"So not an actress," he finally said. "Though I would hold 'I really am so very desperate to be alone with you' right up there with the great performances of our time. Brando in Streetcar, Welles in Citizen Kane..."
"And at least one or two of the award-winning performances from Saved by the Bell: The College Years," I added with a grimace, which made him laugh again.
"Then what is your Hollywood dream? We've all got one, right?"
I was hesitant to give the predictable West Coast answer, true though it might be. "I'm working on a screenplay."
"Wow! You're a screenwriter? Have I seen anything you've written?"
"Not unless you read a lot of Heartlite greeting cards. I write for Heartlite. The screenplay is just a dream."
He leaned up against his car and crossed his arms. "As a matter of fact, I think I've read everything Heartlite has ever done. I'm a bit of a fan boy, actually."
He wasn't belittling what I did for a living any more than I had meant to showcase my skepticism about his impending big break. He couldn't help but ooze charm and sincerity from every pore.
"Try me. I think I'm all caught up through the Fall Collection."
"Okay, let's see." I grinned and played along. "Oh, I know. Here's one of my biggest hits. 'You're lovely in the way you dress, and how you fix your hair. You're lovely for the way you always make me feel you care.'"
"Ooh! I know this one!" he shouted, standing up straight. "But I know, you no-good loser, that you're having an affair..."
"And if you don't stop seeing her, I'll have you killed, I swear."
"Happy anniversary!" we exclaimed in unison through our mirth.
"Maybe I should start a line of cards like that," I said as I swiped at the moisture in the corner of my eyes. "The 'Real Life Collection,' you know? My job would be much more interesting.
Husband having an affair? There's a card. My kid beat up your kid on the playground? There's a card. Can't pay this month's rent but you want to let your landlord know that you at least thought about it? Well, we've got a card for that."
He nodded. "I like it. That would have been so handy when I accidentally ran my grocery cart into that BMW last week."
I was still chuckling as my imagination ran on. "Just think of all the possibilities in LA alone. When you have to fire your agent. When your agent has to fire you. For your friends when they have a horrible audition. The 'Break a Leg' line alone will be a game changer."
His eyes widened, and he looked down at his watch. "Is that the time?" The panic and urgency suddenly invading the relaxed air between us was nearly tangible. "I am so sorry, but I've got to run. I'm about to be late for an audition. I completely lost track of time. I hate to cut this short," he insisted.
"Oh no. Don't think anything of it. Just get going." I stepped away from his car so he could open the door. "I'd send you a card if I could, but, you know, break a leg."
"Thank you." He climbed into the driver's seat, but his eyes didn't leave mine.
"And thanks for getting me out of that situation back there," I called out as he shifted the convertible into gear and adjusted his rearview mirror slightly. I didn't want him to go. Not yet. It felt like there was more to say, but this guy—of all guys—deserved every shot at his big break, and I wasn't going to be the reason he missed it.
"You wouldn't have had any trouble at all getting yourself out." He grinned. "But I do think my way was more fun."
He backed out of the parking spot. I waved and smiled and began making my way to my own car. I'd only walked about ten feet, however, when I heard running footsteps approaching. I glanced over my shoulder and laughed as I turned around. "Do I need to come up with a 'Sorry you missed your audition, but it's your own dang fault' card?"
"Let's make your movie."
Amusement turned into bafflement. "What movie? What are you talking about?"
"Your screenplay. Let's take a big leap for no other reason than maybe we can believe in each other's dreams when it gets tough to believe in our own."
Tears began to pool in my eyes, and I didn't even know why. "I've barely even begun my screenplay—"
"That's okay. I'm pretty sure I'm not worth casting at this point anyway. But you keep writing and I keep auditioning...and then we meet back here in, what? Five years?"
This excerpt is from the paperback edition.
Monday, June 14th, we begin the book Breach of Honor by Janice Cantore.