She sat forward in his lap, her elbow propped on the counter in front of them and her chin resting in it’s hand, the corners of her lips curling into a soft smile as she twisted her neck to look over her shoulder at him. He was intently focused on the screens in front of them, his fingers dancing gingerly over the dials of the flatbed editor, but when the arm he had snaked around her waist tightened and he pressed his cheek to her shoulder, she knew her admiring stare had not gone unnoticed. That didn’t deter her though and the subtle smile that danced over her features only grew.
She’d met James a few years earlier when she was cast alongside him and his BFFF in the comedy Pineapple Express but that was only the beginning of what would prove to be one of her most cherished friendships. The two shared a love for the arts and a desire to use it to help change lives and as a result, their paths continued to cross through both common interests and their charity endeavors. James appeared strange to some who didn’t know him well, but over the years they’d known each other, she’d found herself in awe of him, and his talents, more times than she would ever admit aloud to him. Though his talents as an actor, a writer and even a painter were worthy of her admiration, she was particularly enthralled by his ability to juggle numerous projects simultaneously and yet remain fully present in each and every one, as if his larger than life persona could blanket itself over everything he touched without any one thing or person feeling any absence of its warmth.
So when she’d been asked to join the cast of The Adderall Diaries, she jumped at the opportunity to work with him again. This time though she wouldn’t be stabbing him with forks. This was a smaller film with an even smaller budget, and both their on screen relationship and the set felt far more intimate. They’d finished filming but James, who was also producing the film (like he did nearly every project he found the time to delve into), was actively involved in almost every aspect of its making and, aware of her more long term aspirations, tried to involve her as much as possible in the behind-the-scenes work of making the film. So when he’d invited her to join him as he reviewed some of the footage for editing, he felt certain she wouldn’t turn him down.
"Would you stop that" he said finally, breaking the silence and shifting those deep brown eyes in her direction. "Sorry" she sheepishly and bit at the inside of her bottom lip, returning her eyes to row of screens in front of them. She could feel his eyes remain on the back of her head for a brief moment before following suit but it didn’t take long before hers drifted back over her shoulder. Only someone without vision (or taste) could deny his attractiveness and she had a clear ability for both, but when combined with his talent and smarts, there were moments when she let her guard down (usually encouraged by the help of a reefer like the one they’d shared earlier) and her mind wandered to the possibility of more than friends. Usually she shut down the thought quickly, afraid to fathom even the remotest chance of tarnishing a friendship she held so dear. Other times, like now, her imagination took hold and the temptation to press her lips against his and see if the spark she’s invented is real and mutual or just the creation of a mind who seldom feels so connected to another.
His eyes shifted sideways towards her again and his expression is overtaken by that trademark, shit-eating grin that is notorious for melting hearts. All at once he pushed the chair away from the counter, spinning them away from their work and, with both hands now at her waist, shifting her in his lap so they were face-to-face “You going to tell me what you’re looking at then?” he demanded, his tone managing to be both teasing and affectionate all at once. She was silent for a moment as their eyes locked on one and others, trying to ascertain if that was an actual question or a dare for her to finally say out loud what they’ve both thought at one time or another. She didn’t bother to resist the urge to reach up though, pushing a bit of his thick dark curls back with her slender fingers and shrugging one shoulder “You.” she answered simply, and honestly, sinking her fingers deeper into the mess of curls when he tilted his head against her hand, unsure if the dryness in her mouth was a result of nerves or simply the pot.
His eyes buried into hers but neither said a word for what seemed like an eternity, as if their stare had somehow slowed the hands of time to a near complete halt. Finally, her lips parted as if she was about to say something but stopped short when she saw him do the same. Locked eyes and held breath came to an abrupt halt when Mike (the film’s editor) came barreling through the doorway to the darkened room, but the thick tension lingered in the air even as Mike clumsily held the rim of a Starbucks cup between his teeth while he shrugged out of the tattered jean jacket he wore “Sorry I’m late guys” he started “Got caught in….” his voice faded to silence when he spotted their position, his eyes darted between the two of them and then to James’ hand, which neither seemed to notice had drifted to her thigh until that very moment “Oh wait, am I interrupting?” he asked, not even trying to disguise the slight whimsy of hopefulness to his question. “What, no..” James sputtered, snapping his hand back and returning it to the keyboard “We were just…” She quickly cleared her throat and jumped to his rescue, pulling her fingers from his hair and twisting back around to return to her original position “Sounds like a great book,” she nodded “I’ll check it out for sure.” It was the best she manage in the moment and even though their latest reads was a common conversation between the two, the expression on Mike’s face, visible only in the screen’s reflection, told her he wasn’t buying her snappy attempt at a cover. Thankfully he didn’t push and instead just pulled up a second chair next to them when James muttered a feeble and distracted “Let’s get back to work”.