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"That's it, MAX, that's it..ok, now Katie, move a little closer, more - keep going - more, more, ok, MAX, take your hand - that's it! Perfect, perfect! Okay, now, juuust a little closer - you can feel his breath Katie - MAX, you're overcome, remember; yes, Katie, yes!! Ok, here goes - one, two, three, and-!"
He kissed me. He kissed me so hard that I wasn't sure what to do or how to react. My hands were at my sides - I tried to move them, but my brain just wouldn't send the signal. Something wasn't right.
And then it happened - I felt teeth sink into my bottom lip - and a harsh flash of pain surge through my mouth. I pulled away immediately, letting out a yelp of pain, and then suddenly I felt myself lose balance completely. I felt him try to hold me steady, but as he was probably in shock too, he wasn't able to keep me from crashing backwards into the set wall, nor keep himself from toppling right over onto me. His head made contact with the wall, and amidst many "ah!"s and "woah!"s we landed, me sitting with my back to the wall, and him head-first into my stomach.
"Ouch!" My hand shot to my lip. He, realizing where he was and where his head was currently positioned, scurried off the floor like a frightened field mouse.
"Oh my-! Oh, Lord, I'm SO - Oh, my God." he sputtered, offering his hand. I was licking my bottom lip to see if I could taste any blood. "Ah, geez." One look at his face could tell you that he had never been so embarrassed, humiliated, or horrified in his life. He covered it with one hand. "I am so. So. Sorry"
Though he couldn't see my face, he could hear me laughing. "It's ok," I chuckled. "It really is. Hey, could I get a.?" I turned to the crew, who, being the crew, were practically on the floor laughing.
"Wow, you're a real tiger, MAXie!" The director was in stitches. The rest of the crew were too busy trying to breathe to say anything. I had to admit that it WAS hysterical - it made my lip hurt a little less. As for my co-star, he looked too distraught to speak.
"MAX, it's really ok, I promise!" I reassured, lightly touching his arm. He looked from my hand on his arm to my face, and said softly, "I can't believe I DID that.." I felt so bad for him at that moment I could have flung my arms around him and bit him back, just so I could share in the humiliation that he must have been feeling. But then he looked away, with this depressed expression on his face. "Oh, GOD.." He kind of stomped off the set, not angrily, but dejectedly, in that way he had of hunching his shoulders. There was none of the usual confident swagger in his step, and that's how I could tell that he was really upset.
Well, I walked off the set too, smiling, but worrying a little about MAX, and heading straight for (where else?) makeup. I had spent countless hours there getting my hair and face camera-ready, but mostly chatting it up with Sofie. She was always there when I needed her - with, in this case, a wet rag and some disinfectant. "Oh my.." She started to say, and covered her mouth.
"Yeah," I agreed. "It's a doosy!"
She grinned. "Wow, he is an ANIMAL if I ever saw one! Boy, he must want you BAD, girl!"
"Sofie!"
"Look at those teeth marks! Look at the size of that thing!" She gazed at me as if I were a scientific specimen.
"What are you talking about? He was just getting really into his character." I sat down in the swivel chair as she searched for disinfectant. She poked her head out of the cupboard she was looking in.
"Um, I don't think so. I think he's really into YOU."
"Do you.?" But I shook my head. "No, no way."
"Uh-huh. I'm telling you, Katie, he does! I can totally tell."
"Yeah, uh-huh. How?"
"Well, like the way he always gets really nervous before he does a scene with you."
"No he doesn't!"
"Yeah, he does! Have you ever watched him right before he goes on?"
"MAX never gets nervous - he's brilliant."
"Didja look at him taday? Didja SEE that kid pacing back and forth like there was no tomorrow?"
"Well, he seemed a little nervous today.just a little - but everybody gets nervous before a kissing scene." I looked at my hands in my lap. "I thought I was a lot more nervous than him, but then." I looked up to see Sofie eyeing me strangely.
"You were nervous?" She shut the cupboard door. "But, you've got no reason to be, you've done lots of kissing scenes. You used to do 'em with Neil all the time, right?" My cheeks were turning red. "I know.but it's different with MAX. It's just - different." I couldn't look at her or else she would know.
"Oh, no." Her eyes started to open very wide and she looked hard at me. "Don't tell me - you LIKE him!!"
"Um." I could feel the burning in my cheeks all over my body. 'Well, now she knows,' I thought. 'Why try to hide it? I've got nothing to be ashamed of.'
"Of COURSE I like him!! How could anyone NOT like him?!" 'Yes, how could anyone not like him?' I mused. But why did I have to feel this way about my co-star? I had asked myself this a thousand times. 'Everyone knows it'll never work out,' I thougth in the deepest secret place in my mind. 'Everyone knows relationships like that never amount to anything. And besides, he doesn't like me anyway.' This was why I couldn't tell anyone except Sofie. I groaned, exasperated, and let my head fall into my hands.
"Hey, honey - it's okay! I ain't gonna tell him!" She tried to lift my head up. "Aw, come on - what'sa matter? This is awesome! He likes you, you like him.now all you need is to show it more." I could hear the smile in her voice. "You'll make such a cute couple! I can't wait to-"
"No, we won't!" I looked up and let her see the tears that were about to fall. "We won't," I repeated, starting to cry softly, "we won't.he doesn't like me, I know he doesn't."
Sofie gave me a hug. "Aw, honey, calm down, it's okay! Look, I'm tellin' you, everything's gonna turn out just fine."
I lifted my head and tried to stop crying. "I'm sorry you had to see me like this.I.I don't know what's wrong with me!"
"Hey, it's okay, it's gonna be alright, I promise. Hey," she added, smiling. "He does like you. I swear. It's so obvious!"
"Th-thanks," I replied shakily. "Well, how come he's never said anything?"
"He just shy around you - but he'll come around." She winked and handed me a cotton ball soaked with disinfectant. "Just blot that right up with this stuff and won't get a horrible disease!"
"I've got something worse," I remarked, laughing.
"You got the love bug." Sofie nodded, knowingly. "And you've got it bad." I whimpered.
Knock knock knock.
Sofie got up to answer the door. "It's probably Aaron - he said he'd come by as soon as his audition was done.OH! Hey, MAX!"
'MAX?! OMG! What am I gonna do; I look horrible! He's gonna see.gonna know-'
"Heya, Sof - Chris told me uh, Katie was here.can I uh, talk to her for a minute?"
"Yeah, sure - she's right in here." Turning around to face me, she flashed me one of her "WHAT'D I TELL YA" glances, and pretended to be looking for something in the cabinet. I heard his footsteps before I turned around, still frantically drying my eyes and trying to pretend I hadn't been crying. Finally I stood up and about-faced to see him standing there, hands in pockets, nervous as ever.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," I responded.
"I'll be in wardrobe if ya need me!" Sofie gave me a reassuring wink and shut the door behind her. 'Don't leave me!' I thought frantically as I continued to blot my lip. Then I decided that that looked stupid, so I tossed the cotton ball, trying not to draw attention to it.
"So, uh - how's the lip?" He kind of smiled when he asked that, and it put me more at ease.
"Oh, it's fine, yeah. That was just - disinfectant." My palms were getting sweaty. Quickly I shoved my hands into my back pockets. He stared at me for a few seconds, then went on.
"Yeah, I'm really really sorry about that - I dunno what happened, I just-" He stopped, looking flustered. I took a step towards him.
"MAX, I'm fine, it doesn't even hurt.you don't need to be embarrassed."
"Yes, I do." He looked at the floor, biting his lip. His head jerked up suddenly. "Listen, you wanna go ta lunch with me?"
It felt like there were seagulls flying around in my stomach. Could this be happening? Did MAX really want to eat lunch with me?
"Yeah, sure," I said loudly (maybe a bit too loudly), and grabbed my purse.
"Alright," he smiled, and actually looked happy for the first time since we shot the kiss. "After you," he said as he ushered me out the door, his hand shadowing my waist. A rush of excitement surged through me.
"We're goin' to lunch, Chris!" MAX yelled, as we headed out of the studio. The director looked over and laughed.
"Watch yourself, Katie! His bite's worse than his bark!" 'Damn!' I thought. 'Why'd he have to start making comments NOW? I was making progress!'