Falling into Forever (Falling into You) - By Lauren Abrams
I rush down the sidewalk, clutching my bag and tucking away a few loose strands of hair that won’t stay in place. I’m late, mostly because I spent the last hour deciding whether I would even be able to leave the hotel room. Somehow, I managed to convince myself that this meeting wouldn’t be as bad as I knew it was going to be, so I put on my shoes and walked out the door. I’m definitely reconsidering that particular life decision right now.
I check the address again on my phone, and sighing, I glance up at the cool gray façade and the unmistakable gold-plated sign that reads FFG Studios. I need to fortify myself, so I look down to see the flash of a diamond catch the light. This is for him. It’s what he wanted. I have to keep reminding myself of that fact over and over again, because what I really want to do is jump in a cab, hop a plane home, and leave New York in my rearview mirror forever.
After taking a deep breath, I open the door and find myself in the midst of a movie set version of an office. People bustle back and forth, carrying large envelopes and shiny mobile devices. I hurry over to the desk, where an impossibly beautiful girl with black hair greets me with a slightly imperious look.
“Can I help you?”
“I have a meeting at noon with Mr. Rivers.”
“It’s probably under Hallie Caldwell.”
She checks her computer before giving me a friendly smile. “Right away, Miss Caldwell. I’ll tell him that you’re here, and he should be down shortly. Is there anything that I can get for you while you’re waiting? A latte, perhaps?”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you very much.”
I take a seat on one of the black leather sofas in the corner of the lobby. The sick feeling of dread that has weighed on me ever since I got off the plane is heavy now, weaving my stomach into a thousand little butterfly knots. I twist the ring around my finger in endless circles until my skin starts to feel raw.
“The elusive Miss Caldwell,” a booming voice announces.
I look up to see a bear of a man hulking into the lobby, clearly making a beeline for me. I stand up, too quickly, so much so that I stumble over my own feet. Stupid heels.
“Mr. Rivers, I presume. Hello. I’m Hallie Caldwell.”
I’m trying to sound professional, but my voice and hands and body are all trembling uncontrollably. He doesn’t seem to notice and instead takes both of my hands into one of his enormous ones.
“Please. It’s Jeff. I’m head of production for FFG Studios. It’s nice to meet you in the flesh.” He chuckles to himself, his tongue running over his lips as he eyes me with appreciation. “And what a piece of flesh it is, if I may say so.”
I think I manage to give him my best attempt at a cordial smile.
As we make our way across the lobby, his other hand curls into the small of my back. Our bodies are so close together that the warmth of his skin is radiating heat against mine. I consider using some of my best self-defense moves, but I ultimately decide against it. That would only prolong the meeting. Besides, filing a police report would be a huge hassle.
“Come this way, Hallie. I can call you Hallie, right?”
That doesn’t even elicit a response from me. Shaking his head, he ushers me into an elevator and presses 4. His hand stays firmly placed on my back, even though I try to twist away.
“How’s your trip to New York? The hotel treating you all right? If there’s anything you need, just let me know and I’ll put someone on it. How long are you here for?”
His questions all run together, like he’s used to doing the talking and not so much used to asking. He continues, undaunted by my lack of response, whispering conspiratorially into my ear, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but we love the script. We’re willing to sell our souls to get it.”
My lips curl involuntarily into a smile. “You were definitely not supposed to tell me that.”
“She speaks! You should keep doing that, honey. It looks good on you.”
I try to smile, but I’m pretty sure my face betrays my total disgust. He shakes his head and clucks his tongue as the elevator doors open.
Thank god. Ben’s agent (my agent—I correct myself) is