INT. CAR. NIGHT.
Peter gripped the steering wheel tightly and set his jaw, a curious mixture of nerves and fury building up inside of him. He wasn’t sure what he was going to say. He wasn’t even sure he was going to say anything; the impulse to hit someone was growing steadily stronger by the minute.
Driving through Beverly Hills felt oddly surreal, and he realized how long it’d been since he’d been in the area. The last time had been three years ago and that had been for filming. He hadn’t spoken in years to the friends he’d once had up here. But Alan lived up here. Alan who had won Holly. Alan who wasn’t in moronic garbage about crocodiles swimming through space. Alan who hadn’t had to live through a murder trial, while watching each and every friend and acquaintance slowly turn on him. Alan who-
Peter realized his foot was pushing down angrily on the accelerator. He took a deep breath and eased up.
He tried to think back and remember Alan from five years ago. They must have met at some point. Alan had money and that would have been enough to get him invited to some of the same parties. Then they did live in the same building, chances were they had to have passed each other at some point. Yet for the life of him he couldn’t remember.
He sighed and shook his head.
He reached Alan’s address and began to slow down, but at last second he impulsive sped up the block instead. His breath a little shaky, he took one hand off the steering wheel and shook it, trying to relax.
He was going to do it, he told himself sternly. He hadn’t managed to talk to Holly or Evelyn, but he wouldn’t back out now. Alan owed him.
Peter pulled up to the side of the road and parked. He tapped his fingers against the steering wheel, looking off into the distance. It was odd, he thought, how long it’d really been since he’d thought of the past. It really had been years since Layla had felt like a living, breathing being in his memory…
He had watched her from the couch as she moved in and out of the living room. She paused at the mirror to slip on a small silver necklace with a single pearl. He had felt a flash of resentment as he watched her. He’d bought her that necklace and now she was wearing it for the first time to go out with…well he didn’t know who she was going out with. She could just be going out to dinner with some friends. And as long as he didn’t ask her, he could almost believe it.
She knew he was watching, maybe that’s why she lingered an extra moment in the mirror to adjust a strand of hair. She reached for her phone and checked it before slipping it into her purse. She wrapped a thin scarf around her bare shoulders and turned to smile at him before walking to the door.
He turned his back, not wanting to watch her leave, but at the sound of the door opening he almost broke.
“Yes?” She almost sounded…amused.
“Have a good evening.”
He heard the door closed and he sighed, reaching for his drink. As long as he didn’t ask her…he could still believe.
Peter rubbed his hand vigorously across his face. The thing was, the part he was most ashamed of, wasn’t that he allowed it to reach that point; it wasn’t that he had been so blind and so incapable of stopping it, or that each time he was faced with the truth he believed her, either when she denied it or each time she swore it would change. It wasn’t even when she stopped hiding and stopped swearing. The worst of it was that he recognized something in the anger he was feeling now. Part of it was resentment and rage at the injustices he had been through, but part of it was also the anger of loss, because the truth which he been denying to himself and ignoring for so long was that despite it all, the embarrassments, lies and betrayals, he still loved her. And he hated himself for it.
He turned the car back on abruptly and pulled back onto the road, making a U-turn back towards Alan’s house.
It was getting late and twilight was falling as he pulled up outside the guard house. The security officer emerged and sidled over to the car.
“Can I help you?” he asked, leaning down to look through Peter’s opened window.
“I’m here to see Alan.” Peter pulled out his wallet and handed over his ID. “Can you let him know Peter Glades is here to speak to him? It’s very important. Tell him it’s about…” he hesitated, trying to figure out the right words, “Actually just tell him it’s Peter Glades about something very important. That’ll probably do it.”
The security guard looked doubtful but shrugged and disappeared back into the gate house.
Peter waited impatiently as several minutes ticked by. Finally the guard reemerged and handed Peter back his ID.
“Mr. Ryder said to park right inside the gate and he’ll meet you outside.”
The gate slid open and Peter drove in. He parked and got out of the car. He leaned against the hood of it and waited impatiently, digging the toe of his shoe into the gravel walk. It was another ten minutes before he saw the front door open and Alan step out. As he came nearer the lights from the wall illuminated his face, his expression looked strained and uncertain.
As soon as he was a few feet away, , Alan nodded to Peter and pulled on a distinctly fake smile “This is a surprise. How are you?”
Peter struggled to respond, searching desperately for a way to begin.
“The guard said you were here about something important?” Alan prompted him.
Peter nodded curtly. He glanced over his shoulder towards the nearby guard house. “Could we go inside?”
Alan looked uncomfortable. “I actually have someone over…”
“Holly,” Peter guessed automatically.
“Yeah…” There was a long silence. “Are you here about her?”
“What?” asked Peter. “No. Why?”
“She told me about what happened. That you…” Alan shrugged a little, “Have feelings for her?” The words sounded awkward and Alan shifted uncomfortably.
Peter frowned, and a surge of anger gave him renewed confidence. “This isn’t about Holly. It’s about someone else. And we need to talk.” He half gestured towards the guard house. “Privately.”
He wondered if he had imagined a brief flicker of doubt cross Alan’s face, but gestured towards the gardens. Alan hesitated for half a second and then led the way into them. They walked around towards the back of the house.
Peter could feel the words forcing their way up and out and he was in midstride when he cut into the silence abruptly.
“You killed her.”
Alan, who was in front, stopped and turned around slowly. Lights from the house lit his face and he had a smile on, the epitome of charm and it was completely and utterly fake. It might as well have been right off a movie screen.
“What?” asked Alan.
“You killer her,” said Peter, his voice now calm and level.
Alan’s eyebrows furrowed but the smile remained. It was all so exaggerated and false, as if he were trying for a specific emotion and just not getting it quite right. “What are you talking about?”
Peter made a low, brutal noise, almost a growl, and suddenly surged forward, pushing Alan back against a tree.
“You killed Layla.”
The smile was gone, the acting was gone. Alan’s hands reached up and tried to push away the arm pinning him down, but Peter didn’t budge.
“You killed her. You came to our apartment, our home, and you shot her. You killed her. When she was pregnant. Your murdered our baby-”
“I didn’t know…” Alan’s voice trailed off.
“What?” snapped Peter.
Alan’s eyes closed and he took a deep shuddering breath. As he exhaled, Peter could feel it the air on his skin, shaky and uneven.
“I didn’t know,” said Alan quietly, “About the baby, until I read about it in the paper weeks later.”
Peter lowered his arm and took several steps back. “And you killed them both.”
Alan’s eyes opened and stared back at Peter.
“Why?” asked Peter suddenly. “Why did you do it?”
Alan looked shattered. He raised a hand helplessly. “I was twenty.”
Peter gave a short bark of laughter. “Right. And when you’re twenty you do stupid things. Like get a tattoo you’ll regret in ten years, or a haircut you have to suffer through for six months. You don’t shoot people!”
“I loved her!” Alan broke out suddenly, pushing away from the tree, and taking a step forward. “I loved her! Alright? I was out here in Hollywood, and I didn’t know anyone, my parents kept trying to get me to go back to school, I couldn’t get a part, I felt completely and utterly alone. You don’t know what that’s like.”
“Actually I think I do,” said Peter icily.
Alan ignored him and continued. “And then I met her at a party. And she was…so nice to me. We talked for an hour. It was my first real conversation in a year and it felt amazing. And she asked me to lunch. And at lunch she asked me to dinner. I talked to her about my work and she acted like she cared about it. She was the only one being supportive. I never even stopped to think about it, I just fell in love.”
“She was married.”
“She said it didn’t mean anything. That it never really had. And you knew she wasn’t faithful. And she said she loved me. I thought she was going to leave you. I rented an apartment in the same building so I could be closer and we could spend more time…she never told me not to. I talked about our future and she never stopped me.”
Peter winced…it was all just a little too familiar for comfort. “How could you kill her then?”
“I ask myself that every night,” said Alan, his voice distant, almost as if talking to himself. “She pulled away. She stopped calling, she stopped coming over. She cancelled plans, she avoided me. And then she asked me to meet her. She said we needed to talk. I went over to the apartment and she…” His voice broke. He took a long minute and then continued, his voice lower, “She said she wanted to be ‘honest’, and then told me that she’d never really loved me and it had just been ‘fun’. She said she had to completely cut me out of her life, that it was all over, that it’d never been anything to begin with. She actually cried. After everything she had said and done…she wanted to go back to you. She let me talk about our future and our relationship and our life together and there’d never been anything. I’ve never been that furious in my entire life. I don’t even think I knew what hate meant till then.”
There was a long dead silence, neither man looking at the other. The night was growing darker and Alan’s back was to the house, his face cast in shadow. And it crossed Peter’s mind that he could remember exactly what that level of fury felt like.
“So you took her gun and shot her?” asked Peter, his voice emotionless.
“I don’t ever know how it happened,” said Alan helplessly. “I think I just wanted to scare her at first. Punish her just a little for what she’d done. I can’t even remember deciding to pull the trigger.” Alan looked up at the sky and then back at Peter. “There. You have your answers. Now get out.” He sounded…broken.
Peter looked at him in disbelief. “You really think that’s it? That’s all I want? Answers?”
“That’s all you’re getting,” said Alan, his voice hard.
“You think I’m going to walk away and leave Holly with you?”
“I think,” said Alan icily. “That Holly has made her choice.”
“Because she doesn’t know the truth!”
“And she’s not going to!” Alan took a threatening step closer but Peter didn’t back down.
“You can’t stop me.”
“Your word against mine, who do you think she’s going to believe?” Alan snapped. “And remember she loves me. You’re the rejected, jealous¸ lover.”
“I have a lot more than words. I have proof.”
Peter could see a second of doubt flash across Alan’s face, before he shook his head.
“You don’t have proof. Not of murder. If you did, you’d have gone to the police not come here.”
Frustrated, but seeing it was pointless to lie, Peter nodded. “You’re right. I don’t have proof of murder. But have proof of the affair. I have texts sent to and from your phone. Some of them quite…shall I say ‘descriptive’.”
Alan seemed to consider this for a moment. “You can’t prove I sent them.”
“I have proof the phone number is yours.”
“And I can tell Holly I lost my phone or let a friend use it.”
“Whose going to believe that?”
“A girl who is very much in love. The same way I was in love and believed Layla. The same way you did. I have gone through hell over what I’ve done, and I won’t lose Holly after all of that. I love her. I need her. She is my sanity and I will fight to keep her. You lost all hope of credibility the instant you told her you loved her and I will use that.”
“I love her too,” said Peter, coming closer to look Alan straight in the eye. “And if you think I’m going to go away and leave her with a murderer-”
“I am not a murderer. I killed one person in a moment I deeply regret. But I am not a murderer; I would never hurt Holly-”
“That’s quite the distinction to make to the husband of the woman you killed!”
There was a very long silence.
“I won’t hurt her,” Alan repeated, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Good. Because if you do, I won’t care about the police or my future. I don’t care if I rot in jail for the rest of my life for it. If you hurt her, emotionally or physically, I’ll kill you,” said Peter sincerely, “And you can believe I will, because I have nothing to lose, and you made sure of that.”
Alan stared at him and then gave a very small, almost imperceptible nod. The two men stepped away from each other and the tension eased slightly.
“I should go in,” said Alan quietly.
Peter didn’t respond. Alan waited a few moments and then started to walk back towards the house.
“I will find a way,” said Peter suddenly. Alan turned to look at him. “I will find proof of what you did and I will convince Holly. I won’t let her stay with you after what you’ve done. You may not hurt her, but you don’t deserve her.”
Alan turned abruptly and walked away.
Peter took a deep breath. His hands shook and he pressed them together firmly, forcing himself to regain control. He waited till he heard the front door open and shut and then began to walk slowly back to his car, exhausted and spent. He would find a way later to keep his promise to Alan, now all he wanted was to sleep.
Movement from the windows of the house caught his eye and turned to look into the kitchen. Holly was taking wine glasses down from a shelf. He watched as she bent over a drawer, her red hair falling over her shoulder. She straightened up, a corkscrew in hand and dragged a wine bottle across the kitchen island towards her. She dug the screw into the cork and began to turn it, a look of amusingly deep concentration on her face. And then Alan was entering the kitchen. He stood behind her and reached around, placing his hand over hers and the bottle. She turned around surprised and looked up at him.
Peter couldn’t tell what she was saying, but she lifted a hand and gently ran it down Alan’s trouble face. Alan shook his head and responded, smiling down at her. It was a wonderful smile, genuine, all encompassing, yet meant exclusively for her. There was love in that smile. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, while Peter walked away.
Inside Holly drew back.
“You’re sure you’re alright?” she asked.
“Positive.” Alan played absently with a strand of her hair. “I love you. And that’s never going to change.”
She beamed up at him. “I feel exactly the same way.”
He dropped his hands from around her. “I should start the veal.”
She leaned back against the island and watched him dreamily for a minute or two as he started getting ingredients out of the refrigerator. A noise that sounded like a car pulling out of the driveway brought her back and she turned around to open the bottle.
The End of Season One.
Author’s Note: There will be a two week hiatus before the next part, partly due to the fact that I want to finish mapping out the outline for it (I have it in my head, but I’d like to write it all down), and partly because I just want to celebrate finishing the first book ;-). I’m feeling quite happy that I finished. Thank you everyone for reading so far! I hope it’s not disappointing.
So Holly(Woods) season two will be returning on September 24th.