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Showmance

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*Note to the reader: The title of this piece is based on a YouTube video that Lin Manuel Miranda did defining theater terms. A "showmance" is a romance that begins during the production of a show.

This piece began to roll around in my head when I saw a small article that said Pierce Brosnan was spending the quarantine with his family in Hawaii and was beginning to work on a memoir. Understand: I am a great admirer of Keely Shay Brosnan and Don Gummer but I had a destination in mind for this story and it required Pierce and Meryl to be single. I could not see a divorce, so this. I DO NOT wish this in real life, so spare me the hate mail! By the way, some of the material is taken from actual articles and interviews in order to sound more authentic. Also, I can understand why so many people are attracted to "Peryl" stories. The chemistry on-screen between Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia was palpable.

Also, while I have written fan fiction for decades, this is the first time I have written about real people.

 

Chapter 1: Pierce

I recently saw a newspaper article out of England that described me as "thrice cursed". That may be, but I try to constantly remind myself of all my blessings as well. That's not to say that the big black dog of Irish melancholy doesn't sit by my side from time to time, but I always have to get up, clean up and get back to work when that happens. Fortunately - and there's those blessings again - I have family and friends who always pull me up when I am sinking.

Cancer...such a small word for such an insidious disease that touches far too many lives annually. Cancer took my beautiful, capable Cassie much too soon. She died in my arms - surrounded by our children - three days after Christmas of 1991 and one day after our eleventh anniversary.

When I met her, it was love at first sight for me. She took a bit of persuasion, so I pursued her constantly. But you must understand. No matter how it finally turned out, I have no regrets. While we were together, Cassie taught me how to be a better actor, a better father and a better human being.

She taught me how to pursue acting jobs that were better suited for me and not just take every job that came my way. She encouraged me to broaden my talent on stage and in front of a camera. She introduced me to people in the entertainment world who could mentor me and plug me into their networks of power. She showed me how to attack scripts to glean my best performance. Then, on the biggest gamble of all, she took out a loan on our house in England so that we could fly to the United States and I could audition for Remington Steele.

By watching her with her children, I learned how to be a father. As a young man (whose own father had deserted his little family many years before) I had no idea HOW to be a good father. I learned from her (and my own dear Mum) how to be a good parent. Later, she gave me the honor of allowing me to adopt her two children when their father, her ex-husband Dermot, passed away suddenly. Then, after we had moved to California, she graced me with our son Sean.

Very early on, as I began to court her, she taught me that life consisted of more than the three G's: Games (rugby and poker), Girls and Guinness. She awakened my awareness of the world around me and encouraged my environmental activism for the first time. I became a better, more responsible human being because of her.

Later, a few years after I had watched cancer destroy Cassie's life, it was environmental activism that brought me into the orbit of my dear Keely. (Cancer - the same ovarian cancer that took her mother - would also send my darling adopted daughter Charlotte Emily into eternal life...another curse?...but not before she made me a proud grandfather for the first and second time.) Then, it was Keely I leaned on. She never did begrudge me my grief for Cassie or - later - Charlotte. In fact, on every anniversary of Cassie's passing, she always made sure that we as a family attended a Memorial Mass for her, along with laying flowers at Malibu's Point Dune lookout where I had placed a memorial in Cassie's memory years before. Soon after the seventh anniversary of our daughter Charlotte's passing, her brother and our son Sean and his wife Sonja presented us with granddaughter Marley Mae.

I met Keely when environmental issues had sent me to Cabo San Lucas for an event. Kelly was there to interview Ted Danson, and he had been a no show, so I volunteered to fill in. A longtime friend, Ted much later told me that he had deliberately stayed away in order for me to meet Keely. It had been a few years since Cassie's death, and my friends and family were doing everything in their power to get me back into circulation. We spent our first date talking - just talking - until three in the morning.

Keely was beautiful, and she became my moral compass, my North Star. When we were dating, and I was off on some location shoot somewhere, I would send her plane tickets to join me. We had our first child together, our son Dylan, after we had been together for some time. We finally married in Ireland, after a few starts and stops. We rescheduled the ceremony after Sean was seriously injured in a car accident and spent months in recovery and rehab. Then, just as we were planning again, Keely found out she was pregnant with our second child, our son Paris. (We were never the traditional family, I suppose...) We had a brief honeymoon there in Ireland. I took her to Navan, where I had lived until I was ten years old and joined my Mum in London where she had gone for work.

Then, I started work on Evelyn, the movie that my partner in Irish Dream Time, Beau St. Claire, and I had financed and were producing. (Again with the curse...some years after we began producing movies, ovarian cancer would strike once more and take the life of Beau, the sister of my heart if not blood.) I was working on Evelyn when 9/11 occured. It was early afternoon in Ireland when the news broke, and we spent the next days in front of the television screens, work briefly forgotten. In large part because of 9/11, and out of my love for the country that provided me success, I became a U.S. citizen in 2004 and now carry dual citizenship.

Keely always had a great sense of who she was as a woman and she also had a security and faith of and in me. She had her own career and we balanced each other well. I admired her professional drive. She also had a strength that I thought I wouldn’t be able to live without...until the day I had to.

At least with Cassie, I had time to prepare and say goodbye. I never had that with Keely.

During an early evening drive, headed for dinner with friends, a drunk driver would hit her car head-on and my darling Keely would die alone on the Pacific Coast Highway. I was in Burbank, getting ready to make a guest appearance on a talk show to promote a t.v. movie when our eldest son Dylan called, distraught. By the time I got there, she was on an ambulance gurney, covered by a white sheet.

I felt responsible, because we normally had a driver, but I had the driver with me. Because of that, I guess, I lost it there, and angrily shoved away the patrol officers who tried to keep me from her. At that point, I saw the young man who had hit her, and recognised him as the scion of a powerful California family of lawyers. He was uninjured, and I knew then that with his connections, and despite the media attention this would cause, he was unlikely to face the consequences. He was sitting on a gurney, draped in a blanket, and smiling in a drunken stupor. It took three police officers, an ambulance attendant and an accident witness to pull me off him.

Another death...the curse?...another requiem Mass...and I am afraid that I spent the next few weeks with our children in total oblivion. I was there, but not really present. Even my painting - usually my solace - gave me no comfort. I stood on the beach late at night drinking myself into a stupor and railing against the universe for our loss. (Fortunately, the boys and I have very understanding neighbors who carried their own grief for Keely.)

It was many weeks before I even thought about working again. I even contemplated retiring, but Dylan and Paris, busy and distracted with school now, kept after me to at least accept and read scripts. I only chose those assignments which really moved me, or that allowed me to travel with my boys. I signed for Seraphim Falls because it would allow me to work with fellow Irishman Liam Neeson for the first time. We never talked about it, but we also had something else in common besides our Irish upbringing - we had both lost a wife. The other jobs I took during that period of time were roles that I could do in a few short weeks and get back home while my mother or our beloved housekeeper could take care of Dylan and Paris.

That was the state I was in when a call came in one afternoon just before I needed to go pick up the boys after school.

 

Chapter 2: Meryl

I first saw Mamma Mia on stage in New York shortly after 9/11. It was just the kind of show that the city needed - a cheerful, life affirming musical. I had taken my girls and their best friends to see it, and I was so taken with it that I later wrote a letter to the cast, crew and producers in praise of it.

Later, when the decision was made to turn the musical into a movie, the producers turned to me. When they called, I thought they simply wanted to pick my brain about the casting, and I was dumbfounded when they told me they wanted to cast me as the female lead, Donna. I told them I was much too old for the role, but they disagreed and continued to cajole me. To sweeten the deal, they promised me that I could choose my castmates. (Later, I found out that even before I had agreed, the other possible members of the cast were being told that "Meryl's aboard, and really wants you..." ). It was blackmail of the sweetest kind, and it worked.

I thought about it for a few days, then sent Phyllida Lloyd, the director, a list of actors that I thought possible for each role. To be honest, I just sent her my "dream team" list of people I wanted to work with! I knew Amanda Seyfried from her television work, especially on All My Children, my secret guilty pleasure. Colin, Christine, Stellan and Julie between them had an amazing body of work. But I had an entirely different reason for adding Pierce Brosnan to the list. We had met briefly from time to time at various awards shows and charity functions, but had never worked together.

Still, I felt like I knew him on some deeper level. We had so much in common. Like him, I had nursed a partner through a battle with cancer, and seen him destroyed by the disease. Later, I had watched the television coverage of Keely's tragic death, and had anguished over every moment when CNN covered her Funeral Mass live. My heart broke watching Pierce, his four sons, and Pierce's best man from his wedding to Keely serve as pallbearers. How they managed to hold up through it all was beyond my understanding.

I had no idea that in a few short months we would have even more in common when my children and I lost their father and my husband of many years to a senseless accident in Manhattan. He was crossing a busy intersection in the theater district to meet me at a Broadway revival of "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" when a speeding delivery truck struck and killed him instantly. When he was late meeting me in the lobby, I heard the sirens outside and...I knew...I just knew...

Like Pierce, I did not work for many weeks after Don's passing. Also like him, I concentrated on my children. I did have commitments that I had to fulfill, after which I planned to take a long hiatus from work. Then Mamma Mia came calling.

 

Chapter 3: Pierce

"Meryl's already on board, and she really wants you in the role of Sam," I heard Phyllida Lloyd say.

After introducing herself to me, she had said that she was sending me the script for Mamma Mia by courier and that I could expect it in the next twenty-four hours. I had not seen the musical on Broadway, but my boys had. My mother and stepfather had joined us in New York while I was there for a series of meetings with lawyers about Keely's estate. I also wanted to set up an environmental charity in Keely's name. With me so busy, they had taken Dylan, Paris, Sean and Christopher to see the show. By the time the curtain came down, all of them were singing the music of ABBA. Dylan and Paris were smiling for the first time in weeks, for which I was grateful.

Remembering that, I said, "Isn't Sam a singing role?" I asked her. " I can't sing."

"I heard you sing in Evelyn," she replied, and I could hear the static that always accompanied trans-Atlantic phone calls. " Besides, we'll provide some training. "

"Well, I suppose...if Meryl really wants me..." Meryl Streep was already the greatest actor of my generation, and the thought that she wanted to work with me was amazing.

"You were her first choice! "

The next morning I dropped the boys off at school, went home and sat on the beach reading the script. I had all the album's of ABBA music downloaded onto my phone, my IPod and the stereo in my automobile by the time I picked them up again.

True to her promise of getting voice training for me, Phyllida sent the music conductor they had already hired for the movie, Martin Lowe, to my house in Malibu early one Saturday morning. He brought a portable organ, worked with me on voice exercises to use, then we went through the music. Before he left, he gave me a CD and a thumb drive of the music for me to practice with. I started singing every chance I got; I sang to the gulls on the beach, and while driving my boys to school. I would put the music on, and they would stuff their fingers in their ears. "Please Dad, not again..."

A few months later, I boarded a flight for London where rehearsals were to take place. Most of the interior scenes would also be filmed in London, and then we would move to Greece to film outdoor scenes. The only drawback was that my boys were still in school. They would join me for the summer, but for now my housekeeper would look after them. On my own for the first time since Keely's passing, I was incredibly lonely. I would like to believe that my loneliness was the reason behind what happened in London, but...

 

Chapter 4: Meryl

Our rehearsals were to take place at Pinewood Studios in London, but the night before we were to start work, a "get acquainted" dinner had been arranged for the cast and crew at the Flat Iron restaurant near Covent Garden. The place had been closed to the public, and we had the run of the place. While Colin, Julie and Stellan had been there before, I never had. It would become my favorite restaurant in England, and not just because it served a great steak.

The food was excellent, and someone had chosen music for the evening that enhanced the surroundings. As the evening began, I found myself seated next to Pierce. We made small talk as we ate: "how are your kids?"..."Fine, and yours?" "Same..." " I haven't seen you since the Golden Globes last year... "

After awhile, Pierce glanced over at me as he cut into his steak. "I was so sorry to hear of Don's passing. He was a wonderful sculptor."

There it was... "Thank you, and yes he was..." I took a deep breath. "And I am so sorry about. ..about Keely... "

 

Chapter 4: Pierce

Oh god...there it was... "Thank you....the flowers you sent...the delphinium...they were very pretty...they were her favorite..."

"How do you remember what flowers I sent?" she asked, then reached over to touch me lightly on the sleeve with her right hand. I started to tell her that I remembered every detail of that awful week, but I couldn't get the words out of my mouth.

Only it wasn't grief that stopped me. There was a new feeling creeping up my arm from the spot where she had touched me. It was like a shot of warmth. ..a touch of electricity..it was something I had not felt for awhile, and at my age never expected to feel again.

Everything suddenly seemed to jump into sharper focus then. I could see her hand on my sleeve, and the details of the braided gold bracelet on her wrist, even the facets of color in the diamond ring on her hand. In that moment, I wanted badly to pull her hand up to my mouth and kiss it, to feel her pulse in her wrist with my lips. Right then, the waiter brought me another Guinness, and the feeling passed. Foolishly, I felt like I had just cheated on my dead wife. At the same time, I wanted Meryl to touch me again.

 

Chapter 4.1: Meryl

The look that crossed Pierce's face when I touched his arm broke my heart. "I'm sorry," I stammered. "I didn't mean to upset you."

"No problem, dear," he whispered. "You were only being kind." He took a deep breath, then leaned in a bit closer, almost secretively. "Did you really ask for me? For this role?"

Let's just say that by this time I had learned about the way my name had been used to persuade the others, so I nodded. "Yes, I did," I told him.

"I can't sing," he whispered .

"I heard you sing in Evelyn," I replied. "I bet you can do anything you put your mind to..." His eyes grew wide as he looked at me, and the intensity in his face took my breath away. I grinned at him in an attempt to turn down the voltage. "I mean, you ARE James Bond, aren't you?

He laughed then, a warm but short laugh. I got the feeling he wasn't used to laughing much lately, but our conversation became much easier then, the ice broken and the gruesome acknowledgement of our losses out of the way. As the evening wore on, the group began to talk shop; ideas traveled rapidly back and forth across the long table and we discussed the upcoming work in some detail.

Then, someone moved some tables back, making a small dance floor in the middle of the dining room. The music cranked up, classical replaced by popular, and people began to dance. At some point, what had started out as newer music traveled through a time warp, and the speakers began spilling Sam Cooke songs. When I heard the first notes of "You Send Me" I couldn't help but smile.

"I love that song," I said.

To my surprise, Pierce rose, pushed his chair out of his way and reached for my hand. "Then by all means, let's dance," he said.

He took my hand, pulled me into his arms then we began a dance that could only be described as enthusiastic if not professional. I think it was a slower version of the Carolina Shag, and it was a lot of fun. I also could not ignore the feelings that traveled through me when he touched me. It was like a shot of warmth...a touch of electricity...it was a feeling I had not felt for a long time, and at my age, never thought I would feel again.

To cover my sudden feelings, I said, "You dance really well, Pierce."

He smiled almost sheepishly. "I had to learn some choreography for a movie I did once. This is the only dance I know!"

As soon as that song was over, we heard Elton John's "Something About The Way You Look Tonight". Before I could walk off the makeshift dance floor, he took my hand and we began dancing again, a little slower this time, and I quickly learned that the earlier dance was NOT the only dance he knew.

When he put one arm around my waist, there it was again...the feeling of warmth or electricity that had a dance of its own up my spine. I could smell his aftershave, a heady mix of spices. I tried to make small talk, but my brain wouldn't connect to my mouth. I just knew that I didn't want the music to end.

 

Chapter 4.2 Pierce

I think I lost track of time while we were dancing. I hadn't danced for awhile, but it felt natural to have her in my arms. Her perfume was an understated but powerful brew. I know that I would have done something really stupid if we kept dancing...like try to kiss her. But suddenly, the slow music died off and we could hear another Sam Cooke number, "Twistin' The Night Away" start up. The romantic mood building inside me was broken as Meryl threw her head back, laughed, and then she, Julie and Christine began to teach us guys all the finer points of The Twist. (I suppose it had something to do with the fact that all of us had really way too much to drink that night! I mean, we had all been kids when that song came out!) Still, I stood off to one side and watched her long, sleek legs flash underneath her skirt as she danced, giving herself over to the energy of the music. Dear god, but she looked gorgeous!

As though nothing could top that, the party broke up soon after. We all had rehearsal calls at various times in the morning, and people began to wander away. Meryl, Stellan and Christine all had hotel suites near the studios, but Colin, Julie and I had homes around the city. I still owned the house Cassie and I had shared near Wimbledon, and my assigned driver headed that way when I climbed into the back seat outside the restaurant. My Mum and stepfather lived there now, but I had a small apartment in what had once been a gatehouse renovated for my use. As I climbed the stairs to the front door I could not help but remember the touch of Meryl's hand, the way she threw her head back as she laughed, and her flashing long legs. It took me a helluva long time to get to sleep that night.

As it turned out, I was already familiar with the rehearsal stage and the studio where we would film interiors. It was the same studio where I had done the Bond films, so coming in that morning was a bit like coming home. And even as physically challenging as those films had been, they were a walk in the park compared to Mamma Mia. We started off with a regular table read, then began rehearsing the musical numbers. Those first few days after learning the choreography and then dancing all day found me soaking in a hot tub for hours!

Then there was the music. We actually recorded the soundtrack in the Abbey Road studios where The Beatles had done all their magnificent music. Like everyone else, I certainly felt the spirit of John Lennon lurking about, but in my case, I kept expecting Sir Paul McCartney to charge in and throw me out: "Who told this wanker he could sing? Throw the bastard out!"

And through it all, there was Meryl...laughing, suggesting things to bring out the best of each of us in the work...encouraging...at one point, during a break, we were talking about some upcoming choreography. I was standing behind and to her right. Then, making a point about God knows what, she reached behind her back and put her hand on my stomach. I immediately sucked in the old gut and pulled myself to my best height. I must have looked ridiculous...but no one laughed. By that time I think some of the cast had begun to realize that there might be something developing between us, but we didn't even know how to put it into words, much less act on the feelings that we were beginning to experience.

May God forgive me...My wife had been gone less than a year, but I knew that I was beginning to fall for Meryl. We hadn't spoken much privately since we had danced together that first night in the restaurant. It was laughable - at my age, I was having thoughts and feelings that rightfully belonged to my years as a horny teenager!

Chapter 5: Meryl

Of course Pinewood Studios was familiar to Pierce. He had filmed the Bond movies there, and when he walked in that next morning, everyone from the security guard at the main gate to the woman who ran craft services called him by name. And he remembered all of their names as well.

I watched him arrive like he owned the place - and given that his performance had revived the Bond franchise, I could understand his confidence. I envied him for it. I had a fair share of jitters about this project. I had sung before, and I had the script down, but this project was different from anything else that I had been involved with. The best thing for me was that most of the movie was being guided by the hands of women both in front of the camera and behind. At one point, Stellan remarked that the guys on this thing were the eye candy this time around!

It was criminal, how much fun we were having while we worked on this thing! And we were getting paid to do it! It seemed like we were always laughing, and right then, I needed the laughter. And then, there was Pierce...even in jeans and T-shirts, he always looked immaculately put together. I tried to tell myself that it was just because of my loneliness since Don's passing...but watching him, I was having thoughts and feelings that no respectable woman my age should have been having. I felt like a horny teenager all over again!

At one point, we were all sitting about the rehearsal hall waiting to jump back into the choreography. I could tell he was near because I smelled his magnificent aftershave, but I wasn't sure how close he stood behind me. I didn't want to stand up, turn and fall into his arms..well, I did but not right in front of everyone... So, I casually reached back and my palm landed on his abdomen. I heard a quick intake of breath, and I didn't have to look to know that he was sucking in his gut. I mean, how cute was that? I was falling..fast...

Something had to give...it happened suddenly, unexpectedly...and when it did the walls I had erected came crashing down. It was late in the last week of rehearsals - a Thursday of a very long week. On Monday we would begin filming interior shots. It had also been a very long morning, people were getting a bit tired, and emotions were swirling. Usually on a movie set when that happens, angry words and fists can sometimes be thrown about. But not here...we hadn't even stepped in front of the cameras yet but we had coalesced into a tight-knit group of friends.

Amanda and I were rehearsing "Slipping Through My Fingers". It is an achingly beautiful song about the bond between a parent and child, and it hit a little too close to home for me right then. My children were all back in the States, and even though we talked on the phone at least once daily, it wasn't the same as being with them.

I pride myself on being prepared, a professional...but my training suddenly left me. My mind went blank and I faltered on the words. I could feel tears building in my eyes, but I was NOT going to let anyone see me cry. Standing up, I looked across to our director. "I'm going to need a minute, okay?" I have never walked off a stage in a huff before, but I know that's what it must have looked like as I walked away from the rehearsal.

"Okay, it's a good time for a break, anyway," she said. " Let's break for lunch! Be back in one hour! "

I found an out of the way alcove off to one side, and let the tears overtake me. I was so out of sorts that I didn't hear Pierce come up behind me. By the time I caught the scent of spice, he was there, wrapping his arms around me as I cried. Even as upset as I was, I noticed that my head fit perfectly against his shoulder. I folded myself even further into his embrace and had myself a good cry.

"It's all right, dear one," he whispered over and over as he stroked my hair. " it's all right..."

He didn't ask what the problem was...I think he knew...of course he did...his children were back in the States as well...

"I miss my kids," I stammered .

"Of course you do, dear," he said. When I looked up, he reached down carefully and softly wiped my tears away with two fingers. Then, I gave over to an impulse and pulled his head down and kissed him. His mouth tasted of peppermint.

I almost expected him to pull away, but instead he ran his hands into my hair on either side of my face and deepened the kiss.

 

Chapter 6: Pierce

Oh my god....she kissed me....Meryl bloody Streep kissed ME!

For a split second, I didn't know what what to do...I mean, I'd been wanting this to happen since the night at the restaurant, but now that it had, I was almost in shock!

I had seen the panic cross her face, and then she lost her line. This consummate professional was now flubbing lines. As she hurried off, away from the rehearsal stage, I followed behind. It was so unlike her.

I found her in a dark little corner, tears flowing down her softly angular face. She had worn no makeup that day, aside from a soft foundation that simply made her face glow. No mascara made ugly black tracks down her face; only soft tear streaks in the foundation. Her eyes, always so engaging, were glistening with tears not yet shed. My heart broke for her.

I did the only thing I could think to do, so I ran my fingers up each side of her face and returned her kiss. Her mouth tasted of strawberries and cream.

After the longest of moments, she pulled away from me and placed her hands on my chest, but I still held her tightly. "What are we doing here, Mister Brosnan?"

"I don't know what you're doing, but I'm having a bit of a snog, Ms. Streep..." I looked down at her...she had long, lean legs but I was still taller. A moment ago I had idly noticed that her head fit smugly onto my shoulder.

I clung to her for a moment longer, then gazed into her face. "Would you like to get out of here for awhile?" She nodded, so I grabbed her hand and we raced through the rehearsal hall. She paused long enough to grab her sweater and purse, then we headed out into the parking lot. Everyone else had already gone their separate ways for a meal and no one noticed us leave. Or so I thought.

I kept a car at the Wimbledon house for my Mum and stepfather to use, but I had rented a car for my use while I was here, because I did not like to depend upon drivers hired by the studio all the time. Sometimes I liked to drive myself. I held the door for her while Meryl climbed into the passenger seat, then I got behind the wheel and fired the engine up.

She didn't ask where we were going, so I headed for the gatehouse. Whatever we were beginning to create, I craved privacy.

At the moment when we were supposed to be back from lunch, Meryl and I were in my gatehouse rooms, locked in an embrace. It was like something out of a romantic comedy, the way we were trying to get each other's clothes off and still maintain our own sense of decorum. Finally, decorum fled out the window.

Our lovemaking was just that...not lust, but lovemaking. She could be both tender and manic, giving as much as taking. It was wonderful...It was breathtaking...It was a joyous release of tensions that had been building. Grief was set aside, if not entirely forgotten.

When we came back to ourselves, both of our cell phones were ringing. We had been missed on set, and the fact that we had left together had been confirmed by the guard at the front gate. There would be no denying it now.

I told my assistant to let everyone know that I would be back in the morning. Meryl told our director virtually the same thing. I assumed that would be the last explanation needed, but it was not long before I heard my mother's voice at the front door; which, in our haste, I had forgotten to lock.

"I saw your car, and thought you might like some tea, dear..." She set the tea things and biscuits on a table near the hearth, and she turned around. Her voice trailed off. She saw Meryl in one of my bathrobes , and me just stepping out of the shower, draped only in a towel around my waist. Her elphin face blushed a bit, but she recovered quickly. "Hello, dear," she said to Meryl. "I hope you like the biscuits...they're just out of the oven," she added before retreating back to the front door. She caught my eye, winked, and quickly flashed a thumbs up in my direction.

Meryl was laughing, and a blush had crept across her face. "Oh God!" She giggled, putting her hands over her face. "I've never been caught by someone's Mother before!"

I sat in a deep cushioned chair in front of the tea things and pulled her into my lap.

 

Chapter 7: Meryl

By the time we got to the studio the next morning, the fact that Pierce and I had disappeared together had made the rounds of the cast and crew. I just thanked God that no media had cottoned on, at least not before we both had a chance to talk to our kids. I had called them from Pierce's gatehouse, but it was hard to talk about seeing someone to your children when you were wearing his bathrobe and that particular someone was sitting behind you and running his hands up and down your legs.

When we drove through the studio gate the next morning, it looked like the entire cast and crew were outside waiting for us to arrive. I gave Pierce a meaningful look as he held the door for me. "I think they are waiting on a show, don't you?"

"Then let's give them one, shall we?" As soon as I got out of the car, he swept me up in a close, bruising kiss. Everyone began to cheer, so he and I took one long, sweeping bow and casually sauntered inside, his hand entwined in mine. In my mind, I heard the lyrics to the song "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About"...

We had already discussed spending the weekend apart, so that we could get a chance to talk - really TALK - to our children. Neither one of us was the type to engage in meaningless sex, and we both knew that this was becoming something...well, worthwhile. And we also both knew that we wanted our children to know what was going on in our lives.

Chapter 7: Pierce

Okay, so I had agreed with Meryl that when the final rehearsals wrapped up tonight, we would spend the weekend apart. We both needed to make trans-Atlantic calls to our kids, and maybe she thought that we needed a breather.

There was no way I could spend two full days without seeing her. I was totally, thoroughly besotted with her. I felt like my life had begun again. Was it possible that not once, not twice, but three times that a woman had saved me from the depths? How had I gotten so damned lucky?

During an afternoon break, I called the restaurant near Covent Garden where we had first danced and made a reservation for Sunday night. I would give her Saturday to make calls and unwind. I would make a few calls myself, accompany my Mum and Dad to Mass on Sunday morning, take them to lunch, then I would kidnap her if I had to for dinner!I

My phone calls to my boys went well. I began by letting them know how much I had loved and missed their Mother, but that I needed to move forward. As it turned out, they had a bit of a thing for Meryl Streep themselves... "Gee, Dad, she's really hot!" My 14 year old Dylan remarked.

"How did you manage to get a date with her?" My youngest son Paris asked.

"I threw myself at her feet and begged her to go out with me!" I told him, and their laughter rang across the phone.

My older sons, Christopher and Sean, were a shade more realistic. "We are happy for you, Dad," they said, but then they both warned me. " When this gets out the paparazzi are gonna have a field day!"

With calls out of the way, and grateful that my kids accepted this new stage of my life, I spent the rest of Saturday watching as many of Meryl's movies as I could find. I knew most of them, of course, but this time I took the chance to really immerse myself in her work. After a while, I began making notes. It was my very own private Master Class. I quickly realized that her talent was a once in a lifetime gift, and it was a little humbling to realize that I would never rise to her same caliber. I was (at best) a working actor. She was the greatest actor of our generation, right up there with the giants of Hollywood's golden era; Hepburn, Tracy, Bogart and Bergman. I also understood that - if this relationship we were starting turned into something...permanent - then her career would always supercede my own. That was an awe inspiring thought...and one that I was surprisingly comfortable with.

 

Chapter 7.1: Meryl

It took some doing, but I managed to arrange a conference call between my three daughters and son. They are far flung with jobs and school, and I expected that they would be upset about my getting into a relationship so soon after their father's death. Not so....

"Oh my god, Mom! You're screwing James Bond!" Mamie squealed. "You've become a Bond girl!"

" Now, sweetheart...don't be crude... " I said, trying to play it cool. "I am NOT screwing James Bond...." I took a deep breath. " I'm screwing the ACTOR who played James Bond! " I heard myself squealing. Their laughter reassured me that they only wanted to see me happy. Kids...just when you think they're going to be difficult, they go and surprise you...

We talked for awhile, then I settled into the luxurious bed in my hotel room. The only thing that would have made it better was a certain someone to share it with. Since he wasn't there, I got the next best thing and found a bunch of his films online. I was completed blown away by his innate talent that passed itself off as
easy going charm. I knew from working with him in rehearsals how seriously he took the craft of acting, and he was always looking for ways to improve his approach. His eyes could convey a multitude of feeling without words. I finally began taking notes. I wasn't above stealing bits from other actors!

 

Chapter 8: Pierce

After lunch with my parents on Sunday, I called a floral shop that I knew was open on the weekend, and had them send two dozen roses to Meryl's hotel room. Then I arranged a limo to pick me up in the early evening, after which I showered, shaved and put on my best tux - a suit that I had arranged to keep after my last Bond film...It was Armani after all...

At six, the limo deposited me outside the hotel where Meryl was staying. In my haste to do this right, I had forgotten that Stellan and Christine both had suites in the same hotel...and on the same floor. When the concierge informed Meryl that a car was waiting for her downstairs, she was in the middle of cocktails with both of them in her suite, so naturally, they accompanied her down to the street to see what was going on.

She gasped as she saw me. "Pierce, I am not dressed to go out!" she complained .

"So go get dressed...I can wait..."

Stella and Christine were smiling like cats that had got into the cream. Meryl looked at them, then said, "Would you two like to join us?" I thought my heart was going to stop. Fortunately, because Stellan looked delighted by the invitation, Christine shook her head. "No, this looks like a limo built for two...besides, I need my beauty sleep before the cameras roll tomorrow...Come on, Stellan, and if you're a good boy, I'll let you tuck me in!" She wiggled her eyebrows like a true old movie villain, and the three of them disappeared back upstairs.

I sat in the limo and waited, envisioning the evening ahead. Meryl was back in a flash, draped in a flowing, green and blue gown, her hair twisted into a bun. She looked...amazing...breathtaking...

We sipped champagne and made small talk until the limousine pulled up in front of the Flat Iron restaurant. As we were getting out of the limo, she said, "This place is always booked solid for months, Pierce...how did you manage a reservation?"

"Simple...I rented the place out for the night... "

"The entire restaurant?"

"Yea... "

She turned around and planted a soft kiss on my lips that promised more of the same...later... "Well, look at you," she whispered, as she reached up and softly used her thumb to wipe away the remnants of her lipstick from my lips. "What a romantic thing to do... I loved the flowers, by the way..."

I put on my best Bond attitude. "A small gesture, madam..." Her smile lit up the room.

The maitre'd showed us to a candle-lit table in the back of the restaurant. There was a dance floor nearby...the management had obviously thought of everything. In my call to them, I had already chosen the meal, and it was perfect, from start to finish. We ate, sampling a bit of everything, and made small talk. We told each other about our talks with our children, then danced a bit, especially to Sam Cooke's "You Send Me". The entire evening could not have gone better.

Back at the hotel, I grabbed a small duffel from the front seat of the limousine, sent the driver on his way, and walked Meryl inside. She looked at the bag slung over my shoulder, and grinned.

"An overnight bag...you certainly come prepared, don't you?"

"I do my best," I replied.

"What if I said you couldn't come upstairs? "

"Then I would have to catch a cab back to Wimbledon in disgrace, broken hearted and thoroughly dejected," I said, then added, "my parents would find out and feel ashamed of me...my kids would learn of it, lose all respect for me and go off and get into drugs..." At that point, she threw back her head and laughed. It was a musical sound.

"Well...we can't have that, can we? Come on! "

 

Chapter 9: Meryl

It was hard to believe that the big, empty sound stage where we had done our first table read for this film still existed. Walking in, the place looked like a taverna in Greece. The set designers had done a wonderful job! Everyone grabbed coffee and chatted while the first scene we were to do that morning was set up. As I chatted with Julie, Christine made a beeline over to me.

"So...how was dinner last night? Come on, sweetie....details!" At Julie's blank look, Christine told her about Pierce's sudden arrival at the front of the hotel. I laughed at the site of the two of them, as eager as pups. Glancing across the room, I saw Pierce in animated conversation with Stellan, and I guessed he was getting pumped for information as well.

I wasn't sure about how Pierce felt, but I thought that any day now, the news of our relationship would leak to the press. As it turned out, another couple would steal that white hot spotlight from us...thank goodness....Dominick and Amanda had begun seeing each other, and the entertainment news was filled with speculation about the two of them. We were free to go about our merry way, while the two young people thrived on the attention. Sometimes being older had its advantages.