The curb outside the restaurant was crowded with photographers. A small area in front of the door had been roped off, but the paparazzi weren’t paying much head to it. A few were standing with cameras at the ready for the newest arrival or departure. Most of the more experienced ones were more relaxed, the celebrities would come when they came and there’d be plenty of time for the photo.
Clint leaned against a newspaper vending machine, ideally flicking through his photos on his camera. He stifled a yawn and deleted another batch. He found he was being much more critical about them than usual. There were less of them than usual too.
He shook his head. This should be an easy job. Big dinner party inside, lots of celebrities coming and going. No exclusives but still easy cash. So why was he making it so difficult for himself?
A limo pulled up and he straightened, determined to get some good shots. He stepped closer and raised his camera. The occupant of the limo stepped out and his hands froze. Nikki. He watched through the view finder as she adjusted the skirt of her dress. He smiled a little as he noticed the style of the dress. At least she was still following his advice on the clothes she wore.
She turned and smiled at someone getting out of the limo behind her. Clint lowered the camera and glanced up.
Tobin. She was…here with Tobin?
Nikki brushed a stand of hair back behind her shoulder and waited for Tobin to come up beside her. Together the two made their way towards the restaurant entrance, trying to ignore the paparazzi and flashing cameras. As the door closed behind them, Clint switched off his camera. He felt as if he’d just been punched in the gut and right now this was the last place he wanted to be.
Clint resisted a groan as he glanced up and nodded to Lionel. Lionel slapped him on the back and grinned.
“It’s been while. I was beginning to wonder if you were even still in LA.”
Clint shrugged. “I’ve been busy.”
“Too busy for work? What, are you trying to break into show business or something? I didn’t know you had any aspirations for acting.”
“I don’t,” Clint snapped, slightly annoyed. “I’ve just been doing some freelance work.”
“Hey, just joking. Didn’t mean any harm.”
“Whatever.” Clint turned his attention back to his camera.
“Come on,” said Lionel, slapping his back again. “Lighten up. Let me guess, you’ve got woman problems.”
“I’m really not in the mood-”
“Hey I’ve been there,” said Lionel, holding up his hands. “When my ex-wife walked out, I took it rough. But you live and learn and figure out that women don’t make the world go round.”
“Lionel. I really don’t need your philosophy of life right now.”
Lionel chuckled. “Fine, have it your way. Tell you what though; I’ll let you in on a little scoop. Sadly I missed out on the photo-op but it’s some juicy news. Peter Glades got arrested.”
“Now’s really not-, wait what?” Clint looked up.
“One of my sources in the LAPD told me they brought him in earlier today. I didn’t hear about it in time to be on scene. But it’s still a pretty good story. I suspect there’ll be some kind of official announcement tomorrow.”
Clint stepped closer before lowering his voice. “Do you know what he was arrested for?”
“Nah. My source didn’t know much about it. Just that it had happened. Hang on, there’s a limo coming.” Lionel started pushing his way to the front of the photographers, but Clint hung back.
Why would Peter be arrested? Instantly the answer came to him. Alan’s trailer. They must have figured out Peter was responsible for the break-in. It would make sense. The police had the real stalker in custody and if they figured out he hadn’t been responsible for that break-in they’d have started looking elsewhere…
Clint swore. And Peter was just pigheaded enough not to tell the police anything. Clint supposed he couldn’t entirely blame him. Peter had very little reason to trust the LAPD. He also understood why Peter had wanted to talk to Holly before anything else but that wasn’t an option anymore.
Clint turned and walked away from the restaurant towards the parking garage several blocks down. He retrieved his car and drove towards Peter’s apartment, stilling working through his plan.
He parked outside the building and hurried in, taking the elevator up. He stopped outside Peter’s door and pulled a paper clip out of his pocket. It had been an awfully long time since he’d done this, but he hoped he’d still be able to get it done. He was just leaning down towards the lock when he thought he heard movement inside.
He straightened and pressed his ear to the door. A minute ticked by and then a small rustle caught his ear. He quickly stepped back and pocketed the paper clip. He hesitated, wondering if he should come back later. Instead, he knocked.
There was a pause and the door swung open. Clint had to search his memory to place the face before him. “Your Peter’s agent?” he more asked, then stated.
Matt nodded curtly. “What do you want?”
“I came to pick something up for Peter.”
Matt looked at him disbelievingly. Clint sensed there was going to be a problem and seeing an opportunity took it to sidestep past Matt into the apartment.
“I’ll only be a moment.”
“Get out,” said Matt firmly.
“I told you,” said Clint, opening a drawer of a side table, “I’m here for Peter.”
In an instant Matt was across the room and slamming the drawer shut. Clint glanced up at him, and the two men stared at each other. “I know who you are,” said Matt coolly.
Clint frowned. “I’m not entirely sure what you mean.”
“I know you’re the photographer that took those photos of Peter in his apartment five years ago.”
“Oh.” Clint dropped his gaze.
“I tried to convince him to sue you at the time.”
“But he didn’t.”
Matt crossed his arms and said defensively, “With everything else going on he couldn’t handle more trials and lawyers. But if I had my way, you would have paid for what you did to him. And I don’t know why Peter is having anything to do with you now, but I’m not going to let you root around his apartment, especially at this moment.”
“So it’s true? He has been arrested?”
“He hasn’t been-” Matt cleared his throat. “He’s fine. Now leave.”
“Look you think you’re the only one who thinks what I did was inexcusable? I do too.” Clint turned away and walked over to another side table, opened its drawer and checked it. “And I’ve been trying to make it up to Peter. And I know that now he’s in trouble and that I can help.”
“Why should I believe anything you say?”
Clint opened a third drawer and spotted what he was looking for. “You don’t have to believe me. Here.” He took out the folder and held it out to Matt. “Look at this. This is what Peter and I have been doing.”
Matt took the folder and flicked it open. He froze. It took him several minutes to say anything and then hesitantly he glanced up at Clint. “Is this what I think it is?”
“Why…why hasn’t Peter shown this to anyone?”
“He was trying to show it to Holly Woods.”
“Holly-, oh Peter.” Matt sighed and shook his head.
“And now I’m going to take it to the police.”
Matt hesitated. “He wasn’t arrested. He was just taken in for questioning. But I don’t know what for.”
“I think I do. And that folder should clear it up. Everything in there can be independently verified…other than the photo of Layla and Alan, and that they can at least prove wasn’t tampered with. They can check the security footage themselves and match the fingerprints. Hopefully that will be enough. So are you going to give me the folder, or aren’t you?”
There was a long, dead silence and then slowly Matt held it out.
Clint took it. “Thank you.” He walked out of the apartment.