Holly was drunk. She was aware of it in a sleepy, hazy way and was alright with that. They’d been at the club a solid three hours and were now standing in the parking lot trying to figure out how to get home. After some conferring it was determined that only one of them was actually sober enough to drive, Gloria, a model who’d explained calmly she was on a ‘spiritual cleanse’ and couldn’t drink alcohol for forty-eight hours. Frank had proceeded to spend most of the night trying to get her to take a sip.
Next there was some talk about whose car to take home. Gloria had ridden with Frank but Frank lived across the city from her. He needed the car tomorrow and wouldn’t have time to come pick it up. Someone suggested they just call some cabs, and the debate continued, Holly only half listening to it, feeling too sleepy and content to really focus until it was discovered that Gloria and Holly lived only a few blocks from each other. She could easily drop off both Holly and the car and walk the rest of the way home. Or Holly could just as easily pick the car up tomorrow morning.
Holly handed over the keys and everyone piled in, Holly in the backseat. She leaned against the windowpane and closed her eyes. There was the quite whir of the engine, and she was shifted by the motion of the car. Frank was keeping up a lively prattle with Gloria who mostly ignored him but it sounded pleasant to hear the noise without really focusing on the words. Holly knew she was about to drift off. She wondered absently if she’d snore.
There was a sound between a yelp and a shout, metal on metal, cracking glass and Holly shot awake. Her head instantly throbbed and voices bombarded her. It took her a full second to process the car outside, banged into the now crumpled hood of her own. She pushed open the car door and stumbled out. Gloria turned from where she was standing, examining the hood of the car and hurried over.
“Holly, I’m so sorry. The other driver just swerved into the lane.”
“It’s-, oh my.” Holly stared wide-eyed, unable to form a coherent thought, just looking at the car.
“I tried to slow down but he just didn’t see me,” Gloria was saying, “I swear Holly I did everything I could.”
“What?” Holly blinked at her, the alcohol not entirely worn off yet. “Oh no. Of course Gloria. I’m sure it wasn’t your fault. I just-, oh dear.” She decided she’d better sit down and opened the driver’s door and sunk down onto the seat, burying her face in her hands.
“Holls? Are you okay?”
She looked up and around. Frank was still seated in the passenger seat. He pocketed his phone.
“Yes, thanks. It’s just…a shock to the system.”
“I get it. It’ll be fine though. Gloria is right. It was completely the other driver’s fault. We’re just lucky she didn’t succumb to be my innate charm and fall off that spiritual wagon of hers. From a legal standpoint a sober driver is so much easier.”
Holly leaned out of the car and threw up.
The police showed up soon afterwards. The other driver was quick to take the blame and even backed up Gloria when she said she’d been the one driving. The police took a look at her other passengers and had her take a breathalyzer test. A tow truck was called for Holly’s car, as were taxis to get everyone back home. All of which happened without one paparazzi catching wind of it and showing up.
Holly collapsed into her bed sometime in the early hours. She felt shaken and uneasy. She was thankfully it hadn’t been any worse, but her nerves were still on edge.
Despite how late it was and how exhausted she felt, it still took a solid hour before she drifted off to sleep.
It was a little before noon when she was rudely awakened. She groaned, tried and cranky and pulled herself up out of bed and stumbled over to the dresser. She answered the call, yawning into the phone.
“Holly? Are you there?”
“Yes. Whose this?”
“Oh hey. How are you?”
“I need you to drop by my office. Something’s come up that I think we should discuss in person.”
“Now? It’s not really a very good-,” Holly paused to yawn again, “time. I had a late night and I’m very sleepy.”
“I know you did. But it is important.”
Holly sighed. “Alright. I’ll be over there in half an hour. Actually forty five minutes. I’ll need to call a cab.”
She hung up and reluctantly started getting dressed. She knew Eleanor had been amazing the past few months, fielding the press, throwing in positive spins wherever she could, promoting a good image, arranging interviews and the occasional photo ops. And Holly was grateful. But at the moment she was also a little annoyed. What was so important that it couldn’t wait till Monday? Or at least a few more hours of sleep?
Eleanor’s office was in a large skyscraper in the heart of the city. Holly paid the cab as it dropped her off and stood for a minute, her neck craned back, looking up towards the top of the building.
She entered the large foyer and crossed to the elevator which she took up to the thirty-second floor. Eleanor’s office was immediately across the hall. Holly greeted the receptionist there who explained Eleanor was on the phone and would be done soon, before ushering her into the waiting room and fetching her a cup of coffee.
The coffee was strong and hot, and Holly finally began to feel her energy return as she sipped it. Enough so, that her curiosity finally began to wake up. She checked her watch and hoped Eleanor would be ready soon.
The door opened and Holly looked up expecting to be summoned. She froze as Cynthia walked in. The other woman stopped too for a split second, staring at her, before crossing over and taking a seat as far from Holly as possible. There was a strained silence. Holly surreptitiously checked her watch again.
Holly glanced up. Cynthia was staring at her. Something in the tone of voice, even in that one word, warned her that whatever was coming was not going to be pretty. Of course, what right did Cynthia have to that tone? Holly was the one who had reason to be angry. But she wasn’t in the mood.
Holly tried to smile. “You work with Eleanor to?”
Cynthia’s eyes seemed to flash. “That’s what you have to say? You want to just carry on a conversation all innocently?”
“What do you expect?”
Cynthia shrugged. “Nothing. Nothing is exactly what I expect from someone like you.”
“Someone like-? Oh that’ right,” snapped Holly. “I forgot. I didn’t go to acting school. I don’t deserve to have a career.”
“I wouldn’t care if you went to Julliard at this point. I know what you did,” said Cynthia. “And there’s nothing I can do about it. But don’t think you can just act that way and that no one will confront you with it ever. If you want to do it fine, but you don’t get to just pretend it never happened.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I have friends,” said Cynthia, “I have connections. I know I was up for a part in Cold Wars and I know that you went to Malcolm Grant to make sure I didn’t get it. You sabotaged my career.”
“It was one part,” said Holly defensive.
“In a major summer blockbuster picture. And you made sure I didn’t get it. Worse you went to the head of the studio. A man who probably has never even heard my name until you come along and tell him who knows what and now the only impression he has of me is negative.”
“And what about what you did?” argued Holly.
“What did I do? I didn’t like you? You think that justifies your actions?”
“You sold that picture! I know it was you so don’t bother to deny it.”
“The one of me at club. That night with Frank and Nikki and Tobin. I know the picture was leaked by someone there and I know it was you. Did you get money for it or did you just do it to show the world how unprofessional and ‘unworthy’ I am to act. Yes I asked Grant to stop your casting. But what do you expect? You talk about doing things and expecting to get away with it? You think I wouldn’t know you were the one who took the picture? Of course it was you! And you think I’d want to work with you after that? When you violated my privacy in that way? What other pictures would you decide to take and sell while we worked together? I could never trust you on even the most superficial level after that!”
“You think this is funny?” Holly demanded.
The laughter stopped abruptly. “I didn’t take the picture.”
“Oh please. I looked at the photo. Only someone at our table could have taken it.”
“Of course. But it wasn’t me.”
“There was no one else there who would-”
It was Holly’s turn to laugh. “Frank is my friend.”
“Frank isn’t anyone’s friend but his own,” countered Cynthia. “He does this all the time. Don’t you find it odd that for a man who gets up to so much, he is so seldom in the tabloids? He took the picture and he sold it, either for a quick buck or to kill some story of his own.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You can believe whatever you want. But it was still Frank.”