"Great job everyone, that was most of the blocking, and good progress on your lines," Samantha clapped her hands in a way more fun than authoritative as she dismissed her cast. They had been hard at work since the morning and had really begun to gel, "Let's not forget that we have the press release next weekend. Tuesday through Friday we've got normal rehearsal times, so please take tomorrow and Monday and get some rest."
Twenty members of the cast and crew of The Caffeine Train - Whodunnit? began to gather their coats and books, chatting amongst each other. Theater was fun when it was fun, but the brick laying and foundation work was always a big chore to knock off the list early. Blocking an entire five act comedy murder mystery had clearly taken a bit of a toll on the young director, but Samantha breathed a sigh of relief with it out of the way. The puzzle pieces had all been put in place, and from here out it was a matter of refinement, memorization, and collaboration. The big headache was in the rear view mirror.
She'd been trained classically, attending Shakespeare festivals since high school, diving into Chekhov in college, rounding out with Shaw and Pinter afterward...it felt good to just do a fun show with her friends. Most of the cast were people she'd worked with before, and in fact hung out with on weekends. Drinking pals, board games...this was a show about blowing off some steam while still pushing creative boundaries. So as much as Samantha may have been tired, she was energized and eager to continue working for a little while longer.
"Erin! Julian!" she put a pencil behind her ear and scratched her mess of hair, calling out to her two friends, "Let's take five and then come back and knock this out."
If Erin was tired or bored, she didn't show it. She nodded over her black framed glasses and turned to use the rest room, her poker straight dyed red hair whipping as she left the room. Her knee high boot clacked on the tile floor and Julian admired her figure in the black skirt and gold sweater. Julian was also far from tired and didn't show a hint of boredom, but he was certainly compensating with nervousness. They had largely skipped over this scene earlier, since the blocking was extraordinarily simple. But ever since he had been cast in this role, he had awaited this day with equal parts dread and excitement. He remembered the initial read thru, he had wanted to shrink up and live inside his own stomach. At least, he thought, it was just the three of them for this first actual run.
Julian had been very good about his theater friendships. There were several stereotypes for 'theater kids' in school, and the one that applied most readily to him was that he was doing it to get laid. A lot of guys came and went, just looking to hit on a girl or have a little fun while basking in the benefits of being around a dateable pool. He'd gone so far out of his way to not do this that more than once he had sort of shot himself in the foot. A couple times one of the cute girls, and guys for that matter, of a cast would openly hit on him and he would politely turn it down. He had gone so far out of his way to avoid being a creep that it had led to serious frustration more than once. Erin was one of the more infamous examples.
Two shows ago this little troupe had come together, forming around Death of a Salesman. The dozen or so cast and crew that were especially social had grown close over copious amounts of drinks after rehearsals. Julian and Erin caught each other eyeing the other more than once during the run, and Samantha had taken the opportunity to give each of the the proportional amount of teasing over it. Erin and Samantha had gone into great drunken deep dives about the modern woman, and her ability to be as assertive and confident as any man. When they disagreed, one of their favorite things to do was turn to Julian and ask his opinion, and enjoy his discomfort at choosing a flavor of feminism between two of his close, and attractive, female friends.
During rehearsal for a show last year, Julian took a moment and rested in the audience. He hadn't heard Erin approach him from behind, but he felt her giving him a massage. Turning his head, he eyed her as she looked straight ahead to the stage, almost ignoring him, but continuing to rub his shoulder and neck. He could have melted in his chair in that moment, his eyes closing and enjoying her touch. Her hands were small and tender, but firm, and she pressed a gentle strength into his muscles.
"Hey bud, where'd you go just now?" Samantha snapped Julian back to the present, waving her hand in front of his face.
"Oh, hey, ah..." he ran his hand through his brown hair, then stretched and breathed deep, "Just dozing for a sec."
"Need any coffee? Green tea?" his friend held out her travel cup of lukewarm caffeine, they were close enough that sharing a cup didn't bother either of them, "I could probably rustle up some coke from one of these hooligans."
"Naw, thanks, I'm good, really," Julian stood and turned side to side, stretching his torso.
"Cool," Samantha picked up a couple of books off the floor and started arranging the stage, "Take a whiz if you've gotta, but hurry up. Erin's gonna tie you to a chair and then we can go home."
A month earlier, at the initial read through, Julian's eyes were locked on a line in the script and he couldn't look away.
[DELILAH ties JORDAN to the chair.] was the line of blocking preceding a long monologue. That was it. There wasn't anything else to it, no detail, and his mind was going crazy reading it over and over. Delilah was one of the villains of the story, and Jordan was one the protagonists, and the script says she ties him to a chair and then goes off explaining her plans and motivations for like six pages! No interruptions, no dialogue, no nothing.
His foot had been tapping since he came across the line, and he stole periodic glances up at Erin. If she had noticed it, she didn't show it whatsoever. And if Samantha had cast the two of them opposite, knowingly putting the two of them in these roles with this dynamic, he could murder her! But also, this was an elated feeling he didn't want to come down from. Simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating, like a wound that had been ripped open and was being licked clean.
Erin, meanwhile, glanced at Julian one time since seeing the line. If he had even noticed it, his acting definitely didn't betray it. But she knew. She knew damn well a few months ago, when a half dozen of them were all hanging out at her place, sipping whiskey and playing some Catan. When he slipped away to use the bathroom, then came back looking pale and nervous. After everybody left she examined the bookshelf in the hallway next to the bathroom, and she knew the book of Irving Klaw artwork was sticking out from her neatly formed books. A smile had crept up her face as she pictured the attractive shy boy looking at the fetish book and going wide-eyed.
"Alright, I'm good to go," Erin sauntered back into the theater, now with only Samantha and Julian waiting. All the other cast and crew had taken off, they weren't needed for this last bit as it was just detailed blocking for the director and two actors.
"Great, so, we've got the scene where Delilah explains everything to Jordan," Samantha did her best Groucho Marx impression and leaned sideways at her friends, "And the audience!"
With a sheepish laugh Julian jumped on stage to his blocking spot from earlier. During the general rehearsal the stage blocking was left off at him entering, Erin entering behind and holding him at gunpoint, and fill in the rest later. This was later, and while he was definitely still a bundle of nerves he was jumping right in pretending nothing was wrong. People got tied up on stage all the time, it was never a big deal. Erin got up on stage behind him and he felt her finger poke him in the back, her thumb cocked up like a pretend gun.
"Alright Jordan," Erin definitely played up the arch for now, "You're onto me eh?"
"I, uh, don't have my lines memorized," Jordan's hands were up in the air and his script was in his right hand.
"Don't worry about it, she's got the hard part," Samantha pulled her pencil from her hair and jotted down a blocking note.
"Let's have a seat," Erin nudged Julian over to a wooden chair that was their only furniture on the black stage. In the finished product it would be next to a desk in the main set piece of a house, but for now they were in a black box land of imagination.
Sitting him in the chair, Erin pulled Julian's arms around the back one by one. He nervously complied and decided to bury himself in the acting. He wasn't a professional, but he was damn good as an amateur doing this for fun. His character, Jordan, was a plucky private detective who had a breakthrough that Delilah was not what she appeared to be. Upon going to confront her, she got the drop on him.
"So, am I just gonna have some rope in my purse then?" Erin dropped her arch accent and bluntly asked, "Did I just happen to know he would be coming to get a confession? There's not, like, rope just laying around the house is there?"
"Oh yes, this is the rope house," Samantha joked, "The twist we're going with is this whole play takes place in a bondage mansion."
The joke didn't need a laugh, but Julian gave it a small haha to break his own tension. The fact that the girls were even joking about it meant that it was a thing that existed, the whole awkward and taboo nature of him getting tied up. It had always seemed like something he made way too big a deal out of, and he envied people that didn't give it a second thought. As a kid, if he was watching a movie with his parents or siblings and they got to a scene where someone was tied (and god forbid gagged) he would find some sheepish excuse to go get something from the kitchen. He always felt like everyone saw right through his discomfort. Even with his first couple girlfriends, they played with bondage tape and fuzzy handcuffs and the like, but it was always very closed off and personal. It was something for an intimate few. Samantha, meanwhile, thought less about her own throwaway joke than Julian did. She took a moment and pressed the pencil eraser onto her lip, in deep thought.
"You're a villain," Julian shrugged, looking to contribute so as not to seem suspicious and awkward, "You were probably on your way to tie someone up anyway."
"Oh is that what villains do?" Erin's voice was the slightest bit playful.
"We'll find the motivation later, it doesn't exactly lay it out," Samantha scowled slightly at the script, "But that is a bit...blech. God I hate when they don't think of basic things like that. Like, why do you just have rope? Do you even use rope?"
The three thespians fell into a few seconds of silence pondering the question that really didn't have to be answered at this moment.
"Maybe you find it in the garage or something," Julian offered.
"I feel like Delilah doesn't just grab whatever's lying around," Erin put her hand on his shoulder as she stood behind him, "She's not the kind of person to leave loose ends, right? Well, literally, but also, she catches on to Jordan before he can accuse her. So I feel like she'd come prepared, and she'd have some coils in a bag, ready for some snooping do-gooder."
"That does sound like her," Samantha wrote down a note as she pointed to backstage, "We'll order some quality stuff for you, but for now there's some lengths backstage you can work with, to get the feel of it down."
Julian's heart raced as he sat in the chair, hearing Erin walk backstage and rummage for a moment before coming back out. Now they were placing an order for his restraints, this had escalated into a whole thing! Erin dragged several messy lengths of rope out, dropping them on the floor behind Julian.
"Yeah I mean, for the show I'll have them neatly wound in my bag," Erin started looping some rope around Julian's wrists, "Rather than dumping them all on stage like this. It'll make it easier to work with too, so that we spend less time fucking around with it."
"Yeah it's annoying," Samantha furrowed her brow at the booklet in front of her, "It's so easy for writers to say something in a single sentence in a script, when it's going to take five or ten awkward minutes to do it on the stage. And you can always tell when that's the case, because as you're fighting with the rope you'll get the actor doing these one line improvs, and the other actor just has to sit there."
Julian did his part by just sitting there. Mostly he was petrified to do anything else, but he was definitely enjoying the feel of Erin wrapping rope around his arms. Rope wasn't something he'd experienced, and it was definitely a more intense feeling than the fuzzy cuffs or the tape that stuck to itself. Those were fun and all, but there was something about the concentration and care that Erin had to use to wrap the cord around him. She guided it with some tension, not enough to actually restrain him if he wanted to get out, and the wrapping held her energy in perpetuity. It was like she was holding his hands, his arms, giving him a constant press of touch.
"I'll just have to get good at being fast," Erin said as she paused and looked at Julian and the chair, "Do you think his arms should go through the slats, instead of around the sides?"
Erin studied the chair and its slats. Julian looked down at his arms going around the chair, and he playfully made a flapping motion with his elbows. Samantha made a face and tilted her head at the big picture.
"I just...nothing kills suspension of disbelief quicker than bullshit that no one believes, right?" Samantha was a perfectionist, to be sure. If the show was surrealist, she would go all out to beyond explanation. If the show was supposed to be realistic, she wanted it to be accurate. She studied the sight for a moment and said, "Through the slats. You're about to go on a long-winded explanation of your master plan, you wanna make sure his cute butt's staying right where it is."
While Julian had concentrated his infatuation on Erin, the fact remained that Samantha was incredibly attractive as well. Her boyfriend had become good pals with him, and she was almost more of a sister-like figure, but their teasing friendship was still flirtatious. So hearing her call his butt cute while she was talking to Erin about how to tie him up definitely started making him blush. If the girls noticed, they didn't show it.
"Alright, got it," rope unwound from Julian's hands as Erin undid it, and he reached his arms through the vertical slats in the chair and she began re-wrapping them, "That's a good point. Jules, let me know if this hurts at all. Or if it's too loose, if you feel like you can just shrug out of it."
"I'm good," an incredibly nervous Julian half laughed. Whatever he was, he probably wouldn't actually classify it as 'good'.
The rope went around his wrists again and this time he felt a loose cinch. Erin definitely knew her way around rope and knots, and Julian shrugged a bit at it. Given a few minutes, he could probably get out of this. But from the outside, it looked plenty real. There was no sense in actually making it inescapable, but as far as suspending disbelief they were doing a great job. Erin stood up.
"I've got more rope here," she held up a couple of lengths, "Should I do his legs?"
"I'd say legs at least, what do you think Jules?" Samantha wrote down another note.
"Uh" he was definitely flush, "I mean I could kick you or, you know, just sort of walk away."
"Exactly, so let's do an ankle to each chair leg," Erin started wrapping rope around Julian's right ankle, winding it above and below the spindle so that it didn't just fall off the bottom.
After about five or six wraps she gave it a light cinch, not enough to tighten or snug, but enough that it looked realistic. This being Julian's foot and not his hands, he probably couldn't get it out without untying it. She took another length of rope and did up his left ankle the same way, then stepped back and took in the sight overall with Samantha. The two women studied the man tied to the chair like they were critiquing an essay, and he felt a bit like a piece of meat.
"He's definitely tied up...but something about it is missing..." Samantha stretched her neck as she thought about what someone would want restrained on a captive, "We don't want to spend an hour on this or anything. But maybe just some rope around the arms. You could begin your monologue to fill some of the space."
"That works," Erin said as she grabbed two piece of rope off the ground.
Erin halved one length and created a bight, then doubled the other rope and passed it through the first, effectively doubling their lengths. She started coiling the rope around Julian's upper arms. After a half dozen passes, she did a loose cinch under the armpits so that it hugged his arms. Again, it wasn't tight enough to prevent an escape, but it looked real from the distance of the audience. And for Julian, it was unbelievably real.
"So now I'm going to go talk for six pages," Erin stood up and surveyed her handiwork, "I feel like I'd gag him. Don't you?"
Ice filled Julian's veins and he held his breath. This wasn't in the script, and it wasn't something that had crossed his mind. Yet, Erin asked it so effortlessly, like it really was nothing out of the ordinary. She might as well have been asking about whether she entered stage left or stage right. More than ever he was relieved that nobody else was in this part of rehearsal, but he began to dread the months of rehearsals that lay ahead, and of course the run of actual shows with an actual audience. The irony of Erin's question is that he currently didn't have the ability to speak, he was so nervous.
"That makes sense," Samantha looked up and studied Julian intently, "You've got all this space where he doesn't interrupt you, but you're talking in equal parts to the audience and to him. So it's not like you're off in your own little soliloquy. Yeah I think you'd gag him, sure."
Julian's heart was going to beat out of his chest when he noticed a tightening in his groin. Oh this was going to be a problem, wasn't it? Maybe the only thing more embarrassing for him than being tied and gagged by two of his best friends would be if he had a big ol' erection from it. He flexed his leg muscles and the erection began to subside, but he was going to have to figure out a long term solution other than quitting the show.
"Cool, what am I going to have to gag him with?" the world continued to turn without Julian contributing, as Erin asked.
"Hold on, I've got it," Samantha was getting up from her chair and started pulling at the black scarf that held up her hair, wound at least four times around her head, "We'll costume you with a Brigitte Bardot look, make it so you're an awesome femme fatale. Here you go."
Careful not to drag it on the ground, Samantha handed the long black fabric to Erin. She also looked at Julian with a smile. It was an opaque cotton band with no frills or holes in it, just some pleats from being worn.
"Don't worry, totally clean," Samantha stayed standing, now fully engaged in the scene.
"Any last words?" Erin held the scarf out in both hands.
If Julian could have died of embarrassment, but also made the moment last for eternity, he was on that perfect balance point. This was simultaneously the most exciting and scary moment of his theatrical life, as he eyeballed the long black cloth that had been wound tight around his friend's head.
"Not really, sounds like you two have this, I'll just chill," his joke hung out in the air.
"Alright, open wide," Erin pulled Julian's lower jaw down slightly and she pulled the scarf between his teeth, tying it at the back of his head and letting the ends trail.
Stepping back and surveying the result, Erin glanced at her script and paraphrased the opening of her speech.
"Now, I suppose you've discovered, blah blah blah, how am I going to deal with you, hmm hmm," Erin side stepped and matched her monologue blocking that was laid out earlier, sort of dancing her way through the speech.
"Julian can you find moments to sort of interject so you're not just sitting there?" Samantha was watching the two very intently.
"Thure, that'th no promlem," Julian felt silly, but was going to give it his best.
Samantha's brow was furrowed, and she chewed on her lip while she thought. One thing that could always be said about her directing style is that her shows were believable. She relished the idea of putting on a show where the audience could forget they were watching a show. She would always rather scrap an idea, or handle it in an imaginative way, rather than an obviously fake one. A couple of shows prior she had to have a character fly around stage, but there was no way to make it look real. So instead Samantha made the scene into an entire dream sequence complete with aerial silks, just to justify having a character appear to 'fly' in such a way that didn't look staged and theatrical, but rather artistic and authentic. Go big or go home.
"Julian, you can still make words pretty well can't you?" Samantha asked her friend.
"Kine-na," he simply pushed past the cloth in between his teeth, "It'th jutht in the way."
Samantha puzzled for a moment, thinking of what to do. It was Erin who had a bright idea, and Julian felt the knot being undone behind his head.
"If we're going to gag him, let's at least mean it and do it for real then," she said with a tone and seeming knowledge that made Julian equal parts nervous and incredibly excited, "Give him a gag he can actually work with."
Erin retrieved a cotton handkerchief from her back pocket. Julian would be lying if he said he hadn't paid attention to it earlier, the white cotton rectangle with neon blue and green lines poking out from her back pocket. It drew his eye to her perfect backside, but he was also drawn to it. She held it in one hand and he instinctively shrunk up a bit.
"Don't worry, it's perfectly clean," she spoke like she was coaxing him into taking some medicine, "I haven't used it today, and I wash them daily."
For several reasons Julian was trepidatious, but he opened his jaw slowly. Erin didn't cram the kerchief in, but waited until his mouth was open and gently but firmly placed it behind his teeth. She sort of nestled the cloth into his mouth and then wound the scarf around his head a couple of times. He noticed a very slight taste to it, as Erin had still handled it during the day.
"Could you..." Samantha was studying the two of them very closely, "I don't know that I've ever gagged someone before. But I sort of want like a knot or something in that, to sort of keep him from like spitting the wad of cloth out?"
Nodding as she unwound the long black cotton scarf again, Erin held it out and and knotted it once in the middle. She tied a second knot to add some girth to it, and then placed it in Julian's mouth, parting his teeth slightly and prying his mouth open. He felt the packing fill the back space as Erin tied the scarf around once. He tried for a few seconds not to actively bite the knot in his friend's scarf, but then rested his jaw and his lips closed around the black cotton. He felt less guilty about it remembering that Samantha volunteered to use her hairband for the scene.
"Gimme something Julian," Samantha made a bit of a come hither motion with her finger, "Say something like 'You'll never get away with this!', it's classic!"
Julian cleared his throat and straightened his back a bit.
"Mnn'mm nmfmr gmph nmmnm mmnphh phhnph!" he pushed through any embarrassment and tried to articulate past the gag. At least if he gave it his all, he would hide the fact that he was blushing from embarrassment by working up an effort.
Erin betrayed a slight giggle, and Julian flex his leg muscles again to tame his erection. Samantha still seemed a bit less than pleased with the end result.
"Erin, you've got a lot of leftover scarf," Samantha walked up and took up the lengths of black cloth that draped from the back of Julian's head, "I feel like Delilah would enjoy really getting the best of Jordan, and maybe she'd wrap up the rest of his mouth. Sort of like this."
Julian had thus far been pretty calm, but his eyes were wide now as Samantha wrapped one end of her scarf around to the front of his head and pulled it over the knot in his mouth. She then took the other loose end and stretched it wide, laying it down over his entire mouth, then knotted the ends together in the back. He now had one person's kerchief stuffing his mouth full while the other person's entire hair wrap wound its way around his head three times. Samantha stepped back and looked very self satisfied, a huge smile across her face.
"There, how's that? Doing alright?" Samantha poked at the scarf a little bit, ensuring it was seated over Julian's lips, "Try that line again."
"mrr'rr nmhmr gmh rmrm mnhh hhnh" Julian was surprised at how limited his speech was.
"Perfect!" Samantha was in her directorial delight, watching the magic unfold, "Can you give me one good scream Jules?"
Again, staving off the embarrassment, Julian planted his feet and pulled a little bit on the wrist ropes to get into the full character.
"hmrh! hmrh mm!" the cloth completely muffled and soaked up his voice.
Samantha held up her hand for a high five and Erin gave it a return.
"We have successfully gagged Julian," the director said, "Now you just need to be able to do that in under five minutes while doing your monologue."
"Easy," Erin returned to where she had laid down her script, picking it up and finding where she left off.
Julian settled back in his chair and took a moment to stop dying of shame and just enjoy something he had been dreading. All the little flirts, all the times both of them had teased or mildly flirted with him, and he got to sit back and bask in their playful attention.
Erin went through some of her monologue, hitting her spots and going through the literal motions. For the most part Julian's eyes just followed her, and every now and then she looked back at him or gestured toward him while talking about how she Delilah was going to get away with murder. Julian figured he would find the best times to interject with a mumble or a grunt, but he didn't want to just pepper Erin's big moment with distracting buffoonery in the background. If he was to suffer the humiliation of this believable bondage and ridiculous gag, he wanted to make sure it was worth elevating the show and not subtracting from it. For now he just sort of got comfortable.
"Sorry, can you go back a couple lines," Samantha held her hand up at Erin, thinking about where a delivery of speech would be elegantly placed instead of forced, "Julian you're doing great, just sit tight."
Samantha gave a little snort laugh at her own joke. Erin looked at Julian and gave a smile and an eye roll at their friend. The director was again on her feet and ushered Erin to another part of the stage, then gave a couple of notes.
"Try to avoid just sort of ping-ponging out to the audience and back to him, then out there, then back to him," Samantha mimicked the movement a bit exaggeratedly, "It turns into sort of a running gag."
Again, her joke brought a snort and a broad smile to her own face, while Erin gave a grin playfully swatted the director with her script.
"hmrm hrnnm" was Julian's attempt at saying 'very funny'.
Fifteen minutes or so went by with nothing but tweaks and minor notes to the person who could walk around the stage. Aside from a little bit of literal cotton mouth, Julian was more or less comfortable and started to relax. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, rehearsals in front of the whole cast. By the time they got to do the show as a whole, he might even be able to get through it with an audience without wanting to die inside. In the meantime, he got to watch two very talented artists brainstorm their craft. It was mostly uneventful, and even boring, and Julian began to wonder if being tied up and gagged for this long of a speech would actually be a bit of a cakewalk.
"And so you've explained your whole plot, there we are, and you wind up right at center stage," Samantha stood back and observed the blocking at the end of the scene, "And...now what? The other detective busts in with the two police officers, and you're caught."
"That's it, just in time for me to finish my grand exposition dump!" Erin held out her arms and took a bit of a bow.
"Sure, but they announce from offstage that they know you're in here," Samantha started to pace a bit, studying the stage, "Because of course Jordan is a brilliant private investigator and he called for backup before going to confront you."
"rhhnrrhrm," Julian tried to say 'obviously'.
"But, again...the damn script doesn't give us any more than that," Samantha studied the lines and again furrowed her brow, going into her director space, "You finish talking. They announce from offstage. They enter, you're arrested. And act break."
Erin contemplated this, having some room for creativity. She chewed on a nail for a moment and then looked back at Julian.
"Jules, how you doing?"
"rh mrr hnrm, hmmn hmhhmr hmmn mrrhm," he played up his half closed eyelids and shrugged in the ropes.
"I feel like..." Erin walked up to the chair, "As soon as they start talking offstage, he'd try to alert them. So I'm realizing the gig is up, I'm about to be caught, but I'd try to keep Jordan from calling out to the cops."
As she was saying the last part, Erin cupped her hand over Julian's gag and clamped down gently but firmly. Her fingers curled to the contour of his face and her palm pressed the knot in the scarf further into his mouth. His eyes went wide automatically as she stood behind him, her hand covering his ability to produce any noise.
"Yes! Yes, that's perfect, and so he starts screaming for help," Samantha was in her world as she gestured at Julian.
"hmrh! hmrh mm! hmrh, N'm nn hmrm!" Julian called out to the pretend allies that were beyond an invisible door.
Erin's hand pressed tighter onto Julian's face, his head pulled back firmly into her abdomen and chest. She held him there while looking around at the windows and doors that would be constructed as a set. Samantha picked up her script and read the offstage lines.
"Give yourself up! You are surrounded," Samantha did her best authoritative voice and then spoke normally to her actors, "Jules you keep yelling for help, Erin you need to look like a caged animal, clamp down on his gag."
"hmrh! hrmmhrnm hmrh mm!" Julian started to subside and Jordan began to take shape, the private investigator that had cornered the murderess, "hhm'h grh mm hnmn rh rnn grggmn!"
Erin's hand continued to press firmly as Samantha continued with some siren noises and some lines about giving herself up, and then clapped loudly, "AND SCENE! Perfect, you guys!"
Erin let go of Julian's mouth and put a congratulatory palm on each shoulder. She reached up and untied the scarf, letting the knotted cloth fall into his lap. Julian pushed out the soaked handkerchief without considering letting Erin take it, and sat for a moment in disbelief. He started to wiggle his hands out from the ropes behind his back as Erin ruffled up his hair.
"I've got myself a great scene partner here, what can I say," she teased as Julian pulled his wrists out and started fidgeting with the ropes around his arms.
"The only sort of floating note I've got in general is that ad-libbing stuff can be kinda sorta not great if it's not smooth," Samantha picked up her scarf and began to undo the knot, completely ignoring the wetness from having been in Julian's mouth, "It can sound really fake really quick."
"Don't worry," Erin smirked, "We'll get a lot of practice in. We want to get it just right."