A prologue set in 1968 provides the context for the future sparking and sparring between the two protagonists. Ten-year-old E.J. (Elizabeth Jane) Hatton meets twenty-two-year old Texan heartthrob, Reilly Donner, during one of her father’s raucous Hollywood parties while swinging from a fourteen-foot ladder. E.J.’s hoping for a soft landing but instead, falls hard…for Riley.
Fast forward to 1982. E.J. is emerging from a lengthy mourning period for her adored father. Though drowning in sorrow, she’s determined to prove to her Uncle Wade that’s she’s worthy of her promotion to associate producer for his latest project: a pilot for a prime time soap opera (think “Dallas”). When Reilly swaggers back into her life – as the director for the pilot – she refuses to swoon over her childhood crush and discovers that in real life, he’s “arrogant, patronizing and in love with the sound of his voice.” While she’s relieved that he seems to have no memory of their previous encounter, she’s furious when he dismisses her nickname as more suitable for a Dodgers’ third baseman and insists on calling her “Lizzy”.
Reilly believes that Lizzy needs to be taken firmly in hand and kept on a short leash. Her strategy for resisting such constraints as well as her attraction to him leads to a pattern of avoiding, eluding and running away from him. He, in turn, is mystified, frustrated and eventually, smitten with her.
Conflict arises when the soap’s leading lady, Evelyn Palmer, an old flame of Reilly’s, sees his budding infatuation as a threat to her plans for a rekindled romance. She’s also harboring a secret about Lizzy’s father that she plans to reveal at an opportune moment.
Over the course of the twelve-week production, Reilly evolves into a more nurturing, patient man while Lizzy sheds some of her defenses and reconciles her feelings for him. They become lovers during the last two weeks of the shoot, over a tempestuous forty-eight hour period. Will it be enough to sustain and secure them in a happily ever after future?