Chapters One to Twenty Six
Vignettes 1 - 140

Chapters 27 to
Vignettes 141 -

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chapter Twelve: Late

It was so much later than usual, then again he didn’t usually party hop all night long either. The team wasn’t expecting him until after lunch. Wella had already left a message with the progress made at the morning power rally.

He had slept in. It was only nine, but he was already bored and gathered his gear heading for the garage. He tossed the backpack in the passenger bucket, and hit the genie button as he slipped into the car.

The car was getting older, perhaps he should think about getting a new one, but it turned right over. Out of habit, and the possibility that Ralphie had escaped and was waiting for him in the driveway, Ian stretched his right arm across and looked over it through the back window.

He began to back out, and got almost out of the garage, but slammed on the brakes. There was another car parked in his drive way. He looked at he beat up Camero, blocking his way. He put his beat up Chevy in park.

The Camero door opened and out stepped a young man. Ian didn’t recognize him. The man in simple jeans, tee and jacket walked right up to Ian’s window. “Excuse me…Mr. Justyn?”

Ian kept the window half rolled up, foot on the brake, but ready to slam the accelerator at a moment’s notice. “Yes.”

“I apologize, sir. My name is Max Mitchell, I’m a friend…was a friend of Bambi Helton. Could we…I mean, do you have a minute?” He began to stammer.

He knew he probably shouldn’t. “Well, I’m on my way to work…”

“I’ll only take a moment of your time sir.” The man, Max, seemed to be genuinely as embarrassed to be here, as Ian was talking with a stranger in his driveway.

“I know I should have…” the guy stood up, and shook his head. “Never mind, this is stupid.” He seemed to say to himself. Be bent over to get to Ian’s eye level. “Forgive me for intruding, and stalking you down. It won’t happen again.”

Max straightened up, shoved his hands in his jeans pockets and headed back to his car. Ian let him get almost there. There was something about his demeanor. He turned off the Chevy, and got open the door, saying, “Wait” as he started to step out.

The man stopped and turned as Ian stood and said, “You’ve obviously gone to a lot of trouble. Is there something I can do for you? I’m sorry I forgot your name.”

The young man took a tentative step. “Max. Max Mitchell.”

Ian put out his hand. Max looked at it and finally took it, shaking hands with him. “What may I help you with, Max?”

Max looked to be struggling with his words. “Mr. Justyn, did you by any chance give Bambi some money, well a lot of money…cash?”

Ian was taken aback. “No.”

He nodded his head. “Thank you, Mr. Justyn.” He turned to get back into his car.

“Mr. Mitchell?” Ian stopped him. “She did come to my office. We talked about a series idea she had, but that was all.”

“Yes. I know. I was just…”

“Mr. Mitchell…Max, I’m sorry. I don’t know what your relationship with her was but…”

“Co-workers, we were co-workers or used to be. We’re both trying to get out of the business. She was having a rougher time, but we talked every day, sort of our own get out of porn program.”

“Oh…” Ian said. “So she was…”

“A porn star?” Max shook his head. “Surely you couldn’t take one look at her and not know…”

“No, I knew what she did. Even if I didn’t she was right up front.” Ian pointed towards the house. “Do you want to come inside and talk a minute? About Bambi? I kind of need to talk about it, maybe it would…I don’t know…help us both.”

Ian tried not to let the man know that he could see him trembling, not from fear or anger, but from pain. Ian knew the signs. It was something he could recognize immediately. “I make a terrible cup of coffee, but if you think you can survive it.”

Max smiled. “Yeah. That would be good.”

The young man silently allowed Ian to lead the way into his kitchen. He sat down at the table so lost, Ian felt. Ian struggled to remember what he had done with that coffee Tippy had bought.

“Actually sir…” Ian turned to find the man looking at him. “Tea would be nice, I’d really like a cup of tea.”

“Now that, I can do.” Ian noticed the man, elbows on his knees looking at the floor, the ceiling, anything as long as he didn’t have to focus his eyes. Ian heated water in the microwave and put a steaming mug in front of him.

Ian sat down across from him and handed Max a little basket of teas. “Sugar?”

The man smiled as Ian whirled the little caddy in the middle of the table so he could easily reach the sugar. “You’re not one of those milk with tea people are you?” Ian asked.

“No, sir.” Max smiled.

“First of all, stop the sir stuff. My name is Ian. I’d appreciate it if you called me that.” He reached for his own tea bag as he watched Max liberally spooning sugar in his mug.

Mac looked up at Ian watching him, and put the spoon back in the bowl.

“Just three?” Ian smiled. “I’m a four myself.”

“Trying to cut down.” Max took a sip of his tea. “Bambi said you didn’t like sir or mister.”

“I’m a back woods boy, I have a little trouble dealing with all the respect that I was taught are attached to those words.” Ian took a sip from his mug. “Max, you asked me if I gave Bambi some cash. Did she suddenly have lots of money?”


“Did she say she had it or that she’d be getting it?”

“She showed it to me. I don’t know how much it was, but there was a lot. In an envelope, like they leave on the night stand while you get dressed, only not nearly that much.” He took a sip. “Bambi had done well, but it had been a while since she had that much money. She’d sold her house, and was living in a little apartment, but if she didn’t get a break soon…”

“The two of you were close.”

He nodded. “She kind of took me in, I was in a bad way and she helped me get clean, and then we decided to help each other get clean.”

“So she was involved with drugs.”

Max looked straight in his eyes. “Not that I was aware of. Ian, she bitched at me, and begged me to get sober. Holed up with me and helped me get through it, when I decided to.”

“But you said you were helping each other get clean?”

“The porn, that’s the worst drug to kick.” Max looked at the table and rolled the mug around between his hands. “Worst drug there is.”

“You said it was easier for you.” Ian encouraged.

“Bambi had been around a long time, but time isn’t kind when your paycheck depends on being young and beautiful. She started with a little tuck here, and little lift there…I bet she spent more money on her face and body than you did on this house.”

“There are a lot of women and men…”

“It wasn’t a sign of vanity. With Bambi, it was a sign of desperation…the drug, the porn drug. It makes you do things you’d never believe you’d do. What’s worse is you don’t even realize that you’re doing them until it’s too late.”

Ian nodded his head. “I feel like I contributed to this…to her death.”

“No. No, you should of seen her the few days before…you gave her something she hadn’t had in a long time.”

“What was that, a kinder, gentler rejection?”

“Hope, you gave her hope.”

“Then why? What she did doesn’t make sense to me.”

“Me either. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I thought maybe you saw things differently. I guess we both were wrong.”

“When did you see her last?”

“I caught up with her not long after she left your office and I was with her until the night before they found her. She didn’t let me out of her sight for almost 48 hours. Then I take off and next thing I know, the police are calling me and telling me...”

“So when left her you thought she was fine?” Max nodded his head, holding his head down so Ian couldn’t see his bottom lip quivering.

“Max, you can’t blame yourself. You did what you could. When you are used to that much pain, you get real good at covering it up so no one else knows. I know that for a fact.”

Max looked at him, and despite how hard he was trying the young man had no choice to let the tears start to fall. “That’s just it. She wasn’t having a crisis. I was.”


He nodded his head. “You a church goer?”

Ian was ashamed to admit. “No, I had an Aunt who used to take me when I was little, but now…”

Max nodded. “I was raised in a good home. We cleaned up and marched in the doors every time the church was open. I was taught that once your name’s written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life, no one can erase it.”

“Yes…” Ian trailed off.

“Well, my name and Bambi’s name are written down in the Devil’s Book of Hell and it for sure never comes off, no matter how hard you try. You can get so far away from it that you almost forget it’s there, but it’s like a big old scar on your face that never heals.”

“Max, what happened?”

Max grimaced. “I got fired from a job, a real job. Not much of one, but it was a start, making sandwiches for a little café, a nice clean place. Then some guy came in, told the sweet little owner he’d seen me…well, do I have to explain?”

Ian shook his head, and Max nodded his in appreciation, “So she pulled me aside, told me she was sorry, but she had to let me go. It was a little family place, and it was hard enough to keep the place open without worrying that…I understood. I really did, but man…” he slammed his fist down on his thigh.

“Maybe you just need to leave L.A., go someplace where it’s harder for people to see the that kind of stuff.”

“If there were only such a place.”

“The little town I’m from, you could go there Max. You can’t even buy that stuff without driving a long distance.”

“Do they have internet?”

“Well yes.”

“Then all they have to do is type Rick Buttler into a browser and they’ll find a nice unhealthy array of websites they where can see me in all my sordid glory. Internet makes it all so easy. That’s how I got started, at sixteen. Did you know on most adult websites you can click on an icon and put in an application to model, as they call it?”

“No. No I didn’t.”

“You can, and it works. It’s easy. You start just doing a few solos, and then they offer you more money to do the same thing with another model. They assure you that you don’t have to touch them, just do what you’ve done before, with the understanding there’s money if you do more. When you’re sixteen, pretending to be eighteen and they offer you five hundred dollars to give a guy a helping hand it’s hard to turn down.”

“I didn’t even realize…”

“You don’t. Even when you’re doing it. You find yourself there, naked, doing things your mama told you would make you rot in hell, but you’re there and thinking, this would be an easy way to pay for college, and no one will ever know.”

Max sighed. “Then it’s more money to get on your knees, and more to lay on your back and before you know it…it’s a drug Ian. And when you kick it, there’s no twelve step program, and no matter how hard you try…it doesn’t matter if your minding your own business, finally feeling good about yourself, the moment you finally see the sun, some dude walks up and oh so discreetly whispers in your ear, “Man you can really suck cock.”

“I’m sorry, Max. What can I do?”

“Nothing. Not a thing. Now that I hear myself, I realize that it was all probably my fault.”

“How could what Bambi did be your fault?”

“She was hiding her own crisis, to help me with mine.”

“Maybe.” Ian looked at his empty cup. “More tea?”

“No. I should go. Thank you Ian. I’m sorry to have bothered you.” He stood and walked his cup over to the sink and placed it in.

“Let me walk out with you.” Ian put his hand on the young man’s shoulder and walked with him to the car. He shook his hand and held the door open as he got in his old jalopy.

“Max…you are welcome here anytime.” He handed Max his cell phone number and a direct line to his office. “Anytime you need to talk, if you need any kind of help at all. I’ll do whatever I can.”

He turned the little card over and over. “Why would you do that…for me?”

“You were a friend of Bambi, and I feel like I owe her.” Ian bent down to be able to look in his face this time. “And I know what it’s like to feel no matter what you do, no one will ever let you be anything more than what they think you are, and what they think isn’t good.”

“Thank you.”

“I mean it…anything.”

Max nodded his head and cranked the car several times before it started up. It finally turned over and Max nodded goodbye.

Ian put his hands on the open window. “Wait…Max? The money, did she tell you where the money came from?”

“No. She just told me she was going to use it to change back.”

“Change back?”

“Yeah, we looked up a doctor in the phone book and she was gonna have it all taken out, you know the super boobs and the cheeks and stuff.”

“She was going to have it all reversed?”

“As much as the money would allow. She said she wasn’t proud of how she got it, but she was gonna take it and make sure next time she looked in the mirror, she’d see something resembling a human being and not a freak.”

“Had she done it? Had the surgery?”

Max smiled. “You really have no clue about that stuff do you?” He shook his head and laughed a little. “She didn’t have time. The money’s gone though, envelope…every thing.”

“I guess the police have it. You did tell the police, right?”


“Why not? Max, maybe it was a robbery and someone tried to cover it up.”

“Ian, the police never bothered to ask. They just hauled me in to identify the body and give me a hard time. They didn’t ask me or anyone else I know one thing about who she was, what was going on or what kind of state she might have been in. To them, she’s just a used up porn queen tired of being unable to do anything else but open wide. I guess one look and that’s all there is.”

“Max, how do I stay in contact with you?”

“Oh, uhm…I’m kinda…”

“Where are you living?”

“I got a cell phone…that’s probably the best way. Gotta a pencil?”

Ian handed him a pen. Max grabbed his hand and wrote his cell phone number down. Ian looked in the back of the car, and saw some dirty clothes and a filthy quilt. He reached in his pocket and got his wallet. He emptied it out and shoved the money at him. “Here take this.”

“What for?”

“Shut up and take it, Max.”

“I’m cool, it’s okay…really.”

Ian shoved the money in the pocket of the tee. “Flowers, Max. Buy some flowers for Bambi. She seemed like the kind of woman who’d like lots of flowers.”

“Daffodils. She loved daffodils.”

“Yeah…” Ian stepped back and the car started to roll. “Max…call me later. Just check in a let me know how you’re doing.”


“Bambi’s gone now, and someone’s got to keep you on the…uh straight and narrow.”


Ian watched him drive out of the driveway. When he turned to see the man look back, he waved. Ian was a firm believer that any time you looked back someone should be standing there to wave goodbye.

Watching him drive off, he looked at the phone number scribbled on the back of his hand. “Ew!” He went back into the house, jotted the number down and then washed his hand. As he dried, he stared at a stack of scripts piled neatly on the end table in the living room.

Hanging the towel on the rack, he searched for his cell phone. He hit speed dial and went to the stack.

“Morning Ian.” Came to cheery voice on the other end.

“Morning Blake, anything going on?”

“Nothing we can’t handle. We’ll see you after lunch?”

“Actually…” he methodically started making a second pile of scripts, “I’m on my way in, but would you mind calling a florist and having some flowers sent for me?”

“Gee, I wonder who to?” Blake laughed.

“Saxon Allen, please. Do you need an address?”

“Not any more. Anything special?”

He held up the script he was looking for. “Daffodils, a couple of hundred dollars worth, fill up her living room with daffodils.”


Ian wasn’t sure wasn’t the sound meant. “Thanks, Blake. Schedule for this afternoon?”

“Pretty clear, although Susan Andrews wants to be called the moment you’re in the office.”


“I’ll call her and let her know you’re on your way in.”

“Don’t. Just send the flowers to Saxon, please.”

“Sure, boss man.”

“See you in an hour. Bye.” Ian shut the phone and put it back in his pocket, and piled the scripts back in one alphabetical pile. He tossed the single on the table and then reached back in his pocket hitting speed dial again.

Tucking the phone between his shoulder and his ear, Ian managed to not cut the signal as usual and heard it go straight to voice mail. “Hi, Saxon. It’s me. Listen, when you wake up, don’t even try to make me think you aren’t still in bed, would you come to my office? I have something for you. Thanks.”

He started to hang up and added. “And don’t bother slapping on a coat of makeup, you’re perfect without out it. Just come to me, as soon as you can.” The phone slipped out and dropped on the hardwood floor, splintering in three pieces. “Crap.”

He fussed at himself, then scooped up the pieces and dropped them in the open zipper pocket of his backpack. Before he left the house, he picked up the lone script, slipping it into the slot in the back pack he reserved for scripts, and headed toward his car.

The team was all gathered around Daryn’s laptop. The face on the screen was smiling. “She may have lost the Oscar, but all of Hollywood is buzzing about how she may won the prize anyway.” The still of Saxon Allen twirled and the jazzy iconic theme song buzzed along as the opening graphics flickered.

Wella looked up and then back. “We got time, keep it on.”

“Good morning and welcome to First Hollywood I’m Maria Vasquez.” The anchor smiled in the camera. “Last night was Hollywood’s biggest night, but the talk of the town was Golden Girl, Saxon Allen nominee for Best Actress who may just have snagged the Golden Boy after all.”

The camera switched to footage of Saxon and Ian arm in arm and smiling on the red carpet. “The gorgeous couple, who insisted they are just old friends, laughed and smiled and looked like so much more.”

“Don’t they look…” Daryn sat back and stared.

“Perfect…just perfect…” someone else sighed.

“Saxon Allen, the bubbly bombshell who can’t be stopped at the box office, stepped out on to the red carpet with none other than Ian Justyn, the new studio exec making his own meteoric rise. The Hunka Hunka HRT, as he’s been dubbed…”

“Oh, he’s gonna love that.” Wella shook her head.

“All of Hollywood watched the Oscars being handed out, but couldn’t take their eyes of the couple as they laughed, cuddled and danced to their own music all night long.”

Ella looked up, “It’s him….”

Everyone looked up and watched Ian step off the elevator and toward them. Daryn slammed the lid down, and grabbed a steno pad. “Okay, Wella I called over to Fox and they said that they had no idea where that rumor came from. Must be just a rumor.”

“And according to contracts, she isn’t interested in selling the rights yet.” Someone else added.

“Okay, Good.” Wella tried to make it look like they were having an impromptu. “Sean, have you managed to set up a meeting with any of her people?”

“Whose her?” Ian said looking up from his stack of messages.




“Rosalie Addams.” Sean pulled out of his behind.

“And she would be…?”

“The woman who writes the romance series we thought might be a good fit for the daytime hole.” Daryn piped in.

“Oh.” He turned his attention back to his messages. “Blake did you send those flowers?”

“Yes boss man.”

“Thank you” and with that his door was closed.

Wella whirled around to the team and said quietly but clearly, “Okay who the hell’s Rosalie Addams?”

“I don’t know.” Sean said, “I made it up.” He pointed and the print on her blouse, “Rose”, nodded his head at the brunette on the desk corner, “Lee” and “Damn, that was easier than I thought, hope he buys it.”

Wella looked at Ian’s office door quickly and back. “So far so good. Lee get on the Internet and see if anyone even close to that name has written a romance novel, run down to the store and buy a copy of it, then put on your desk for a few days.”

“Got it.” Lee ran to his desk.

“We’ll pass it around a week or two and then we can loose it.” Ella plotted.

“I’ll read it.” Blake. “I’ll read anything. That ought to do it.”

“Oh and guys?” Ian stuck his head out of his office.

“Yes, Ian?” Wella smiled.

“Showbiz Today got better shots.” Ian closed his door.

Sean looked at the door. “I hate him. I really, really hate him.”

“So do I still find the book?” Lee asked.

“Forget it honey. We’ve been caught, nothing we can do now it sit and wait for pay backs.” Wella said. “I’ll be in my office.”

“Oh God! Nobody move!” Daryn ran to the coatroom screaming, “Get Ian. Get Ian now!”


“I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!” They heard her yell over things being tossed around. She came rushing back out, plastic Barnes & Nobel bag clutched to her chest. “Where’s Ian?”

“Honey, calm down!” Wella insisted.

“No, no, everyone come here!” She went to the desk they had all been gathered around. “Ian!” She yelled.

Ian came out of his office. “Anyone have any idea where the painting in my office came from?”

Wella, “Oh, I forgot to tell you, David Turner had that sent down and hung in your office. Don’t you like it?”

“Ian, I think….” Daryn mumbled.

“It’s beautiful. I just turned around and there it was.” He pointed over his shoulder. “Have you had a good look at it?”

“Ian, excuse me, but…” Daryn tried to interrupt.

“Well, no, it was wrapped in brown paper when they brought it down. Can I pop in and…”

“Damn it!” Daryn stomped her foot. “Listen to me!”

“Chill, Daryn, chill.” Ian looked at her. “Okay, you’ve got our attention…geez…”

“Thank you. Ian I think I’ve solved the problem. It’ll take some work, but…”

“Which problem? Unfortunately right now you have to be specific.”

“Daytime hole…or at least the possibility of it.”

“Okay, Daryn honey,” Wella warned, “Take a deep breath.”

Daryn nodded her head and let out two lungs full of air, then sped on. “My sister’s having knee surgery, so I stopped by the bookstore to get her something to read, so I bought her these…” She dumped two books on the desktop like they were bars of gold.

Ian crinkled his eyes. “So?”

Blake took a look. “Oh I love these! Have you read them?” Blake asked Daryn as he picked one up. “I’m dying for the last one, but it doesn’t come out until this summer!”

“She wanted to just borrow my copies, but I’m not letting them out of my sight, so I…” Daryn admitted.

“Ladies, the book club meets on Wednesday, what are you babbling about?” Ian interrupted.

“Blood Kisses.” They said in excited harmony.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, why didn’t you say so!” Wella said picking up the second book. “Is this number two? I’ve been looking for it for three months. It’s always sold out.”

“I had to special order it...and wait. I was afraid it would be Christmas before I got a copy, but they called this morning and said it was in.” Daryn said.

“Okay, okay, what is it?” Ian asked catching the book Blake tossed to him.

“My turn…” Wella said, “Excuse me? Where have you been? You have never heard of this trilogy?”

“Should I know about Bloody Kisses?”

“BLOOD Kisses” the whole tam practically corrected him.

“Only the hottest series of books written for adults in the last ten years.”



“Oh god the sex…”



“Oh…” Ian was disappointed. “Another one of those vampire things.”

Blake went into hissy. “Oh no no no no. You cannot and will not dismiss these glorious epics as one of those vampire things.”

“Sorry”, Ian said.

“Uh uh, Ian Grayson Justyn. These make Buffy look like muffin slayer, Dracula look like a shill for marshmallow cereal and Twilight look like a fart after dark. These books, these books have transcended anything previous and everything beyond. They are masterpieces, good old fashioned bodice ripping let me suck the blood out of your neck while we have hot steamy sex trashy masterpieces.”

Ian blinked. “I stand corrected.” He opened up the paper back cover and fanned through the pages. “So they’re good?”

“Perfect. Sales across the board.” Someone piped up. “Teens, college kids, housewives…”

“Old ladies, scifi geeks, horror fans, men…straight, gay absolutely across the board”, someone else finished.

“And?” I asked.

“And we’ll never get them…” Sean said.

“Come on…” Daryn insisted. “There’s a chance. She has turned down every major, but with the final book coming out, maybe now’s the time to strike.”

Sean shook his head. “Buzz is, she just not interested. I know for a fact she’s turned down direct offers from Spielberg, James Cameron and Pedro Almodovar.”

“She’s the one everyone wants.” Wella agreed. “She knows it, and she’s holding out until she gets exactly what she wants.”

“And?” Ian asked.

“And unfortunately nobody knows what that is. She doesn’t return phone calls, she doesn’t take meetings, and doesn’t speak to any one but her editor.” Sean sadly announced.

Ian pointed to the picture in the back of the paperback. “This her?”

Sean leaned over to look. “Yep, that’s her.”

Ian read a moment. “Uh huh…Blake get my neighbor Kellen on the phone please.”

“Okay.” He said looking in his book and picking up his phone. “Do you want me to call your cell first, so we can find it?”

“No. It’s in three pieces in my backpack. Can you work your phone magic on it, please?”

Blake rolled his eyes, double checked the number and punched the buttons.

“Ella…” Ian looked up from the book, “I need a thorough bio on this woman, start here at HRT.”

“HRT?” Daryn asked.

“Says here she got her start writing for “The Best of Everything”. Let’s see if there’s still any kind of connection.”

“Ian…” Blake handed him his phone.

“Hey, buddy, did we wake you…got a bizarre little shot in the dark for you…your ex-wife Amanda, right…uh huh…you said she’s a writer. Blood Kisses by any chance…you couldn’t persuade her to send me some copies could you…Oh, okay…sure, well thanks…later.”

“No go. Huh?’ Sean smiled.

“Actually, she gave him an advanced copy of number three to give to me, said for him to hint she’d love to chat. Apparently, she’s been after him to introduce us. Blake send someone over to pick up some books from my neighbor, and when Saxon gets here just send her right in.” Ian tossed the book back to Sean. “Ella I need that bio asap.” He strode toward his office, stopping at the last minute he turned, “And that my friends is why they call he the Hunka Hunka HRT.”

The office door shut.

“I hate him. I really, really hate him.” Sean said.

There was a slight knock on Ian’s door. He looked up from the galley he was reading. “Come in.”

Susan Andrews stuck her head in the door.

“Susan.” Ian stood. “Please, have a seat.”

She folded her light jacket over her arm and seated herself. “Thank you.”

“May I take your coat? Get you something to drink?” He asked as he seated himself.

“No, I’ll only stay a minute.” She smiled. “You look rested, after your long night.”

“The same to you.”

They remained quiet for a moment. Ian wasn’t sure what to say, and Susan seemed to be looking around the room until she came up with something herself.

“Susan, I’m surprised to see you so soon.” He finally said. “Is there something I can do for you? You alluded last night that we could probably have some business that would be mutually beneficial.”

“Yes, yes.” Susan’s eyes dropped to her lap. “Of course. I’ve been thinking that you might possibly be interested in a sort of soundtrack deal.”


“I have a large music corporation, and I’ve worked very hard to gather and contract talented people that some how don’t fall into the niches that most record labels seem to be attracted to.”

“I’ve always been impressed with the output of your label. You’ve done well, seeking out the best of the unique and do an impressive job finding them airplay.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking that perhaps we could both benefit by that.”

“Alright, what did you have in mind?”

“Well, it’s not as easy for us to get airplay, for the bulk of our artists. Although Internet is cheap, it is painfully difficult to get people to seek out our artist’s work if they aren’t getting some kind of exposure other than clubs and, well, internet.”

“I understand, but…”

“Well, ever since I saw you at…” Susan blushed. “Anyway, I keep thinking about HRT and all the programming and how expensive it is for your side of the industry to get music rights…”

Ian smiled, thinking he was now understanding. “So you were thinking, maybe some sort of first look musically for our producers at some sort of reduced licensing fee?”

“Actually yes…”

“Susan, that’s great for me, but what does that get for you?”

“I was watching a rerun of something with J.J. the other day, and at the end there was like a little tag that said in tonight’s episode included music by so and so available at so and so. I thought maybe in exchange for music, allowing that the artist agrees, we could do that, listing websites, download and label information.”

“Actually, that could be done.” Ian leaned in a little closer. “But Susan, as I understand it usually when that sort of thing happens its all prearranged to coincide with an upcoming release of the artist.”

“Usually, but I thought the we could simply open up our artist catalogs, specifically for HRT. It would certainly give your programming a more inexpensive outlet to use music as they needed, and generate and regenerate interest in our catalogs.”

“Why don’t we both talk with our legal departments and see if there might be any snags, and go from there. Personally, I think it’s a great idea, and as you said beneficial to both of us.”

Susan smiled, “Good. I don’t watch a lot of television, at our house it’s pretty much old Sniffles the mouse cartoons and Sesame Street. I’d make it a point it to watch more myself, but I really find very little of interest. My TiVo is only set for Carol Burnett reruns.”

Ian smiled. “I miss the variety shows. Hers was the last good one, and you’ve pointed out why. They are so expensive to do.”

“Well, maybe we can change that.” Susan stood. “Thank you for your time, Ian.”

Ian stood and took her hand. “It was a pleasure, as always.” Ian walked around the desk and went to the door to open it for her.

“I almost forgot.” Susan snapped open her purse and pulled something out. “I thought you might like this. Marc Torrey had some old tapes of…I had them put on disc and thought. Well, just enjoy them.”

Ian took the little box of disks. “Thank you. That was…I’ll…thank you Susan.”

She nodded her head, and reached over and kissed him on the cheek, reaching up to rub a little smear of lipstick. “I hope to see you soon.”

Ian nodded his head and opened the door, catching David Turner in mid knock. “Oh, excuse me. I’m interrupting” the old man said.

“David…” Susan smiled warmly and hugged him. “You look wonderful.”

“From your mouth to God’s ear, Susan.” He almost cradled her in his arms. “You make an old man’s heart sing.”

“Why don’t I let the two of you chat?” Ian said. “I’m going to take a moment to speak to Blake.”

“Of course, that would be nice.” Susan kissed Ian again. “I’ll see you soon.”

“I look forward to it.” Ian turned to Turner. “I’ll be back in just a moment, and then I’m all yours.”

“Great, my boy. You take your time. I’ll delight myself in this young lady.”

Ian stepped over to Blake’s desk.

“I need you to set up a meeting this week with legal for me.”

“No problem.” He said, picking up a pencil. “Concerning?”

“Music licensing.”

“Specific? General?”

“Not sure, fees, that sort of thing…”

“Okay.” Blake picked up a large manila envelope and handed it to him. “This just arrived from your neighbor. I was waiting for Ms. Andrews to leave.”

“Thank you.”

“And Saxon Allen called, she’s on her way.”

“Thank you again.” Ian fidgeted with the package. “Blake where would you take a woman to dinner?”

“My mother’s if I wanted her to die happy.”

“You know what I mean…some place special.”

“Romantic?” Blake grinned.

Ian blushed. “Yeah.”

“Someplace that says I had to work my ass off to get us in, but I wanted you to know that you are worth the trouble and all I want to do is concentrate on you?”

He blushed again. “Yes…”

Blake said the name of some place very French.

“Oookay….think you can arrange it, for this week?” Ian said.

“I may have to put out…”

“No problem then?”

Blake shot him a look. “I’ll do my best.”

“Wednesday night?”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Just make it Wednesday night, someplace exclusive, someplace romantic, and something I can pronounce.”

“I’ll write it down phonetically for you…in crayon.”

“Kisses, sweetness.”

“Do lunch?”

Ian mocked call me with his fingers. Ian walked towards his office and Blake yelled. “Oh, they’re sending you over a new phone!”

Ian gave him the thumbs up as he shut the door, immediately turning his attention to the gentlemen standing in his office looking at the painting he had given him.

“It’s beautiful, thank you.”

“You like it?”

“Absolutely.” Ian stood with the man and looked at the canvas, a waterfront scene in the moonlight. “You shouldn’t have, I am honored and humbled.”

“Don’t get excited, dear boy. It’s been in a closet of my penthouse for years. I remembered it and thought it might appeal to you.”

“It does. I’m not a connoisseur by any means, but it definitely appeals to me.”

“A little birdy by the name of Mamie Rae Tipton told me you were partial to the artist.”

“I am?”

“She said you had one in your home, and stood for hours just admiring it.”

“I do?”

“Herman Elysian, he gave this to me as a gift before he passed away, one of several, actually. I thought you might like this particular one. It kind of reminds me of you for some reason.”

“Oh?” Ian motioned for the man to take his usual comfy chair, and Ian took the one beside it as was becoming their custom.

“Strong, fascinating and seeming unaware of the power and passion it possesses.”

Ian smiled. “I’m not sure if I should be flattered, confused or kiss you.”

Turner threw back his head and laughed. “Now to the business at hand. I got a call today from CNN.”


“The CEO is a long time frenemy of mine…”


“Yes, frenemy, Blake is helping me hip up my vocabulary…”

Ian held back the snort as best he could. “Okay…”

“Any way, you have pissed him off to no end.”

“I have? I’m sorry, Mr. Turner. Please, what have I done?”

“Well, my boy, you apparently have put a stumbling block, oh screw it…Pearce Warner. It seems Warner has informed CNN that he’s no longer willing to negotiate with them until he has a chance to talk with you.”

“Oh, yes…”

“America Alive? Pearce Warner?”

“Well, Mr. Turner. It was just an idea…I put in a call to him, tried to persuade him, but didn’t think it would go anywhere. I’ll be happy to call CNN and make any rectification you see fit.”

“Don’t you dare,” Turner even stamped his cane. “He’s exactly what we need. Good move, and if we steal him away from CNN, I’ll do a little dance. They’ve been stealing my people away for years. Whatever you have to offer Warner, you got it. Just get it done. That’s an order.”

“I’ll do my best, sir.”

“Walk an old man to the elevator?”


Ian gave the old man his arm, and Turner gratefully appreciated the help, complaining as usual that getting old was “shit”.

As they waited for the elevator, Ian, although he hated skipping links in the chain, turned to his prime resource. “Mr. Turner, I was wondering if you could help me with a little dilemma?”

“I’ll do my best, Young Justyn.”

“I’ve been having a little trouble tracking down a contract.”

“Have you contacted legal? They should be able to send down anything you need almost immediately.”

“That’s always been the case before, but they seem to be either taking their time or ignoring my request for the ‘Sebastian Manor’ contracts. I’m sure it’s an over sight, but they keep sending me copies of the original contract, but not the current.”

“I’m sure it’s just a mix up.”

“Probably. I really need the current to note any changes so I can make sure that any decisions we make are not only financially feasible but legal.”

Turner nodded his head. “I’ll put in a call myself. Anything else?”

Turner and Ian looked up to find Lance Crockett had appeared in front of them.

“Crockett? Are you still popping out of the woodwork?” Turner glanced up at the tall man with a thinly disguised look of disdain on his face.

“I got off the elevator, Mr. Turner. Didn’t you hear the doors open?” He said smiling.

“We were engrossed in conversation.” Ian told him. “We just weren’t paying attention. Did you need to see me?”

Crockett handed him a folder. “Just dropping off the itinerary for Wednesday’s press conference.”

“Thank you.” Ian took the folder, and quickly looked at the pages. “I’ll let you know if I have any questions.”

“Certainly.” Crockett turned back to the old man. “Shall we share the elevator, Mr. Turner?”

“No, you go ahead.” Turner waved him away. “Young Justyn and I aren’t quite finished here.”

“Certainly.” Ian help but couldn’t notice that Crockett almost bowed. Realizing he’d been dismissed from court Lance turned and returned to the elevator, pressing the button with a little ding.

“Listen, why don’t you just…” Ian started to say.

Turner took Ian’s arm, and pulled him a step back from the elevator, intently watching Crockett until the elevator arrived and had shut to whisk the man away. “What do you think of him?” Turner asked.

”Personally?” Turner nodded his head. “I really don’t know him other than he arrives, gives me an extremely detailed list of what I’m supposed to say, right down to ways to answer any questions that might come up.”


“And other than the fact that he gets very irate if I don’t follow everything to the letter, which means he’s perpetually pissed off at me. That’s it.”

“He’s one of Kent’s people. Kent talked Tolan in to hiring him when old Seymour Budzynski retired. I should have stepped in, but I hire people to do a job and I really do my best to let them do it.”

“You don’t like him?”

“Not that I don’t like Crockett, I just question…ahh, never mind.”

“Mr. Turner, you’re the boss.”

“Of course I am.”

“Just thought I’d remind you of that.”

Turner looked at the elevator and then back to Ian and smiled. “Yes.”

The elevator doors opened, Turner and Ian both looked up and smiled as Saxon Allen stepped out of the car. “Ian, my boy, if nothing else, you have the most beautiful women waltzing in and out of your office. I may just pull a chair up here in the foyer and just enjoy all day long.”

He reached his hand out to Saxon, who tenderly took it. “Ms. Allen, thank you for gracing this humble building with your beauty this fine day.”

Saxon blushed. “Mr. Turner, you as always, you know just how to make me feel like a woman.”

“Oh, if only I were younger.” He said. “My dear, if only I were younger.” The old man looked at Ian and back to Saxon. “I’ll be on my way, and let the two of you spend a little quality time together.”

Turner stepped into the still waiting elevator. He pushed the button to his floor. “Well, kiss her hello, you fool.” He shook his head in disgust. “Young people!”

It was almost a shock for Ian to see Saxon in casual slacks and a conservative blouse. He couldn’t help but smile, thinking that this was when she was her most beautiful. Ian took her hands and kissed her on the cheek.

“Thank you for the flowers. I got up and walked into my living room and it was filled with yellow and white pedals. Thank you.”

“Thank you for a wonderful evening.” He said. “Shall we head to my office?”

“That’s what I’m here for.”

There was small talk as they took the twenty or so steps to Ian’s office. They stopped for a moment here and there to say hello to various staff members, and for her to plant a kiss on Blake’s cheek and give Wella a big hug. They had no idea that all eyes were upon them.

After Saxon had commented on the painting Turner had given to Ian, and rehashed the prior evening, they got to business. Saxon had read the two scripts and the synopsis of story ideas for a series written by Jenson Michaels. She was intrigued with the man’s writing enough that she was serious in wanting to discuss the possibility of working with him and Ian as Executive Producer of the show.

“Of course, I’ll need to meet with him so we can see if we can work together.” She smiled at Ian.

“I’m warning you, Jenson’s a newbie, but I think he’s just what you need.”

“What might that be, prey tell?” Saxon quipped.

Ian looked at her with a twinkle in his eye. “A virgin to screw up your way.” Saxon giggled. “Okay, I’ll set it up, and…” He reached back to the trusty backpack, now resting on the sideboard behind him. “One more thing.”

Ian pulled a script out, going directly to Saxon and placing it in her hands. “Here.”

“What’s this?”

He pulled a chair closer to her and sat down. “I’ve debated on this all day, but I’ve decided it’s the right thing to do. Once you read it, you may not agree.”

She looked at the cover and back up to him, “Quarters?”

“It’s a movie script from Jenson Michael. I asked him to send me everything he had. The original script he gave me was a little too pat, so I talked him in to just bringing over his file cabinet. That’s where we found the series, and hidden away was this…” He rubbed his hand across the front of the script, “This shocking little…gem. I’ve not been able to put it out of my head.”

“What’s it about?”

“Saxon, let it just hit you straight on. I think you’ll end up with the same reaction I did. I’m in television, not film. That’s why I’m passing it on to you. The female lead is perfect for you. I think maybe even more than what you had in mind, and I’m not sure it’s even doable, but take a look.”

“Mmm, anything that stirs your passion up, has to be…” She cocked her head and looked at him. “Let’s not go there.” She waved the manuscript at him. “This will be perfect reading on the plane.”

“You’re taking a trip?”

“Yes.” She tucked the script in her shoulder bag. “I leave tomorrow morning.”

“I didn’t realize that you were flying off somewhere.”

“Spur of the moment.” She stood and squeezed his hand and walked toward the door. “Rudy’s taking me to Sydney. I’ve always wanted to go.”


“Rudolph Van Patten,” She put her hand to her chest, “my paramour. We’ve been on the outs, but he called this morning and is determined to whisk me off my feet again, and I’m going to let him.” She laughed.

“I didn’t know you were dating someone.”

“We’d broken up, but I think that he got a little jealous seeing all those pictures of us. So, he’s come crawling back.” Saxon put her arms around Ian’s waist. “Of course, I’m going to make him grovel, but I think he’s the one, Ian. I really do.”

She put her head on Ian’s shoulder and squeezed him close. “Every time you come into my life, the best things happen.”

Ian rubbed her back and stared at the painting on the wall. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“Well, Clem, gotta run.” She kissed him on the lips and pulled away. In an instant she was out the door, and Ian could hear her blowing kisses and saying goodbye to everyone as she went to the elevator.

Ian pursed his lips and sighed. He made a few phone calls, signed a little paperwork and then packed his pack and turned off the lights. As he slowly walked toward the elevator, Blake handed him a little box.

“You’re cell phone. Don’t drop it. Don’t throw it in the pool. Don’t run over it with the car, and for cryin’ out loud don’t lose it!”

“Yes, sir.”

“And here…” Blake handed him a slip of paper.

“I got your reservations, Wednesday night, 7:30. Do not be late and make sure you tip the matre’d at least a week’s rent. Everything else I attached to your credit card.” Blake smiled.


“Did you tell her? Was she impressed?” Blake wanted all the details.

“Yes. Thank you.” Was all Ian said before he wished Blake a good night and walked away. As he passed by the foyer he said goodnight to those who still remained. Daryn stood at the elevator, as he approached.

“May we share?” He asked her.

“Of course.”

“How’s the boyfriend?”


“I wanted to thank you for coming up with the ‘Blood Kisses’ idea. I think you’re right, hopefully we can tie it all up in a nice little bow.”

“I hope so.” She smiled as the got in the elevator, Ian waiting until she stepped in first. They rode to the lobby in silence.

“Daryn…” Ian stopped her as she headed for the door. “I wanted to give you this.” Ian handed her the reservation information. “As a thank you for your hard work. Take off early, get all dolled up and have a night to remember, on me. Everything’s taken care of…except tipping the matre’d.”

“Oh my God, Ian.” She looked at the paper. “Do you know how hard this place is to get into?”

He smiled. “Just enjoy yourself. You deserve it.”

Daryn kissed him on the cheek. “I can’t wait to tell Darrell.”

Ian watched her rush off in a cloud of joy, almost forgetting to stop by the front desk and sign out. The older black man behind the desk turned the book around and handed Ian a pen for him to sign.

“That was awful nice of you, Mr. Justyn.”

“Rusty, how many times…?”

The older man nodded his head and chortled. “Ian…I can always tell a member of your staff just by watching them leave.”


Rusty nodded his head. “They’re always happy or excited. It’s a nice change to what normally stomps out that door.” He turned the book back around.

“I’m glad.” Ian smiled and turned to leave.

Rusty spoke up so he could hear him and Ian pushed at the glass doors. “Yup always happy. Look forward to the day you do the same Mr. Ian.”

Ian stopped, but only momentarily, and continued to the garage.

He didn’t want to think about it. He poured himself back into work, buckling down even harder. The contracts he asked for finally arrived, eye opening as they were. He had done meeting after meeting, way into the night. Things were falling into place, and it excited him.

It didn’t take Ian long to get lost in the paperwork before him. He spend his evening at home in the usual manner, on the table by the pool taking all the pieces of the work day and finding ways to fit them into a yet to be named masterpiece to present the next.

“Hard at work as usual I see?” The voice came from the other end of the patio. “May we interrupt?”

Ian looked up from his notebook to see Kellen, Ralphie in tow, followed closely behind by the dynamic woman with long dark hair he had seen on the balcony that fateful night.

“Of course.” Ian stood. Reaching out his hand to the beautiful woman, who was more exotic and intoxicating than he imagined close up. “You must be Amanda.”

Amanda ignored the outstretched hand, slipped her arms around him and kissed him wetly on the lips. “You are even more delicious close up than you are from two hundred feet away.”

Ian blushed. “Oh my.” She said, taking a step back and turning to Kellen. “And modest. I could just eat him alive.”

“Now, now Amanda.” Kellen warned her. “Not everyone is on the menu.”

“Of course, not Kellen.” She smiled and seated herself at the table. “Just because he’s not an appetizer, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t made to whet the appitite.”

“Drinks?” Ian stammered. “I should get us drinks? Uhm? I have scotch, maybe some vodka…”

“I’ll have whatever you’re having.” Amanda purred.

“I was having hot tea.”

“Scotch then, neat, but only if you’ll join me.”

Ian whisked the paperwork off the table and shoved it in the cabana, as he grabbed a bottle and three glasses. Ralphie barked at Ian for his share of attention. Ian put the bottle down, and got to his haunches to receive doggie kisses from the setter. “And I missed you big boy.”

Kellen explained to his ex, who had a questioning look on her face. “Ralphie seems to have figured out how to open doors. He’s constantly inviting himself over here while I’m at work.”

Ian roughed Ralphie’s coat. “He’s gotten to be such a welcome companion. I never had animals, well pets growing up.”

“Kellen said you were a farm boy—cows and chickens, the whole lot.”

“Well, chickens, only cows when we could afford one and usually only until we needed the meat.”

“What did your family raise?”

“Whatever we could corn, beans. My uncle tried to make a living raising tobacco, but it really wasn’t much of a cash crop, and pretty much stripped the land over time.”

“Interesting.” Amanda said.

“No.” Ian stood from Ralphie and motioned for Kellen to join them at the table. “Not at all.”

Amanda pointed to the bottle. “May we?”

“Oh, absolutely. Forgive me for forgetting. I don’t drink very often, and my social skills need a little polish.” Ian stood and poured a neat drink for Amanda. He picked up a second glass. “Kellen?”

“Actually, none for me. My job is done.” Kellen said, pushing his chair back and standing up. “Ralphie and I will head back over to the house and leave the two of you to discuss whatever it is the two of you will discuss.”

“Just stay.” Ian said.

“No. I’ve learned not to be in the ocean when the shark is circling the prey. It’s too easy to get caught in all the thrashing and chomping.”

“Kellen…” Amanda pouted. “You make it sound like I’ve been stalking the poor man, just waiting for the kill.”

Kellen leaned over and kissed his ex-wife on the cheek. “Amanda, dear, I know you’ve been chomping at the bit to discuss business. All I know about the business you two are in is that when you point the little rectangle thingy and press the buttons, somebody somewhere panics because I changed the channels, and quite frankly I enjoy my power of stupidity.” He patted Ian on the back. “She knows what she wants, Ian, and she’ll get it.”

“I think you misunderstand just who is the shark and who is the prey.” Ian smiled.

“This is going to be more fun than I ever dreamed.” Amanda purred.

Kellen smiled and looked at Amanda. “Play nicely children.”

Ian scruffed Ralphie’s ears and kissed him goodnight on the snout, then watched him wag his tail behind his master until they disappeared in the night. He turned to pour himself a drink to find Amanda had already done so and topped hers off. He seated himself and held his glass up in salute.

“So, did you like the books?” She asked.

“Surprisingly yes.” Ian told her. “I usually hate the genre and avoid it like I do, oh French kissing a cobra whose tail I just stuck in the toaster, but I like the way you write. I like the way you seem to be unfolding one story when actually telling another.”

“Thank you.”

“And I’m not just talking about the trilogy. I’ve read four of your other novels as well.”

“You’ve been a busy boy.”

“I always like to know my prey.”

“Mmm.” She licked her lips. “Shall we just whip them out and flop them on the table?”

Ian laughed.

“Amanda, you have been approached by every major, and in response have made yourself absolutely unattainable. With every book, the sales got bigger, the offers got more intense, and you responded with stonewall seclusion. All I had to do was make one phone call to a second party, just to double check a hunch and here you are.” She nodded. “Why HRT?”

“Oh Ian, I could care less about HRT.

“You know what you have, and you’ve been waiting for the just the right time.”

“I’m a business woman, as well as an artist. I know I will probably never get this chance again. Can you blame me?”

“No. Smart thing to do, you’ve played the cards well, Amanda, all you have to do now is point, say you and get anything you want.”

She pointed her finger at him. “You.”


“I do my research to Ian, and let me just say I find you fascinating, fascinating and impressive. You’ve been in this town only a few months and already have everyone looking in your direction. Let me rephrase that, glued to your every move.”

“Maybe not for the right reasons.”

“Ian, if it weren’t for the right reasons, no one would still be watching…so closely. You infiltrated a legion of white collar tight asses, known for chewing up and spitting out the young, the bright and the determined. Usually some one like you has to kiss their ass until they wither and become extinct. Instead you rather boldly bare your own ass in public, make them drool over it and dare them not to kiss it. The really impressive thing is that they seem to be the only ones breaking a sweat.”

“Dumb luck?”

“Now you may be naïve, and maybe you stumbled into some of your quick success, but you back up the dumb moves with bold ones You take no prisoners and make no apologies about it. Why wouldn’t some one who thinks she’s doing the same thing want to a line herself with that?”

“How would you know about my bold moves, my dumb ones unfortunately are available for free with any high speed connection?”

“Let’s just say that I have a dear old friend, who would have done anything to cut you off at the knees but is now one of your legions of staunch allies. Believe me, Ian, when you can turn that much foaming hatred into a lather of fawning drool, it’s very impressive.”

“And who ever this is has kept…?”

“I’m not sure if it was conscious or not, but night after night of phone calls kvetching then suddenly getting the same amount of phone calls spewing awe it’s been easy to keep tabs, whether I wanted to or not. Of course the phone calls all still start with “Guess what the asshole did today?”

“Trish Apple? Are you talking about Trish Apple?”

She smiled. “And there’s the other thing, my turn to ask the question—why?”

“Why what?”

“What she did was terrible, nasty and a very poorly executed, but brilliant scheme. Why did you keep her around, and not have her drawn and quartered? And don’t give some Southern cliché diarrhea that’s meant to be witty either.”

“First, let me say that Trish and I have developed a rather I hate you so much I can’t stand it mutual admiration society, but you’re right she should have been fired and/or gone to jail. However, I knew I had to hit the ground running, the rube was playing with the big boys, and I figured that sooner or later I’d need a goon with big old balls they had no problem ripping off and throwing under the bus.”

“True, the only thing scarier than an extremist with a new hemorrhoid and a microphone, is a loyal diesel dyke whose been pissed off, which is what is so amazing. You pissed that woman off and now she’s a crime fighting sidekick, but don’t tell her I told you that. I like my tits where they are.”

Ian sighed and put down his drink. “Now I guess I should feel guilty about making her sharpen all my pencils and line them up on my blotter according the height and color every morning before I get into the office.” He thought a moment, “No, but I will tell Sean to stop sneaking in after her and messing with them.”

“You are nasty.”

“Understand, please, that I’m not about to be sucker punched again. I’m sure it will happen, but like any good improvisational comedian, I’m going over every possible scenario in advance so my well rehearsed jokes will look spontaneous.”

“Ian, let me blow my own horn, here. I am handing you a hot, let’s face it, flavor of the month, my crown jewels and the only string attached is that you are attached. When this hits the media you will be elevated above and beyond any flash in the pan. You will be the envy of every mogul walking the face of the earth.”

“That I am aware of, especially having read the third book, when that hits the stands, the din of people begging for a taste of the cake will only escalate.”

“I think you and I are a lot a like, Ian Justyn. I never would have thought so, but we are. At first, I thought okay, my ex-husband who is really not much of a people person likes him. He doesn’t trust easily, not after what I did to him…and I don’t blame him. When Trish jumped on the bandwagon, I had to take a serious look, and I like what I see. Ian I like what I feel. You should take that as a compliment.”

“I do. Can we fight now?”

“Yes. Let’s.”

“My assumption is that you have no interest in film versions of the three books. Correct?”

“I’ve seen the ‘Twilight’ things. I’ve seen the most wonderful novels turned into the most hideous ninety-eight some odd minutes of torture. No thanks, I’d rather have Trish rearrange my anatomy.”

“You’re thinking mini-series, maybe a follow up series. I can’t believe that you don’t have some wonderfully twisted plots in mind with the characters left at the end of the third book.”

Amanda smiled, touched her finger tips to her finger tips and smiled. She threw her head back and laughed. “I knew this would be perfect!”

“This is were we get to fight. I’ve got a mostly similar idea. I’m thinking three limited run series running back to back, a highly promoted saga to kick off what will become the most talked about…” Ian leaned back in the chair, “…daytime drama ever.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me?” Amanda went instantaneously from enthralled to appalled. “You want to turn my masterpiece into one of those low rent HRT soaps nobody watches? I don’t think so.”

“No Amanda,” Ian finally sat forward. “I want you to turn my low rent HRT soaps into a masterpiece that no one would dare not watch.”

“If you think you can talk me into that, I have severely misjudged you.” She pushed back her chair. “Forgive me for wasting both our time.”

“Amanda, give me one more minute, just one. You see I think you are right, we are both a lot alike, and I am offering tit for tat. Why should you hand me something that will without a doubt send my fledgling career into orbit without being able to offer you something juicy in return? Well something in return besides that big pile of dirty money.”

“Okay.” Amanda released her grip on the arms of the chair. “You have my attention.”

“You didn’t ask me an important question.”

“Which is?”

“Why would I suddenly be interested in the biggest selling Gothic Romance of all time, when quite frankly the genre just flat out doesn’t interest me to the point I didn’t even realize it existed until this morning?”

Amanda turned her head to the side and stared at Ian. “You’re right. Why, and more importantly why would you insult me with a pitch for a soap opera?”

“It wasn’t the books that caught my eye, Amanda. It was the little bio in the back. It was that and a little fact checking that made me put two and two together to make several million.”

Ian walked over to his backpack and pulled out a file folder, stuffed to the gills. He placed it on the table in front of Amanda and got on his knees. He took her hands and looked into her eyes.

“So Amanda Jackson, would you give me Ian Justyn, the honor of, together, turning “Blood Kisses” in to the most innovative daytime drama in history, the one every one will try and fail to imitate. Will you give me a clear career path covered with industry drool and allow this humble man in return to give you…revenge, sweet roll naked on the bed covered in your enemy’s blood revenge.”

That dirty little twinkle came back into her eyes. “Do tell, Ian Justyn. Do tell.”

Vignette #31: Playtime

Ian dressed and put away the dishes that Tippy had cleaned and Reese had left on the kitchen counter. After everything was where he wanted it to be, he hopped in his car and drove to the convenience store at the end of the street to buy a carton of cigarettes. Damn but they were expensive. He thought he should give it up.

He had barely entered the house, just enough time to flip on the lights, when his doorbell rang. Ian looked out the peephole before he opened the door. He was surprised to say the least.

As he opened his front door he expressed that surprise, “I didn’t think I’d be seeing the two of you so soon.”

On his door stood Jeremy Tyson and Susan Andrews, holding hands and looking sheepish. “I hope you don’t mind that we stopped by without asking” she apologized.

“The kids are with her folks, and we didn’t want to go back to an empty house yet. We stopped for ice cream and saw your car pass by.” He explained. “Is it okay that we decided to follow you and take a chance?”

“Sure”, he opened the door wide and invited them in. “Welcome to my humble abode.”

Susan looked around, “Oh my, Miss Elizabeth left just about everything.”

“You’ve been here before?”

Jeremy said, “Many times. The Elysian’s were two of our favorite people. They are the ones that actually introduced us.”

Susan squeezed her husband’s firm shoulder. “They were such romantics.” Susan’s eyes shown bright and she walked to the painting on the wall in the stair wall. “I don’t believe she left this behind.”

Jeremy and Ian joined her and admired. “I love it, couldn’t bear to take it down or move much of anything at all. It just seems right the way it was.”

Jeremy touched the painting. “Did you know that Herman painted this?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“He was quite the artist. He worked in studio make up all his life, but painting was his real passion.”

“I didn’t know that either.”

Susan turned to Ian, “Miss Elizabeth was a contract player for a while, that’s how they met. She wouldn’t discuss it much, but whenever she was out of the room, Herman loved to talk about the old days.”

Jeremy put his arms around his wife’s shoulders, “And as soon as Miss Elizabeth walked back in the room he would shut up, changing the subject like a child caught telling a story”.

“They were such a great couple, made for each other. I often wondered why they never had children.” She said.

“I think they regretted it, especially as they got older. Elizabeth always got this sad look in her eyes when the subject came up.” Jeremy added as he led his wife to the couch Ian had silently offered them a seat on while they talked.

“I’m surprised she didn’t take that painting. She loved it.” Jeremy mused. “Although she never would have told Herman that. She was afraid it would go to his head. She’d get so mad when Herman would call it ‘The Untitled Masterpiece’. She’d fuss and he’d say back every time, well you know it is.”

“Actually, that seems the perfect name for it.” Ian said staring at the painting from his comfy chair.

Susan slipped her bag off her shoulder, opened it and reached inside. “It’s still playtime for us. Would you mind if Jeremy joins you in a smoke?” She pulled a cigarette and lighter out of her purse.

Ian was a little shocked. “Sure. No problem, if you don’t mind.”

“Actually I enjoy it now and again.” Susan looked at her husband who had a twinkle in his eye. “And he does love it so; I can’t deny it to him all the time.”

“I let her control it.” He took the cigarette in his hand, put it to his lips and bent down to the flame she flicked. “That’s my Suzie, my control.”

Ian went to the table to find his new carton and opened his own pack. When he returned he found Susan had slipped to the floor and Jeremy to the end of the couch so he could share the large glass ashtray with Ian. Ian returned to his seat in the easy chair. Susan got up on her knees and flicked the little flame, to graciously light his cigarette.

They smoked for a moment in silence. Susan absentmindedly stroked her husband’s thigh. They were still dressed as they were this afternoon, he in Bermuda shorts and a sleeveless tank top, she in a tennis skirt and a matching cotton pullover. Susan watched the hair on her husband’s thigh dance as she brushed it with her fingers.

“Ian, we so loved your performance last night.”

“Thank you.”

Jeremy looked at his wife and smiled. “I already told him all about it.” He kissed her and smiled.

She turned and looked at Ian. “We don’t get away too often. Sometimes the children need grandparent time and we try to take full advantage of it.”

“I understand.” Ian said as he put his cigarette out.

“You do?” she asked.

“Of course, it must be tough to get private time when you have small children. You have to make the most of it.”

“We try.” She said.

Jeremy kissed his wife again and then looked at Ian, his eyes doing a little dance. “We thought that maybe, hoped that you might want to help us make the most of our last hour of playtime tonight.”

Susan leaned back between her husband’s legs and rested her head on his crotch, and looked at Ian. “Would you mind terribly playing with us…?”

Ian knew he had to be getting the wrong idea. He had fantasized many times about Susan Andrews. He had dreamed of feeling her long blond hair falling over his naked body as they made love. He never would have believed that he’d get the chance. Surely he was misunderstanding.


“Its okay” she said getting back to her knees.

“Don’t be nervous, Ian.” Jeremy said quietly. “We’re just going to play. No one’s getting hurt. Just relax.” He stared at Ian with a calm cool sexiness.

“Okay” was all Ian could think to say.

“Don’t be nervous” Susan kissed her husband and he followed her lips to the floor with her.

Ian watched in silence for a moment. Okay so maybe he hadn’t misunderstood, the sight and sound of a husband and wife beginning to make love, both thrilling him and terrifying him.

Jeremy pulled his shirt over his head. Ian could see the taut abs and the mischievous sparkle in his eye that had made him the People Magazine’s sexiest man alive. He kissed his wife deeply, holding the small of her back, Susan staring into Ian’s eyes. Susan reached down and pulled off Jeremy’s sandals, as he reached over and squeezed Ian’s thigh.

“Let’s just all enjoy ourselves.” Jeremy sighed, before returning to his wife’s lips.

Jeremy, almost unnoticeabely, took hold of the bottom of Susan’s shirt. She lifted her arms over her head, letting him slowly peel it off her torso, her waist length hair whisping back down over her back. She turned and looked over a naked shoulder and smiled at Ian, then bit her lower lip.

“My husband is so sexy, don’t you think?”

Ian was speechless, hands on the arms on the chair, feet flat on the floor, afraid to move. “So are you.”

“You can come play with us whenever you like.” Jeremy said as he took his wife in his arms and pulled her close, her arms wrapping themselves tightly around him. Jeremy hands slipped down her back, cupping her firmly, lifting her off the carpet enough to lay her gently on her back and fall into her.

Susan reached a hand to Ian. “Come and join us, Ian.” There was no way he could misunderstand what was going on now, especially with that look in her eyes.

“Please come down here with us.” She begged with a moan.

And he did. God help him. Ian did.

Vignette #30: Focus

Ian triple checked to make sure that he had his cell phone and crossed back home. He let himself in the house going straight to the closet and getting his guitar. He stripped down to his underwear, sat on the chair of the balcony and started strumming.

Bits and pieces of the past kept coming in waves through his mind. Ian’s hands were strumming, but his mind was folding moments over and over in his head. He was staring into space, playing his guitar, no idea how much time had passed and certainly no idea that he was being watched.

“Mom said that I should bring this stuff back over to you and thank you again for bringing it.” Reese was holding two bags, one in each hand. “She put everything in the dishwasher and to tell you again how delicious everything was.”

“Thank you, Reese. Just put ‘em down there and I’ll get them later.”

“I can take them inside for you, if you want.”

Ian stopped playing. “Okay, the doors unlocked.”

Reese let himself inside and Ian went back to staring into to nowhere and strumming the Gibson. In a moment, Ian heard a throat clear again. He looked again.

“Would it disturb you if I…” Reese nodded at the pool.

“No, go right ahead.”

“Thanks”, the young man said quietly and began to pull his shirt over his head pushing his sneakers off at the same time.

Ian continued to strum as Reese undressed. He was definitely the son on Colton Shores, the dark hair, still in the close-cropped military cut, and the broad, broad shoulders, quietly rugged and masculine.

Reese had served in the battlefields during the Iraqi conflict, which Tippy said he refused to discuss. He had always been quiet, she said and feared that his time in the military had forced him even more inward.

He refused to go out much and interaction with even his family was minimal. What Ian noticed was a 25 year old man, who had probably been through the most terrifying experiences anyone could imagine, much less a pampered Hollywood baby, who now just needed some quiet time to process it all.

When he was down to a pair of khaki color baggy boxers, Reese jumped in the pool and began to quietly swim back and forth. Ian went back to his strumming and thinking, but watching the man doing lap after lap, with the obsession of a long distance swimmer. As he reached the sides of the pool he would tag and flip over, coming back to the surface of the water and stroking to the other side.

Reese must have gone on non-stop for twenty minutes, Ian’s mind studying the whole time, but his eyes looking past the movement and finally beading in on a place that his mind went to, somewhere out of his own body, trapped in the terrors of the past. When Ian shook his head and snapped back to where he was, Reese had stopped swimming and was resting his chin on his folded arms, lower body still in the deep end of the pool, looking at Ian.

Reese didn’t smile. He just said flatly. “I like the way you play. It’s nice.”

Ian shook his head thank you. “Good night isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Reece agreed, “one of my favorite times of year.”

“I love the fall.” Ian thought out loud, “I’m not sure you have one of those here, do you?”

“Sort of, it mainly gets chillier at night and we get more rain.”

“I’m not sure I’m gonna like the lack of real seasons.”

“You get used to it. You get used to a lot of things around here.”

There was quiet for a moment and Ian strummed his guitar a little more. Reese laid his head down on his arms and looked at Ian sideways.

“I notice a lot.” Reese said quietly, never raising his head from its position on his arm. ”People think I’m quiet and stupid, but I’m not. I just like to observe.”

“I noticed that about you.”

“I know Mom and Dad are worried about me, but I’ll be alright. I just don’t know how to tell them.”

“They’re not stupid either Reese, they’ll catch on.”

He nodded his head. “You wanna talk about it?” There were more words coming from Reese than there had been the whole afternoon.

Ian stopped strumming and looked up. “Talk about what?”

“Whatever it is going on in your head, the thing that makes you so sad.”

Ian smiled. “I’m not sad.”

Reese blinked his eyes and was quiet a moment. “Yes, you are.”

Ian sensed his need to talk, so he put down his guitar and slowly made his way down to the pool. “Mind if I get in?” He asked.

“Your pool.”

Ian smiled as he slipped over the side beside Reece, “I keep forgetting.” He pushed himself down to the bottom and then floated back to the top, coming up wet and cool right beside Reece. Ian leaned his back against the pool wall beside Reese.

Reese hadn’t changed his position, his head was still lying sideways on his arms. They were quiet for another moment. Reese sighed. “You ever done it, with a guy?”

“Reese, I wonder if you should be having that conversation with your parents. It may be difficult, but they seem very open about sex and I’m sure they would…”

“Open?” Reese laughed and turned around facing the same direction as Ian. “The first time I snuck a girl in my room to have sex, my mother burst in the door and said, “Oh I’m sorry, I though I heard mice.” Then without as much as the bat of an eye she said, “Reese, honey, arch your back a little more, you’ll get deeper penetration and stimulate her clitoris more. She’ll love that.”

Ian laughed. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh.”

For the first time he saw Reese smile, “Its okay. It’s pretty funny, now, and she was right. Despite everything, my mother is almost always right.”

“I’m learning that.”

“So have you?”


“Made it with a guy before?”

“No, and not interested. I have nothing against it, but it just doesn’t interest me.”

“That’s cool.” Reese said flatly. “I love sex with woman, but I’ve had sex with guys.” He sighed. “This is California. If a dude hasn’t had sex with another dude at least once he’s probably not been potty trained yet.”

Ian piped in, “It seems everyone I meet is beautiful, horny and not very discriminating about what sex they get off with as long as they get off.”

“That pretty much sums it up.”

“How do relationships survive here?” Ian pondered.

“Most of them don’t. Some do, but most don’t. A lot have a pact like my parents, but it doesn’t always work.”

“A pact?” They swim to the shallow end and sat on the bottom.

“You don’t know about that?”

“Not really.”

“It’s a pretty standard agreement. They only play around if the other spouse plays with them or watches; no one on one with the opposite sex unless the other one is there. Same sex play is permitted at any time provided condoms are used, and the spouse is honest about it.”

Ian was a little dumbfounded but not shocked. “That doesn’t seem very romantic. More like, oh I don’t know, rules to some kind of card game, not a relationship.”

“It works for some.”

“I guess it does.”

“It wasn’t going to be that way with me and Kelly. We were going to be monogamous and only make love with each other.”

“Who’s Kelly?”

Reese looked down in the water, like he’d let a secret he hadn’t meant to slip. “Someone I was in love with.”

“Have your parents met her?”


“You should bring her to meet them.”


“Still overseas?”

“Dead.” Reese looked seep into the water.

Calloused hands dug into the scar tissue in Ian’s head with dirty fingernails and splattered bloody pulp everywhere. Almost as quickly the quake rocked him, the mess was pressed back together clean, slipped pristinely in the box and tucked away away where it couldn’t be seen or thought about again.

“Reese...I…” he stammered as he began to focus again on the outside.

When Ian was aware again, Reese was quietly crying. He knew that there was nothing he could say. He reached out and put an arm around him and squeezed him on the shoulder. “It’s okay. Really, it’s okay. I won’t say anything.”

Reese pulled himself into Ian’s shoulder and filled the pool with pent up tears. Ian didn’t know why, out of the blue, Reese had chosen him, maybe he was just in the right place at the wrong time, but he knew how Reese felt, he understood. How many times a day had Ian felt that he was alive and dead and totally unconnected.

He let Reese shake and cry. Sometimes the boy/man whaled, sometimes he just sniffled until the next uncontrollable wave of pain and anger over took him. It was an hour before Reese stopped, dried his eyes and himself and walked back over to his house.

It left Ian drained, but feeling as though he had made or at least was trying to make the connections that had always escaped him. The incident also bubbled something else up—fear, the fear that there were things he could never escape. Things he feared that his simple being touched off and made bad things happen to good people

Vignette #29: Seriously

The rest of the afternoon was a conglomerate of conversations and food. Although the guest list amounted to a broad spectrum of the people next door and the industry powerful, it was a great combination. Friendships were made and the day was filled with laughter and food.

Ian found himself sitting on a chaise conversing with Trampus Scott and Jeremy Tyson. The day had been of surprisingly little shoptalk, and delightfully about normal things that guys would talk about. Jeremy wanted to know how many “birds” Ian had bagged after he left the club last night and Trampus kept trying to light cigarettes that Tippy would grab out of his mouth and throw in the trash can.

“Dammit, Tippy, where can a guy go to get a smoke around here?”

Tippy batted her eyes at him, “Next door? Is that okay, Baby Doll?”

“Sure Tippy, me casa, su smoking lounge!”

“That’s my boy.”

“Com’mon, Trampus, I could use one myself,” Ian hoisted himself up off the chaise, and checked to make sure his phone was still in his pocket. “Follow me boys and fellow nicotine addicts.”

As Ian walked through the trees he could hear Tippy bellow, “And if you got another cheesecake, bring it back with ya!”

In a matter of seconds, Ian, Trampus, Jeremy and Seven where all in Ian’s yard desperately pulling out their brand of cancer stick.

“Man that tastes good. There’s nothing like a smoke after a job well done.” Trampus sighed as he released a thick cloud from his lungs.

Ian tripped up the balcony to get a second ashtray. “Make yourselves at home guys,” Ian said since they already had.

Jeremy looked at Ian, “I can’t believe you don’t sing for a living, mate. You could be huge!”

“Not interested.”

“Why not? You’d get all the birds you wanted, and probably some blokes, too, if that’s what you were in the mood for.” He chirped.

Seven noticed that Jeremy wasn’t smoking and offered him one of his, “You wanna a smoke?”

He waved his hand, “Naw, thanks though, mate. I promised Suzie that I wouldn’t.”

“You are so whipped.” Trampus teased.

“Yes. I am.” He agreed without hesitation, “but it has its benefits.” He added with a throaty laugh. “I can barely walk this morning.” He pulled open the elastic band on his shorts and looked down at his crotch, “Poor monster’s all sore and chaffed.”

“Man, put that pitiful thing away…” Trampus rolled his eyes, “any excuse to pull your pants down, you just want everyone to have pity on you, for Chris’ sakes”

He yanked his pants back up with a snap of the elastic and sat down, “You’re just jealous.” Jeremy looked at the other two. “Someone went home alone last night…a little dry spell.”

“Rosey Palm and I had a whopping good time, thank you.” Trampus rebutted.

“I thought you had more hair on your knuckles than usual.” Jeremy snapped back. “Now what were we talking about? Oh, yeah…Ian why aren’t you in front of the camera instead of behind it?”

Trampus took a puff. “Good question and don’t give me the no talent crap. I was there, too.”

“Tried it, and I’m just more comfortable where I am.” Ian lit up his Marlboro. “Plain and simple.”

Jeremy nodded his head. “Alright, mate. I can accept that.”

“To be honest, I don’t see how you guys can do it, packaging yourself like so much meat and selling it. No offense, I’m one of the buyers, remember.” Ian puffed.

“None taken.” Trampus piped in. “Your gut tells you you’re more suited to choose the hamburger. Our gut tells us how to grind it up, wrap it up and what shelf to put it on.”

Seven interjected, “It’s a tough town. I’ve found you’ve got to take advantage of every situation you’re in, make the most of it good or bad.”

“Got my degree in that one.” Ian said quietly.

“Good for you.” Trampus said. “Make the most of the heat, that will always get you through the winter.”

Tyson snorted. “Thank you, Aesop.”

“Well it’s true.” Trampus crushed out his smoke. “I’ve been lucky. So have you.” He looked at his buddy. “We’ve used our highs to take care of the low times that are bound to come.” He picked the crushed butt up off the lawn and placed it in the ashtray Ian offered.

“By that he means we sock away as much of the profane amounts of cash they pay us away.” Tyson added.

“By low times, he means when no one will pay good money to see either of our wrinkled, sagging derrières anymore.” Trampus lit up a second and took a long drag.

“Or to pay for the plastic surgery to keep the buns perky a little while longer.” Seven teased.

“Personally, I’m hoping at age gracefully.” Jeremy mused. “Sooner or later, someone will take me seriously as an actor.”

“You are the highest paid film star in the world.” Ian reminded him. “You don’t consider that being taken seriously enough?”

“You put your finger on it right there, Ian.” Jeremy pointed at him. “I’m a film star, not an actor. You have a really big bug you want shot on the screen with a really big gun? I’m at the top of the list. You want to make a serious drama with depth and passion? My name is never brought up.”

“Like it’s that much better for me?” Trampus cracked.

“You just got your third Oscar nomination.” Tyson reminded him. “I think that effectively puts you in another league.”

“I got lucky with the first film.” Scott defended. “A supporting actor nod for an indie during a lean year. The second was for the period piece. Shoot a musket, drop trou, die in your lover’s arms and bring in the bucks, they have to nominate you. It’s a rule.”

“What your excuse this year?” Ian asked with a smile on his face.

“Luck again, right place, right time.” Trampus lit another. “Saxon’s a friend, her co-star decided to have a very public meltdown a few days before production. She called, I answered.”

“But it was a romantic comedy, mate.” Jeremy retorted.

“Do you think it’s any easier to gain industry cred in a comedy?”

“Okay, dude.” Seven stepped in. “You’ve got a point there, but so does Jeremy. With that one stroke of ‘luck’ as you called it, you do have everyone looking at you in a different way.”

“A different way?” Trampus raised an eyebrow. “You know what I’ve been offered this week? A film reboot of “Red Dwarf” and a sci-fi flick set at a nudist colony on Mars!”

“Well at least that last one’s a different kind of action flick.” Jeremy laughed. “I guess we will both always be typecast as the dumb pretty boy.”

“You are a dumb pretty boy.” Trampus said. “I want that Oscar!”

“Do your next film for Harvey Weinstein, he’ll buy you one as a thank you gift.He does for everyone else.” Jeremy smirked.

Trampus looked over to Ian. “You’re awfully quiet.”

Colors were whirling in Ian’s head. “Do the “Red Dwarf” reboot. Don’t sign unless they give the other lead to Jeremy. If it falls through, let me know. I’d loved to do an American version for the network.”

“Really bad script.” Trampus said.

“Have you seen my show?” Seven tossed in.

“Seven, this script makes yours look like Shakespeare. I think they’re just offering it to me so I’ll turn it down. Then Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy will fight over it.”

“They do that?” Ian was shocked.

“Happens all the time.” Jeremy confirmed. “Offer a piece of crap to someone at the top of the A list. They turn it down, but it gives the project cred and suddenly not quite so big names start screaming at their agents to get it for them.”

“Okay, that’s something I never thought of.” Ian made a mental note. “I’m so new at this. I’ll never survive.”

“Now there’s a successful attitude.” Jeremy warned.

“Hey, I’ll fight to stay here. I’m good at that.” Ian said. “There are just so many games. I’ve been naïve enough to think that even the awful stuff got made because at one time somebody thought it was wonderful.”

“Most stuff gets made because somebody at one time thought it would make money, lots and lots of money.” Trampus informed him.

“Face it, mate, your in show business, screw the art and show me the business.” Seven acknowledged.

“Well, that’s not why I’m here, and if it’s all about money,” Ian announced, “I don’t see what your problem is.” .

Jeremy and Trampus looked at each other. “Explain that one.” One of them said.

“Well, you’ve been complaining about not being taken seriously as actors, never being offered the scripts you want.”

“And?” said the other.

“Next time you find something you want to do, and the suits say no, why not just have the guts you claim to follow take a look at your bank statement and do it anyway? Form your own production company. Screw ‘em all.” Ian said.

Jeremy looked at Trampus, then back to Ian. “Do you know how expensive it is to produce a film?”

“Got a ball park.” Ian said emptying the ashtrays in the trash and wiping them out. “You want to do something else besides big budget action flicks, find a small budget drama the actor in you in crying out to do. Put your business where your mouth is.”

“But…” Trampus started to interject.

“Hold on.” Ian said. “I don’t know how I’m staying here, but I know how I got here. All my life I’ve been told I wasn’t good enough. I had to fight to survive when half the time even I believed them. I was born with nothing and it seemed like every day of my life was a battle just to keep it, a handful of squat.”

“You’re here now.” Seven said.

“And I got here because I got tired of less than nothing and when an opportunity came up I went after it. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to get a job as a network executive, and when somebody, God bless ‘em, had a brain synapse and gave me a call, I didn’t pussy foot around. I knew the only thing I had going for me was me.”

“You played the game and won.” Jeremy said.

“No, I played my game and trumped theirs. I told them exactly what I thought, not what they wanted to hear.” Ian found he was almost screaming. “Sorry, got myself stirred up.”

Trampus smiled. “I certainly see why they hired you. Damn, you know how to swing for the stands.”

“Now, I just have to figure out how to keep swinging.” Ian said.

“As I see it,” Jeremy looked at Ian “What got you here, is what’s gonna keep you here, mate.”

“Well, that’s all I got.” Ian said almost to himself.

“For now.” Jeremy smiled.

“I was trying to make a point, but my ego got in the way.” Ian said to himself. “Right. The next logical step, you too Seven, is to form your own production company. Stop whining about not being taken seriously and take yourself seriously.”

“You got to continue to making the studios money if you want to keep working.” Trampus said flatly.

“Fine.” Ian stood his ground. “Keep making the big action flicks for the studios if you want, but use the success you’ve earned to do the kind of things you want. Make being bankable a hobby and make being an actor your career.”

Jeremy started hopping up and down. “Put me in coach! Put me in!”

Ian laughed at himself. “Sorry, got carried away.” He shrugged his shoulders. “It makes sense to me, but then again this time last year I was trying to figure out how to make corn production and hog calling interesting.”

“I love hog calling.” Trampus smiled.

“It how he gets laid.” Jeremy added.

In a few moments they were back with the group, but the shenanigans continued until the sun went down, and people started to disperse. Tippy thanked all for coming, Ian told everyone how genuinely pleased he was to meet them and everyone told Tippy what a great time they had.

Vignette #28: Details

Ian awoke that morning to the sound of his temples pounding. He had never had a hangover before. His mouth was unusually dry as cotton. He popped a couple of aspirin. As he showered and readied himself for the day, he wondered why now? He had never been a heavy drinker and he had certainly “tied one on” before, but he had never felt the after effects like this.

Getting dressed and checking the time, he decided it maybe it was just his due. He was almost thirty. His body was changing. Ian made a mental note to watch any and all alcohol intake. If this is what it was going to do to him from now on, he’d stick with tea.

Speaking of which, he poured him self a glass and the aspirin started to kick in. He felt his almost usual morning energy begin and he decided to do a little cooking for Tippy’s “lunch thingy” at one o’clock. He hadn’t actually cooked in a while and enjoyed the rest of the morning, whipping up this and that, generally making a mess of his kitchen.

At one o’clock he proudly gathered his concoctions and headed to the back yard. Just as he began to step through the opening in the shrubs, Ian heard Tippy’s voice say “Hey!” from the other side. A bread roll came sailing through landing square on his forehead.

“Dammit, Miss Congeniality, I am coming!” He rubbed the crumbs off his face and stepped through to the dark side.

When he adjusted to his new surroundings he was pleased to see the Shores’ backyard set for an informal. Everyone was dressed, even Colton, who was in the opposite corner flipping burgers on what Ian’s uncle Nate would have called a ‘swanky grill’.

“Baby Doll, you made it!” Tippy hugged him almost causing him to drop his armload.

“It wasn’t difficult. I just followed the flying buns.”

Tippy smacked him playfully on the cheek, “Now not everyone is here yet, but let me introduce you.” She started to pull him off in the direction of a small clique chatting.

“Uh…Tippy, could I put this stuff down first?” He held up his armload. It was below her breast level. She probably couldn’t see it.

“Mercy sakes, Baby Doll, what is all this?” she asked, helping him to put it down.

“Well, I was feeling Paula Deanish this morning so I decided to supply a few touches of the South to this shindig.”

“You cooked?” Her eyes got big.

“Don’t worry; I’m not that bad a cook.”

“Oh, honey, it’s not that. I’m just surprised. Is there anything you can’t do?”

“Anyone can whip together some potato salad and a cheesecake.”

“Cheesecake? You made a cheesecake?”

“Well, no.” He peered into one of the bags and started pulling things out. “I made two, one New York style and one chocolate.”

Tippy sat the bag she was holding down on the nearest table and pulled out a cake pan, removing the lid and looking at it like it was a prized pig. “You made a cheesecake.”


She looked at the cheesecake, then at Ian and back to the pie, “Colt, honey, we’re getting a divorce and I’m marrying Ian.”

Colton looked casually up from burger duty, “Okay Tippy, can we still have sex?”

“Well, of course!”

“Then I’m okay with it.”

Tippy quickly rummaged through the bags, squealing with glee at every little piece she pulled out. “Oh, I love this...”, “Oh my grandma used to make that….”, “Did you use Velveeta…?” Ian didn’t care if any of it tasted good; he just enjoyed seeing the look on Tippy’s face.

“Mmmmm, from now on...” Tippy cooed as licked the baked beans off the finger she had just dunked in the crock pot, “I’m not catering anything, I’m just telling you how many people are coming over.”

“I had fun,” Ian admitted, “besides it helped me get over the hangover.”

Tippy looked at him and grinned, “Did you have a good time last night, Baby Doll? I’ve been dying to know, but Colt refused to let me call or come over.”

A voice from the other side of the table piped in, “I don’t know if he had a good time, but everyone else there had a great time, and this man provided it!”

Tippy’s big brown eyes went huge, “Spill!”

Ian looked at the ground, “Aw, it was fun that’s all, and apparently I had a little too much to drink, either that or the scotch in California is a lot higher proof than back home.”

“Couldn’t tell you were drunk by the way you were singing and dancing. You were hot and on fire.”

“You didn’t!” Tippy grabbed Ian’s arm, “you sang and danced? I didn’t know you could sing and dance!”

“I can’t. That’s why I must have been drunk.”

“Buddy,” the man said as he took a slug from whatever was in his glass, “then you need to get drunk more often.”

Ian blushed and Tippy slapped him on the chest, “Oh my God! I’d have killed to see that!” She pinched Ian’s butt and sort of whispered, “You dog! Did ‘ja get laid, honey?”

“Tip? Someone’s at the front door and you gave Inez the afternoon off.” Colton yelled.

“Ian, don’t move! I want to hear every detail.” And she was off like, well, Mamie Rae Tipton.

The man stuck out his hand, “Jeremy Tyson.” He didn’t have to introduce himself. Ian had recognized him immediately.

“Ian Justyn” he said as he took the hand a shook it.

Jeremy was one of the biggest box office tickets in the film industry. An Aussie wild boy, with the reputation of a foul mouth, but well respected and admired among his peers. He had been a hard partying playboy until he shocked the industry by marrying Susan Andrews, sister half of America’s most successful pop duo, surprising everyone by not only making the marriage last but gaining the reputation of being a devoted family man.

Susan Andrews, America’s sweetheart, was not far from his side. Her stunning alto was the reason the recordings with her brother had rocketed to the top of the charts making them one of the all time best selling artists world wide. Her brother, a reputed temperamental control freak, was considered the creative genius, but it was Susan who had the talent. She, too, was anxious to introduce herself.

“You were wonderful last night,” She gushed like a teenager.

Ian was having a hard time swallowing it all, but thanked her politely and laughed when she asked what label he recorded for. He explained that he wasn’t a performer that he was in development for a network and left it at that.

“Well, if you change you mind, please, I’d love to talk with you about recording for my label.” She chirped.

“Well, next time I get drunk enough to think I could be a music superstar I’ll give you a call.” Ian had forgotten that when her brother had died unexpectedly three years ago of heart failure, Susan now had controlling interest in the mega music empire her talent had helped forge.

Susan handed him her card, “Why don’t we get together and talk anyway, perhaps we could be of mutual benefit to each other some time.”

Jeremy chided his wife. “Now, Suzie, it’s a day off. You and Ian can take over the world tomorrow. Today is a play date, remember?”

She smiled, so captivating, Ian’s heart jumped. “Okay, darling, I remember.” She slipped her arm around her hubby’s waist. “We make a perfect team. I calm him down and he makes me remember what it’s like to be human and enjoy life.” Jeremy squeezed his wife’s shoulders and kissed her on the side of the forehead. Ian thought how gorgeous their children must be.

“I see you’ve met the Tysons,” Tippy returned, “and I’m sure they won’t mind if I steal you away and introduce you around before we eat.” And in Tippy style before anyone had a chance to say anything, Ian was whooshed around like the new Miss America, introduced to all there.

He met the couple who lived across the street; Michele Alexander, Terry Myers and “Call Me Chip” Ellison who lived in the apartment building to his other side. Also in tow, were Jesse, of course, and Tippy’s oldest son Reece, as were Wella, with the man she has met last night, Blake, and three interchangeable starlets whose names he didn’t remember, but recognized them from either television or film.

Also in tow was the second third of what the industry called "The Musketeers” franchise, Trampus Scott, whom along with Jeremy Tyson and a missing Lucian Jahn had a string of hit action films. The final guest was a young man that Ian recognized but couldn’t place.

“And this is Seven Wyatt”, Tippy introduced. “He works for you.”

Ian shook his hand, “He does?”

“Sort of, I’m on “Sebastian Manor”, Seven explained, “so I kind of work for you…for now.”

“Moving on when you’re contracts up?” Ian asked.

“Everyone knows that HRT wants to get out of daytime, so when the show’s contract with the network is up, we’ll all be looking for new jobs.”

Ian smiled, “Well, I don’t know about that,but I for one don’t think that’s a wise move.”

Seven nodded, looking at the ground, showing off the long black eyelashes that made the fans of the show swoon. “It’s a piece of crap and we all know it’s a piece of crap.”

“You’re right. It’s terrible. At one time it was so bad it was fun, but that got old after a while.” Ian agreed. “Daytime isn’t my baby, but many of you are very talented and I’m sure that no matter what happens, work will not be hard to find.”

“Oh please, how would anyone even know if we had talent? Have you tried to say those words?” Ian knew how bad the scripts were. They had made him cringe every time he forced himself to watch.

“As I see it,” he responded truthfully, “Any one who can say that garbage in those ridiculous plot lines and make it sound like normal conversation has talent. Prime example, how long has your character been tied up in that basement naked?”

Seven laughed, “I get your point. I don’t understand why I’m naked, other than the fact that because of the budget cuts they started with my wardrobe.”

“See…” Ian pointed at him, “Talent…and hard abs don’t hurt.”