Holly lay across Evelyn’s bed, staring up at the ceiling. Her mind had long since gone blank, and her eyes were tracing the lines in the ceiling’s design. She was tired, but unwilling to sleep. Evelyn had brought up a sandwich at some point earlier in the day, but it still lay uneaten on the nightstand.
Holly wished she could fight it. If she could argue and reason and stand up for Alan it would all be…easier. But it was too late for that. It hadn’t been Evelyn’s rationed explanation of the evidence that had convinced her. She had even started to argue against that. It was Alan himself. She kept remembering his reaction when she told him she’d gotten the gun out of his safe, the way he looked when informed the police had it, and how he sounded when he came over later that night, talking about the flowers at their wedding, their first dance, the wedding speeches. He had known. He had known their time had suddenly become very short.
The doorbell rang and Holly sat up abruptly in bed. Had Peter come back? She wondered why that was the first thing she had thought of.
She got up and walked quietly towards the door, easing it open a crack to listen.
Evelyn’s voice floated up from the living room. “Victor. What are you doing here? Actually I suppose I don’t have to ask that. What else would you be doing in here. Come in.”
“Holly’s roommate said she came over here earlier?” McCall’s voice sounded worried.
“Yes. I heard about the arrest before the announcement. I thought Holly should hear it from a friend.”
“Is she still here?”
“Yes. She’s upstairs in my room. Sleeping I hope. She’ll probably stay here for a few weeks. There’s more privacy than at her apartment building.”
Instinctively, Holly made the crack in a little smaller, though it was impossible the two could see it open from where they stood in the living room.
“Good. I’ve been worried. I sent my lawyer to Ryder.”
“I doubt it will do much good.”
“No,” agreed Victor. “The more I’ve heard about it, the worst things stand. I can’t imagine how Holly took it.”
“I don’t know. She’s not really talking right now.”
“There’s also-” There was a sigh as Victor broke off.
“Now that I’m here, I don’t know that I should bring this up right now.”
“What is it?” Evelyn insisted.
“It’s her career. I don’t know how the tabloids are going to handle her role in all this.”
“She doesn’t have a role in all these! If anything she’s just another victim,” snapped Evelyn.
“I know. But they could portray it very differently.”
“Holly is not going to lose her career on top of everything else. I won’t let that happen,” said Evelyn angrily. “We can help her. We can couch her how to handle this, hire a PR specialist. Do whatever it takes.”
“But will she be ready for whatever it takes? I was talking with Grant earlier. He wanted to drop her from the film.”
“He can’t do that. He’s already offered her the part.”
“But the contract isn’t signed yet.” Victor sounded very tired. “As soon as the news of Alan’s arrest broke, he started bringing up alternative casting options.”
“You can’t let him get away with it!”
“I’m trying not to. There’s…” Victor hesitated, “a merger in the works. It’s a big deal, but they’re keeping it quiet and it hasn’t made the news yet. A couple of studios over in the UK are involved and I’ve been the one spearheading that side of things. I threatened to back out and take the studios with me. Neither Grant or I are positive I even have the power to do that, but he doesn’t want to risk it. But I need Holly to sign the contract and very soon before Grant finds a way out of this.”
“Today.” Holly heard what sounded like Victor sinking down and another sigh. “I don’t know if Holly would still want the part though. With everything that’s happened, and so suddenly, she might want to take a break.”
“She might not be able to come back if she did though. This is a huge story Victor. We both know that. It has everything to capture the public imagination, and it will. It’ll be in the tabloids for weeks. Holly’s position in it, so close to both Peter and Alan, puts her in a very precarious position.”
Holly quietly shut the door and walked back to the bed. She sat down at the end and stared down at her hands, at first just for the sake of someplace for her gaze to fall, but she caught sight of the engagement ring. Slowly she raised her hand, for a closer look.
The diamond seemed dull with most of lights out and the emeralds looked strangely dark. She quietly slipped it off and held it in the palm of her hand, staring at it.
There was a knock on the apartment door. Peter tossed the stack of shirts onto the bed and went to answer it. Matt was standing in the doorway, fidgeting nervously. As he spotted Peter he let out a sigh of relief.
“I’ve been trying to call you all day.”
“Sorry. I’ve been pretty busy.” Peter headed back towards the bedroom, and Matt followed.
“I saw the announcement about Ryder. Are you alright?”
Peter made a noncommittal noise.
“Is that why they brought you in yesterday? How exactly-, what’s this?” Matt stopped short as he entered the bedroom and he took in the open closet door, the open drawers, and the suitcase lying open and half full on the bed.
Peter didn’t answer immediately, as he picked back up the shirts and started to pack them.
“Why not.” Peter shook his head. “Why on earth have I even been staying in LA this long? I don’t have anything here. Five years. Five years of being ‘that guy who killed his wife’. I saw a TV show the other day, where some character was on trial, and a hip young lawyer said some witty line and I was literally the punchline. Do you know what that’s like? And now what am I going to be? The industry’s charity case? The guy everyone pretends they liked all along? What has been my problem? I’ve been wasting five years when I could have been building a new life or at least living one that doesn’t remind me every second of every day exactly how messed up everything is.”
“Please, Peter you’re upset but this isn’t the answer.”
“Yes actually it is.” Peter paused in his packing and turned towards Matt. “But I do want to say thank you.”
“You were the only person who stuck with me and I know that wasn’t always easy for you and I certainly know that I often haven’t been as grateful as I should be. So thank you. For being a friend.”
Matt smiled a little touched. “Come on. Stay,” he pressed, taking Peter’s words as a sign of relenting. However Peter turned back to the suitcase.
“Look you’ve got to. I told you about the commentary for the Crocodiles in Space DVD. You’re bound by contract to work on the special features.”
“Is there going to be anyone else on the commentary?”
“Alright. Then I can record it anywhere else in the world, and that’s exactly where I plan on being.”
“But you have a chance here to finally get your career back. And I’m not talking about being the star of some Z-movies. You could be an actual big name in Hollywood again.”
“You don’t get it. I’m done. I quit.” Peter zipped the suitcase.
“Where are you going to go?”
The doorbell rang. “I guess we’re about to find out,” said Peter.
Matt followed him into the living room. He frowned when Peter opened the door and Clint entered. Clint glanced briefly at Matt and then handed Peter what appeared to be a plane ticket. Peter took it and flipped it open.
“It was the first flight out of the country that wasn’t booked,” said Clint. “Dublin. It leaves in four hours.”
“Thank you,” said Peter. He pocketed the ticket. “I’ll pay you back.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Clint scuffed his feet on the carpet.
“We’re good Clint. About everything.” Peter flashed Clint a smile. Clint watched doubtfully as he turned and headed back to the bedroom.
Holly closed her hand around the ring and stood up. She crossed the room and picked up her purse from where Evelyn had placed it on a chair and fished out her cellphone. She continued to look through her purse, taking out scrapes of paper until she found the one she was looking for. She dialed the number written on it, and waited several moments until it picked up.
“Hello is this Nikki Steele?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“This is Holly Woods. I’m sorry to bother you but you said I could call if I ever wanted to hang out. You mentioned you’d be willing to show me around Hollywood.”
“Yes, that’s right I did.” Nikki sounded surprised. “Are you alright? I’ve seen the news-”
“I’m fine,” said Holly a little too shortly. “I’m just calling to see if you wanted to do something next week.”
“Um…sure. That would be fun. Are you sure?”
“Yes. I just need to…” she trailed off helplessly.
“I get it,” said Nikki. “Absolutely. It’s a plan.”
After Holly hung up she stared at the bed, tempted to sink down on it and take a very long sleep. Instead she forced herself to open the bedroom door and walk down to the living room. As she descended the stairs, both Victor and Evelyn looked up in surprise.
“Is there something you need dear?” asked Evelyn eagerly.
Victor rose to his feet formally. Holly turned to him. “I’ll sign the contract today if it’s ready,” she said. Victor blinked. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I eavesdropped. I know about Grant and the contract. And I’ll sign it today.”
“Holly,” he said, “I don’t want you to think you have to. I only meant that if-”
“I’m signing it.”
There was a moment of hesitation and then he said reluctantly. “Alright. We could leave now if you want.”
Holly nodded. “I’ll just need to a moment upstairs and I’ll be ready to go.”
“Holly-” began Evelyn.
“I’m sure.” Holly turned and walked back up to the bedroom. Once the door was shut she shagged against it and slowly opened her fist. The ring still lay in her palm. She stared at it for one long, last minute and then pocketed it. She refused to cry.
The End of Season Two.
Author’s Note: 🙂 And that was the second season. I have to say I’m rather glad to be done it, not only because I’m quite looking forward to writing the third one, but also because I felt I floundered a somewhat halfway through this one. I knew where I wanted to go, just had a little trouble getting there. So hopefully onward and upward! Season three will begin next week!