A small-town reporter suspects his copy editor's a former high school classmate with a new identity in a witness protection program. Her cover is inadvertently blown, a mob boss she helped convict vows revenge and the reporter and staff protect her.
Take a thriller, add some comedy, a chase and three romantic yet secretive couples, and you have "Fugitive Sweetheart" -- a humorous heartland tale that proves passion's more fun under pressure! Duane Llewellyn, 47, an out-of-work reporter from the east, is hired by the Bethel (Colo.) Gazette. Duane soon meets copy editor Susan Birch and thinks of Eloise Kellogg, a New Jersey high school classmate and star guard on the girls’ basketball team. Susan denies any link to Eloise, although Duane’s online search reveals Eloise died in Brooklyn several years earlier. Duane and Susan join friends at a Rockies game. When a long home run is hit, “non-jock” Susan makes a spectacular catch. It becomes highlight-reel footage as Dmitri Volkoff, a Russian mobster out of prison, sees Eloise, who helped convict him for loan-sharking and running a prostitution ring, on TV and discovers she isn’t dead after all. He vows revenge. Dmitri calls Russian crime associates to track down Eloise, finding she’s now Susan Birch. Stills of the catch reveal one of her friends, seated next to the paper’s sports editor, was a young Russian woman tricked into sex work by Dmitri. He rounds up a team to visit Bethel. The following Friday night, the Gazette is completing production. As the paper is printed, Dmitri, holding a gun, and three unarmed associates charge into the office and Dmitri demands answers “from Eloise Kellogg.” Susan discloses her true identity, as does her friend, now a waitress who’s dating the sports editor. As Dmitri prepares to shoot his ex-wife, a tied bundle of newspapers is tossed into the newsroom from the production room, hitting him in the back of the head and knocking him cold; the gun lands behind a storage bin. Henchmen carry Dmitri to his car, while Susan, Duane, the woman publisher, the sports editor and his Russian girlfriend race for the publisher’s SUV and flee town. The publisher calls her friend, a man who owns a daily in South Dakota, and he agrees to take them in. Early Saturday, the recovered Dmitri and gang stop at the Gazette office, as the publisher leaves a message where they’ll hide on the speakerphone. Dmitri begins pursuit, though he’s about 10 hours behind. En route, Duane feels no vindication, but says he’ll stand by his high school classmate; the sports editor says he’ll do likewise. They arrive at the South Dakota publisher Saturday afternoon, where they have dinner, unaware Dmitri’s gang is drawing closer. After some relaxation, all go to bed -- the publishers in separate rooms, the men in another, and Susan/Eloise and her Russian friend in another. During the night, the publishers discreetly wind up in bed together, as do Duane with Susan and the sports editor with his Russian girlfriend. All the couples are attracted to each other because of sexual tension from the chase. At breakfast the next morning, all confess they had bedded their partners, as Dmitri’s gang arrive. Dmitri intends to kill Susan and her friend after learning how they created a successful case against him. The couples are locked in the master bedroom, as Dmitri and gang enjoy the house. The six seek a way to escape. The waitress -- certain none of the henchmen has seen her before -- has a plan. She knocks on the door, seductively asking for help while hearing Dmitri asleep downstairs, snoring loudly while the TV is on. She invites an aide and his partners upstairs for a stripping game, promising “a tantalizing prize” to the winner. The trio of men, who have put their guns down in the hallway, begin removing their clothes. When the men are down to their underwear. she grabs their guns and the captives race downstairs. The henchmen put their clothes back on, but by then the captors have escaped in a sedan. At a gas station/convenience store, Duane parks to the side, as the mobster’s car pulls in to refuel. The bad guys don’t see the sedan, so Susan uses her gun to shoot out Dmitri’s tires. Duane races out of the parking lot. Dmitri and his gang are apprehended by police. The publishers announce they’ll pool their newspapers’ expenses and then get married, as the other couples plan to do. But upon arriving at the Gazette, they’re greeted by witness protection program officials. Duane and Susan, as well as the other couple, are whisked away to southern California and new identities.