Holly turned the radio up loud as she backed out of her parking lot and drove toward the address Grant had given her. He had mentioned something about it being his house address and not his in-town apartment. She wondered how rich you had to be before you had two homes around the same city.
The house was a little out of LA, in a gated community. As Holly drew up outside it and handed her keys to a valet, she stared in awe at the mansion in front of her. Mansion was the only word for it.
It was three stories high, pillars flanked the large entrance and a red carpet covered the stairs leading up to it. The main hall had a grand staircase up to the second story, the floor was tiled marble, and the walls were decorated with paintings, at least one a classical painting which Holly recognized from art history class. Her jaw dropped open. She was fairly certain that was not a reproduction.
Holly knew she was gawking, but found it impossible not to. A servant came up and smiled, offering to take her jacket and purse and then ushering her towards the party.
Around a hundred people were gathered in the living room and the terrace connected to it by large open French windows. Along one side of the living room was a table covered with food and outside a bar had been set up.
Holly smiled nervously, scanning the group for any familiar face. Grant was not too far away talking to a small cluster of men, but she couldn’t quite consider Grant a port in the social-gathering storm.
She decided if she was going to stand around nervously, she’d at least appear to be doing something, so she made her away towards the refreshments. She took a plate and placed a few random hors d’oeuvres on it. She started weaving her way through the crowd making her way towards the terrace.
Outside she found a wrought iron table near the steps leadings down in the large, spacious garden, and she took a seat. Should she try and make conversation with someone? Looking around everyone already seemed engrossed and anyway, how exactly could you start chatting with a group of people you didn’t even know?
She breathed a huge sigh of relief as she spotted Frank winding his way through the crowd toward her. She beamed and waved at him. He waved back, took a brief detour to the bar where he got two drinks and then came over and sat down, scooting one of the drinks over to her.
“Good to see a friendly face under thirty here,” he said, tipping his glass to her.
“Do you know any of these people?” she asked, nodding towards the other guests.
Frank shrugged. “Most of them are studio executives and producers. There’s a couple of directors. And only a handful of people that won’t send you off to sleep with boredom. Most of the people who aren’t pushing fifty, are only here as dates of the wealthy and powerful.”
“True. And hopefully we’re not boring enough to send one another off to sleep.”
Holly laughed and took a drink.
“Hey did you hear?” asked Frank. “The director decided not to go with Cynthia after all.”
“Oh?” Holly shifted slightly in her seat.
“Not sure why. But I guess you dodged a bullet there. Personally I was hoping for a catfight.”
“I’m rather happy to avoid that possibility.”
“Disappointing nonetheless. It would have made a great YouTube video.”
Holly rolled her eyes, and kicked him playfully.
“As it is I’m afraid work is just going to be same old boring run of the mill filming,” he said, with an exaggerated sigh.
“If that’s how you feel about it you might have picked the wrong profession,” she pointed out.
“True. But then again I didn’t really pick the profession did I? My parents were driving me around to commercial auditions by the time I was seven.”
“Do you regret it?” asked Holly, resting her chin on one palm and looking at him with interest.
“No. But I am saying things were stacked against me becoming a plumber.”
Holly laughed again. “Is that your secret dream? Plumbing?”
“Hey plumbers actually make a pretty good living, everyone needs them, and Mario was a plumber.”
“Mario? As in Super Mario?”
“Of course. Ideal role model. He takes mushrooms, just picks up money he finds on the side the road without returning it or handing it over to the police, and wins a princess for his troubles. Perfect life if you ask me. Did I forget to mention the part where he rides a dinosaur?”
“I don’t think going into child acting was the only thing keeping you from fulfilling your dream life in the mushroom kingdom.”
“True. But we should all aspire to the impossible.”
“Are you sure that you’re first drink of the evening?”
“Were you ever a scout?”
“I played one once on TV.”
Holly shook her head but smiled. “I’m not sure that’s quite what the expression means.”
“Sure it does. Just to prove it I shall be a good scout and get us another round of drinks. There’s a merit badge for that.”
Holly watched him go over to the bar, order two more drinks and bring them back over. “Thanks,” she said, taking a sip.
“No problem. By the way have you seen Peter yet?”
“What?” Holly spilled part of her drink in surprise.
“Here.” Frank pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and mopped up the spilled liquid off the table.
“Peter’s gone,” said Holly lightly, hoping she didn’t sound too flustered. “He left town remember.”
“Sure, but he’s back. Didn’t you know?” Frank asked, looking at her out of the corner of his eye.
“No I-, are you sure?”
“Yeah. Paparazzi confirmed it. There are photos of him from around town. The guy’s back. He didn’t call you?”
Holly tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear and took a drink, trying to look unconcerned and unrattled. “I’ll have to check my messages when I get home.”
Frank’s hand suspiciously covered his mouth, and she was suspicious he was hiding a smirk. Annoyed, she shifted around in her chair so she looked more at the crowd than at him.