INT. CLUB. (CONT’D).
Peter made a bee-line straight to the bar. He ignored the people already there and pushing to the front ordered a double bourbon. The bartender glanced nervously at the other people waiting, but he was young, probably just twenty-one, and Peter shot him a glare that clearly flustered him. He quickly poured the drink and pushed it across the bar. Peter downed it in a few gulps.
He rasped as the smooth drink went down. He took several deep breaths and closed his eyes. He could sense now the looks and almost hear the whispered comments. He thought he had made his way to the bar quickly enough to reach it before the story of his argument with Henry but it appeared not. Or possibly he’d been noticed before this. Maybe the looks and stares had been going on around him and he’d been too interested in Holly to notice.
He glanced up at the bartender. “Another.”
“Evelyn, what am I missing?” asked Holly, turning to her friend. “That was an awful thing to say to anyone, but why would anyone say it to Peter?”
“This isn’t the place to go into it,” said Evelyn after a moment of thought. “But honestly Holly, if you want to make it in this town you really should learn a little bit about the major players.”
“But Peter isn’t a major player…is he?” she asked doubtfully. She recalled vaguely now how she’d thought him familiar when they’d first met, but given his current film project and his obvious reluctance to be a part of it, she had assumed he was just another struggling actor and he’d never said anything to the contrary.
“Not anymore,” conceded Evelyn.
“What do you mean?”
“Another time,” said Evelyn firmly. “Now is not an appropriate moment. Though I must say I am surprised you don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?” demanded Holly frustrated.
Evelyn cleared her throat pointedly and nodded in the direction behind Holly. Holly turned and saw Peter making his way through the crowd towards them.
“Don’t ask him about it,” said Evelyn, lowering her voice, “He looks wretched enough as it is.”
Holly felt utterly confused but she had to agree with Evelyn. Peter did look wretched. He looked unhappy and uncomfortable and Holly decided immediately to change the subject as he reached them.
“Hey,” she said brightly. “I meant to tell you. The Homestead episode with my first lines is set to air in about three weeks. My roommate Amy and I are going to make a big night of it. If you want to come over for it you can.”
Peter looked distracted as he spoke but he forced a smile as she finished speaking and nodded. “Sure. I’d enjoy that.”
“Great. You’ll like Amy. And she’s planning on baking for it. You’ll love her cupcakes.”
“Well who doesn’t love cupcakes?” asked Evelyn. The conversation was forced. Holly knew it. But she wasn’t exactly sure she could put her finger on why.
“By the way did Matilda come with you?” asked Holly, turning to Evelyn, hoping a change in subject would help.
“Oh yes. She’s over there somewhere,” said Evelyn waving in vaguely in a direction. “Talking to someone. It’s amazing how many people that woman knows…oh look, here comes Alan.”
Holly looked up and felt herself involuntarily start to smile. Goodness, did he look good. He looked as if he’d walked out of some spy novel, breathtakingly handsome and dressed in a tuxedo. And he was looking straight at her.
“Hello Holly. I’m sorry I couldn’t come over and talk to you sooner. This party is as much work as anything else for me.”
“It’s no problem. I hope the premiere went well.”
“I think it did. A lot fans showed up. Lot of screaming. It’ll probably be a few weeks before my eardrums recover.”
Holly laughed. “So you get the crazy kind of fans then?”
“I’d definitely describe them as enthusiastic. Anyways. I have to go shake more hands in a minute but I just wanted to make sure you were having a good time.”
“I’m having a great time. It has been so exciting just being here!”
“I’m glad.” He glanced momentarily at Peter; Holly caught the glance and instantly hurried into an explanation.
“This is my friend.” Maybe she stressed the last word a bit too much. “Peter, Alan. Alan, Peter.”
Evelyn studied their faces as the two men shook hands. Alan looked a little tense but it was Peter who interested her more. She glanced back towards Holly who was keeping her gaze focused solely on Alan.
“It’s good to meet you,” Alan was saying before he turned back to Holly. “I was actually hoping to touch base with you about dinner.”
“Yes?” Holly asked brightly.
“Wednesday night is clear for me. I have a lot of promoting throughout the week. Talks shows, interviews. But I could try and make time another day if Wednesday doesn’t work for you.”
“No, Wednesday would be good,” said Holly quickly.
“Good.” He gave her his all-encompassing smile and then gestured back towards the crowd. “I have to go…I’ll see you at work on Monday.” He nodded towards Evelyn and Peter and backed away.
Holly realized abruptly she’d just made a date with Alan in front of Evelyn. She turned embarrassed, towards the woman, who was looking at her with great amusement.
“Dinner?” Evelyn raised an eyebrow. “How very interesting.”
Holly sighed and shrugged. “It’s just one dinner. But maybe it is a little interesting.” She conceded, with a grin.
“Holly,” Peter spoke.
She turned to him. “Yes?”
“I think I’m going to go.”
“What? Why?” she asked surprised. “Is something wrong?”
“Yes,” he said matter-of-factly. “The argument with Henry is what’s wrong. I just need to get out of here.”
“Alright, well we can probably get a cab-”
“No. You stay,” he said firmly. “Enjoy yourself. We don’t have to leave together.”
“Are you sure?” she asked concerned. “I don’t mind.”
“I’m sure,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ll be fine. I just want to head home.”
“Okay,” she agreed hesitantly. “I’ll see you on lot.”
He nodded. “Yes. And good-bye Evelyn. It was good seeing you.”
EXT. STREET. NIGHT.
Clint examined the view screen on his camera, clicking through the photos. Nothing very exciting, but they were alright. They’d sell at any rate. Not for much given there was a handful of other photographers taking the same snaps, but for something. That bothered him less than it used to. As long as the one thousand a week from Nikki lasted, getting the money shot could become less of a priority.
Things were slowing down. Most of the people who were coming to the after-party had come and it’d be awhile before they started to leave. Which meant a break, but that had some downsides too he thought wryly as saw Lionel moseying over towards him.
“Morgan!” Lionel thumped him on the back in greeting. “Haven’t seen you around much lately. You haven’t been shortchanging your contacts I hope.”
“No, just doing some freelance work for a client.”
Lionel tsked. “You missed some good stuff. Yesterday, if you believe it, a Grammy winner got arrested right on Rodeo Drive for shoplifting. You missed out on some darn fine photos. Not entirely exclusive, there were a couple of us there, but only the guys who really know what we’re doing.”
Clint shrugged. “Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing then.”
“Oh come on. I know for a fact one of the sale clerks at the store in question is one of your sources. I know, I know,” he said, as Clint opened his mouth to respond. “You will neither confirm nor deny. But you should have been there. Got some pretty funny pictures, that arrest was hilarious!” He chortled in amusement.
“Glad to hear it,” said Clint coolly.
“Been a pretty good week all things considered,” said Lionel contentedly. “Nothing exclusive; not anything worth the big bucks that is. It’s been ages since I’ve got something really topnotch. Man, I’d love to catch a good cheating scandal. Whoever caught that big one last year was one lucky bloke.”
“Yes,” agreed Clint dryly. “Take a photo, breakup a couple, shatter a marriage. One lucky bloke.”
“You always were a cynic Morgan,” commented Lionel. “We just take the pictures; no one’s forcing ’em into those positions. Look at this way: we’re the only real punishment these people get. They break laws and get community service. They lie, cheat and steal while studios and labels bend over backwards to cover it up. We’re the moral guardians of Hollywood!” He grinned. “And there’s nothing like making money off the pain!”
“How very noble of us,” snapped Clint. “Look, I think I’m done here. I’m not going to wait around for them to leave. I’ll see you later.”
“Hey come on-”
“I’ll see you.”
Clint hurried off. The last thing he needed right now was a talk with Lionel. He’d had a nagging voice of guilt in the back of his head for long enough tonight since he saw Peter Glades step out of that taxi and head into the club. He didn’t need to make it worse by listening to Lionel.