her better judgment, that was the part that she feared most.
That day after work, Ashling wandered downtown, unsure of why she was doing so. Each time she was near Hawke, a cardiac incident seemed to occur inside her chest. Everything about him was setting her body into a series of excited bursts. Making her feel alive again, as though a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders and she were floating.
And yet she reminded herself again and again that nothing good could come of it. He was leaving soon, for one thing. For another, even if he weren’t, they could never be together. That is, if a man like him could ever truly be interested in a woman like her.
But she admitted to herself that she was curious about the movie he was filming. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to go sneak a peek. He’d said something about High Street, and maybe the film crew would be out there right now. Maybe she could catch a glimpse without being spotted.
The first thing she saw were large trailers set up along the road; white, nondescript units that might have held people or props.
And then she saw him: Hawke, speaking to a couple of people who were dressed casually and had the air of crew members. For a moment she watched, noting that in the distance young women were gathered behind a barrier, also observing the handsome young man.
He seemed oblivious or indifferent, however, ignoring them entirely while he chatted and laughed with his colleagues.
Ashling allowed herself a few moments of admiring glances: how was it that such a handsome man was also so friendly, so seemingly kind? There seemed to be no pretense about him; he was all warmth and smiles.
Finally she turned away, concerned that he’d see her and know that she’d been looking on just like one of the women who fawned over him. That wasn’t her style. Of course, her style was to lurk in shadow and to pretend she didn’t exist — which made for a rather shallow social life.
She stopped in her tracks.
“What are you up to?” Hawke asked, jogging her way as she turned around.
“I just came downtown to have a wander,” she said. “I didn’t realize you’d be set up so soon. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” In the distance she saw a few women, no doubt fans of the local star, staring at her, mouths gaping open. How? What? Why is he talking to her?
“Well, come have a look,” Hawke said, ignoring them. “We’re on a break for a few minutes. Come see the set.”
He lifted a rope which was meant to keep the public at bay and she passed underneath, her body skimming his briefly. She felt something then: a moment of electrical charge, seeming to burst inside her, creating a series of pulses under her skin. She wondered if he’d felt it too, or if he could see her flush at the thought of how much she’d enjoyed the contact.
“So, this is my temporary set,” said Hawke. If he’d felt what she had, he wasn’t showing it. “This is where I’ll be taking my girl on a date.”
“In the movie, you mean,” said Ashling, a little too hopeful that she’d interpreted his meaning correctly.
“Yes, in the movie,” he said, laughing. “I mean, if it were a real date I’d be taking you . You’re the only woman who interests me. ”
Wow. He’d actually uttered those words; she wasn’t imagining it.
When Ashling was a little girl, she’d heard stories of ladies swooning, fainting, and generally doing all sorts of stupid things that involved succumbing to gravity’s pull, all at the hands of handsome men. All it took, apparently, was for the males of the species to notice them or pay them a sweet compliment.
But in that moment, listening to Hawke’s words, she finally understood how it could happen. Her centre of gravity appeared to shift, to move to the side as though she no longer knew if her body was vertical. The very notion of this man asking her out — taking her out — of the two of them spending time alone, talking, looking into