Playacting

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jennifer has secretly been in love with her friend Tom for years. When they are cast opposite each other in a community theater production of "Dracula," their scenes together are almost more than she can bear. It's a struggle to draw the line between reality and playacting, and Tom's approach to the challenge only makes things worse!

Submitted: October 04, 2006

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Submitted: October 04, 2006

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PLAYACTINGby Diana Laurence

“I know you long for my bite…I know you are burning to surrender,” he said, his voice sonorous and enthralling.

“No,” she said, forcing herself to struggle against his grip upon her shoulders.

“Look into my eyes and tell me that.”

“I won’t.”

She closed her eyes tight against the urge to obey him, to gaze into the entrancing fire that burned in his impossibly deep brown eyes. She felt his right hand let go, and then his fingers swept slowly, lightly down the curve of her throat. Each fingertip left a trail of fantastic pleasure on her skin, pleasure that she knew would deepen if only she looked at him…if only she gave in to the desire that beat against the weakening walls of her resolve.

I can’t let myself feel this, she told herself. If I do it will only end in heartbreak. I mustn’t feel it.

“Cut!” cried Jack, the director.

Tom released her and took a step back, turning to Jack. Jennifer likewise backed away, a little shocked by the interruption, and then more shocked to realize how deeply she had been into the scene. No, not the scene: she wished she could blame the scene, but it wasn’t that.

It was, of course, Tom Orphens.

Jack approached the stage; she could barely see him through the lights. “Mr. Orphens, Ms. Washington, I know we’ve done this scene a hundred times but I must be frank. It’s never quite worked for me. With opening night tomorrow, I can no longer remain in denial about this. Guys, it’s just weak. It’s weak, and it has to be the most intense moment of the entire play.”

Jennifer exchanged looks with Tom. She knew it wasn’t his fault. Certainly he knew it too. But all he did was shrug a little with his eyebrows, as if to say, “I have no clue.”

Jack hoisted himself up onto the edge of the stage and approached them. “Look, Jen, you’ve worked with Tom for years, you’re always perfectly relaxed with him. But you just can’t quite seem to let go in this scene. And it’s all about surrender. Fighting against yourself, then surrender. You’ve got that first part mastered, but it’s no good unless we see the big release.”

Jennifer had worked with Tom in a dozen shows before, and known him since college when they met in oral interp class. But until now she had fortunately avoided being cast in a romantic role opposite him. Even in this case she hadn’t auditioned for the part of Mina Seward, but rather for one of Dracula’s brides. Unfortunately she had been a little too good, and Jack had cast her in the female lead.

The news of Tom’s landing the part of the vampire lord both thrilled and terrified Jennifer. It thrilled her for a very good reason: she had been in love with the man for years. It terrified her because for the same number of years, Tom had been in a relationship with Kari. That is, until about six months ago, when the two had split up. It was Kari who called it off and moved out, and Tom had had a rough time for the first couple months, although he tried to put on a brave front.

Jennifer had always been his sounding board, and so she served after the breakup. It was just about the time of auditions for Dracula that she sensed Tom was ready to start dating again. She knew it was only a matter of time before found that lucky woman. Unfortunately, that woman would not be Jennifer—she and Tom had never been anything but good friends. In fact, there was a running gag between about “going Dutch,” as in, “We’re as close as two people can be who always go Dutch.” No, it would be someone else, someone more like Kari, and Jennifer dreaded that inevitable moment.

She dreaded it even more after spending these weeks constantly seeing him at rehearsals, exchanging these lines of passion, practicing these scenes in which he held her in his arms, kissed her, nuzzled his soft face into the curve of her neck and so gently took his feigned vampire bites. It was maddening. Jennifer went home at night with her body enflamed by his touch, his voice, the looks he gave her when in character; and meanwhile her mind screamed that she mustn’t feel these things even when the role required it of her.

“All right,” said Jack, “let’s take fifteen. Jen, I don’t know what to tell you, but see what you can do.”

“I will, Jack,” she said, trying not to appear as completely at a loss as she felt.

Jennifer gave Tom a polite smile, turned, and headed backstage. She needed a little air, a little taste of escape, so she went out the back door of the theater into the parking lot.

It was a fine June night, just that golden moment of dusk when the shadows stretch as long as the eye can see. There was a little garden set against the back of the theater for patrons to stroll during intermission, and Jennifer wandered over to it. It was curious being outside in her costume, a long full period dress of blue watered silk that rustled softly when she walked. The gown was cut low, and the breeze felt good on her skin.

“Jen,” said a low voice behind her, that single syllable warm with concern.

She turned to find Tom, looking equally incongruous in his black suit and cape and stage makeup. He wore eyeliner for the part, and in the fading light his eyes were black and beautiful.

“Oh hello, Count,” she said with a smile.

“You okay?”

“Sure. Jack’s completely right, you know.”

Tom stopped a couple of feet away and clasped his hands behind his back. “Yes, I know.”

“I don’t know what my problem is,” she lied, immediately regretting that she had to.

“I’m not sure either.” He leaned a little closer. “I thought it might be personal. I don’t know…I feel like I’ve taken advantage of you these past months, dumping on you—”

“It was never like that, Tom.”

“Not exactly, I know, but still, what woman likes to hear all about why a guy misses someone else?”

“I didn’t mind.”

Tom smiled, revealing his vampire teeth. The prosthetics were very well crafted, visible to the audience but subtle. They were actually quite becoming. Jennifer turned away to watch the sunset.

“Anyway, I’m over her now,” continued Tom. “You helped me a lot, and I’m sorry I never told you so.”

She turned back and smiled at him. “That’s okay, Tom, I was glad to. But thank you.”

He gave her a soft nod. They were silent a moment. Then Tom said, “Well, it would appear the time of vampires is almost upon us. The sun’s down, it’s safe for me to attack.”

“And me standing here unprotected—I should know better than to be alone with you after dark.”

“You should.” He paused a moment. “Jen, could I try something?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, something that might help you with the scene. Some…stage direction, of a sort. Playacting.”

Jennifer’s curiosity was far too piqued for her to refuse, wary though she was. “Sure.”

He lowered his chin and gave her a serious look. “This would be pretty intense…and totally in character. Not something Tom Orphens would do to Jennifer Washington. I’m apologizing in advance here.”

Jennifer felt a pang. Of course he couldn’t do it with the real me, she thought sadly. But she kept the emotion from her face and said, “I’m willing to try anything at this point.”

“Anything, eh?” asked Tom more lightly, feigning a sinister air. “All right then, come here.” He held his arms open.

Confused, Jennifer took a step towards him. As she did, he took her and turned her, pulling her so her back was against his chest. He drew his cape around her, enfolding, and then she felt his cheek against her right ear. “What are you doing?” she asked, hearing a little alarm in her own voice.

“Like I said, direction,” Tom replied, but his voice was altered into a less Transylvanian version of his Dracula voice. “You don’t need to do anything but listen, and think about what I tell you.”

“All right,” she agreed.

“All right. I want you to imagine us in bed.”

Jennifer’s heart felt like it had stopped. Somehow she forced a nod.

“I’ve taken you to my bed, Mina. I’ve taken off that dress, I’ve stripped you naked. We’re both naked, and you can feel my body heat spreading through the sheets. It pulls at you, draws you to me in spite of your fear.”

His arms tightened around her, and indeed, she could feel his heat saturating her back, her buttocks. That alone was enough to make her loins tremble dreadfully, deliciously. She noticed her breath coming fast already and tried to still it, tensing.

“Mina…my Mina…think of it, lying with me, my skin so sweet and so near. You long to press yourself against my flesh, feel me so hard against your skin. You want to lay your hands on me.”

With this he traced the tip of his nose up along the edge of her ear. She shuddered visibly. He laughed then, almost silently, but his mouth was so near her ear she just could hear the soft noises of it. “And I want it, Mina. I want your hands on me. I want your mouth under mine. I want your body under mine.”

This last was a whisper, and Jennifer clamped her eyes tight against the power of it, that mild but intense whisper that caught up her whole being in its seduction. It was all she could do to silence her lips against it, when every inch of her flesh longed to answer yes.

But she did stay silent, even as he lowered his chin and placed a warm, damp kiss in the curve of her neck. He made a small humming sound as he did, which she felt and heard as a sort of audible caress. She realized she had been holding her breath and tried not to release it in a gasp.

“Lean back,” he said then. “Closer.” His arms slid a bit lower and he squeezed her till her buttocks pressed into him. Even through her skirt and his trousers she could feel the unmistakable hardness of his erection. Her head swam at this discovery: so she aroused him? Or was it just the role, the act?

To make matters worse, he moved his hips slightly, rubbing the rise of rock hard flesh into her, till it pressed between her buttocks. Her eyes opened wide in astonishment at this. Tom? Touching her so? But no, he had said it was all…stage direction, playacting….

“You feel it, don’t you?” he asked. Then, more firmly, “Answer.”

“Yes,” she said, her voice sounding not at all her own.

“I want to turn you to me, but I won’t. You’ll have to imagine it instead, and when you want it enough, you will turn to me.”

She could think of nothing but that pressure. That and the throbbing that swelled between her legs.

He went on, his breath warm and damp in her ear: “Imagine it, pressed against you, the length of it so hard, teasing your sensitive places. Mina…so hard, so large, so hot, don’t you wish it could pierce you now?...slowly sink into your welcoming depths, filling you…so full of heat and hardness, Mina.”

Jennifer felt her skin break a sweat then and gave up controlling her breathing. She was lost in the mental picture of it, and she ached so for him to pierce her she thought she would go mad. She imagined his weight upon her, and his hips lifting to drive the spike deep, all the way in until it touched a place of pleasure so deep it had never before been discovered.

The voice spoke again. “Full of me, full to bursting, bearing into you. All fire and hardness, so deep, my Mina, imagine it. You feel you will die without it, you’ll die if it doesn’t come into you soon. It’s so close, so very close…”

The hard ridge of his erection between her cheeks seemed to radiate a tormenting sweetness, which spread now between her legs to the opening that pulsed with lust for it. She couldn’t help herself; she had to envision it touching her, the soft, silky tip teasing, then probing gingerly. And her legs ached to open, to grant him entry, her arms yearned to pull him in, her hands trembled with the thought of pressing against his buttocks till he pierced her.

Jennifer’s knees began to give way. Her closed eyes saw red. Her throat was tight, her skin burned, she couldn’t get air.

“Give in,” said the low voice in her ear, the soft touch of nose echoing the invitation. “Let me fill you, it’s so close. Feel the pressure, the fire, coming into you, coming into you, hard and so good, so hot and so good, Mina.”

Jennifer turned.

Tom caught her, steadied her, as she leaned into him pelvis first, her body unable to do anything but seek the pressure of his organ against the place that longed for it so. The hollow connected, and there was a little satisfaction, but in a moment she realized this had only made everything worse.

She had buried her face in his shoulder, but Tom’s hand took her chin and lifted it. His black-rimmed eyes bore down into hers, ambiguous desire in them, his lips parted, showing the tiniest hint of fangs. Jennifer’s mouth felt desperately swollen and she raised it to his. His eyes closed, his chin lowered…

His lips met hers. But the kiss was chaste, tender, wonderfully sweet but completely gentlemanly.

He lifted his head. “Jennifer, we have to go back.”

She blinked at him, dazed.

He gave her a half smile, half Tom and half the Count. “I’d apologize for this…but I’m not completely sorry.” Then he stepped back, holding her by the shoulders at arm’s length.

“Oh?” she managed.

His smiled broadened and became all Tom. “Jen…gotta go now…back to the stage.”

“Ah, yes—yes, thank you, Tom.”

As she followed him back inside, Jennifer tried to gather herself. Her heart was still rushing. She felt herself blush as she laid her hand on the front of her dress, checking for a stain of moisture. Miraculously, it was dry, at least on the surface.

What had just happened?

There was no time to think about it, for Jack and the rest of the cast and crew were already gathered in the theater. As she and Tom stepped out from stage left, Jack called, “Here they are! All right, let’s take it from ‘I know you long for my bite.’ And Bill, leave the spot just like that, it’s much better. Mr. Orphens, Ms. Washington, are you ready?”

“We are, sir,” replied Tom, with a conspiratorial glance to Jennifer. She gave a nod to the director.

They turned to each other, stepped close. Tom took Jennifer’s shoulders.

“Whenever you’re ready,” said Jack.

Jennifer looked away from Tom. His hands had never felt so warm. In an instant her loins flashed with heat again, she was back in the garden under the failing sunset. She heard him draw breath….

“I know you long for my bite…I know you are burning to surrender,” said the Count.

“No.”

“Look into my eyes and tell me that.”

“I won’t,” said Jennifer with her final ounce of will, infinitely glad that at last the moment had come to give in.

She turned to meet his gaze.

A wicked smile came upon his face. He leaned over her. Her lips parted, her eyes glazed over, and she went weak in his arms.

He stroked her throat with his fingers. “Such sweet, warm blood.”

“Drink it,” she said.

And in her voice rang the eternal song of submission, surrender, capitulation so complete it was like dying. The vampire bent to drink, and her body acquiesced with a powerlessness so deep it was a power unto itself.

The bite was gentle, but it was long. He slowly lowered her to the floor. She slipped from his embrace, as limp as a rag doll, and fell still on the boards.

The spotlight shut off and the stage went black.

“Good lord,” came the voice of the director.

The stage lights came back up. Jack began to clap, and his applause was joined by that of the rest of the crew. Jennifer lifted her head, squinted out at Jack with a smile, then turned to look up at Tom.

He just smiled down at her.

“I need to give you two fifteen more often,” said Jack, and everyone laughed in response. Tom gave Jennifer his hand and helped her up. There seemed to be something in his grip that she had never felt before, but then, she had never felt quite like this in her life.

“All right,” said Jack, “needless to say, I’d like it just like that tomorrow night. Wow. Okay, people, on to Act Three, straight through to the end with no stopping. Even I need to keep in mind, this is dress rehearsal.”

Jennifer was off stage for much of the third act, which unfortunately gave her plenty of time to think. Intoxicating as it had all been, she knew the aftermath would not be good. It would take a lot to get over having been so intimate with Tom, to discipline her mind back to reality. In fact, she knew she wouldn’t be able to manage it until something slapped her hard in the face.

She let Dr. Van Helsing rescue her, with much more convincing regret than she had managed in previous rehearsals. The third act went without a hitch, and the cast was rewarded with commensurate praise from the director. They retired to the dressing rooms to get back into street clothes, chattering excitedly all the while about opening night. Jennifer couldn’t help but bask in the comments of the four other women in the show with whom she shared the dressing room. Amazingly, none seemed to suspect the sort of “method acting” they had observed.

A few minutes later, Jennifer arrived at her car just as Tom was unlocking his. He looked up, then strode over to her.

“Nice job,” he told her.

“I should be saying that to you.”

He laughed. “You’re such a good sport. I feel like I really abused you or something.”

If only you knew, she thought. Then said, “Nonsense.”

“No really—I wish you’d let me make it up to you. Have you had dinner yet?”

“I just grabbed a snack. I am sort of hungry.”

“Let me buy you dinner.”

Jennifer felt her heart stop for the second time that evening. “Did you say, ‘buy’?”

Tom gave her a long, intense look, and it was not the Count’s look. It was the Tom Orphens beseeching look. Then, very deliberately, he said, “I said ‘buy.’”

Whatever possessed her to be so reckless, Jennifer would wonder later. But she opened her mouth and said, “Are you telling me you actually meant that? What happened in the garden?”

“Will you go out with me if I say yes?”

“Yes.”

“Well then, yes. I meant it. Did you?”

She allowed herself to smile. “Did it seem like playacting to you?”

“I couldn’t tell, I was too preoccupied with hoping it wasn’t.”

Jennifer’s smile spread to a grin. “I meant it.”

Tom moved closer. “Could you show me after dinner how much?” he asked impishly, with a playful lift to his brows.

But something in his tone told her he was very serious.

“It would be a great relief if I could, Tom,” she answered.

His face lit up. Then he cocked his head and said, “Do I need to bring the cape along?”

Jennifer shook her head. “No, that won’t be necessary.” She leaned to him and kissed him on the cheek, then said, “I don’t know about you, Mr. Orphens, but I’ve been playacting long enough.”

E-mail me your thoughts at dianalaurence@wi.rr.com.For more about the author, please visitwww.dianalaurence.com


© Copyright 2018 Diana Laurence. All rights reserved.

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