"Why, feel like breaking my heart some more?"
Every bone in Annah's body told her to hang up, to let Rivers get on with her life, to be independent from a woman who had obviously taken some of that from her. Instead she stayed on the line, and took a deep breath before asking the question once more.
"Where do you want to go?" Rivers asked, and Annah felt her heart speed at the thought that the other woman was considering it.
"How does Denny's sound to you?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"I have never been more serious in my life. Let's go to Denny's. Will you pick me up?"
Rivers was so quiet that Annah thought
she might have hung up. Finally, she heard the woman's answer, and it was
exactly what she wanted to hear.
"So, did you have a particular Denny's in mind, or should we just find a random one?" Rivers asked, as she navigated her way out of the studio lot and onto the congested Hollywood freeway.
"Get off on Hollywood. It's the one across from the TV station."
"How do you know? I cannot believe that Jordan Allen would ever eat at Denny's."
"Oh come on Rivers. Am I that bad?"
Rivers looked sideways at her, "Do you really want me to answer that?"
Annah laughed, "No, don't. But really, I wasn't always a celebrity you know, and eating whatever I could get my hands on suited me just fine once upon a time."
Rivers turned to look at the other woman after that comment, trying to gauge if she was being serious or not. It occured to her that Jordan never failed to surprise her, and while the surprises were not usually very good surprises, the past few days had offered a few pleasant ones. Rivers decided that she rather liked this humble side of Jordan, and she immediately chastised herself for even thinking it, and reminded herself that she was supposed to be getting over this woman. She was determined to stay angry.
Despite the early evening, both Annah and Rivers ordered breakfast.After their meal they decided to share a banana split, though Annah thought that maybe she should have ordered her own, as she watched Rivers devour all of the strawberry ice cream.
Rivers caught Annah watching her more than a few times, and she eventually asked her why she kept staring.
"You just seem different, and I was wondering how you've been feeling. I worry about you sometimes," Annah said.
She noticed that Rivers eyes seemed lighter, so that there were almost blue, and that she didn't look as tired as she had the previous few days.
"Only sometimes?" Rivers asked, a weary smile firmly in place.
Annah reached across the table and took Rivers' much smaller hand in hers, "You shouldn't even have to ask that."
Rivers closed her eyes for a moment, seeming to savor what Annah had just said to her. When she opened them again, Annah knew that the moment had passed, and so she withdrew her hand and continued to eat.
"What time do you finish filming tomorrow?"
"Johnson says he only needs me there half day at the most, why?"
"Feel like having dinner with the Osbournes?"
Annah looked at her in confusion, thinking that surely Jordan knew whom these Osbourne people were. It was only a matter of faking it until she could find out for sure.
Rivers wasn't letting her off the hook however, and laughed before asking, "My parents, you wiener. Do you want to have dinner with my parents?"
Rivers' parents lived near Point
Fermin, overlooking the beach, in a comfortable home that they had moved
to when Rivers was only 5. Compared to some of the bigger and more extravagant
houses in the area, theirs was the perfect mix of solace and style. Upon
seeing it for the first time, Annah was taken in by the perfectly manicured
lawn, three car garage, and fine lawn ornaments, and thought that she had
never seen a finer example of good living. It made her wish for a place
of her own; where she could rest her head at night and know that she was
going to be paying a mortgage until she was dead. Where she could maybe
have a dog, not a yappy Chihuahua, but more like a big dog, like Rin Tin
Tin, and where she could raise a couple of kids and have a nice little
wife to kiss before going to sleep. She dared to wish that it would happen,
after all, she had just come through the strangest week and a half of her
life. At this point, anything was possible.
Rivers' parents met them at the driveway; two chubby, short and smiling individuals with smiles to match their girth. Rivers' mother wore what could only be described as a muumuu, its loud pink pattern in contrast to her tan skin, her long brown hair parted perfectly down the center, her green eyes twinkling with delight. Annah immediately thought of the great Mama Cass, and almost broke out in a few bars of "California Dreamin," but stopped herself with a mental shake. Rivers' father was shorter than Mama, and he wore a yellow Hawaiian print shirt with khaki shorts that were almost like pants on his very small legs, his balding head catching the glare of the southern California sun perfectly. Annah couldn't help it; she knew she liked these people.
"Mom, Dad, you remember Jordan?" Rivers said, squinting, at what Annah thought was the harshness of the colors on display before her.
Rivers' mom outstretched her large and comforting arms in Annah's direction and she stepped into the embrace willingly, "Hello, mama," she said, though it was somewhat muffled.
"Jordan, it's been a helluva long time, girlie. Where the hell you been hiding out?"
"Oh, here and there," Annah smiled, finally upright again.
"Well, let's go on in, I made enchilada loaf for you girls. I hope you're hungry."
Dinner was a loud and boisterous affair with Mama dominating the conversation, and Annah laughing more than she remembered having done in quite some time. After baklava that rivaled her grandmother's in Greece, though she was probably rolling in her grave with Annah thinking such a thing, and coffee, the foursome retired into the living room.
They watched television, and she
found herself so comfortable, so relaxed, that she fell asleep there on
the couch, her snores rivaling those of Rivers' dad.
When she woke, she noticed that a small quilt covered her, and that Mama and Rivers were in the kitchen talking. She tried to pick out any part of the conversation, but it was all muffled.
"It's no use, Jordan. They're in there talking about the both of us." Rivers father was still in his recliner, feet propped up, hands folded over his round belly.
She smiled, and stretched a bit before settling back into the couch.
"Rivers tells us that you two aren't living together anymore."
Jordan cleared her throat, and looked everywhere but at the man speaking to her.
" Yes sir, that is true."
"Don't be so nervous girl, I'm not going to bring out my shotgun or anything. I am just glad to see that you two are still around each other. She really loves you, you know."
"I don't deserve her love."
"Don't play the martyr with me kiddo, I know better. It was hard for me too. For a few years after me and the missus got married, I wanted to go out and have fun with the boys, and look at other women. I spent a lot of time pretending I was still single."
"Then what happened?" Annah asked, as she looked at Rivers' dad.
"We had been married almost three years, and as much as we had been trying to have kids, nothing was happening. We had been to doctor after doctor, testing this and that, and they couldn't figure it out. Finally, we both just accepted that it was going to be the two of us, and maybe we ought to adopt. Sure enough, we start the paperwork, and boom, we're pregnant."
Annah couldn't figure out where Rivers' dad was going with his story so she let him continue.
"Once I held my baby girl, I knew that being a father and a husband was much more important to me than some other broad, or going out for a beer. Now mind you, I didn't say I turned into a saint, but I chose my family."
"Sir, I can't get Rivers pregnant," Annah said, though the thought of Rivers and her having a child together was incredibly appealing. She then mentally pinched herself for even thinking such a thing.
'She loves Jordan, not you, you fool.'
"Dammit Jordan, I know that. All I'm saying is that I understand your temptation, and that there is going to come a time when you have to choose. Do you want Rivers and a family life? Or do you want that loneliness that comes with partying all of the time?"
"I care for Rivers very much, and I want her to be happy."
"So do we, kiddo, so do we."
" So?" Rivers asked, as she drove Annah back to the hotel.
"Did you have fun?"
"You know what Rivers? I had a great time. I didn't know how much I missed being around a family until I was around yours. Thanks for inviting me." Annah tried hard to keep the catch out of her voice, to no avail. As much as she had enjoyed the evening, a huge part of her still hurt from the death of her mom and dad, and being with Rivers parents reminded her of that pain.
"Hey," Rivers soothed, as she wiped a tear from Annah's cheek, " Don't cry, honey."
Annah took Rivers hand in hers, and
held it until they arrived. After a quick goodnight, and a quick peck on
the cheek to Rivers, Annah went inside and went straight to bed.
With the morning came more responsibility, as Annah was called in to the studio for more filming on what was supposed to be a few days off. She had become more comfortable in playing Jordan, and hoped that wherever her look-alike was, she was all right. Rivers had commented on receiving a few vague calls from the missing woman, and then questioning Annah about it, and so she knew that the other woman was at least alive.
Annah found that she was no longer as concerned for when the other woman would be coming back.
Annah arrived at the set nearly an hour before she was due, much to Johnson's surprise. The Texanfound that hecould not praise his star any more than he already had. The effort she was putting into the film made him and the other cast and crew work just as hard, and he knew that they were creating something special.
Lance Lunceford, the movies' male lead, was also due on the set, to film some of the scenes that he and Annah had together. Annah had instantly disliked him, his rude and brisk manner turning her off, and it didn't seem to be getting any better. What made it worse was that rumors were going around the set and in the tabloids that the two of them were having an affair. Some of the reports had Lance setting the woman "straight". Annah was almost sure that the slimy bastard had started them himself.
"Good morning Jordan, how are you and your lovely girlfriend doing?"
"Just fine, Lance," Annah answered, and sat in her chair waiting for the shot to be set up.
"That's wondeful. Say, do you think you'd like to have lunch in my trailer? We could go over some of our scenes together?"
Annah noticed that Lance reeked of pot, which even she had tried before, but she was pissed that he was doing it on the job.
"We can do that now."
"I meant in a more..private setting," Lance moved his chair closer and Annah resisited the urge to gag.
"Look Lance, I'm here to work. When I finish, I go home, and that is that. I am not interested in going to your trailer, or going out with you after work, or wherever else it is you'll ask me next. I'm not trying to be rude, but since you haven't taken no for an answer any of the other times, I feel like I have to be."
"Hey Jordan, this is my movie. I'm the star here, honey. All we need you here for is to look good in the skimpy clothes. All you have to do is shake that pretty little ass of yours and make sure Johnson is happy. That is what you signed on for. I was just trying to be friendly, so don't think that what you've got between your legs is lined in gold, baby. There are plenty of women out there who will give it up for me," the actor said.
Annah stood, and willed herself not
to punch the smirking actor. She remembered the last time she had lost
her temper, and it had been what led her to her life on the streets.
Lana had been everything that Annah could have wanted in a woman. She was smart, had just finished law school and passed the bar, and was stunningly gorgeous. They made a striking couple.
With the money that Annah had collected at 21 from her parent's life insurance, she had opened her own restaurant and specialized in the wonderful Greek cuisine that she had feasted on all of her life. She had done well enough to open two more places in different cities, and her success suited her.
She and Lana had moved into a sprawling two story, 6 bedroom Colonial style home, decorated in a fashion that would have made Martha Stewart wet.
Then, just like that, it was over. Annah had trusted Lana to draw up most of her business papers. She had never read them, thinking that she had no reason not to sign whatever her brunette companion shoved in her face. She came home one afternoon to find Lana packing her things and telling her to get out. It was then that life as she knew it changed again.
When Annah heard all of this, something inside of her jerked out of balance, and in an instant, she destroyed anything and everything in her path. Lana was lucky that she had run out of the house. Annah was blinded by what she saw as the ultimate betrayal and she didn't care what she demolished. Be it clothes, televisions, walls, or windows. With bleeding hands she tore through it all, wanting nothing more than to wake up from the nightmare that her life had instantly become.
When the police arrived, it took 5 men to subdue the seemingly crazed woman, and she was put in the back of a squad car and led off.
Destruction of private property and tax evasion were the charges that she eventually faced, after the police confiscated the falsified business records that Lana had created. Lana had really pulled one over on her. She coldly informed Annah that she loved someone else, and that the money that Annah had been making was "gone". She had no doubt that it had been sitting in Lana's new love's bank account. The happy couple ended up selling all of the restaurants, which had been changed to Lana's name during the relationship, and made millions.
Annah spent almost a year and
a half in lock up, before the state saw fit to release her. Problem was,
Annah had very little money, no friends, and no one to help her. She was
on the streets in no time, and survived as well as she could without selling
herself, which is the one thing she swore she'd rather die than do.
Now here she was, with a slimy, smelly pick-up artist all over her ass, debating on whether or not she should slug him. Instead she turned around and walked away, breathing calmly as she headed back to her trailer. She figured Johnson would call her when he was ready.
Meanwhile, Lance punched in the number
to his tabloid connection, and filled her in on the latest happenings on
the set between himself and Jordan Allen. He'd make that bitch sorry for
turning him down.
"I found a place," Rivers said, as she picked Annah up from the studio.
Annah tried to look pleased, and hoped that the other woman did not notice the sadness on her face.
"That's great, when are you moving?"
"Ready to have me gone, are you?" Rivers teased, but Annah knew the blonde was waiting to hear what she had to say.
"I won't go back to that house, not if you aren't there," she answered seriously, and smiled when Rivers turned to look at her.
"Let's go away together," Rivers said, blurting out the first thing that came to her mind. She didn't know what possessed her to ask, knowing that she was supsupposed to be in the process of breaking up with Jordan. Something about the taller woman's attitude seemed different to her, and she found that she actually enjoyed the time they had been spending together. Maybe they could salvage some kind of friendship out of the whole thing.
³And where are we going to go?²
³How about Vegas? Me and you, a few days of fun. What do you say?²
Annah pretended to be mulling it over, but she was thinking about what she was going to tell Johnson to get off for three days.
Continued in Part 4