INT. RESTURANT. (CONT’D)
As the dinner continued Holly felt herself ease into the situation. She stopped worrying about what they were going to discuss next and enjoyed the conversation as it flowed. Alan always seemed to have a topic on hand and steered the conversation smoothly, repeatedly moving it back towards her.
She felt happy and contended as the waiter brought over the check. It had been fun, completely relaxing and easy. All the worry and nerves were gone now as Alan paid the bill and the two stood up. He walked close to her as they headed to the door but in an unassuming way, keeping his hands to himself, not trying to take hers.
They reached the entrance and stepped outside as Holly turned to him to thank him for dinner and then there was flash of white light, quickly followed by several others.
Holly heard Alan let out a noise of exasperation. Confused, Holly glanced in the direction of the lights. She could see across the street a small group of photographers, three or four, snapping photos and crossing the street towards them.
“I’m so sorry,” Alan muttered. He sped up, hurrying towards his car, but glancing behind to make sure Holly was following. He opened the car door for her and closed it behind her, before heading round for the driver’s seat. Through the closed car windows, Holly could hear some muffled questions shouted by the photographers. One had reached the car by now and was taking a photo through the front windshield.
Alan raised his hand to block the light of the flash from his eyes as he opened the car door and got in. He backed away from the photographer and turned sharply onto the road. Holly heard the noise of a motorcycle starting and turned to see one of the paparazzi was following. Alan saw it too in the rearview mirror.
“I’m so very sorry about this,” he repeated.
“How long is he going to follow us?” she asked.
“If he had his way; until I took you home,” he smiled at her, “But I’m going to have my way.”
Alan turned left. He wasn’t speeding and the motorcycle followed them easily. They continued for a good fifteen minutes like this and Holly was beginning to wonder if Alan was just hoping to bore the photographer into giving up.
“What exactly are you planning on-” Holly stopped abruptly as the car turned and started up the ramp towards the highway. She turned in her seat to look out the back window. The motorcycle was still there.
Alan sped up and moved over to the fast lane, passing a couple of cars before switching to the right again. Suddenly Holly felt the jolt of the car slowing down quickly. She looked back again; the motorcycle was speeding along the left lane to catch up.
She heard a siren and through the darkness the flashing lights of a police car. The motorcycle pulled over to the shoulder.
Alan glanced up at the rearview mirror and smiled. Holly turned to him.
“How did you know that would happen?” she asked.
“I didn’t for a fact. But it usually works. The speed limit drops down ten there and it’s a very popular speed trap. Highways are hard for them so the Paparazzi are usually speeding, especially if it looks like they’re going to lose you.” He shrugged, “You figure out ways to ditch them. Just like they figure out ways to find you.”
“How do they find you? I mean like tonight; do they just wait outside expensive restaurants hoping someone famous is having dinner there?”
“Sometimes they go to hot spots but I’m guessing tonight they got a tip.”
“Who knows. The waiter? The hostess? Paparazzi have their own network of tipsters that call them up when there’s a big name around or they know where one will be.”
“Not really. You can find a good footing with them usually. You can meet each other halfway. You corporate they’ll give you some privacy. You learn to figure it out; it’s part of the job. The line I draw though are nights like this. I really am sorry.”
“It’s alright. It’s not your fault.”
Alan turned off into onto an exit. “I still feel responsible. Those photos are going to be in the paper and they’ll probably put a name to you before too long. You are on the show. And I’m…well,” He looked embarrassed, “I have a certain teen following which tends to encourage a high media attention.”
Holly laughed. “That’s a very roundabout way of saying you’re a Hollywood heartthrob.”
Holly could have sworn she saw Alan blush.
The highway had taken them out of their way, so it took longer for them to drive back to the apartment. The drive was a relatively silent one but it was strangely comfortable. Holly watched Alan out of the corner of her eye and felt herself hiding a smile.
He pulled up outside her building and got out to open her door for her. She stepped out onto the sidewalk and suddenly she went still. He was standing right there beside her, very close and out of nowhere the thought crossed her mind exactly how hansom he really was. Instinctively she moved a fraction closer. As if he’d been waiting for a sign, he crossed the rest of the distance, leaning forward, his lips meeting hers, his hand softly resting on her lower back. It was less than three seconds before he pulled away and gave her a gentler version of his large beaming smile. He said goodnight, got in his car and drove away.
She stared after him for several minutes, frozen in spot, her heart racing, disbelief surging through her mind. It wasn’t until her breathing slowly returned to normal that she said aloud to herself, “I think I’m good with that.” And then she turned and went inside.