Disclaimers: Characters are mine. Well, some were named after real people. Story is mine but I was inspired by the song of the same name by Westlife (as well as another song called Everytime by A1). I mean no copyright infringement. Also, I have to mention, as always, my entire writing experience was inspired by Xena, so full credit to them and everyone involved in the show. Also, same sex relationship alert. It's all very mild, no hint of R anywhere but if that ain't your cup of tea, don't drink it.
This is the companion story to Everytime. You can read either of them first, it's okay.
Special dedication: To the Duvs - you know who you are. And you know where you appear in the story *g*.
"Jen!" the blonde actress walked briskly into her home, intent on surprising her girlfriend by coming back two days earlier than expected from her guest starring role in a top-rated New York-based TV program.
Upon hearing some muffling from the master bedroom, the tall and graceful form of Angeline Clark headed that way. Only to face a situation she imagined that her twin sister Alexis had almost four years ago when Alexis entered her ex-lover, Lane Lawson's trailer and found another woman in Lane's bed.
This time she found her current girlfriend with another ironically enough, the same woman who was with Lane. In a tone that could freeze even lava, Angeline said, "Get out. Both of you."
"Oh boy... are you okay, Angeline?"
"What do you think? I've been made a fool again... is it something about me, Justin? That makes my girlfriends cheat on me... Jennifer's like the fourth one! No, no... don't answer me... I don't want to talk about it anymore." Angeline spoke in an increasingly harsh tone to her manager, Justin who took a step backwards and raised his hands, "Okay... okay... usual press release?"
With Angeline's firm nod and silence, he rolled his eyes and left the room. Hitting the speed dial on his mobile phone the moment he was out of the room. "Hey, Shaz, Angeline's broken up with Jennifer Wright," a pause while the person on the other line answered, "Yeah... I know... look, I don't know about Lane but Angeline's getting more and more depressed..." another pause, "well, yeah... but her 'hermithood' is self-inflicted and besides she can afford to be reclusive, she's a director but Angeline can't," a longer pause, "look... why don't we get the gang together... maybe someone will have some ideas on how we can get the two of them back again... this is getting ridiculous, we can't wait for them to get back together on their own anymore... right, we've got to give them a shove before it's too late. Let's meet..."
"So... what's the story between you and Jennifer Wright?" the studio executive asked one of her fellow lunch companions.
"Not you too, Leo..." Angeline was exasperated, it seemed that everyone she had come in contact with that day asked her the same question. She sighed, "I came back from New York last night and found her in bed with that bitch Claudine..."
"Wow." Leonore and her partner, Peg, shared a look.
"Wait... isn't Claudine the one who...um..." Peg trailed off uncertainly. After all, she had only heard rumours.
"Yes... she's also the one Lane slept with... I swear that fake blonde bitch has something against me." The actress just about slammed her eating utensils down the table, seething with anger.
"Don't worry, I'll make sure she never gets a job from us." The executive promised her star actress.
The 'us' being the studio Leonore worked for, the one where four years ago, as a newly appointed executive in a fledging studio, she had hired Angeline Clark to star in one of the first movies released by the studio. The result was one of that year's top ten blockbusters, which propelled Angeline Clark to being America's newest, albeit unlikeliest, sweetheart as well as cementing her own place amongst the Hollywood elite. In the subsequent years, along with numerous other successes (many of which starred Angeline), Leonore rose to become President of Production at her studio.
"Enough about me... so Peg... Leo tells me that you're working on a new project?" Leonore and Peg shared another look, one not missed by Angeline. "What?" the actress asked.
"Well... I'll be Lane Lawson's director of photography for her new movie."
"Ahh..." Angeline could only nod as her mind drifted.
The morning she walked out of the house she and Lane shared was the hardest and most painful of Angeline's life. Even harder than the day her parents died in a car accident, leaving her and her twin sister at the age of 16, alone. Well, almost alone. Lane was there. It seemed like she always was, they had known each other since early childhood. Lane came from a broken family and had spent many nights on the sofa of the Clark family home. So when the elder Clarks died, it was like the dark-haired young woman lost her parents too. But Lane put her own feelings aside and helped the sisters arrange the funeral service in every way. Getting the flowers, the priest, all that kind of stuff, Lane even sang at the service. Which was where, ironically, she was 'discovered'. One of the Clarks' closest friends was also a talent scout for one of the largest recording companies in the world.
The rest was history. While her brainy twin, Alexis, went to college early, Angeline went to all sorts of different places and countries with Lane. The two were inseparable. She experienced the rise of Lane Lawson right next to her. Falling in love seemed the most natural thing to happen to the two of them.
Lane had proved her loyalty to her oldest friends by naming or appointing them into positions in which most had absolutely no experience in, like Sharon as her press agent and Cath as her manager. Angeline just helped out wherever she could but mostly, the role she held was supporting Lane and keeping Lane's feet on the ground. It was difficult on several occasions but they rose through each challenge.
The downside of fame hit Angeline the first time she saw another woman pawing at Lane who was cornered. The daringness of Lane's groupies got worse and it had seem to Angeline that Lane wasn't trying very hard to fight their attentions off. Arguments between the two of them started escalating along with Lane's ever-rising success. Living life constantly touring was having its toil on them.
Backstage one night celebrating Lane's 8th straight number one album, Angeline could not find the singer anywhere. Giving up, she decided to drop several congratulatory hampers and messages off in their luxury tour bus. And it was there she found Lane. A very drunk Lane. A very drunk Lane who was making out with a blonde woman who could almost pass off as Alexis. It was a devastating blow to Angeline who though she accepted Lane's apologies and excuses the next morning, begun to seriously think of life without Lane.
She finally decided to take up one of the numerous acting (and modelling) offers she got from a start-up studio. She loved the script and so did Lane who, in support of her angel, cancelled several concert tours, including a European one, just so that she could be with Angeline while the blonde was on location, after all, the reason Angeline had started getting offers was because Angeline had appeared in one of the singer's music videos.
Lane went on her previously cancelled European tour alone while Angeline was off promoting her debut feature. After her return, the singer dropped the bombshell that she wanted to quit performing. More than Lane's retirement was the fact that the singer now wanted to be a director. And she wanted Angeline to star in her first movie. Angeline said no, Lane lost her temper and stormed out. Though she did not have to go on location for her new movie, Angeline hardly saw Lane during the intervening weeks. She knew Lane was busy prepping her movie and thought that it might be best to leave Lane alone. Besides she was getting the latest happenings from Sharon, Cath and the others.
Many more weeks would pass with minimal contact between the two. Then one day, just as Angeline's movie was about to wrap and Lane's movie was well into its shooting phase, her lover walked into their bedroom. Home early the first time in a long time. And the director confessed to her infidelity. Saying she was not drunk this time, Lane made no excuses and just stood in front of the blonde. By then Angeline had shut down and was not listening to any explanations. The actress threw Lane out of their bedroom. Crying bitterly for hours, Angeline finally decided to pack up and leave. Unbeknownst to her, Lane watched her departure from the window of her study where she had spent a sleepless night.
For the first few weeks, Angeline banned any mention of Lane in her vicinity. Then as time went on, Angeline became angry that Lane had not even tried to see her to explain or to beg for forgiveness. Taking that to be a sign that Lane no longer wanted her, she decided that it was time to move on. So she started dating again. But she never noticed how so many of her dates resembled Lane in some way.
Angeline looked up from reading yet another script off her metre-high pile, a little startled, "Oh hey, sis. You're early..."
"Caught an early flight... so, how have you been?"
The actress could only shrug, knowing that her twin knew her better than another one else at the moment.
Which, of course, Alexis picked up on, "That bad huh? Ooohhh... it's gonna be four years soon, isn't it?" as she moved to sit next to her sister and giving her a one-handed hug as best she could.
"Yeah... anything Dr. Alexis Clark can do?" Angeline sighed.
"I can't cure Lane's terminal stupidity... ask me about cancer in a few years time..." Alexis laughed together with her twin's more bitter one.
"She'll know what's she's missing someday, angel..." the elder twin comforted her sister.
"Maybe I should..." the actress started hesitantly, her sister had made her view very clear many times before.
"No! Absolutely not! It's not your call to make... it's not you seeking her forgiveness... Lane has to realise that on her own." Alexis was adamant. Doubts though, had crept into Angeline's mind for a long time now, unexpressed ones. Ones that tell her that perhaps Lane did not think she deserved to be forgiven which was why she had never asked for it. Slightly resolved, the actress started thinking about her upcoming interview with that day-time talk show... after all, Sharon had told her many times before that Lane never, ever missed any interviews of hers. Perhaps, she should drop a hint or something...
"Okay, people! Come on, we've got to think of something!"
"Sharon's right, one - they're our friends and two - they helped made us who we are today... we owe it to them." Cath, Lane's former manager, now producer said.
"I agree. Now, I've seated them together in the same table... we can easily explain that cause that's the main table as well as the table Leonore's at and since Lane's latest movie will be released by Leonore's studio, it's perfect." Bron, the organiser of the benefit that she had Lane promise to attend first before inviting Angeline, added.
"Me and Peg will make sure they at least talk. In fact, I'm going to ask Lane to consider Angeline for the starring role in her latest. It's almost tailor-made for Angeline." The studio executive nodded in agreement.
"It is. Sounds good, but Leonore... be careful not to push too hard... you don't know Lane that well yet... so trust me... you push too hard and she's liable to pull back twice as hard..." Sharon spoke out from experience to the others at the table.
"Ailie told me Lane was very 'thoughtful' when she told her that Angeline had broken up with Jennifer Wright." Jess, Lane's agent, told the others.
"Did she say why?"
"No, Bron. I've also reminded Ailie about Angeline's interview tomorrow and make sure Lane is free to watch it."
Justin finally spoke up, "Angeline's planning something... she's got that 'look'... she's planning something..."
And here we go... Angeline's internal voice said as she emerged from backstage onto the studio and the slightly raised platform where the host sat. Waving and smiling warmly at her fans in the audience as well as the cameras, she made her way towards the guest chair where the host was waiting.
Routine questions followed one another and the actress answered almost automatically, just as they had discussed backstage before the show started. Then, the question came.
"Your former lover, Lane Lawson will be casting for her next movie shortly, rumours are that you are on top of the studios list for the staring role in it. How do you feel about that?"
The actress was flustered for a moment, it was an unexpected question, but she recovered quickly, chuckling slightly, she answered, "I remember a time when the studios had control over Lane's movies but they don't have any say in that now. So, it wouldn't be up to the studios to tell Lane what to do... and 'sides, I think she's done very well on her own, making her own decisions, hasn't she?" Mentally crossing her fingers, Angeline wished that the host would stop that particular line of questioning, she felt it still a rather sore and sensitive issue.
But, the host continued with, "Yes, yes she has. But what a dream combination that would be!"
Mentally rolling her eyes now, the blonde found herself muttering, "I don't think we'll ever know..." which was true, she did not think that Lane would ever consider casting her in a movie since she had been actively avoiding the actress since their break-up.
Hoping that the host would get back to their originally agreed questions, Angeline looked down at the blue cardigan that she was wearing and pretended to be brushing off a piece of imaginary lint on it.
"So, what happened between you and Jennifer Wright?"
Finally, the actress thought to herself before answering, "She isn't who my heart misses," she looked up, straight into the camera with the red light lit, "there's only one my heart needs and longs for," she paused for a beat before continuing, "Jennifer Wright isn't the one."
In an office next to the watching Lane Lawson, Sharon, Jess and Cath shared high-fives all round.
And backstage, Justin pumped his hand, whipping out his mobile and pressing the speed dial. Standing just in front of him, Alexis frowned, she cannot forget what she saw that afternoon in Lane's trailer and did not want her sister to be hurt again. Well, I'll just have to kill her if there's a next time...
It was the night of the benefit. Angeline Clark was nervous. More nervous than she had ever felt before. And it was not even the Oscars. But when Bron confirmed that Lane had promised to show... the actress could feel a sense of anticipation of the night ahead. Especially since Sharon had call her the day before to please listen if Lane was to approach her at the benefit. Angeline could only hope Lane would.
The limo ride was a blur. Alexis was suddenly called back to her hospital in New York so Angeline rode with only a strangely quiet Justin for company. The obligatory red carpet outside the huge tent where the benefit was to be held was also a blur to Angeline. The actress smiled automatically and braved the non-stop camera flashes and frequent stops to speak with the various entertainment news programs.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she entered the tent. Looking around, she headed for a group standing near the entrance. It was a high-powered group, consisting of several people whom she have had the pleasure of working with as well as people whom she would love to work with one day. As well as the holder of the current number one album in the country, someone who used to be one of Lane's backup singers.
The singer turned round immediately, "Angeline!"
The two shared a warm hug, "How have you been, Sticks?" Angeline asked.
"Just came back from a European tour... exhausting."
"Yeah... those can be tough... congrats on the album..."
"And congratulations on your fifth successive number one movie." Ilknur replied.
Conversation was pleasant all around her and Angeline truly enjoyed herself. Then, in the corner of her eye, she spotted the woman she had wanted to lay her eyes on for a long time. Lane Lawson stood, stunning as always in her customary pantsuit, just at the entrance. Staring towards Angeline's group.
"She looks great, Angeline." Ilknur had also spotted the director.
"Yeah, she does." The actress whispered as she notice Sharon nudging Lane only to be rebuffed. Her heart dropped as the raven-haired beauty stalked off in another direction. Fine, Angeline thought to herself, I'm not going to make the first move. Even as Sharon mouthed an assurance to her. An assurance Angeline was not sure any one can deliver except Lane herself.
So for the rest of the 'mingling' evening, Angeline kept her distance from Lane. And it seemed that the director was of the same mind as well. She resisted gentle attempts by Justin and more obvious ones from Sharon to move towards an area closer to Lane.
Dinner started, Angeline was seated at one of the two central tables, closest to the make-shift stage. Around her were Leonore and her partner, Peg, Justin as well as several other studio executives and top name actors. In the other central table was Lane, her producers and agents together with several other top name actors. Her eyes drifted, almost on their own accord towards Lane, as did the director's. But once any kind of brief contact was made, it was immediately broken by one or both parties. She could see that it was exasperating to their mutual friends.
"Go on." Peg, who was seated next to her whispered into her ear, "You know you want to..."
Angeline closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Steeling herself to potentially making a huge and public mistake, she stood up and walked towards Lane who was busy pushing food around her plate and ignoring the conversations around her, looking mighty preoccupied.
She rested her hand on the strong shoulder she once knew so well as she nodded to the others at Lane's table. "Hi, Lane."
Lane looked like she sprung out of her seat, dropping her fork to the ground, the director's eyes followed the fork's path to the ground as well. "Angel... Angeline..."
Carefully placing her hand on Lane's cheek and gently bringing Lane to look at her, "Been a while... got a feeling that you were avoiding me..." the actress could feel Lane subconsciously moving into her hand and it warmed her.
"No... well, not... not completely..."
Angeline moved closer towards Lane, "How can I forgive when I haven't been asked?" Dropping her hand, she moved away and back to her table. She had made the first move, the rest is up to Lane. Taking her seat again she noticed with some alarm Lane practically running backstage.
In dismay she looked towards Sharon and the rest who all looked equally puzzled. Angeline tried to swallow her disappointment.
The lights dimmed. Bron's voice came through the strategically placed speakers, "Welcome one and all to tonight's benefit. I would like to thank everyone for their contributions and I hope you will enjoy this next part of the night. And I have to say this will be a night none of you will forget in a hurry. Because, we have a surprise performance tonight! Ladies and gentlemen, she stunned the world when she announced her retirement four years ago only to become the world's number one director."
Angeline looked at the stage in astonishment.
"So, for ONE night only. ONE performance, ONE song... ladies and gentlemen, Lane Lawson!"
Angeline had no idea what the song was. She was transfixed by the sight that was Lane in her most natural state, performing. It was what Lane was the absolute best at. She was a good director, one of the best in fact, but she was THE best at performing. And performed Lane did. Their eyes met right from the start and contact was never lost. All Angeline could see was Lane moving closer and closer towards her.
The words of the song finally started to sink in at the chorus because it elicited a rather loud gasp from Sharon at the next table.
"Everytime I kiss, I feel your lips... And everytime I cry, I see your smile... And everytime I close my eyes, I realize that everytime I hold your hand in mine, the sweetest thing my heart could ever find... And I have never felt this way... Since the day I gave your love away..."
Angeline's eyes started to tear up, she could not stop it. And she could see Lane's eyes starting to water as well.
"Save me, I've fallen from my destiny... You and I were meant to be, I've thrown it all away... Now you're gone, it's time for me to carry on... But baby, I just can't go on without you by my side..."
"I can't too..." Angeline whispered to herself.
"And all the things we ever wanted, were once yours and mine... Now, I know we can revive it, all the love we left... Everytime I kiss, I feel your lips... And everytime I cry, I see your smile... And everytime I close my eyes, I realize that everytime I hold your hand in mine, the sweetest thing my heart could ever find... And I have never felt this way... Since the day I gave your love away..."
The actress found herself nodding at the second line. The tears were falling now and she didn't care.
"We can survive it... All the pain we feel inside... You relied on me and now I've let you down... Now, I promise you forever, I will be the best I can... Now, I know we can revive it, all the love we left..."
Lane had moved right to the front of the stage, facing Angeline directly. And while singing the chorus one last time, she knelt.
After the music faded, the director spoke into the microphone, "Forgive me, my angel."
It was all Angeline could do to nod before bursting out of her chair and flinging herself into the strong arms of the other half of her soul. "I forgive you, Lane. I forgive you."
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