The agreement clearly favored the studio in terms of my upfront payment, which wasn’t great, and points, of which there were zero for me. Points are an extra percentage of the picture’s earnings actors and actresses get paid and are reserved for major stars. Translated, that meant… not me.
I had to start somewhere, but I was so thrilled to be working, uh, I almost would have done the damn thing for free. And now sitting here reading the contract made the whole thing seem so much more real. It was actually happening and I couldn’t believe it. Just goes to show what’s possible when you never give up on your dreams. I couldn’t wait to be on the set, acting in a lead role and doing all of it without Grey Sinclair’s help.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt such pride in myself, if ever.
As I neared the end of the document, the intercom on my phone blared to life.
“Miss Olsen,” Carmen began.
“It’s Mister Trevor Billings for you.”
“Um, okay?” I said with a rising tone. “Thank you, Carmen.”
Ugh, I forgot about the date we discussed.
Before I picked up the line, I prepared myself to fend off his advances. I’d mulled it over since we last spoke and decided I wasn’t ready to rekindle things just yet. That said, until this contract was in place and I was on the sound stage in front of the cameras, there was no sense in having Trevor believe otherwise.
I pressed the flashing red button and answered.
“What’s up?” Trevor began, his voice laced with panic. “What’s up!? I’ll tell you what’s up. The movie is fucking canceled, that’s what.”
My focus shifted in an instant. Dropping the agreement in favor of Trevor’s urgent tone, I replied, “What? Canceled? How? Why?”
“Shit, I wish I knew! But I do know one thing for certain and that’s within an hour of telling the execs I’d made a choice for the picture, they canceled the project. Christ, I’m lucky to still have a goddamn job at this point!”
My mouth went dry. My stomach clenched as I listened to Trevor rant on the other end of the line. How could any of this possibly be happening?
“Trevor! Wait, please!” I stammered. Rolling my chair away as I stood from it, I continued, “Why would you almost get fired? I don’t understand. I thought you told me you were the one making the casting decisions. Do you know anything else? Anything at all?”
“No,” he replied, as his tone shifted from panic to anger. “Look, I shouldn’t even be calling you right now Maddie. This whole thing has blown up in my face.”
As he spoke, I rounded the corner of my desk. My stride quickened as Trevor’s warning grew direr.
“Uh, so what? So that’s it?” I said, as I stopped and crossed my free arm over my midsection while talking to him with the phone in the other hand.
“Yes. And even if it does start back up, you won’t be in it.”
“Me?” I replied. “What does any of this have to do with me?”
“I gotta go, Maddie. And oh yeah, about me wanting to see you again. That’s off.”
I opened my mouth to say something in response, but before I could, Trevor hung up on me. Afterward, my arm straightened as my hand fell away from my ear. Without thinking, I released my grip on the phone and the receiver bounced on the marble floor before the recoil from the handset tugged it back towards the desk.
Feeling lightheaded, I reached for the edge of the desk and grabbed hold of it as I made my way back around towards my chair. I reached it, collapsed in a heap and propped my head up on my elbows after placing them on the desk. I attempted to make some sense, any at all, of what had just taken place.
As I lay there contemplating the end of my ultra-short-lived leading role, an even worse thought occurred to me. Ugh, all those things I’d said to Grey. Taken together, they were the equivalent of telling him to take everything we’d built and shove it.
What the hell was I thinking?
I picked up the phone and called the only person I could talk to about this-- Katy. Even though she didn’t approve of my acting, she’d at least be a sympathetic ear for me. I needed that more than anything right now. As the phone rang, I propped myself up on my left elbow. My mind raced through any scenario I could conjure up to deal with Grey once he arrived. Hell, knowing him, he was probably already on his way.
“Katy,” I exhaled in relief as she answered. “I need to talk to you. Tonight. Can you come to my apartment?”
“Yeah, sure… Maddie, what’s wrong? You sound terrible.”
“I don’t want to get into it over the phone. Just come over as soon as you can.”
“Okay,” Katy began. “I’m on another call but the instant I hang up, I’m on the way. I’ll be over within the hour.”
Prior to Katy’s arrival a little past eight o’clock, I’d opened a bottle of wine and downed a good glass and a half before she got there. It was enough to take the edge off. The fuzzy warmth of the booze slowed me down enough to at least recount the entire story to her, but not so much that I’d forgotten any key parts.
While I spoke, Katy held her wine by the bowl and took large gulps as she listened to me. That was strange. Katy wasn’t much of a drinker, so the behavior caught me a bit off guard. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same thing about the first words out of her mouth when I finished.
Placing her empty glass down on the table, Katy wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and said, “Maddie what were you thinking? God, I warned you about this! Why didn’t you listen?”
I hugged my knees close to my chest as I sat across from her. Surprised and stunned by her question, I exhaled and replied, “Katy, please not right now. Please. I just really need you to be my friend. You can tell me what an idiot I am later and…”
“No!” Katy exclaimed as she interrupted me. “You… you don’t understand. This is bad. And not just for you.”
The booze must have hit me too hard, because I wasn’t prepared for this reaction from her. Shaking my head, I replied, “Katy, what do you mean? I’m the only one in deep with Grey here.”
Without a word, my brown haired, freckle-faced friend shook her head back and forth in slow disagreement.
“No, no you’re not. I’m in it with you. In fact, I’m way worse off than you. At least you and Grey are intimate. I have no buffer, whatsoever.”
I dropped my head back until my neck was at a near right angle. Looking up towards the ceiling, I groaned, “Katy, what are you talking about? Why on Earth would you be in trouble with Grey?”
“Because he said he would stop sending me business if I…”
I snapped my head back up. Katy looked away as I did.
Katy continued to look away and even started to get up. “Got any more wine?”
“No,” I began. “Don’t you dare get up from this couch. Katy, I’ll tell you right now, I am not in the mood. If there’s something I need to know, you should tell me.”
Wordless, Katy ignored my warning for the moment, stood from the couch and walked over to the sliding glass doors. Without turning back to face me, she blurted out, “Grey is the one who stopped the movie, Maddie. It was Grey.”
I rolled my eyes and laughed. “Katy that is ridiculous. Grey isn’t in the business, he’s a damn investor. How in the hell would he… be…”
The realization dawned upon me before I could complete my thought. Around the same time, Katy turned around and began to walk in my direction.
I stood from the couch. Disbelief and confusion clouded my thoughts.
“No, no. No. It can’t be,” I said, as Katy approached and tried to embrace me.
“No!” I shouted. “Don’t come near me. You… knew about this? For how long?”
Katy winced and shrugged at the same time.
“Jesus Katy! You are supposed to be my best friend!”
“Bullshit! You’re probably here spying for Grey right now!”
“No I am not, goddamn it! Quit accusing me of things that aren’t true.”
Pressure filled my head as I tried to form a single thought. Fed up with the whole conversation, I waved Katy off and said, “I’d like you to go, please. Just leave. I need to be alone.”
“Maddie, don’t do this.”
“Katy, I’m trying to stay calm. Now, please go.”
“Well, if he finds out I’m here, he’s gonna fire me. You won’t tell him will you?”
“Good! I hope he does fire you, Katy! I’d say you damn well deserve it at this point. Then maybe, for once, you’ll see what it’s like dealing with that man!”
As I screamed at her, Katy looked past my right shoulder. Her eyes widened.
“I’m here now. Deal with me.”
The sound of his voice caused an instant and uncontrollable force to rise up inside of me. My hands moistened as they curled into fists. Before I turned back to face him, I nodded at Katy.
Katy lowered her eyes. As she passed by me, I made a slow turn until I came face-to-face with Grey. My vision blurred with moisture as I considered the first words I’d say. We stood in silence for several moments until he began to step in my direction. Then the words I needed came out with ease.