The woods move past her in a blur.
Her breath comes fast and loud and sharp, her shoes pounding the dirt.
She trips over a root or branch, she barely even notices. She scrambles to her feet because she has to keep going.
She is running for her life.
A bullet sings past her ear, she ducks, swearing under her breath. She has to find somewhere to hide. Somewhere safe. You can see the dirt smudged on her face, a seeping cut across her cheek. Her telltale pupils are wide with adrenaline, but her expression is surprisingly calm, calculated, concentrating. This is what she has been trained for. She has foreseen all the variables, prepared for every outcome. She will run until she is safe.
"Wait!" The voice rings through the trees until it sounds like it is coming from everywhere.
She runs harder, her feet flying, but she stumbles again and she can hear his footsteps, crashing through the underbrush. The sound is getting closer. So close. She stands to her feet, the world spinning. She tries to run but there is something holding her back, on her arm. A hand. She stares at those fingers as if it were the hand of the devil himself.
The emotions consume her all at once. The terror, the betrayal, the pain, and, of course, true love.
"You must forgive me." His face is smudged like her own, his hair unwashed and tangled from the elements, but somehow he looks even more handsome for it.
When she speaks, her voice is raw with emotion, a single tear glistens over the grime of her soft pale cheek. "What have you done?"
His soft brown eyes hold her gaze, telling her truths that his mouth could never utter. He grazes her jaw with one rough, bloodstained hand, and gently cups her face, brushing the tear with his thumb. She closes her eyes, giving in to her emotions - giving in to him. He turns her face up to meet his, and kisses her gently, passionately, thoroughly.
She lifts her head to kiss him back, but somehow her forehead meets his nose.
"Ow! Jeez!" He backs away, holding his nose.
"Sorry, I was going to the right, and you were... going to the left..." I can't even make eye contact.
The woods are alive with people. Camera and lighting people sigh and move back to starting positions. Makeup artists rush in to dust us with more powder and fake dirt and fix our hair, which has to be tangled and dirty in a very specific way. Some of the other cast members are laughing on a corner of the set. My co-star runs over to join them. I feel my cheeks burning all the way up to my ears.
"Charlie, what was that?" The director comes over in his stained grey t-shirt and khaki shorts.
"Sorry, coach, I went right instead of left."
"Didn't we go over this yesterday and this morning during read-through? First right and then left, otherwise his nose blocks your entire face from the side angle."
"It just feels a bit unnatural for me, but I'll get the hang of it, I guess."
"Well why don't we turn the whole shot around for you, Charlie? You can run north instead of south so that the kiss can be to the right, hmm?" His voice is saturated with sarcasm. Then he stops and really looks at me. "You're nervous, aren't you? You told me you were experienced."
I stare at the ground.
"Charlie, was that your first kiss?"
I notice that his socks don't match. Why don't directors know how to dress themselves?
I meet his gaze, and he sees the truth in my eyes. I'm not much of an actress once the cameras are off. Pretty much an open book, actually.
The director sighs and rubs his forehead with his palm. "We have to get this scene. We're taking down the forest set tomorrow. Um, okay. Here's what we'll do. Break for lunch, you and Derek will get better acquainted, you know, practice makes perfect. And then we'll start shooting again in an hour."
An hour. I have to learn how to make out - and do it so it looks epic on camera - in one hour.
"Derek, get over here!"
Derek jogs over to the set, still smiling from making fun of me with the other actors.
"Derek, you and Charlie are going to go into a trailer and practice the forest scene over the next hour."
Derek looks at me like I am some sort of disgusting alien.
"You two are professionals. Make it happen."
I continue staring at the fake ground, marvelling at how the plasticky turf can pass for a real forest floor.
Derek sighs. "Oh, come on. If I'm going to have to kiss you a dozen times over the next two days, I may as well teach you to do it right." He grabs me by the arm, quite roughly, and we make our way to his trailer.
I get to make out with Hollywood's hottest hottie for the next twenty-four hours. There are literally thousands of girls who would give their right arm to trade places with me. The only downside?
I hate his guts.