Grant turned his back on Victor and walked away. He weaved his way through the party members, trying to avoid as much conversation as possible. Victor’s stance hadn’t surprised him. He had after all stood up for Holly last year when Alan had first been arrested and Grant had tried to drop her from Cold Wars. He sighed now and considered whether or not things would have been any easier if McCall had let him. It did seem like there was a good chance Holly would never have ended up on Lionel’s trail if she’d been let go from the film.
But there was no benefit from pondering ‘what if’s.
“Malcolm! What a wonderful party. This really is a bright moment for all of us.”
Grant resisted the urge to roll his eyes but didn’t bother faking a smile. Neither he nor the woman now beaming at him over a cocktail had any illusions about feeling anything but dislike for one another.
“Gloria.” He nodded at her.
“I saw you were talking with Victor? I’m so glad he could come, I was afraid he wouldn’t. Things have been tense between the two of you haven’t they?”
“Good. There were a few things I’ve been meaning to talk to him about. Just little things.”
He was struck again with how thoroughly he disliked Gloria. He regretted that it’d been necessary to involve her in merger at all, let alone give her a seat on the board. But it had been. Without her, he never would have gotten the New York studios. But he knew what she wanted. She wanted to run things.
In some ways, he did respect her. She wasn’t all that different from himself. She had grown up in New York, in a single parent household. She had worked from the bottom up. But where he had set out and created his own studio, she had worked her way through other people’s. And now she wanted to work her way through his.
And Gloria was the one causing most of the trouble. Grant had had to move quickly to discredit Holly enough that the police wouldn’t be an option for her. The merger couldn’t have afforded that kind of publicity. Too many people were nervous already. Leaking the film and blaming Holly had certainly done the trick. The police never would have listened to her after that. Blackballing her had been necessary. He’d recommended and introduced her to too many people. The need to distance himself was imperative.
He had wanted to leave it there. Then there was the article.
Gloria had jumped right on it. Not publically. He didn’t think he’d ever heard her say anything in front of him. But he knew she was moving behind the scenes, chatting with the others on the board, dropping little hints and insinuations. She hadn’t convinced anyone. Not yet at any rate. But he knew a few were starting to ask questions. Questions which on the surface seemed innocent, but he’d been in Hollywood too long to be fooled.
The problem was that Gloria wasn’t dumb. She recognized the offensive when she saw it. She had spotted it in his handling of Holly. She was curious now. Perhaps he had come off too strong but that was another ‘what if’ and he dismissed it. The cards had been played and all he could do now was concentrate on the next hand.
He had two choices as he saw it. He could either focus on the present. Leave Holly to either rebuild a career or not, based on her own abilities and whatever friends she had left in the industry. Or he could keep her down. Keep the tabloids writing about her, keep the negative stories coming, sabotage Henry Donne’s film until all it could do would be to limp into theaters, if it even managed to get that far, and make sure that no matter what Holly said or did it would be instantly discounted by the press and the public alike.
Gloria was the reason he had chosen the latter option. He knew Gloria. A friend had already told Grant that Gloria had asked a few subtle questions about Holly. No, he was positive that Gloria was on the scent and if she found Holly…well he had to make sure that Holly would be an utterly useless ally for her.
If he had guarantees…if he could make sure Holly would drop that matter now that she had done her damage…but Holly had already proven not to work that way.
The problem was he knew Gloria and he knew the storm was coming. He had to do whatever he could to prepare for it.
Right now, making chitchat with her was low on his list of ways he wished to spend the evening.
“I want to go thank Donald for the work he put into this celebration,” he said, “I’ll see you at the next meeting Gloria.”
He walked some distance away and then turned to watch Gloria cross the room and walk over to talk with McCall.