The last days of rehearsal went by too fast for Amy.
Garret continued to stop by at or near seven in the morning to share breakfast with Amy and Renee, proving to Renee that he wasnt a tight-ass at all. Just a workaholic as Amy had suggested for so long. Renee kept Garret up-to-date on her portfolio revision and on the find of her new photographer and agent. Garret promised to spread the word on his inside track to the newest and freshest face in modern modeling, thereby assuring her of continually growing interest until her agent was ready to act. Renee was thrilled. Amy was relieved. Garret was amused.
Then Renee would rush out the door to work, excited to be at last trapped within her dream of modeling, and leave the two to a continued discovery of the other. Garret began to share stories and anecdotes hesitantly at first, and then with more ease as he saw her interest and answered her eager questions. He confessed to adventures in London with neighborhood boys, often ending in being chased by the constable. He described school productions of A Midsummers Night Dream or Romeo and Juliet that had Amy wishing she could have been there. But then Garret would perform select scenes from them, thereby giving Amy a small taste of who Garret Harrison was.
Amy loved it.
Then Garret weaved tales of independent productions that caught public attention; his acceptance into the Royal Shakespeare Company; performances in front of royalty; and an eventual interest in the big screen that brought him at first to Los Angeles and then to New York and Broadway. Which of course led to a reminiscence of Broadway productions, ones where Garret had performed the starring role while Amy had watched awestruck. Garret would ask if she had seen a particular production, and most often Amy would enthusiastically reply yes and then give a detailed account and synopsis of her favorite scenes, thereby encouraging Garret to do the same.
Oftentimes the reminiscing led to an attempt at acting out their favorite scenes, Amy doing her best to recall the lines of those roles opposite Garret while he did his best to prompt her. The two would often laugh so hard that they couldnt do anything but gesture the lines. Then they would surrender the attempt and go back to the couch to sip their coffee and begin another visit to memory.
Mark and Vanessa never asked how much earlier Garret arrived at Amys apartment. Amy wouldnt have lied to them if they had asked, and shed requested that Garret be honest as well. Luckily, Mark and Vanessa never inquired about the pairs growing relationship. Instead, all focus was on the scenes in the first act, honing and tightening them until Garret was certain they would enthrall the audience.
Then the rehearsal week was over, the weekend was coming to a close, and Amy was setting her alarm for the early arrival at the studio the next morning. Nervousness and anxiety battled with eagerness and anticipation at the prospect, scaring sleep right out of the picture. Then of course there was the knowledge that she would be receiving tutoring and choreography instruction for the final scene in Act I. Her death. Garret assured her that he had gone over the plans and possibilities too numerous to count. He had also told her it would be easier then a few Broadway stunts he had done.
That had relieved Amys mind more than anything else.
So Amy bid Renee goodbye, finding it very funny that now Renee was left at home alone, and then made her way out to the bus stop. The bus ride, as usual, was quite the experience with people. Amy enjoyed it, snickering here and there at the funny things people said in response to bus driver quips aimed at the other drivers tactics at cutting him off. Then Amy was dropped off at the studio lot and heading toward the security booth.
Amy wasnt sure if she should be happy or annoyed that the same man as before stood guard.
Amy Burke. And she went about the duty of freeing her ID from its specific pocket within her purse.
Youre not on the list.
Amy blinked and then looked up. What? Give me that. She swiped the list from him before he could protest. Oh for petes sake! This is ridiculous! How am I supposed to get any work done if they dont put me on the list to get in in the first place! Amy shoved the list back at the guard. Can I use your phone please? she asked, frowning.
Sorry. Not allowed.
What? How am Oh forget it. Amy heard a car door shut. She turned, and her face brightened. Garret looked spectacular dressed in his charcoal silk slacks, cashmere vest of the same color, and antique-white Perry Ellis dress shirt with a gray silk tie. Amy moved toward him. Good morning, Mr. Harrison.
Garret smiled. Miss Burke. What a pleasant surprise. He came to stand opposite her, and his smile faded to a concerned expression. What has happened?
Amy gave an exasperated sigh as she motioned over her shoulder. You wont believe this. Im not on the list.
How can that be possible? Shooting schedules begin this morning.
Amy nodded. I know, but Im not on the list.
Well this is very odd, I must say. Garret smiled. Come. Let us see what can be done, shall we?
Hes not a very sociable fellow, Amy warned as she fell into step beside Garret.
Yes, well I pay his salary. The pair came to stand opposite the security guard, who didnt seem to be at all impressed with Garrets role as Executive Producer. Good morning. Might I see the list? The security guard handed it over. Thank you. Garret searched each page before looking up and slightly raising the clipboard. This is an incomplete list.
The guard blinked. What do you mean?
There is no mention of those scenes scheduled for shooting in Studio 10. Where are the remaining names?
The guard shrugged. Thats all Ive been given.
Garret raised an eyebrow as he handed the clipboard back to the guard. How odd. He retrieved his phone and pressed a number. Max, we seem to have a misunderstanding at Gate 12 . Yes . Studio 10s schedule isnt among them . I see . No, that wont do at all . Can you fax it? Thank you. Garret disconnected the call and gestured behind the man to the compact fax within the booth. A fax holding the remaining names should come through shortly. Then Garret motioned for Amy to precede him through the gate. Miss Burke. After you.
Amy sent the guard an uncertain look. Are you going to let me go through? she asked him. Or should I get my mace out?
The guard pressed his lips together and frowned. Go on. Get.
Gee. Thank you so much. Amy followed beside Garret with an exasperated breath and a shake of her head. Someone should sell him some personality.
Nonsense. Shane is our best asset. He simply takes his duties a bit more seriously than what others appreciate.
Amy smiled. Then it faded as she sent a quick glance over her shoulder. To her surprise, no one was around. She stopped Garret with a gentle hold on his arm and took his hands in hers as she smiled up at him. Do you realize you just arrived in your shining white horseless carriage and rescued me?
Garrets lips twitched upward. Did I? It was quite unintentional.
Amys crinkled at the corners. Unintentional or not, the knight always gets a kiss.
Garret brought each hand up to his lips. Unfortunately, sweet muse, I would rather not take the risk. My reputation would taint yours.
Amy released a hand and caressed his cheek. I dont care about that, but it makes me feel nice that you do.
Garret took her hand and kissed the palm. Come, sweet. Max and the men from the stunt company wait for us.
Amy smiled and reluctantly released his hands. They started forward to Studio 10 again. Will you be coming over for dinner this evening? I was going to make lasagna.
I will do my best to arrange my schedule, Amy. What time?
Seven. If you need it later, just let me know. Or I could bring it here, if youre working in your office.
Garret reached out to briefly caress Amys hand. Thank you, sweet, but that wouldnt be wise. The tabloids would eagerly put their own story to the innocent meeting.
Amy looked over to meet Garrets gaze. Garret, when this movie is over, will you come with me to Illinois? I want you to meet my parents. Theyd love to meet you, Im sure, and you could use a vacation.
Garret smiled. The invitation is appreciated.
Amy smirked. But how plausible is it?
That depends on how tenacious I want to be with my schedule. Garret touched her hand again. And where you are concerned, sweet, I am always tenacious.
Amy chuckled. Good. Im glad youll at least try. I think youll have fun. Its not Chicago, but Aspen Grove is a really nice place.
It sounds delightful.
Especially since it only has a population of 1500.
Garret chuckled. This I must see.
Amy smiled up at him. Believe me, if you go Ill show you each and every square inch of it.
Garret stopped outside of the door leading into Studio 10. Do I have your word on that? he asked with a smirk.
Amy nodded, still smiling. You certainly do.
Garret stared down into her face for a long moment before placing a kiss on her lips. Then my schedule be damned.
Rehearsal, choreography, and scene shooting went as smooth as silk for the most part.
The choreography for the death scene made Amy nervous at first. Then Garret and Mark both gave her an encouraging pep talk, telling her that as long as she took it one step at a time, the flow would come eventually. Amy gave it her all. She listened intensely to what each stunt choreographer had to say, asked questions if she wasnt sure she understood, and then demonstrated what she believed they wanted. All in all, Amy picked it up fast.
Shooting the scenes scheduled for that day was fun after the stress and concentration of the stunts. Garrets scenes with Amy werent scheduled until later in the week, so he left shortly after the choreography of the death scene had come to a close. Amy and he had exchanged slight smiles and nothing more. Amy didnt have a problem with the less-than-romantic parting because shed planned on calling his cell phone later to leave a romantic message on his voice mail. There was no telling how stressful his day would be, and she reasoned that anyone would enjoy receiving a pleasant message.
That and she wanted to remind him of her invitation to dinner that evening.
The scenes went smoothly enough. There were the occasional bloopers, as in anything on screen, but the troupe dealt with it and moved on. Vanessa was brilliant as Tifa, for lack of a better word, but the relationship between Tifa and Cloud didnt necessarily jump out at the watcher. It was more of a subtle intensity that the camera easily picked up. Amy enjoyed watching it, doing her best to learn what she could from each performance and apply it to her own.
Time flew as Max pressed them to shoot scene after scene. He turned out to be more the taskmaster than Garret. Max demanded perfection from her; no foibles, no stutters, no hesitations, and no diverting from the set blocking of the scene. Amy took it all in stride, even though she noticed he wasnt nearly as demanding on the others. She just chalked it up to the fact she was a newbie chosen by the Executive Producer and moved on with the scene and what he demanded of her.
Then Amy had a brief respite from shooting when Mark was called upon to shoot some of his solo scenes in Miss Cloud. Amy excused herself to one of the soundproof rooms with a phone and dialed Garrets cell phone. She sat in a chair around a small table and drew circles around an ink stain with her finger as the call attempted to connect. To her surprise, it didnt go to voice mail.
Amys eyes crinkled at the corners. Hi, Harrison. Burke here.
Hello, Amy, he said in a much gentler tone. How fares rehearsal?
Good. Its definitely different than the stage, all those cameras staring at me. And sometimes we have to reshoot a scene just because the camera angle wasnt right or something. Its a little frustrating, but Im having fun. Amys smile twitched upward. How fares your schedule?
The same as usual, Garret said vaguely, but I would much rather talk of you.
Amy smiled. That makes me feel wonderful.
Garret chuckled. Do you still plan on dinner this evening at seven? Or does Max plan on keeping you later than first planned?
I dont know. Im afraid to ask.
Afraid to ask? Why?
Amys smile faded as she picked at the side of the table. Nothing. Dont worry about it. She forced the smile back. I had a lot of fun last week, Garret. Thanks for clearing your schedule and coming over. It was really nice. Especially all the stories.
Thank you for the invitation, Amy. I have never before so enjoyed laughing with a woman.
Amy released a deep breath as she closed her eyes, playing back the myriad of happy moments. Garret, if you cant make it for dinner, thats okay. You can just give me a call between meetings or something.
Ah, sweet muse, should I be content with the song when my soul thirsts for the warmth of the laughter within it? Say not that you give me leave to be absent, for that shall cause the death of my spirit.
Amy smiled, eyes still closed. Poet mine, she said in a voice slightly colored with tears, come then that your muse might rest within the intensity of that spirit. My warmth is created for yours; my song sung for your lips; my life empty without your spirit to give it wings. Come then, that I might live.
Deep breath. I shall come, sweetest muse. I shall come that your life and mine be shared as one breath and song. Cry not, lest your tears break this very heart.
Amy sniffed, wiping the tears from her face with a tremulous smile. I cry, but for the joy found in the safety of your intensity. Amy sniffed again. Love has blossomed within that intensity, poet mine... accept this warmth as your very own. Accept my song as yours. Your muse shall wither if the petals of my love are not accepted by that of your spirit I adore. Silence. Poet mine, Amy whispered, speak that I might hear the tones which replenish my breath.
Deep breath. I speak, muse, but what words to say when a confession of love has stolen my breath?
Amy smiled. Then let my words return it to you, she whispered, I love you.
Deep breath. I need to go, Amy, but I will come this evening. Wait for me at the bus stop. I will take you home.
Alright. Until this evening.
Until this evening.
Amy took the phone from her ear and very slowly replaced the receiver. She released a deep breath.
Amy looked up from her small book of poems. She smiled. "Hi, Vanessa."
Vanessa sat beside Amy at the bus stop, turning slightly toward her. "Amy, I need to ask you a personal question."
Amy closed the book of poems, nodding as she held Vanessa's concerned gaze. "Sure."
"It's about Garret."
Amy arched an eyebrow and adjusted her hold on the book of poems. "Oh?"
Vanessa examined Amy's open expression, absently biting her lower lip. "Amy, do you remember that I told you Garret's quite the charmer?"
Amy nodded. "Yes," she said with a slight smile, "but I knew that already."
Vanessa looked down at her clasped hands for a moment. "Yes, well," she looked up, "he's also quite the accomplished and believable actor. He has played so many tortured souls that he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what to say and do that will melt the heart of any young woman."
Amy felt a spark of defensive temper. She lowered her eyes to her hands as she lightly rubbed the leather-bound volume of poems with her thumb. It had been a gift from Garret on Friday. Sir Philip Sydney.
"I believe you when you say you haven't been intimate with him," Vanessa continued, "but I'm still concerned that he might be playing your heart. Garret loves women, and he loves a challenge even more." Vanessa sighed and reached out to cover Amy's hands with hers. "Don't be angry, Amy. I know how wonderful Garret can be, with his quoting of Shakespeare and Marlowe and others. His accent. His charm. His manner. That sexy smile and laugh." Vanessa sighed again as she gave a slight shake of her head. She squeezed Amy's hands. "Garret could charm an intimate moment out of a nun, Amy, and I'm afraid that's what he's doing with you."
Amy pulled her hands out from under Vanessa's. Then she cleared her throat and pressed her lips together before knowing for certain that she had her temper under control. That was when she faced Vanessa. "Mr. Harrison did try to 'charm an intimate moment' out of me, Vanessa. I said no. Well, I actually said a great deal more than that, but 'no' was the basic idea. After that first time, he tried again. Again, I said no. While it felt wonderful to have Sir Garret Harrison attempting to seduce little old me, I'm not one of those women who enjoy short-lived romps in the bedroom, satisfying as that might be to view Garret as a feather in my cap."
Amy grimaced. "A feather," she said, and her tone was very near a sneer. "Garret is a human being who deserves to be thought of as more than a rung on a ladder to the top. These past couple of weeks, I've treated him just like that. I've shown him respect and he's done the same for me, respecting even my decision to keep our relationship limited to intense conversations and the occasional good-bye kiss. And that," Amy said with a finger in Vanessa's face, "is to stay between us."
Vanessa blinked and leaned slightly back.
Amy lowered her finger as she continued. "I'm sure he could be acting this 'tortured' and 'misunderstood man' role simply to eventually get me in his sheets, but I like-- No, I love the Garret Harrison I've discovered. He's a poet, an actor, and a philosopher - much to his own surprise. I appreciate the concern, Vanessa, and I know it comes from what happened in your own relationship with him, but I'm not going to be suspicious because of something that happened in the past. We all deserve better than that."
Amy felt her passion and intensity begin to swell out of control and yanked them back with a clearing of her throat and a tightened grip on her book of poems. "Garret knows how I feel about sex before marriage. He also knows how I feel about him, just like I know how he feels about me. You might think it another plot, but like I said before: I don't care. I'm going to take him at his word. If you're right, then I'll chalk it up to experience and move on. If I'm right, then I hope you'll come to the wedding."
Vanessa blinked again, eyes wide as she regarded Amy in stupefied silence. Then the shocked expression melted to a slight smile. "I hope I am wrong, Amy. I really do. Garret needs someone like you to keep him in check."
Amy released a deep breath, ushering the passion into a far corner as she reluctantly smiled. "You know what, Vanessa? It's me that needs someone like him."
Amy heard the recognizable sound of Garret's English roadster as it pulled to a stop. She and Vanessa stood. "I really do appreciate you looking out for me, Vanessa. It's nice to have a big sister. That was always my job."
Vanessa reached out to give Amy's arm a squeeze. Then she looked over toward Garret, who very slowly exited the roadster. She smiled, waved, and then turned to go back to Studio 10 to finish those scenes scheduled that day. Amy released a deep breath and then stepped toward the roadster. Garret opened the door for her, helped her in, and then absently closed it with another slight frown Vanessa's direction. Then he went around to his own side and merged the roadster into traffic.
Amy released a deep breath as she leaned back in the leather seat. She looked over at his profile - he still had a slight frown - and smiled. "You're probably dying to know what we were talking about, huh?"
Garret glanced toward her, and his frown faded when their eyes met. "Yes, I suppose I am," he admitted once his gaze focused on the road. He gave a shake of his head as he chuckled. "Chalk such a reaction to a guilty conscience. How nice to actually discover I have one."
Amy chuckled, still watching his profile. "Well, Mr. Garret Harrison, she told on you." Garret glanced toward her, eyebrow raised. "She's sure all your charm and attitudes of a tortured individual are dedicated to the single goal of getting me into your sheets."
Garret sent her a sharp look. "What?"
Amy nodded, her expression mock seriousness. "She made a very convincing argument, too, and I'm sure it was only because of your relationship with her before, but I told her I wasn't going to be suspicious of you just because you have a somewhat colorful past. We've already dealt with that."
He regarded her a moment before looking again to the road. "Yet what if her concerns are proved true?"
Amy looked ahead out at the taillights of the cars, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "Just promise to let me know before my mom asks if I have plans to marry you. That I'm actually considering it with the famous Sir Garret Harrison will probably do her in. I'd rather not risk giving her a stroke if you're just charming me for my body."
Garret sent her a sidelong glance. Then he chuckled and gave a slight shake of his head. "Amy, Amy, Amy. What ever am I going to do with you?"
Amy smiled broadly and sent him a look full with wrinkled nose. "I have a few suggestions."
Garret laughed and reached over to rest a hand on her thigh, caressing it with his thumb. "Yes. I am sure you do."
Amy covered his hand with hers to give it a squeeze, still watching his profile. Her smile faded with a sudden wave of seriousness and honesty. "Garret, you promised you didn't want to hurt me. That would. If all this is an act to get what I said 'no' to before, that will really hurt me."
Garret sent her another sidelong glance. Then he brought her hand up to his lips for a long kiss. "I feel I must confess that though this plot had been the original intent, it has long since faded."
Amys hand tightened its hold. What she whispered.
Garret gave a slight nod, still holding her hand as his eyes didnt leave their examination of the road. I know. Im a cad. He glanced toward her again. Youre an intoxicating woman, Amy. I couldnt bear the thought of being told no when I wanted you so completely. Such didnt happen to Garret Harrison. He released a breath. I am so sorry, Amy.
So even the poems? You did the hesitancy and uncertainty just to seduce me? Amy pulled her hand from his with a shake of her head. Garret
Garret pulled the roadster over and then turned off the ignition. He faced her with a serious expression unlike any shed seen. Yes. The hesitancy. The uncertainty. The unique poems. Even confessing the reasons for Mark and Vanessas placement, although what I told you was indeed the truth.
Amy stared down at her clenched hands. And the first breakfast with me and Renee? And the confession of the proposal to Vanessa? And saying I love you in the elevator? Amys voice cracked. Lies? Acts? Amys glimmering eyes rose to meet his gaze. You didnt mean any of it?
I dont recall at what point I ceased acting and actually became engrossed and enthralled with the tales and heart of Amy Burke, Garret began carefully. He lowered his gaze with a deep breath and a shake of his head. Perhaps, at the time He raised his eyes again. Amy you do inspire those poetic words. I am attracted to you. I do care for you in a different way than I have for any other woman.
Amy stretched out her hands. How can I believe you, Garret? You just told me it was only for sex. Her voice choked on the word.
Garret nodded. I know, and I believed that at first. Yet I continued to come. To listen. To laugh. To surrender a snippet of myself to your memory. I havent done so with any other woman, Amy. While the words Ive said may have been untrue at the time, I would not hesitate to speak them again.
Amy covered her eyes with a hand, fighting back the tears.
Amy, I did not want for you to find out. I wanted to save you this pain Amy Garret reached out to hold her upper arm, tenderly caressing it with his thumb. Amy, I will not blame you if you choose not to see my face again.
Amy lowered her hand from her eyes, and her eyes sparked. Do you have any idea how stupid I feel, Garret Harrison!? You had me completely fooled!
Garret nodded. Please, Amy. Forgive me. I swear I have uttered nothing but the truth--
Since when? Amys expression was pained. Since when, Garret? Since I asked you not to hurt me-- Her voice choked, and she looked away.
Garret watched her, expression haggard. He breathed deeply. Amy, he said softly. Garret leaned toward her. Amy, I confessed so that I would not lose you. If the confession has separated you from me, can we not pretend there was no confession of a darker intent?
Amy didnt answer. Garret cautiously reached out to take her hands in his. She didnt pull away. Sweet muse, bestow again your warmth. Sing again your song, lest I perish alone, lost and unloved. Unknown. Half a man, with my muse the holder of my spirit.
Amy clenched his hands tight, and then she pulled him close to bury her face in his neck. Catch me, poet mine, lest my heart break and be lost, she choked out.
Garret held her tight against him, releasing a long and slow breath as he closed his eyes. Forgive me, sweet muse. Please, please forgive me.
Amy sobbed as she adjusted her hold around him. Remove this pain, poet mine. Its depth terrifies me.
Garret pressed his cheek against her hair. I never intended to pierce my muse with such pain. Give it me, that you might be free of its torture.
It burns still, as does the spark of my love; your warmth. Amy pulled back, tears glistening on her cheeks and in her eyes as she examined his face. If this be the lie, show me not the truth. I love them both.
Amy kissed him.
(I might add more )