how does it serve my interests?
She’d repeated the line over and over again, trying to state it matter of factly in Gerri’s blunt tone when she really wanted to scream at him. He’d brought it on himself, it wasn’t her fault, he couldn’t be upset with her. She wasn’t married to him, they weren’t even involved with each other. How dare he be upset with her.
The tension in the room was palpable. With each take, Kieran’s eyes grew redder, wetter, his face filling with more desperation. He was so deeply rattled he had started shaking. She kept her eyes locked on her notes, she couldn’t look at him, not like this. She knew they were acting, that she hadn’t caused him this pain, they were playing characters, it wasn’t real.
But it felt real. It felt like it had happened before. Because it had.
He’d been down on one knee before her. She’d said no, she’d always said no, but he’d decided that he would remain kneeling until she said yes and so there he’d been. His red soggy eyes had pleaded with her but her answer was no. It wasn’t a real proposal anyway, she was already married and he was young, far too young. He was still young now, age differences never change, but he’s an old kind of young. He’d always been mature for his age and yet sillier than silly when he wanted to be - that’s what being a kid actor will do to you, your childhood ripped from underneath you, so you try and make up for it in different ways. He has some lines on his face now, some signs of a life lived and a love lost.
Their relationship had never been conventional. They were from two completely different walks of life, and yet they worked. Everyone knew how much affection they held for one another. But no one really knew why. Age shouldn’t stop two people in love. But it did, and it does.
J looked up, her notes not distracting her enough. There he was, staring at her. Not in anger, never in anger, still in that deep lustful loving way. He was standing, ready to do another take. He hadn’t wiped his glistening eyes, that red around them wouldn’t be fading any time soon. He smiled at her, that sly cheeky smile that made everything better and she smiled back. But then all of a sudden she was overcome with emotion and she wanted to cry. Not to shed a tear or two but to sob and sob and sob.
But that would be terribly out of character. Gerri would never cry in this situation and they weren’t finished yet. So she held it in. Her emotions threatened to leak out of her at any moment but she kept them contained and returned her focus to stoically delivering her lines.
how does it serve my interests?
She had almost asked him the same question all those years ago. Nellie had been young, she couldn’t just leave her. She knew whose side she’d choose, she’d always been a daddy’s girl. Motherhood hadn’t been all she had dreamed it to be and it had made his offer even more tempting. She’d said no, she’d always said no.
But as she looked into the eyes of the desperate man pleading before her, she wondered what would have happened if she’d said yes. It broke her heart.
‘And that’s a wrap.’
The room was silent for a moment, everyone processing what had just happened, separating themselves from their characters before the usual chatter resumed. She couldn’t hold it in anymore. Tears rushed down her face, falling off her nose and splattering onto her notes.
‘Hey, hey, J, it’s okay,’ Kieran ran to the sofa to comfort her. Throwing his body next to her, he grabbed her heaving torso and pulled her into his chest, resting her head on his shoulder. Fresh tears lined his eyes as he rubbed her back, feeling her bra straps under the thin navy fabric. He held her tightly as she wet his shoulder, unable to stop.
He didn’t need to ask what was wrong, he knew. Knew the second he had chosen to kneel before her, regretted it as soon as he realised that he would have to do it over and over again with each take. It wasn’t hard to force the tears with that in his mind.
It had been noticed that she was crying into him but he didn’t care. She had heat stroke and had been throwing up the entire time they’d been in Italy. She was exhausted. He didn’t know how she was managing to function, let alone act in the circumstances. Everyone was feeling the gravity of the scene and it was allowing them some levity.
He rocked her gently in his arms, how he would rock the children they would never have. He’d never thought about them having children until he became a dad himself. He was fucking good at it. They’d make great parents together.
She quietened her sobs and lifted her head. Suddenly realising what she had done, she frantically scanned the room. She didn't know what she was looking for, who she was looking for. Their act had been completely innocent and yet felt like a betrayal all over again. She didn't look at him, couldn't look at him.
He gently used his hands to wipe away the makeup that was smeared all over her complexion, but she still didn't make eye contact. She watched as he went over to converse with the others lingering in the room - clapped Jeremy on the back, made a silly face at Sarah, grabbed Matthew's cheeks like he was a baby - before returning to her. Her little lost puppy always came back to her. They had put so much of themselves into their onscreen relationship that it had bled fervently into their real lives.
He took her hands in his, slowly, subtly, not drawing attention. Her heart ached as she finally met his gaze. His eyes, no longer wet, were still red. They looked sore. Hers probably didn't look much better. She quickly realised that he was looking at her lips. She had the strange sensation of kissing him too.
They couldn't. Not with all those people around, and their spouses most likely in the building, only a room or two away. Maybe that was what was causing the urge - the illicitness of the situation. The grass is always greener, you always want what you can't have. It drew them back together time and time again. Even after she’d said no. Had made it clear her answer would always be no.
J couldn't really remember what happened next. Kieran led her by the hand and guided her off the set. She grasped onto his fingers tightly, she would follow him anywhere.
She was shivering. She wasn't sure why. It had been cool in the old, stone room but not cold. Kieran had noticed too - managed to break her strong grip to place his hands on her shoulders, check he wasn't seeing things. He felt her forehead. She was hot. Not just warm but hot. She wasn't well. He took her hand and continued leading her. She didn't know where they were going, it didn't matter.
Before she knew it, they were outside in the dark humidity. Kenny. Where was Kenny? No. She didn't want Kenny, she wanted Kieran. But it wouldn't work and it hurt. She didn't know what to do. She needed her husband.
And there he was. Her solid rock through everything. Kenny didn't have many of the qualities she lusted after in Kieran. To many people he was invisible, like wallpaper, but he was hers.
‘That was a tough one, huh?’ Kenny eyed the pair up as their faces came into view.
They both grimaced and nodded before embracing their respective spouses.
‘Look at you, real tears and everything,’ Jazz teased her husband.
‘Real fucking tears. I better get an Emmy or something for that. Shit, that was intense.’ He heaved a sigh of relief, exhaling the mess of emotions inside him.
‘How’re you feeling? Kenny quietly asked his wife. He’d felt her shivering as they hugged.
‘I'm okay,’ she lied.
‘She kindly didn't hurl on me as I pleaded for my life,’ Kieran smirked. He always deflected emotion with humour, it was his first defence.
Kenny felt her forehead, just as Kieran had done mere moments ago. ‘You're hot.’
‘I know,’ she smirked. Deflecting emotion with humour was one of her strengths too.
Kenny nodded understandably. She was too tired to explain right now. She would get there at some point. ‘Come on, it’s late.’ He took her hand and started leading her away.
‘Oi. Wait a second. You can't escape that easily,’ Kieran smiled at her. That mischievous grin that she was so in love with. Come here. He held his arms out wide, waiting for her to go towards him. She let go of her husband and quickly moved into him, making him stagger slightly at the impact.
They held each other tightly for a moment too long. Their arms wrapped around each other, their cheeks squished next to each other, their bodies pressed up against each other. How it should be.
She wanted to go to bed with him. For him to lay cool wet flannels all over her naked body until she felt like herself again. But she had said no. She'd always said no.
how does it serve my interests?
The phrase burned through her brain. Gerri’s interests were with the shareholders of the company, but where did her own interests lie?