JESSE ST. JAMES
Jesse allowed a pleased grin to overtake his features when Rachel flung herself into his arms; fortunately, the smugness Curly would feel in this situation wasn’t very far off from Jesse’s own feelings. He knew that Rachel’s distress and her relief at seeing him were fabricated, but it still gave him an undeniable surge of satisfaction. Jesse didn’t pause to think about why that was, instead priding himself on being able to summon the right emotions for the scene.
“Here. I’ll show you,” he told Rachel, his voice more serious now, and slightly gruff. This would be the true test of their ability to work together and Rachel’s trust in Jesse as a performer. He raised his hand to her chin, eyes never hers as he gently titled her head up so he could lean down to kiss her. Jesse paused with their lips merely an inch apart, not out of nerves or reluctance, but because he still wasn’t certain about how Rachel would respond. (And, of course, to build the dramatic tension as the audience waited for the young lovers to finally admit their feelings.) When the girl in his arms didn’t flinch away or try to remove herself from his grasp, Jesse closed the distance between them, pressing his lips gently but firmly to Rachel’s.
Their actual onstage kiss would probably be more abrupt, since the two characters were supposed to be caught up in the heat of the moment, but Jesse didn’t see any harm in easing into it this first time. He broke the kiss just as they were settling into it, pulling back with a delighted grin.
“My goodness!” he hooted, shaking his head like the script called for and then giving a low whistle. “Whew! ‘Bout all a man can stand in public! Go away from me, you!” he recited, glancing down at his script occasionally to make sure he got the words right. Jesse knew the importance of learning a script as written—it was far too easy to memorize the wrong words and leave your fellow actors stranded.
Jesse watched Rachel expectantly as he waited for her to deliver her next lines, but he was still grinning like an idiotic boy in love. It was too bad he wouldn’t be able to get any color into his cheeks, but Jesse was sure that the curve of his lips and the soft expression in his eyes would be enough.
Rachel could count on one hand the number of times that she’d been kissed in her life, and if you discounted her various uncomfortable interactions with Jacob Ben Israel, the number was even more paltry. It was with that in mind that she steeled herself for the fact that Jesse would not only be touching her, he would be kissing her, an act that Rachel really would have preferred to reserve for non-vampires exclusively.
But you had to make sacrifices for your art, and Rachel was more than prepared to do just that. She looked up at Jesse expectantly when he tilted her chin up, and if her breathing grew a little bit more shallow, well, that was just nerves. When he paused before kissing her, Rachel let her eyelids flutter open again, just to check and make sure that she hadn’t done something incorrectly enough to stop him in his tracks—so of course that was when Jesse took the opportunity to lean forward and finish the job.
His lips were every bit as cold as his hands, but now that Rachel was ready for it, she found that it didn’t bother her nearly as much—outside from in a philosophical sense, of course, in which case it bothered her very much, thanks. All the same, she was glad that he had the lines immediately following, just to give her a little time to get back into the right mindset.
“Oh, you don’t like me, Curly…” she said, her arms falling to her sides as she faltered. Of course, she knew extraneously that that was hardly the case, but who could blame Laurey? Curly was so fantastically inconsiderate sometimes, really.