Chapter XVII

Gregor walked into the apartment at 10 o'clock sharp, carrying a box of doughnuts. "Is everybody awake?"

"I am," said Ann who had been sitting on the couch, reading a book from Maxine's collection. She stood up and smoothed out her habit, walking up to Gregor.

"What about my sister?"

"I'm up, I'm up!" Maxine came into the room with her hair disheveled and eyes still puffy with sleep. "You're so loud, you could wake up the wholeneighborhood." She grabbed the box of doughnuts from her brother, set it on the coffee table and opened it.

"The whole neighborhood has been at work since 8 o'clock this morning." Gregor shook his head and sat on one the recliners. Maxine ignored him and smiled at Ann, tucking her bare feet under her and reaching for a doughnut. "My favorites are the ones with the chocolate glazing on top and the custard inside." She took a huge bite of the doughnut. The custard spilled on her fingers, and she licked it happily.

"Have one," she told Ann.

"I haven't eaten one of those in years."

"All the more reason too." Maxine grabbed a sugar doughnut and handed it to Ann. Ann felt as if she was meeting an all new Maxine, more relaxed, nicer but with an air of confidence. She could definitely tell Maxine was back in her element, and as much as it made her happy it also worried her.

"Did you sleep well?" asked Maxine, interrupting Ann's reverie.

"Yes, thank you."

"We've got to change that."

"Change what?"

"Your clothes. That is if you want to." Maxine suddenly felt as she might be pushing Ann a little too hard.

"Don't let her push you around," smiled Gregor, wiping his sugary hands on a napkin.

"I won't." Ann turned to Maxine, and looked at the actress. "What do you suggest I wear?"

Maxine got up and close the box. "I'll take you shopping." She winked at Ann. "I'm going to take a shower."

"Max, wait! I've got to talk to's important," Gregor called out.

"All right, but make it quick."

"Maybe we should go into another room."

"I'll leave you two alone." Ann stood up, but was stopped by Maxine.

"No. She is here to help me. I don't want to keep secrets. What's going on?

"Fine," shrugged Gregor. "The night went we brought you to the convent... you might not remember much, but..."

"Gregor, spill it." Maxine was clearly becoming annoyed.

"The policeman who came found a lot of cocaine, he reported it. We thought we had it under control, but now charges have been issued against you, that's
why we pulled you out of rehab so fast."

"You're kidding me, right?"

"No, I'm sorry. Mother Clarence knew about it, but we asked her to not say anything. You've got a trial date in two weeks."

The light-haired woman passed her hand through her hair and sighed angrily. "You had no right to keep this from me." She got up and started

pacing. "Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"Maxine, calm down. What would you have done?" Gregor was now standing face to face with his sister, keeping eye contact with her.

Maxine sighed and stepped back a little. "What I am being charged with?"

"Possession of illegal drugs. You have a chance Max. The policeman couldn't report that you were under the influence of coke, he could only say that
you were drunk. No blood tests were done. You can plead not guilty, we've already got a lawyer for you."

"So, no one is interested in me. There is no audition. That was all bullshit to get me to leave the convent. Get out."

"Max...," pleaded Gregor.

"Get out Gregor. Now." Her voice was low but it held no anger, only disappointment.

Gregor bowed his head and left. Maxine turned to Ann. "Sorry you had to witness that. Maybe having you come home with me wasn't such a great idea after all." She sighed and looked into Ann's eyes apologetically. "I'm taking a shower."

"Maxine, wait," Ann ran after the actress. "Your brother is right, you can plead not guilty."

Maxine gave Ann a weary smile, and unconsciously reached for her face and touched her cheek slightly before withdrawing her hand. "Sorry," she apologized.

Ann's heart sank. A few minutes ago Maxine had looked strong, defiant and ready to take on the world. Now she looked beaten and lost. The young nun reached for Maxine's hand. "Come back into the living room with me and let's discuss it." Ann didn't wait for Maxine's answer and gently pulled her back toward the couch. She sat right next to her still holding her hand, slightly squeezing it for support. "Tell me what happened."

"Why does it matter?"

"It matters to me. You asked me to come and help you, I'm trying to do just that."

Maxine ran her hand through her long brown hair again and pushed herself into a corner of the couch, letting go of Ann's hand.

"The night before I was brought to your convent, I tried to kill myself. I had done coke, and I was drunk...really drunk. I stood on the outside ledge and was planning on jumping, but my brother and some firemen came to the rescue." She said the last part with sarcasm. "Anyway, they must have had a policeman with them. I don't remember. There was probably coke out. He saw it and turned it in as evidence." Maxine buried herself deeper into the couch.

"Why did three months pass before you heard anything about it?"

"I guess they must have given the judge proof that I was already in rehab, which is where I would have ended up anyway. I don't know... if they hired a good lawyer, anything is possible. I guess I'll find out."

"Well, then, I wouldn't worry about it too much."

"You don't understand. It's like, I'm moving forward, I'm finally thinking that I might have a future in show business, and my past comes back andcatches up with me. This story is going to be all over the tabloids as soon as I go to court. I'm surprised it's not already." Ann looked at Maxine, not knowing what to say. "Even if those tabloids are pure trash and everyone knows it, everyone still reads them, and there goes my credibility." Maxine buried her face in her hands and shook her head before getting up. "I'm not going to solve that problem right now. I'm going to shower, and then we'll go shopping."

Ann nodded. "Maxine?" The actress turned around, her eyes questioning. "Listen, for what it matters, I want you to know that I take my job very seriously, and I'm here for you."

Maxine laughed bitterly. "Job, huh?" She then added softly. " I thought we were friends." She then left, leaving Ann sitting on the couch dumbfounded.

Go to Chapter XVIII

copyright(c)malaurie barber 2002

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