EXT. HOMESTEAD SET. DAY.
She felt detached from the events around her as she went through the motions of the scene. She gave her lines, she followed her blocking, but she couldn’t concentrate on any of it. It was formal and it was automatic, while most of her thoughts were elsewhere. After the saloon scene was shot, they moved outside beyond the bank and set up again. Evelyn came up to her to talk at one point. Holly didn’t remember exactly what she said in response; she smiled and assured Evelyn everything was alright and changed the subject but she was still only half paying attention.
Walsh kept his word and let her leave early. She changed back into her own clothes, let down her hair, scrubbed off the makeup and then walked to the parking lot. She perched on the hood her car and waited. She vaguely recalled the call sheet and was fairly certain he’d be leaving in a little under an hour before most of the cast and crew.
She was right. Fifty minutes later she spotted Alan walking across the parking lot towards his car, pulling out his cellphone. She hopped down to the ground and waved at him.
He turned. Spotting her, he smiled and crossed over to her. “I was just about to call you. I heard what happened with the photographers. I wanted to find time to talk to you earlier but I was working with the second unit and we kept having issues filming a scene with a horse. It took hours.”
“I was pretty busy today too.”
“I thought you left an hour ago, what are you still doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you.”
He put a hand on her arm. “I’m so sorry Holly about the paparazzi.”
“Actually that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about…” She ran her hand across her hair. “I wanted to ask you a question.”
Something about her expression seemed to concern him. He frowned and asked seriously, “What is it?”
“This episode we’re filming. I want you to tell me honestly. Is the only reason my character has such a significant part in it, because I’m dating you?”
“I heard some people talking and they were right. I don’t have any experience. I’ve only been on set seven weeks. And suddenly my part, that was just supposed to be an extra for the background, has been increased for this episode.”
“I told you, Ian and Walsh liked the idea. They want more female characters on the show.”
“But did they really like the idea? Right before I met you I thought someone was making me a very ugly offer. Offering to make my career if I got involved with them. I said no. I was incensed and insulted that anyone would think that of me. But now I’m wondering if I’m not doing that after all.”
“No. I know that you aren’t asking for that but what if I’m doing it anyways without meaning to? Do my feelings for you make it any better that dating you is building my career? What if I’m inadvertently doing the very thing I was so horrified at?”
“Holly I told you. They legitimately liked my suggestion. I don’t even think they knew we were dating at that point.”
“But you made the suggestion because we were dating.”
“Yes,” he admitted, “I did. I care about you and because I care about you I want you to be happy, and to make you happy I wanted to help your career. But while I made the suggestion they didn’t have to take it.”
“Didn’t they? You’ve said it yourself that Ian is bending over backwards trying to get you to renew your contract. You make a suggestion of course he’s going to say he likes it.”
“Except I’d already told them that very morning that I had definitely decided to leave the show.”
Holly blinked. “You what?”
“I’d already given him my decision when I suggested they increase your role. And he knew my decision was finale. He didn’t agree with me just to suck up to me. He legitimately thought you could add something to the show.”
“No, I mean, you’re really leaving?”
“Yes. I thought you knew my contract was expiring.”
“Yes, but I just thought you were holding out for a better offer from the network I didn’t know you were actually thinking of not coming back.”
Alan moved to stand beside her and leaned against her car. “I owe it to my career to leave. I’m at an incredibly strong position right now. I’m being sent fantastic scripts and being offered great opportunities. I’m at a point that so many actors just dream about and if I stay with Homestead I’d be wasting that. I got the lead in a new Spielberg film. They offered to film over the summer hiatus but it made me realize exactly how many doors are opened to me right now.”
“Right,” Holly nodded. “I get that…I just…I like working with you.”
“My leaving Homestead isn’t going to be the end of you and me.” He put his arm around her. “On the contrary, this is just our beginning. When actors date, at some point they have to deal with long distance and absence and it’s hard, but it’s something we have to figure out how to do as a part of our relationship. And we’ll be okay.”
“Yep,” she nodded again, avoiding looking at him.
“In fact I’m going to be gone for a couple weeks. Ian and McCall agreed that I could leave a little early, be gone for a couple of episodes and then come back to film the season finale. I’m going to be doing some promotion for both my new film and Homestead.”
“Gone as in out of LA?”
“Yes. I’ll be in New York for most of the time. And then in the summer…well the Spielberg film is going to be shot on location. I’m going to be Australia for a couple months.”
Holly stepped away from both the car and Alan. She turned to look at him. “You’re going to be in Australia? All summer?”
“Most of it. I’m sorry to spring all this on you. I just assumed you knew I was leaving. But I promise you, this will not be that big a deal or change anything between us.” He moved closer to her. “We’re going to be fine.” He leaned forward and kissed her. “Are we okay?”
“Of course,” she nodded. She smoothed her hair down again.
“Come on, let’s go get some dinner.”