The doorbell rang, loudly and persistently. Holly groaned and pulled herself out of bed, grabbed some clothes, dressed quickly and made her way, a little grumpily, to the door. She had finally had a good night’s sleep, relieved to finally have a plan, and she wasn’t entirely happy that it was already time to wake up. It was probably Victor or Peter though and she had to get ready to go to the police with them. She opened the door.
“Evelyn.” She was surprised. “What are you doing here?”
The woman brushed past her into the house and turned to Holly. “I know it was an accident Holly dear, but really this is very bad.”
“Damage control has to be done immediately.”
“Yes. You must realize how serious this is.”
“Evelyn. Evelyn.” Holly held up her hands. “I just woke up. I have no idea what you’re talking about. And this is feeling very déjà vu. Another accident?”
“I know you wouldn’t have done it on purpose.”
“Done what?” asked Holly exasperated.
“It’s all online. It appeared early this morning. A rough cut of everything that’s been filmed so far for Cold Wars. The original hosting site has taken it down already but of course it’s out there now and there’s no taking it back. And the leak has been traced to you.”
“That’s impossible. I don’t even have a copy of it. Where would I have gotten- oh. Oh wait.” Holly dashed to the living room, Evelyn following after her, and pulled open the drawer of a side table. She took out a DVD and note, which she reread aloud.
Holly: Grant suggested you might be interested in seeing a rough cut of what we’ve filmed so far. Enjoy!
“Alright,” she said defensively, “So they did sent me the movie. But I didn’t even watch it.”
“How did it get online then?”
“I don’t know,” said Holly. “But it wasn’t me! Why on earth would I have done it? Are they really saying I did it.”
“Yes,” said Evelyn. There was something in her voice that left Holly suspicious that there was more bad news coming.
“What should I do? I should call someone or tell someone I didn’t do it shouldn’t I?”
Evelyn was suddenly examining her own fingernails very closely. “Eleanor has already released a statement.”
“Good. This story has to be stopped.”
“Well her statement won’t do that. She’s said you’ve admitted everything.”
“She’s issued a complete admission on your behalf.”
“How could she? I didn’t do this! I didn’t even talk to her about this. You coming here is literally the first I’ve heard of it.”
“But why would Eleanor say you had done it if you hadn’t,” said Evelyn. “I assumed when I heard, that it had been an accident on your part, loaned some cut of the movie to the wrong person. But if you really didn’t do it-”
“I didn’t!” snapped Holly.
“Alright dear I believe you. But we still need to fix this. I’m calling Eleanor right now.” She pulled out her cell phone and dialed. “Hello, Eleanor? This is Evelyn, I want to talk to you about Holly…well see that’s the thing, I’m right here with her and she’s vowing she had absolutely nothing to do with the leak. I don’t know what you were thinking with that statement but you’ve got to retract it immediately….what do you mean you can’t do that? Of course you can. You put it out there; you’ve got to take it back….look you and I have been friends for several years now. Good friends. I was the one that recommended you to Holly. You have to see how important it is that you fix this…”
Holly watched as Evelyn listened and then slowly sunk down onto the couch, frowning, a look of deep concern crossing her face.
“What do you mean it’s out of your hands….Eleanor, when you say you didn’t have a choice, what do you-Eleanor? Eleanor?” Evelyn lowered the phone and stared at it. “She hung up.”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing. She wouldn’t explain it at all. She just insisted that she did what she had to do. I don’t understand. Someone very influential would have had to put a tremendous amount of pressure on her.”
“Someone like Malcolm Grant?” asked Holly, things suddenly starting to make sense.
Evelyn stared. “Holly, those things you told me when we argued that day. About the paparazzo and Grant…did you ever find out anything else?”
“I did. I found out quite a lot more.” Holly told her everything about Linda, Lionel and Grant’s confession from the night before. “I didn’t tell you any of this because, well…”
“I brushed you off when you first came to me with it.”
“Yes,” admitted Holly, “also the very first time Lionel approached me, you told me not to get involved. And now I’ve gone ahead and done just that.”
There was a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it dear,” said Evelyn, “just in case it’s someone from the press or the studio. Hold on.”
Holly stared down at her hands, trying to sort through her thoughts. She heard footsteps and looked up. Peter was hurrying in, followed by McCall who looked deeply upset.
“Evelyn said she’s told you?” asked Peter.
“About the leaked movie? Yes. But I didn’t do it.”
“Of course you didn’t.”
“I did have the movie though. Grant had it sent over to me a little while ago. I think even before Linda told him, he must have suspected that I knew something. I don’t know how, maybe Lionel told him that he talked to me. Grant kept introducing me to people and talked about my getting me more parts. He invited me to that stupid party in the first place. He knew. Or he thought he knew. He was trying to buy me off even then, wasn’t he? Get me on his side.”
“And now we really don’t have a play,” said Peter.
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Our entire story, what we were going to tell the police, the only thing we had going for us, was that there was no reason we would make it up. We had no proof, but we had no motive to lie. Now, we have all the motive in the world.”
“But the police wouldn’t know that Grant was the one that did this. And even if they did they’d have to wonder why he would frame me like that. It could work for us, not against us.”
“Except the police will know something else.”
“What do you mean?”
It was Victor who explained. “Grant is firing you. Leaking the film, it does violate your contract so he has grounds.”
“But I didn’t do it!”
“Grant sent out an email to the other produces,” explained McCall, “He claims you were sent a unique cut of the film that no one else was provided with, which is how we can ‘know’ that you were the one who leaked it. On top of the statement that your PR representative released, no one has any doubt that it was you. He’s firing you and I can’t stop it. On top of that, he’s already started the gears in motion to completely black ball you from every film studio he has contacts with…which basically works out to every film studio there is. He’s doing his level best to make you unemployable. And he’s making it well-known that he’s the one that’s doing it. So he has given the police every reason to doubt your story.”
Holly stared up at him. “If we had gone last night to the police-”
“I know. Please believe me Holly, I did not tell Grant. I didn’t ask you to wait because I wanted to give him time. I was only thinking of you. Please.”
It felt as if all the air had suddenly gone out of the room. Evelyn and Peter were looking between the two of them. Holly’s thoughts whirled. She could go over it a thousand times; did Victor delay her on purpose? Grant had certainly already had reason to guess what she was about to do. He didn’t need someone telling him she was going to the police. And yet…if they had gone last night…
But it was McCall. And if she didn’t trust him now, she wasn’t sure she could ever really bring herself to trust anyone again. And she really, really wanted to believe him.
She gave a weak smile, it faltered at first and then became stronger. “I know.” She got up, walked over and hugged him. “It’s alright.”
Her cellphone rang and she went to answer it automatically.
“Ms. Woods? This Sydney Wellington. We had an appointment for you to come in and read for the part of Becka tomorrow?”
“Oh. Of course. Yes. I remember.”
“I’m just calling to cancel. We’ve found someone for the part.”
“Right. I see. Thank you for calling.” Holly hung up.
“What was that?” asked Peter.
“Just some of Grant’s handiwork I’m guessing. A director cancelling an appointment for me to read for a part. It doesn’t matter.” She stared at the phone in her hand for a long minute.
“Holly? Are you alright?”
“I think…I think I need to get out for a bit. Get some air,” she said a little lamely. Peter started to stand up but she stopped him. “No. Thank you Peter. But right now, I really want to be alone.” She smiled at him dimly. “I’ll be back in…awhile.” She grabbed her purse and went out the door, got her in car and drove off. She drove around a good hour before pulling over to the side of the road and picking her cellphone up off the seat beside her.
She wasn’t sure exactly when she’d decided. Perhaps she’d meant to the moment she announced she was leaving the house. Perhaps somewhere in the drive the idea had occurred to her.
Either way she searched through her phone’s history, found the number she wanted and dialed. As it rang, she lifted her hand to run it across her hair and then purposefully stopped herself and lowered it. The number rang twice and a man’s voice answered.
“Is this Raymond Towner? Alan Ryder’s lawyer?” she asked, trying to keep her voice steady.
“Good. I want to see him.”