The trendy new restaurant, Coriander, was having a busy night, but when the hostess heard that Kate Garrison, President of Atlantis Records and most recent Hollywood scandal victim, was coming to drown her sorrows, she happily made room for her entourage in a private dining room. They filed in and formed a circle around Kate to block the paparazzi from snapping her photo.
After everyone was seated, Kate grabbed the bottle of wine that was sitting in the middle of the table and poured everyone a glass. “Thank you, ladies, for dropping what you were doing to come here tonight.”
“We love you, Kate. Of course we would.” The woman at the end of the table had to yell to be heard.
“A toast.” Sabrina, Kate’s executive assistant, raised her glass.
Kate lifted her wine glass in anticipation of what Sabrina was going to say. But what was there to say about her failing Hollywood marriage? Three weeks prior the news broke that her new husband, film director Jack Pierce, had had a brief fling with one of the actresses of his latest film while on location. Two weeks and six days ago she’d thrown him out of her Malibu beach house and filed for divorce. Barely wed for three months, Kate counted her blessings that her impulsive decision would be undone fairly quickly.
Jack had tried to deny it at first, but his hookup, Brianna Sage, gave full disclosure to a news magazine show, making it a moot point.
He shifted to lavish apologies. Each day he would come up with a new and atrocious way to woo Kate back, and each day she would have a messenger redeliver the divorce papers.
“May that rat bastard rot in hell.” Sabrina took a sip of wine.
Leave it to Sabrina—so brazen and untraditional though nonetheless an excellent assistant and friend—to tell it like it was. Kate looked around the table at the showing of support. Her girlfriends tried to cheer her up, devising evil plots to exact vengeance on Jack and Brianna.
The scandal and the minute-by-minute news coverage didn’t really bother her. But she had ignored that voice inside her that was screaming at her to run the day she married him in Vegas. Jack was a handsome and passionate man driven by his desires. He brought out raw emotion in people and manipulated that energy to make outstanding films. Unfortunately, the same qualities made him a horrible husband. Kate wanted to put it all behind her.
“I heard Brianna has been after Jack for years.” Caitlyn, an actress, patted Kate’s hand.
“Then why did he let her catch him on that shoot? Brianna’s partly to blame, but this mess was Jack not thinking with the head where his brain is housed.” Kate ran her finger along the stem of the wine glass. “Maybe he was rebelling against marriage. Why did he bother proposing to me in the first place?”
“Honey, you’re a hot commodity. In the last three years everything you’ve touched has turned to gold.” Caitlyn gestured toward Kate. “And people are dying to have Jack work on their projects. He probably thought you two would become a Hollywood power couple.”
“He won’t get that with Brianna. She has the look, but she couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag. I bet she’d fail mime school.” Sabrina smirked, looking around the table, and then landed her gaze on Kate’s hand. “Where’s your ring.”
“That ring is expensive fish food by now.”
“I did. Walked out onto the beach and threw it in.”
“Technically, I polluted the ocean. I was sorry about that.” Kate cocked an eyebrow.
“Bravo.” Sabrina clapped. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”
Caitlyn leaned toward Kate. “At least you got the first marriage out of your system.”
“You’re bound to get married at least two more times.”
The women around the table nodded their heads in agreement.
She didn’t know if it was the chardonnay or the spicy shrimp appetizer, but Kate was beginning to feel ill. She really hadn’t eaten in days. She put up a brave front when she went out, but when she got home, she curled up on the couch in the living room and watched the waves rolling to shore through her big picture window.
She excused herself from the table and asked a waiter to direct her to the restroom. When she reached the end of the corridor Kate muttered a curse. The words Out of Order on the sign on the ladies’ room door read like an epitaph to her bladder.
The gallon of wine she drank wouldn’t wait until the situation with the ladies’ room was resolved. Kate eyed the men’s room door, took a deep breath, turned the handle, and prayed being cheated on would be the only scandal she was involved in this month.
“Got to love these Hollywood twists. Music mogul Kate Garrison’s secret exposed! Last night paparazzi caught Kate leaving Coriander with rising star Chris Cavanaugh. This has to be the best-kept love affair in Hollywood. They were leaving the restaurant after a nasty argument in the men’s room, no less. But it ended when Chris calmed her down with a hot kiss in front of the restaurant, and then they made a hasty exit in his car. Looks like Kate wasn’t the victim in her divorce from director Jack Pierce after all. People have been speculating all morning how long these two have been involved. And the stinger in all of this is Chris and Jack will be working together soon. All of Hollywood is abuzz about the new movie The Knock-Around Boys, scheduled to go into production in less than two weeks. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that sound stage.”
Kate smiled. The reporter called her a mogul.
* * *
“Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that sound stage.”
Chris spit out his orange juice. That’s why his guardian angel had looked familiar. She was Jack Pierce’s wife! As a rule he forgot the names and faces of unavailable women. After two near misses with career suicide, Stan educated him on how to resist the temptation of bedding a married man’s wife in this town. He said the next time he was caught with some lovely thing who didn’t belong to him it would definitely put the final nail in his promiscuous coffin.
He went into the foyer to retrieve her business card. He’d placed it under his keys when he came in last night. The fancy card read Kate Garrison, President of Atlantis Records.
His cell phone rang, playing the Bonanza ring tone. It was Stan.
“Stan, my man with the plan!”
“Cut the shit! I am on my third Valium this morning.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to take so many in one day.”
“You think? Being your agent has significantly shortened my life span faster than Valium. Why do I bother talking to you?”
“Because you said I had superstar potential.” Chris laughed.
“Are you trying to screw yourself out of a career? You are playing with fire. Jack Pierce’s wife?”
“Soon to be ex-wife.”
“I hope you’re ready for the fallout. It’s going to take a miracle for Jack Pierce to let you keep your part in the movie.”
“Trust me, this will all blow over.”
“How long have you been seeing Kate Garrison?” He thought for a moment. “Long enough to know she’s the woman for me.”
Stan choked. “You really know how to screw the pooch good. You in love with her?”
“I don’t know where I’d be without her right now.” Wasn’t that the truth?
“If I were you, I’d go to church today and pray to any deity willing to listen to grant you Hollywood absolution.” Stan ended the call.
* * *
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