood in a jewelry store down the street wearing the blue jumpsuits they stole from a random locker. Pauline’s face had turned a wonderful shade of rose when Eric had pulled her inside the store and her hands had flown up over her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Eric asked.
“Nothing, just didn’t think you were talking about this,” Pauline said.
“I told you, I never want to be away from you again. You’re my everything. I spoke with the shop owner earlier and told him we may be coming by. He’s given us free reign of the store without so much as an employee in the front,” Eric said. “All you have to do is choose one and we can celebrate our enganement however you want.”