At least it was clean. That was the nicest thing I could say about my dressing room at the studio.
Unlike the show’s leads, I wouldn’t be off shooting at a castle anytime soon, but Rhys and I were going to shoot some scenes in some rich chess-obsessed guy’s house later.
It kind of sucked being surrounded by mirrors, but at least I could be alone here.
…But not for long, apparently.
“Knock first, asshole,” I muttered, expecting Rhys to answer.
“…Yeah, sorry about that.”
I felt an immediate urge to cover up. …Which was fucking stupid, since I showed him everything already.
“How the hell did you even get in here?”
“The suits like to hire me a lot–P.I. work. Guess folks are used to seeing me around.”
“Never thought you’d end up digging dirt for a living.”
“…Neither did I.” He grunted. “Anyhow, that’s not why I’m here. Well, it’s work, but, uh, for somebody else. …You ever play a game called ButlerQuest?”
The way he asked it…it was like he was hoping I’d say no. He was always too easy to read, which made messing with him all the more satisfying as a kid. If only it’d been easier to piss him off.
“Why do you ask?”
I could feel him staring at my tits. Apparently, Ms. Chick gave the makeup and wardrobe department instructions to emphasize them to appeal to the 18-49 male target demographic or something.
“I have a client…who’s, uh, looking for somebody who played a character named Leonidas. Tried tracking him down, but all I was able to find was a credit card linked to the account… A Ms. Isla Straud.”
“Can you not mention my mom when I’m working? I feel sick.”
“…Sorry. I know, uh, you two didn’t always see eye to eye. But she worried about you.”
“You’re like Daisy,” I said. “Always trying to see the best in everyone. And I never touched that stupid game…but my brother did.”
He went totally silent. And then: “…Which one?”
“Finn.” Fuck Finn. Let him deal with this shit.
“Why would I lie about some stupid game? And why the hell would I give a damn about butlers?” Aside from revenge and a dumb childhood crush respectively.
“Well, uh…thanks for the help. This guy, my client…think he’ll be glad to get some closure.” Poor sad sack, trying to track “Leonidas” down all these years later. At least Finn would be nice to him. Maybe I should warn him ahead of time…
“…So why are you still here?”
“Well, uh, I wanted to ask if you maybe, you know, wanted to…catch up sometime. We kind of got off on the wrong foot…”
“…The whole naked angry woman versus house invader thing?”
“Yeah, whatever. I guess you just want to make her happy by pretending we don’t hate each other. …And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry for bringing her name into it back then–she’s probably the least terrible person I’ve ever met, and she didn’t deserve that–especially from me.”
“What–hate you? Why–” He shook his head. “Me and Daze weren’t raised to hide things, so I’m gonna tell you this straight up. I want to take you out. For dinner.”
Out? Like a date? “I can eat a lot. You better be careful.”
“I’ll treat you. Gentleman and all.” Guys who had to point out that they were gentlemen were always trying too hard. “…So we’re on for, uh, seven tonight?” Now he sounded genuinely hopeful. Damn him for being so easy to read.
“Fine. But I’m just doing it for Daisy, so she won’t bitch about me trying to get along with you. Don’t be late or I’m ordering pizza–and not sharing.”
It was really fucking weird for him to ask me out after all the nasty shit I said about Daisy…maybe he’d gotten off to the idea of me and his sisters being lesbians for each other or something. Or maybe he really liked my tits.
“…Thanks for the help, Gal. It was good to see you again.”
Yeah, yeah. At least I was fully–okay, partially–clothed this time. I held my breath until he left.
A date. Was I excited? Nah, that’d be stupid.
“I’m going out with your idiot brother tonight,” I called out to Daisy when I caught her coming home from work. I just happened to be lingering outside instead of getting ready. I was fae; we were into the outdoors or some shit.
“I heard,” she said cheerfully. So what, he texted her about it already? Creepy. Who told their siblings everything? “I wish I could stay and help you get ready, but I have to bring food I made to the animal shelter after I change!”
Part of me was disappointed, which was dumb. It wasn’t like she existed to listen to all my shit and do everything I wanted her to even if my stupid dad pulled those strings so she’d live with me. Maybe she didn’t even want to live with me at all, but the pay was so good, or my dad told her exactly how to “handle” me.
I tried not to think about it. “No big deal. It’s not a date or anything.”
I waited for her to change and leave the apartment before I started getting ready for the totally-not-a-date with her stupid brother.
…Apparently getting ready involved squishing my boobs together in front of a mirror.
Yeah, that was way too much of the girls. I didn’t need him staring at them all night instead of my face. So I changed into a dress that showed a lot of leg instead (and shaved again to avoid any bright turquoise stubble showing).
“You look…nice,” he said outside of the boardwalk restaurant. Probably pretty cheap, but he didn’t look like he was making bank anyway.
“Thanks.” I was smiling like an idiot.
Still caught him glancing at my (perfectly smooth, turquoise-free) legs though. Whatever floats your boat, perv.
“This place better be good.”
We followed the server through the restaurant. Kind of a ramshackle place, but maybe that was the appeal. It smelled like the sea. Well, except next to the bathroom, where it smelled like…a bathroom.
Bas had obviously been here before–with other chicks?–by the way he enthusiastically recommended things off the menu.
“Too many calories,” I said. “I’ll have the house salad. Dressing on the side.”
“I’m glad you came,” he said when we were alone. “I wasn’t sure you would.”
I almost chickened out and faked sickness, but then Daisy probably would’ve tried to go overboard taking care of me and annoyed the shit out of me. And she’d probably tell him the truth if he asked.
“Me too,” I said instead.
“Sorry about the uh, home invasion.”
“Sorry about using my fat, naked body as a weapon.”
He knew better than to argue with me, like he’d tried to when I was a teenager. I’d print out articles about BMI and childhood obesity and all that shit and prove to him that I was one hundred percent fat until he gave in.
“So…an actress. Seems like you made it.”
I snorted. “You saw my dressing room. It was basically a storage closet they made some poor production assistant clear out.”
“But you like it? Acting. The show. Everything.”
“It’d be nicer if I didn’t have to work with my stupid fucking brother.”
He looked scared shitless at that–and I remembered that his precious baby sister was working for my dipshit brother. “…Is he really that bad?”
I never thought I’d be defending Rhys, but maybe it was just to make Bas feel better. “Nah. He’s annoying, and full of himself, but I haven’t caught him hitting on anyone or anything–not even his makeup artist, who’s pretty damn hot. Small tits, though.”
By Bas’s silence, I realized I said something inappropriate. Ugh. He should be used to that by now. Did he expect me to grow out of it? Luckily, the awkward moment ended with the arrival of our food.
The salad wasn’t anything special–what salad was?–but it was nice, catching up. I tried not to ask too much about the private investigator stuff, in case he asked more about that ButlerQuest bullshit, but I got the impression the job wasn’t everything he dreamed it’d be back when he was my babysitter.
At least he had some funny stories about the creative ways he caught rich, cheating spouses.
And I told him about my worst auditions and most embarrassing commercials. The embarrassment and rejection stung a lot less now that I had a full-time gig–and he seemed to know when I wanted him to laugh and when I didn’t.
“This was really great, Gal,” he said, staring out at the water and grinning like an idiot. I probably looked just as stupid–my face hurt from smiling so much. “I always wondered what happened to you…”
“Happened to me? Like I’d end up a prostitute or a drug addict or something?”
Of course, servers had to show up at right that second to clear the table.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. “And I’m sorry for being such a raging bitch as a teenager. And a monster as a kid. …I always wanted to apologize for that.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad–glad we could reconnect, and that everything’s good now.”
He paid the bill, and as we were circling around the outdoor seating area, I suddenly stopped and pushed him up against an empty table.
“You paid for dinner,” I purred. I think. How did a woman even purr? I probably sounded like an idiot and not a real actress, but he was a man and that’s all that mattered. “Let me do this much for you.”
I paused…and then let my hand drift lower.
“Holy shit–Gal–” he sputtered. “We’re in a restaurant–” That didn’t stop him from getting hard, apparently.
“Lots of people do shit in public. It’s a pretty big kink–just ask my dad.”
“Yeah, I’d–rather not–”
“I bet you were hoping for this all night, weren’t you? Or maybe you were thinking about fucking my big, fat tits at the table in front of everyone–”
“Gal.” Funny how he was still trying to talk. “Please stop. This–this isn’t what I want–”
I couldn’t get away from him fast enough.
How the hell could I have thought he wanted that–wanted me?
I ruined everything. I always did.
I was glad I didn’t have to face Daisy when I got home. I could never face Bas again. Would he tell her? Because then I could never talk to her again either.
Why did I do that?
Why did I think he wanted me to?
His disgust couldn’t compare to my own.