A/N: Okay, lovelies. I feel like I need to preface this with some encouraging words. Today has been a tough day for the fandom, but all is not lost. Shawn says to take this week to focus on the movie, so lets do just that! Join me in tweeting about #TimelessMovie and letting NBC know we want to see our Time Team on our screens if only for one night. There are no guarantees but I can't think of a better way to thank our cast and crew than to keep fighting for them!
It's been a long, hard fight. I know. So, take some time to breath and rest and sip some wine if you need to. Taking care of you is important. Do that first and foremost and then head over to twitter and look me up! I'll be more than happy to gush with you and fight for NBC to give us that movie!
Hopefully this fic lifts your spirits! I think we need a little fun tonight.
Thanks to JennaKaylor and Katertots for looking this over for me! They both helped me keep these characters and the plot on track and Katy proofread this beast for me! I love them both so much! Also, my girls in the Angst Brigade for being my cheering section! I would never finish ANYTHING without all of you yelling at me!
You've Ruined My Life (By Not Being Mine)
You're so gorgeous
I can't say anything to your face
'Cause look at your face
And I'm so furious
At you for making me feel this way
But, what can I say?
- "Gorgeous", Taylor Swift
SIGN OF THE TIMES: MASON FILMS OUTBIDS RH
By Katie Drummond
Are the old illustrious studios a part of a bygone era of film? Has the prestige of Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and 20th Century Fox and their Hollywoodland sisters finally faded like those celluloid films of old?
In what might be a true sign of the times, New York Times Best Selling Author, Lucy Preston has inked a deal with Mason Films for a film adaption of her hit novel, Sign of the Times. Do you remember three summers ago when everyone you saw at the beach was reading Sign of the Times? This science fiction time travel adventure set the New York Times Best Seller list on fire. No one could escape it. That book cover was everywhere.
Now it appears that in a few short months, the movie poster will be everywhere instead.
Ms. Preston has had the screenplay finished for months and has sold the rights to Mason Films on the condition that she retains a producer credit. What does that mean? That means Lucy Preston will keep some creative control of her story and her characters. Word around town is no one is more protective of their characters than Lucy Preston. Although, JK Rowling may disagree.
The deal from rival production house, RH Studios, would not have allowed Ms. Preston any say in the film's final presentation. Negotiations were attempted, but RH Studios continually withheld the producer credit from any revisions of their offer which forced Ms. Preston to accept the less traditional and more satisfactory offer from the arguably younger and cooler Mason Films.
The RH Studios deal for Sign of the Times was previously thought to be a foregone conclusion. After all, Lucy Preston's own mother, Hollywood legend, Carol Preston, was set to produce. Turns out, mother may not always know best. It must make this loss even more upsetting for the prestigious studio, which coincidentally celebrates it's one hundredth birthday this November.
Principal photography on Sign of the Times is set to being next month in Atlanta, Georgia. With a release date only two years away, Mason Films will be fast tracking this project. Expect casting announcements in the coming weeks.
WYATT LOGAN TO PLAY WILL LANCASTER IN TIME TRAVEL FLICK
By Katie Drummond
One week remains until rehearsals begin in Atlanta, Georgia for Mason Film's new adaptation of the hit novel Sign of the Times. Will Lancaster was the only role left to cast; after Garcia Flynn was announced last week for the role of, villainous yet misunderstood, Gabriel Flores. Since then, supposedly leaked names on the shortlist to play Will Lancaster have been floating around online. One name, Noah Cartwright, was dismissed immediately. Mr. Cartwright was attached to the project when the screenplay had been all but guaranteed to RH Studios. The unexpected production deal shake up resulted in his name being removed from the project.
In the end, the man swooping in to secure the role at the last minute is none other than Mr. Action himself, Wyatt Logan. This casting is a definite coup for the fledgling studio and will all but guarantee lucrative box office returns. Wyatt Logan's latest film, Delta Force: Heavy Shadow, earned a staggering $182 Million in its opening weekend alone.
Rehearsals for Sign of the Times are set to begin next week, with Principal Photography commencing two weeks later. Mason Films has slated the film's release for Summer 2020.
"This is Lucy Preston's phone. I'm either writing, unconscious, or on a plane so leave me a message and if it's thoughtful enough I might call you back. Maybe."
"Oh my god, sis! First day of rehearsals! Congrats! Call me when you're done! I want to hear all about it! Also let me know when I can hop a plane to Atlanta and visit the set! I'm dying to see your words in action! PS - ignore whatever voicemail mom leaves you. It's your life, your book, your screenplay. Not hers. You have to do what's right for you. Not her. Love you! Call me!"
"This is Lucy Preston's phone. I'm either writing, unconscious, or on a plane so leave me a message and if it's thoughtful enough I might call you back. Maybe."
"Lucy, seriously, you did this because you knew RH was going to cast me in the lead, didn't you? Look, I know we ended things...abruptly. I'm sorry about that. But really, to impact my career like this is sort of childish, don't you think? I've had exes take revenge before but not like this."
"This is Lucy Preston's phone. I'm either writing, unconscious, or on a plane so leave me a message and if it's thoughtful enough I might call you back. Maybe."
"Lucy, it's your mother. I know you start rehearsals in Atlanta today and I suppose, since I haven't heard from you, that you decided to leave without saying goodbye. I am disappointed and hurt. Yes, I'm still upset you chose Mason Films instead of RH Studios, but that's business. It should not affect us personally. True, we've only talked about working together your whole life and you gave up what might be our one opportunity to do so, but you're still my daughter no matter how many of your decisions I disagree with. Please call me when you land so that I know you've arrived safely. Good luck, sweetheart."
Lucy Preston takes in a deep breath as she steps into the terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Small enclosed spaces are not her friends and a plane floating at extremely high altitudes is a small enclosed space if she's ever seen one. Thankfully, Mason Films sprung for first class so at least she had leg room.
She jostles the strap of her carry on to pull her phone out of her pocket and holds it tightly in her hand, the thought of leaving it off is much too tempting. She lets out a long suffering sigh as she remembers the car service is supposed to call and tell her where they'll be meeting her and what time. She has no choice but to turn on the infernal contraption.
She used to love her phone but lately, as in the past year and a half, it's been more of a ball and chain than a window to the world.
First, her second novel, Carbon Copy, bombed and her publisher called to advise her if her third novel didn't sell they would not be renewing her contract. Mere months after that horrible failure, a Google alert popped in her inbox cheerfully informing her that her fiancé had been caught cheating with his latest costar. There were even photos to prove it. Wasn't the internet a wonderful place? And, as he was currently away filming, her phone then became a way for him to harass her for forgiveness. He didn't want to get back together - except they hadn't officially broken up at the time of this voicemail - but he wanted to apologize and explain.
Once news broke that she and Noah had ended things over his affair with a very married actress, her phone was suddenly ringing off the hook. Tabloid journalists and gossip columnists were all dying for her side of the story like there was some complicated tale to tell.
Honestly, it was so simple.
Girl met boy. Boy was an actor on a film her mother was producing. Girl liked Boy. Boy liked Girl. Boy proposed to Girl. Girl accepted. Boy was having trouble finding work. Girl became best selling author. Boy begged Girl to write him a vehicle for his non existent career. Girl wrote second novel and tailored it to be "shootable" per her mother's instructions. Girl hated novel. Publisher liked it. Novel bombed. Boy got a "better" role in a spy thriller and left for Vienna to film. While he was gone Boy fell in love with Married-Girl. Boy and Married-Girl (who is no longer married and is currently engaged to Boy) now live in a mansion off Mulholland while Girl lives alone in a condo with her cat.
Actors. God, she hated them.
Seriously, she would never date another one. Never.
But that was all in the past. Now her phone is a torture device her mother uses for manipulation and guilt trips. The screen lights up in her hand and her notifications come flooding in. So. Many. Emails. She had no idea being a producer meant your inbox would never look reasonable again.
Her mother, of course.
Seriously? Noah called her? After all this time why can't he just leave her alone. She never promised Sign of the Times to him. She promised him Carbon Copy. Carbon Copy will never be made into a movie. Thank God. It was written like a movie and no one read it. Her heart was never in it and now it was a blemish on her career.
Kinda like Noah was a blemish on her romantic past.
She is not going to call him back. Nor is she going to call her mother.
Her mother kept saying Lucy's decision to go with Mason Studios wasn't personal and shouldn't affect them but her tone always indicated the opposite of her words. Lucy is under enough stress just trying to get this movie made. She doesn't need Carol Preston's judgment and guilt trips piled on top of that.
After struggling with the luggage cart at baggage claim and nearly running over her own foot several times, she finally makes it to where the car service told her to meet and finds no one there waiting on her. She checks her phone again, but there has been no update since her last phone call half an hour ago. She huffs at the time. She has an hour and a half until the table read starts and she needs to check in to her hotel first. She's going to be pushing it for time.
So she calls.
"We're so sorry, Ms. Preston. There must have been some misunderstanding. The studio booked the car for both you and Mr. Logan. His plane should be landing now and the car is on its way. It should arrive within the next thirty minutes."
"Great, okay, thank you," Lucy says with a bright fake smile and forced politeness. "I appreciate that." She hangs up the phone and shakes her head. "Actors."
Then she waits, and waits, and finally a black luxury town car pulls up to the curb.
"Ms. Preston?" The driver asks as he exits. She nods, and he takes her bag from her before ushering her into the vehicle. "Mr. Logan should be meeting us shortly," the driver says as he shuts the door.
Now is probably as good a time as any to call her sister. Amy Preston picks up on the first ring.
"Oh my god, are you there? Is it amazing? When can I come visit?"
"Hi, hello to you too, sister dear," Lucy greets with a laugh. "I'm not at the soundstage yet. I'll call you when I am. Right now, I'm sitting in a town car outside baggage claim waiting for Mr. Action," she pauses and rolls her eyes at Wyatt Logan's press nickname before she continues, "to grace us with his presence. He's going to make me late."
"Maybe his flight was delayed."
"Or maybe the studio couldn't afford two cars and decided catering to his schedule was more important than mine. Since he's an actor and all," she replies.
Lucy can practically hear Amy rolling her eyes at her over the phone.
"Not all actors are like Noah and what's-her-name, you know," Amy says with a light chuckle. Amy suddenly gasps and Lucy knows exactly what's coming next. "Oh, wait! Whats-her-name! The actress! Wasn't she Wyatt Logan's—"
"Yes, she was."
"Oh my god, and you're about to share a car with him! Won't that be awkward? I mean your ex-fiance and his ex-wife—"
"Why should it be awkward for us? I've never met him. And it's certainly not my fault Noah can't keep it in his pants," Lucy answers with a shrug. "He can't blame me. I didn't do anything."
"Yeah, but doesn't it make you think about what happened?" Amy asks. "I mean it would make me relive the past at least little bit."
"He probably doesn't even know who I am," Lucy assures her. "I'm a novelist and screenwriter. I'm nobody in the world of celebrity. He probably doesn't have a single idea who Noah was engaged to before he stole another man's wife."
"Lucy," Amy says with a chuckle. "Seriously? Your name was in all those articles last year just like his. They mentioned Sign of the Times every chance they could."
"Amy," Lucy mimics with a shake of her head before she remembers Amy can't actually see her and continues. "I doubt he read any of those. Why would he? I didn't. The two of us lived the drama. We didn't need to read the recaps for the general populous. Trust me, Wyatt Logan has no idea who I am or that I was ever engaged to Noah Cartwright."
"Oh, that's who you are!"
She jumps in alarm at the sudden voice and her phone goes sailing into the ceiling of the town car. It hits with a thud and then falls to the floor with a clatter between her seat and the rear passenger door. The rear passenger door that now stands open with Mr. Action himself peering at her through a pair of black wayfarer sunglasses.
She blinks at him for a long moment as he steps inside the car and sits down next to her. She doesn't even register her sister's panicked voice yelling her name from the phone on the floor.
He smirks at her, picks up her phone and holds it to his ear. "Hi, Amy, is it? Ms. Preston seems to be in shock." There's a moment where Lucy can hear her sister squeak and then utter his name before he's nodding against the phone. "That's me." More words are exchanged between them and then a moment later he grins at Lucy and ends the call. He holds the phone out to her expectantly. "Your phone, ma'am."
The driver closes the car door as she hesitantly reaches out and takes her phone from him.
"Um, thanks," she says awkwardly. "I'm—"
"Lucy Preston, I heard," he interrupts with a crooked smile. "And clearly you know who I am. So, I'm fairly certain we can skip the introductions, ma'am."
She bites her bottom lip at that second "ma'am." What the hell? How old does she look? Granted she's just wearing jeans, an old John Denver t-shirt, and a cardigan but she works hard to keep her skin moisturized and smooth. She does not look old.
He leans back in the seat and stretches his legs as far as he can, which isn't far, and then resolutely ignores her. His RayBan shades seem to be sufficient privacy because he doesn't attempt to speak to her for the next 20 minutes. She checks her watch and realizes they're now down to forty minutes before the table read. Her knee starts bouncing anxiously and she huffs.
Atlanta traffic at lunchtime?
They are definitely going to be late.
"Don't worry," he says. "They can't start without me."
She rolls her eyes so hard she suspects they almost fall back into her head. She plans to keep her mouth shut but then she catches a whiff of something. Something that smells like...whiskey. Wyatt Logan lets out a long exhale and she knows where the odor is coming from. She feels frustration rising in her chest. Is he kidding?
"Are you drunk?"
"So, what, you just bathed in whiskey this morning then?" She asks. Does he really think he can lie so blatantly and get away with it?
"No. I'm not drunk. I'm what they call hungover," he clarifies. He still doesn't even bother to turn and face her. Did she mention she hates actors? Because she really hates actors. And then, as if he senses he's getting on her last nerve, he continues and ends his sentence with a pointed, "Ma'am."
She is going to kill him. The movie will have to recast. Maybe Chris Pratt has an opening in his schedule? He would make a great Will Lancaster. "You know, we're practically the same age. You can stop calling me ma'am."
He pulls the shades down to the bridge of his nose while an infuriating sideways smirk forms on his lips and looks at her through one open bright blue eye. "Sorry," he says with a chuckle. "Force of habit."
"From what?" She asks with a scoff
"Delta Force," he replies, sideways smirk and one eye still firmly focused on her. "The soldiers I consulted with on that film made it clear they were taught to be polite, and, after all, aren't I paid to make my performance as genuine as possible?"
"Yeah, well, this isn't Delta Force so you can stop calling me ma'am."
"Speaking of," Wyatt says as he suddenly sits up and turns to face her. "I've actually been wanting to talk to you about something. I have questions about the script."
Questions about the…
"We haven't even done the table read yet," she says with a furrowed brow and a skeptical stare.
"I know, it's just, well, Will is supposed to Delta Force and I just released a movie that was literally about a Delta Force operation. I think I can maybe help...flesh him out a little more," Wyatt tells her with a casual lift of his shoulder. "For instance, the 'ma'am' thing we just went through. The only person you have him calling ma'am in the script is Agent Carter. He would definitely, at least, call Leslie ma'am. If for no other reason than he thinks she's the smartest person in any damn room." While he talks he takes off the shades and hangs them off the rounded collar of his t-shirt and suddenly she's staring at the full force of two completely unreal blue eyes instead of one.
To say she is unprepared is an understatement. It would be so easy to sink into those sparkling blue pools of his. But she won't. She will not. Not now, not ever.
It takes everything in her to look away from them and form a verbal response to his statement. "But she's not in any position of authority over him. Not technically."
"Not technically?" He asks with a chuckle. "So, you're saying she does have authority over him?"
"You've read the script," Lucy replies with a smirk of her own. "Does he ever really deny any of her orders?"
"No, he trusts her judgment too much for that. Not to mention, he's head over ass in love with her," Wyatt states with a nod. "All the more reason he would be calling her ma'am. Not all the time, but once in a while at least."
"If she's anything like me then she would hate that," Lucy tells him with a huff. "He already grates on her nerves by being so reckless. You want him to annoy her with that too?"
He grins slowly and shrugs. "Maybe it could be their thing, you know, like a bit."
Her eyes connect with his for a long moment and despite her irritation she feels a shy smile tugging at her lips. Is he flirting with her? His eyes are roaming her face with clear interest and she can feel the blush rising to her cheeks. How long has it been since someone's looked at her like that? Looked at her like she's a riddle they can't quite figure out? Noah only looked at her that way in the very beginning and Jonas, her current boyfriend, has never looked at her like that. She has seen Wyatt Logan in pictures and thought he was handsome, but his looks have nothing on the way his eyes are taking her in right now. It feels like he's trying to memorize her face, commit all of her features to memory. It is jarring and she can feel him pulling her in, like a moth to a flame.
No. No. She thinks as she pulls her lips into a stern line and leans as far away from him as she can. No actors. Never again. Not even one as enticing as Wyatt Logan.
"Yes, well, it's not in the book. So, thanks for the input, but I'm going to say no," Lucy replies as she turns to look out the window.
A wave of anger at her own weakness hits her and collides with a wave of resentment toward the actor sitting next to her. How dare he make suggestions to her script? The studio loves her script. So do all the other actors in the cast that have met with her. Just because he's Mr. Action doesn't mean he knows everything. She crosses her arms over her chest and heaves an angry sigh. She knows he can read her emotions from her body language. She's normally better at hiding her heart but something about him sets her on edge. Working with him is going to be hell and they haven't even starting working yet.
She hears the irritated pinch in his voice when he responds in a low tone, "Whatever you say, ma'am."
Now he's just doing it on purpose. She tries to stay quiet and forget he's there but her aggravation festers until she can't help but say something. She whips her head around to face him and points a glare at him that she hopes communicates the burning anger she feels. How. Dare. He.
For once, she lets her emotions flow out of her before she can shove them down and hide them away. "You know, everyone else loves my script. They have no issues. Flynn even complimented my rewrites that incorporated his home country and his accent—"
"I see, so you're open to Flynn's suggestion but not mine. Is that it then?" He asks with a glare of his own.
His interruption would be enough to piss her off alone if he hadn't already managed that with his suggestion.
"Maybe if you didn't plan on showing up to your first day hungover and drenched in whiskey I'd be a little more open to it," she fires back. "But as I am the only one in this car who seems to be taking this table read seriously, I reserve the right to reject any suggestions you may have."
"How do you know I'm not taking this seriously?" He asks as his voice hardens.
His formerly bright eyes are now flinty like steel. She fights off a shiver. Damn him. Why is she reacting this way? Her irritation only grows and she has no idea why.
"You're hungover and you clearly have no concern for being punctual," Lucy tells him with disgust evident on her face. "Some of us don't have other projects to fall back on, Mr. Action. This book and this movie are all I have. I need it to be perfect."
"Or maybe you're just bitter because I'm starring in it instead of your douchebag ex-fiancé," Wyatt says as he throws a little extra venom behind 'ex-fiancé.' He puts the shades back on his face and turns to look straight ahead at the seat in front of him.
At least she doesn't have to look at his eyes anymore. She's certain her muddy brown ones are practically black with rage as she narrows her eyes and focuses them on his slackened posture and the tight clenching of his jaw. She cannot believe he just went there. She's nearly blind with fire and fury while she searches for words. Any words.
She doesn't give a damn about Noah Cartwright. Wyatt is right. Noah is a douchebag. She sees that now and he'll never fool her again. So that's not what's upsetting her. No, what's upsetting her is Wyatt Logan's assumption that she would be desperate enough to still want a man who threw her away like she meant nothing. He never even really broke up with her. He just assumed she saw the news and that they were over. Never mind that they'd been planning a wedding or intending to spend their lives together.
(Wow, had she ever dodged a bullet with that one.)
Wyatt Logan must think she's the saddest and loneliest woman in the world if he thinks she's bitter about not working with Noah Cartwright. Lucy couldn't give a single fuck about working with Noah. Though, it might have been easier to work with him rather than Wyatt Logan.
No, what pisses her off more than anything is that she's bothered by the idea that this asshole sitting next to her thinks she still wants a man who treated her so poorly. She is strong, She has dignity, She is proud. She doesn't need anyone. Not Noah Cartwright. Not Wyatt Logan. Not even her mother.
She can do all of this on her own.
And Wyatt Logan, can just…
"Go to hell," she spits with all the intent to wound she can muster.
He's probably heard worse but getting those words out is a big deal for her. She contemplates firing back about his fiancé stealing ex-wife but that feels somehow meaner than wishing him eternal damnation. Besides, she will not stoop to his level.
He seems to deflate immediately, the shades come off, and her eyes meet his again. This time she sees regret. Maybe an apology, but as he opens his mouth to speak the car stops and her door is opened. He stammers and stares at her for a moment longer before she huffs in irritation.
She doesn't have time for this, for him. She now has twenty minutes until the table read starts and she needs to check in to her room first. So does he for that matter.
She rolls her eyes at him and steps out of the car. The driver hands over her suitcase and then she's off. Away from him and away from whatever just happened in that town car. She hears his rushed footfalls behind her as she crosses the lobby and approaches the check in desk. She gives the hostess her name with a forced polite smile as he comes to a stop next to her.
"Forget it, Logan," She says. He used her first name. No one told him he could use her first name. Now, she refuses to use his. "Don't bother. We don't have to like each other. We just have to work together."
The hostess holds out her room key and Lucy takes it. She turns and heads off to her room, leaving Wyatt Logan in stunned silence. She wonders if a woman has ever walked away from him before. She wonders how many times he's charmed himself out of an argument. Well, he can't charm her. She won't let him.
Even if his impossible blue eyes looked genuinely remorseful.
The table read was mostly successful. Everyone stuck to the words on the page except for, surprise, Wyatt Logan. He tried his damndest to throw in the 'ma'am' bit. She let it slide but made it clear to Connor Mason and Denise Christopher that it would not be welcome when it came time to put the scene on film.
She stopped him a few times when he tried to change other lines. Her words were all chosen with specific intent and crafted to invoke just the right feeling. Why couldn't he understand that?
They get back to the hotel at the same time. He's angry at her for correcting him at the table read and she's angry at him for just about everything else. They don't speak. As soon as they step into the lobby they part ways. He heads to the hotel bar and she goes straight to her room.
She shakes her head as she watches him sit down at the bar from where she waits for the elevator. He started the day drunk so why wouldn't he end it drunk too? Asshole. She created the character Will Lancaster and she loves him, but some part of her is afraid Wyatt Logan is going to turn her against her own creation. If he keeps changing Will's lines and trying to supplement her material he will stress her out to the point of breaking.
Is that what he wants? Is he intending to break her?
By the time she reaches her room she is fuming. Mason and Denise talked to her about turning Sign of the Times into a franchise and if that happens she'll be stuck working with Wyatt Logan for years to come.
Hell no. No.
An idea hits her then and she smirks to herself. She brought Will Lancaster into this world and she can sure as hell take him out. She forgoes unpacking and pulls her laptop out of her carry on. She can't get vengeance on Wyatt Logan but she can get vengeance on Will Lancaster.
Maybe it is time for a little rewrite.
She hands the pages to her executive producer, Denise Christopher, the next morning. Denise sighs and grins knowingly at her.
"Lucy," she says in a tone that sounds eternally patient. "You don't really want to end the movie this way. I know you don't."
"Yes, I do," Lucy says as she holds herself as tall as she can and crosses her arms over her chest.
"You want to end the movie with Will Lancaster sacrificing himself to save Leslie Porter? You can't be serious? This is supposed to be a fun, romantic, swashbuckling adventure. Fun being the key word. Do you think self-sacrificing heroics are fun? Because I don't," Denise tells her with a small smile.
Well, when she says it like that…
Lucy's shoulders slump and she knows she's been beat. "Yeah, right. You're right."
Denise quirks a brow at her and smirks. "This wouldn't have anything to do with the way Wyatt was improvising yesterday, would it? Or the glares the two of you kept throwing at each other when you thought no one was looking?"
She blushes and looks down at her sneakers. "No."
Denise laughs before she replies. "Sure, it doesn't. So, we're throwing these rewrites out then?"
Lucy sighs dramatically and nods. "Yes, we're throwing them out."
Stupid Wyatt Logan. God, she hates him.
Principal Photography starts two weeks later, and Wyatt Logan nearly ruins the first historic day of filming. She is not going to let him walk all over her. She let Noah and her mother do that for far too long. She will not let him do the same.
Mason does three takes of Will and Leslie's first meeting and in each one Wyatt throws in a "ma'am." When Mason calls cut he smirks at her like he's winning some competition between them. It makes her blood boil.
While the cast is taking places to run it again, Lucy approaches Mason.
"You and I talked about the 'ma'am' bit, didn't we?" She asks him. "We seemed to agree."
"Oh, yes, love, we do agree," Mason says in a low whisper. "But with their chemistry it seems to be working. Don't you think? I thought it might be worth a take or two. To give it a chance, you know?"
The logical part of her brain realizes he's right. Wyatt's chemistry with the lead actress is outstanding and he sells the bit completely. It's charming. But the emotional side of her brain cannot let him win. Not even if he might be right.
"Well, great," she says with a huff. "You've done that. And as you're the director, I can respect that decision. But, now that you've tried it, can we make him do the scene as written? However, many takes you need doesn't matter. Just keep doing it until he does it right."
Mason gives her a small grin. "I don't know. He seems set on it now."
"You're the director, this is my screenplay. We agree, don't we?" She asks as she shoots Wyatt an irritated glare. He's too busy flirting with one of the extras to notice, which only irritates her more.
"Of course we do," Mason says with a sigh.
"Good, then he's out voted. Make him do it as written," Lucy declares before she turns and heads back to her chair. She sits and waits, eager to see how Wyatt takes the news.
The minute Mason announces they're going to do the scene again, and this time they're going to do it exactly as written, Wyatt's eyes find hers. She smirks and gives him a coy wave, taunting him with her small victory. Wyatt refuses to do as he's told for five takes before his other cast members express their frustration and he finally caves. They do four passes at the words as written on the page with different intonations and emphasis before Mason is pleased with his options. He calls final cut for the day and sends them all home.
On his way to his trailer to change, Wyatt stops by her chair.
"You're pretty pleased with yourself. Aren't you, Professor?" He asks.
Professor? He called her professor and sounded like such a smart ass while he said it too. It's a condescending insult. They both know it.
"Yes, I am. I'm the writer, you're the actor. You do your job and I'll do mine," she replies primly.
"Why are you so bothered by my suggestion?" He asks her with a challenging smirk. "Is it because you know I'm right? And that it adds a little something to the relationship? It works and you hate it because you didn't think of it first. Am I right, Professor?"
He looks so damn smug and for the life of her she can't come up with anything to refute his claims. But the smirk and the triumph in his eyes rile her up and she feels more frustrated than she's felt all day long. One short conversation with him and her stress levels shoot through the roof.
"Will you stop calling me professor?' She asks. "What is with you and refusing to use people's names? I'm not a teacher so stop calling me professor."
He chuckles at her like her outrage is amusing and her anger deepens.
"You're not a teacher but you sure are a bossy know-it-all if I've ever met one. You think you know best and no one else can possibly be right like you're here to teach all of us how to do our jobs. Until you admit that you may not have all the answers, I'm going to keep calling you professor," he tells her as he grabs her unopened bottle of water off of her chair. "You're not drinking this, are you?"
She rips out of his hands and glares at him, wishing a glare could kill. "Now I will. Go get your own water. Or maybe you can flirt one out of the extras like you've been doing all day."
"Jealous, Professor?" he asks with a crooked smile and a wink.
"Go to hell, asshole," she mutters as she slings the strap of her bag over her shoulder and storms away.
She is not a know-it-all. She created these characters. She lived with them. She knows them better than anyone. He can't blame her for being protective. Anyone would be.
She takes a second pass at a new ending for the film that night. This time Will Lancaster dies in a hail of bullets while trying to reach the time machine. She mentions it to Denise the next morning but tosses it before her Executive Producer even gets a chance to read it. Killing Will Lancaster may be therapeutic but it will not serve the story. She's still furious with Wyatt Logan, but she won't self destruct over him.
That would mean he wins.
They have extra time in the shooting schedule as they've managed to be ahead of their projected calendar. Now they have time to film a scene from the book they had previously scrapped. It may still end up cut from the film but they decide to shoot it anyway, just in case. She stays up all night writing the scene. Obsessing over her words in the book so that she gets the tone and the directions just so in the script. The pages are sent to the actors' hotel rooms for them to look over before shooting begins for the day.
She shouldn't be surprised by the knock on her door and she shouldn't be surprised by who she finds on the other side of it.
But for some reason, she is.
His mission in life seems to be to make her miserable with stress.
Wyatt Logan looks bleary eyed and unimpressed with the pages and a coffee in one hand and the other braced against the doorway. Despite how much she hates him, she can't help but marvel at how damn attractive he looks this early in the morning.
"What do you want?" she asks with an exhausted sigh. "I was hoping to get at least an hour of sleep before call times."
"These pages make no sense," he states quickly, as if he's ripping off a band aid.
Make no sense? How? It is word for word the scene from her book.
"You've got to be kidding me," she exclaims with a weary glance. "Can't you ever just do what's on the damn page?"
"Look, I'm sorry—"
"You got that right."
"Will you let me talk?" Wyatt asks with a roll of his eyes.
"Fine," Lucy says as she stands aside and motions him into the room. "What is the problem, oh wise Delta Force Dreamboat?"
He quirks a brow at her and flashes her a small smirk. "Dreamboat, huh?"
She freezes and stutters nervously at her slip of the tongue. It's early and she's tired and maybe she shouldn't be talking until she's had some sleep. "Not that I—I don't mean that I think you're a—there was an article in People that called you—stop smirking at me!"
He chuckles softly and stares at her for a long moment, a moment she almost lets herself sink into. There's no challenge in his eyes or any trace of his usual smugness. His blue eyes look soft and affectionate and she can feel her own glare warming the longer she stares back at him.
Oh god, this has to stop.
"You, um, you were wanting to talk about the scene?" she asks after the silence and the staring goes on for far too long. She quickly refocuses her gaze on the floor. She'll look at anything as long as she avoids his eyes.
"Yeah, I don't get it," he answers.
He doesn't give her any further clarification so she lifts her brows at him with an expectant stare and waits him out.
"To be fair, it's not just the new pages I don't understand," he says after the silence stretches out for a while. "I didn't get it when it was established as having happened off screen in that scene between Leslie and Gina either. But I didn't have to play out that off screen conversation so I didn't worry about it. But now…"
"Now you have to find that headspace," Lucy finishes for him.
He looks anxious. It's the first time she's seen him as anything other than confident and she doesn't know what to do with that. How does she act around him when he's not pissing her off?
He nods and runs a nervous hand through his hair. "Right, and I don't get it. If his intention is to keep her out of trouble with Agent Carter then why tell Leslie at all? Wouldn't it be better for her if she had plausible deniability? If she doesn't know he plans to steal the machine to save his wife, isn't she better off?"
She immediately bristles. Why is he coming to her with this? She clearly stated his intentions in her novel. If he paid any attention to the narrative, he would know—
And then suddenly it hits her. The reason he had to come to her is crystal clear. She feels bitterly disappointed and yet oddly satisfied at his failure to properly prepare.
"You never read my book, did you?" She asks with a self-satisfied smile.
He gives her a nervous glance and lets out a loud exhale, as if he's been holding his breath since she answered the door.
"Not so much, no. I thought about running out to Barnes and Noble after reading the pages but it's four in the morning and they're sort of closed. So, I decided to swallow my pride and come to the source," he admits with a sheepish smile.
"Everything makes so much sense now," Lucy replies with a laugh.
It shouldn't be amusing, but it is. All his talk of her not having all the answers and who does he end up coming to when he needs to understand Will better? Her.
So she has to mess with him. Tease him a little. How can she not?
"What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? Had you come to me in friendship then you would have a better understanding of your character this very day and that, if you were an honest man, your struggles would become my struggles," she says as she deepens her voice in a husky horrible Italian accent and strokes her chin. "Kiss my ring, maybe I'll be your friend." She holds out her hand to him and grins playfully.
He stares at her with amused mirth in his eyes and when he speaks he sounds as if he doesn't believe what he's just witnessed.
"Are you—is this really the time for The Godfather references?" He asks with a small genuine smile. "Who are you? This is not the hard ass Lucy Preston I've come to know in the last few weeks."
She laughs again and let's her hand fall from where it hung between them. "I can be fun when I want to be," she tells him. "Especially when I turn out to be right and someone has to eat a large helping of crow and admit that I might have a slightly better understanding of the characters I created."
"That is not what I'm saying—"
She holds up a hand and he immediately stops talking. She feels a strange sense of power over him and she knows she's enjoying it too much.
"That's what I'm choosing to hear," she tells him with a smirk and a chuckle.
He grins ruefully at her and sets his coffee aside to hold the script up for her to see. "Can we get back to the pages, please? My call time is in an hour and a half and I still need to learn these lines."
She rolls her eyes with a good natured grin still firmly in place and nods. "Yes, fine." She sits down on the edge of her bed and motions for him to sit down in the chair across from her. Once he's seated she continues. "It's not about keeping her out of trouble. That's what he says, but that's not what he means. You're right, if he meant to keep her out of trouble he wouldn't bother telling her. So, if it's not about that," she says with an encouraging smile. "What is it about?"
He scratches the back of his neck and stares at her thoughtfully for a moment but offers no answer. His blue eyes look blank as he shrugs.
She sighs tiredly. "Come on. Put yourself in the shoes of a soldier who tragically lost his wife due to a stupid mistake and horrible timing. Then imagine the guilt of that weighing you down, realizing you have nothing left to live for, and accepting the idea that if you're gonna die then you're gonna die saving people and standing for something. You're not suicidal exactly, you just...don't give a damn. Life doesn't matter because you have no reason to live it."
"Trust me, I have no problem understanding guilt and not giving a damn," Wyatt mutters as his voice turns hoarse and betrays his emotions.
She's momentarily shocked by what she hears in his voice. Resignation, heartbreak, anguish. She processes all of it for a quiet moment and then goes on with her explanation.
"Okay, good. So keep those thoughts and feelings and then think about meeting someone who makes you hope again. Someone who challenges you and makes you want to be better. Someone who makes you think you might have a future and people to care about, after all. Someone you think you might even be learning to love."
His posture shifts awkwardly as she talks and she can feel his eyes boring into her, but she refuses to look up from her lap to confirm if she's right. His eyes are her weakness, but she feels the pull to look at him like he has his own magnetic field. There's a charge of emotions in the room that wasn't there before she started talking and she has no idea where it came from. It's just suddenly...there.
"I think I can manage that," he says softly, with a slow shaky intake of breath.
The emotions in his voice are unclear but they affect her nerves and she starts to feel anxious, antsy. As if the words are directed at her and she needs to escape the weight of them. But that can't be possible. All they've done since they met is fight and fight some more. Directing his words at her makes no sense. Besides, she promised herself no actors and she intends to keep that promise. She keeps going, intending to ignore what may or may not be going unsaid in his tone of voice. It doesn't matter. It can't matter. She has to be wrong.
"But then you also know, you have baggage that you can't ask this person to carry for you. You can't put that on them. You can't leave any business unfinished or any skeletons in your closet. So you take the bull by the horns—"
He chuckles quietly and clears his throat. "Did you use the bull metaphor cause I'm from Texas or…?"
She bites her bottom lip to try and hide her grin. "Maybe. Anyway," she says as she nervously clears her throat. "You decide to tackle it head on. Whatever happens, you have to try. And as much as you want to save that love you lost, there's still this new person. This new possibility. A piece of your heart is still attached to them. Given all of that, what would you do?" She asks, finally risking a glance up at him.
His steady blue gaze was focused on the top of her head so when she looks up his eyes immediately find hers.
They are no longer bleary. They are clear and hopeful and...earnest. Like he's looking at her for the first time. Like they never fought in that town car. Like she wasn't the screenwriter who's been busting his chops and he wasn't the actor who's been making her life hell. In his eyes she can almost forget all of that. She can almost pretend they are just Lucy and Wyatt, two broken people who feel something they can't explain for someone they've just met.
His irresistible eyes hold hers as he answers her question. Try as she might, she can't look away.
"I would have to see her one last time. I would have to tell her so she knows that...whatever it is we have it means something."
"Exactly," she says on an exhale. Her voice comes out breathy and needy and she knows she's been absolutely betrayed by her own warring emotions.
She feels something unnamed and tender tugging at her heart and she can't seem to push it away. She doesn't know what's happening between them right now, but she desperately wants it to stop. She cannot let it continue. She can't.
"So," she says as she tries to get them back to business. "It's not about keeping her out of trouble it's about showing her he trusts her. It's about closure. It's about…"
"Saying goodbye," he finishes for her.
She nods and smiles prettily at him before she can stop herself. "By George, I think you've got it."
"We've gone from The Godfather to My Fair Lady," he says with a chuckle. "Those are some varied movie preferences you have."
Her eyes and smile widen in surprise. "You know My Fair Lady?"
She should be putting the wall between them back in place but instead she feels it crumbling even further. What the hell is she doing?
His smile dims slightly and he lifts one shoulder. "It was, uh, the ex-wife's favorite."
She notices he doesn't say Jessica, like he feels she's not worthy of a name. She understands that sentiment, more than he probably knows.
"Ah," she says awkwardly. "Well, If we're going there then I'll tell you...The Godfather was the ex-fiancé's favorite. We watched all of them on his birthday every year," she tells him with a dramatic roll of her eyes. "It was awful. I hate those movies."
"Hold on," Wyatt says with a suspicious glance. "This guy had you all to himself on his birthday and he wanted to spend it watching movies?"
"Yes," she says with a furrowed brow. "Wait, what? What's that supposed to mean?"
He can't be saying what she thinks he's saying. All the wanna-be starlets he meets everyday surpass her for poise and beauty by leaps and bounds so he can't be implying that he actually thinks she's pretty, can he?
He gives her a look like she should just know what he means before he speaks. "If I say it you'll be pissed at me again."
"I'm always pissed at you," she shoots back easily. She kind of feels bad about that but it's true.
"Right, but we're having a pleasant moment right now and I don't want to ruin it," he tells her with an amused grin.
"Really?" She asks with an incredulous expression. "You can't just say something like that and then not tell me what you mean."
He lets out a resigned sigh and shakes his head but then meets her gaze with a sincerity that nearly steals the breath from her lungs.
"It's just that, well, you're...not exactly hideous," he says. He winces as he's saying the words like he knows he's going about this all wrong and she can't help but find him adorable. How is someone so famous so incredibly awkward? He powers through with a deep breath as he speaks again. "And anyone who doesn't take whatever time they can get to...appreciate...that must be an even bigger asshole than I am."
She smiles slowly and tries to fight off the blush she knows is coloring her cheeks. She fails miserably and shakes some of her hair into her face instead to hide it from him. So, he was saying he thinks she's pretty. Her initial suspicions were correct. What is she supposed to do with that? Does she thank him? Does she compliment him right back? It's not like he really needs an ego boost. He was People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive last year. He knows he's attractive. He has to.
Given her blush and the way she tries to hide her face, he must see straight through her silence.
"Oh, come on, seriously?" He asks in dismayed shock. "You know you're beautiful, don't you? You have to."
She freezes for a moment when his words about her echo her thoughts about him but tries to recover as quickly as possible with a grin and a shake of her head.
"I don't really see myself that way," she replies with a dismissive laugh. "I've always been...well, a nerd. The girl with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. I listen to folk music, wear ratty old lady cardigans, and carry a notebook in my purse at all times to jot down ideas that might hit me throughout the day. I'm not exactly what every guy dreams about, you know? I'm not wild and free and flirty. I'm just...me. I mean, I'm sure you get it. You're around those kind of women all the time." She pauses and then grins at him teasingly. "I'm sure they throw themselves at you everywhere you go. You probably don't even have to try, do you? You just point those baby blues at them and smile and I bet they fall at your feet."
"The worthwhile ones don't," he admits as he smiles at her pointedly. "The ones who might actually like me for me and not the damn fame. I'm a quality over quantity kind of guy," he tells her with a modest shrug.
The implication that she is quality hangs in the air between them and suddenly she needs out. Out of this conversation, out of this flirtation...just out.
"I should probably get some sleep," she says as she motions to the bed behind her. "And you probably need to get started on those lines."
He looks down at the pages in his hand like he's forgotten all about them and then nods. "Right, yeah, sorry. Don't let me keep you."
They both stand up and she walks him to the door. All at once it feels like the end of a date. She's not sure why. All they did was talk. But here they are awkwardly lingering across the threshold of her hotel room door like they're waiting for something to happen. What they're waiting on, she can't say. But it certainly feels like they're waiting on something. His eyes find hers again with a soft closed lip smile. She gets sucked in, as she always does, and leans against the open doorway with her eyes on his.
She notices he places his hand on the wall next to the door and his eyes drift to her lips. Before she even realizes what he's doing, his face is barely centimeters from hers. She backs up one large step and stares at him with wide eyes and a nervous gulp.
Did he just...oh god.
He just tried to kiss her. Wyatt Logan, Mr. Action, just tried to kiss her!
No, no, no, no. This is the opposite of what she wants to happen on this movie shoot.
She has a rule. It's a good rule and she made it for a very good reason. She will not break it. Even if a part of her is wishing she had just let him kiss her. Even if he'd called her beautiful and quality practically in the same breath. Even if he'd called Noah an unappreciative asshole. Even if she maybe didn't completely hate him.
Oh no. Dammit. She has to hard reverse out of this, out of her attraction to him. She promised! She promised herself…
"Sorry," she apologizes as she worries her bottom lip.
He looks honestly remorseful as he backs up a step himself and shakes his head. "No, no worries. That was all me. I shouldn't have...well, you know. At least, not before I've asked you if you even wanted to get a drink or coffee or something."
"Yeah, about that," she says as she runs a nervous hand through her messy hair. "I can't."
"You...can't?" He asks. His brow furrows at her wording and his head tilts in confusion. "Can't like...you're not allowed?"
"I have a rule," she says with a sigh. "A promise, actually. A promise I made to myself."
"Is it the one about business and pleasure?" He asks with a smirk. "Because no one in Hollywood gives a damn about—"
"No more actors," she blurts out. Probably more forcefully than necessary. But by now she is panicking. Wyatt Logan, Delta Force Dreamboat, wants to ask her out for a drink? That cannot happen. It's a cruel joke, a trap set by the universe to break her heart all over again. She won't allow it.
She expects him to be angry or confused. Maybe even hurt.
What she doesn't expect is his blinding smile and loud rolling laugh. He's practically doubled over with laughter. His eyes are watering and his face his red.
He shakes his head as he finally gathers his composure, but he's still chuckling lightly as he speaks. "No actors?" He asks as a light laugh escapes him. "You live in L.A. We all live in L.A. You can't swear off actors in L.A.," he says as the laughter threatens to overcome him again. "Everyone is an actor in Los Angeles—or claims to be. You can't throw a rock in that town without hitting someone with an acting reel and a headshot in their back pocket. Who do you expect to date if you eliminate every actor in Los Angeles? Plastic surgeons?"
Her eyes narrow at him and she sees red. Hot blinding red. So much red that she doesn't even dignify him with a response. She just slams the door in his stupid laughing face.
"Asshole," she mutters under her breath as she crosses the room and burrows under her covers. She actually considered letting him kiss her? Thank God she stepped back when she did.
Wyatt Logan is the last person in the entire world that she will ever let kiss her.
She is furious and her anger keeps bubbling to the surface. She can't sleep. She tries screaming into her pillow. It doesn't work. Words she wanted to say but didn't bounce around inside of her skull. He's not even in the room and he's driving her mad.
She huffs and kicks off her covers. Sleep is pointless.
Time to see what new ending she can come up with this time.
Two hours later, she strolls into the soundstage with a rewrite in hand, printed and stapled, and ready to be considered by Denise Christopher. In this version of the new ending, Will is crushed by rubble in an explosion at Murdock Industries while saving Robbie and the time machine. Still a heroic death, but not a heroic death for Leslie or her love. He doesn't deserve to die a romantic death.
Not when the actor playing him is such a smug jackass.
That thought hits her as she's placing the pages in Denise's hand and she quickly snatches them back. She is doing the thing she promised herself she wouldn't do. She's letting her feelings toward Wyatt affect the character.
"Nevermind," she says with a huff and a roll of her eyes. She rips up the pages in front of Denise and tosses them in the trash. "It was a crap rewrite anyway."
She walks out of Denise's office with the sound of Wyatt Logan's condescending laughter replaying through her mind. God, she hates him. She hates him so much.
(She suspects she really doesn't though, and that suspicion just makes everything ten times worse.)
The next day the cast and crew meets up for drinks at the hotel bar after they wrap. She and Wyatt have been purposefully avoiding each other since she slammed the door in his face and they still would be if Rufus, their Visual FX Supervisor, didn't corner them both into a booth while he tries to chat up their new intern, Jiya.
Her shoulder keeps brushing Wyatt's and each time she scoots away she somehow ends up even closer. It's like when she moves he moves to fill the space. She's trapped on the inside of the booth and wants to go to her room and sleep. All this is doing is tempting her to give into their weird attraction even further than she already has.
"Hey, you know," Rufus says as he gestures to them with a beer bottle in his hand. "If you guys really wanna get back at your douchey exes, you should date. They would hate that."
Jiya smacks Rufus' arm and he gives her an offended look. "What?" He asks.
"Oh, no," Wyatt says with a smirk and a dry chuckle. The sound is bitter and hollow to her ears. "The Professor, here, wouldn't deign to date me. She has a 'no actors' rule. Apparently, she's too good for the likes of me now. Never mind that I would never betray someone I loved the way her dickless ex-fiancé did or that I would never use her for first dibs on a script. Nah, that doesn't matter. I'm an actor so I must be exactly like him. Right, Professor?"
She pushes aside the shock of him understanding the full scale of Noah's crimes against her. She's told no one but Amy about how used he made her feel and she is unsure how Wyatt gleaned so much from the little he knows. Instead, she focuses on the sneer he puts behind the word 'professor' and the anger he makes her feel.
She rolls her eyes and shakes her head before she responds. "That is not what I said. In fact, I didn't say much of anything because you were too busy laughing your ass off. Stop putting words in my mouth, Soldier. Then again, keep it up," she tells him with a dark smirk. "Because the more you talk, the more vindicated I feel. You're not exactly doing yourself or your profession any favors."
"Yeah, well, who needs you anyway," he mutters angrily as he finishes the last of his whiskey. "You've been nothing but a pain in my side from the minute I stepped into that damn town car."
She doesn't want that remark to cut as deeply as it does. She shouldn't even care. But it does and she does. She doesn't want him. Can't want him. It doesn't matter what he thinks of her. (And yet she knows it does. She feels that it does in the way his words leave a bruise on her already battered heart.)
"You didn't seem to think I was such a pain when you tried to kiss me," she replies through gritted teeth. "Or were you drunk then too? How many whiskeys have you had tonight exactly? Don't you think that's enough?"
He scoffs at her. "Does it matter? It's not like you actually care."
"Forget it," he says as he raps his knuckles on the wooden table. "I don't have to stay here and listen to the never-ending list of all the reasons I'm an asshole. Jessica made sure I was intimately familiar with that list long before she left me."
For the life of her, she has no response to that. She tries but the weight of what he's just drunkenly admitted is too much. He walks away with his empty glass in hand and takes a seat at the bar. The bartender pours him another whiskey. She contemplates following him and apologizing but then one of the extras from today's scene slides into the seat next to him. She's tall and blonde and breathtakingly beautiful. Lucy quickly chickens out. He was right. Who needs her? Clearly not Wyatt.
That night she finishes a fourth rewrite, this time Will jumps in front of a knife that was intended for Leslie and he dies in her arms. "The world's just down one less asshole, right?" Will asks Leslie as he's bleeding out against her 1950s wardrobe. "They won't be missing much."
It's melancholy and macabre and Denise Christopher is sure to tell her so when she reads the pages.
"This doesn't feel like your other rewrites," Denise says observantly. "Those seemed angry. This one seems...sad." Denise pauses and then looks up to meet Lucy's eyes. "Do you not like your original ending? Why do you keep trying to rewrite it?"
"Well, I can't afford actual therapy," Lucy admits with a droll smirk and shrug. "So, this is the closest I can get. You're right, though. It's too traumatic. Just toss them. Don't worry about it."
"Are you sure?" Denise asks worriedly. "Do you need to talk about something?"
"No, really," she answers with a shake of her head. "I'm fine. Just forget I ever brought you those pages."
She leaves Denise's office wondering how on earth she never noticed his guilt before. In all their conversations and fights, how did she not see that he carried around something so heavy? It should not have taken several whiskeys and an emotionally charged conversation for her to read that in him. It explains why he slips so easily into the role of Will on a day to day basis. Will isn't the only one with crushing guilt.
But what does he have to feel guilty about? Jessica was the one who cheated. Not him. Jessica fooled him the same way Noah fooled her and that guilt isn't their burden to bear.
She chalks it up to one of the many great mysteries of Wyatt Logan. She may never have her answers, but she feels as if she understands him a little better anyway.
"Quality over quantity," he said.
For the last four days she's spotted a different girl leaving his room each morning. She recognizes them as extras and barflies. His angry words about how she assumes he's like every other actor she's met come back to her and she scoffs. So much for Wyatt Logan being different.
They've been filming for three weeks and this has never happened before. She's seen him flirt, but it never went beyond that. Until now. Until he walked away from her at the bar a few nights ago.
Good God, men are morons.
He's better than this. She doesn't know him well but she knows that for certain. No one looks at a woman the way he has looked at her unless they are capable of genuinely caring for someone. She gets the feeling his ex-wife left him with a burden he doesn't deserve. She feels frustration at the sheer idiocy of his actions and before she knows what she's doing she's written yet another version of Will Lancaster's potential death.
He's temporarily distracted by a pretty face, which she is well aware is out of character for him, and ends up falling to his fiery death in the burning remains of the Hindenburg. This scene isn't even a rewrite of the ending. It means the character dies prematurely in the first act. After she prints it and staples it she realizes it's useless because she can't write Will out of the entire movie. Wyatt's already filmed almost half of his scenes.
She shoves the pages into one of her folders with the intention of throwing them in the shredder in Denise's office.
She forgets and doesn't even remember the pages exist until she's walking toward her hotel room door at the end of the day and sees Wyatt Logan waiting on her. He's leaning against the wall beside her door and holding a stapled packet of pages. His jaw is tense and his eyes are narrowed on the carpet, as if it's deeply offending him in some way.
She clears her throat as she approaches and gulps as his glare shifts from the carpet to her. He holds the pages up and gives her half of a snide smirk.
"Trying to kill me off now, are you?" he asks angrily.
Her eyes widen and she frantically flips through her script folder for the new pages only to find them missing. She stomps forward and rips them out of his hand.
"Where the hell did you get these?" Lucy asks as she glances over them to make sure they're the pages she thinks they are. They are. Shit.
"You dropped them on your way out of the hotel this morning, ma'am," he sneers. "I picked them up and was going to return them to you until I snuck a glance at the first page."
"It is not what you think it is," She replies with a huff, as she digs in her bag for her room key and avoids his eyes.
"I get that you don't like me. I even, on some level, understand your thing against actors. But this is my career you're screwing with and on top of that I have a contract. You can't just—"
"Oh, will you relax?" she yells as she turns to glare at him. "I told you, it's not what you think it is. Those pages were going directly into the shred bin."
He scoffs at her and rolls his eyes. "Right, you know, I'm not a total idiot, Professor. Why would you waste your time writing pages you're not going to use?"
She pointedly ignores his question and goes back to digging through her bag. Where the hell is her room key? She needs to get away from him or, at the very least, they need to not be having this conversation in a very public hallway. She jabs her hand on a pen as she's frantically searching. She yelps, drops her bag from her shoulder and curses. Her head shakes as she studies the red mark, now covered in blue ink, that the pen left behind. It was clear the universe had no intention of letting her escape Wyatt Logan or this conversation.
"You were never supposed to see them," she replies in a quiet resigned voice. "It's...personal."
She hears a dry chuckle before he speaks again. "So, what? You're killing me for your own personal pleasure?"
She gnaws at her bottom lip for a long hesitant moment and then shrugs. "Yeah, kind of."
He pushes away from the wall, picks up her bag, and holds it out ot her. She still refuses to look at him. She feels childish and stupid. Denise knowing is fine, but he was never supposed to find out.
"Do you hate me that much?" he asks. His voice sounds despairing, almost hopeless, and she finds her eyes meeting his before she can stop them.
"I don't hate you," she says as she takes the proffered bag from him. "You just...drive me insane." Her words sound harsh but her tone is soft. She's not accusing, she's explaining, and she's trying to make that clear.
He grins at her and nods. "The feeling's mutual, ma'am."
"See? That, right there!" she says as she chuckles and points at him. "You know I hate it and yet you insist on doing that! Why?"
He tilts his head and lifts one shoulder with a reluctant expression as he answers her. "If I rile you up, you're more likely to talk to me. And, believe it or not, I do actually like talking to you. Most of the time."
Her eyes widen and she gives him a look of disbelief. "Could have fooled me. All we do is make each other miserable."
"I don't think that's true," he counters with a shake of his head. "I don't actually feel miserable while I'm talking to you. It's afterward that the misery comes into play. Like the other night at the bar."
His eyes are apologetic and she can feel him trying to turn the conversation toward the hurtful words he threw at her. She's already too drawn in as it is and she cannot let him win her over with a heartfelt apology. Because she knows he will. The minute those words leave his lips she'll be a goner. Because, maybe, if he apologizes it means he actually does need her and she hasn't always been a pain in his side. Maybe he'll stop finding random girls who can't mean anything to him other than a distraction and focus on her.
Maybe he'll actually ask her for that drink or coffee he alluded to once upon a time.
And that thrill of hope is her sign. Her sign that she has to put a stop to whatever is about to happen between them. She cannot fall for Wyatt Logan. She's put her trust in an actor before and it was returned to her broken and worn. What if, despite his insistence otherwise, he's exactly like Noah? What if he's drawn in by her talent and her usefulness and has no real feelings for her? What if she lets herself fall and then he moves on to the next person who will further his career? She can't be a stepping stone for anyone else. It hurt too much.
So, she does what she always does with him. She picks a fight.
"You mean the night you started picking up random women and taking them back to your room?" she asks archly. "That other night at the bar?"
He stiffens and shoves his hands in his pockets. She sees his jaw tighten and watches as he takes a deep calming breath. She's pushed a sensitive button. Good.
"I'm not sure that's any of your business."
Ha! Not any of her…?
Okay, actually, he might have a point. They don't owe each other anything, and that's how she prefers it.
"You're the star of my movie, aren't you? It wouldn't exactly be good public relations for us if it got out that you're bouncing from pretty extra to pretty extra now, would it?" she asks as she changes her approach.
He rolls his eyes at her. "Because that's what this is about. Business." He shakes his head and she opens her mouth to speak, to defend herself, but he talks over her. "You know I see straight through this, don't you? You do this every time. We start to have a nice moment. I start to think that maybe you might actually—" he cuts himself off with a grimace and then his eyes flash with self reproach. When he speaks again his voice is hard and resentful. "—and then you go and throw a goddamn wrench in it. Every. Time."
"Can you blame me?" she asks in a raised voice. He's called her out. They both know it. But she can play that game too. "You tell me you're so different, Wyatt, but I never get to see that side of you. Not really. We had one genuine moment going over those script pages but otherwise you've been an arrogant, self-centered, user and I put up with one of those for longer than I care to admit. I refuse to do that again."
"That's what you think of me?" he asks with a glare. "You honestly think I'm the same as—Lucy, I would never treat you the way he did. Never."
"Then prove it," she spits. "Drop the cocky playboy mask you've been wearing lately and prove it. Yes, Jessica played you. Noah played me, too. But just because your marriage ended doesn't mean you don't deserve a second chance at something real. Something serious. You're hiding in this persona you've created. You can't do that forever, Wyatt."
"I'm hiding?" he asks with a dark laugh. "Me? I'm the one who's hiding? Take a step back and look in the mirror, Professor. You're hiding, too."
"Excuse me?" she asks. "How in the hell am I hiding?"
"Your 'no actors' rule? That's bullshit," Wyatt answers with a shake of his head. "You're scared. Terrified, actually, of moving on. You're letting him dictate your decisions. You're hiding behind your heartbreak and you're using Noah as an excuse. You know that Noah wasn't a bastard just because he was an actor just like I know the guilt trip Jessica laid on me before she left was her one last chance to fuck with my head. How they treated us wasn't our fault but we wallow in it anyway. I know you're terrified, Lucy, because I am, too. So, yeah, maybe I am hiding, but before you lecture me about it you might want to examine your own behavior lately."
His words weigh on her and hang in the air between them. The truth he's just laid out rings in her ears. She doesn't want to admit to him that he's right. Not here. Not now. Not out loud. To acknowledge verbally that Noah still had some hold over her would mean she acknowledges what she feels for Wyatt. She can't do that. She's not ready.
He scoffs when she doesn't respond and then gives her a look that is full to the brim with disappointment. She feels it in every fiber of her being, all the way through to her bones.
"I'm not the only one trying to self destruct," he says in a gentler tone. "You deserve better than what you've allowed yourself to have, Lucy. You're...you're so damn strong and brilliant. You shouldn't let him hold you back from the things you think you might want—from the things that might be good for you. I hope one day you believe that."
He doesn't wait for her to respond before he turns and walks away. She can't bring herself to call after him. If she does he will surely see the tears in her eyes and hear the pain in her voice. So she watches his back as he stomps down the hall to his room and listens as he slams the door behind him. She shoulders her bag and heads back toward the elevators.
Forget finding her room key. Solitude and quiet won't do her any favors right now. Instead, she heads to the hotel bar. She doesn't need to be alone. No, right now she needs a drink.
This time she writes his death scene on her laptop at the hotel bar after one too many rum and cokes. It's horseshit. Emotional and sentimental and full of bad timing and half proclamations of hidden feelings. But this time Will Lancaster doesn't die alone. Leslie dies with him. They go down together in a blaze of self sacrificing heroic glory. It's senseless and self-indulgent. She doesn't even bother to print the pages this time. She emails them to Denise and isn't the least bit surprised when her executive producer responds barely a minute later.
It's a one word response.
Lucy has never been more relieved to read the word 'no' in her entire life.
She hasn't spoken to Wyatt in two days. She's not avoiding him, exactly. Just ignoring him. It's harder than it should be to ignore him. She dives into work and uses her laptop and her books and her script pages for cover. It mostly works. She hasn't been speaking to him but she's been paying attention. She hasn't seen any other women leaving his room in the early morning hours and he hasn't been spending his nights at the hotel bar. He's been quiet and serious.
It only makes her want to talk to him more.
She's struggling with that very idea when her phone lights up with a text message. They're on break from filming on a stunt heavy day and, while it's interesting, watching Wyatt Logan in a fight—even a fake one—is immensely attractive.
There is something very wrong with her. She knows it.
She's dying for a distraction if only to keep her away from him.
So she checks it. She smiles brightly when she sees her sister's name at the top of the message, but her smile drops as she reads the words on her screen.
"If you stare at Wyatt Logan any harder you're going to burn a hole right through him."
How did she…
There's a sudden heavy weight on her back and Lucy yells out, a rare public curse leaving her lips. She pitches forward and nearly falls on her face. She would have, too, if a pair of hands hadn't grabbed her arms to steady her.
She feels arms around her neck and slender legs around her waist. She looks up to find Wyatt Logan staring at her with concerned blue eyes and feels his hands still holding her steady.
It takes Lucy longer than it should to realize the arms around her neck and the legs around her waist mean someone is on her back. An obnoxious laugh sounds in her ear and recognition dawns.
"Do you, uh, know this person?" Wyatt asks warily as he glances over Lucy's shoulder and releases her arms.
She willfully ignores the way her skin tingles in the aftermath of his touch.
"Unfortunately, yes," Lucy says as she leans forward slightly and licks one of the arms around her neck.
"Ew! Sick!" the voice cries as the pressure on her eases and the person hops off of Lucy's back. "You have got to stop licking me when I annoy you. It's disgusting."
Wyatt quirks a brow at her and gives her an amused grin. She rolls her eyes at him because she knows exactly where his mind is going.
"This brat is my sister, Amy. Who I guess no longer calls me before dropping herself into my busy schedule."
Amy scoffs and pulls Lucy into her side for a hug and a noisy kiss to her to her temple. "You wouldn't have me any other way. You know it, I know it, even Mr. Action knows it. Don't you, Mr. Action?"
Amy winks at Wyatt teasingly and flashes him a broad grin.
"Are you positive the two of you are related?" Wyatt asks with a chuckle.
"Perfectly perpetually positive," Amy says with a nod. "She's my adorable stick in the mud and I'm her kick in the pants."
"I think you meant pain in the ass," Lucy corrects her with a soft laugh as she pushes Amy away.
Amy smirks proudly with her hands on her hips. "That too."
Mason calls places and Wyatt gives Amy a nod. "It was nice to meet you, Amy. Looks like I have to get back to work."
Wyatt gives Lucy a weak smile before he turns and walks back to set.
"You do you, Mr. Action," Amy yells after him. "You do you."
She hears Wyatt laugh as he gets in position for the next scene and tries to ignore how her heart jumps at the sound. God, it's good to hear him laugh. Has she ever heard him laugh? If she has she doesn't remember which still means he doesn't do it often enough.
"Oh my god, I am so glad I'm on set for a stunt fight day!" Amy exclaims eagerly. "We can play with the wire rig later!"
Lucy turns to give her sister a dismayed face before she speaks. "No! That is an awful idea! The wire rig is not a toy, Amy!"
"Ew! Are you hearing yourself?" Amy asks with a grimace. "You sound like mom."
She gasps and slaps a hand over her mouth at Amy's words. She removes it to run a nervous hand through her hair. "Oh my god, I do sound like mom. Where did that come from?"
"This is why you need me," Amy tells her with a chuckle. "Once you're done for the day, we're checking out that rig. I want to know what it feels like to fly and jump like a superhero, sis. You can't deny me that. You can't."
Lucy rolls her eyes at little sister before shaking her head with a defeated look. "Fine. But only after everyone leaves. Okay?"
"Deal!" Amy replies excitedly. "Man, I'm so glad I'm here."
Lucy reaches over and squeezes her sister's hand with a fond smile. "Me too."
"So, what's been going on?" Amy asks eagerly. "You and Mr. Action getting it on or what?"
Lucy nearly chokes on her coffee but somehow manages to not spew it everywhere. She turns to Amy with wide surprised eyes as she swallows. "No!" she hisses. "And don't ask that so loud. The last thing I need is a rumor that something is happening with him."
Amy laughs at her and rolls her eyes. "Which means there is something happening with him."
"There is not!" Lucy yells. A few crew members turn to look at her and she smiles sheepishly at them. "Sorry." She turns back to her sister with a glare. "There is not. Besides, I have a boyfriend, remember?"
"Oh, please, you don't like Jonas," Amy says with a knowing smile. "He's boring and only cares about his precious career. You don't want that."
"What if I'm also boring and only care about my career? Wouldn't that mean we're compatible?" Lucy asks as she take another sip of her coffee.
"It would if that were true," Amy agrees. "But it's not true so it doesn't. You don't only care about your career. Yes, you love your job and I'm happy for you, but you care about more than that. Jonas doesn't. And as far as boring goes, you may be boring now but with the right partner I think you'd be more than willing to take a few risks. You're not boring by nature. You're boring by circumstance."
"By circumstance?" Lucy asks with a disbelieving grin.
Amy nods. "I blame Noah. He used you and he hurt you and now you're afraid. That's okay, Lucy. It's natural to be afraid of something that isn't a sure thing, but you can't live the rest of your life that way." Her younger sister stares at her for a moment and then speaks with a determined expression. "I won't let you."
Lucy's eyes narrow suspiciously on Amy. She's seen that look before and it usually means she's about to shove Lucy out of her comfort zone. "I don't like the sound of that."
Amy smirks and shrugs. "You'll thank me later."
The request is made for quiet on set as shooting starts, and thankfully Amy's attention is captured for the rest of the day. She is enthralled by the scene that they are filming today, no matter how many takes they film. Stunt fights don't require much of Lucy's concentration so she goes about doing other things. She answers emails, decides what she wants for lunch, approves last minute costume changes, and arranges for an extra day of stunt filming when it becomes clear Mason isn't happy with the direction today's filming has taken.
They hang around until everyone has cleared out just like she promised and Amy wastes no time approaching the wire rig that is hanging off to the side. The harness sits on a chair next to it and Amy tosses it to her.
"Put that on," she instructs.
"Me?" Lucy asks. "No, you. I didn't want to do this in the first place!"
"Oh come on!" Amy yells with a laugh. "Live a little, Luce. Stop being such a baby."
Lucy knows Amy will not leave her alone until she caves. There's no use fighting her on it. She huffs and puts her legs in the harness. For the life of her though she cannot figure out the rest of the buckles and straps. Amy tries to help but she's just as useless as Lucy.
"Maybe someone's still here who can help," Amy tells her as her eyes shift to somewhere beyond Lucy. "I'll just go see who I can find."
There's a mischievous glint in her eyes as she turns and walks in the opposite direction of where her eyes had been drawn earlier. What is she up to?
"Didn't know you doubled as a stunt woman, ma'am."
And now she gets it. Amy saw Wyatt coming and bailed out. Cunning little brat.
"I don't," Lucy says with a huff as she turns to face him. "This was Amy's idea. She went to go find someone to help."
"You're in luck then," he replies with a smirk. "I'm in one of these torture devices nearly every movie. Bet I could buckle you in that harness with my eyes closed."
She looks down at the mess of straps and buckles around her legs and torso and then back up at him with a challenging glare. Having him so close to her would be torture, but there is no way he can do what he claims to do and she wants to rub his face in it when he fails. For her pride and for bragging rights.
"I'll take that bet," she says with a grin. "Go ahead, Soldier Boy. Close your eyes and go for it."
She knows she's chosen her words poorly the minute they leave her mouth because the shit-eating grin on his face has never been wider or brighter.
"That's what she said," he says quickly as he takes off his jacket and throws it on Mason's Director's chair.
She rolls her eyes at him but makes no quip in return. She walked into it. She knows she did.
He puts his backpack down next to the chair and then kneels in front of her. The top of his head is in her line of sight and the image of his hands and face hovering in front of her thighs and pelvis sends her mind spiraling into the gutter. He looks up and catches her eyes. His blue eyes have darkened and his crooked grin is confident like he knows exactly what she's thinking. She's not sure what's worse, she thinks as she feels her cheeks flush, him knowing or the fact that he doesn't seem to mind. She's so caught up in the desire in his eyes and his self-assured attitude that when he closes his eyes and gives the straps around her thighs a firm tug, she nearly groans. She catches herself and swallows the groan back down, but it's still there lodged in her throat. Oh god, why did she agree to this?
There's an undercurrent of attraction between them. There always has been. She's done a decent job of avoiding physical contact with him for the last few weeks. Until now.
She was smart to avoid touching him, she sees that more clearly than ever, because the more his hands lightly trace over each strap and each buckle the more this feels like foreplay. She's fighting the urge to toss her head back and release that groan that's still stuck in her throat and biting her lip so hard she can taste blood. It's all tantalizingly awful. She wants it, wants him, and she shouldn't.
She looks down at him again. His eyes are still closed and his hands are moving systematically to each buckle. He tugs the straps into place and tightens them, but she thinks his hands linger a little too long in between tugs. She thinks he's well aware of what he's doing. She thinks he knows what the ghost of his touch over her thighs and hips and ass is doing to her.
And worst of all, she doesn't want him to stop.
Which is, of course, the moment he finishes.
She blinks and tries to recover as best she can but there's a heat between her legs now and want burning in her chest that she can't seem to suffocate. She knows her cheeks are tinted pink and her pupils are probably dilated. But god can he blame her? His hands were firm and gentle and running across her waist, hips, and thighs with near featherlight caresses. She's not sure if his intention was to get her worked up but, whether it was or not, he definitely succeeded.
He stands and grins wickedly at her. Just based on that grin she knows.
She has her answer. The grin alone tells her he wanted this. But then her eyes meet his again and she has further proof. His pupils are dilated too and his hands are still lingering on her waist, barely touching her skin where the harness has hitched up the hem of her shirt. His calluses are resting on the smooth skin of her hips and a heated trail follows each of his fingers as they absently caress her. It's both delicious and forbidden. She can't bring herself push him away like she knows she should.
The realization that he wants this—wants her to want him—is both unbelievable and so typically Wyatt Logan. The push and pull that she constantly feels when he's around is stronger than ever. She wants him but she doesn't want to want him. Does that make sense? It does to her but she's not exactly in a very clear headed place at the moment. Her senses are too full of him.
She's breathing heavier than she should be and his eyes are roaming her entire face. She's this close to throwing her arms around him and kissing him senseless—damn the consequences—when footsteps echo from the opposite end of the sound stage.
"So I couldn't find any—oh. Never mind. It looks like you found someone all on your own," Amy calls to them with a smirk evident in her voice. "She good to go, Mr. Action?"
His grin widens and his eyes lock on Lucy's.
"For now," he says. She gets the feeling he's not talking about the harness anymore. No, he's talking about them. Whatever just happened between them is not over and he's making sure she knows that. He takes a step back and turns to face her sister. "But I'm afraid I can't let the two of you use the wire rig without proper supervision. Especially if the Professor here can't even figure out the harness."
He tosses a teasing wink at her as he glances back over his shoulder, and she rolls her eyes in response.
"Fine by me," Amy agrees. "Guess you'll have to be our supervision, hot shot."
Oh god, she really should have never agreed to any of this.
In the next second the wires are hooked into the harness and both Wyatt and Amy are standing by to pull the tension into them and lift her into the air.
"Amy, seriously, why am I doing this again?" Lucy asks her with a huff.
"For fun, Luce, you know, that thing you used to have before you started focusing on this movie all the time?" Amy asks her with a teasing chuckle. "You do remember fun, don't you?"
Wyatt laughs and then looks from Amy to Lucy with a wide grin. "You know, I really like your sister, Professor. She's exactly what you need."
Lucy shakes her head at both of them. "I never should have let you meet. That was a stupid mistake."
He chuckles and smirks at her. "Too late to change it now. You ready, ma'am?"
"To be lifted up in the air and hung by two thin wires? No, never."
"Too bad," Amy says as she nods to Wyatt and they both suddenly pull.
She yelps as she's thrown upward. The harness pinches against her hips and she finds it all very awkward. They lift until she's hanging several feet in the air. With nothing to brace herself against the sensation feels more like she's on the edge of falling rather than floating and it's terrifying.
"Try a flip," Wyatt suggests. She looks down at him and marvels at the easy smile on his face. There's no conflict or guilt in it. Not even a trace of his infuriating self-confidence. Just warmth and affection and encouragement.
"A flip?" she asks him. "Look, I know we only met a few weeks ago but I am the least athletic person on the planet. I can't do a flip!"
"Anyone can do a flip on the wires, Lucy," he tells her with an amused chuckle. "Just put your arms straight over your head and fall forward. The harness will pull you back around."
She gives him a suspicious look that he follows with an expectant look of his own.
"Trust me," he says. "Fall forward. It's fun."
The writer in her sees the metaphor in their current situation even if he doesn't. Trust him. Fall. Oh god, why the hell not? She takes a deep breath and releases her death grip on the wires to hold her arms up over her head and then propels herself forward. She falls down and back around with a gasp. Her stomach drops like she's on a roller coaster and an unbidden laugh escapes her lips. She beams at Amy and Wyatt as her hands grasp the wires again.
"I did it!" she yells excitedly. "Does it work going backwards too?"
Wyatt laughs at her with a good-natured grin. "I don't know, you tell me. Give it a shot." She looks doubtful—she's sure—but he just motions to the pull rope that's unfalteringly tight in his grip. "I've got you, Lucy. You don't have to worry. Between my grip and that harness, you're secure," he reassures her. "I should know," he says as his grin turns sinful and he tilts his head. "I buckled that harness myself."
She blushes and returns his grin with a shake of her head. "Yeah, with your eyes closed. How do I know you did it, right? You could have messed up and had no idea."
"Not possible, ma'am," he tells her as his expression turns serious. "If I had any doubts you wouldn't be up there in the first place. I'm not going to let you get hurt."
He looks so sincere. More sincere than she's ever seen him. What choice does she have but to believe every word he says? She nods, lifts her arms again, and falls backward. The same thing, the same thrill, happens again. She laughs and does it a few more times, falling backwards and then forwards, until the harness starts to hurt and her stomach starts to ache.
Wyatt and Amy are watching her with knowing grins, for very different reasons as they finally bring her down. Amy quirks a brow at her and looks from Lucy to Wyatt with a pointed expression as she mouths the words, 'I knew it.' Her grin is secretive and conspiring.
In Wyatt's grin, Lucy sees only pride. Pride in her. He releases the pull rope once he's certain her feet are on solid ground and then rushes forward to help her with unclipping the wires and unbuckling the harness.
"So," he asks eagerly. "Fun?"
She tries to bite back a smile and fails because it was fun. It was thrilling and terrifying, but worth it. She wonders if the universe is sending her some sort of sign. Is the trust she had in him today supposed to be a metaphor for her life? Is someone trying to tell her to fall without fear and trust him to catch her? She tries not to let her thoughts drift too far in that direction. That's a rabbit hole best left until she's alone.
She notices, with Amy standing over his shoulder, he's a lot quicker getting the harness off of her than he was while putting it on her. He tugs a little too hard at one point and she braces herself against his shoulders to keep from tumbling over. But she falls into him despite her best efforts. His arms wrap around her waist from where he's kneeling in front of her to hold her upright. They're both frozen for a moment as the world around them steadies itself again and suddenly she realizes what position they're in. Her hands had moved from his shoulders to the back of his head and his cheek was pressed against her stomach. With his arms around her waist and his head pressed against her, it almost felt like she was holding him and not holding on to him.
And she doesn't feel as awkward about it as she should. In fact, she finds herself not wanting to let him go. Without thinking, she runs her fingers through his hair, lightly tracing them across his scalp. It's a soft and gentle caress that her hands seem to trace over him of their own volition. She contemplates their conversation in the hallway and their conversation in her room nearly a week before that. She thinks of the guilt he carries on his shoulders and wonders if this is what Wyatt needs. If he needs someone to hold him and comfort him and assure him that he's good. She forgets Amy. She forgets all of their fights—if only for a moment—and tries her best to communicate that to him as he pulls his face away from her stomach and looks up at her.
She places one hand on his shoulder and then allows the other to trail across his cheek. His scratchy stubble bristles against her palm as her eyes meet his.
She smiles softly down at him and his arms tighten around her waist in response. She feels his need for comfort through that alone and suddenly she's scared. To feel connected to another person to the point where words are not needed to communicate means that connection is strong, intense, potentially life changing. She's just regained her ground after Noah. Is she really ready for this new life she carved out for herself to change? Is she ready for Wyatt Logan to swoop in and make her feel things she thought she would never feel again?
She has no idea, but she knows she needs room the breathe.
She places her hands on his shoulders and then her smile turns bashful. "Thank you. For helping us with the rig."
That seems to remind him where they are and what they're doing because he then releases her waist and focuses his attention on the harness again.
"Anytime, Lucy," he says.
She internally marvels at his tone. The last time they talked they had yelled at each other, thrown around accusations that while mostly true were also harsh. She never would have expected him to go from that to this. This helpful, protective, caring man whose voice currently sounds so tender that it makes her physically ache.
The harness goes slack and falls around her feet. Once it does he stands and smiles bashfully at her. "I, um, I should go. Early morning call time and all that," he says as he nervously clears his throat.
She nods. "Yeah, me too."
There's a stilted pause before he turns to Amy and grins at her.
"Nice to meet you, Amy Preston. I'm glad to know there's a Preston sister who knows how to live dangerously," he tells her with a wink. "Maybe you can rub off on her, huh?"
"I don't know," Amy says as she gives the both of them a wolfish smile. "Seems to me she's doing a good job of that all on her own."
Her meaning is clear, but not clearly stated, so both Lucy and Wyatt ignore it. They exchange an awkward wave before he picks up his jacket and his backpack and leaves. She watches him walk out of the soundstage in silence, afraid to say anything until he's gone, afraid she might give herself away.
"What did I just witness?" Amy asks once the door closes behind him. "I mean I might as well have been invisible. Damn, sis. I thought he liked you but I didn't know that he loved you. How did that happen? And why haven't I heard about any of this before now?"
Her head whips in Amy's direction so fast she's afraid she might suffer whiplash. "What? No! No, he doesn't love me. We're not even dating! We barely know each other."
Amy's brows rise and she gives her sister a skeptical glance. "Looks to me like you know enough."
She rolls her eyes at Amy and shakes her head. "I don't. I don't know any of the little things and I know hardly any of the important things. I don't know what happened with Jessica, I don't know what he was like in high school, or even how he takes his coffee. He doesn't know any of those things about me either. He can't love me. That's impossible. Besides, we've only known each other a few weeks."
Amy grins at her and shrugs. "Will and Leslie fell in love after only three weeks in your book, didn't they?"
"That's fiction. Fiction isn't real life."
Amy laughs and places a hand on Lucy's shoulder before meeting her eyes. Amy's eyes tell her they both know better as she speaks.
"Right, and life never imitates art," she says sarcastically. "Besides, I don't know who told you that you have to know everything about a person before you can love them, but they were wrong. You don't have to know everything. You just have to have faith in who they are. You have to trust them," Amy advises as she grabs the harness off the floor and puts it back where they found it. "And from what I saw today, you trust him. You trust him more than you've trusted anyone else in a long time."
Amy pulls Lucy in for a hug and then kisses her cheek as she releases her.
"Face it, big sis. There's a very real possibility that you are in love with Wyatt Logan and he's in love with you, too."
No, no that can't be true. She doesn't want that be true. She's been working so hard to avoid it. To avoid him. She's still denying it to Amy when she leaves the next morning but no matter what she says Amy doesn't believe her. Lucy is adamant. She is not in love with Wyatt Logan and he is not in love with her. They fight all the time. Well, not all the time. But most of the time. She can count their civil conversations on one hand. That can't be good. Why would she want to be in love with someone she butts heads with so often?
She doesn't. She isn't. She can't be.
She won't be. She's so frustrated with herself she wants to scream.
How could this have happened? How did she let this man affect her so much? It felt like a betrayal to her own heart, whatever is left of it. She had too much going on to be in love. She promised herself no actors and yet here she was letting herself have some silly crush on one. Well, no more. She refuses to be vulnerable to him anymore. What she feels for him is different from Noah and different from Jonas. The attraction is heady and addictive and he has the potential crush her heart completely if she gives in.
She's angry. Angry with herself, angry with her heart, angry with Amy, and—for reasons she knows are foolish—angry with Wyatt Logan, too. So angry that she feels she might breathe fire and set her hotel room ablaze with one frustrated huff.
She can only think of one way to rid herself of her anger. To rid herself of him. She's been doing it too long now to stop, anyway. It's her therapy. Her reminder to keep her distance. A way to ground herself in the practical side of her brain that keeps count of all the times Wyatt Logan has ever pissed her off. She uses those memories to fuel her fire and fan the flame. If she stokes the fires of her frustration then she can keep her heart safe from any more damage.
As soon as Amy leaves she sits down and writes. She writes out her anger and her frustration and the result is another version of a another death for Will Lancaster. It doesn't even matter how he dies this time. She just needs him gone. Out of sight, out of mind, out of heart.
Away from her and unable to make her feel anything at all.
But when she hands the pages to Denise, she doesn't even glance at them before she tosses them in her shred bin. So much for the easy way out.
She's been avoiding him for almost four days. It's an insane accomplishment. It means dodging that second day of stunt filming and finding reasons not to go to the on location shoot. Not that she had any real desire to camp outside in a muddy field all day, but technically it was part of her job to be on set in the event they needed a last minute rewrite. As luck would have it, there was a more pressing rewrite for tomorrow when they were back on the sound stage. The scene was being moved to a different spot in the film so it had to be completely rewritten. After three days, it was finally good enough.
She decided she deserved a drink.
She should've known better because that's how he finally finds her.
He slides into the booth across from her as she sips her white wine at the hotel bar and gives her a pointed look. He doesn't bother saying anything. He doesn't need to.
The waitress comes by to take his order. He orders a whiskey. When she leaves his eyes find hers.
"You've been avoiding me."
"No, I've been working."
"And also avoiding me."
"Is it because of the...the weirdness with the harness? If I crossed a line I'm sorry, but I thought—I thought we were on the same page. I was probably wrong," he says as he nervously clears his throat.
She sighs with a shake of her head. "You weren't totally wrong."
They both go quiet as the waitress returns and puts his whiskey down in front of him. Wyatt nods to her as she leaves, ignoring the flirty smile she flashes at him as she does so. Lucy notices the number scrawled out across the bottom of the napkin that rests under his drink and points to it.
"You see, I was right, you don't even have to try."
He sees the number and scowls. He pulls the napkin from under the glass and crumples it up before dropping it on to the table. "It doesn't matter."
Her eyes widen and she gives him a small smile. "Not into random hookups anymore, Soldier?"
"Not since somebody pretty brilliant yelled at me in the hallway outside of her room, no. Turns out she was right," Wyatt tells her with a small sheepish grin. "They were a distraction and I was only hurting myself in the long run."
"And you don't want to be distracted anymore?" She asks.
"No, I don't," he answers confidently. "Not from what I really want." His eyes find hers again as he finishes his statement and he holds her gaze. He doesn't flinch, he doesn't blink. He's certain, honest, assured. He knows what he wants and for some reason, she thinks he might want her.
"And what do you really want?" she asks the question before she can change her mind. She's terrified of the answer but she has to know. She has no choice.
"Well, ma'am, that depends on you," he says before he takes a sip of his whiskey. "Why were you avoiding me?"
She thought she had successfully sidestepped that question already. She's not prepared for him to bring it up again. She takes a long sip of wine to delay the inevitable and allow her a moment to think about her words. She knows why she's avoiding him but she doesn't want to tell him that. She doesn't want to admit how often she replays Amy's voice in her head saying, "...you are in love with Wyatt Logan and he's in love with you, too."
She can't admit how hard it is to wake up every morning and convince herself her sister is wrong. That she doesn't want him. The he doesn't want her. That love isn't in the cards for them, at least not together. It's getting harder and harder to believe every morning.
Finally she settles on how to respond. "It's just...it's just easier."
He nods slowly. "Easier to avoid me than talk to me?"
"Easier to avoid you than to think about you," she replies.
There, honest enough, but not too revealing. She's managed not to show him her entire hand.
He smirks and then narrows his eyes on her knowingly. "Did it really stop you from thinking about me, though?"
She refuses to answer that. Instead she refocuses the conversation. "How can I think about you when I barely know you? All we do is argue and…"
"Flirt." He tells her with a smug smile. "All we do is argue and flirt."
She lets him slide again because he's not entirely wrong. "And we never talk about ourselves."
"Not much to tell," Wyatt responds honestly. "My life was pretty normal until I got out the Army and then I had to find something to do with myself. Started out as a stunt man, then stunt actor, and...well, the rest is history."
She rolls her eyes at him. "I'm not a journalist for People. I don't want your bio."
He sits up with surprised amusement, his attention is now intently focused on her. "Consider me intrigued then. What do you want to know?"
"How do you take your coffee?" She asks. Start out with a softball. Easy.
His brow furrows but his eyes are bright as he answers her. "Black, two sugars. You?"
"I only drink coffee in the event of an overnighter, but when I do I take four sugars and four creamers."
He scoffs. "That's not coffee."
"Yes, well I'm a tea drinker usually so strong coffee is not for me," she tells him with a grin.
He nods. "Okay, I guess that makes sense. Follow up question then, if you were going to have a cup of tea right now...what kind would it be and how would you take it?"
"Earl Gray, two sugars and a small splash of cream."
He glances down at her white wine and then back up at her with a thoughtful expression. "Noted."
She has no doubt he is filing that information away. She's learned that his mind is a steel trap. He learns his lines in record time and remembers every direction he's given. It doesn't mean he won't make it all up as he goes but he at least memorizes everything exactly as written first.
"My turn?" he asks.
"What made you want to write?" he asks softly. "Of all the things that you could be doing with that brilliant brain of yours, why write? I mean you have a doctorate degree. You're Dr. Lucy Preston. You could be lecturing in some Ivy League auditorium right now."
She stiffens at that. She never told him she had a Ph.D. How would he….
"Did you google me?" she asks with a teasing smirk.
He holds up his thumb and forefinger and chuckles. "A little. Are you gonna answer the question or—"
"Yeah, yeah," she says with a bashful grin. "I can't believe you googled me."
"When you say it like that it sounds dirty," he says as his wide smile turns lopsided, one half moon dimple showing itself.
She shakes her head at him throws a napkin, the one he crumpled up earlier, at his face. He easily catches it and throws it back. She manages to bat it away before she laughs lightly and answers his question.
"My mother loved history. She changed majors in college from history to business and then took that path in instead, but for a moment she thought she might like to teach. She did end up teaching, but not a classroom. Just me. She used to give me these books for kids about historical figures, and I loved them. I loved reading about history and the people who led us here, and then when I was a little older that love of reading led me to fiction. I loved Jules Verne. I devoured everything he wrote. His work was the perfect blend of technology and plot and history. I think he stuck with me most, and as I grew up I would write fiction in my spare time just for me. I never expected anyone to read it. I went to college and finished all my degrees and my plan was to be that professor you talked about. That was my goal, what I thought I wanted. And then Amy found out the password to my laptop."
She hears him laugh and then looks up to grin at him.
"Let me guess," he says with a knowing smile. "She found your stories."
"She found Sign of the Times, actually," Lucy tells him. "She emailed it to herself, had it bound, and then sent it to a long list of publishers. Never said a word to me about it. Didn't even ask. She just did it."
"Having met your sister I can believe it," Wyatt replies with a chuckle.
"I was so mad at her," Lucy states with a laugh. "I was pissed, but she made me realize...I love writing. Teaching would have been fun, I guess, but I love crafting a story, building a world, making people care about these people they can never meet. I love—"
"Making people feel something?" he asks as he finishes her sentence.
She should have expected him to get it. But she didn't. It makes so much sense that he would. They essentially are two sides of the same coin. She writes the words and he performs them.
"Yes, exactly," she says with a nod. "So, as usual with my baby sister, when I got my book advance and it was clear I was going to make a career out of writing, I ended up thanking Amy. She shouldn't have done it without my permission but if she hadn't…."
"You wouldn't be here," Wyatt agrees with a nod.
He does a sweeping motion with his hand, indicating it's her turn.
"Honestly," she says as she gives him a challenging look. "What were you like in high school? I've heard the public relations stories and I know what you tell the magazines. You were an outsider, didn't really fit in. And while I understand that, I don't think that's the full story."
"Well, you do have a Ph.D. Can't fool you, Professor," he says with a teasing smirk. His smirk fades and he pushes the whiskey glass away from him before he answers. "Honestly? I was a punk ass kid who thought he knew everything. For most of it I was drunk and stupid. Barely attended high school, to be honest. I, um, got involved in a less than legal enterprise. Nearly got arrested and then had the sense knocked into me by my grandpa. That sense led me to the Army and when I got out I was so used to fighting and bruises that it seemed the only thing to do was make my pain tolerance useful. With my high school transcript and lack of funds, my options were kind of limited. Besides, I got myself into fights my whole life. Might as well get paid for it."
It wasn't what she expected, but oddly it fit. "Follow up question, what kind of illegal enterprise were you involved in?"
"Let's just say if you ever need something smuggled across the Texas and Mexico border then I'm your guy," he told her with a rueful grin. "It's not exactly something I want on my resume."
Her eyes widen and all of a sudden she sees him differently. Once upon a time, the man in front of her had been completely lost. He's not lost any more. He remade himself and that realization makes the person sitting across from her ten times more beautiful than he already is.
"Wow," she says as her mouth falls open shock. "I never would have guessed."
"Good," he says with a self-deprecating laugh. "I don't want to be that lost kid anymore so that's good." It's his turn to ask her a question and he lowers his eyes to the table while running a hand through his hair as he continues. "I, um, I read both your books. I finished Carbon Copy just last night, actually."
She groans miserably. "You really didn't have to read both of them."
"Carbon Copy was written for Noah, wasn't it?" It's a statement, not a question. He knows her answer without her having to give it.
"Is that really what you want to use your question on?" she asks him with a sigh. "You seem to already know what went down with Noah based on our previous conversations."
"I've made some inferences based on articles I read about the movie," Wyatt explains. "He was attached to the project and then he wasn't, and before the project was in development Noah Cartwright wasn't really anybody. He had a few small roles and television guest spots but it wasn't until you wrote Sign of the Times and he was attached to the early development of the script as Will that anyone else found him interesting. I thought it was...suspicious is all. And then after reading Carbon Copy—the words on the page didn't sound like your words. And I would know. I've been butchering them for weeks now."
She snorts derisively at that and grins. "You aren't butchering them."
He breezes right passed her compliment like he didn't hear it. She is certain he did.
"So I started thinking about it and Sign of the Times wouldn't have been in development until after your second book came out. So, that says to me, Sign of the Times was never supposed to be a movie, was it?"
She drains the last of the wine in her glass and shakes her head. She hates talking about this. She hates admitting she was ever so easily swayed into doing something she knew wouldn't benefit her. She hates that she was convinced to do it by people who supposedly loved her. Remembering it hurts.
"No, it wasn't. And yes I wrote my second book for Noah and it was the most idiotic thing I ever did. I had my mother in one ear and him in the other. Mom has always wanted us to work on a movie together. It's been her dream for as long as I can remember and Noah was struggling to be cast in anything. So, I thought I could please them both, you know? I mean he was my fiancé, and she's my mother. They are—or were—important to me. I didn't want to let them down," Lucy says as she looks away from Wyatt and down at her hands.
She is still so embarrassed that she let someone else control her writing that she can't bear to look at him. It happened years ago and yet it stings like it happened just yesterday. Her words should always be personal and that was taken away from her. She will never get that back.
"I'd write a chapter and mom would tell me whether or not it would be feasible to shoot or I would go to describe a character and she would tell me to be as vague as possible so casting wouldn't be so difficult. Noah would make requests of his dream character and I would fit them in whenever I could and then before I knew it I was finished with the book and they had whittled away everything that made it mine. It was awful. I hated it. But my publishers liked the idea of writing a book with the intention of making a movie. They saw potential dollar signs and published it. They had more faith in it than I did," Lucy admits with watery eyes.
She wanted to burn that manuscript and still wishes she could burn every copy on bookstore shelves to this day. That thought crushes her. How can she want to burn her own words? How did she let herself write something she hates that much? She feels a tear drip down her cheek and angrily wipes it away.
"All the time I spent promoting that garbage book killed me. The one thing that had always been mine wasn't anymore, and then when mom approached me about Sign I knew I had to keep partial control. I couldn't let her and Noah do the same thing to Sign. I couldn't let them ruin it."
She takes a deep breath and wills the pain away. It happened so long ago and all she wants is to move on. She wants to forget Noah Cartwright and focus on her writing. Her life. Her future. Not his. Not her mother's. Hers.
Wyatt's hand crosses the table to rest on top of hers and he squeezes her hands in a soothing gesture. She looks up and finds compassionate blue eyes watching her intently.
"Follow up question," he says softly. "If it weren't for your mother and Noah, what would you have written?"
"It doesn't matter," she says dismissively as she tries to pull her hands from his.
"Yes it does," he says in a firm voice with an equally firm grip on her hands. "It matters. What you want should always matter. What would you have written?"
She can't pull her eyes from his and she wants to because he's looking at her like all he wants is for her to be happy. It's hard to force herself to put distance between her and someone who genuinely wishes for her happiness. Too hard.
She can't admit to him what she wants. She can't allow him to know all her secrets. So, she tells him what she always tells herself. "It wouldn't have worked and, you know, follow up books never do as well as the first—"
"I'm not asking you why you couldn't do it," Wyatt says with a light laugh as his kind eyes continue to stare into hers. "Forget about all the reasons not to, just for a moment, and think about what you want to do. What do you want to write, Lucy?"
"I wanted to write the sequel to Sign," she admits quickly, as if she shouldn't be saying it at all. But his eyes aren't giving her any other choice than to finally divulge her secret out loud. "I wanted to do a whole series."
"So," Wyatt says as he squeezes her hands again. "Do it. What's stopping you?"
"I only have one more book on my contract with my publisher, Wyatt," she tells him with a shake of her head and tired sigh. "If my next book doesn't sell they'll drop me."
He gives her a look that is much too encouraging and hopeful, like there's nothing she can't do, and she feels her long lost idealism stirring. It's as if it's been asleep inside of her for too long and Wyatt has just nudged it awake.
"Lucy, if you write a story you don't care about your book won't sell anyway," he tells her. He's right. She knows he's right. She knew it when she was writing Carbon Copy and she refused to admit it. "Sign of the Times was as popular as it was because you poured yourself into every page. Your heart was in that book. I thought your script was brilliant but your script has nothing on your novel. Everything in it was so alive that it almost breathed. If a follow up book to Sign is where your heart is then go with that. Follow your instincts. Your readers will love what you love."
"You can't know that for sure," she says with a shake of her head. "You can't know they'll love what I love."
"Yes, I can," he answers with a chuckle. "I'm one of your readers now," he says with a smirk and a casual shrug. "I read both books, remember?"
She rolls her eyes at him as the corners of her mouth twitch upward, but keeps her lips tightly closed. She has no idea what she's supposed to say in response to that.
"So what if it doesn't sell? Screw 'em. You could find a new publisher in a heartbeat. Write what you want to write, Lucy. You're too good to do anything less than that," he tells her as he squeezes her hands one last time before releasing them.
He flashes her a bright supportive smile and sits back in the booth, perfectly at ease in her presence, and for the first time she wonders where the Wyatt of those initial weeks of filming went. That Wyatt was grumpy, smug, and combative. He was nothing like the Wyatt conversing with her now. Why does she have a feeling that the man she is seeing now is the real him? Why does it seem like the guilt he carries stems from Jessica? How did she forge him into the resentful and resigned man Lucy first met? She did more than just cheat on him. She broke him. Lucy has never once met Jessica and she finds herself wishing, for Jessica's sake, that she never does. Because the glimpses of the real Wyatt that he is letting her see are so stunning that she can't imagine anyone wanting to tarnish that.
Yet Jessica did, and that fact alone makes Lucy want to rip the other woman's hair out. She finds herself resentful that Jessica met Wyatt first when she so clearly didn't deserve him.
It's her turn for a question and she's not sure she should ask the question that plagues her right now. It's on the tip of her tongue but she doesn't want to cause him pain or to remind him of someone who left him wounded.
"Go ahead," he says suddenly. "I can see your wheels turning, Professor. I'm an open book, no matter how painful you think the question might be."
"Jesus," she says with a disbelieving laugh. "How do you do that?"
"You're not as good at hiding your emotions as you think you are," Wyatt answers with a fond grin. "Now ask me what you want to ask me."
"The two times you have mentioned Jessica I got the distinct impression that you felt guilty about something and I cannot figure out why you would be the one who feels guilty. So, what happened?"
She holds her breath the minute she asks the question and waits for a blow up. She waits for him to get up and storm out and never speak to her again. But he doesn't. He just sits quietly across from her with a tormented expression.
He shakes his head and reaches for his whiskey for only the second time since they started talking. "Nothing happened. I just...never really knew her. She says I put her on a pedestal. I expected too much from her and that I couldn't handle it when she fell short. That I forced her hand because she couldn't come to me about what she really felt. Like I was some controlling jackass. Like I was holding her back from living her life. For the longest time that's what I convinced myself I was. That I didn't deserve her or anyone because I would...well, I would ruin them like I ruined her."
Lucy quirks a skeptical brow at him. She can never imagine Wyatt Logan as a controlling judgmental asshole. No matter what Jessica says. He always encourages her. Granted, sometimes he does that by challenging her, but the way he challenges her means she walks away from him stronger and better. Maybe Wyatt wasn't the problem. Maybe he grew and changed while Jessica remained static...on purpose. Maybe Jessica didn't want to be stronger or better.
Maybe she just wanted out and knew the quickest way to get there was to make Wyatt Logan feel like her unhappiness was his fault. God, what a manipulative bit—
"She's not a horrible person, Lucy. I can see your anger in the set of your jaw," he tells her with a dry chuckle.
"I will form my own opinions, thank you," Lucy says sternly. "You don't actually believe all of that, do you? That bullshit about you controlling her and holding her back?"
"I don't know. Looking back, she may have a point. I was also a jealous bastard. We fought a lot, and I made it to worse because I didn't want to play America's Sweethearts with her to the press. She wanted to be seen at all these parties and opening nights and those events aren't really my scene. I only go if it's required to promote a film. So, I'm not blind or an idiot. We had issues. I just didn't know she blamed me for so many of them." He takes a sip of his whiskey and avoids her eyes.
She reaches across, as he had earlier, and gently pats the hand he left on the table. "You didn't actually answer my question," she tells him softly. "Do you believe her?"
"I used to," he admits in a low tone. "I used to hate myself. I thought I was on my way to becoming my—it doesn't matter. I spent a lot of time drunk and angry with myself."
"Oh, Wyatt," Lucy says in a voice so sympathetic it surprises even her. She lays her hand on top of his and then laces their fingers together. "You have seen their photos in the press, haven't you? Jessica isn't ruined. She and Noah are out there having the time of their lives together. Traveling every weekend and partying most weeknights. That's all they've done. Even before Noah and I officially ended things that's what they were doing. Maybe you and Jessica weren't right for each other, and yes, it sounds like you had some differences. But that doesn't mean it was your fault. It doesn't mean that you can't find someone else to love who might understand you better. And, furthermore—"
He chuckles as he interrupts her. "Should I settle in for a lecture? Do I need another whiskey?"
His face is full of fondness, and she smiles bashfully back at him. She takes his snark as a good sign and grins back at him.
She looks away and down at the table as she starts to speak again, "Furthermore, the person I've seen these last several weeks is a good and caring man. Yes, you're impulsive and hot-headed but you're kind and caring and considerate. And even when we argue, a part of me knows that I'm better for it. You make me think about my actions when you disagree with me, and I need that. So, I cannot imagine believing a single thing Jessica made you think about yourself, because from my point of view you're a truly good man. You're frustrating as hell and sometimes you piss me off," Lucy admits as she points small smile at their joined hands. "But you're still good."
When she looks up at him again, she sees his eyes watering as they focus on her. His gaze is so intent that she starts to forget where they are or anyone else who might be nearby. The world shrinks to just the two of them and the booth. They sit there in companionable silence, staring at each other for several minutes before he finally drags his eyes away from hers.
"We should go. It's late," he says as he pulls out his wallet with his free hand. His other hand is still tightly tangled with hers as if he can't bear to sever their connection completely. He throws cash down on the table and she notices it's more than enough for her wine too, and a beyond generous tip. His hand stays in hers as he gets up from the booth.
He tugs her hand and smiles warmly at her as he nods toward the door. "I'll walk you home, ma'am."
She blushes and giggles—yes, actually giggles—but obliges him. He just offered to walk her home like they were teenagers on their way home from school. It's awkward and sweet and she's beginning to wonder why she's bothering to fight her feelings for him. What would be so bad about giving in? It's these thoughts that have her keeping her hand in his as they walk through the hotel lobby and wait for the elevator.
It's these thoughts that keep her from stopping him when he brings his free hand up to caress her cheek and push her hair out of her face.
It's these thoughts that allow him to kiss her as soon as the elevator doors close behind them, and these thoughts that have her responding eagerly.
And—oh God—the man can kiss.
She's being pulled against him with one of his arms wrapped around her waist while his other hand moves a lazy caress up her arm until it comes to rest on her cheek. That, by itself, would be enough to make her melt, but all of this happening while his lips are pressed against hers is almost too much. Her heart is beating fast and hard, and she can't stop the moan that escapes her when he runs his tongue across her bottom lip.
What choice does she have but let her mouth fall open in response? And then when the kiss deepens, and he makes her feel like the floor has dropped out from underneath them, how can she stop herself from wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing herself tighter against him? She can't. The answer is...she can't.
He's still kissing her when the elevator doors open, slowly and deeply like he has all the time in the world. He places one hand over where the elevator doors have opened to prevent them from shutting again and maneuvers them both into the hallway without once breaking their connection. She's glad he has the presence of mind to think of such things, like being crushed by elevator doors, because her brain has lost all ability to function. All she knows is him.
The feel of his hard muscles against her. The spicy smell of him surrounding her. The sound of their lips nibbling and sucking and colliding. The taste of him.
Jesus, the taste of him.
It's wine and whiskey mingled together. It's her and him, and dammit if it isn't the most addictive flavor to ever touch her tongue. That must explain why she's pulling her room key card out of her pocket and not even questioning it. Must be why she's pushing him against the door to her room so she can slide the card in and out to open the door. All the while, she's kissing him like he's the fresh air her lungs never knew they needed. Like he's essential.
The door beeps and the lock clicks. He reaches for the handle before she can and opens the door, pulling them both inside the room. He has her pressed against the wall as soon as the door starts to close behind them and she's positive all practical parts of her brain have been overrun by need. By want. By him.
Because she should be shoving him away and running for the hills. She told herself no more actors. She doesn't want to fall for Wyatt Logan. She's just asking for heartbreak, because there is no way that he can love her. She's Lucy Preston, novelist and nerd, and he's Wyatt Logan, actor and celebrity. She spends her days behind the camera and he spends his in front of it. For her career, she attends sci-fi conventions and, for his, he attends movie premieres. They are different people. Fundamentally different. It would never work.
But then his hand hooks under her knee and hitches her leg around his waist and she can feel his hardness pressed against the warmth between her legs and she thinks…
Who goddamn cares how different they are when this feels so deliciously right?