INT. CLUB. (CONT’D).
As Matt walked away, Holly turned towards Peter.
“He seems nice,” she said, as she pushed one of the two glasses across the table towards him. Peter took a drink and chose not to comment. Normally he would have happily complimented Matt; the man had been his friend and agent since Peter was eighteen and had stood by him when no one else had. But at the moment he was feeling annoyed. His friend had been right, he was going to have to talk to Holly, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.
Holly seemed to sense there was something wrong for she abruptly changed the subject. She learned forward conspiratorially and whispered, “Have you noticed that dress? The pink one the woman is wearing over to the left.”
“I’m not entirely sure,” Peter commented, “You can even call that a dress. It looks like it’s going to fall off in about a minute. Still nothing on that one over there, right across from us, see?”
“Huh,” Holly frowned and cocked her head to one side. “I didn’t know they made two piece evening gowns.”
“Men have it lucky. No matter what walk of life we come from, we just have to wear a tux and we’re all on equal footing. Most tuxes are about the same. You’ll find the occasional guy who tries to get creative, but as a rule, we have it easy unless we choose to bring it down on ourselves. Women have to work so much harder at parties like these.”
“But we get prettier clothes and accessories.”
“And how many more hours do they take? No men have it easy, quick and simple.”
Peter felt himself relax as the two talked, it was calming and it was fun. He kept trying to get Holly to laugh. It was such a nice laugh. It was cheerful and lighthearted, pleasant and easy.
He had almost forgotten their surroundings when Evelyn appeared at the table. She probably had not appeared quite as suddenly as it felt, but with his entire focus on Holly, it felt to Peter as if she had come out of thin air.
“Holly,” Evelyn reached over and greeted Holly with a kiss on both cheeks, “It’s so good to see you. I’m so happy you came. And you look quite beautiful. What a nice dress.”
“Thank you. I’m glad you like it,” said Holly pleased. “Oh, Evelyn let me introduce you to-”
“No need. I know Peter from way back.” Evelyn smiled at him and offered her hand to shake. Hesitantly he took it, as Holly asked,
“Yes, we were in a film together,” Evelyn explained.
“You were?” Holly glanced at Peter a little surprised.
“Yes. Long time ago,” Peter answered. Holly could tell it wasn’t something he really wanted to talk about but she was confused why he had never mentioned it before.
“It’s very good to see you again Peter,” Evelyn said graciously. “I thought I’d seen you a few times talking to Holly on lot.”
“Yes. I’m working on the soundstage across from your set.”
“Oh? What are you working on?” asked Evelyn with interest.
With obvious pain in his voice Peter respond weakly, “Crocodiles in Space?”
“That sounds like it could be very good,” she replied tactfully.
“The title is not a metaphor.”
“Well I didn’t think-,” she cut off and paused a moment. “What could it have been a metaphor of?”
“Anything but crocodiles.”
Evelyn laughed. “I’m sure it will be a very entertaining movie as it is, and I look forward to watching it. I really am so happy to see you Peter. I’ve wanted say hello to you since I saw you with Holly. How have you been?”
“I’m fine,” he responded curtly.
“And however did you meet our Holly here?”
Holly shifted uncomfortably and Peter smiled at her for the first time since Evelyn had come over. “We just met by chance at a restaurant and again on the lot.”
Holly shot him a grateful look for glossing over the details of the meeting in the alley.
“It’s a small world in Hollywood,” commented Evelyn. She turned to Holly and began again on the subject of her dress.
“Glades, what do you think you’re doing here?”
Peter looked up sharply at the sound of his last name and his heart sunk. He had actually thought he could get through the conversation alright with Evelyn, Holly was obviously curious why he hadn’t mentioned the film they’d been in together but whether Evelyn had seen his expression when he saw her or the way he kept glancing nervously at Holly or that she was just genuinely trying to be polite, he got the impression that the older actress was purposefully treading carefully. This other encounter wasn’t going to be as smooth.
He knew had to talk to Holly, but he didn’t want to do it in front of this man. Also a part of him couldn’t stand the thought of her hearing the things he was sure the man was about to say to him.
Impulsively, seeing it as the only one sure way to prevent Holly from hearing the conversation, he muttered, “I’ll be right back” and then crossed over quickly towards the man who had spoken.
“Who’s that?” asked Holly, looking towards the man Peter had left to talk to.
“Henry Donne. He actually directed this film we’re supposed to be here celebrating.”
“Oh. He looks-, oh. He looks really angry,” commented Holly, concerned.
The director was keeping his voice down but he was obviously furious as he spoke to Peter.
“Why doesn’t he like Peter?” Holly asked, turning to Evelyn.
Evelyn looked, for the first time since Holly had met her, at a loss for words.
Holly turned back to watch the two men. She wasn’t the only one. Several people in the vicinity had stopped talking and were looking at them. Peter seemed to be trying to end the conversation and kept glancing at the people around them. It was at that point Henry’s voice rose slightly and a single sentence reached Holly’s ears.
“-thinking you can just come here. If you were halfway human you would have taken my advice five years ago and gone off and died alone in a dark hole somewhere.” Henry stormed off and Peter turned. His gaze met Holly’s. He saw her expression.
Peter turned and walked away.