INT. RYDER’S HOUSE. NIGHT.
As Holly pushed open the glass double doors and entered the house the noise of the party washed over her; the hum of people chatting, the music…but the house was light, with the carpet and walls a rich white which somehow combated the oppressiveness of the noise and kept her from feeling daunted.
Wading into the throng of people she made her way towards the left wing of the house where she had seen a bar. She got herself a soda and then grabbed a vacant seat on a couch as it became available and took stock of her surroundings.
Well yes, she thought to herself, she was sitting by herself at the party but somehow she didn’t think it would end up being so bad after all despite how much she had feared it. Somehow, now that she felt she had acquired a secure location she felt comfortable surveying the party guests. She had her place on the couch and could people watch without feeling conspicuously out of her depths.
Just as she was settling in, planning out the rest of her evening seated there, she saw Evelyn Martin sweep across the room towards her.
“Holly! I saw you come in but had to extract myself from some very boring man and his boring conversation first. How are you?” Evelyn leaned down and, somewhat theatrically, kissed Holly on both cheeks and then waved away at the man who had the other seat on the couch. “I’d like to sit here with my friend, be a dear and move won’t you?”
The man blinked up in surprise, opened his mouth and then seemed to just give up in the face of Evelyn smiling down at him with complete confidence, apparently without a doubt in the world that he was going to give her his seat. He got up and left and Evelyn instantly sat down next to Holly.
“It’s very good to see you here tonight Holly. Alan mentioned he’d invited you.”
“It was very nice of him,” said Holly. Despite the fact she had been getting herself comfortable with the idea that she would spend the whole party by herself, she was glad she had someone to talk to and she felt grateful to Evelyn.
“He said you were going to bring a friend?”
“Oh, yes I planned to bring my roommate Amy but she got sick last night.”
“That’s a shame, but no matter. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time anyways. Alan throws very laid back parties.”
“This is a laid back party?” asked Holly, eying a nearby waiter.
“Dear, you haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to Hollywood parties. But you will.”
Holly wasn’t sure that entirely sounded like a good thing but fearing she’d make a bad impression if she said so, didn’t comment.
“And how have you liked your first week at work so far?” asked Evelyn.
“I like it a lot. It’s a lot of fun.”
“Good. That’s the way it should be. You’ll have even more once you start having lines.”
“If I have lines.”
“Of course you will have lines. You’re the bartender. Someone’s going to have to order from you soon that was after all why your character was created. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts getting put into some plots before too long. It’s happened before on TV. Background characters becoming major supporting roles.”
Holly laughed and shook her head. “I doubt that’ll happen, but I enjoy what I have already.”
“Well that’s a very good spirit to take,” said Evelyn, “But I’m sure the time will come.”
“I’ve been catching up on the show, watching the first two seasons,” said Holly, diverting the subject. “It’s really good.”
“You hadn’t seen it before?”
“Well…not really,” answered Holly nervously, suddenly aware someone could find this insulting.
Evelyn seemed to guess at Holly’s concern because she laughed and said, “Believe me dear, you don’t have to be afraid to admit that. I routinely go on talk shows and discuss film and television shows with hosts who’ve never watched a minute of them. You learn not everyone has seen every single thing you’ve ever done and you’re not insulted by it. But I’m glad you’re liking it now.”
“I do,” said Holly, nodding eagerly. “I’m halfway through the first season. Just finished the episode where you try and hide your horse thieving ex-lover to keep him getting hung.”
“Oh yes,” said Evelyn brightly. “That was a good episode.” She waved over a nearby waiter and took a glass of wine off his tray. “Tom was quite a good guest star as the ex. It’s one of the only episodes in the first season I really feature in, but I have more in the second.”
“I look forward to watching them,” said Holly.
Evelyn smiled at her fondly.
“Holly, you made it.”
Holly looked up to see Alan had just reached them.
“Thank you for inviting me,” said Holly, blurting out the first words that came her.
“I’m glad you could be here. And I hope you’re having a good time.”
“I am, thank you.”
“Good. And you of course too Evelyn.” He smiled at the older woman.
“Why thank you. I thought you had forgotten about me sitting here.”
“No one could ever forget you Evelyn.” He turned back to Holly, “I’ve got to go say hi to someone but I’ll be right back okay?”
Holly watched as Alan walked away. As he disappeared into the crowd she turned to Evelyn. “How long have you known Alan?”
“Alan?” Evelyn’s eyebrows rose just a little and she smiled but answered the question straight forwardly. “Well I’ve known him of course for at least two years since we’ve be working on the show together but I can’t actually remember the first time I met him. He’s been around Hollywood for a few years; most people have before making it big. His father you know is Senator Ryder from Maine.”
“Really?” said Holly, surprised.
“Oh yes. So since he comes from a wealthy family he circulated in some higher circles then most struggling actors do to begin with. But I think the first time we really met and said more than a few basic greetings to each other was when we were both cast.”
“I see.” Holly wished she could ask more questions but felt too embarrassed.
However, whether sensing Holly’s interest or simply having an inclination to continue with the subject Evelyn continued,
“He seems very nice. I can’t say I know him very well, our relationship is mostly professional but he’s very friendly to everyone and doesn’t put on airs or act all important like some actors do after they start getting known. He’s very down to earth and genial.”
Holly felt that Evelyn was studying her intently and she guessed what the actress was suspecting. It wasn’t entirely unfounded, Holly had to admit to herself, she would never have confessed this to the woman sitting beside her, or anyone else for that matter, but she was interested in Alan. Maybe it was his smile or how on the very first day he had approached her all friendly and open and he had continued to be like that each day. Maybe it was a lot of things. Her interest had yet to turn into anything more serious; she wouldn’t call it a crush or love or even that she definitely wanted to go out on a date with him. She didn’t have a lot of experience in relationships. So she was hesitant; but she was interested.
The man himself was coming back towards them, weaving through the groups of people. He reached the sofa and smiling down at Holly he held out his hand and asked,
“Would you like to dance?”
“I’m not a good dancer,” she said, acutely aware that the longest she had ever danced in public was five minutes in a very dark room and then she had quickly returned to her seat at the table.
“But it’ll be fun,” he said cheerily.
Holly glanced nervously towards Evelyn who had seemed to have suddenly begun a lively conversation with the person standing beside the couch. She hesitated for one moment and then laid her hand in Alan’s. He pulled her up off the couch and led her away to the other side of the house and towards the music.
Furniture had been pushed up against the walls and the carpet rolled up to create a temporarily dance floor. A DJ was in one corner of the room and speakers were set up. It was a large area so while there were a number of dancers it didn’t feel excessively crowded as Alan led her out onto the floor.
The song currently playing was neither fast nor slow, but a comfortable tempo and Alan’s hand held fast to Holly’s as he twirled her around and the two moved in sync. As the song went on Holly felt herself relax as Alan deftly led her through the dance. She wasn’t sure if she was growing more comfortable with dancing or with him, but when the next song came on and the music slowed, she didn’t really think about it as he pulled her closer, wrapping an arm around her waist. She looked up into his face, so close to hers now and somehow as he looked down at her, she felt confident. The song ended and she smiled, which Alan returned with that all-encompassing smile which she was beginning to think of as being uniquely his.
“Why don’t we get something to eat?” he offered. She nodded and he gestured towards a doorway. “The food’s in there.”
As the two walked off the dance floor, Holly realized in the space of two songs she had moved from interested to definite. She liked this man.