Holly had figured out something was up about half an hour ago. Alan had taken her to dinner, but kept trying to subtly check his watch. Usually he encouraged her to order both an appetizer and dessert, but tonight he was rushing her and asking for the check almost immediately instead of their usual twenty or so minutes of chatting over a final cup of coffee.
She wasn’t exactly sure what was happening but she was beginning to have a suspicion as they drove away from the restaurant and he didn’t head back in the direction of her apartment. She had had a birthday earlier that week and it was just possible there was some attempt at a surprise under way. So she didn’t ask any questions when they pulled up outside of a club. Alan pulled out his phone and sent a quick text before unbuckling his seatbelt.
“I just need to meet someone inside real quick,” said Alan. “Why don’t you come along? It won’t take long.”
Holly got out of the car without comment and followed him inside. The club was busy and loud, and Alan took hold of her hand as they weaved through the crowd towards the back. They reached a stairway in front of which stood a big burly man who looked rather grumpy. Alan pulled out ID and handed it to the man who checked it against a clipboard and then waved them both up the stairs. At the top was a large heavy looking door with ‘VIP’ written across it. Alan opened it for Holly and she entered. A loud wash of ‘happy birthday’s and ‘surprise’s met her.
The room was brightly lit and as Alan closed the door behind them, the music and noise from downstairs faded. There were only about fifty people inside. Most of them Holly recognized from Homestead though she saw Amy waving happily towards her.
Evelyn met them at the door and hugged her. “Happy Birthday!”
“Did you do this?” asked Holly, hugging her back.
“Oh I just organized it. Hardly anything. Just wait here over by this table; I’ll get you a drink. Now that you’re twenty-one it will be completely legal! Very exciting!”
Holly laughed as Evelyn hurried off.
Alan leaned down and whispered in her ear. “Tell me the truth. I didn’t do it very well did I? You were definitely suspicious.”
She grinned up at him and wrapped her arm around his. “Maybe just a little.”
Evelyn returned drinks in hand. “Here we go.” She pushed one towards each of them. “I hope I’ve got most of your friends here. I worked with Amy on compiling the list. I lot of Homestead people are here of course, and I’ve invited Frank, he’s threatening on plying you with shots tonight, so you might want to stay away from him. Victor is somewhere about as well.”
“Thank you so much for everything Evelyn. I really do appreciate it.”
“Well a girl doesn’t turn twenty-one every day.”
Their conversation was brought to a rather abrupt halt as people started drifting over to wish her a happy birthday.
Nikki pulled on a t-shirt and sweatpants and headed back to the livening room. Vanessa was sitting again, but now she had something in her lap. It looked, from where Nikki was standing, like a script.
Nikki sat down on the couch and turned to Vanessa expectantly. “So, what’s this business you had to discuss?”
“This.” Vanessa held up the script. “The label was approached a few weeks ago by the studio and we’ve been in initial negations for the music side of it since. We’ve also discussed various singers we thought would be appropriate for the lead role, and I personally fought for the part being offered to you first. I’m very happy to say I’ve won.”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“A movie. A studio talked to us about making a musical, they want to build it around modern hits, which is why they came to us first. Part of the deal that was eventually signed is that we had some say in the lead actress. They wanted a singer, we wanted a singer, so that was easy. Several names were tossed around but finally everyone agreed on you.”
“Why me?” asked Nikki, a little horrified at the thought. “I’ve never acted in my life with the one exception of when I was nine. I was Mary in our church’s Christmas play. I had a stomach virus, felt awful and was the grumpiest looking Mary you ever saw.”
“I know it seems a little huge. But believe me; you’ll have all coaching you need. You’ll be brilliant and hardly the first singer to make the transition into movies.”
“That transition hasn’t always been very successful…”
“But just think about it. The publicity alone would be fantastic. You’d get to sing some of your own songs, and then there’d be the soundtrack. And I’m sure they’ll want an original song for credits that they can submit to the Academy. It’d be huge for your musical career alone.”
“What kind of movie is it?”
“Drama mostly, about a struggling singer. It’s going to be shot on location in London.”
“Really?” Nikki’s perked up. “That’s exciting. How long?”
“Two or three months. It’s going to be a big deal. The studio is really backing the project.”
“It would be nice to get away. And acting would be something different. Right now that does sound really good to me,” Nikki admitted almost reluctantly.
“Here. Why don’t you take the script and read it over?” Vanessa held it out. “You can mull it over and let me know what you think.”
Nikki took it and flipped through a few pages of the script. “Okay. I’ll also talk it over with Clint and see what he thinks.”
Vanessa tsked, causing Nikki to shoot her a frown. “He is my manager,” she reminded her sharply.
“I know.” Vanessa left it at that and kept her expression unreadable. With a sigh, Nikki decided not to press the issue.
“Anyways, thanks for bringing this over. I’ll read it and let you know what I think.”
“Perfect.” Vanessa clapped her hands and rose to her feet. “Well, I should get going. I have a business dinner this evening. But I look forward to hearing how you like it.”
Nikki waited until Vanessa had left and she’d heard her car pull out of the driveway, before pouring herself a glass of wine and curling up on the couch to begin reading.