Nikki tossed her jacket over the side of one of the restaurant chairs and sat down across from Tobin.
“Sorry I’m late,” she said, shifting the chair closer towards the table. “Filming took a little longer than expected.”
Tobin shrugged. “I wasn’t here long.”
“How was filming the reshoots?”
“Terrible.” Nikki slumped back in her chair. “I don’t think anyone there had any idea what was going on. Apparently the director’s been fired.”
Nikki shrugged. “The studio didn’t like what he was doing or the way he was doing it? I don’t know. So they’ve brought in someone new to run postproduction and apparently the reshoots were his idea.”
“That sounds like a recipe for disaster.”
“It is. And I’m pretty sure half the scenes we filmed today don’t even make sense with the rest of the movie.”
“Sounds like the man just wants to make the project ‘his own’ and is going to help butcher it in the process.”
“Exactly! I can’t believe the studio is just letting this happen.”
“It’s not that big a deal,” said Tobin.
“Of course it is. This is my movie. I’m in it. I want it to be good.”
“Yes, sure you want it to be good but it’s not the end of the world if it’s not.”
“No,” said Nikki frustrated. “But it’s important to me. This is my career.”
“Singing’s your career. And thankfully the public is very forgiving to singers who make bad films. There’s a whole history of them so you don’t have to worry too badly.”
Nikki crossed her arms. “But I put a lot into this film. I would like it to be good.”
“Of course you would like it be. But if it’s not it’s not. It won’t end your career.”
“But it will be important. This film cost me a lot. It has to be good.”
“Cost you?” Tobin raised an eyebrow.
“What?” Nikki blinked.
“You said it cost you so much.”
“I-,” Nikki forced a laugh. “Did I? I meant time and effort. It cost time and effort. And then I could have been working on a new CD instead.”
“Uh-huh.” Tobin picked up one of the menus and flicked it open.
Nikki smiled weakly and picked up the other menu and pretended to study it.
Holly slid the silver evening gown over her head. She slipped her arms through the sleeves and let the fabric fall down around her, the hem sweeping the floor. She sat down on her bed and slipped her feet into a pair of high heel shoes, before bending down to buckle them.
She stood up, the dress no longer grazing the floor thanks to the added height of the shoes, and she went to look at herself in the mirror. She was curious about this party at Grant’s. It surprised her that she had been invited and that Grant had made the little speech about being there if she needed any help. It had been Grant after all who had wanted to drop her from the film originally.
Holly’s cellphone rang. She picked it up off the nightstand and answered it. “Hello?”
“This Raymond Towner. We spoke last month. I’m Alan Ryder’s lawyer.”
“Oh. Yes. I recall.”
“I realize you were most emphatic the last time we spoke but I hope you’ll understand that I am fulfilling my client’s wishes in this matter. I know that this is a difficult situation, but my client would be extremely grateful if you would see him.”
“I’m sorry Mr. Towner I just-”
“Please Miss Woods. I understand your reluctance but Mr. Ryder is only asking for one visit. He does not expect anything further from you. You would not even be required to stay there for any amount of time. If you pay him this visit then I assure you that I will not pass on further requests from my client, even if he should ask.”
“I don’t-, I’m not-” Holly ran a hand across her hair.
Perhaps Mr. Towner sensed some doubt in her voice because he interrupted her with, “Just think about it Miss Woods. You have my number. Please let me tell Mr. Ryder that you will at least consider a meeting.”
Holly sighed. “Alright. I’ll think about it. But I just don’t know.”
“Thank you Miss Woods.” Towner hung up quickly before she could change her mind.
Holly closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. A part of her felt as if she owed Alan what he was asking, but another part was angry and hurt and pointed out that right now she had every right to think off herself and that seeing him would be too hard.
She walked over to her jewelry box and lifted the lid. She took out Alan’s engagement ring, which she had hidden away in small compartment. She held it in her hand, trying to figure out her emotions and what the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach meant.
It didn’t matter.
She shoved the engagement ring back into the compartment and slammed shut the jewelry box. She grabbed her purse, tossed the cellphone on the bed, and walked out of the house.