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 email@example.com
Julianne sat on the floor of her new apartment. The only thing she had bothered to unpack was her phone, which rested a few inches from her. Before her was the script to Summer's End, opened to one of the sections she was having trouble memorizing. The apartment was dark except for a couple of lit candles on the floor in front of her. Boxes formed several pillars around what would eventually become a living room. That's if Julianne decided to keep the apartment after the movie finished filming. Otherwise, she probably wouldn't bother unpacking anything. She'd get things on a need-to-find basis.
For the past hour and a half, Julianne had been trying to concentrate on the script, but all she could think about was Kris. Their conversation hadn't lasted very long. Leigh had returned, waving around Jeremy's number like a victory flag. Soon after, the rest of the cast had arrived and Naomi had rounded them up.
Julianne squinted at the words on the page, trying desperately to make sense of something. But nothing made sense anymore.
The ringing of the telephone dragged Julianne out of her stupor. "Hello?" she greeted. Ever since her slip-up with Kris, Julianne had decided that answering the phone as 'Franqui' wasn't a very bright idea. Not unless she expected Kris to believe that Julianne was always on the phone with her pool man.
"How's the Big Apple treating you?"
Julianne smiled upon hearing Adrian's voice. She hated to admit it, but she was lonely without him. "Well, you know me, parties every night."
Adrian laughed. "Sorry to interrupt," he teased. "Did I miss anything? Kiss any more cute girls?"
"There was the random stray lesbian here and there," Julianne responded. "But for the most part I've managed to behave myself."
"If only that were true."
"About behaving myself?"
"No. The random stray lesbians," Adrian clarified. "So what have you really been up to?"
Julianne glanced down at the script on the floor. Besides trying unsuccessfully to memorize it, she hadn't been up to much. "The usual," she said. "But um ..." Unable to find a smooth way of introducing the subject, she decided just to wing it. "I met Kris today."
There was a slight pause from Adrian's end, followed by, "Come again?"
"Leigh brought her to the set," Julianne explained. "And then left us alone while she went to flirt with the director's assistant."
"We talked about Harry Potter."
"That's it? Did you tell her that you'reó"
"Yeah, right," Julianne interrupted. "I can't just blurt out something like that."
Adrian sighed. "Don't you think Fate is trying to tell you something?"
"Yes," Julianne agreed. "It's telling me that the internet is a horrible place to meet women."
"Or sometimes the right place."
Julianne liked her own interpretation of Fate better. Adrian's was ... complicated. "Whatever," is what she finally said.
Adrian took the hint. "So ... Harry Potter? I know you're a little new at this, Julianne, but if you need me to teach you some better pick-up lines, I'll be happy to comply."
"Actually, I'll probably need them," Julianne said, without humor in her voice. "The director wants us to go out and research lesbian life."
Laughter was the initial response. Followed soon after by, "What kind of research exactly?"
"Not the kind you're thinking of," Julianne replied. She paused to consider what Naomi had said earlier. "Something about putting ourselves in their shoes."
Adrian snickered. "I'm sure that'll be really tough for you."
Julianne shrugged off the comment. "You know what, I really have no idea. I'm so detached from the rest of the world that I couldn't begin to tell you what being a lesbian is like."
"Sure you can," Adrian argued. "Well, a famous lesbian, anyway."
"I'm not a famous lesbian."
"Yes, you are. They just don't know it."
Julianne shook her head. "So what do you think I should do? Go to the library and read up on it? Go to a club or something? Both?" She considered her own questions. "I should probably do the library thing since the film is set in the 1920s. I donít think a lesbian bar will aid me with characterization."
"You should go anyway."
"Because you want to," Adrian replied.
Julianne rolled her eyes. "Like that won't be all over the news tomorrow: 'From Angel to Super Dyke ... the full story on Julianne Franqui's transformation.'"
Adrian began laughing hysterically. He managed to form the words, "Super dyke," before getting consumed by laughter once more.
"Okay, good night, Adrian," Julianne began. When nothing but laughter responded, she said, "Talk to you later." Then she clicked off the phone.
Her attention turned to the laptop computer still resting in its case. She had avoided her email all day long, but it had been eating away at her curiousity. What would Kris have to say about meeting her? Did she even want to know? Did Kris even write today? She stared at the black leather bag, torn between not wanting to know, and not wanting to wait another second to find out.
In the end, curiousity killed the cat.
She dragged the object over to where she was sitting, and waited for it to boot up. The email message she had been both dreading and anticipating was titled: "You won't believe the day I had ..."
"I bet I will," Julianne spoke to the computer screen. After a moment, she double-clicked.
This morning Leigh convinced me to go to the movie set with her. I really didn't want to go. Of course, I couldn't refuse her, though. I need to work on my assertiveness. ;)
Anyway, I went. Blah, blah, boring train ride. We get there and guess who is sitting in a corner reading Harry Potter? Julianne Franqui! Somehow, Leigh got it into her head that talking to Julianne Franqui was a good idea. I couldn't talk her out of it. So off she dragged me. Then! She had the nerve to leave me alone. I could've killed her.
So, I had no choice but to talk to the one actress I've hated since day one. And you know what's strange? I kind of don't hate her anymore. She told me to read Pride and Prejudice ... have you read that? How do I get involved with women who are always telling me to read something? Must be a gift. :)
Okay, so now that I've seen her up close and personal ... How much do you really look like her? ;) That is my subtle way of asking you for a picture :)
On to my next topic of conversation. Apparently, Leigh's director wants the main characters to go out and experience the lesbian lifestyle ... so of course, Leigh is dragging me along. She wants to go to ... Cat Mix? Something like that. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with a cat. I hope it wasn't that other word.
I'm kind of scared. But hey, if I spot any cute lesbians I'll be sure to give them your number ;) Just kidding. I'm fairly certain you'd kill me if I did that.
Do you really not like anyone? C'mon, Julia, fess up :)
I haven't told Anthony I'm going to a lesbian bar. I'm fairly certain he wouldn't approve, though. I think that's the one thing I don't like about him ... he seems a bit homophobic. I haven't even been able to tell him about William, yet. That's not a good sign, is it? Hm. Well, maybe I can bring him over to the open-minded side. It's worth a try.
Okay, I've gotta go get ready. What does one wear to these things? Ugh. Time to dig into the dark-side of the closet. I have time yet, though... Leigh doesn't wanna get there until midnight or so. I think I hear her tearing up her closet. I should go help her before she breaks something ...
Wish me luck tonight :)
Julianne stared at the email message she'd just read, unsure about how to feel about the words on the screen. Inadvertantly, she glanced at the time on the right hand corner of the screen. It was 11:20. "No," she said, quite firmly. "I am not going to do what I just thought of doing."
She found herself glancing at the time again. Much against her will, her mind began calculating the amount of time it would take her to reach the desired destination. "I am not going," she resolved. "It's a lovely idea, but no. Complications. Lots of complications. Monumental amounts of complications!" She sighed. "And Iím talking to myself again."
Julianne glanced around the dark, quiet, empty, and over-all depressing apartment. Resigned to another night of solitude, she closed the laptop computer and grabbed the script. "I will concentrate."
* * *
"Well," Kris began defensively, "I'll be twenty-one in three days." She leaned against the wall of the establishment she'd just ben turned from.
Leigh nodded. "We'll come back for your birthday," she decided.
"Nothing like hitting a lesbian bar on my twenty-first birthday," Kris commented dryly, although, she actually didn't mind. Not really. In fact, she was disappointed they hadn't been able to get in. Or rather, she hadn't been able to get in. Leigh had turned twenty-one the previous month.
Leigh looked around. "So what do you want to do now?" she asked.
Kris shrugged. "Why don't you go in for a bit?" she suggested. "It's your research assignment. I'll just hang out here."
"Outside?" Leigh asked dubiously. She looked all around. "It's dangerous."
Kris moved closer to the door. "I'm sure if I scream lots of lesbians will come to my aid and attention," she joked. She motioned again to the bar. "I'll wait for you. I brought a sketch pad, anyway. I won't be bored."
Leigh frowned, not particularly liking the idea. "It's really not that big of a deal if we come back in a few days," she said.
"Yeah, but by then the movie will be in full swing you'll have less time for such an outing," Kris argued. "Besides, we already made it all the way over here. Might as well take advantage."
Leigh hesitated, but didn't argue. "Alright," she said after a moment. "But you stay right by the door, and if you see anything weird you march right in there." She glanced up at the sign. "I can't believe I'm doing this."
"It's for a good cause," Kris assured her.
Leigh nodded, encouraged by those words. "Acting, yes." She looked around again. If to make sure there were no suspicious-looking people around, or just no one she recognized, Kris wasn't sure. "Okay, I'm going in."
"I thought it was 'coming out'?" Kris smiled.
"Ha, ha," Leigh replied, reaching for the door. "I'll probably get freaked out in five minutes. I won't be long, I promise."
Kris waved her away. "Have fun."
And Leigh disappeared inside. Bored and alone, Kris leaned her head back against the wall behind her and looked out at the noisy night. There were a lot of people out; most appeared to be drunk. She made sure to stay right by the door, just in case. Nobody paid much attention to her though, and she was grateful for that.
It was true that she'd brought a small sketch pad with her. One never knew when they might need one. After a few minutes, she decided she'd die of boredom if she didn't start drawing something. So she whipped out the small notebook and began to draw. She doubted if lesbians would keep Leigh's attention too long.
* * *
Julianne cursed herself on the way out of her apartment. And on the way down the hall. And down in the elevator. She cursed herself on the way to the subway station. And on the subway. And she was still cursing herself when she spotted the bar.
Just going to walk right by it, she decided. Just going for a walk. It's a nice night. Nothing wrong with going for a walk.
Julianne was about to cross the street when she spotted the figure sitting a few yards away. So, she froze instead. Turn around. She hasn't seen you. Go back to the apartment and soak yourself in cold water. In fact, just climb into the freezer, and stay there.
But of course, she didn't listen to herself. Probably because her heart was hammering so hard that she couldn't hear anything. Complications, complications, her more logical side chanted. Logic wasn't with her that evening, unfortunately. There was a far more controlling part encouraging her to think of something to say.
A billion and one possibilities ran through Julianne's mind as she walked across the street. Small city. Everywhere I go, there you are. Are you stalking me? All stupid. Then again, I'm clearly an idiot.
About a yard away from Kris, Julianne paused. She was almost there and she had nothing to say. Maybe she could just pretend to not notice Kris and just try to walk by. And if she doesn't notice you, then what? Are you going to turn around and walk back and forth until she does?
I'm insane. I am totally insane.
Kris chose that moment to glance up from whatever it was she was doing. Drawing, it looked like. Her hazel eyes surveyed her surroundings until finally, they landed on Julianne. Recognition was slow, but once it registered, it was instantly replaced by surprise. And something else that Julianne couldn't decipher.
Julianne closed the gap between them. She glanced up at the sign above the bar and smiled down at Kris. "Come here often?" There was a line that Adrian would appreciate.
Evidently, Kris was caught off-guard. But she said, "Leigh's trying to get in touch with her lesbian side."
"Why are you out here?" Julianne asked.
Kris shrugged. "Not twenty-one," she answered.
Instantly, Julianne recalled that Kris's birthday was coming up. Actually, she hadn't forgotten; she could never forget. Still, the fact that she hadn't found a proper present was bugging the hell out of her. "I see," she said.
"Were you going in here, too?" Kris asked after a moment.
Julianne struggled with how to answer the question. The truth was, she just wanted to be wherever Kris was. But she couldn't admit that. "I like it better out here," she said finally.
Kris looked a bit taken aback but didn't pursue the line of questioning. "Leigh should be out any minute," she said. "She's been in there for over half an hour or so. I doubt she'll be much longer."
Julianne frowned slightly. She didn't like the thought of Kris sitting outside all of that time. Alone, no less. "Bored?" she asked.
"Not really," Kris replied, and held up a small sketch pad for emphasis.
"You're an artist," Julianne said. It wasn't a question because she already knew the answer.
Kris nodded slightly. "Something like that," she answered.
"May I see?" Julianne motioned to the pad. She had no idea where all of this courage was coming from, but she figured it was a lot more productive than sitting around drooling and babbling incoherently.
Kris hesitated a moment, but handed it over. Julianne made sure that their fingers didn't touch. "It's nothing much," Kris said, clearly embarrassed by the prospect of having Julianne Franqui look at her drawings. "They're just doodles, really."
Julianne tried not to smile at Kris's nervousness. If only she could hear how fast my heart is beating. She glanced down at the notebook in her hands and flipped it open to the first page. Wow. Page after page took her breath away. "You're amazing," she found herself saying. She glanced up and met with surprised hazel eyes. "I mean, the art is really amazing. You're really talented."
"Thank you," Kris responded, a small smile playing at the corner of her lips.
The door above them opened and Kris instantly glanced up. But it wasn't Leigh. Two women walked out laughing hysterically at some private joke. They started down the street, without casting a look in Kris and Julianne's direction.
"Shouldn't you be in there researching away?" Kris asked after a moment.
Julianne glanced at the door then shrugged. "I'm not really big on bars," she answered. "It's crowded and smokey and ..." She didn't know how to explain that she didn't want to be caught in a gay bar, unless Kris was in it. Instead of continuing, she shrugged again.
Kris nodded mutely.
Their conversation at a standstill, Julianne took the moment to look around the busy New York street. Even though people passed by almost constantly, nobody seemed to know or care who she was. Maybe they just didn't want to be caught looking too carefully at the building she was sitting in front of.
"Do you often sit outside of bars you don't intend to go into?" Kris asked.
Julianne smiled. "I have to say this is a first," she answered. "Do you?"
Kris smiled back. "It's also a first."
Julianne decided right then and there that if a billion and one TV News cameras appeared in front of her, and she was outed to the world, Kris's smile was worth the consequences that would follow. I am so screwed.
"May I ask why you're here?" Kris asked, her tone light and not at all offensive. "I mean, I have a good excuse..."
"I was lonely and wanted someone to talk to," Julianne answered. In a nutshell, that's precisely what brought her there. In more ways than one.
Kris laughed. "You were lonely?"
Julianne stared at Kris curiously. She wondered what Kris thought she did all day. "Have you ever been surrounded by a whole bunch of people ... and still felt totally alone?"
The question caught Kris off-guard once again. Hazel eyes contemplated Julianne in a way they never had before. It made Julianne wonder what Kris was thinking. "Is that how you feel?" Kris asked, instead of answering the question.
"Occasionally," Julianne replied, though 'always' was a truer answer.
Kris was about respond when a girl walked up to them. She was about to walk inside the bar when she took note of Julianne.
"Oh, my God," the girl shrieked. "Are you Julianne Franqui??"
Julianne was afraid the girl would start hyperventilating. She smiled. "In the flesh," she answered.
"I knew you were gay, I just knew it!" the girl cried. "Can I have your autograph? Can I buy you a drink? Do you want to dance?"
Julianne didn't know where to begin. "I don't really drink and I'm not much of a dancer. But you can have that autograph if you want it."
"Hell yeah!" the girl cried. She started digging in her bag frantically. "I have a pen in here somewhere." Finally she found a sharpie marker and handed it to Julianne. A second later, she pulled her shirt up to expose her breasts. "Just sign the left one."
Julianne bit her lip. She had never been asked to do that before. Carefully, making sure she didn't touch any vital areas, she scribbled her signature on the girl's left breast. "There you go," she said, recapping the marker and handing it back.
"Are you sure you don't want a drink?" She seemed to notice Kris's presence at that moment. A knowing smile followed. "Oh, I see." She winked at Julianne. "Thanks for the autograph."
"You're welcome," Julianne replied, feeling deeply embarrassed. She didn't want the girl telling people Kris was her girlfriend. Kris didn't need that kind of publicity. She took the girl's hand and pulled her down gently. In her ear, she whispered, "I'd really appreciate it if you kept this quiet. Just between us." She let go and smiled the sweetest smile she could muster.
The girl blushed deep red. "You got it. No problem." She smiled at Kris and disappeared into the bar.
Julianne knew she should get out of there. But she didn't want to get up. Somehow, nothing seemed as important as being near Kris. "Sorry about that," she quickly apologized. "You don't need rumors spreading about you."
"She's probably in there telling the world that you're a lesbian and you care about rumors about me?" Kris asked.
Julianne stared into Kris's eyes and said, very seriously, "I'm used to rumors about me. I don't like it when they spread about the people I ..." She caught herself. "...know." She couldn't believe she'd almost said love. What was she thinking?
Kris sensed the pause. She stared curiously at Julianne. "I see," she said. "Thanks," she added after a moment. "I'm sure my being gay wouldn't cause a huge scandal, though." She paused to reconsider. "Except at my house."
Julianne grinned slightly. She wondered what would happen at Kris's house if Kris turned out gay. Not like that would ever happen, Julianne quickly reminded herself. In fact, she often had to remind herself of that. "Well I haven't been the center of a good scandal yet, so I guess it's about time."
Kris glanced at her curiously, as though unsure of how to take the comment. In the end, she said, "I wonder what's keeping Leigh?"
As a reflex, Julianne glanced up at the door. She couldn't see inside. "Do you want me to go check?" she offered.
"You're really aching to start that scadal, aren't you?" Kris joked.
Julianne laughed lightly. "I just don't want you sitting here all by yourself."
"You're here," Kris pointed out. Then added, "Unless I'm keeping you from something?"
"No. I have nothing else to do." Sadly, it was the truth. Unless one counted the pages and pages of dialogue she still had to memorize. But besides that ...
Before Kris had a chance to respond, the door opened and this time it was Leigh walking out. Actually, she was stumbling. Julianne stood just in time to keep her from falling down.
Kris rose at once. "Are you okay?" She approached her best friend and was instantly assaulted by the smell of alcohol. "Have you been drinking?"
It was a stupid question because Leigh was clearly drunk. "This lesbian challenged me to a drinking game," Leigh answered, her speech slurred. "There's this other one flashing everyone. Says Julianne Franqui signed her boobs... Oh, hey Julianne." She finally seemed to notice the actress, whose arms were around her waist.
"Hi, Leigh," Julianne greeted, not quite sure what to do in the situation.
Leigh stared at Julianne for a long moment. "You know, you sound like someone," she said. She turned to Kris. "Doesn't she sound like someone?"
Kris took Leigh's arm and draped it across her shoulder, trying to take some of the weight off Julianne. "C'mon, let's get you home."
"I'll help you," Julianne offered. She wanted to make sure they both got home okay. Plus, she wasn't entirely sure Kris could handle Leigh all by herself.
Kris started to argue, but instantly realized that without Julianne's help it would take forever to get home. "Okay," she finally relented. "But you really don't have to," she added, feeling uncomfortable.
"I know," Julianne said. "I want to." And she did. No way she would leave Kris alone. They started down the street. "How much did you have to drink?" she asked.
"Oh... about a zillion of those... thingies," Leigh answered, her hand forming what appeared to be a circle. "She threatened to ask me out on a date if I didn't."
Julianne arched an eyebrow.
"A simple no would've sufficed," Kris said, a little sternly.
"I don't know," Leigh argued. "Lesbians could have different rules." She stared at Julianne. "Did you really sign her boobs?"
"Just the left one," Julianne replied. She glanced quickly at Kris, and saw what appeared to be a smile.
"Julia," Leigh said all of a sudden.
Both Julianne's and Kris's heads shot up at the same time.
"That's who you sound like," Leigh continued. "But don't worry, your voice is sexier. Although hers is like phone sex operator material..."
Julianne was too concerned with Kris's reaction to focus on her own. She vaguely heard the words 'phone sex operator'. Julianne couldn't tell what Kris was thinking; her face remained impassive. Self-conscious, and more than a little petrified, Julianne remained silent.
It didn't matter because Leigh was talking up a storm. "...wanted me to feel her up and I was like, 'Dude I'm not gay'. And she was like, 'What are you doing here, then?' And I was like, 'Research for my character'. That got her really impressed. I could've gotten laid tonight..."
Kris was shaking her head and rolling her eyes at the same. Julianne found it incredibly adorable. She realized she was staring, and looked away, but not before noting how gorgeous Kris looked. Julianne did her best to concentrate on the sidewalk or on the shops along the way. If she looked back at Kris, she wasn't sure she'd be able to look away.
* * *
Kris was furious at Leigh. How could she get drunk? She never got drunk. Well, there had been a couple of times, but ... why tonight? If Julianne hadn't shown up, Kris would have been out there all by herself.
It was starting, she could feel it. Leigh was starting to forget about her. The thought struck Kris painfully.
She glanced at friend, who had been talking nonstop for a while now. Then her gaze landed on the famous actress not two feet away from her. How the hell did this happen? Kris studied the look of concentration on Julianne's face. Julianne appeared to be particularly focused on the concrete. Kris wondered what she was thinking. Probably wondering how the hell she got stuck walking us home.
Kris looked away after a moment, afraid to be caught staring. The truth was, she didn't think Julianne minded walking with them. But why? Kris just didn't understand. Famous people didn't go around like this. They didn't just pop up out of the blue and sit down to make conversation. There was something very odd about this situation that Kris couldn't put her finger on.
Leigh's comment resurfaced, and Kris found herself frowning. Did Julianne sound like Julia? A little, it was true. But Julia's voice was different. It didn't sound so ... restrained. There was levity to it. Julianne's voice always seemed so ... contained. As though the actress was afraid to speak; afraid to say the wrong thing.
She risked another glance at Julianne and found herself staring into a pair of blue eyes. She quickly looked away, embarrassed and not entirely sure why. In fact, she wasn't sure of anything around Julianne Franqui. She's so ... so ... indescribable. That was the only word Kris could think of. Although, the word 'beautiful' also came to mind. It was a strange beauty. It was the kind that made you want to stare for hours.
For hours? Kris suddenly frowned at the direction her thoughts were headed. No, she decided after a moment. 'For hours' was a true enough estimation. Julianne Franqui was undeniably gorgeous. No wonder she was on the cover of a thousand magazines. No wonder she got paid millions of dollars just to be seen on television. People couldn't get enough of her.
Kris did her best not to look at Julianne. The last thing she needed was the actress thinking she was staring at her. She'll probably think I'm in awe of her or something. For some reason, Kris wanted to hang on to the idea that Julianne Franqui was a stuck up bitch.
Quite unconsciously, Kris snuck another glance. Thankfully, Julianne was once again focused on the sidewalk.
An enigma. That's what Kris decided that Julianne Franqui was. Because in spite of the fact that Kris wanted to dislike the actress, she couldn't. So far, Julianne had been nothing but nice ... and funny and ... maybe even a little charming. But, there was something else that Kris couldn't figure out.
Before she had a chance to think about it further, her apartment building came into view. "It's the next one up," she said for Julianne's benefit. Kris glanced at the actress to see if she could decipher a reaction. She was certain that Julianne was used to far more exotic locations. This probably looks like a total dump to her. But if the famous actress was disgusted by the building she did a good job of hiding it.
"I'm not feeling so hot," Leigh announced. In fact, she looked kind of green.
Kris prayed they'd make it into the apartment before Leigh threw up. Her best friend would never forgive herself if she vomited all over Julianne Franqui. "We're almost there," she assured her.
Once inside the building, they headed toward the elevator. On the way up, Kris remembered that Leigh had the keys to the apartment. "Where are the keys?"
"Pocket," Leigh replied, looking rather ill.
It was on Julianne's side. Kris glanced at Julianne. "Would you mind?" she asked, feeling incredibly embarrassed by the entire situation.
Julianne looked hesitant, but complied. By the time the elevator doors opened, Kris had the keys in her hand. It was only a few feet to their apartment. She managed to get the door open just in time to see Leigh dart into the apartment. Seconds later, the bathroom door slammed shut.
Alone with Julianne once again, Kris searched for something to say. "Thank you," she said finally.
Blue eyes softly drifted to her own. "You're welcome." Julianne motioned to the direction Leigh had gone. "Will she be okay?"
Kris's gaze followed Julianne's line of sight. "Yeah," she said. "I'm sure she'll be fine. She doesn't usually get drunk like that," she found herself saying. For some reason she didn't want Julianne thinking it was a habit of Leigh's.
There was a short pause in which Kris wondered whether Julianne wanted to stay or leave. When the actress made no move to exit, Kris shut the apartment door. "Would you like something to drink?" she offered, hoping she had something to give Julianne.
"Sure," Julianne accepted.
Kris walked toward the refrigerator. "What would you like?" she asked, not quite certain she had many options.
"Evian water with two drops of fresh squeezed lemon," Julianne answered.
Kris stared at her nearly empty refrigerator and then over at the actress. Laughing blue eyes stared back at her, and Kris realized Julianne was kidding. "Would you like a cute little umbrella to go with it?" she asked, relaxing slightly.
"Make it blue," Julianne replied, looking relieved that Kris hadn't misunderstood her joke. She walked over to where Kris was standing and peered into the refrigerator. "Actually, I suddenly have a craving for ... that, right there." She pointed.
"Are you sure?" Kris asked, removing the container from the fridge.
"Positive," Julianne answered. "What is it?"
Kris smelled the contents and scrunched up her face. "I have no idea."
Julianne laughed. "Mystery drinks ... my favorite."
Kris walked over to the sink and poured the mysterious substance down the drain. "If you get poisoned and die I'm sure I'll get in trouble."
"Nah, they won't miss me," Julianne replied, returning her attention to the fridge.
Kris stared at Julianne for a long moment, not really thinking anything in particular. The fact that Julianne Franqui was in her kitchen staring thoughtfully at the contents in her refrigerator was particularly amusing to Kris. Bizarre ... but amusing. "I'm sorry I don't have much," she apologized.
Julianne shrugged and shut the fridge. "Actually, you have more than I do. I haven't bothered going grocery shopping yet."
"How come?" Kris asked. She suddenly remembered there was a box of soda in the cabinet. She kneeled down to retrieve a can. "Pepsi okay?"
"Yes, thank you," Julianne replied. "Oh, and um, because I haven't had time."
"Can't you hire someone to do some grocery shopping for you?" Kris asked. She filled a cup with ice and handed everything over to Julianne. "Sit down if you want."
Julianne popped open the can of soda and poured it into the cup. "I suppose I could," she said, sitting down at the table. "But I'd feel really bad and lazy asking someone to do that." She took a sip. "Why? Do you want to buy my groceries?"
Kris smiled, but didn't get a chance to respond because Leigh chose that moment to enter the kitchen.
"Bed," Leigh said, and pointed toward her room. "Night." Without another word, she headed off in the direction she'd directed.
Kris stared for a second then shook her head. "I'm sure she'll be a joy tomorrow."
Julianne grinned. "Good luck." She paused for a moment. "Are you tired?" she asked, sounding almost timid.
Kris stared at Julianne, unsure of what the actress was asking. "Not really," she answered finally. "Why?"
"Want to go grocery shopping?"
Kris glanced at the time on the microwave. It was almost two in the morning. "Now?" she asked.
"Sure. Something's gotta be open," Julianne said.
* * *
Something was indeed open. They ended up shopping for food in a small store near Julianne's apartment. Julianne still couldn't believe she'd gotten the guts to ask Kris to go food shopping with her. Even more, though, she couldn't believe Kris had actually agreed to the idea. Who went shopping at 2am? Apparently a few people, because they weren't the only ones there.
"Jif or Skippy?" Kris asked, holding up the two kinds of peanut butter available.
"Jif," Julianne answered at once, turning to look at the cereal selection. "I'm glad you're here to show me what the essentials are."
Kris smiled. "Well, everyone's gotta have peanut butter. It's like a law. In fact, it is a law. I read about it in one of Nathan's books."
Julianne cringed at the sound of his name.
"My ex-boyfriend," Kris explained, unaware of Julianne's reaction. "He's studying law at Harvard."
She says it with such pride, too. But the pain was obvious in Kris's eyes. "Lucky him," Julianne said, her attention on the cereal boxes. "This is a tough decision."
Kris nodded. "Honey Nut Cheerios," she said, holding up the cereal box.
"Is that what you like?" Julianne asked. For some reason she was taking notes on Kris's preferences. She didn't know why. She didn't want to think about why.
"And Cap'n Crunch Berries." Kris reached for that box, too.
Julianne smiled. "Very nutritious," she said, grabbing both boxes. "I'll give them a shot."
"You've never had them before?"
"I'm more of a Kashi Go Lean kind of person," Julianne responded.
Julianne searched around and finally found the cereal of her choice. She pointed to the front of the box. "See? High in protein and fiber."
Kris took the box from her and inspected it. Scrunching up her nose she said, "Gross."
"Healthy," Julianne clarified, grabbing the box back. She put the Kashi cereal in her basket along with the Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries and Honey Nut Cheerios. "What else do I need?"
"Milk?" Kris suggested.
Julianne followed after her. It was funny that Julianne couldn't care less what she bought as long as Kris was with her.
"Do you want Skim?" Kris asked. "Being that you're so health-conscious. Are you on a diet?"
"Diet?" Julianne asked. "Not particularly. Why?"
Kris shrugged, placing the carton of milk in the basket. "Aren't all you people on diets?"
"I'm not a supermodel," Julianne replied. "But, as a matter of fact, I do prefer Skim."
"Gross," Kris replied once more.
Julianne smirked. "Picky, picky." She followed Kris down the aisle and grabbed some random food items she might want for later. "I should get some pasta. I can have it for dinner tomorrow."
Kris stared back at her. "Do you have a good cook?"
"Pardon?" Julianne asked, confused.
"Someone who cooks for you?" Kris clarified. "Do you have one of those?"
Julianne smiled. "I'm perfectly capable of cooking for myself, thanks," she answered. "What do you think I do all day? Sit around while my slaves fan me and feed me grapes?"
"Isn't it?" Kris asked, a slight smile on her face. "I've watched those Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous shows."
Julianne smiled and took a couple of spaghetti noodles off the shelf. "Well, you probably won't see me on there any time soon. If I had a cook he or she would die of boredom. I'm rarely home."
"Famous people parties?" Kris guessed.
"I hate parties," Julianne said.
Kris shook her head. "Does your fan club know about this?" she asked. "I wouldn't go around revealing your lifestyle on public television if I were you."
Blue eyes narrowed slightly. "Is that your subtle way of calling me boring?"
"Was I being subtle?" Kris asked, a small smile on her lips.
Julianne grinned, amazed that Kris was talking to her like this. She's totally insulting me and I love it. "I'll heed your advice, thank you," she said after a moment. She glanced down at her selection of groceries. "I think we're good." She headed toward the cash register.
Kris followed suit.
The man behind the counter barely glanced up as he rang Julianne up. I love New York, Julianne thought. Nobody ever notices me. He gave her the total, she gave him the money. And out the door they went.
"Where do you live?" Kris asked.
"About a block that way," Julianne motioned with her chin. Her hands were occupied with bags. "Thanks for coming with me."
"You're welcome," Kris replied. She carried the other half of the groceries. "It's not every day a famous person asks me to go buy groceries with them."
A famous person, Julianne thought, feeling depressed all of a sudden. She'll never see me as anything else. Not that she was expecting a different reaction. It just ... sucked. "Well, I heard Brad Pitt was in the area," she found herself saying. "Maybe tomorrow he'll take you shoe shopping."
Kris laughed. "We'll see," she replied.
They fell into a silence that wasn't quite as awkward as the ones before. A few minutes later, Julianne motioned to her apartment building.
"Wow," Kris breathed, looking up. "This must cost a fortune."
Julianne didn't reply, feeling embarrassed. She led Kris into the building and into the elevator. She hoped Kris wouldn't think her totally stuck up. She stared at the numbers on the elevator as she searched for something to say. "My assistant picked it out for me," she said, and realized that it didn't sound any better.
"Ah," Kris said. "So you do have a minion."
"I wouldn't call Karen a minion," Julianne replied, feeling a bit defensive of her not-quite-friend-but-not-at-all-minion. "She helps keep me organized. Sometimes things get a bit hectic. And she's a really good person..." She decided to shut up.
"Sorry," Kris said after a moment. "I didn't mean to insult you."
Julianne glanced into hazel eyes. "I wasn't insulted."
Awkwardness returned full force and Julianne suddenly felt uncomfortable. She could tell Kris also felt uncomfortable which only made Julianne more so.
The elevator doors swooshed open and Julianne stepped outside. Hers was the only apartment on the floor so reaching the door was only a matter of walking a couple of steps. She got out her keys and allowed Kris inside.
Kris looked a round the moment she stepped inside. "Did you decorate this yourself?" she asked.
Julianne took in the piles of boxes scattered everywhere and smiled. "Are you kidding? I paid a fortune for a decorator." She started toward the kitchen.
"It was well worth the money," Kris joked, following the actress. "I like the whole cardboard motif." She deposited the bags she carried on the countertop and stood back, glancing around the kitchen. "How long have you been living here?"
Julianne looked around, wondering what Kris sawówhat she thought of it; of her. "Just a few days," she finally answered. "It doesn't really feel like home yet."
"Unpacking might help," Kris suggested, her hazel eyes returning to Julianne's. "Just a thought."
"I'll keep that in mind," Julianne responded, fighting the urge to stare into Kris's eyes. She wasn't sure she'd find her voice again if she gave into temptation. "Would you like anything to drink? I haveó" she started sorting through the bags "ómilk, warm Mountain Dew, warm grape juice, and warm water." She glanced up expectantly.
Kris shook her head. "I should get going." She glanced at the time on the microwave. It blinked 12:00 at her. So she looked at her watch instead. It was nearly three-thirty in the morning.
"I'll drive you back," Julianne replied at once. "Just let me put some of this stuff away."
Kris frowned. "You really don't have to do that."
"Well, I think the milk will go bad if I don't," Julianne replied, winking at Kris before sticking the carton in the fridge.
Kris opened her mouth to respond. Shut it. Then opened it again. "You don't have to drive me home," she finally managed. "I don't mind the walk."
Julianne stopped putting away groceries long enough to stare thoughtfully at the ceiling. "Yeah, but if something happened to you it would be horrible publicity for me." She smiled again. "Besides, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep knowing you were walking home all alone. I'd have to ask you to do something totally embarrassing like call me the second you got there... and well, that would just make me look silly. So, humor me?"
Kris stared at Julianne Franqui for a very long moment. "Okay," she relented. "I wouldn't want to be the cause of your insomnia."
If only you knew. Julianne grinned and returned to storing groceries. Once done, she faced her guest. "Thanks for doing this with me," she said. "I know it was an odd request."
Kris offered a small smile. "I'm starting to think odd things are the only thing I can expect from you," she said.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Julianne laughed. She reached for her car keys and motioned toward the front door. "Ready?"
Kris nodded. "If you insist."
* * *
Kris pinched her arm in the elevator on their way down. She hadn't really expected to be dreaming, but at moments it felt like the only explanation. The events of that night completely defied the laws of ... something. She couldn't come up with one that applied to the situation she was in. Maybe she'd have to name it herself. But for some reason she was having trouble concentrating.
The fact that Julianne Franqui was leaning against the elevator wall, looking as though everything was perfectly normal was particularly distracting to Kris. She felt like a drawing in the Sunday paper: What object doesn't fit into this picture? She could almost imagine a big red pen appearing out of the nothingness and drawing a big circle around her. Or maybe, it would draw a circle around the entire elevator. Or just Julianne. It didn't matter because any way you looked at it, something was out of place.
Kris decided it was she who was out of place, because the fancy elevator with gold trimmings around the buttons certainly didn't go with her. Julianne Franqui, on the other hand looked perfectly at home. The actress was probably used to gold trimmings. Her entire life had probably been outlined in gold.
When the elevator doors opened, Kris stepped outside first. The lobby was guarded by a man in a blue uniform who sat behind a large marble desk. He tipped the brim of his hat as they passed.
"Be careful out there, Ms. Franqui," the man called.
Julianne gave a slight nod. "Thanks, Terry," she replied. "Have a good night."
Kris found it strange ... and oddly fascinating ... the way that Julianne was on a first name basis with a man she couldn't have known longer than a few days. So, she decided to comment. "Do you generally make friends with your doormen so quickly?"
"Terry?" Julianne asked, holding the front door open for Kris to get by. "He's not my doorman." She motioned to the uniformed man leaning against one of the other glass doors. The man was snoring softly. "That's my doorman." She seemed amused by this. "Terry is one of my bodyguards. He's in disguise, though. He likes to blend in."
Kris tried not to focus on the implication that there was more than one. "Shouldn't he be following you places, then?" she wondered.
"Nah," Julianne answered, and started down the sidewalk. "I'm really not that paranoid." Then she stopped suddenly and faced Kris, who also halted. "Actually, that's not the complete truth," she admitted. "The truth is that my mother likes to know everything I'm up to and my moving to New York gave her the perfect excuse to stick one of her spies on me."
"I don't understand," Kris said, because she really didn't.
Julianne started walking again. "C'mon. We should get you home." This time, her voice sounded sad and kind of distant. Kris immediately caught the change in tone and wondered at the cause. After a moment, Julianne spoke again. "My mother is afraid that I'll do something scandalous. She has a tendency to hire people to follow me around so that in the off chance that I do get myself in trouble, she can nip it in the bud before it reaches the media." Julianne shrugged. "She's a tad ... insane."
Kris was dubious. "Your own mother spies on you?"
"Well," Julianne began, with a wicked grin that Kris was starting to warm up to. "She thinks she's spying on me. But I agreed to double whatever my mom was paying them. So, instead they send her false reports.They've written amazing fiction about my life." She laughed at a distant memory, then shrugged and glanced at Kris. "Occasionally, I ask one of them, like Terry, to watch out for things out of place. Usually when I travel to a place I'm not used to or when I move into a new location. Stalkers can get annoying."
"Sounds... complicated," Kris commented. She couldn't relate, obviously, but she felt kind of bad that Julianne had to go through so much trouble just to exist. I guess it's the price you pay...
Julianne stopped suddenly at a white Rav4. It took Kris a moment to realize it was Julianne's car. She'd been expecting something different. A Ferrari or a Porsche... even a limousine. "Do you have a weakness for white Rav4's or something?" she wondered, as she got into the passenger seat.
"Nah, this isn't the car I usually drive," Julianne answered. "It's a rental."
"Ah," Kris voiced. She probably didn't want to have her Ferrari parked out in the middle of New York.
"Mine's blue," Julianne explained.
Kris was caught off-guard. "Pardon?"
Julianne glanced at her and turned the ignition. "My Rav4 is blue."
"Ah," was the only thing Kris could think to say. She suddenly couldn't wait to get to her apartment. Being with Julianne Franqui was exhausting. The actress had Kris's mind in a whirlwind of confusion and mixed feelings. She wanted to figure Julianne out, but the more she tried, the more confused she became. And she was too tired to keep trying.
At least for the night.
Traffic was horrible, even at four in the morning. Blinking red and blue lights up ahead announced some kind of accident. Kris was sure that Julianne regretted the offer to drive her home. "You could just drop me off," she suggested, wanting to get the actress off the hook. "I can walk from here."
Julianne nodded. "I'll drop you off," she said, and Kris found herself strangely disappointed. "At your front door," the actress added a moment later.
Kris was secretly relieved, especially since a moment later it began to rain. The last thing she wanted was a replay of prom night. Walking home in the pouring rain hadn't been fun at all. Although, the situation was different. Much different. It's not like Julianne Franqui was going to try to seduce her with candles and a hotel room.
It was at that moment that Kris realized just how tired she must've been.
She stole a glance at the actress, who was busy looking for something in the backseat. A moment later, Julianne dropped a black object on Kris's lap.
Kris recognized it as a CD folder. "Are you bribing me with music now?" she asked.
Julianne laughed, and Kris couldn't stop herself from smiling at the sound. "Pick whatever you want to listen to," Julianne said.
Kris unzipped the folder and opened it to the first page. She had a feeling that Julianne liked to keep things organized because everything was in alphabetical order. She read through the artists' names. "Ani Difranco?" she asked, glancing up. Leigh listened to her.
"I like her lyrics," Julianne replied. "Very poetic."
"I've never really gotten into her," Kris had to admit, turning back to the CDs on her lap. She flipped through the pages. Julianne listened to everything. From Alanis Morissette to Metallica to Schubert to SWV to John Michael Montgomery ... the list went on. "Miss Saigon is excellent," she found herself commenting. "Leigh listens to that a lot. And Phantom and Cats ... all those." She found that Julianne had them all.
Eventually, after they'd moved all of two inches along in traffic, Kris settled for an unidentifiable CD. "What's on this?" she asked.
Julianne glanced at it and shrugged. "AdróUm, my friend burned it for me," she said, looking momentarily flustered. "Is that your selection?"
"Sure," Kris answered, figuring it couldn't hurt. She handed the CD over and felt her finger brush against Julianne's for the briefest of seconds. "I hope it's not Country," she found herself saying, trying to ignore the strange tingling sensation at the spot their fingers had touched. I'm getting way too ticklish, she decided.
"Not a fan, I take it," Julianne replied, sticking the CD into the player. "There might be a stray country song here or there, just to warn you. I have random tastes."
Kris didn't really mind, because she was far more curious about the kind of songs Julianne Franqui had chosen to put together. It was like a clue; a musical clue.
A moment later, a song Kris didn't recognize filled the car.
"Not Country," Julianne announced. "You lucked out."
Kris found herself smiling. "What's this?"
"'Naked'," Julianne replied. "Avril Lavigne. It's my theme song, I think."
Kris tried to figure out what that meant by listening to the lyrics. But it was more of a love song than anything else. She briefly wondered who Julianne thought of when she heard this song. "Do you have a boyfriend?" she found herself asking.
"I couldn't possibly be more single," Julianne replied, glancing at her.
Interesting. Kris decided to just enjoy the song, because figuring Julianne Franqui out was going to be a long project.
And for some reason she actually felt up to the challenge.
"For the next three days," Naomi Mosier began, glancing down quickly at the clipboard in her hand, "we're going to film some of the 2002 scenes. So, Katherine and Neal, plan on being early and working late. Friday I'm leaving for an important meeting in California, so you all get the day off. Monday morning we'll start with the 1920's scenes. So, Julianne, Leigh, Alexa, John, Kevin and Samantha, you're free until then.
The director paused to glance around the table. "Questions?" When nobody responded, she continued. "Julianne and Samantha," she waited until the two actresses were looking at her, "we're going to lay off the more ... intense ... scenes until the end. It'll give you two a chance to get to know each other better. We'll start you off slow." She glanced at Leigh. "The three of youó" She motioned to Leigh, Julianne and Samantha Chelsom. "óare going to be working very closely. So, I hope you can work on building some kind of relationship off camera as well as on."
Julianne glanced over at Leigh, who looked about to pass out. They hadn't gotten a chance to talk all morning, but the way Leigh kept avoiding Julianne's gaze was a good indication that Leigh at least remembered the previous night's occurrences.
Julianne turned her attention back to Naomi. She was annoyed that she'd dragged herself over to the set only to sit through a boring lecture. The director could've told her as much over the phone. Mostly, she was annoyed that she'd gotten no sleep ... again. It was her own fault, of course. But that fact didn't make her any less grumpy. She planned on going home and falling asleep until the following Monday.
When Naomi finished speaking, she freed everyone but Julianne, Leigh, and the two main actors filming that day. "Can I have a word with you two," the director asked, meaning Julianne and Leigh.
Julianne wondered if she'd gotten in trouble already. She couldn't have done anything wrong just sitting there. "Sure," she replied, and followed the director away from the rest of the cast. Leigh trailed behind her. "Do we have to stay for detention?" Julianne asked, once they were out of earshot.
Naomi smiled widely and shook her head. Short blonde strands fell into her eyes and she pushed them away mechanically. "Just wanted to make sure the two of you were okay," she said. "You look ... beat."
Both answers flew out at the same time, and Naomi nodded. "Well, I just hope you manage to get a good night's sleep for Monday. We're going to start with a scene between the two of you. Page forty-two. Work on it." She patted Julianne on the arm, nodded at Leigh, and headed off to work.
Julianne regarded Leigh awkwardly. Finally, she asked, "How are you feeling?"
"Like a truck ran me over," Leigh replied, groaning slightly. "Over and over again." She yawned. "I'm exhausted and we haven't even started anything yet."
Julianne nodded sympathetically. "You'll be okay," she said. "Sleep and some coffee and you'll be good as new."
Leigh agreed. She was partial to the coffee idea, though. She looked around for a moment, and then locked her gaze with Julianne's. "Thanks for helping me out last night, and keeping Kris company."
"It was my pleasure," Julianne replied, trying not to sound too enthusiastic. Secretly, Julianne was overjoyed that she'd gotten to spend so much time with Kris. But there was no way she could explain that to Leigh without arousing suspicion. So, she remained silent.
Leigh ran a hand through her hair and bit her bottom lip nervously. She looked as if she wanted to say something, so Julianne waited. Finally, Leigh said, "This might sound really dorky, but I'm a film virgin, so ... uh, would you like to get together some time before Monday and go over some of our scenes? I'm having trouble with the pacing and I really don't want to look like a total fool in front of everyone..."
Julianne didn't know what to say. On the one hand, it probably meant spending more time with Kris or at least, Leigh. On the other hand, it meant ... complications. Oh who am I kidding? This goes beyond complicated. This is now, officially, the Twilight Zone of lesbian drama. "Sounds good," she found herself saying. "When ... where?"
Leigh considered. "Tomorrow? My apartment, since you already know where it is. Unless, you'd rather do it somewhere else. I don't care. It's really up to you since you're ... um ... you."
"Your apartment is fine," Julianne replied, trying not to be too overjoyed by the concept. Kris might not be there. She would probably make plans to go out with Anthony. She tried not to think too hard about that possibility. "What time?"
"When are you free?"
Julianne pretended to consider a non-existent schedule. "I plan to sleep until at least four," she said. "So anytime after that."
"Five okay?" Leigh asked. "Or six ... or seven ..."
Julianne tried not to laugh. Leigh was rather amusing, even when she wasn't trying to be. "Five it is," she said. "I'll see you then."
Leigh nodded. "Yeah, okay. Tomorrow at five, my place."
On a whim, Julianne reached into her bag and whipped out a small pad and a pen. She scribbled her home and cell phone numbers. "Just in case," she said, handing the piece of paper to Leigh. She started to walk away. "See you tomorrow."
"Okay," Leigh said. "See ya..."
Julianne shook her head on her way to her car. I've kissed her best friend. I've reached into her best friend's pocket and fished around for keys. And I gave her best friend my number. I must be doing something totally, totally wrong ...
* * *
"You're home early," Kris commented from her place at the kitchen table.
Leigh headed straight for the coffee machine. She'd decided to heed Julianne's advice. Coffee and sleep. Heaven. "Yeah, they're not starting with the 20's until Monday morning. So I'm free." She stuck the coffee mug in the microwave and waited. "Oh, I hope you don't mind, but I asked Julianne to come over tomorrow and rehearse with me."
Kris froze slightly at the announcement. "She's coming here?"
"Yeah," Leigh responded. "Is that okay? I figured since she already knew where it was." She looked momentarily worried. "I didn't do anything overly embarrassing last night, did I?"
"No," Kris answered distractedly.
Leigh paused long enough to retreive the coffee. "No, it's not okay, or no, I didn't do anything embarrassing?"
"The last one," Kris replied. She stared at Leigh. "I don't mind if she comes," she said. In fact, she was slightly thrilled by the prospect. "We went grocery shopping last night," she found herself saying. She hadn't had a chance to talk to Leigh that morning about the events of the previous night. Leigh had left to the movie set before Kris had woken up.
Leigh sat down at the table, blowing into her cup. "We did? I don't remember that."
"Julianne and me."
This caught Leigh's attention. "What?"
"She asked me to go grocery shopping with her after you went to bed last night," Kris related. "Then we went to her apartment and she drove me home."
Leigh was momentarily speechless. "You went grocery shopping with Julianne Franqui?"
Kris laughed slightly and nodded. "Weird, huh?" She rose from the table to wash the dish she'd been eating breakfast from.
"And then you went to her apartment," Leigh repeated.
Kris didn't turn around from the sink as she responded. "Yeah, she hasn't unpacked anything yet. It looks pretty desolate. But man ... the view is amazing. The windows go from the floor to the ceiling. I bet if you lean against them you feel like you're hovering over New York City." She couldn't quite keep the awe out of her voice. "And everything looks so shiny and new. I've never seen anything like it before. Up close, anyway."
"Really," Leigh said, but she didn't sound particularly happy about it. In fact, she sounded rather upset. "And then she drove you home?"
"In a Rav4," Kris answered, turning around for that announcement. "And we got stuck in traffic cause a cab ran into some kid in a bicycle. It was pretty bad." When Leigh didn't comment, Kris frowned. "Are you okay?"
Leigh shrugged. "Yeah," she took a sip from her coffee. "Fine." She paused and looked down. "It's just .. you know, I was sick last night and then you just up and left me here all alone."
Kris didn't know what to say. Was Leigh upset with her over this? "Are you serious?"
"Well, yeah," Leigh answered, her eyes full of hurt. "I thought you would've cared about me a little more than to go off gallavanting with Julianne Franqui."
Kris's mouth dropped slightly. Then she got mad. "Hey, it's not my fault you got drunk off your ass last night. And you're the one that left me outside all alone for over an houró"
"You told me it was okay!" Leigh yelled. "I didn't want to leave you there."
Kris shook her head, wondering where this argument had sprung from. "I donít want to fight about this. It's stupid."
"Oh, so my feelings are stupid now?" Leigh answered, rising from the table. "Thanks a lot."
"That's not what I meant," Kris told her, her voice calm. "And why are you upset, really? It's not because I left last night. If I'd gone out with Anthony we wouldn't be having this discussion."
That startled Leigh. "You're right," she said after a moment. "I wouldn't be upset if you'd gone out with Anthony."
"So, what's the problem?" Kris wondered, suddenly confused.
Leigh sighed and sat back on the chair. "Guess I got jealous."
"I don't know," Leigh said softly. She shrugged and glanced up at Kris. "Guess it's because she and I are supposed to be the ones getting to know each other better. I mean, we'll be acting together and everything ..."
Kris felt the words stab her in a thousand different places. She's jealous of me for hanging out with Julianne?! "I see," she said, trying to keep the hurt out of her voice. She doubted if she succeeded.
Leigh noticed. "Oh, come on, Kris," she said. "You know how important this movie is for me. For my career. Don't be like that. This isn't about you."
Clearly not. Kris turned around and finished rinsing the dish. When she was done, she said, "I'm going to call Anthony. Don't worry, I'll be out of your hair tomorrow. Then you can bond with her all you want."
"Kris," Leigh called.
But Kris walked to her room and slammed the door without another word.
* * *
Julianne stared at the ceiling above her bed as she'd been doing for the past hour and twenty-three minutes. She'd managed to fall asleep for a couple of hours, but thoughts of Kris drove her into consciousness.
I've fallen for a straight girl. A straight girl with a boyfriend. A straight girl who doesn't know she's been communicating with me through email for the past five months. Groaning, she covered her face with a pillow and screamed into it. That didn't solve any of her problems, though. But it succeeded in hurting her throat.
She tossed the pillow aside and reached for the phone. She was going to call the only other person in this world she knew could help her.
"Karen?" Julianne asked when someone picked up.
"Hi, Julianne," Karen replied.
Julianne sat up in her bed and concentrated on what she was about to say. "I have a huge problem," she announced.
"Does it have to do with your trailer arrangements, because I swear Ió"
"No, no," the actress interrupted. "Nothing to do with work. This is a personal issue."
This confused Karen. "Pardon?"
Julianne took a deep breath. "Have you ever fallen for a straight woman?"
There was a very long silence at the other end of the line. "Uh, Julianne, if this is about what I told you that day, I would never dream about crossing the line with youó"
This was going to be a long conversation, Julianne suddenly realized. "No, I mean, I want your advice on what to do. How do you convert them over?"
Silence again. Then, "I'm very confused, Julianne. Are you in love with a gay man or something?"
If Julianne hadn't been so nervous she would've laughed. "Not exactly," she replied. "I'm in love with a straight girl."
Long pause. Very long pause. So long that Julianne wondered if Karen was still on the line.
"Hello?" Julianne ventured.
Karen's voice cracked slightly when she finally responded. She cleared her throat. "I'm sorry, I thought I heard you sayó"
"I'm a lesbian," Julianne answered, the words feeling strange on her lips. It wasn't something she was used to saying. But there was no time to dwell on such things. She continued. "And you're the only other one I know, so you're my only hope for salvation."
"I....see," Karen answered. "Um, Julianne?"
"Can you call me back in about five minutes?" Karen asked.
Julianne suddenly felt embarrassed. She wondered if she'd interrupted something. "Yeah, sure. I can call back some other time. I didn't realize you were busy."
"No, I'm not busy at all," Karen replied at once. "Shocked ... but not busy. Just five minutes."
"Okay, talk to you in five," Julianne replied. She hung up the phone and placed it on her stomach. She watched the time on her alarm clock. A minute passed ... two ... Julianne had never realized how long a minute could seem. She tried to calculate how many minutes old she was but gave up after she realized what a dumb activity that was. Finally, five minutes passed. For good measure, she waited two extra minutes. Just in case.
"Hi, Julianne," Karen answered. "I just had to freak out for a moment and I thought I'd spare you. I'm better now. So, straight girls?"
Julianne wasn't sure what Karen meant by freaking out, but she decided not to dwell on that either. "Just one straight girl, actually. What do I do?"
"Hmm," Karen said, thoughtfully. "Well, that's a tricky one. But there's a surefire remedy."
Julianne sat up, ready to take notes. "I'm listening."
"Okay, the first thing you do," Karen began, as though she was teaching a top secret lesson, "is go into the bathroom, turn on the shower as cold as it will go, and get under the stream and think about the girl. Repeat that process several times. Then, get your favorite picture of her, tape it to the wall, and then bang your head repeatedly while looking at it."
Somewhere around the banging head suggestion Julianne realized Karen was kidding. She sighed. "I'm screwed, huh?"
"Pretty much," Karen replied. "But if it makes you feel any better, my girlfriend was straight too when I met her."
"So there's hope?" Julianne wondered.
"Occasionally you get lucky," Karen replied. "And if things don't work out, there's always Naomi."
Julianne arched a brow. "Who?"
"Your director," Karen replied. "Didn't you notice her drooling all over you?"
There had been no drool. Julianne was sure of it. She frowned, a list of facts about Naomi Mosier . "But she's dating that producer guy ... what's his name ... Bob something."
Karen laughed. "And you're dating Adrian. What's your point?" She giggled. "Anyway, she's had the hots for you since forever. She asked me if I thought you'd ever go for her and I said no way. Oops, heh. My girlfriend went to USC with her, and they're still friends. So she's over our place a lot. When she told us she was going to try to get you for this movie, I told her to keep dreaming. Go figure."
Hmm. "What about Samantha Chelsom? That girl who's playing Emma. Is she gay too?"
"Nope, totally straight," Karen answered. "I think she's engaged, actually. I think everyone else is straight. That I know of." She paused. "Is Samantha the one you're interested in?"
Julianne tried not to cringe at the thought. Not that Samantha Chelsom was ugly, or anything, but her personality sucked. "Gross," she said, instantly thinking of Kris. She smiled slightly, then controlled herself. "She spent twenty minutes yesterday discussing lipstick shading with her assistant. Definitely not my type."
Karen laughed. "Yeah, I was going to say ..."
Julianne sighed quietly and stared at the ceiling once more. After a moment, she said, "Actually, Karen, my problem extends beyond the straight thing ..."
"What do you mean?"
Julianne hesistated only a second before taking a deep breath and plunging into the entire story. "Well, I was in Washington Square Park with Adrian ..."
* * *
Kris ignored the first two knocks at her bedroom door, then realized she was being childish. It's not like Leigh didn't know she was in there. "Come in," she said finally.
Leigh entered the room hesitantly, closing the door behind her. She leaned against it, as though trying to stay as far from Kris as possible. "I'm sorry," she said, sounding very much like she meant it. "I was a total ass."
Kris agreed with that. But she refused to speak to her best friend until she got a better apology. Acceptance was only the first step to solving the problem, after all.
Leigh sighed when she noticed that Kris wasn't budging. "I thought it over and I realized that I really don't care if you hang out with Julianne. I was being petty and selfish and ... well, I'm really sorry. It's this movie ... it has my brain in overdrive. I can't think properly." She searched Kris's eyes for some semblance of understanding. "I don't know what came over me. Maybe it was the hangover ... or just temporary idiocy."
Kris softened her gaze. In spite of it all, she did understand. She nodded, because she didn't know what to say.
"And I do want you there tomorrow," Leigh continued, sitting at the edge of the bed. She waited a moment, perhaps to see if Kris would tell her to get up. When Kris didn't protest, Leigh went on. "I wasn't jealous that you got to hang out with her and I didn't. I was jealous that you were having fun with her. I mean, if you befriend Julianne Franqui, once I become famous you won't be impressed." She ventured a smile.
"I'll always be impressed," Kris replied. "All the Julianne Franqui's of the world can't take that away."
Leigh smiled and looked away for a moment, then returned her gaze to Kris's. "So... are we okay?"
Kris did a quick inventory of her feelings, and found herself nodding. "I think so," she said.
"Good," Leigh said, sounding relieved. "So you'll be here tomorrow?"
"Made plans with Anthony," Kris answered. "But maybe we can hang around for a bit. Can we watch?"
Leigh brightened. "That'd be great," she answered. "I thought we wasn't too keen on the gay thing, though?"
Kris sighed, leaning back against her pillow. "Should I talk to him about that? It's so weird. He hasn't said anything specific, but once in a while he'll make these comments. And it's so ..." She searched the air for the right word and finally settled on "....annoying."
"Trouble in paradise?" Leigh questioned.
A shrug was all Kris could manage. Then she added, "He's nice, but I'm just not feeling it."
"Feeling what exactly?"
Kris considered. "Passion?" she said uncertainly. "I don't know. When we're together we have a lot of fun and I love talking to him about art because he knows so much. But beyond that ... it's like ..." She made a face to convey her emotions, but it didn't illustrate much beyond discomfort and perhaps constipation. "...nothing," she finished finally.
"Not like Nathan?" Leigh guessed.
"Exactly like Nathan!" Kris exclaimed. "That's the problem. It's like kissing a brick wall or something."
Leigh laughed. "Sometimes you have to teach them how to do it properly." She patted Kris's hand sympathetically. "It'll be okay.You're attracted to him, right?"
Kris considered the question, drawing up a vague picture of Anthony in her mind. He was attractive. Definitely attractive. "I guess."
"You guess?" Leigh wondered. "Shouldn't you know if you're attracted to your own boyfriend?"
Kris wasn't entirely sure what she felt for Anthony. Was it attraction? "It's confusing."
"As are you," Leigh pointed out. "Want to rent a movie?"
The abrupt change of subject startled Kris for a moment, until she realized she'd rather watch a movie than keep talking about her feelings for Anthony. "Sure," she answered. "But since you wronged me this morning, I get to chose."
"Just no more lesbian flicks," Leigh warned. "I'm all dyked out. Let's go for some het loving. Something with Brad Pitt in it ... or Antonio Banderas."
"Fair enough," Kris conceded, rising from the bed. "But it's your treat. After all, you're gonna be rich soon."
Leigh smiled. "Deal."
* * *
Julianne lay on the living room floor, staring out at the view of New York City. Buildings dressed in light stared back at her, though both were equally uninterested in the other.
Karen's advice had been simple: Tell Kris the truth.
The simplicty of the advice and the complexity of carrying it out were at war in Julianne's mind. How? When? Where would she tell her? What would she say? Why was she even considering it?
The actress closed her eyes and focused on the scenerios she'd created. There were several, but they could all be placed under three different categories: the Kris-Will-Hate-Me Category; the Kris-Will-Not-Hate-Me-But-Not-Forgive-Me Category; and finally the Kris-Will-Forgive-Me-And-We'll-Become-Best-Friends Category.
Pointless, Julianne realized after a while. Thinking about all of this was pointless. Regardless of Kris's reaction, it had to be done. It was the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do.
Julianne rose from the floor and walked over to the window, not sure what she was searching for in the lively panorama. She felt so distant, standing there, as if floating over reality. The ground seemed so far away. High up in the clouds of her existance nothing felt the way it should. Chaos now reigned in a land that had struggled so desperately to remain stress-free. Complications she would never have predicted controlled the range of her emotions. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, except down ... down to a world she'd never experienced.
Was it possible to combine her world with someone else's? Would she be given the chance? Would the door be shut forever? Both possibilities scared the hell out of her.
If Kris didn't forgive her ...
If Kris did ...
Julianne sighed and turned her back to the city, knowing nothing would bring her comfort. Nothing would bring relief.
return to the academy