EXT. NIKKI’S HOUSE. DAY.
Clint leaned against his car, coffee cup in hand, looking up at Nikki’s house. He kept replaying the argument from the morning over in his head to convince himself he didn’t have to go in and apologize but it wasn’t working. She might not have handled things well, but his response had been less then diplomatic. He’d probably pushed too hard and too fast. He shouldn’t have reasonably expected her to live in isolation for an extended period of time until her image faded to the point where it could be rebuilt. She’d lived in a certain style since she was fifteen. People changed slowly, not overnight. He took a sip of coffee and delayed awhile longer. Apologizing had never been his strong suit. He told things like they were and tended to move on. He seldom took a step back to see how someone took it. He rested his coffee on the hood of the car and straightened up.
Clint took a step forward towards the house when he heard the electronic gate slide open and turned around to see a slick convertible drive in. It pulled up alongside his own car and a tall, slim woman got out, dressed in a business suit. She reached into the back of her car and took out a briefcase and then came around, stopping as she neared him. She looked at him questioningly.
They stood there, looking at each other. Clint got the impression the woman was waiting for an explanation of who he was, but a certain contrary streak of his was steadfastly refusing. The silence lengthened.
It took a full minute before the woman asked, with a certain degree of coolness. “Who are you?”
Somehow Clint got the impression she knew exactly who he was. He gave a broad grin, ignoring her icy demeanor. “Clint Morgan.”
She held out her finely manicured hand towards him. He shook it. “You’re Nikki’s new…’manager’.” There was just a hint of sarcasm in the last word. Clint chose to ignore it.
“Yes I am. And who are you?”
“I’m Vanessa Francis. I’m from the label.”
“It’s good to meet you Vanessa.”
She frowned at him. “Mr. Morgan I believe you work as a paparazzi do you not?”
“Technically the singular is paparazzo but a lot people make that mistake.”
“Mr. Morgan,” Vanessa said firmly. “This is a serious matter.”
“Is there a matter? I thought we were just introducing ourselves.”
“I think you should know that I came here today to seriously recommend to Nikki that she let you go.”
Clint continued to smile but only because it seemed to irate her. “Is that a fact?”
“Yes. You’re not a professional and you have no idea what you’re doing.”
“Between me and you, I couldn’t do worse than the job done by her last manager, or your label,” he said, keeping his voice pleasant.
Vanessa crossed her armed. “The label has repeatedly done the best we can by Ms. Steele, as we do by every singer who is signed with us. Your lack of understanding over the difficulties of the situation is just further proof you have no comprehension on how to do this job. Calling you a manager is a joke. But a bad manager can hurt a career and for Nikki’s sake that has to concern me. On top of which I suspect any private information you learn about her will end up splashed across the headlines.”
“You’re just afraid of making less money off her. Which is fine, I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t be concerned about the bottom line. The label’s a business and every business has to worry about making money. It’s what a business does. But I do think you could cut the bull and stop pretending you’re actually worried about Nikki herself.”
“May I say the same to you Mr. Morgan? Nikki has been signed with us since her first hit and we will protect our interests and hers-”
The front door opened and Nikki stepped out onto the driveway, holding up a hand to shield her eyes against the sun.
“What are the two of you doing out here?” she asked, coming over towards them. “Hello Vanessa. I didn’t know you were coming over today.”
“I came to talk to you.”
“Well why don’t we three talk inside then?” Nikki asked. “Unless you really enjoy having business meetings in driveways.”
“I’d rather we talk just the two of us,” said Vanessa.
Nikki turned fully towards the woman and cocked her head one side. Clint instantly sensed danger. “Clint is my manager. I think he should probably sit in on any meetings with my label, don’t you? Karl always did before he quit.”
“Mr. Morgan however is what I want to speak to you about.”
“Oh. I see,” said Nikki. “Well you know you could do that, but I really wouldn’t if I were you. It’d be a waste of time. And at the end of the day, when you’re Nikki Steele, managers are so much more valuable than labels. There are always labels to sign with, but a really good manager is so much harder to find. Wouldn’t you say? I’ll be inside. Whoever wants to talk can find me in there.” She walked back into the house.
Clint had to give it to Vanessa. She certainly could keep her expression calm. She nodded curtly to Clint and walked towards her car. Clint in turn, followed Nikki inside.
She was waiting for him in the living room and smiled as she saw him.
“That was pretty impressive,” he said, sitting down in an armchair across from her.
She shrugged. “You were the one that said that no one’s ever told me no. I want what I want.”
“I’m sorry Nikki for this morning. I didn’t handle it right.”
“And I was hung-over. I’m really not sick of your attitude. I like your attitude. I really do.”
“I’ve been thinking. While I still do hold with what I said earlier, about partying and nightclubs and why you should stay away from them for the time being. Maybe it wasn’t very realistic to ask you to stay in the house doing nothing. Instead of waiting for your image to fade naturally, we knock it out by force. Offense instead of defense. We make the world see a new you.”
“And how do we do that?”
“Well first you start working; which means we have to find a song.”