Dinner with Nikki was low-key and Holly tried to enjoy herself, but the meeting with Lionel kept nagging at the back of her mind. She came home early, locked the doors and switched on the security system, before crawling into bed and lying in the dark bedroom, mulling the whole thing over. She knew going over it again in her head wouldn’t shed any light on it, but she couldn’t stop it from replaying on repeat.
Despite falling asleep quite late, she was up early, tired but unwilling to go back to bed. She showed up early at Evelyn’s apartment and for once Evelyn was already awake. She greeted Holly with a hug and beamed.
“After having you around for several months, the apartment has felt downright lonely without you.”
Holly smiled back and took a seat on the couch. “The movers don’t seem to have left too much of a mess behind.”
“No. On the whole they could have been a lot worse. Drink?”
“No thank you. I’m good.”
Evelyn poured herself a cocktail and came over to sit across from Holly. “How’s your new place?”
“It’s good. I like it though it’ll take some getting used to. I realized last night that it’s the first time I’ve ever lived alone. Also I had dinner with Nikki last night and I nearly drove back here automatically forgetting all about the house.”
Evelyn stirred her drink and raised a thoughtful eyebrow. “Watch yourself around her. She’s the kind of celebrity that attracts paparazzi like flies.”
“Lately, so have I,” said Holly a little bitterly.
“That’s different. Nikki Steele is the type that goes out clubbing and ends up with a picture in the paper of her staggering home. That kind of person is very dangerous company. They always drag other people into their messes.”
“More advice on making it in Hollywood?” Holly asked, almost wearily.
“Be careful who your friends are, is sound advice for any walk of life,” said Evelyn, ignoring Holly’s tone. “Now, was there a specific reason for this visit? I will always love to see you dear, but I rather got the impression you were looking forward to some alone time.”
“I-.” Holly shifted, a little embarrassed that a second after not appreciating Evelyn’s advice, she was about to ask for more.
Evelyn seemed to guess her thoughts and smiled. “It’s alright. Just tell me whatever it is that’s troubling you.”
Holly explained about the dinner and the man who had approached her. “I’m just not sure what I should do about it,” she finished. “Obviously I don’t know what he meant by any of it or what’s going on, so it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is.”
Evelyn took a long sip from her drink. “How very odd,” she said at last.
“But what do you think I should do?”
“My advice, which of course you do not have to take, is do nothing. Never allow yourself to be used. Especially when you don’t know what you’re being used for.”
“But what if the message is important?”
“Clearly Grant doesn’t think so.”
“But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get it,” Holly argued. “Sometimes people don’t want to hear things but it’s still important that they do.”
“And if it’s so very important he will. There are plenty of ways for this man to get in touch with him, even if Grant is stonewalling him. It sounds to me as if he somehow believes you delivering the message would have some extra meaning. If so, just by delivering said message, you would be involving yourself in the whole thing which is not something you want to do. Mysterious messages and veiled threats aren’t usually something you want to be mixed up in. Especially you and especially now.”
“You’re probably right.”
Evelyn smiled. “Good. There can be a very unpleasant side to Hollywood that you really don’t want to be involved in.”
“I think I’ve already seen it.”
“Holly,” said Evelyn gently, placing down her drink and leaning forward. “Alan just-”
“I don’t want to talk about Alan,” said Holly, standing quickly.
“You need to at some point. Are his lawyers still calling?”
Holly hesitated and then nodded.
“Maybe it would be a good idea if you went and saw him like he’s asking. It would be…closure.”
“I don’t need closure,” snapped Holly, “And I don’t want to go see him. It’s done. It’s over. There’s no point.”
“I’m not saying it shouldn’t be over, I just think it would be healthy for you-”
“Please Evelyn. Could we not talk about this?”
Evelyn sighed and nodded. “Of course. Let’s change the subject. Would you like to stay for lunch? I could order in from the Goudge. They deliver if you’re important enough. We could have a lovely time.”
“No thank you. I have to go ‘volunteer’ at some charity. Eleanor’s booked it and I suspect some photographers are just going to ‘happen’ by.” Holly shook her head. “I don’t like it.”
“I know. It feels wrong. But Eleanor is the PR specialist and she knows what she’s doing. And you have to admit she’s been doing a wonderful job these past months.”
“I appreciate what she’s trying to do but I still don’t like using charity work as an excuse for a good photo op.”
“We have to take what we can get,” said Evelyn. “I myself once built homes for the homeless after some onset spats earned me the public reputation of having let fame go to my head. Eleanor knows what she’s doing, just follow her lead.”
“Alright. Then I’d better be off. I have to be there in an hour. After all, the photographers have probably already been tipped off. If I don’t show, just think how bad it’ll look?” Holly grinned and then came over to hug her. “Thank you for your help.”
“Of course darling. Anytime. I’m here.”