Dana touched his face with her free hand, stroking his beard. She traced his nose and his cheekbones. “This is one of my favorite faces,” she said, and Dom smiled. “Whenever I think about not seeing you again it absolutely wrecks me. But how can we do this, Dom? Realistically? I want to be with you, I do. I just don’t know how.”
“I promise I won’t make you do anything you’ll hate. Though I bet you’ll like the red carpet once you give it a try.” He said in his most coaxing tone, “The fabulous clothes . . . having famous friends . . . never having to worry about money . . .”
“Watching you kiss other women,” she said.
“A kiss is just a kiss when it’s part of the job, love.”
“Knowing that there are millions of people who’d do anything to sleep with you.”
“I’m stronger than temptation, trust me.”
“I do trust you,” she whispered. Her eyes dropped to his chest and she licked her lips. “But I’d have to give up everything to be with you. My career, the last ten years of my life–“
“A career that endangers your life on a daily basis. Huge sacrifice, that.”
“What if I said the only way we could be together was if you gave up everything that matters to you?” she challenged him. “What if I said we could only be together if you moved to Washington and gave up acting?”
Dom bit his lip, then lifted his chin and said, “When do we leave?”
She stared at him a moment, then shook her head. “It’s easy in the abstract.”
“I’ll call up J.J. right now. Tell him to kill off Charlie–or recast him–“
“No, no, no,” Dana said. “But you understand, don’t you? What you’re asking of me? To give up everything that I’ve worked for and that I know, to move my child across the country, on the off-chance that love might actually last?”
“I gave up everything once, too,” Dom said calmly. “I admit, it was for a job–but supposed I’d hated everyone on the films? Suppose they had flopped? Suppose I’d spent a year and a half of my life being lonely and miserable? But you have to take that chance, Dana. I got wonderful things from making the Rings movies–friends for life and opportunities I never would have had in Britain, and knowledge of my own talents and character–and now I have you–and all because I agreed one day to leave everything behind.”
“A career can recover from one mistake.”
“Not always–this industry can be pretty unforgiving. Look at Fatty Arbuckle.”
“Who?” she said, but he just shook his head. “You’re asking me to uproot my entire life, Dom. My child. I have to think about him, too.”
“You know I love him too,” Dom said. “You know I want the best for him. Look, Dana. If you go into a relationship counting the days that it’s going to last, it won’t. But if you trust me the way you say you do, if you believe in me, if you believe in us–then we are going to be all right.”
“I’m so afraid I’m not going to be enough for you.”
“Oh, love,” Dom said and put his arms around her neck to kiss her forehead. She trembled in his arms and pressed her face against his chest. “You’re more than enough.”
“I do love you,” she whispered. “I do. I just–I just–“
“I know, love. I know.” He tilted her face up and kissed her mouth, his hand clutching her hair. She cupped his head, drawing her fingers down his ears and jaw. Her tongue played in his mouth and she pressed her body close to his.
“We can’t break up,” Dom whispered. “We’ve got too much to do.”
“Oh? Like what?
“You need to dance with me.” She smiled at him and he said, “And the next time you visit we’re coming here for a bonfire and roasting marshmallows. I’ve never actually had roasted marshmallows but I understand they’re delicious.”
“They’re pretty good.”
“And hopefully the next time you come Seanie will be in town and you can meet him and Christine. And my fiancee.”
Dana chuckled. “Do you think Allie will forgive me for falling in love with you?”
“I think so.” Slowly he rubbed her back, feeling her relax into him. He said softly, seriously, “Are you really afraid for me dying?”
“Yes,” she whispered and swallowed hard enough for him to hear.
“You know what? I’m not.”
“That’s because you don’t understand what’s at stake.”
“I think I do. It’s the same thing that’s at stake for all of us, yeah? The life that we want.”
Dana inhaled deeply and said, “Okay. Suppose I am selfish. Suppose I say ‘I want this man and nothing is going to stop me from having him.’ Then what?”
“Oh, love,” he said gently, “we will have such a good time.”
“And if you fall out of love with me like you did Billy?”
“Billy and I didn’t fall out of love. We still love each other. Just differently now. That’s all.”
“Am I still going to be enough for you?” She looked steadily into his eyes. “When I’m fifty years old and William’s entering puberty and you’re in your prime?”
“There’s a tree in my forest with my name on it for when that day comes.”
“Dom, I’m serious.”
“I hope,” he said, “that I will follow Ian’s example. That I will face the reality of aging and my own death with good humor and a fabulous dress sense–rather than the need to deny mortality by screwing twenty-year-olds.”
“Isn’t Ian dating a fantastically handsome young man?”
“Yes, and I think that’s his right. I’m talking about attitude.”
“Attitude,” she murmured, tracing figure eights on his chest. “I see. Your attitude is what I love about you, you know.” She raised her eyes to him. “And dating you is a lot of fun. Very different from any other relationship I’ve had.”
“Thank God. Just you and a lot of laughing and really amazing sex and a lot of other things I suspect are very good for me.”
Dom brushed her cheek with his fingertips. “We’re good for each other.”
“I hope so,” Dana murmured. “Oh, I hope so.”
“Let’s make a deal. I’ll stop asking you when you’re moving here if you’ll stop saying being with you will get me killed. Okay?”
“Not talking about it won’t make it go away.”
“This is true–but if there’s nothing we can do about it, why keep bringing it up? No excuses, Dana. You want to be with me or you don’t.”
Dana stroked his face, studying him, and then simply she nodded. Just a nod, but it said everything.
Dom kissed her, her head in both hands, tasting sweet breath and cool ocean air. He shivered as she lightly scraped her fingernails over his ears. He wanted her so badly he thought he’d need to sleep on the couch tonight to keep from throwing himself onto her.
They parted, foreheads leaning against each other, and Dana whispered, “Do you want to go back to the club? Or home?”
“Home,” Dom said. “Let’s go home.”
Orlando and Elijah were still at the club, and Dom was selfishly glad. He kept his arm around Dana as they walked back to the bedroom. She was drowsy and yawning as he laid her on the bed. After a moment he lay down too, careful not to put any weight on her body, and watched her as she blinked at him, smiling.
“It’s not very late,” she murmured.
“It’s after midnight,” he said, glancing at the clock. “I haven’t turned into a pumpkin, have I?”
“No.” She brushed the hair back from his forehead. “Do you want to sleep?”
“Do you want to play video games?”
“No.” He traced her profile with his fingertip.
“What do you want to do?” Her eyelids were low and she licked her lips.
“I dunno,” he drawled. “What do you wanna do?”
“I can think of a few things.” She ran her fingertips up his chest. She inhaled: there was no mistaking the hitch in her breath.
“Dana,” he warned.
“I think–if we go slowly and I control my breathing–I think we can do this.”
Dom tried to speak for a moment, and finally managed to stammer out, “That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for you.”