Author’s Note: I wrote a bit with the original Effie and Nick again, and those ones always say, “Share me.”
I don’t know why.
“I’ve never been impressed by much, sir, and you certainly do not qualify,” Effie said, tossing her hair back and placing her hand on her hip, thinking that her words belonged not only to the woman she was playing but to the man who was hearing them—not his character, to him. He pretended not to think much of her, and she didn’t know what she thought of him, though she had to admire a man who lived up to his word—he wasn’t like her other costars.
“Don’t I?” He stepped toward her, and she found herself taking a step back, and not because it was scripted. He was intense, had been from the first line, and she swore that she was seeing a lot more than his acting range whenever they rehearsed, and she wondered what that final film would look like. Would it capture any of this, any of what he did in every little movement?
“Heroes like you are a dime a dozen, and you’ve got nothing more than an attitude, an attitude that won’t get you anywhere, and it won’t win you no favors. Not from me.”
“Does that mean your favors could be won? I’d have thought you’d make them the sort that were impossible to have. You’d just tease and promise but never deliver.”
She smiled. “You think you know me so well, do you?”
“What advantage has a woman like you got except to know that the men are doing their best to fall after you, sacrificing themselves one by one? Or that you might use that beauty to find you a rich man to take care of you. Oh, but you’re no fool. You want that ring first.”
She snorted. “No one gives you money for nothing. Even I’m not that irresistible.”
She felt the wrong eyes on her, someone she knew would take that line the wrong way, and she cursed herself for getting distracted. That wasn’t important. She had a part to play, and that was what she got paid for, not to let herself be intimidated by anyone.
“You give yourself too little credit.”
“Do I?” She let her lips curve into a slow smile, knowing that was what the scene called for, but when Tennant’s hand touched her face, she couldn’t remember her lines. She didn’t give a damn about her character, not right now. All she wanted was for him to keep touching her, never letting go, and what the hell was that? She’d never felt that way about anyone, not when she was acting and not when she was with one of her many admirers, not with any of her costars, no matter what lies they spread about scandalous affairs.
“Yes, you do,” he said, and she had only a moment to know what he was about to do before his head lowered down to hers, his lips meeting hers in a kiss that could not have been better no matter how it was scripted—and this was not scripted. She felt a bit of a thrill, knowing he’d lost as much control over his reaction as she had. He knew better than to go off script.
“Cut! Damn it. That’s not supposed to happen. Back to your marks and take it from the top.”
Tennant shook his head. “No.”
“You heard me. No. We are not going to redo that scene, because the script sucks, and if I have to play an idiot that gets the better woman killed, I damn well get the scene with the kiss. It stays. Or you can fire me. I don’t care.”
The director sputtered into a tirade on contracts and lousy actors and how no one would tell him how to do his job—he’d fire them both, just they wait and see—and stalked away. Effie started laughing, unable to help it.
“Oh, you are a bad boy, Tennant. They’re never going to forgive you for that one.”
“I don’t care if they forgive just so long as you do.”
She frowned. “Why would I need to forgive you? You were just playing a part, after all.”
He ran his thumb over her cheekbone, tracing it over and over, his eyes never leaving her face. “Is that what you were doing, playing a part? If that’s the case, then I think I’m going to have to do my best to get a real kiss out of you, Euphemia. Then again, there’s a chance neither of us would survive it if we did try that without the cameras.”
“I’m not that easy.”
“I never assumed you were. My apologies for not properly asking to court you before I took the liberties I did, Ms. Lincoln.”
He gave her a stiff, formal bow of apology, and she heard herself giggling in a way that was nothing like her. Damn him. He’d done it, hadn’t he? He’d gotten through when no one else had, and she should hate him for that.
She was pretty sure she’d just fallen in love with the bastard, though.