What happens when a forty-something actress must perform with her recent and pompous ex-husband in a production of Noel Coward's divorce comedy, Private Lives? Will the attentions of her much younger, irresistibly attractive director move her forward as the leading lady in a sizzling May-December romance?
"I'm glad to be working with you. You have no idea. I've wanted to work with you for a long time."
He nodded brightly. "Ever since I saw you in Ladyhouse Blues."
Elizabeth's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "You saw me in that? That show was maybe fifteen years ago when this company was pumping out ten shows in ten weeks."
"I've never forgotten it."
"What were you, like eleven?"
Gunnar shook his finger at her mockingly. "Hey, now. I'm not that much younger than you."
"Young enough." Elizabeth pursed her lips in amusement.
"I rather think I'm old enough," Gunnar said with the confidence of a man intent on leveling the playing field.
"Old enough to direct, certainly."
"Old enough to make you forget about your ex-husband."
A mix of excitement and anxiety surged through Elizabeth. His statement jolted her, but she knew she has heard him correctly. Surprised as she was, she summoned every poise-maintaining nerve ending in her body, flashed her finest leading lady smile and fixed on his to call whatever bluff he attempted.
"And how do you propose to do that?"
Gunnar leaned forward and set his half-empty wine glass on the coffee table. He moved over towards Elizabeth on the couch and removed her wine glass from her hand to set it on the table next to the other. Looking back into her eyes, he took one of her hands in his and brought it to his lips. He kissed the back of it softly.
"Gunnar," uttered Elizabeth, somewhere between a question and a protest.
"Just go with it," he instructed, still planting slow but steady kisses on the back of her hand.
"But we're working together."
"Shhhh." He reached up with his free hand and held a finger lightly to her lips to quiet her. Frozen and enthralled, she waited to see what he would do. He scooted closer to her and let his fingers drop from her mouth. Sliding his hand around her neck and underneath her lush hair, he drew her face closer to his. Elizabeth closed her eyes and felt Gunnar's lips meet hers. The kiss was soft and without urgency. It was languid as if he wanted to savor the sensation of their mouths meeting, the taste of each other, the nervous expectation of two people kissing for the first time.
Elizabeth had kissed no man since Paul, but had kissed no man like this before. It was elation. It had a newness…the apprehensive excitement of first discovery. She reached up and held his face in her hands. Gunnar shifted his weight on the couch in order to wrap an arm around her and pull her closer. The movement made her inhale deeply. To be held so closely after so much time alone made Elizabeth dismiss the age difference. Does it really matter, she wondered. The thought dissolved as Gunnar pushed her hair out of the way with light fingers and leaned down to kiss her neck, biting playfully as she melted into his arms. His hand drifted up her neck and through her hair. He tugged it back gently so that they could look at each other.
"I want to see the desire on your beautiful face, Elizabeth," he said.
She saw her reflection in his brilliant brown eyes and barely recognized herself. The woman worried about her age was nowhere in sight. Elizabeth pressed her body against Gunnar and kissed him passionately, greedily, sensually.