Disclaimers: Nope, sorry, can't say there are any. All of the characters are mine. I take full responsibility for all of their actions. Hmm ... On second thought ... I've never seen them before in my life. They just followed me home one day ... really ...
Violence/Sex: No violence, I don't think. I guess that would depend on what you mean by "violence" ... I don't think there is any. You can decide for yourself. And sex? Umm ... I'll go on the safe side and say there will be. But don't go suing me for false advertisement if you can't find any. It really depends on what you mean by sex. As there are people in some cultures that show their affection by licking each other's eyeballs, it is possible that my definition of sex may be different than yours. Mine may involve cows in ballet slippers for instance ... wait, that doesn't sound right ...
Warning: This story involves an in-the closet actress, online relationships, Puerto Ricans, the Spanish language, Starbucks coffee, angels, boyfriends, sexual relationships between women .. and a ton of other random things that poured forth from my artistic loins. If none of the above things interest you, then you may not want to partake in this little tour of my demented psyche.
Dedication: to you and you and you you and you .. to people living with living with ... ::notices there are people watching:: Ahem. Sorry. Too much "RENT" for me. Strike that. There can never be too much RENT. Unless it's the kind you have to pay. But my point.. and I do have one .. is that this story is dedicated to you. Thank you for taking the time to delve into my madness. What a brave soul you are .. muahahaha <coughcough>
Special Thanks: To Amber, Cindy, Camilla, Christy, Amy, and Robin. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what I'd do without you guys.
Write me: Cause I'd love to know what you think. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
"I got your new publicity schedule," Karen announced, trademark clipboard under her arm. She leaned against the make-up counter and waited for the actress to respond.
Julianne yawned while her make-up lady finished making her beautiful and angelic. "Tell me it's a blank sheet of paper," she said flatly, glancing straight ahead at her reflection. It always amazed her how a little make-up could transform her into such an innocent, unassuming-looking creature. An innocent, unassuming-looking creature that was about to have sex for the first time. I am so not looking forward to shooting this scene.
"Sorry," Karen apologized, flipping through the pages. "I'd have to say you're booked until Guardian starts shooting again. And then you're booked all over again."
Julianne simply mumbled under her breath. She wasn't in a good mood that morning. She'd barely slept. Not with murderous thoughts racing through her mind all night. She wasn't entirely sure how she would go about killing Nathan, but she was certain she wouldn't spend much time in jail because of it. O.J. got off. And I'm much cuter than he is.
Then there was the movie issue. She was torn in all sorts of directions with that particular problem. She'd read the script and realized after finishing it, that she shouldn't have. Because now she wanted the role. Damnit. I could so nail that character. "Totally," she added out loud, much to the confusion of those around her. "Are we done here?" she snapped at the make-up woman whose name she'd never quite gotten.
Julianne got off the chair and started walking toward the set, perfectly aware that Karen was trailing behind her. "I don't want to do this next scene," she found herself admitting when her assistant caught up to her.
Karen looked up at the actress and shrugged helplessly. "At least he's ...cute?" she offered.
Julianne thought it best not to comment.
"Are you going to the cast party later?" Karen asked hesitantly.
"I'm not sure yet," Julianne replied. Depends if I manage to get through this scene without having a conniption.
She reached her destination a moment later and found Max already there, talking to Gina. The rest of the crew ran around, setting up the lighting for the scene. Julianne glanced at what was to be Cody's apartment. Nothing out of the ordinary. Couch, entertainment center, kitchen, et cetera. The next set over was Cody's bedroom. The setting of my demise.
"Julianne," Gina greeted. "Come over a sec?"
Julianne approached the director, nodding briefly at Max. She couldn't quite meet his gaze. Even though she'd done this before, every time seemed to make her more nervous than the last. Maybe it was the fact that she had never really done that before. Guess that's why they call it acting. She focused her attention on Gina, and for the next twenty minutes went over the last details of the scene. Blocking, pacing and so on and so forth.
"This is it guys," Gina said, smiling a bit sadly. "Last day of filming."
Julianne glanced down at her costume. It felt odd playing Kiara without wings. Guess I'll have to get used to it. I'm human now. She paused as she corrected herself. She's human now. She'd been playing the character so long sometimes she forgot whom was whom. I'm sure they have doctors for this kind of thing.
"Places everyone!" Gina called.
Julianne walked over behind the prop door to Cody's apartment. She took a few deep breaths. Kiss him. Move into the bedroom. Fake orgasm. I can do this. She was suddenly bathed in light.
Here we go. Julianne cleared her mind of all personal thoughts. It was now Kiara standing there. There were no cameras, no director ...
Kiara knocked on the door, hesitantly. Once. Then twice. She was nervous. She stared at the door as if afraid to look away.
It opened to reveal a surprised Cody. "K-Kiara?" he stuttered, opening the door further.
The former angel stepped into the apartment, looking around without really seeing anything. She was too scared to notice any particular details. All that mattered was that she was back. She looked down, letting her loose hair cover part of her face. She wasn't yet used to not having it in a braid. Slowly, she pushed it away and stared at her love. "Surprised?" she asked.
"I thought you were ..." He let the sentence trail off, unable to speak the word.
Kiara smiled, blue eyes shining. She stepped closer to him and trailed a finger down his cheek. "I couldn't die. I was an angel," she said, hoping he'd grasp the loaded meaning of the words.
Cody's eyes grew round as he stared at her. "Was?"
Kiara twirled around. "No wings, see?" She giggled and ran up to hug him. As soon as she felt his body against hers she closed her eyes. "I have waited so long to touch you."
Cody's arms wrapped around her lithe body. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again. To thank you for‹"
Julianne forced herself to stay in character, but whenever anyone else was touching her, she had trouble maintaining her focus. Especially when kissing was involved. And it was about to be involved right .. now. Julianne moved her face, bringing her lips closer to Max's. Thoughts of Kris drifted into her mind. She felt her heart racing as she imagined it was Kris she was about to kiss. She felt warm breath against her lips and she moaned.
Julianne pulled back, completely startled. She felt a blush creep up her neck. That didn't just happen. She could hear several crew members laughing.
Gina cleared her throat from somewhere in the darkness beyond the bright lights. And then she walked into view, a bemused expression on her face. "Julianne, while I appreciate your enthusiasm in kissing Maxwell, I think it would work better if you waited until you're actually kissing him to, you know, moan." Gina winked at her and then disappeared into the blanket of darkness that separated fantasy from reality.
Make-up rushed in behind Gina to powder away any signs of humiliation from Julianne's face. The actress couldn't remember the last time she'd been so embarrassed. The smug look on Max's face wasn't helping any. I'm never going to live this down, she thought miserably.
* * *
"She just gave it to you?" William asked incredulously, staring down at the check in his hand.
Kris nodded from her spot on the couch. She'd decided to get a third opinion, while trying not to dwell on the fact that she appeared to be incapable of making decisions on her own. I should probably work on that. But this is big! She settled troubled eyes on her brother's. "What should I do?"
"Are you kidding?" William asked. "Keep it! You know what you could do with all this money?"
Several things crossed Kris's mind. "I don't know, William. Everyone keeps telling me to take the money, but ... it feels weird."
William sat down on the couch beside his sister and handed back the check. "Listen, Kris, it's business. She bought something from you. You said fifteen, she gave you fifteen. There's no need to feel guilty. She wouldn't have paid this amount of money if she didn't think it was worth it."
Kris chewed nervously on her lip. It made sense. Still, it seemed ... so strange. "I guess I can open up an account in the bank," she allowed. "Keep it there for emergencies. Or, you know, give it all away to charity. That's what I should do, right? Give it away? It feels so wrong keeping it."
"You're not going to get anywhere with that attitude," William chastised playfully. "Not in New York." He paused to consider. "You said Leigh was going to get a second job because she couldn't pay for rent. Maybe you can put the money toward helping her so she can focus on her acting career instead of spending all her time making coffee."
Kris brightened at the suggestion. Why didn't I think of that? "William, that's brilliant!" she hugged her brother. "I can pay rent for like half the year and then she can go to all the auditions she wants and not have to worry about a thing."
William smiled. "And you can get some art supplies," he added. "And now you don't have to get a summer job. Sari and Dad don't have to worry about your rent for a while." He paused as he looked down. "You should tell them, Kris. They'll be so proud of you."
Kris frowned at her brother's sudden mood change and her heart broke at the thought of William in pain. "Have you talked to them?"
"I tried to call," he answered sadly. "They always hang up."
She sighed and rested her head on his broad shoulder. "I wish I could talk some sense into them."
William hugged her. "Thank you, Kris," he said warmly. "You don't know how much it means to me to have your support."
Kris smiled. "And you always will," she promised. She sat up and stared at the check. "Wanna come to the bank with me?"
"I'd be honored." William stood and offered his hand to Kris to help her up.
"Hey, maybe we can go on a shopping spree," Kris suggested excitedly. She couldn't remember the last time she'd honestly gone shopping. The prom dress extravaganza didn't count. That was simply torture masquerading as shopping to lure in the innocents.
"Did someone say shopping?" Mark walked into the kitchen, looking like a little boy on Christmas Day.
Kris grinned at her brother's boyfriend. He was too cute for words. He played the butch role really well until someone said key words like "shopping" or "Madonna," then he turned into Jack McFarland. "Interested?" she asked casually.
Mark walked over and put an arm around Kris's shoulder. "Did I mention how much I love shopping?" he asked. "Because I totally love shopping. What do you need? I'm sure I know just the place. Or! We could just go everywhere!"
Kris glanced at William, who shrugged. "Well, I have this f-friend..." She had the unsettling feeling that she was going to start babbling. "And I'm planning to send this package with ... stuff. And I wanted to get some more .. uh, stuff. For the package." She closed her mouth in order to stop the onset of dorkyness that was undoubtedly going to pour from her lips if she kept talking
William and Mark exchanged glances. "And does this 'friend' have a name?" Mark inquired. "Is he cute?" He winked at William. "Not that I care."
Kris laughed. "It's a she. Her name is Julia." She glanced at William. "She's the one that sent me that email about my painting."
William arched a brow. "And what kind of 'stuff' do you want to get her?"
"I don't know," Kris said, suddenly embarrassed. This was all so out of the blue. She hadn't expected to suggest shopping. And what 'stuff' am I talking about?
Mark shrugged and grabbed Kris's hand, leading the way to the front door. "Leave it all to me. I'll find your friend lots of stuff."
Kris grinned. This oughta be fun.
* * *
Somehow she'd gotten through much of the first parts of the scene. There hadn't been any more incidents with the kiss. Now came the actual hard part. First of all, Kiara wouldn't be slutty enough to jump into bed with a guy two seconds after she'd been turned human. An angel should know better. And second of all, this whole angel-turned-human angle wasn't working for Julianne. Maybe I'll win a Golden Globe or something for my accurate portrayal of a horny angel.
"Places!" Gina called.
Julianne got into character as she stood at the foot of the prop bed. Max had been giving her annoying looks ever since the moaning incident and Julianne was going to have to kick his ass if he kept leering at her like that. Luckily, by the time Gina yelled, "Action," it was Cody standing in front of her.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Cody asked, hesitation and desire battling in his mind. "We can wait..."
Kiara slowly unbuttoned her shirt. "We have been waiting," she said slowly. "Too long."
Cody swallowed and closed the distance between them, taking over the job of removing the shirt. His lips claimed Kiara's in a searing kiss.
Julianne tried to tune everything out. She tried to think of pretty flowers, or lines of poetry, or beautiful sunsets. Anything to keep her mind off the fact that she was growing increasingly more naked as the moments passed and there were way too many eyes focused in her direction. Not to mention the cameras.
She waited until they were on the bed to reach for Cody's shirt. And once they were under the covers, Julianne relaxed slightly. Now she didn't feel quite so exposed. Okay, this is almost over. Moan a lot. Fake orgasm. No problem. Just think of Kris, that worked really nicely last time.
Max's lips nipped at her throat as he moved on top of her. "You're supposed to call out my name," he whispered in her ear.
Oh, right. "Oh, Kris," she moaned. Then froze. As did Max. Fuck!!
Max rolled off of her, and they both turned to the approaching director.
"Julianne, the character's name is Cody, not Chris," Gina reminded her.
"Oh, right," Julianne apologized, wondering if there was a hole she could crawl into and hide away until all of this embarrassment passed.
Max smirked. "So, who's this Chris guy?" he teased, settling back on top of her. "Boyfriend?"
Julianne groaned and closed her eyes. She decided that thinking about Kris and acting didn't go together at all. From now on, she'd focus on "Fernando Croa". Definitely no unexpected moaning or embarrassing name calling would ensue then.
* * *
Kris stared at the kitchen table and the items thereon. It had been a very long, yet productive day. She'd opened up an account at the bank, she'd gone shopping with Mark and William, and she'd gotten gifts galore. Fifteen thousand dollars seemed more like a million to Kris. She couldn't remember ever having that much money all at once. Luckily, William had managed to restrain her.
She carefully placed all the objects in the box, making sure the painting was secured within the bubble wrap.
"I hope she likes them," she said to herself. As an afterthought, she'd decided to add a picture of herself. But she couldn't decide between one of her alone or one of her and Nathan. In the end, she stuck both of them in the box and taped everything up.
As promised, Julia had emailed her home address earlier, so Kris copied the information onto the brown box with a permanent black marker.
"Ooh, a package," Leigh said, walking into the kitchen. "Who's it from? Is it from that rich lady?"
Kris smiled. "No, it's to Julia," she answered. "I'm sending her that painting. And some other stuff."
Leigh approached the kitchen table and stared critically at the box. "What kind of stuff?" She tried to lift it. "This is heavy."
"Just stuff," Kris answered casually. "Things she mentioned liking and things I thought she'd like."
"And, uh, why exactly are you doing this?" Leigh crossed her arms against her chest and leaned back against the table, brown eyes slightly narrowed.
"She's my friend," Kris replied easily. "I like to get things for my friends."
"So what did you get me?" Leigh demanded. "Or have I been replaced?"
Kris tried not to laugh. "Are you jealous?"
Leigh shrugged, looking down. "Well, kinda. I mean, all of a sudden you're like obsessed with this girl you've never even met and doing paintings for her and talking to her on the phone for hours on end ..."
Kris walked over to hug her best friend. "No one could ever replace you," she said solemnly. "I promise."
Leigh hugged her back. "So what did you get me?" she joked.
Kris pulled back and grinned, reaching into her pocket to withdraw a piece of paper. "Ta-da!" She handed it over.
Leigh frowned. "You got me a receipt? Gee, I don't know what to say."
"Read it, you dork."
Leigh's eyes widened. "You paid the rent?"
"For six months," Kris informed her, smiling brightly. "Now you don't have to worry about getting that second job. In fact, you can quit Starbucks all together and focus on getting an acting gig."
Leigh shrieked and jumped on Kris, hugging her so tightly that Kris couldn't breathe. "I can't believe you did this. Thank you!"
Kris laughed, elated by Leigh's reaction. Whoever said that money couldn't bring happiness obviously had too much of it.
"Where did you..." Leigh pulled away from the hug and stared at Kris. "The check?"
A slight nod confirmed Leigh's suspicions.
"So it was real?"
Kris grinned. "Clearly."
Leigh shrieked again. "How much is left?"
"About seven thousand, what with rent and all." Kris shrugged. "I'm gonna give some of it away."
Leigh rolled her eyes. "Of course you are. Don't you ever get tired of being so ..." She searched the air for the perfect word. "... saintly?"
"Saintly?" Kris inquired with a sardonic smile. "Right."
Leigh crossed in front of Kris on her way out of the kitchen. "I'm off."
"To?" Kris asked, following her friend toward the front door.
"To have a talk with my manager, of course," Leigh responded with a wink. "Life is very good today. Now watch me get run over by a cab on the way back."
"Less disappointments that way," Leigh answered with a bright smile. She stepped out into the hallway and paused. "If I'm not back in three hours, check the local hospital."
"Not funny." Kris leaned against the door.
"Not trying to be." Leigh started walking away.
Kris watched her for a second, then made up her mind. "Wait up," she called. "If anyone's gonna get run over around here it's gonna be me." She reached into her pocket and withdrew the key.
"What makes you think you're going to get run over and not me?" Leigh wondered from a few feet away.
Kris started walking toward her best friend and shook her head. "Just waiting for all of this good fortune to bite me in the ass."
"Who's the pessimist now?"
* * *
"Let me get this straight," Adrian said, trying very hard not to laugh. "You moaned before you kissed him?"
Julianne was going to kill Karen. She was going to kill Karen and then kill her some more. Then she was going to kill Adrian for surprising her on the set.
"I knew I should've shown up earlier." He snapped his finger and shook his head, stretching his legs along the length of Julianne's couch. "And what was the part about you calling someone else's name?"
Julianne sighed loudly and plopped down on the arm of the couch. "What do you do, pay her to dispel embarrassing information about me?"
Adrian frowned. "Pay her? She's not like a gossip whore, Julianne. No, she does it for free." He smirked. "So, whose name did you call? Mine?"
"Yes, Adrian," Julianne said, nodding slowly. "Somewhere between keeping the covers over Max's butt and concentrating on making my very fake orgasm believable, I realized that I was head over heels in love with you and had to announce it to the entire crew."
"It was the thong, wasn't it?" Adrian grinned proudly. "Knew it was only a matter of time. That baby never fails me."
Julianne reached down and tossed Adrian's legs over the side of the couch, making room for herself. "Scoot," she added.
Adrian sat up and reached into the one of the pockets of his cargo shorts. "I have something that will cheer you right up," he assured her, pulling out a folded piece of paper.
Julianne eyed him curiously. "What's that?"
Adrian held up one finger to quiet her. "'Kiara Goes to New York', by Adrian Cruz."
"You didn't," Julianne stated, snatching the paper from his grasp. She looked it over and groaned. "Why do you insist on torturing me?" She frowned as she scanned through the paragraphs. "Since when am I a D cup?"
Adrian grabbed the paper back. He smacked his own forehead. "Sorry, I meant to type double-D."
"Have you lost your mind?"
"That's why they call it fiction, Julianne. Lighten up. Besides, this is Kiara, not you."
Julianne sank down in the couch, covering her face. "Who do you think they picture when they read that stuff?"
"You," Adrian replied easily. "With super large breasts. I'm doing you a favor. Here, let me read you my favorite part. I assure you, this is excellent literature. I think I may even submit it to some kind of literature contest. I think one of the fan sites was having one." He cleared his throat. "'And as Kris's tongue slid between her‹"
Julianne snatched the paper away. "I am so disturbed by the fact that you wrote this that it's not even funny." She crumpled it up. "Sick!"
Adrian grinned contentedly. "That was fun. I didnąt realize your face could turn all those different shades of red. Although, it's more purplish right now."
She tossed the paper ball in his direction and hit him square in the forehead. It bounced off and landed under the coffee table. "Remind me to invest in a new best friend. You're fired."
"Ouch." Adrian feigned pain to his chest and he fell to the ground.
Julianne watched him with a bored expression. "I'm mad at you."
"No you're not," Adrian called from the floor. "You adore me because I add panache to your otherwise boring lifestyle." He returned to his spot on the couch. "Besides, I know that somewhere deep, deep down, beyond the humiliation and embarrassment, you're very amused."
A dark brow rose in question. "Is that so?"
Adrian nodded. "Very amused."
Well, it was kinda funny, she allowed. But only kinda. She shook her head and turned to face him. "I have a problem and I need you to do me a favor."
Julianne shook her head quickly. "No, this is business-related," she assured him, rising to retrieve the screenplay from its spot on the kitchen counter. She returned promptly to the living room and handed it over. "I need you to read this and tell me why I shouldn't do it. Not why I should do it. But why I shouldn't. Just convince me to not consider it."
Adrian was confused. He stared down at the title page and flipped through the pages. "Summer's End, huh?" he said. "Sounds corny already." He glanced up. "Why exactly is there a problem?"
"You'll see," Julianne replied. "I need to give Eric an answer by Friday."
Adrian paused for a moment. "If you don't want to do this, why are you considering it?"
"Well, that's why it's a problem."
You'll be pleased to learn that a package is well on its way to your house. I decided to add a couple more things to the mix, just so you wouldn't just get a boring painting. Thank you for trusting me with your address. I promise not to stalk you if I'm ever in California. :)
Oh! And I ended up opening an account with that check. I spent about half of it on rent. Now Leigh won't have to worry about getting that second job. She talked things over with her manager and she was downgraded into a part-timer. For some reason she loves it there, big freak that she is. Still, I'm happy that she'll get a chance to pursue her acting dreams now that she doesn't have to worry about making rent for a while.
And I guess that means I won't have to get that summer job after all. Hey, I can spend the whole time painting! Too bad the money won't last forever. It sure beats making coffee for a living.
I went shopping with William and his boyfriend, Mark, a couple of days ago. Mark is so funny. I bought him a bunch of random stuff. William kept joking that Mark was going to dump him for me if I kept spoiling him that way, but I couldn't help it! I love buying things for people I love. William had to restrain me from hitting the cash register every two seconds. Guess I got a bit too excited with the prospect of having money. :)
A while ago you asked me when my birthday was, and I don't think I answered. It's on September 5th. You didnąt miss it :) When is yours?
Oh, I was wondering if I could have your number? In case I felt like calling you some time. It's only fair :) But, I respect it if you'd rather not give it to me. I won't be too offended. ;)
Okay, I've rambled long enough. I'm off!
* * *
"I brought movies," Kris announced, stepping inside the apartment and shutting the door with her foot. She walked inside to find Leigh on the couch, leaning over a newspaper. "I hope those are the personals and not the classifieds."
Leigh didn't glace up. "Entertainment section. I'm trying to see if there's any auditions advertised anywhere. I should really see about getting an agent."
"No time like the present," Kris said cheerfully. She held up the bag she carried. "Did I mention I brought movies?"
Brown eyes drifted over to the bag and lit up. "What did you get?"
"Gay movies," Kris answered.
Leigh blinked several times. "Come again?"
"I'm curious to see what all the fuss is all about. I mean, first William, then Julia. Let's see how the other half lives. Or you know, the other ten percent or whatever it is these days."
"Gay movies?" Leigh asked. "But we're not gay."
Kris frowned. "Well, they see straight movies all the time, and they're not straight. Seems fair to me." She grinned. "Besides, it'll be interesting."
Leigh shrugged and sat back. "Can't argue with that logic. What are we watching?"
Kris looked through the small selection, emptying the bag. "Uh, I've got The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love, But I'm A Cheerleader, Trick, Get Real, and If These Walls Could Talk 2." She glanced up. "We can do this alphabetically."
"We have nothing better to do," Kris replied defensively. "Besides, I couldn't decide."
Leigh laughed. "I better call for pizza."
* * *
"I don't get it," Adrian began, the second Julianne opened the door. "Why would you ever consider not doing this film?" He stepped inside the house and waited Julianne to respond.
The actress shut the door and narrowed her eyes. "What part of 'convince me not to do it' didn't you grasp, Adrian?" She started walking across the foyer en route to the living room.
Adrian followed suit. There was no way he was going to let this go without an argument. "This is an excellent script, Julianne," he told her.
"I know it is!"
"Then what the hell is the problem?" Adrian asked impatiently.
Julianne whirled around. "You know perfectly well what the problem is!"
"Do you know how many actresses would kill for a role like this?" Adrian demanded. "You asked for my opinion, Julianne, and as a screenwriter and as a director and a lover of all that is film, I am telling you that it would be a huge mistake to pass this one up."
"I didn't as for your professional opinion, Adrian," Julianne argued. "I asked you to keep me from doing something I'd grow to regret."
"What do you think I'm doing?" he yelled.
Julianne glared at him, anger replacing frustration. "You are the one person in this world I was hoping would understand."
Adrian hesitated and dropped the screen play on the couch beside him. He turned blue eyes on those of his best friend and sighed. "This is a role of a lifetime, Julianne. This is your big chance to prove that you're better than they think you are."
"That's not the problem, Adrian," Julianne replied. "You know that's not the issue here."
Adrian ran an exasperated hand through his hair. "For the past few years, I have watched you masterfully avoid any contact with the gay and lesbian community. You have half the world believing you're homophobic and the other half praising you for your conservative ways. That is not who you are, Julianne. You need to face your fears or they're going to be what kills your career. Sometimes it's not about the roles that you play, but about the roles you don't play."
Julianne let out a long sigh, her eyes lowering. If only it were so simple.
"What are you so afraid of?" Adrian questioned. "It's mostly straight actresses that play gay roles anyway. Nobody is going to question your sexuality."
"That's the problem," Julianne snapped. "They're going to assume that I'm straight. They're going to pelt me with questions like, 'Oh, how did it feel to kiss a woman?' or 'As a heterosexual, how did it feel to play a lesbian role? Was it hard? Did you have to do research?' And I'm going to have to suck it up and smile and lie and pile on more bullshit to the ever increasing mountain of crap that constitutes my life.
Adrian crossed his arms. "Well it hasn't seemed to faze you up to this point."
"Damnit, Adrian!" Julianne screamed, totally exasperated. "I do not need this in my life. I do not need to kick open a Pandora's box of questions and assumptions and allegations!"
"Then why the hell did you ask me to read the script?" Adrian retorted. "If you've already made up your mind not to take this role, why did you ask me to read it?"
Julianne stared at him, suddenly at a loss for words. Finally, she shrugged, trying to calm herself down. "I was hoping you'd find a way to make me feel better about not taking it."
"No." Adrian shook his head. "I know you, Julianne. When you've made up your mind about something, you don't give a damn what anybody else thinks. You wanted me to give you a reason to take it. And that's what I'm trying to do. As your best friend."
Adrian leaned against the couch and let out a long breath. "When was the last time you were happy, Julianne? I mean, honestly. Because, I have been right beside you through all of your great accomplishments and not once have I ever seen you truly content.
"You've created this alternate persona of yourself so that nobody realizes just how miserable you are, or more importantly, why. So please explain to me what you'd be risking by coming clean about who you are?"
"Privacy," Julianne replied easily.
Adrian arched a brow.
Julianne walked over to the couch and sat down at the other end, forcing Adrian to turn around. "I come out, and everything will become about my sexuality. If someone happens to snap a picture of me walking with some woman, people will jump to the conclusion that that's my new girlfriend. Anything I do, say, and wear will become something that suddenly reflects an entire community of people that will look to me to set a good example."
She shook her head sadly. "I don't think I'm emotionally prepared to become the next lesbian poster girl. And quite frankly, I don't want to be. I haven't worked my butt off all of these years for my name to be synonymous with lesbianism. The second I say, 'I'm gay,' that's all the world will see."
"Only if that's all you let them see," Adrian responded. "So what if they think 'lesbian' when they look at you? They think 'stuck up bitch' now, and that doesn't seem to upset you."
Julianne smiled slightly.
"Being a lesbian isn't all that you are. Doesn't matter what they think, Julianne. You know better. I know better." He shrugged. "But I'm not trying to convince you to come out. I'm trying to convince you to give this role a chance."
When Julianne didn't respond, Adrian continued. "I remember you once saying that your moment in the sun would inevitably pass. That you would walk down the street and nobody would care about who you once were. And why should they? You haven't done anything worth caring about."
Julianne frowned at him.
"Hey, it's true," Adrian argued. "No one makes a difference by playing it safe. I know being forgotten is your biggest fear. So tell me, Julia, what do you wish to be remembered for?"
"I just don't get why the old lady had to die," Leigh whined through her tears. "And why did those people have to be so mean?"
Kris held up the box of tissues. Leigh had a tendency to get over-emotional during sad movies. Actually, she got over-emotional over most movies.
Leigh grabbed a couple and blew her nose loudly. "Hey, isn't that the chick from Dawson's Creek?"
Kris turned her attention to the new segment of Walls 2 and shrugged. "I don't know. You're the TV expert."
Leigh narrowed her eyes at the screen and nodded. "Yeah, I think that's her. Just different hair. Is she gay?"
"I'll ask her next time I see her," Kris replied dryly. She put down the box of tissues and settled back against the couch. So far they'd gotten through two of the movies and had enjoyed them both. The first one about the cheerleader had been interesting. Odd, but interesting. And Kris had enjoyed the British jargon exchanged during Get Real. The plot had been good too.
Leigh scowled. "Ew, bitches. Shouldn't feminists be a little more .. I don't know, woman-friendly?"
"Well actually, there was this whole thing in the 70's between the Radical Feminists and the lesbians because the Radicals weren't meeting the needs of lesbians. So the lesbians broke off and started the Lesbian Feminist movement."
Leigh turned her head slowly and stared at Kris.
"What? I took a class," Kris explained. "There's a whole bunch of feminist branches. Socialist and Marxist and ..." She realized Leigh didn't care so she decided to shut up and just watch the movie.
A few minutes later, Leigh piped up. "Ew, again!" she commented, making motions at the TV. "Now the lesbians are being mean toward the poor little butchie. That's not nice."
Kris just shook her head.
Leigh stood. "This calls for popcorn."
"Fine, but you're cleaning it up!" Kris called over her shoulder. Leigh was already in the kitchen searching through the cabinets. She shrugged and turned back to the screen. "Want me to pause this for you?" she asked, reaching for the remote. She searched for the pause button on the clicker as she spoke. "You're going to miss‹" Oh ... my. Kris blinked.
Leigh ran back into the living room. "What am I miss‹" She stopped abruptly. "And we have sex." She jumped over the top of the couch and landed next to Kris. Popping sounds echoed in the background. "I've always wondered what girls do exactly. That other lesbian movie didn't teach me jack."
Kris was blushing for some reason.
"Are you okay?" Leigh asked. "You look a bit flushed. I forget you're Miss Innocent. Want me to fast forward this so that your virginity isn't marred by these naughty displays of affection?"
The beeping microwave interrupted Kris's response, and she jumped to her feet. "I'll get it," she announced in a high pitched tone. Then she walked away quickly so that Leigh couldn't comment. Losing my mind. I am. I am. She retrieved the popcorn from the microwave, nearly burning her fingers. "Yeouch." She waved her hand at her side trying to shake off the mild pain. Then returned to the living room.
"Thanks," Leigh said, accepting the bag. She nodded toward the screen. "I think I get it. Lots of fondling and caressing."
Kris felt herself blush even more, but sat down beside her friend. "What'd I miss?"
"A vibrator and that's about it," Leigh summed up, digging into the popcorn and munching away. "I love this stuff."
"No," Leigh responded slowly. "The popcorn."
"Then why does most of it end up on the floor?" Kris wondered.
"That's entirely not my fault," Leigh argued. "Some things just require popcorn throwage."
"New term." She nodded toward the screen. "We're missing this. I thought you wanted to expand your horizons."
Kris frowned. "I do. My horizons are very expanded."
Kris reached over to grab a handful of popcorn and threw it at Leigh. "I don't even want to know what you meant by that."
Leigh grinned, but chose not to comment.
They both managed to remain silent during the remainder of the segment. Once it ended, however, Leigh spoke up. "Well at least that one wasn't depressing."
Kris nodded, watching the opening credits for the third and last part. "I think this one's supposed to be funny."
"I just want to see Ellen and Sharon as a couple," Leigh commented. "Never thought I'd see that pairing."
Kris rolled her eyes, and crossed her arms, leaning her head back against the couch.
About fifteen minutes later, Leigh cheered. "Bring on the sex!" she yelled, she threw popcorn up like confetti.
"You're getting way too into this," Kris noted.
"Huh huh, they're gonna do it, huh huh," Leigh said in her best Butt-Head impression.
"You've lost your mind." Kris giggled anyway and focused her attention on the screen. She felt her breath catch. Oh.. whoa... She swallowed, recognizing the fact that the unfolding action on the screen was making her a bit ...
"Caressing, fondling and rolling around," Leigh said with a nod. "Got it."
"I'll leave you to your lesbian sex," Kris said suddenly, standing quickly. "I'm gonna hit the shower."
Leigh snickered. "Cold shower?" she teased, as Kris walked away.
Kris froze, an odd panic settling over her. "Of course not!" she snapped. Then realized that Leigh had just been teasing her. As always. She fought to regain her composure. "I have to save some for my vibrator later."
Leigh giggled and threw a handful of popcorn at her. "Good one."
* * *
Julianne decided to extend the pacing arena to the entire house. She'd already visited her bedroom three times in the endless cycle of indecision that threatened to drive her over the brink of insanity. That's if it hadn't already.
"How do I want to be remembered?" Julianne wondered out loud. "Damn you, Adrian, and your cryptic advice." She mumbled and stared down at the telephone in her hand. She refused to go to sleep until she made a decision about this movie. Never mind that the not knowing wasn't going to let her sleep. Although, she wasn't entirely certain either decision would work well as a sleeping pill.
She stopped walking. "I don't need to do this movie. Plenty of other offers are going to fall on my lap the moment Guardian hits theaters." She nodded and started dialing. Somewhere around the sixth number, she hung up and resumed pacing. "But will they be as good at this one?"
"And so what if I do this movie. I don't have to do any interviews I don't want to do. I can just pretend I'm really busy. Which I usually am. Then it'll all blow over and I can return to my normal life."
She sighed. "Yeah, right."
By her fourth trip through her bedroom, she stopped. "Okay, let's just leave it up to fate," she decided, grabbing a quarter from the night stand. "Heads I do the movie, tails I don't." She flipped the coin in the air, caught it, and slapped it against the back of her left hand.
Julianne paused. "Let's go best out of three." She repeated the procedure .. and ...
"Damnit." She threw the quarter across the room, and tapped the receiver against her forehead. "Think."
Finally, she started dialing. She waited until someone picked up.
"Leigh and Kris's house of pleasure. Leigh speaking, how may I spank you?"
Julianne frowned slightly. She cleared her throat. "Um, hi. Is Kris home?"
"She's in the shower. All the lesbian porn got her a little .. you know. Can I take a message?"
Lesbian porn? "Uh, no that's okay. Thanks any‹"
"Oh wait," Leigh interrupted. "She's out. One sec."
"Hello?" Kris said suddenly.
Julianne found herself totally at a loss. Why was she calling Kris about this? "Lesbian porn?" she found herself asking.
"Julia? Lesbian..." Kris paused, then spoke away from the receiver. "Leigh, I'm going to kill you!!"
"You might want to do so after you get out of that towel," Leigh called back from somewhere in the background. "After all these gay movies we've been watching, I might get the wrong idea."
Julianne scratched her eyebrow thoughtfully. Gay movies? Wait, she just said Kris is in a towel. Why am I focusing on the movies? She got a mental image and closed her eyes. That's why.
Kris grunted into the phone. "She lives to embarrass me," she explained apologetically. "Don't listen to a word she says. She grew up on a strict diet of paint chips and glue." There was the sound of a door closing. "So what can I do for you?"
Julianne suddenly had no idea what to say. She couldn't very well explain her dilemma. Could she? Just dig on deeper, Franqui. "I just wanted to know how you were doing."
"Oh, I'm fine," Kris replied. "Did you get my email?"
She sat down at the edge of her bed. "Don't think so, I haven't gotten much of a chance to jump online."
"Work keeping you busy?"
Julianne considered the question. "Kind of." She chewed on her bottom lip, debating on how much to say. "I have this ... problem."
"Hold that thought," Kris said. "I'm kinda naked and dripping all over the carpet. Gimme a sec."
The phone slipped from Julianne's grasp at the visuals she got from that particular statement, and ended up doing a juggling act with the receiver trying to get a firm hold on the thing. Finally, she got it back to her ear.
"Hello?" Kris was saying.
"Sorry, I ... I mean .. the .. uh ... " She paused for two seconds. "I'll hold," she managed finally, covering her face with her free hand. It should be against the law for me to communicate with other people.
Kris laughed. "Okay, one sec."
Julianne attempted to organize her thoughts while she waited, but failed miserably. She was pretty certain Kris's comment had fried her last remaining neuron. No way was she going to fall asleep with that visual in her head.
"Okay, I'm all yours. What's the problem?"
"Oh, right," Julianne said, trying not to focus too much on the 'all yours' comment, or how nice it sounded. "Okay, say you have to decide something and one alternative is the cowards' way out, and the other is the brave thing to do. Only, the brave thing may have dire consequences. Which would you pick?"
"Hmm," Kris considered. "What kind of 'dire consequences' are you talking about?"
"I'm not sure," Julianne replied. "I tend to be quite paranoid."
Kris laughed at that. "Well, um, I guess it would depend on the importance of whatever it is you're trying to decide on. Would the brave thing to do complicate your life?"
"Um, I'd have to go with ... definitely."
"Hmm, well I know how much you value simplicity." She hesitated a moment, then asked, "Is this about asking out a girl, or something?"
Julianne considered this. "Yes!" she said quickly.
Oh? "See, there's this really hot girl," Julianne continued, trying to form some kind of metaphor. "And she's perfect. I mean, everything that I've been looking for. The only problem is that ..." That what? "... she's very ... out." Does that make sense? Ah fuck it, it's better than the story about the alien robots. "So, if I ask her out and she says yes, everyone will know that I'm gay."
"And you're worried about... your job?" Kris wondered.
Julianne brightened. "Yes! Exactly. I'm worried about my job."
"Oh, well, can't you just keep her away from the work place?"
"Well, we work together," Julianne lied.
"So if you work together, and everyone knows she's gay, why would they have a problem with you being gay?"
Julianne lost track of the metaphor somewhere. But, whatever. "Well, I'm more worried that it will hinder my ... advancements in the field."
"Like, you won't get good roles if everyone knows you're gay?" Kris guessed.
Maybe we didn't lose track of it after all. "Yes."
"But would asking her out make you happy?" Kris asked.
"I think so," Julianne replied.
"Then that's the important thing," Kris said confidently. "You should always do things that make you happy. There's no point in passing up happiness just cause you're scared of something that may not even happen."
Julianne considered this. That kind of made ... sense ... in a simplistic sort of way. "Thank you," she said with a smile that Kris couldn't see.
"Did I help?"
"Enormously," Julianne confirmed. She was pretty certain that Adrian had made a similar point earlier in the day, but Kris just made things sound ... nicer. She lay back on the bed and grinned, a strange weight lifted off her shoulders. She'd call Eric as soon as she got off the phone with Kris. But in the meantime, there were more important issues to be discussed. "So, what was this about lesbian porn?"
to be continued...