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
Kris jumped up off the couch the second she heard the door unlock. "Well?" she demanded impatiently as soon as Leigh appeared in the doorway. Kris took note of Leigh's frazzled disposition and frowned slightly. "What happened?" she asked, gently this time.
Leigh stepped into the apartment and closed the door behind her. Instead of answering, she walked over to the kitchen table and sat down.
Kris quickly followed suit. "Did the audition not go well?" she asked softly, taking a seat at the table. She had already prepared speeches either way. A good friend is always ready for anything.
After a couple of minutes of sustained silence, Kris was about to speak again, when Leigh finally spoke up. "It went ... fine," she said. "Really well, actually."
Kris struggled with how to respond to the situation. She'd been prepared for an ecstatic Leigh with good news or a depressed Leigh with bad news. Kris wasn't entirely sure how to react to a depressed Leigh with good news. "Um, that's ... great?" she ventured uncertainly.
Leigh glanced over at her best friend. "Sorry, I think I'm still in shock," she responded.
"Did you get the part?" Kris asked, suddenly feeling excited.
"I don't know yet," Leigh answered. "I was the first to audition."
Kris was slightly disappointed and a little more confused. "Was it really cool?"
"I... um," Leigh began. "I had to kiss someone."
"Who?" Kris asked, starting to feel desperate. When Leigh didn't answer right away, Kris asked, "Is it someone I would recognize?"
"So it's someone famous?" Kris asked, her excitement quickly returning.
"Oh yes," Leigh responded. "Very famous."
Kris contemplated the riddle for a moment, guessing that Leigh wasn't going to up and volunteer the information without a little guesswork first. She snapped her fingers. "Rye Phillips?"
Leigh stared at her with a mysterious smile on her face. "Close," she answered. "Very, very close."
Kris thought about it some more but couldn't come up with anybody else. "I give up," she said finally.
Leigh leaned forward. "I'll give you a hint," she offered. "It's someone who won the award for Best Kiss."
Kris frowned. "Wasn't that Rye Phillips?" she asked, suddenly very confused.
Best Kiss? I'm sure that was Rye Phillips and ... She froze. "No way," Kris breathed, comprehension finally dawning on her.
"Uh-huh," Leigh confirmed, sitting back on the chair.
"Julianne Franqui?" Kris asked to make sure there were no misunderstandings in the matter.
"The one and only."
"You kissed Julianne Franqui?" Kris repeated.
Leigh nodded. "It's a lesbo flick," she informed Kris. "And guess who's the lead."
"You're kidding," Kris said, certain it had to be some kind of joke; a clever diversion to distract her from the fact that Leigh had gotten the part.
"Kris," Leigh said quite seriously. "I kissed Julianne Franqui. Technically, though, she kissed me."
"On the lips?"
Kris sat stunned for a long moment. "But there wasn't anything about a kiss in any of the scenes we rehearsed," she argued.
Leigh shrugged in reply. "The director decided to audition me for a different part."
"You swear you're not just pulling my leg," Kris said, still unsure whether or not to believe.
"I swear on my acting career that I kissed Julianne Franqui," Leigh replied, holding up her right hand as she spoke.
"Julianne Franqui's doing a lesbian movie?" Kris asked, unable to wrap her mind around the fact.
"It's an epidemic," Leigh said. "I told you. They're everywhere."
Kris frowned. "Do you think Julianne Franqui is gay?"
Leigh thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. "Probably not. They always cast straight girls to play those roles." She pointed to herself in order to illustrate her point. "Although, it probably would be best for her if she was. That thing she's dating is hideous."
Kris chuckled, then chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. "So, what was it like?" she asked, unable to help herself.
"Kissing a girl or kissing Julianne?" Leigh asked.
"Both, I guess," Kris replied.
Leigh stared up thoughtfully. "Well, it all happened really fast," she answered. "And there's the fact that there were a bunch of people watching and I had to stay in character. And it's not like it was a make-out fest or anything." She shrugged. "It was interesting."
"Interesting?" Kris asked, not particularly satisfied with the answer.
"Well, it didn't turn me on or anything," Leigh replied, a little defensively. "On the other hand, I didn't want to throw up either." She frowned. "Do you think that means something?"
"Hmm," Leigh replied thoughtfully.
"So what's the part?" Kris asked her.
Leigh sighed. "Let's just say I'll be kissing Julianne Franqui a lot more frequently if I get it."
Kris smirked. "Would that be so bad?"
Leigh considered the question. "Actually, I'd have like the second biggest role in the movie, so not really." She paused. "Do you think that means something?"
"Not unless you've suddenly got a crush on Julianne Franqui," Kris teased.
"Not really my type," Leigh replied after a moment of retrospection. "The director's assistant, though, now he was something. I think his name's Jeremy something or other. If I get one of the parts, I'm taking you to the set so you can see this guy's butt. It's hot."
"I look forward to it, really," Kris said, not particularly interested in Jeremy's butt. "So, what was she like?" she asked.
Leigh shrugged in reply. Then said, "I really didn't get much of a chance to interact with her. But she seemed really ..."
"Bitchy?" Kris supplied.
"Nervous," Leigh said instead. "And she wasn¹t bitchy at all. She asked me what scene we were doing and then she offered to cover for me if I decided to bolt. Then we did the scene together and I left." She grinned thoughtfully. "That's one thing, though. Acting with her was amazing. She's really intense."
"I'm really surprised that you're acting so calmly about all of this," Kris said.
"I told you, I'm in shock," Leigh explained. "Do you think any of this has actually hit me yet?"
Kris laughed. "Wow," she said after a moment. "I can't believe it."
"Neither can I," Leigh agreed. "And I was there."
"Do you think you got one of the parts?" Kris wondered.
"I guess we'll find out," Leigh replied.
"You kissed her?" Adrian yelled. "And I missed it??"
Julianne stared at the view beyond her balcony, only half-listening to what Adrian was saying. Behind her, Karen was watching television. Julianne made sure that her assistant wasn't listening before continuing. "This is starting to get complicated."
"Complicated? It's a fucking soap opera!"
Julianne sighed, leaning against the balcony railing. "I don't know what to do. What if Leigh gets the part?"
"Men and lesbians everywhere will get on their knees and praise God," Adrian answered.
"Not funny." Julianne was feeling sick. She'd been feeling sick since the audition. "I hadn't planned on this."
"On what, exactly?" Adrian asked.
Julianne sighed. "On none of it," she said. "I didn't mean for it to get so out of hand. I just wanted someone to talk to."
"I don't know, Adrian," Julianne answered, feeling confused and frustrated. "It's not like I was trying to replace you or anything. I just ... I don't know. I really don't know."
"She's a girl."
Adrian sighed. "You wanted to talk to another girl," he said. "It's okay. I understand. It's not like I'm the most feminine thing on the planet." He paused. "Only, I don't really think this is about you wanting a female friend."
"What is it about then?"
"I don't know," Adrian answered. "They're your feelings. I'm just an observer."
"Right," Julianne replied, rolling her eyes. "What do you think I should do? Honestly."
"I think you should march right up to her apartment and tell her the truth," Adrian answered. "And if she can't accept it, then it's her loss."
Julianne turned her back to the view of New York City. She ran a hand through her hair and shook her head. "I can't do that. I can't just waltz up to her door and say, 'Hey I'm really Julia Frank, surprise!'"
"Because!" Julianne answered. "She'll freak out. And ... and ..."
"And it won't be the same," Julianne said finally. "If she knows who I really am her perception will be tainted forever. She won't see me as a normal person any more." She sighed. "I like being a normal person in her eyes, Adrian. I like that she likes me in spite of the fact that I'm nobody special. I don't want to ruin that."
"But Julianne, you are somebody special," Adrian argued. "And it has nothing to do with your fame. If you hide who you really are from her, then she's never going to know how truly wonderful you are."
Julianne rolled her eyes. "Don't get corny with me, Adrian. You know as well as I do that fame changes everything. There is no way that I can get close to Kris as myself."
"So you're just going to keep lying to her?"
"I'm just going to have to learn to edit myself," Julianne replied. "And if it gets to be too much ... I'll have to end it somehow."
"You're heading down the road to heartbreak," Adrian warned.
Julianne paused to gather her thoughts. Finally, she closed her eyes. "I know."
I want to thank you again, for the billionth time for helping Leigh out. You wouldn't believe how much has happened since you got Leigh that agent. I can barely believe it myself. I know she called to thank you already ... but she's so excited that she'll probably call to thank you again.
Anyway, the latest piece of good news arrived a little while ago. Leigh got one of the parts!!!! She's going to be playing the lead's sister. I can't decide whether she's relieved that she doesn't have to play a lesbian opposite Julianne Franqui ... or disappointed. I'm going to guess that it's a little bit of both.
I've never seen her so happy in my life, though. And it's all thanks to you. So, thank you, once again.
Anyway, I haven't really been painting a lot lately. I've been so wrapped up in Leigh's good fortune that I've forgotten all about art. Go figure. I'll get back to it starting tomorrow, though.
I guess I'll let you go now. I just wanted to thank you again. I owe you big time.
* * *
Tell Leigh congratulations for me! I bet she's really excited. Oh, and don't worry about owing me anything. Maybe some day I'll need a kidney or something ¯ then I'll come to you. In the mean time, I think you're safe from debt ;o)
I've decided to start exercising again. Who am I kidding? I've decided to start exercising ¯ period. I don't think I've ever run a mile in my life. In high school, I would fake cramps any time we had to run. Unfortunately, the P.E. teacher started catching on after a while. She caught me in the locker room and said, "Frank! You're running tomorrow!" Luckily, I sprung my ankle on the way to school the next morning.
That's my longwinded way of explaining that I'm out of shape. Do you exercise? I think I'll invest in one of those total gym things. All those late-night infomercials are starting to get to me. I would like some abs of steel. Too bad you can't order those over the phone.
Well, I've officially lost my mind. Talk to you later :o)
* * *
Why don't you go to the gym instead? I bet there are some really cute girls there waiting to be ogled. If you exercise at home, you're going to miss all the live action. Although, if you're really that pathetically out of shape, then perhaps it's better if you train in the privacy of your own home at first. You don't need to go out in public and make a fool of yourself. ;)
And why the sudden interest in bulking up? Hot date? :) You didn't strike me as the butch type ... heh...
Greetings and salutations,
* * *
I'll have you know that I am a prime example of cool collectiveness in the face of attractive women. Why, what makes you think they wouldn't be ogling me? Women would fall at my feet. It is possible that I don't want to exercise in public because my doing so would be too distracting to the general public. Too much drool is bad for machinery ;o)
I am like a female Don Juan!
* * *
Dear Don Julia,
I'd say you're closer to Don Quixote ;)
* * *
Touché. I have clearly underestimated your wit. You win this round. But beware ¯ I am a very sore loser ;o)
Anyway, you would be pleased to know that my gym-a-ma-gig arrived today. I was on it for a grand total of ...
... Five minutes and twelve seconds.
Shortly after that time, I grew terribly exhausted and decided to watch television (the Food Network if you must know). As a result, I decided to make a grandiose feast for my party of one. You're welcome to the leftovers. :o)
In other words, I burnt about two calories and consumed about 3,000 an hour later.
Good thing I'm not on a diet.
Your lazy friend,
* * *
Five minutes and twelve seconds? That's ... impressive ;)
Actually, I can't really talk. I think the only reason I get any exercise around here is because I have to walk everywhere.
I've been keeping myself busy lately by painting ... helping Leigh memorize lines ... and painting. I can't believe it's already mid-July. I feel like I haven't done a thing this summer. Blah. And here I was chastising you over living a dull existence ;)
I had a dream last night. It was kind of weird, but I'll share it with you.
I was on this boat heading out to Canada. And there was a little man, wearing a blue top hat. He had on a tee shirt that said, "Booty call" on it. I kept trying to stay away from him for some reason ... but he kept following me, offering me cake. And I generally like cake, but his cake had a blue iguana on it. So, I jumped into the ocean and swam away from the little man and his blue iguana.
Then, I started to sink ... only, I realized a few seconds later that I could breathe under water. So, I decided to swim to the bottom of the ocean to see what was there. For some reason there was a lot of light at the bottom of the ocean because I could see a box lodged in the sand.
Anyway, I tried to open the box, but it was locked. And I couldn't open it no matter what I tried.
Then I woke up. And I was left with this feeling of disappointment. I really wanted to know what was inside of that box.
* * *
Maybe you're searching for something ¯ but you don't know what; that's why you couldn't open the box. Figure out what you want and I'm pretty sure it will open :o)
I'm sorry it's been a week since my last response. Things are pretty busy over on my side of the world.
But ¯ I've been trying to exercise at least once a day. I managed to stay on the dreaded thing for over seven minutes today. It's an all-time record. I treated myself to ice cream as a reward ;o)
You'll probably ask, so I'll answer: Ben & Jerry's Half Baked. It's a perfect blend of chocolate, vanilla, and insanity. It's also guaranteed to go straight to your hips, butt, and thighs or your money back.
Good thing I've been working out. :o)
I'm also reading The Color Purple for the twentieth time. Have you read it?
* * *
I'm afraid I have not read The Color Purple. I have, however, read Harry Potter. Good literature must not go unread. ;)
I liked your analysis of my dream. Leigh just told me that the iguana represented Nathan's horny penis and that the box was a metaphor for my repressed homosexuality.
I think she's just bitter that she doesn't get to make out with Julianne Franqui in the movie ;) And I think she's kind of nervous. Filming starts in a month.
Anyway, since I'm bored, and still no closer to unraveling the mystery that is you, I've got a series of questions for you:
1. Who was the first person you kissed?
2. What was your most embarrassing moment?
3. If you could take three things to a tropical island, what would they be?
4. Do you believe in soul mates?
5. What kind of underwear do you wear? (That was Leigh's question, by the way)
6. What is your favorite physical attribute in a girl?
7. What is your favorite Nick at Nite program?
8. Would you really never date a guy?
There, that should keep you busy for a while ;)
* * *
You choose Harry Potter over Alice Walker? Tsk tsk. ;o) Actually, I haven't read Rowling's creation yet. I've been boycotting it since day one. :oP
I think I like Leigh's analysis of your dream better. :o)
And on to the answers:
1. The first person I kissed was Bobby Marcus. Actually, he just sort of slobbered all over my mouth ... I cried. I decided then and there I didn't enjoy kissing boys ;o)
2. Most embarrassing moment? It's so hard to pick just one. :o) I think I'd have to go with this time in middle school when I saw the most popular girl in school walking toward me. Jennifer Stratford was her name. Anyway, she approached the table I was sitting at, and asked me my name. I should add at this point that I had the biggest crush imaginable (for a 13 year old) on this girl.
Well, I told her my name and she asked if I wanted to join her club. I said sure. So, she led me to the girls' bathroom where she said the club met during lunch. There I met with about five other girls who told me that in order to join the club I had to take my clothes off and run across the cafeteria naked.
I would've said no, of course, except that Jennifer was smiling at me all sweet-like and I am a total dumbass (notice the present tense) when it comes to girls.
I stripped ... and I streaked ... and I got suspended. I had a hell of a time explaining that to my parents. ;o)
3. I would take a shovel, a q-tip, and a knife.
4. Soul mates ... hmm ... I think that there is beauty in everyone, and that if we search hard enough, we can find something worth loving in anyone we meet. Sometimes, we just get lucky enough to find many things worth loving in one person.
5. I wear bikini briefs ;o)
6. This is going to sound corny ¯ but I really like girls with beautiful eyes.
7. I Love Lucy
8. Would I never date a guy? Never say never, I guess. But I'd say it's highly unlikely. Unless he's got nice breasts ¯ oops, I meant eyes ;o)
I hope you're satisfied. Your turn to answer.
* * *
Nice eyes? Yeah ... right :)
And I'll make you a deal. You read Harry Potter and I'll read The Color Purple.
1. Nathan was the first person I kissed. And except for that little slip-up at the NYU dorms, I've never kissed anyone else. I was drunk ... it doesn't count ;)
2. I tripped down the stairs at the subway and landed on top of a blind lady who proceeded to poke me with her stick. She started screaming, "Help! Help!" The police came ... thought I'd been trying to rob the woman. They called my parents. It wasn't pretty. But at least I was fully clothed during the entire ordeal ;)
3. I would take a blanket, a sketchpad, and colored pencils.
4. I think I would like to believe that there is someone for everyone. Sometimes I kind of doubt it, though.
5. Whatever's on sale at Victoria's Secret ;)
6. I like soft hair. I know that's pretty random but ... soft hair is nice.
7. Facts of Life
8. Guess I'll change the sex around. Would I ever date a girl? Um, no. I think my parents have enough to handle with just William. I don't feel like giving them a heart attack :)
Hope you're well,
* * *
After MUCH thought and consideration, I have agreed to the deal. In fact, I went out and bought Harry Potter today. It's still in the bag. I'll open it once you've purchased The Color Purple ;o)
You shop at Victoria's Secret? For some reason you didn't strike me as the VS type. Don't ask me what type I thought you were ¯ I don't know. ;o)
I'm up to ten minutes on the machine of death. And it's only been two weeks! I'm sure you're very impressed.
But on to more important matters: What do you want for your birthday? September is right around the corner. I've only got three more weeks of available shopping time, so you'd better tell me fast :o)
So, what have you been up to lately?
* * *
I went to the Strand and picked up a copy of The Color Purple. Ready? Set? Read!
Hmm... I don't know how to take your Victoria's Secret comment. And yes, I do shop there occasionally. They have lovely undies for a gal in need of such things. Besides, Leigh used to work there and I got to use her discount ;)
Well, at least you've managed to remain persistent about exercising. I would've probably given up by now :)
I spent the weekend at William's apartment. It was kind of crowded, though, being that his apartment is the size of a shoebox (not that mine is much bigger, but still). I had a lot of fun hanging out with William and Mark. They're so cute together. It kind of makes me miss having someone, you know?
Do you ever get lonely? I didn't think it was possible to be surrounded by so many people and still manage feel alone. And yet, I do. I don't know why that is.
On related news, Nathan called me out of the blue yesterday. He wanted to inform me that he's dating some girl at Harvard now. In other words, he wanted to thank me for refusing his proposal. Oh well, as long as he's happy.
But anyway ... enough about that.
Leigh is doing really well with her lines and everything. I'm really impressed by her acting ability. Before, I had to watch her perform in these psychotic plays ... and somehow she still managed to amaze me. Yet, seeing her in this new role has really opened my eyes to how truly talented she is. I pray this is her big break. She deserves it.
As for me, I managed to sell one painting on Saturday! I'm really excited about that. I was kind of losing hope there for a while. :)
My parents are doing pretty well. Still not talking to or about William. No progress on that front. I really wish they'd just accept him ...
My biological father called and asked if I wanted to visit him for a couple of weeks, but I refused. I want to be around to help Leigh rehearse, and I don't really feel much like travelling.
I think that's a pretty decent summary of my life at the moment :)
Oh, I don't want anything for my birthday. But thanks for remembering ... :) So, what's going on with you?
* * *
I'll tell you what I think when I've finished Harry Potter. In the mean time, I hope you're enjoying The Color Purple. :o)
I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling lonely. It's bound to happen though. After being with someone for so long it's gotta be rough being single. And yes, I do get lonely a lot. But there's always Adrian, and infomercials, and my work-out machine, and ... you :o) So, I'm not a lost cause yet.
Are you upset about Nathan? That's probably a stupid question ¯ you seemed kind of down. Do you want to talk about it? I have absolutely no experience when it comes to broken hearts and even less about dealing with ex-boyfriends ¯ but I'm always happy to lend a friendly ear.
Not a lot has been happening with me. I've been pretty busy with work and everything, which is why it's been taking me a couple of days to get back to you between emails. I'm sorry about that.
I went to dinner with my parents last night. My mother insists I eat with the family once a week or so. I managed to escape them last week but I was stuck last night. In short, it was hell as usual. My sister could not possibly be more stuck up than she is. I'm fairly certain that one of us is adopted. I hope it's me.
Sometimes, I wish I were brave enough to come out to them. I think it would be worth it to see the shock on my mother's face. But, then I think it over and I realize that I don't want to let my parents in on something so personal. They don't deserve to know me that well.
Sorry for the rant. :o)
I've been watching cartoons for about two hours now. I think I'm in love with SpongeBob. So, I've changed my mind about not dating a guy. I'll date SpongeBob. See, and he has nice eyes ¯ I told you :o)
I considered Bob the Builder, but I think he's too macho for me.
I think it's time I went to bed. ;o) I take it you're not going to tell me what you want for your birthday ¯ fine! I'll have to guess on my own. Trust me, you're not going to get away without a present. Sorry :oP
* * *
I hate to admit it but I'm kind of enjoying The Color Purple. It's a lot better than that butler book you recommended before. ;) I won't officially admit that I like TCP, though, until you admit you love Harry Potter. C'mon, I know you do. Fess up.
I don't know how I feel about Nathan. I can't deny the fact that it bothers me but at the same time, I'm not sure what bothers me about it exactly. Maybe it's the fact that he's got someone and I don't. I'll get over it.
Feel free to rant whenever you want. It's what I'm here for. Well, that and making fun of you. It's a nice balance, don't you think?
SpongeBob, huh? I don't know, Julia, I doubt you're his type. How would you even make that relationship work? He's under the sea ... you're in California. That's quite the long distance relationship. Why don't you go for someone more local?
Oh, I've got a story for you. I was on the subway today and I ran into this guy from my Art History class. We started talking about the final and about the teacher and before I knew it, I'd totally missed my stop. I felt like such a dork. On the plus side, he asked for my number. So, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all :)
Guess I'll go take a shower and curl up in bed with Alice Walker. Hmm ... that sounded far more sexual than I intended it. ;)
* * *
Well, see, now I'm torn. If I admit I like Harry Potter, it might go to your head. You'll start dancing around, screaming, "I told you so!" We can't have that. On the other hand, if I deny it, not only would you be sad and disappointed, but I'd also be lying. Consider that my answer ;o)
You're right. Dating SpongeBob may present a geographical dilemma. However, I can't quite give him up like that. First of all, he's got fabulous eyes. Next, he's very passionate about his job. I love passionate people. And finally, he loves the ocean ¯ and so do I. As you can see, SpongeBob and I are meant for each other. Distance is just a technicality.
That was very smooth, missing your stop on the subway. ;o) So, who is this mystery guy? Did he call?
I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't actually worked out in over a week. Isn't that sad? I've been so busy that by the time I get home I usually just collapse. In fact, I'm collapsing the second I press 'send' on this email message.
Which will be right about ...
* * *
Ha! I knew you'd love Harry Potter. Just to spite you, I'm going to dance around and yell, "I told you so!" anyway. HAHAHAHA! :½
If you insist on pursuing SpongeBob, I'm going to have no choice but to support your decision. I just hope he doesn't break your heart.
Alright, so Anthony called me last night and asked me to go for a walk in Central Park with him. I agreed because it sounded kind of romantic. He'll be here in about twenty minutes, but I wanted to email you before I went to let you know what I was up to. I'm really excited about going out with him. I've never really gone out on a date before.
Okay, I should finish getting ready. I'm nervous. Very nervous. Wish me luck :)
* * *
Just for that, I'm not going to read book #2. So HA! ;o)
I hope you had a fun time on your date with Anthony. Hopefully you didn't trip over any blind ladies. Hehe. I look forward to hearing all the details.
On my end, I've not been up to much. I did manage to exercise today. I was on it for about two minutes when the phone rang. I didn't feel much like working out after the phone conversation so I took a shower instead.
Exciting, isn't it?
I'll end this now before I bore you to tears. :o)
* * *
You won't be able to resist book 2. Just you wait ;½
I'm really sorry that it's been over a week since I responded. I've been kind of busy. Anthony and I have been hanging out a lot lately. Our first date went really well. We walked through the park and then he took me to dinner. He's really sweet. A lot different from Nathan, who was always boasting about himself. Anthony is really humble ... I like that about him.
It's kind of a relief not being with someone who has a lot of money. Nathan was always bragging about being rich, and he was always throwing it in my face. I hated feeling like he was doing me a favor by dating me. Like I was a charity case or something.
Anthony, on the other hand, is working his way through college and has a couple of scholarships aiding him along. He's an art major as well. I saw some of his work, it's truly amazing. Tomorrow he's taking me to an art museum I hadn't heard of. He wants to show me his favorite piece. I can't wait to see it.
It's weird how these things happen, huh? One second I'm on the subway heading in the wrong direction and the next I'm dating a really sweet guy. Go figure.
How are things on your end?
"Julianne," Adrian said, waving his fork in the air in front of his best friend's face. "Jules!" he called louder.
Julianne's eyes focused on Adrian suddenly. "What?" she snapped.
"Look, I realize that I'm not a total expert in the way of female troubles," he began, "but I am pretty sure that a woman does not PMS for two weeks."
"What are you talking about?"
Adrian put his fork down and regarded Julianne with an impatient look. "You've been an absolute pain in my ass for the past two weeks," he stated. "You've been irritable, short-tempered and a total bitch. I know you're leaving for New York in a week, but that's no reason to be so unbearable."
Julianne didn't flinch. "I just have a lot of things on my mind," she answered.
Adrian retrieved his fork and shook his head as he attempted to spear some of his pasta. "Nope," he said. "Ain't buying it. You always have a lot of things on your mind. This is something far more serious than that."
Julianne rolled her eyes and continued to push food around her plate. She didn't have much of an appetite. She didn't have much of anything lately.
"Does it have something to do with Kris?" Adrian ventured to ask. The look on Julianne's face answered the question for him.
Julianne dropped her utensil and sat back with a sigh. "I don't want to talk about it."
"You haven't mentioned her in two weeks, Julianne," Adrian pointed out. "You'd spent the past two months talking of nothing else." His voice softened. "What happened?"
Julianne's lips tightened into a line. Ever since Anthony had popped into the picture ... Kris hadn't been the same. She'd go days without responding to emails. And when she did respond, all she would talk about was Anthony. Anthony is so sweet. Anthony is so wonderful. She rolled her eyes at the thought. "Nothing happened," she answered finally.
"It's truly amazing what a great actress you are, considering the fact that you can't lie for shit," Adrian responded.
Julianne struggled to keep a calm composure. "I told you nothing happened. So, just finish your meal and drop it."
"I can't drop it, Julianne," Adrian responded, sounding angry, but not as angry as he felt. "I hate that you shut me out whenever something's wrong. It's frustrating!"
Julianne refused to meet his gaze. She concentrated on the pattern on the mantel, trying to decide whether to get up and walk away or remain seated. In the end, she stayed where she was.
Adrian stood instead. "I'll walk back," he informed her, dropping his napkin on the table. "Thanks for lunch." He shook his head and walked away.
Julianne stared at his retreating back and reached into her pocket for her wallet. Life just couldn't get any suckier than this.
* * *
"What are you up to?" Leigh inquired, plopping beside her best friend on the couch.
Kris glanced away from the computer monitor for a moment. "Checking email," she answered.
"Heard from Julia yet?" Leigh asked.
Kris shook her head sadly. "Nope," she answered. "It's been almost two weeks. I'm worried."
Kris glanced at Leigh. "You think I should?" She'd actually been considering the idea for the past few days, but she hadn't had enough courage to go through with it.
"Yeah. I mean, I'm sure she's just been real busy," Leigh told her. "Or maybe her internet connection died, or something."
Kris frowned uncertainly. "Wouldn't she have called me?"
Leigh shrugged. "Call her," she answered. "It'll make you feel better."
Kris nodded and put the laptop away. "I'll call her tonight," she resolved.
"Going to see Anthony?"
"No," Kris answered. "He's got to work tonight." She settled back against the couch cushions, feeling depressed and not knowing why exactly. "What's on TV tonight?"
Leigh studied her friend with concern. "I don't know," she said, turning on the television set. She started flipping through the channels at her usual pace. "Everything with Anthony okay?" she asked. She knew that something was bothering Kris, but she couldn't figure out what it was.
"Yeah," Kris said, smiling slightly. "I like him a lot."
Well, it's not Anthony, Leigh decided. "How are your parents doing?" she asked, wondering if it had something to do with them.
"Good. I told them about Anthony. Mom's excited. Carlos didn't seem to disapprove. I think it's a little early to be bringing him by the house, but so far so good."
Leigh nodded mutely, her gaze on the channels. "And William?" she tried.
Kris glanced quickly at Leigh. "Why the sudden interest in everyone I know?" she asked, humor in her voice.
"Just trying to catch up on the current events," Leigh responded. "You've been kind of busy with Anthony. I haven't seen much of you."
"I'm sorry," Kris answered. She took a deep breath. "William is great. I've never seen him happier."
Leigh chewed on her lip thoughtfully, trying to figure out the cause of Kris's gloomyness. Eventually, she gave up. It was probably the weather. It had been raining in New York for the past couple of days. It was bound to bring a girl down. On the television, an image caught her eye and she stopped.
"You're obsessed," Kris mentioned good-naturedly, noting that Leigh had stopped at a Julianne Franqui interview.
"It's not my fault she's everywhere," Leigh commented. "I read somewhere she was doing forty interviews a day. But I think her publicity tour is over, though, cause Guardian is filming already."
Kris arched an eyebrow. "What are you, her manager?"
Leigh grinned. "Nope, just been doing some research on my co-star," she answered. "I've got to know who I'll be working with," she added.
"Right." Kris shook her head in amusement and focused on Julianne Franqui's voice. After a couple of minutes, she asked, "Does she really look like that?"
Leigh nodded. "Oh yeah," she confirmed. "The woman is gorgeous, no doubt about that."
"Maybe she sold her soul to Satan," Kris suggested.
Leigh laughed. "Probably." She shrugged. "Maybe she's just lucky." She nodded toward the screen. "I think this is the John Ken Show. It's live. He's relentless."
Intrigued, Kris focused on the interview in progress.
"Tell us about this new movie you're doing," the host was saying. "Summer's End is it?"
Leigh cheered. "Can you believe I'm in that movie?" she asked.
Kris laughed. "Not really."
On the screen, Julianne looked both annoyed and uncomfortable. "Yeah, it's called Summer's End," she confirmed. "It's about a woman who's trying to piece together another woman's history."
"And which of the two women do you play?" John Ken inquired.
"I play Elizabeth Doyle," Julianne answered. "The first woman, Summer, moves into a new house and finds an attic full of old letters and pictures and such. She's a writer and decides to write a story based on the things she finds. The things appear to belong to a woman named Elizabeth who used to live there. Anyway, I play the younger version; Summer's conception of Elizabeth as a young woman."
John Ken nodded, although he didn't seem to be listening. "And I hear that you play a lesbian," he said suddenly.
Julianne appeared even more uncomfortable than before. She cast a glance at someone off-camera. "That's correct," she finally answered, though her voice was forced.
"And how does it feel to play a homosexual character after playing an angel for so long?" John Ken inquired.
Julianne's eyes narrowed slightly. "What do you mean?"
"Do you think this will affect the fanbase you've accumulated until now?" Ken continued.
"You'll have to ask them that," Julianne replied coldly.
John Ken flinched ever so slightly. "Does it make you uncomfortable to discuss the sexuality of your character?"
"No," Julianne replied calmly, her voice taking on a dangerous edge.
John Ken shifted in his seat and continued. "Taking on such a role is going to lead many people to question your own sexual preference. Does that bother you?"
Julianne cocked her head to the side. "Does what bother me exactly?"
"People questioning your sexuality," Ken clarified.
"Should it?" Julianne posed.
John Ken glanced off camera for a quick moment and shifted his gaze back to Julianne. "It would bother some people," he replied. "You wouldn't mind people assuming that you're a lesbian?"
Julianne shrugged. "I'm used to assumptions," she said. "This is Hollywood. I would be shocked if nobody thought I was gay."
"And are you a lesbian, Julianne?" John Ken asked quite bluntly.
Julianne smiled sweetly. "You know, I wasn't before, but now that I've met you I'm definitely considering it."
There was a sudden cut to commercials.
Leigh started laughing.
Kris smiled in spite of herself. She stood. "I think I'm going to give Julia a call now," she announced.
Leigh glanced up at her best friend. "Say hi to her for me."
"Will do," Kris assured her. And retreated to her bedroom to make the call.
* * *
Julianne was still fuming when she walked into her house. John Ken. Ugh! That asshole was lucky she hadn't run into him backstage or there would've been bloodshed. "Bloodshed!" she swore to the empty living room.
Deafening silence echoed back at her.
Julianne sighed and glanced at the answering machine. A peak at the message screen announced a grand total of twelve messages. "The tape probably ran out," she figured. "Good."
Her finger hesitated over the 'play' button. "I hate my life," she voiced before pressing the button.
"A lesbian, Julianne?!" her mother's voice resounded. "You're playing a lesbian? How am I supposed to show my face at the country club after tonight? And what do you mean you're 'considering it'? Are you trying to give your poor mother a heart attack? Do you ever think about other people, Julianne? Call me back. We need to talk about how we're going to handle this."
Julianne rolled her eyes and collapsed on the couch with a long sigh. "And it begins," she muttered.
"Julianne, it's Adrian. Listen, I know we haven't really talked since that day I left you at the restaurant. And I'm sorry. I shouldn't have just left you there. I was pissed off at you. Anyway, I saw the interview and I wanted to call and see how you were doing. I bet you're pissed off and I'm certain your mom beat me to this phone call which means you're probably even more pissed off. Call me. Let's talk, okay? I miss you."
Julianne stared at the answering machine, wishing more than anything that Adrian was there.
"Julianne, it's Karen. You stormed out of the set and I wanted to see if you were okay. If it makes any difference, I thought you were brilliant. That jerk didn't know what hit him. Ha! Call me if you want, or I'll see you tomorrow morning. Take care."
"It's your mother again. Call me right now."
"Julia," came Kris's uncertain voice.
Julianne sat up in an instant at the sound of Kris's voice. Her heart hammered in her chest.
"I'm calling because I haven't heard from you in a really long time," Kris continued. "And I wanted to know if you were okay. I'm worried about you. Please email me or call me so that I know you're alright. I miss you."
Julianne played the message back a second time. And then a third. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the couch cushions. She was only half-listening to all the messages that followed.
It was true that she'd been avoiding Kris for the past week and five days. But who was counting? She just couldn't bear anymore emails containing the name 'Anthony' in them. At some point in the preceeding months Julianne had gotten it into her head that Kris was at least semi-interested in her. Granted, the two had never met. And true, Kris wasn't exactly gay. Still, there was a lingering hope. And the hope kept Julianne going. Even if Kris wasn't hers .. at least she wasn't anybody else's.
Julianne opened her eyes and grabbed the phone from the table beside the couch. She needed to talk to Adrian about this. Her move to New York was quickly approaching and there was no way she would survive that adventure without Adrian on her side. She dialed the number, in spite of the fact that it was on her speed dial.
"Hey," she said, when Adrian picked up.
"I was worried that you'd ignore the message," Adrian admitted.
Julianne took a deep breath. "She's dating someone," she blurted.
"Kris?" Adrian guessed.
"Yeah," Julianne said. "His name is Anthony. And apparently he's perfect."
Adrian chuckled slightly. "This is the reason you've been Queen Bitch for the past three weeks?"
Julianne considered. "PMS was involved at some point," she replied. "But pretty much, yeah."
"Have you been ignoring Kris along with the rest of the world?"
"Ahuh," she confirmed. "She just left a message on my machine asking if I was okay."
"Are you going to call her back?" Adrian inquired.
Julianne considered the question, in spite of the fact that she already knew the answer to it. She couldn't deny Kris anything. Especially not a phone call. "Yes."
"It was bound to happen, Julianne," Adrian said after a moment. "You can't punish her for your jealousy."
Julianne sighed. "I know," she answered. "I know. I just don¹t know if I can deal with it. Everytime I hear the name Anthony I want to punch my fist through the wall." She shook her head. "And the fact that I'll be acting with her best friend in less than a week is not going to make things any easier."
"I know," Adrian agreed.
Julianne stared thoughtfully at the wall. "I didn't think it would feel like this, Adrian," she told him. "I knew that I didn't want her dating anyone else. I figured it was because I really liked having her as a friend and didn't want to share her attention. But everytime I think about her kissing someone else ... ugh. It makes me physically ill. I think people on the set are starting to think I am pregnant. All that morning sickness."
Adrian laughed. "You're not the first person to go through this," he told her. "You'll be okay. You might meet the girl of you dreams in New York and then you won't care who Kris is dating. Sometimes some things just aren't meant to be."
Julianne considered Adrian's comment. "Maybe," she allowed.
"You can't keep ignoring her. Unless you plan on never talking to her again and I think that would be a pretty shitty thing of you to do."
"I know," Julianne agreed. "I'll call her."
"What are you going to tell her?"
"I have no idea," Julianne admitted. She paused. Apologizing had never been one of her strong suits. Regardless ..."I'm really sorry for acting like such a jerk."
"Apology accepted," Adrian informed her. "Do you have an apartment in New York yet?"
Julianne nodded, then said, "Yeah, I had Karen set things up for me. It's a penthouse apartment overlooking some buildings." She laughed. "I saw a couple of pictures. It looks fine."
"Cool," Adrian said. "How'd your mom like the interview?"
Julianne groaned and sank down on the couch. "God, I don¹t want to have to deal with her anymore," she said. "She's worried about showing her face at the country club."
Adrian simply laughed. "Imagine if you'd come out."
"I practically did according to her," Julianne replied, but laughed anyway. Somehow she felt better. "I should go call her," she said suddenly.
"Let me know how it goes," he told her. "I'll run by the set tomorrow, okay? Lunch?"
"It's a date," Julianne assured him. "Thank you, Adrian."
"Any time, Julianne. Any time."
* * *
Kris lay in bed, finishing the last few pages of The Color Purple. It had been over a week since she'd cracked the novel open. She couldn't explain why, but the thought of Julia these days filled her with more sadness than she could express. If only she knew why there weren't any emails. If only she knew if there would ever be more again. It was the not-knowing that was killing her.
Unable to concentrate, she closed the book and turned on her back. Dali's Metamorphoses of Narcissus stared down at her from the ceiling. Unconsciously, she glanced at the phone, willing it to ring. When it didn't, she let out a long breath and focused again on the print above her bed. "Please call me," she whispered.
As if on cue, the phone started to ring. For a moment, Kris didn't believe it was actually ringing. Her heart sped up as she reached for the receiver. "Hello?" she said, hoping it didn't sound as desperate as it felt.
Disappointment consumed her for a moment, but it was quickly replaced by something else. "Anthony," she greeted, hoping there wasn't a trace of sadness in her voice. "How was work? You got off early."
"Sure did. It was boring as usual," he answered. "Nothing like making floral arrangements for hours on end; in the rain, no less. How was your day?"
Kris ran a quick survey of the day's events through her mind. "I painted and I watched TV with Leigh for about fifteen minutes. That's about it."
Anthony laughed. "Sounds like fun," he said. "Do you want to do something tonight? I thought maybe we could catch a late showing of something."
Kris hesitated. What if Julia called while she was gone? She glanced at the time. If she hadn't called by now, it probably meant she wasn't going to. Still, she hesitated. Then finally said, "Sure."
"Great," Anthony said, sounding excited. "I'll be there to pick you up in about twenty minutes."
"See you then," she answered. Kris shut off the phone, and stared at the reciever in her hand. When nothing happened, she sighed and replaced it on the base. "So much for that." She shook her head sadly and rose to get ready.
* * *
In spite of the fact that Julianne had gotten off the phone with Adrian with the full intention of calling Kris, an hour later she was still pacing around the living room, receiver in hand. She had no idea how to explain her three week absense without lying.
"Hey, Kris," she rehearsed. "I'm sorry I haven't emailed you. My computer got stolen." She considered that and shook her head. "I don't want to lie anymore." She sighed and sat down on the couch.
She took a deep breath. "Kris," she tried again, "I have a small crush on you and got freaked out over Anthony. I think I'm over it now." She rolled her eyes. "I can't say that."
Julianne stared at the receiver and found herself turning it on. "No lies," she decided. "If she finds out I like her, then so be it." She hoped she could maintain that level of conviction. Her heart sped up as she dialed the number to Kris's apartment.
One ring ...
Julianne felt her heart stop and she swallowed. "Miss me?" she found herself asking.
There was a short pause. "Julia," Kris breathed. "I thought I'd never hear from you again."
"I'm sorry," Julianne apologized, hoping she sounded sincere.
Somewhere in the background, Julianne heard a male voice. "Be right there," Kris said to somebody else. To Julia, she said, "You caught me on my way out the door."
Julianne tried to ignore the ache in her heart. "I just wanted to let you know I'm okay," she said.
"Thank you," Kris said. There was an awkward lull in the conversation. "I have to go," she said after a few of seconds. "I'm really sorry. Anthony's waiting for me."
"Okay," Julianne answered. "Have fun."
"I will," Kris responded. "I'll talk to you later?"
"Yes," Julianne found herself saying.
"I'll email you tonight," Kris promised. "Thanks for calling."
"You're welcome," Julianne said. "Bye," she whispered after the line had gone dead. She turned the phone off and tossed it across the room. She heard it crash against something and smash it to pieces. Probably a vase. She didn't care. Frustrated, she ran a hand through her hair and grabbed the remote.
Absently, she flipped through the channels until she encountered her image on the screen. "Great," she whispered, watching a replay of the interview earlier.
"On today's John Ken Show," the announcer was saying, "Ken found himself biting off more than he could chew as he attempted to make actress Julianne Franqui lose her cool."
Julianne shook her head as she watched herself tell John Ken that after meeting him she was considering lesbianism. "They're going to be quoting me for the rest of my life," she realized.
The host of the show chuckled. "Sources told our producers that the phones were ringing non-stop at the John Ken Show studio this evening. Seems like the young Miss Franqui made quite the impression. On related news ..."
Julianne switched the channel and settled for a SpongeBob Squarepants rerun. Melancholy settled over her like a mantle, and she turned off the cartoon. She leaned her head back against the cushions and closed her eyes. "New York, here I come," she said sadly.
Kris finished reading the last words on the last page of the script to Summer's End. "Wow," she whispered, debating whether or not to read it over again. Being that the movie was due to start filming the following morning, Kris decided it was about time she read the full script. She'd helped Leigh rehearse some of the scenes, but they hadn't really helped her understand the full story.
She glanced down at the plain cover, wondering what it would be like to see Julianne Franqui in the role of Elizabeth. Kris had pictured Julianne as Elizabeth all the way through. It was hard not to.
She took a deep breath and put the script away. The clock on her alarm announced that it was almost one in the morning. Kris could make out the muffled mutterings of the television emanating from the living room. "Guess she can't sleep," she realized, rising from her bed. She made sure to take the script with her as she walked out of the room.
Leigh was channel surfing as usual, but there was distinct look of worry on her face.
Kris approached cautiously and sat down beside her friend. "Nervous?" she asked.
"Terrified," Leigh confirmed, momentarily pausing in the rhythm of the button-pushing. She took notice of the script in Kris's hand. "Did you read it?"
"This is going to be a really good movie," Kris admitted. "I didn't think it was so ... powerful."
Leigh nodded. "I thought the same thing when I first read it. I still can't believe I'm going to be in it."
Kris smiled. "You deserve it," she said honestly. "I've always had faith in you."
"Even when I was doing those awful plays?" Leigh asked with a grin.
"Even then," Kris assured her.
Leigh simply smiled, her gaze on the television screen.
Kris allowed the companionable silence to fall between them and turned her attention to the TV. Leigh didn't seem to be looking for anything in particular, and Kris didn't really mind. She just wanted to be there in case Leigh wanted to talk about anything.
A moment later, Leigh handed Kris the remote. "I should probably go to sleep," she announced. "I doubt I'll manage it, but I should at least try."
Accepting the object, Kris nodded. "Sweet dreams." She watched as Leigh walked into her bedroom and closed the door. With nothing else to do, Kris started flipping through the channels. She felt anxious and she wasn't entirely sure why. Or maybe it wasn't anxiety at all ... it was something else.
She was so happy and proud of Leigh. Still, there was an underlying feeling of worry that clouded her happiness. They had always discussed what would happen if one or the other became famous, and now that Leigh's dreams were so near fruition, Kris worried that she was about to lose her best friend forever. She had tried to explain her feelings to Anthony, but he'd told her she was being silly; that Leigh would always be there for her.
Would she? Kris wasn't so sure anymore. The thought scared her ... terrifired her. She had the uneasy feeling that after tomorrow, everything would change. What bothered her most was not knowing if things were about to change for the better, or the worse.
* * *
Julianne found herself walking through the streets of New York that same night. Her new apartment offered little comfort. It felt cold; empty. A lot of things had felt that way lately.
She'd resummed her emailing sessions with Kris. Occasionally, there was even an email devoid of Anthony-praises. Julianne treasured those. Clung to them for hope. False hope, but hope nonetheless.
People passed her as she walked. She didn't notice them, and they didn't notice her. Solitude shielded her identity. Although she'd dressed down, she hadn't made an effort to disguise herself. It didn't matter anymore.
Unconsciously ¯ or perhaps consciously, if she admitted the truth to herself ¯ she made it to the last place she'd expected to end up that night. With a strange mixture of sadness and curiousity, she stared up at the drab-looking building. It was such a sharp contrast to her own. She couldn't imagine living Kris's life. It was as foreign to her as hers was to Kris.
This would never work, she realized sadly. Love was not enough to close the gap between their worlds.
Yet, Julianne couldn't leave. Not yet.
She leaned against the wall of a building across the street from Kris's. A tune from My Fair Lady suddenly emerged from her subconscious. How did it go? Oh, the towering feeling ... just to know somehow you are near ... the overpowering feeling ... that any second you may suddenly appear ... people stop and stare, they don't bother me, for there is nowhere else on earth that I would rather be ... Let the time go by, I won't care if I can be here on the street where you live ...
Julianne nodded to herself, now certain that she had lost her mind.
She stared up at the row of windows, wondering which, if any, belonged to Kris's apartment. It would be so easy to appear at Kris's doorstep. It would be so easy to admit the truth.
Sighing, she forced herself away from the wall behind her. With one last glance at Kris's building, she started toward her own.
"You have to," Leigh pleaded the following morning. "Please."
Kris took a sip of the coffee in her hand and stared at her friend. "But what am I going to do there?" she wondered, not feeling at all comfortable with the idea of accompanying Leigh to the movie set. She'd feel so out of place there. Like a piece of scenery ... or a prop.
"You can watch!" Leigh responded, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "C'mon, I already cleared visitors with the director a while ago. Nobody will mind if you're there."
"But it's the first day," Kris answered, hesitant to comply with Leigh's request for a variety of reasons. "I'll feel really awkward."
Leigh frowned deeply. "I cannot get through this without you, Kris," she said, whining slightly. "I'll have a heart attack for sure. Please. I really need you there. You can leave whenever you want to if you feel uncomfortable."
Kris wished she had more of a backbone when it came to saying no to people. "Okay," she consented, finally. She wasn't happy about it, though, sure that she would feel completely ridiculous standing around with nothing to do. Maybe she'd sneak a notebook or something. Then she could sketch.
Leigh breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you," she said.
Kris nodded to Leigh's breakfast. The plate was still full. "Are you going to eat?"
"No way," Leigh responded, pushing the plate away. "My stomach is in a complete knot. I'm lucky I managed to swallow some coffee."
Nodding, Kris finished her own cup and placed the mug in the sink. "Are you sure I won't be disrupting anything?" she asked.
"I promise I cleared it," Leigh assured her. She stood from the kitchen table and grabbed Kris's hand. Leading Kris away from the kitchen and toward her room, Leigh said, "We need to get you dressed."
Kris allowed herself to be led. Once in the bedroom, Leigh let go of her hand and approached the closet. "What are you doing?" Kris asked.
"We need to get you an appropriate outfit," Leigh explained. She began looking through the articles of clothing hanging before her. "Nope ... nope ... maybe ... eh ... hell no ..."
Kris stood back and watched her friend in action. It took several minutes, but eventually Leigh settled on something and tossed the clothes at Kris.
"I'll clean up in the kitchen while you get ready," Leigh informed her, shutting the door behind her on the way out.
Kris stared at the closed door and then down at the clothes in her arms. "She's so weird," she muttered to herself. Shaking her head, she resigned herself to the inevitable.
* * *
Julianne sipped at the can of Sprite in her hand. It did nothing for her exhaustion, but it still tasted good. Being that she'd gotten absolutely no sleep the night before, she doubted if even caffeine was strong enough to get her through the day ahead.
A glance around the set confirmed that she was the first actress to arrive. There were a few people from the crew constructing what appeared to be a bedroom. Mostly, though, they just paraded back and forth in front of her, carrying equipment and carrying out orders from the assistant director.
Naomi Mosier sneaked up beside Julianne without the actress noticing. "You're here early," the director noted.
Startled, Julianne turned her head to face the blonde director. "I'm an early riser," she answered. Especially when I don't go to sleep.
Naomi smiled. "Apparently so." Before the director had a chance to comment further, she was called away on business matters.
Julianne watched her walk away, taken aback by the director's easy manner. "Untainted by Hollywood," she decided quietly. "Won't last." She resumed her survey of the sorroundings and tried to ignore the fact that she was secretly anticipating Leigh's arrival.
Bored, and with nothing else to do but wait, Julianne reached into her bag and withdrew her most recent purchase: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She smiled slightly at the cover. Kris had been right; there was no way she wouldn't read the second book. But she still refused to read the third. And the fourth was out of the question.
Smiling in amusement, she opened the book and began to read.
* * *
Kris made sure to stay close to Leigh the entire time. She was terrified and she wasn't even the one in the movie. How Leigh must've felt, Kris had no idea. In fact, she was way too nervous to think about it too deeply.
They arrived at the movie set, which looked more like an abandoned werehouse than anything else. Security wasn't particularly tight. In fact, Kris and Leigh walked in as though they owned the place. There was nobody to stop them.
The inside of the werehouse-turned-movie set was far livelier than the outside had been. Kris looked around in awe. A fake bedroom appeared to be the center of activity. There were people hanging lights; carrying cables and ladders and cans of paint. Everybody looked busy.
Except one person.
Kris squinted her eyes. "Is that her?" she whispered to Leigh, nodding toward the lonely figure sitting on the floor in a corner, totally wrapped up in a book.
"That's her," Leigh confirmed. "C'mon. Let's go talk to her."
Kris froze. "Are you serious?"
Leigh looked all around. "I don't see the director. Julianne probably knows what's going on," she explained logically.
"You're on a first name basis already?" Kris questioned curiously, trying to stall. She hadn't anticipated talking to Julianne Franqui. Standing in the corner looking bored, that she had planned on. Anything more complex than that was beyond her realm of comprehension.
Leigh didn't seem to be moving any closer to the actress. "She looks kind of busy," she said after a moment. "Maybe we should just wait for Naomi."
Kris couldn't have agreed more. "Who's Naomi?"
"The director," Leigh said, looking briefly at Kris. "I've told you her name a billion times."
Right. She knew that. "Sorry, just a little overwhelmed," Kris explained. She looked around again, trying to figure out who the director could be.
A moment later she got her answer. Naomi Mosier appeared in front of them, a smile on her face. "Nice to see you again, Leigh," the woman said, shaking Leigh's hand. She turned curious eyes on Kris. "I'm Naomi."
"Kris," she introduced herself. "Thanks for letting me on the set."
Naomi smiled easily. "Glad to have you," she answered. She glanced around for a moment. Nothing appeared to need her immediate attention. The chaos probably made perfect sense to her. She regarded Leigh. "I'm just waiting until everyone gets here. Then we can get started."
The director smiled, nodded at Kris, and excused herself.
Kris was releived that she hadn't gotten yelled at for trespassing on a closed set. The director seemed nice. Young, too.
"Let's get out of the way," Leigh suggested, leading Kris toward one of the side walls. The two of them leaned against the concrete and looked around.
Kris's gaze followed the director's every move. The blonde walked back and forth between people. Everyone seemed to want to talk to her about something. Some looked flustered, others relatively calm. Regardless of their state, the young director remained calm and mild-mannered. Kris wondered what kind of person it took to remain so perfectly composed in the face of so much pressure.
Every now and then, Kris caught the director watching Julianne Franqui. For her part, the actress remained completely oblivious to her surroundings. Whatever book she was reading was holding her attention. The director would watch the actress and then return her attention to whomever she was speaking to.
In spite of herself, Kris was entertained watching the interaction of the filmmakers. "So who else is acting in this thing?" she found herself asking. It occurred to her that besides Julianne Franqui, Kris had no idea who else her best friend would be on screen with.
Leigh shrugged. "I have no idea," she responded. She nodded toward Julianne. "You'd think she'd be surrounded by people or something."
Kris glanced at the actress, whose nose remained buried in the book. Kris was having trouble wrapping her mind around the fact that the figure sitting a few feet away from her was the same one she'd seen so often on the television screen. It felt almost surreal. "I kind of figured she'd be ordering people around by now," she whispered.
"Can you see what she's reading?" Kris asked, trying to make out the cover of the book Julianne was holding. It looked familiar.
"I think it's Harry Potter," Leigh answered, amusement in her tone. "Guess she likes to keep to light reading."
Kris smiled. "I can't comment," she admitted. "I told Julia to read it. I said I would read The Color Purple if she did."
"You guys are weird," Leigh said with a chuckle. She glanced at Julianne again. "Should we go talk to her?"
"And say what?" Kris wondered.
"I don't know," Leigh said. "But I mean, we've already made it to first base. Talking shouldn't such a big deal."
Kris shrugged. "If you want to go talk to her, be my guest. I'm staying right where I am."
"But the two of you have something in common," Leigh pointed out.
"What could that possibly be?" Kris asked her.
Leigh grinned. "You both like Harry Potter."
* * *
Julianne stared intently at the book in her hands, but she wasn't reading the words on the page. She was concentrating on breathing. She was concentrating on not blacking out. She was concentrating on keeping her eyes glued to the book. The last thing she wanted was to meet Kris's wandering gaze.
What is she doing here? Julianne kept wondering. She wanted so badly to look up. She wanted so badly to run away. She didn't know what she wanted.
After a while, Julianne realized she wasn't doing a convincing job of pretending to read. She'd been staring at the picture of Dobby for the past ten minutes. She turned the page and tried to concentrate. But she hadn't actually read the words on the previous page. She debated on whether or not to go back. Would it look too obvious? Was Kris even looking at her?
Julianne almost looked up to see. She caught herself just in time. No looking. If you look you'll never stop staring. Then you'll probably start drooling or something equally embarrassing and ...
Shit. Julianne paused for a second to curse under her breath and looked up to find Leigh staring down at her. Kris was standing a little behind Leigh, looking anywhere but at Julianne. It worked well because Julianne was looking anywhere but at Kris. Finally, Julianne met Leigh's eyes. "A friend recommended it," she found herself saying, her gaze dropping slightly.
"What a coincidence," Leigh said, turning slightly to glance at Kris. To Julianne she said, "I thought I'd come over and introduce myself. I don't usually kiss someone and then leave immediately afterwards." She paused for a second to consider her words. "Actually, I did do it once with this guy who was totally horrible at what he was doing. There was major droolage going on. It was really gross and I ... am babbling. Sorry." She stretched out her hand. "Leigh Radlin."
Julianne hesitated only a milisecond before shaking Leigh's hand. "Julianne Franqui," she said, though she had a feeling they already knew who she was. Unconsciouly, she glanced at Kris. She tried to look away as quickly as possible but Leigh must have noticed.
Leigh motioned to Kris. "This is my best friend," she said by way of introduction. "She was kind enough to accompany me to this little shindig."
Julianne had no other choice but to gather what was left of her composure and regard Kris. Hazel eyes hesitantly met her gaze. Julianne would've given anything to stare into those eyes forever. "Do you generally go by the name of My Best Friend, or is there something else I should call you?" she asked, doing everything in her power to keep from drowning in Kris's eyes. Or at least fainting in Kris's presence.
Kris's eyes narrowed ever so slightly at Julianne's comment. A half smile played at the corner of her lips as she responded. "Most people call me Kris," she said. "Kris Milano."
Julianne considered introducing herself as Majorly Screwed. Cause that's what she was. No doubt about it. "Nice to meet you," she said instead.
"Mind if we join you?" Leigh asked, pointing to the ground beside Julianne.
The actress shook her head.
Leigh settled down beside Julianne, and Kris hesitantly followed suit. When the two were seated, Leigh regarded Julianne. "Do you know who else is in the film?" she asked curiously.
Julianne had to admit that she had no idea. She had been told several names by Eric at one point or another, but they hadn't quite registered in her brain. "Who are you playing?" she asked, though she already knew the answer.
"Your sister," Leigh replied. "Kinda weird going from your lover to your sister."
Julianne found herself laughing. She'd never before felt such a strange mixture of ease, amusement and ... nausea. She had spoken to Leigh several times on the phone. She had spoken to Kris about a hundred times. And neither one had any idea. It made Julianne feel slightly isolated. But it didn't change the fact that in a non-too-distant world ... she considered these people her friends. "It's a good role," she said.
Leigh nodded. "It is," she agreed. "Yours is awesome, though. I bet you were all over it when you first read the script."
Memories of her fight with Adrian and her sleepless nights and her conversation Kris over the matter floated through her mind. "It's a good character," was what she answered. Anything else would've probably been a lie. Julianne glanced at Kris, not liking the fact that she was quiet. Julianne could think of a million and one things to say to the now silent artist. And any one of them would give her away.
Leigh caught Julianne's line of sight. "I kind of had to drag her here today," she explained to Julianne.
Julianne didn't answer. There were so many things running through her mind that she was having trouble concentrating on simple words. For one, she wasn't yet used to having Kris look at her. It was incredibly nerve-racking trying to figure out what kind of impression she was making. There were so many things Julianne wanted to say. So many things she had to keep hidden. And it had only been five minutes since they'd met.
"Oh, my God!" Leigh exclaimed softly, pulling on Kris's arm. "There's Jeremy. He's the one I was telling you about."
Julianne looked to where Leigh was pointing to and noticed Naomi Mosier's assistant. She did her best to check him out, and as hard as she tried, she didn't get what the big deal was. So, she glanced at Kris instead, and was pleased to note that Kris didn't look particularly impressed either.
"He's ... cute," Kris said finally.
Julianne grinned to herself, pleased with Kris's answer. She tried not to think about the fact that Kris now had a boyfriend that she was probably swooning over.
"I'm going to go talk to him," Leigh announced.
Kris looked startled. "What?"
Julianne felt herself panic at the prospect of being left alone with Kris. Please don't leave. Please don't leave.
Leigh stood up. "I'll be right back," she said. She looked at Julianne. "Kris loves Harry Potter." With that, she walked away.
Julianne finally understood that this was a dream. Whether or not it was a nightmare, she couldn't quite decide.
* * *
Kris was ready to kill her best friend. She couldn't believe Leigh had just up and left her alone with Julianne Franqui. What was she supposed to say to her? Maybe they could just sit there in silence. If Kris didn't say anything perhaps Julianne would get bored and return to reading the book.
"Personally, I like Hermione best," she heard the actress comment.
It took Kris a moment to realize that she was referring to the book. "Dumbledore is my favorite," she found herself saying, not quite believing that she was discussing Harry Potter characters with Julianne Franqui. And yet ... she was.
"He kind of reminds me of Mr. Bennet," Julianne said.
Kris stared into a pair of azure eyes that radiated more intensity than any she'd ever encountered before. She could see where many would find Julianne Franqui intimidating. Yet, Kris just found her ...
"Pride and Prejudice," Julianne explained, before Kris had a chance to come up with a proper adjective. "He's Elizabeth's father. Same kind of fatherly sarcasm."
Kris arched a brow, unsure of how to respond. "I haven't read that," she found herself admitting.
"Good book," Julianne said. "Read it some time if you get bored." She paused. "I mean, if you want to. You don't have to, obviously."
There was something strangely familiar about Julianne Franqui that Kris couldn't put her finger on. It was probably the fact that she'd been watching her on interviews nonstop for the past two months. "Maybe I will," she answered. She tore her gaze away from the actress in order to search the crowd for Leigh. She found her a moment later, deep in conversation with the Jeremy guy.
"You know, if she wants me to recommend her as a good kisser ..."
Kris's gaze darted back to Julianne's face. The words registered in Kris's mind and a second later she found herself laughing. "Don't let her hear you say that, she'll take you up on it."
The smile surprised Kris. She had seen it a billion times before on television, and yet it had never seemed quite as sincere as the one she was seeing now. It gave her a strange sense of satisfaction to know that she, Kristina Milano, had just made Julianne Franqui smile.
But she quickly reminded herself that she didn't care. Not one bit.
return to the academy