INT. GOUDGE RESTAURANT. (CONT’D).
“I think we’ll start with some wine and then order a little later.” McCall handed the menu back to the waiter and then turned to Holly. “Well, I’m glad we could do this.”
“Me too,” Holly nodded, “…This is a really nice restaurant.”
“Is this your first time here?”
“Yes it is.”
“The first of many I’m sure. This is the spot at the moment for Hollywood’s elite. Of which I’m sure you’ll soon be one.”
Feeling awkward, Holly gave a small laughed and shook her head. “I doubt it’ll be that soon. But it’s nice of you to say.”
“This movie is going to be a big deal. If you can get the role of Katie it will be a huge step towards making you a star. Not by itself. But that comes out and we follow it up with a blockbuster, people will sit up and take notice.”
Holly stared at him, lost for words. Blockbuster? Did he just say Blockbuster?
Maybe it was Amy’s reaction from the morning that kept her response, when it finally came, to a simple question. “We?”
He blinked and then smiled. “I told you Holly, I’m here to talk about your career. I want to help with it. I think you’re a very special young woman with so much to offer.”
Holly jumped as she felt his hand cover hers on the table.
“Umm…” With her freehand she nervously twisted her napkin as warning bells shot off inside her head. Amy had been right. McCall wasn’t some kindly benefactor and the only thing she wanted right now was to get as far away from this situation as possible.
“Holly, I’m currently working as producer on several exciting projects. Most of which could offer very good roles for you. And I would be happy to arrange any one of them for you. But,” he leaned back and let go of her hand. “Right now, what I really want to do is get to know you personally.”
Holly shot up to her feet. “I have to use the restroom.” The words came out slightly jumbled but she didn’t wait for a response as she dashed away from the table.
She just reached the restroom when she caught sight of the back exit right next to it. Without taking a moment to think, she burst through it, out into an alleyway.
“Okay, okay, okay ,okay,” she muttered. “I just go. No harm, no- dang it! I left my purse! What am I going to do, what am I going to do,” She began to pace. “What on earth was I thinking coming tonight-”
Behind her, someone cleared their throat. Startled Holly gave a yelp of surprise and whirled around.
Next to the door, seated on a bench, was a man. As Holly stared at him, she recognized him as the man who had caught her eye inside the restaurant. There was the same thick wavy hair, and now that he was closer she could also see grey eyes.
“I’m…sorry,” Holly said, trying to compose herself, “I was just…”
“Freaking out?” he asked, smiling at her.
“Well…yes.” She crossed her arms. “I guess I was freaking out.”
“Can I help?”
“No thank you.”
Holly stood uncertainly. Continuing to stand here looking at this man would be awkward, but she didn’t really feel like going back inside to McCall either. She was still pondering her best course of action when the man in front of her said,
“I saw you inside. You’re here with Victor McCall aren’t you?”
“You know McCall?” she asked warily.
He seemed to look a little surprise at her tone, but nodded. “Victor’s been around this town for a long time. I don’t know him very well, but he’s always seemed like a good man.”
She let out an involuntary snort.
The man looked surprised. “What?”
“Nothing,” she shook her head, already regretting the display of emotion. “I should…” she waved towards the doorway.
“If there’s one thing I know,” he said his tone suddenly sounding very kind. “It’s that people in this town are rarely what they seem to be. If you tell me he’s not a nice man, I’d easily believe it. Come on, don’t go yet. You’re not ready.”
“What? I-oh.” Holly tasted a tear on her lip and realized she had begun to cry.
“Sit down.” The man scooted over and Holly sat down next to him. “Is there anything I can do?” he asked, after a minute.
“No,” Holly wiped a hand over her eyes. “It’s all stupid. I just feel so…cheap. Why would he…but it’s not just that. I really thought this might be a huge opportunity for me. That I’d get the part and I wouldn’t feel like such an idiot for coming out to LA. It was just stupid of me, why did I ever think I could act? I’ve never acted in my life! I didn’t even do the high school musicals. I did nothing! And now here I am and I really thought that if I just got this role it would…and now I’m having a meltdown in front of a total stranger and I just…it sucks. It really, really sucks that McCall would do this to me.”
“Well I’m filling in the blanks of that story, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s happened,” said the man smiling. “Look I understand what it’s like to…trust someone and then have that trust rudely betrayed. It’s never easy no matter who it is and you end up questioning yourself as much as them. So I’m sorry Victor hurt you like that. But forget about him. Think of you. Do you believe that you deserve to do this right? That’s all you need to know. And if you believe that it doesn’t matter what some idiot with a check book thinks.”
Holly smiled. “Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.” She sighed and shook her head. “I wish though I didn’t have to go back in there.”
“You haven’t eaten dinner yet.”
“Well I can’t eat it now.”
“Sure you can,” he grinned at her. “You go back in there, order the most expensive thing on the menu for every course, though I should warn you that for the appetizer it’s frog legs. And you make him pay through the nose for disrespecting you.”
“And what if he refuses to pay for it? I can barely afford the cheapest thing on the menu.”
“Well that’s why after dessert you order a coffee and when the waiter’s getting it you take your purse, say you have to use the restroom, come out here, nip around the front and get your coat and then drive off. He has to pay as well as realize he’s been walked out on. He’ll get the message loud and clear.”
“That’s terrible!” Holly laughed. “That’s just a terrible idea! I’m doing it!”
The man laughed as well and nodded. “Good.”
“Well…” Holly sighed and stood up. “I’d better go back in. But thank you. What you said…it really meant a lot. Have a good evening.” She headed for the door.
“One more thing,” he said, arresting her as her hand rested on the handle. “You didn’t make a mistake coming to LA. You’ll succeed. I promise. Experience, acting…that’ll all be part of doing it right. You’ll figure it out.”
Holly looked at him for a moment and then nodded. “Thank you.” She went inside. She ducked into the bathroom to fix her makeup and then made her way back over to McCall’s table.
Sitting down she smiled at him and playfully flicked a strand of hair back over her shoulder. “You know. I think tonight I want to see what frog legs taste like.”
Outside in the alley Peter sighed and scuffed the heel of his shoe against the uneven pavement. He replayed the conversation over in his head. ‘Do you believe that you deserve to do this right…that’s all you need to know…’ Shaking his head he stood to his feet. But what if there’s no right ways left.
A few minutes later Matt looked up in surprise as Peter resumed his seat across from him.
“I didn’t think you were coming back,” Matt said. “The waiter just brought our meals.”
“I’ll try out for the role.”
“What? You will? Peter that’s brilliant!”
Peter raised a hand. “Let’s not talk about it. I just want to have a nice dinner.”
Matt hesitated and then nodded, smiling at his friend. “Okay. We can do that.”
A little while later Peter glanced up across the room and smiled to himself as he saw a waiter bringing a plate a frog legs and placing them in front of Victor’s date. She looked up and saw him watching. She grinned back.