EXT. STUDIO LOT. (CONT’D)
Alan didn’t press Holly for explanations as they drove out of the studio lot. He kept up a relatively steady stream of conversation to distract her but didn’t seem to expect any response. He switched on the radio and turned the sound down low. It was almost relaxing as they drove but Holly still felt in the back of her mind, the nagging stress of the situation she had just left behind.
Alan got onto the highway and drove for some time, leaving the center of LA behind and heading towards an outlining suburb. When he finally pulled off onto an exit they had been driving nearly an hour. He took them down several streets, passing a few residential areas before reaching a slightly upscale neighborhood with several expensive stores and restaurants.
Alan pulled into a parking lot outback of a restaurant and the two got out.
“I thought you might like to avoid the paparazzi tonight,” he explained, coming around the car to take her hand. “It’s a little out of the way, but we’ll have privacy. It’s a family restaurant; all the waiters are local to the area. I’ve never had a problem when I’ve come here.”
“Thank you,” said Holly sincerely, “That was really thoughtful.”
He led her inside. It wasn’t very large inside; small, comfortable and relaxed. There were a handful of diners, a few young couples but most of patrons appeared to be closer to retiree age. A waiter who seemed to know Alan came over and greeted the two at the entrance and then led them back towards the rear of the room. He pushed open a side door which to Holly’s surprise revealed a staircase and three headed upstairs.
The second floor was completely empty of people. There were a few scattered tables, very far apart from each other and extremely private. The waiter led them towards a corner table and pulled out Holly’s chair for her and then handed them each of a menu. He took their drink orders and then excused himself.
As they were left alone Holly looked around the room curiously. Other than being empty it was also slightly fancier then the downstairs. There were paintings on the dark mahogany walls, there was rich carpet on the floor and the table settings looked more expensive.
Alan noticed her looking around curiously and explained, “This is sort of the VIP dining area. They hold it in reserve for celebrities and get quite a few on weekends because of it. If you want a quiet, private dinner, this is the place you come.”
Holly smiled. “I suddenly feel very glamorous. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a VIP area of anything before.”
“Wait till you’ve been a VIP at an airport and then you’ll really feel impressive,” said Alan grinning. Then he grew serious, “Holly, what exactly upset you earlier? What happened with Victor?”
Holly shook her head. “I really don’t want to talk about it. I feel really stupid. Could we please just forget about it for now?”
“Okay,” Alan nodded. “We can do that. Let’s see what we want to order.” He looked down at the menu. As he turned the page he looked up and noticed Holly looked at him intently. “What?” he asked.
She shook her head. “It’s nothing. Just…thank you, for so much.” She leaned across the table and kissed him.
INT. NIKKI’S HOUSE. NIGHT.
Clint was someway between receiving a medal for defusing a bomb which would have blown up the entire planet and meeting a Swedish Princess, when a pillow hit his head and he jerked awake. Groggily he rubbed a hand across his face and blinked, looking around. It took him a moment to register that he was in Nikki’s living room. Through the windows he could see that it was night outside and as he looked towards the source of the thrown pillow, he saw Nikki sitting on the sofa and looking at him expectantly.
He picked up the pillow. “I must have forgotten to have the conversation about throwing things.”
Nikki held up a sheet of music eagerly. “I think I found it. I think I might have found a song.”
Clint dropped the pillow to the floor and learned forward. “Really?”
“Yes. It’s not about dancing or the beat or anything party related, so I think you should like it. And…I don’t know. It means something to me. I think I really like this one.”
Nikki pushed a stack of music off the coffee table and onto the floor, and then put down the song in its place. Clint slid it towards himself and studied it.
This ain’t about love
And it ain’t about men,
She’s may be alone,
Moved on from him,
But she knows,
That she’ll be fine,
Now’s her time,
Her time to shine.
He glanced up at Nikki. She was watching him expectantly. He nodded. “I think I like it too.”
“And I know you said you can’t read music,” said Nikki excitedly “But the tune is pretty upbeat.”
Clint looked over it again. “And it says something you haven’t said before in any of your songs.” He skimmed through the rest of the verses and raised an eyebrow. “Very anti-love.”
“Not at all!” argued Nikki, “It’s not about no love, it’s just about how not every story in your life has to end with it.”
Clint nodded. “Good.” He smiled at her. “It does say something to you.”
“Well I suppose as someone whose never made a relationship last longer than six months, I like what it says,” she admitted.
“Then we have a song.” He handed the sheet music back to her. “And now unfortunately the next step is something neither of us are going to like very much.”
“Calling Vanessa.” He got to his feet and walking over to wall, took the phone from its holder and held it out to Nikki. “Tell her you’ve found a song, you want to sign the necessary paperwork tomorrow morning and begin practicing right after so she’d better get some musicians together. On the plus side,” he added, checking his watch, “You’ll probably be waking her up.”
“What’s the hurry?” she asked, taking the phone.
“We want you out there with this song as soon as possible. All part of our going offensive. I want you on a talk show in no later than three weeks singing this song.”
“Yes. In the meantime I’m going to call in some favors and you’re going to get a feature article. There are several magazine editors and writers who owe me so that shouldn’t be hard. Plus who wouldn’t want to write about Nikki Steele? We just need someone who’ll be willing to write the article on our terms.”
Nikki nodded slowly. “Okay. I guess we’d better get started then.” She dialed Vanessa’s number.