One More Night | Chapter 38 of 41

Author: Julia London | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1113 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER THIRTY

Leah did manage to snag a role in the new HBO series, Coming to America, which was about the grueling reality the pilgrims faced in settling America. Leah had wanted the part of the trapper’s daughter, but when she asked, Frances laughed so hard that she threw her back out. “You’re not going to be the star, honey,” she’d said, not unkindly, but as if it was obvious to the entire world, save Leah. “It’s like I’ve been telling you—character roles.”

Which is exactly what Leah got when they tapped her for the minor part of the wife of one of the settlement’s elders. Essentially, that meant her on-screen time was devoted to slaving over a washboard, lifting giant kettles of water, or, conversely, stirring something in it, and looking after the five kids that supposedly she had given birth to while they eked out their meager existence, which no woman in her right mind would have done. In fact, it became a running joke between her and the other minor wives as to how in God’s name their stinky pretend husbands could possibly be getting any action in bed, what with the life they led.

The only thing Leah liked about the role was the costumes, but even that got old after a bout of unusually warm weather and the soundstage heated up along with the rest of L.A. Wool was not Leah’s first choice when the temperatures started hitting eighty-five degrees and higher.

Trudy dropped by the set a few times, always in stylish shades, ostensibly to check out the available guys, but really to bug the director, Ted, into giving her a part. Ted would never take the bait, so Trudy would do the next best thing—make Leah go out with her for drinks before she had to go pick up her kids at one relative’s house or another.

Their favorite watering hole was a place on Sunset Boulevard, where the drinks were way too pricey for Leah to afford—she’d spent most of her War of the Soccer Moms windfall on a new car—but Trudy insisted it was a great place to see and be seen by all the right people.

“Who are the right people?” Leah asked once.

Trudy shrugged behind her John Lennon shades. “Directors. Producers. People like that. The next big thing is discovered in places like this all the time.”

They both looked around at the other people in the bar. “Do you see anyone you know?” Leah asked.

“No, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

Exactly.

Leah drank water most of the time; Trudy drank Pink Ladies and talked endlessly about her kid (genius), her boyfriend (loser), and what she’d heard about the postproduction work on War of the Soccer Moms. It had been three months since production wrapped, with a scheduled release date in another six months, to hit the summer rush.

“The film editing isn’t going very well,” Trudy told Leah one afternoon, nodding as if she was in-the-know, which she wasn’t. But then again, she was an actress and liked the part.

“It isn’t? How come?”

“Because there are a couple divergent opinions about how it ought to be edited—one side thinks Charlene needs more screen time because she’s the big draw, but get this”—Trudy paused, glanced surreptitiously about to see if anyone was listening in, then leaned forward and whispered loudly—“Apparently, Nicole was blowing the executive producer the whole time! And guess who is the exec’s good golfing buddy?”

“Who?” Leah whispered.

Trudy inched forward a little more. “The head of the studio.” She sat back, clearly pleased with her scoop. “So who do you think is going to get more screen time? Charlene?” she asked, thrusting one hand out, palm up, “or Nicole?” she finished, thrusting the other hand out in the opposite direction. “Do you believe that shit?”

“I don’t know, and I’ll be honest, Trudy—I don’t care,” Leah said. “All I care about is how much screen time I get. And with whom, of course.”

With a snort, Trudy picked up her Pink Lady and took a healthy swallow. “You’re not going to get enough screen time to make a difference to an ant, kiddo. With two stars like Charlene Ribisi and Nicole Redding, the rest of us poor bit players will be lucky to get a toe into a shot,” Trudy said confidently. She suddenly sat up, her eyes shining. “Is Nicole a slut or what? She was blowing the exec producer the whole time she was trying to blow your guy.”

At the mention of “her guy,” Leah almost choked on her water.

“What’s the deal with him, anyway?” Trudy asked. “What happened to him?”

Leah shrugged and looked around the room, avoiding eye contact. “Who knows? It was just one of those production flings, anyway. You know, once it wraps, that’s the end, and everyone is cool with that.”

“Really?” Trudy asked, her brow wrinkling. “Are you cool with that? Because I thought he was so into you.”

Leah shrugged again and pretended to be examining the drink menu.

“Okay, what about the lighting guy?”

“Who?” Leah asked, pretending not to know, hoping Trudy would drop it, knowing it was exactly the wrong thing to do.

So wrong, in fact, that Trudy actually laughed at her. “Don’t give me that crap, girl,” she said cheerfully. “So? Have you heard from him?”

“Oh, him,” Leah said flippantly. “No, I haven’t. He went back to Puerto Rico, I think.”

“I thought it was Spain.”

“Spain, Puerto Rico,” Leah said with a flick of her wrist as if they were practically the same country. She’d told so many lies about Juan Carlo the night she came back from the cabin that she couldn’t remember what she’d said any longer.

“That whole thing was so weird,” Trudy doggedly went on.

Leah glanced up over the top of the drink menu. “What was weird?”

“Just you and that guy,” Trudy said thoughtfully. “It was so unlike you.”

“Everyone has a one-night stand now and again,” Leah retorted. “What about you and the sandwich guy?”

“Not the same thing,” Trudy said with a shake of her head. “Because I am that kind of person, so it’s no surprise when I do it. But when you do it, we all sit up and take notice.”

Great, just what any girl wanted to hear. “It was a long time ago,” Leah said, and ducked her head again. “I think I might try one of these martinis,” she added, hoping to divert Trudy to one of her favorite pastimes—drinking.

But Trudy was having none of it. “Michael Raney, that was really weird,” she said, squinting at Leah over her John Lennon sunglasses. “I mean it—he was so into you. We all saw it.”

“You guys saw what you wanted to see.”

“Don’t think so. And I don’t think it was just a production fling.”

“It was. Trust me,” Leah muttered, refusing to make eye contact.

When she didn’t play along, Trudy sighed irritably. “I guess you’re right,” she said. “I saw him the other day at the airport, did I tell you? I went to pick up my kid from his trip to see Grandma, and who comes striding down the Jetway out of first class like he owns the place?”

Leah looked up again. “From Vegas? You saw Michael get off a plane from Vegas?”

“Vegas,” Trudy reached over and bonked her on the shoulder. “What makes you think my mother lives in Vegas? She lives in Atlanta! And Handsome got off the plane from Atlanta. But he was just passing through. He said he’d been to Cairo to climb some pyramids or something like that.”

“Cairo! As in Egypt? That Cairo?”

Trudy laughed. “Oh right, it was just a fling!” she cried dramatically. “You seem pretty interested to me.”

“Shut up,” Leah said, and ducked again.

“Fine,” Trudy said with an exaggerated sigh. “So anyway, I picked up Barton that day, and do you know what my mother did to his hair?” she demanded, launching into a tale of her mother’s lame ideas about child-rearing as Leah tried to process what she’d just heard.

Leah had wondered—oh, who was she kidding? She’d obsessed—about why he hadn’t called her. Or if he would ever call her. And she’d assumed—in an obsessive manner again—that she had lost him twice in a lifetime. Really, what moron managed that? What sort of woman had two shots at the love of her life and watched them fall apart? She did not want to believe that it was really over, that a single day in a cabin with a madman could turn things around so completely. But it had.

Leah had done a lot of thinking about that day and the things she’d said after it was all over. She’d been hurt and frightened, and so damn angry that he hadn’t fallen all over himself to apologize to her for it all that she’d lost sight of some of the stuff he’d said. Like how he couldn’t live with her uncertainty, that he’d tried, and he’d been honest, but couldn’t apologize enough for who he was to suit her.

And all she’d talked about was how “sorry” wasn’t good enough.

Funny how crystal clear her thoughts were about him when he wasn’t around to muddy the waters. Her thoughts were pretty crystal clear now that she didn’t want to be without him. She loved him like she had never and would never love another man, she was certain. In spite of Juan Carlo, and all the women Michael had dated showing up everywhere, and even though he had left her so cruelly five years ago, she loved him.

After weeks of obsessing about it, it all seemed simple now. Her heart had finally won out over her fear of being hurt again. What she wanted, what would make her happy, had trumped the fear of the thing that would destroy her.

As Trudy talked, Leah remembered a time in New York, just a couple of months after she and Michael had started dating. She’d run into an old boyfriend—hard to believe that she’d been a dating fiend before she met Michael, but she had, and once, when she’d tried to remember them all, Lucy had to fill in some of the blanks.

Anyway, she’d run into John, and they had chatted a little bit, and he’d remarked that she looked great. Leah remembered very clearly what she was wearing—a black turtleneck sweater, black slacks, some killer Manolo Blahniks (an extravagance she couldn’t afford even then), and a full-length camel coat. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was holding a bag with two giant muffins, hoping to catch Michael before he went to work.

“Thanks,” she’d said to John, beaming at the compliment. “You look pretty good yourself.”

He laughed and shook his head. “I look like I’m going to a stuffy law office. You look…shiny. Very shiny. It must be a guy.”

Leah had blushed a little, but laughed at his calling her shiny. “Okay, I’m busted, there’s a guy. How’d you know?”

“Just a guess,” he said, taking her in from the top of her head to the tip of her toes, “because you never looked that good with me. It’s sort of corny, but my grandma used to say that the heart has a way of shining through when it’s full. You know what I mean? You always looked good when we were dating, but you were never quite so shiny,” he said with a laugh.

At the time, Leah hadn’t understood exactly what he meant. But she did now.

She hadn’t shined in three months.

The following month, a new cast member was introduced to Coming to America. Nina Anderson was to play Meoma, a Native American woman who would become the love interest of one of the lead actors. She would make her debut in the last episode of the first season as a teaser leading in to the second season. Assuming there was a second season.

Leah liked Nina. She was midtwenties, Leah guessed, petite with jet-black hair and luminous gray eyes. This was her first real break, and she was as excited as any young actress would be by the prospect.

When the series wrapped for the season, the director, Ted, and the producer planned a party at Ted’s big rambling ranch house in Sherman Oaks.

Leah made Brad go with her so she didn’t have to go alone. Brad was happy to oblige her—his last gig had been as a giant chicken (Leah thought he was a rooster, but Brad insisted he was a chicken) on a kid’s show, and he was really getting desperate for some good roles. He even dressed in his best going out clothes—a tie-dyed tee and some baggy jeans.

Ted had a great place in Sherman Oaks, near Dixie Canyon, and had hired a valet to handle parking for the night. Leah wasn’t crazy about that idea, because she’d just bought a slightly used T-bird like she’d wanted for so long. It wasn’t blue, it was white, and it wasn’t a convertible, it was a hardtop. But it was a T-bird, and it ran, and she didn’t trust the pimply-faced kid who asked for her keys to treat it right.

But when she balked at valet parking, Brad had groaned. “You can be such an old lady sometimes,” he said, and popped out.

Leah frowned at his back, but with a sigh, she got out, too, and gave the kid her keys. “You scratch it, and I will rip your head off,” she warned him. Leah straightened the pale pink dress she’d found in the back of her closet, checked out the sparkly sandals Trudy had loaned her, and deciding that she looked okay, marched forward, into Partyville.

Partyville was in full swing, too—there were tons of people Leah had seen around the set and then some. There was a smell of pot in the air, and dance music was pumped into every room of the house. Tables of finger food were spread out through the cavernous living and dining areas, and then again on the flagstone patio that surrounded the in-ground pool. There were three bars, one of the cast members pointed out to her, tended by bartenders wearing pilgrim hats. Funny.

Brad abandoned her the moment they stepped in together. So Leah got a glass of wine and started working her way through the front room, speaking to everyone she knew, grabbing a couple of finger wraps to munch on. She found a couple of women who also played wives on the series, and they amused themselves for a while by making hilariously snarky comments about their characters.

When they had exhausted that series of gossip, Leah moved on, talked to a guy who was making independent films and thought she’d be perfect in his next one. It took Leah some doing to get away from him.

She had no idea how much time had passed when Brad, looking a little stoned, found Leah. “Great party!” he shouted over the noise.

“Yeah!” Leah shouted back.

“Hey, guess who I saw? That guy you like.”

As she hadn’t mentioned any guy she liked, Leah blinked.

“You know, the one with the flowers and perfume and shit.”

Her heart twisted. Really, she could feel it twisting in her chest, knocking the breath from her lungs. “Here?” she shouted.

“Yeah, in there,” Brad said, and pointed with a smoke and a full beer bottle toward the French doors that led into the living area. But when Leah looked in that direction, all she saw was Nina, who had obviously just come in. She actually felt relieved. She didn’t know what she’d say to Michael after a couple of glasses of wine, and waved at Nina, who instantly glided over.

“Hey,” Nina said, happy to see her. “Have you been here long?”

“Long enough for a couple these,” Leah said, holding up her wineglass.

“Oooh, I’d love one of those. Where’d you get it?”

Leah turned and pointed behind her. “Pilgrim hat. You can’t miss it.”

“Okay, I’m going to get one. But listen, don’t go anywhere. I want to introduce you to someone.”

“I’m planted,” Leah said, and smiled as Nina glided off to get her drink.

“Leah?”

Her heart seized at the sound of his voice, just stopped beating altogether, and her tongue suddenly felt very thick and unusable in her mouth.

“Leah?”

He was closer. She squeezed her eyes shut, then turned awkwardly, gripping her wineglass like a gavel, and looked into those glimmering penny-brown eyes and smiled.

God, but he looked good. His black hair had grown a little, and he was wearing it in a ponytail at his nape. His jaw was covered with the start of a dark beard. He was wearing a black, collared cotton shirt tucked into white jeans and had a pair of really cool black sandals. “Oh. Hi, Michael,” she said as cheerfully as she possibly could, given the circumstance. “How are you?”

“Good,” he responded as his gaze flicked the length of her. He smiled, dimples creasing his cheeks. “You look great, as usual.”

But I’m not shiny. “Thanks. So do you.”

“How do you know Ted?” he asked, and his smile suddenly widened. “Hey, are you working on the HBO series?”

“Yep,” she said, shifting her weight from one hip to the other and then back again. “I’m a…” She made a gesture with her hand. “A wife of an old guy.”

He laughed. Leah didn’t. “Oh,” he said, smiling sympathetically. “I get it. Not a coveted role.”

“Maybe by middle-aged character actors,” she said with a smile. “I’m kidding. It’s great work and fabulous exposure for me. If they’ll just give me something I can sink my teeth into—” She caught herself. Now was really not the best time to discuss the stagnation of her career. “So, ah…what about you?” she asked. “What are you up to these days?”

“Pyramid climbing.”

“Excuse me?”

He grinned at her look of confusion. “Scaling ancient pyramids. Don’t laugh—it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

Leah had no idea how hard it looked—she’d never seen it or even imagined it. “I’m not laughing, I’m crying,” she joked. “It does beg the question…why are you scaling ancient pyramids?”

She heard Michael’s throaty laugh in spite of the loud music, and it drifted through her on a soft, slow wave. “Because it’s there,” he said with a wink.

“Ah.” She couldn’t think of a single thing she’d ever done, just because it was there. Maybe now was the time. Maybe today was the day she finally danced out on that fragile limb and jumped up and down a couple of times, just because he was here, just because she might never have this chance again. She had to do it. She had to tell him she’d made the mistake this time, and took a fortifying sip of wine. “So, Mikey…”

He raised a brow over his smile. “Yes?”

“I’m glad to see you. I’ve wondered about you.”

His smile faded a little. “About Bellingham, you mean.”

“Right, Bellingham.” Except that wasn’t right, and she looked at her glass of wine as someone pumped the music up. “No, not Bellingham. After Bellingham,” she said, lifting her gaze again. “I’ve been thinking.”

This was the moment she should say what she’d been thinking, but Leah couldn’t get the words off her tongue.

Even worse, Michael couldn’t hear her. He leaned forward and said loudly, “What did you say?”

“I’ve been thinking,” she said louder.

He nodded.

“And…and I’ve been thinking that you were right,” she shouted. “I was wrong, Michael, I was really wrong. I never gave you a chance, I jumped to conclusions, and I wasn’t very open.”

Michael blinked. He looked extremely surprised. Or was that mortified? Hell, there was no going back now. “I’m sorry for being afraid. I really did want it to work—I mean, I still want it to work. I do, Michael, I really do!”

Now he looked so stunned that she began to panic. What was she thinking? Shouting at him to take her back in the middle of a big party full of people she worked with? It was insane. Michael looked as if he wanted to crawl into a hole.

The panic swelled in her, and Leah was suddenly talking, her tongue, which wouldn’t work a moment ago, now moving with lightning speed ahead of her brain. “I know what you must be thinking,” she blurted. “That whole thing with Adolfo—”

“Juan Carlo.”

Juan Carlo. That whole scene was pretty weird, sure, and yes, I was upset—but then again, I’m not usually held hostage—”

“Whoa,” he said, putting a hand on her arm with a laugh and uneasily looking around them to see if anyone heard.

“But I’m over it now. I am. I said some things I really didn’t mean, and I’m sorry for that, and the only thing I can say is that I was sort of freaking out, but it’s behind me, and I want it to be behind us.”

He nodded, but still he said nothing, and his silence was killing her.

“Okay, you’re going to force me to say it,” she said moving closer. “The thing is, I don’t feel shiny anymore, and—”

Shiny?” Nina said from somewhere next to her, and Leah caught her breath, closed her eyes, and let her head drop back in sheer frustration. “What a weird thing to say,” Nina laughed. “What does it mean?” she asked as she stepped in between Leah and Michael.

“Nothing,” Leah said, trying to smile. “Just a joke. Sort of. Not really a joke, but a…saying.”

Nina laughed and beamed a smile up a Michael. “So I take it you two already know each other?” she remarked, and slipped her hand into Michael’s.

They were holding hands. They were holding hands. Leah couldn’t stop staring at their hands, unable to speak or to think.

“We know each other,” Michael said.

“You’re kidding!” Nina cried. “That’s great.” She smiled at Leah as she laid her cheek on Michael’s shoulder. “Isn’t my boyfriend cute?”

That remark made Leah forget she was holding a glass of wine, which she promptly spilled on the hem of her dress and all over Trudy’s sparkly shoes. The heat of her stupidity and embarrassment began to bleed into her neck and face. “That’s great,” she said, but she was looking at her dress. Oh God, she could die, she could just die. Someone bury her here, right now, right away. She felt like an old woman, an old, stupid, dull woman, and desperately grabbed the hem of her dress and lifted it slightly. “Will you look at what a klutz I am? I better go do something about this,” she said, and forced a laugh.

“Get some soda water,” Nina suggested.

“Yeah, I’ll do that.”

“Leah,” Michael said, but she was already moving.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get it out,” she said cheerfully, and walked away before she absolutely passed out from mortification and shame.

She hurried through the crowd in the living room thinking she had just played out the scene from every bad movie broadcast on Lifetime.

“Hey, Leah, where are you off to?” Ted called after her as she hurried past, headed for the door.

“I ah…I spilled some wine,” she said.

“I’ve got some red wine remover. Let me get it—”

“No, really, I probably ought to just go,” she said, opening the front door. “It’s silk.” As if that made a difference somehow. “Ted, the party was great. Thanks for inviting me.”

“You’re not leaving. We’re just getting started,” he exclaimed, following her out. “Why rush off? Try the stuff I have and see if that doesn’t work.”

She turned around to look at him, saw Michael making his way through the crowd after her.

“You know, I would, but I have an audition tomorrow,” she said, lifting her hand.

“On a Sunday?”

“Yep. Gotta jet!” she said, and with a wave, ran down the lawn, chanting ohshitohshitohshit in her head. She practically threw her token at the kid and asked for her car.

Behind her, Michael was aware that Nina was following him out, too—mainly because she kept calling out his name and trying to get him to stop. It was wrong, what he was doing, so damn wrong, but he couldn’t make himself stop. He was being propelled by a force outside of his realm of control at that moment. He pushed through the crowd, finally making his way outside, right behind Ted, who was trying to coax Leah into staying.

It wasn’t working, but Michael could have told him that—Leah could be very determined when she wanted to be. And there she was, standing on the curb, leaning far to her right to see around cars and up the street.

“Leah!” Michael shouted.

She jerked around at the sound of his voice, and he could see the panic and mortification in her eyes.

“What is going on?” Nina asked, bouncing to a stop next to Michael. “Did you guys have a fight or something?”

Michael didn’t respond immediately—he was distracted by a few revelers who had come outside to see what was going on. “I just want to make sure she’s okay,” he said.

Nina looked at Leah standing on the curb and peering anxiously up the street for her car, and her brows dipped into a frown. “She looks okay to me, Michael.”

Yeah, well, Nina didn’t know her. Michael started forward again. “Leah, wait!”

“You know what this reminds me of?” he heard a woman say behind him. “Sex and the City. They’re still running it on HBO.”

He strode out of their midst. “Michael!” Nina angrily shouted after him, but he kept walking.

It was enough to get Leah’s attention. She glanced over her shoulder, saw Michael marching down the lawn, and turned around, apparently resigning herself to the fact that she was going to have to face him.

“Michael, I have to go,” she said extending her arm to keep him at a distance. “Just…just go back inside with Nina,” she said, fluttering her fingers in Nina’s direction. “She’s great. You’ll be very happy with her.”

“What did you mean when you said you weren’t shiny?” he demanded, ignoring her order for him to leave.

Leah’s mouth dropped open. Then closed tightly shut.

“What did you mean?” he demanded again, moving closer to her extended hand.

“I didn’t mean anything—”

He wasn’t letting her off that easy. He was going to hear it this time and no uncertainty or wishy-washiness from her was going to stop him. He needed to hear that she loved him before he could begin to think what to do. “Yes, you did. What did you mean?” he asked again, pushing her hand aside and moving and leaning forward, so that his face was directly before hers.

She recoiled slightly. “Shiny,” she repeated, waving one hand. “Bling-blingy.” When he didn’t bite, she anxiously ran a hand over her crown. “Just…shiny,” she said again, only softer.

Michael leaned even closer, locking in on her eyes, her mouth. “Shiny as in sweaty? Or shiny as in your full heart shining through?”

Leah gasped. “How did you know that?”

“I remember,” he said. “I remember it all. Don’t you know that by now?”

“Wait—what do you mean you remember?” Nina cried, having marched down after Michael. “Just how do you two know each other?” She grabbed Michael’s arm, pulled him back from Leah.

But Leah didn’t seem to notice Nina. Her gaze was locked on his, her eyes shining with regret and hope and something more. “I’m not shiny,” she said again, and pressed a fist into her abdomen. “That means I’m empty. I’m devoid of life and love and…and you.”

He knew exactly what she meant. It was the same feeling he’d been trying to fill up with a series of extreme sport outings over the last couple of months, looking for something, anything, to spark a fire in him. Nothing had worked. He went to sleep with Leah on his mind, woke up with her there, and filled most of the hours in between thinking of her, wondering what she was doing, who she was with, if she ever thought of him. If she hated him.

He’d endlessly debated calling her, alternating between needing her and not wanting to hear anything in her voice that even remotely sounded like rejection.

“What in the hell is going on here?” Nina cried furiously, wedging herself partially between Michael and Leah, glaring at Leah. “What part of my boyfriend did you not understand?”

“So what are you saying?” Michael asked over Nina’s head, ignoring her, too.

“That I love you,” Leah said firmly, and Michael felt his heart expand tenfold. “I always have. And I can’t stop.”

“This is unbelievable!” Nina shrieked.

“I know the feeling,” Michael said, stepping around Nina. “I’m not shiny, either, Leah. I’m dull as a lump of lead without you.”

“See, people? This is what I mean when I say acting,” Ted announced to the growing group of onlookers, who had, apparently, walked down the lawn to hear the scene being played out. “You’ve got to put some ummph into it.”

“Are they acting?” Nina asked Ted in a little-girl voice. “Is this a scene?”

The kid pulled up with a white Thunderbird, and Leah looked at it, then at Michael.

“Dunno,” Ted said cheerfully. “If it’s not, it oughta be.”

“Leah, don’t go,” Michael said, and turned toward Nina. He regretted the audience, but he wasn’t letting Leah get away. “Nina…”

“Oh no,” she said, instantly stepping backward and colliding with Brad, who’d shown up to see what was going on. “You are not going to blow me off in front of all these people!” she hissed at him.

“I’m not blowing you off, sweetheart. But I want to take you home. We need to talk.”

“I’m not leaving here,” she cried, stepping back again, into Brad’s skinny chest. “You can go fuck yourself, Michael Raney!”

Michael looked at Brad. “Do me a favor, bro,” he said, digging into his pants pocket for the token that would get his car from the valet. “Make sure Nina gets home okay, will you?”

Brad lit up like a Christmas tree. “Dude! Are you serious?”

“I’m very serious.” He looked at Nina again. “Unless you want to come with me now, Nina.”

“Get away from me you bastard!”

Brad instantly put an arm around her shoulder and squeezed. “That’s okay, kid. Let him go. He is a bastard,” Brad said with a wink for Michael.

Michael heard the car door open and close and jerked around. Leah was inside her car, about to drive away. “Leah!” he shouted, and took two deep strides toward Nina, grabbed her face between his hands. “You deserve to hate me all my days for this, Nina. But then again, maybe someday you will do something totally outrageous for love, and you will understand.” He kissed her forehead and then ran for Leah’s car as she started to pull away from the curb.

When Leah saw his hand on the door, she stopped, watched with wide eyes as he vaulted himself inside. “Drive,” he said breathlessly.

“What—”

“Just drive,” he said again, and glanced back at Brad standing next to Nina, whose arms were flailing as she said something to Ted. And there was a host of other people around watching Nina, then Leah’s car as she put it in drive and sped away.

They drove in silence for the first few minutes, Leah winding through the streets like she knew where she was going. That was almost the worst thing he’d ever done, Michael decided. The only thing worse was leaving Leah five years ago. But he’d felt a moment of panic, that sick feeling he would never have the chance again if he didn’t seize it then and there.

They came upon a park entrance, and Leah screeched to a halt, threw her hands over her face, dropped her head against the steering wheel, and her shoulders began to shake.

The waterworks. Great. He’d made her cry the last two times he’d seen her. And he still wasn’t even sure what he was doing. But then Leah suddenly lifted her face and turned toward him.

Only Leah wasn’t crying. Leah was laughing.

She was laughing so that tears were running down her cheeks. “Ohmigod,” she squealed, pressing a hand to her belly. “Could we possibly have made a more dramatic exit, do you think?”

Michael sighed with relief and shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

She squealed again, pressed both hands to her belly, and her head fell against the headrest. Through her laughter she said, “That…was the…most…unbelievable…scene ever!”

It was pretty spectacular.

She stopped laughing and slanted him a look as she tried to catch her breath. “How long have you been dating Nina?”

“It was our second date.”

Leah gasped and looked at him, her crystal-blue eyes shining, and then howled again. When the laughter had finally subsided, she wiped the tears from her cheeks and smiled at him. “God, I love you Michael, I do. I don’t ever want to be without you. I don’t care how many other women there were, or how many Juan Carloses, I don’t care. I just want to be with you. I want to be shiny again.”

That admission filled Michael with lightness of being and a connection that sank its tentacles deep into his soul and heart. Leah would always be his. He would always have somewhere and someone to belong to.

“I love you, too, baby. That’s all I’ve wanted, is to hear you say you love me, too.”

She reached for him at the same moment he reached for her, their mouths seeking each other, their hands groping for each other.

Until Leah began to laugh into his mouth again. She pulled away and grinned up at him. “I won’t be able to show my face on the set again. Did you hear Ted point out the ummph in our acting skills?” she asked, and they both burst into laughter.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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