The receptionist’s intercom buzzed and she looked up at them.
“You can go in now.”
Henry placed down his magazine and stood up. “Thanks. Ready?”
Holly sighed and joined him reluctantly before the two headed into the office. It was not a very large office, which surprised Holly; somehow she’d been expecting large glass windows and vast amounts of space. It wasn’t small, there was a desk and chairs, a sofa and two arm chairs in one corner, and behind the desk, facing a medium sized window, was a treadmill, but there wasn’t much extra space and it certainly wasn’t as grand as Holly expected.
Gloria herself appeared to be in her forties. She had blond hair, which she kept short, and was dressed in a rather severe suit. When she smiled, it came across as just a little predatory. She was smiling now and Holly glanced a little nervously at Henry, but he didn’t seem to notice anything amiss and certainly didn’t return her look.
“Henry!” Gloria stood up and came around the desk to shake his hand. “It’s so good to see you again. It’s been ages.”
“It’s good to see you too. This is Holly Woods.”
“Holly, I’ve heard so much about you!” Gloria shook her hand. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you. Won’t you both sit down? There, do you either of you want some water? No? Alright. Well, I’m so excited about your new picture. Antigone is such a powerful story and so relevant to our times.”
“I’m glad you’re as excited about it as we are,” said Henry. “It’s definitely a project we’re all very committed to.”
“And you’ve put together such an interesting cast. I was intrigued the moment I heard you’d cast Holly here.” Gloria smiled at Holly. “I’ve seen your work of course,” she said to her. “You work on Homestead, that mystery film and even some of the dailies for Cold Wars.”
“Confidentially, your replacement on that film is going to ruin it. They should have kept you. Whatever did, or maybe even didn’t, happen?” There was a long moment of silence as if Gloria was waiting for Holly to answer.
“Er, thank you?” Holly again shot Henry a look but he was focusing on Gloria. She wished she could be here with anybody but him right now. He was being distinctly unhelpful.
Gloria didn’t appear to be entirely pleased with the response but she waved it away and moved on, turning her attention back to Henry. “I invited you here because I wanted to talk about a distribution deal. Unfortunately at this time I can’t offer you one personally. Being on the board of Montell Connected Studios, my hands are tied in certain regards. However I do have connections outside of the studio. I’m specifically thinking of the United Sky Studio in New York. It’s a smaller company but they did have a winner at Sundance last year, as well as an Oscar nominated film under their belt. Of course Grant tried to interest them in his merger but they held out. I believe there’s a bit of…well, bad blood between them now. It’s my understanding Grant tried to play hardball with them. You know what that’s like.” She turned abruptly again to Holly.
Now Henry did look at Holly and she wished he wouldn’t. With both of them staring at her it was increasingly difficult not to say anything with each second that past but at the same time she didn’t know what on earth she could say. This woman, no matter what she was saying, worked with Grant, and Holly refused to trust her on even the most basic level.
The idea occurred to her that she might be able to wait it out. If she didn’t say anything, eventually one of the others would have to talk instead. But Gloria apparently had great staying power and Henry appeared to think this was Holly’s fight and he was staying out of it, because after fifteen seconds neither of them appeared any closer to speaking and Holly finally felt her resolve crack.
“I’m don’t really- Grant you know is-, I-, I mean-, do you know this studio?” asked Holly, stumbling over her own words before directing the conversation in Henry’s direction.
He hadn’t been willing to help earlier, but was apparently happy to step in if Holly gave him a legitimate way to do so and he answered readily enough. “I’ve met some of the people involved. I’ve never worked with them before though.”
“Ah.” Gloria nodded. “I think they’d be interested in sitting down with you and having a talk. Actually,” she glanced up at a clock on the wall. “I have them calling in about a minute. I thought we could have a brief conversation with them. Just to touch base you know and sound them out.”
“Oh.” Henry blinked, startled. “I’m not really prepared.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just an easy chitchat. Nothing official or finale. Just something to get the ball rolling. However…” She glanced at the clock again. “It might be best Holly if you didn’t join us for this call.”
“What?” Holly asked.
“You understand I hope. There’s been an awful lot of talk about you lately. And I just think it would be better if you took a bit of a back seat for the initial conversations. Put our best foot forward.” Holly resisted the urge to ask ‘our?’. When exactly did Gloria become part of this movie? “Would you might terribly?”
“You’re wonderful. Thank you so much. Why don’t you just wait right outside and my secretary can get you some coffee.”
Holly was completely confused. Gloria had asked her to this meeting just to send her out of it after ten minutes? Was she angry because Holly hadn’t said whatever it was Gloria was fishing for about Grant? Or, she wondered as she left the room, was Gloria working with Grant to try and phrase her out? Did she want to convince Henry to drop her from the film altogether? She didn’t have much faith in Henry sticking be her if that was the case.
Once the office door closed behind her, she pulled out her cellphone and dialed McCall’s number.
“Victor? It’s Holly. I’m sorry to bother you but I was wondering if you knew anything about a studio in New York called United Sky Studio?” She spoke softly so as not to be overheard by the secretary.
“I know of them. But I’m not that familiar with them. Why?”
“I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”
“Anything. What is it?”
“Could you check and see you if you can find out what their connection to Malcolm Grant is?”
There was a pause. “I think so. Holly are you…being careful?”
“Of course. I know you’re worried about me but honestly, this isn’t me looking for trouble, it’s me trying to avoid it.”
“Alright. I’ll see what I can find out.”
Holly hung up and pocketed her phone. She was about to ask the secretary for that coffee when the door to the hall opened and Frank walked in.