Holly got back to her house in under an hour, took a quick shower, dried her hair and added some curls with her hair straightener, before picking out a blue cocktail dress and matching heels. She had just finished adjusting a necklace when the doorbell rang and she hurried to answer it.
“Peter! Great timing. I’m almost ready. Hold on a moment while I grab my purse.”
“Don’t hurry. I’m counting on being fashionably late.”
“Really?” Holly grinned. “You want to be all rage in high society with fashionable lateness?”
“I think so. We can sashay in near the end of the evening. Stay fifteen minutes and then book it.”
“Sounds like quite a party.”
“We’d be the talk of it.”
“Or, I could just grab my purse and we’d go now.”
“That’s definitely the other option.”
Holly laughed. “Right, well my purse is right here so it seems like we may be committed.”
“If we must.”
Peter led the way to his car and they got in. The drive to the party felt unexpectedly relaxed. For some reason Holly had dreaded the period of awkward, stilted conversation, stuck in the car, but in fact it went quite pleasantly. She almost felt regretful when they pulled up in front of the event space and Peter handed the car keys over to the valet.
There was a small group of photographers outside the entrance but Holly barely glanced in their direction as she and Peter walked past.
Inside, they were met by a wave of noise. There was a live band set up along one wall, buffet tables set up alongside another, an area cleared for dancing and chairs and tables scattered about.
Peter glanced around and then abruptly hurried Holly deeper into the crowd.
“Sorry,” he said, “I spotted one of the reporters the network invited.”
“Planning on avoiding them as much as possible?”
“Yes. I figure I have about a 60 percent chance of not speaking to one for the entire night.”
They made their way over to the bar, ordered some drinks and parked themselves at one of the tables in the corner. Peter grabbed the extra chairs they weren’t using and shunted them over to one of the neighboring tables.
“Just in case,” he said a little sheepishly.
Holly giggled. “You have quite the antisocial side, don’t you?”
“Only when it comes to people I have no interest in carrying on a conversation with. Though if I was going to be completely honest with you…I’d have to admit I was never a fan of events like these anyways. The weird line between social and work just leaves the whole thing awkward.”
“I bet you’ve been to a lot.”
“Sadly, yes. But this one actually might not be so bad since I do have someone to commiserate with.”
“Cheers to that.”
They clinked glasses.
“How did the interview go with Luke?”
“Oh, great. I think. I hope.” Holly tucked a stay hair back behind her ear.
“What did he ask you about?”
“A lot of things. The movie, my inspiration, the continually rotating cast and crew.”
“I think I handled that okay though. But there is something I should probably give you a heads up about…just, I think you should know he did ask me about you.”
“Me?” Peter raised his eyebrows. “What did he ask about me?”
“Basically how we could still be friends. And I think there might have been a veiled little reminder about all the things the tabloids have been saying.”
“Ah.” Peter ran his knuckle back and forth along the tablecloth. “That must have been a lot of fun to answer.”
She shrugged. “It wasn’t that bad. I just told the truth. But I thought you’d like to know that it was in there. In case you watched it. Which of course you don’t have to or anything, and maybe you don’t want to, given what I just said, but you know, in case it comes up-” She realized abruptly she was rambling and made herself take a drink to stop.
“Of course I’ll watch it. We’re rooting for Antigone here.”
“Thanks. I hope we can make it work. Working alongside McCall on this has been…exhilarating. I’ve loved it. But it does feel like a lot of responsibility. If our PR plan doesn’t work…that’s on me. Partly.”
“It’ll work. I know it will.”
“Thank you.” She smiled at him. “I think I’m going to grab a plate of food. I’m pretty hungry. Want something?”
“Okay. I’ll be right back.”
Holly slid off her chair and walked over to the buffet tables. She took a plate, filled it with some meat, rice and fruit and was heading back towards Peter when she accidently knocked someone’s elbow.
“Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t- Cynthia?”
Cynthia looked as shocked as Holly at the unexpected meeting, expect there was another expression on her face as well, one that Holly couldn’t quite place.
“Holly. I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“I-, yes. With a friend.” Holly was acutely aware that the last time she had met Cynthia it had been Cynthia who had come away with the moral high ground. “How are you?”
“Fine,” Cynthia said curtly.
“I hear you’ve been cast in Cold Wars, my old part?”
“Yes.” Cynthia was looking around, as if trying to find some way to extricate herself as quickly as possible from the conversation.
“Look,” said Holly in a rush, “I’m sorry. About what happened the last time we met and trying to keep you out of the film. I shouldn’t have…I was wrong. You were right of course that it was Frank who sold the pictures to the tabloids and I’m sorry I accused you and that I kept them from casting you in the movie. That was selfish even if it hadn’t been Frank who’d sold the photographs. But hey, at least you’re in it now, right?”
Cynthia stared at her directly now and suddenly Holly was able to put a word to the expression: stricken. Which…didn’t make sense. Even at the best of times, Cynthia had been indifferent towards her and now Holly had actually done something that could justifiably have Cynthia furious at her. Cynthia had been more than happy to tell Holly off in the past, and here she was looking downright troubled at the sight of her?
“I’m sorry,” said Cynthia.
“Sorry? What for?”
“Nothing I just…I can’t say…excuse me.”
Holly stared, opened mouthed as Cynthia turned and walked away. “That was bizarre.” Feeling as if she’d missed a step, Holly wound her way back towards Peter. As she sat down, she said, “I just had the oddest meeting with Cynthia.”
“She said she was sorry and then rushed off? I don’t understand it.”
“Maybe she’s sorry for taking over your part? It’s an embarrassing situation in the best of circumstances and she probably wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
“Cynthia? Embarrassed about taking a part from me? She once gave me a lecture about how she’d gone to college and studied drama and how I was basically just a faker. I would have thought she’d consider getting my part as the universe making things right.”
“People can be funny when the chips start to change. Things might be looking up for her now and she’s feeling a little less bitter and by comparison a little embarrassed about the way she treated you.”
“That doesn’t really sound like Cynthia. Especially since I was the one doing the mistreating the last time I saw her. “
AN: I know, I know, I just took time off a few weeks ago, but I’d been planning on taking time off during the next couple of weeks for a long, long time. I’m on vacation, visiting my sister in Chicago, going to Gen Con and then taking the train across country, so I’m having a lot of fun stuff going on and just want to take some time off from both my freelance writing and my fiction writing to relax and vacation. So Holly (Woods) will be on hiatus for the next two weeks and will return August 11.