Holly spent half the movie with her eyes nearly shut, squinting up at the screen. Somehow watching herself on television speak a few lines, while only her friends and boyfriend had been around, hadn’t been too bad. She hadn’t felt overly self-conscious. But now, sitting in a theater, watching a movie with a room full of strangers, a movie in which she was in practically every scene, she felt utterly embarrassed. To her ears, every line out of her mouth sounded awkward and forced and every gesture struck her has unnatural.
She was so wrapped up in trying not to pay attention that it wasn’t until nearly halfway through she realized that the audience was responding to the film. They laughed when there was a joke and she heard several people gasp at a jump scene. There didn’t seem to be a lot of restlessness and the room was largely silent. She wasn’t sure how premieres usually worked, but if this was a normal screening in a normal movie theater, this would definitely be a good response.
She glanced up at Alan’s face. He’d read the script with her but this was the first time he was actually seeing any of the film and he seemed quite interested, not even noticing as she stared at him for several minutes. She smiled. Okay, well maybe the movie wasn’t going to be completely awful.
It was still a relief when the screen finally faded to black. She knew the applause was strictly polite and that the audience would probably do it even if the film had been had been terrible, but the voices that started filling the room sounded happy and excited.
“That was great Holly,” said Alan.
“Really? You’re not just saying it because you’re my boyfriend? You really think it was good? I want to know the truth.”
“Yes, really. It was a very enjoyable movie and you were great in it.”
Holly tried not to grin too broadly. They left the theater and walked out into the lobby, where Alan left her briefly to grab them both drinks and then they positioned themselves at a table. People Holly had never even laid eyes on before, kept coming up to congratulate her and tell her how much they had enjoyed the movie, and Alan assured her it was a good sign that people were staying for drinks and refreshments.
Evelyn descended on them quite soon to gush over the film, and Amy came over to also congratulate her.
It wasn’t until about an hour after the movie that Victor and Mal came over, the former smiling broadly.
“Ms. Woods, that was a very enjoyable evening, thank you.”
Holly ran her hand across her hair. “Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. I’m so glad you could come.”
“It was my pleasure.” Mal pulled out a business card and handed it to you. “Victor and I were about to leave, I’d love to meet up and talk tomorrow. Are you free for lunch?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Perfect. I have a part I want to discuss with you.” He may have noticed her nervous expression for he quickly added, “Victor will of course be there as well.”
As she and Alan were left alone again, she stared down at the card. “I guess he really liked it.”
“He must want to offer you the role Victor was talking about,” said Alan, “That’s good.”
“Yes…yes it is,” she said a little uncertainly.
“Holly,” he said slowly, “You know I’m going to be leaving Homestead after this new season is up? So you don’t have to stay just because I did.”
She glanced up at him in surprise. “You think that’s what this is about?” She smiled and kissed him. “Thank you darling but it’s really not. I just really do enjoy working on Homestead. I know Evelyn says that film acting is more ‘illustrious’ then television, but I’m not sure that’s a really good reason to switch over.”
He nodded. “Well that’s fair. And you know I’ll support whatever you decide.”
Holly almost felt dizzy by the time she and Alan got back into their limo and drove away. It had felt good as the evening wrapped up. Everyone had been excited and buzzing. Frank had commandeered the sound system at one point and switched it to play some dance music and as a few people had started dancing, Alan had whirled her out onto the floor.
As she had wrapped her arms around his neck, and leaned against him, she couldn’t help remember their first dance together, at the party at his house. She supposed it hadn’t been that long ago, not even quite a whole year now, but it was amazing how much had changed since then, how much had happened in her life.
It had been close to eleven when the reception had wrapped up, and now the two of them were in the back seat of the limo. She was leaning against him, running her fingers across his hand. They’d hit traffic, and the limo was stalled but she couldn’t care less. Somehow, she felt she’d be content to be in here with him for hours.
“Are you happy?” he asked.
“I am. I think it was a good night. It went well and everyone was so nice.”
“Well you were so good. And it was a good film.”
“Maybe,” she shrugged. “But I also enjoyed just being there with you.”
He kissed her. “Which reminds me. I meant to tell you I’m going to be gone for a couple of days next week.”
She looked up at him disappointed. “Where are you going?”
“New York. Some promotional work.”
“I don’t want you to go.”
“You could come with me.”
“Next week?” She thought and then shook her head. “I’m scheduled for filming. I don’t think Walsh would let me off, just to go up to New York with you. But I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too.” He stroked her hair gently.
“I always miss you,” she continued, almost sleepily. “Whenever you’re not around.”
“I miss you as well. I can’t tell you how much I love you Holly.”
She looked up at him, and their eyes met. Something shifted, something changed. Impulsively she reached up and kissed him, deep and long, oblivious to anything else around them.
At some point they broke apart, only to kiss again. And then she heard him murmur into her ear, “Marry me.”
She pulled back, looking at him, a wave of emotions battling for supremacy inside her head.
“I mean it,” he said firmly, reaching out to hold her hand. “Marry me. I love you Holly. I never realized, until I met you, how long it’s been since I honestly felt that way. I love you and I don’t want to stop saying that. Ever. I want to marry you Holly. Please marry me.”
“I want to say yes.”
“But?” She hesitated and then nodded inwardly to herself; this was the time for honesty. “I’m scared. I feel like my life has been so fast lately with so much happening. And I’m scared.”
“I don’t need to set a date,” he said quickly. “It doesn’t have to be next week, next month or even next year. We’ll go at your speed, in your time frame. But I want to be engaged to you. I want you in my future. I want, at some point, when it’s right for you, to be your husband. So please, marry me.”
Holly laughed. It was a happy, almost carefree laugh. “I love you too. Yes. Yes I’ll marry you.”
He pulled her in for another kiss.