One More Night | Chapter 23 of 41

Author: Julia London | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1113 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Continuing problems with the film’s budget kept Michael away for the first couple of days of boot camp that week. Leah saw him in the mornings, when he would invariably greet her at her car with a big smile and a bagel. He confessed to being worried that she had enough fuel for the paintball practice. And they chatted on the phone one night when Michael wasn’t swamped and could talk about planning an extreme hiking adventure to the Peruvian Andes for a group of Italians.

Leah regaled Michael with the ongoing tales of boot camp, the highlight being when Jamie single-handedly brought paintball to a grinding halt by screaming when she accidentally got her finger stuck in the trigger of the gun.

“Did it hurt that bad?” Michael asked, astounded.

“It didn’t hurt at all. But it ruined an appliqué on her nail she’d paid big money for, and that hurt.”

Michael sighed. “The guys were right. Women and war don’t mix.”

“Just wait,” Leah predicted. “When we start shooting, we will be one well-oiled machine.” She didn’t believe it for a minute. And she didn’t tell Michael about Nicole Redding. Everyone loved Charlene Ribisi, who had come for the required paintball practice, but they all agreed Nicole was a pain in the ass, unwilling to carry her own weight.

Michael also was true to his word and hooked her up with his friend, Beverly, the costumer, and arranged for Leah to visit Beverly’s studio Wednesday at lunch.

Leah talked Trudy into going with her—but not before Trudy made her come clean about her relationship with Michael.

“Dammit! I knew it!” Trudy shouted, hurling her straw cowboy hat to the ground and punching her hands to her hips. “I wanted him. He’s so hot, and he likes my style. But girl, I have to be honest—I have a sixth sense about these things. You really shouldn’t lie to your best friends.”

“I didn’t lie,” Leah said with a laugh, and stooped down to pick up Trudy’s hat. “It really was a long time ago. I haven’t seen him in years.”

“Oh yeah? So how do you go from not seeing some guy for years to being an item?”

“Well…apparently he was thinking about me all that time,” she said as a sheepish but gleeful little grin curved her lips.

Trudy suddenly thrust forward, her face in Leah’s. “And just what was he thinking?” she asked with a salacious grin.

“Shut up,” Leah said, pushing Trudy when she handed her the hat.

“I won’t shut up. Come on, come on, tell me!” Trudy pouted. “You know I live vicariously through you. The only thing Rick ever thinks about is what he’s going to eat and when he’s going to get laid, in that order,” she said, swiping the hat from Leah’s hand.

“Well…he said that he can still taste me, and he can still smell me, and feel me, and that basically, he would walk through fire to come back to me. But a lot more eloquently than that.”

“Oh. My. God!” Trudy shrieked, and bent backward so far that Leah was afraid she’d fall before bouncing back up, her brown eyes blazing. “That incredibly gorgeous man said that to you?” she cried.

“Hey! Don’t sound so shocked.”

“Oh girl, I am shocked right out of my shorts, but worse, I am also pea green with envy. Tell me more.”

“Well…he’s taking me to the premiere of The Hero. And he has given me the name of a costumer who will put me in a dress for it. And that’s where I am going now, and you are invited…if you want to come.”

Trudy’s eyes went wide, and then she let out a whoop and linked her arm through Leah’s. “Are you kidding? Of course I want to come. Good for you, sweetie—you deserve this. Everyone should have one great love in their life. So let’s go. I want to see what you’re going to wear.”

Leah hadn’t actually said anything about one great love. She was privately afraid to say anything like that, afraid of putting labels on the white flag she’d held up to Michael. Nor did she want to be too hopeful, or disinter any intense feelings of love. Even if she managed to do it, and she wasn’t certain she could, she wasn’t sure she could trust Michael. And if something awful happened, she was 100 percent sure she could not survive emotionally. Best not to go there at all. Best just to take this one baby step at a time.

Starting with a fabulous new dress and a Hollywood premiere.

So she let Trudy drag her to her car and drove to the workshop, where Michael’s friend was expecting them.

“Hi, I’m Beverly,” she said as Trudy and Leah opened the door and stepped in. “You must be Michael’s latest, right?” she asked cheerfully.

That was such an odd thing to say that Leah didn’t know how to respond. So Trudy did it for her. “She’s Michael’s last,” she said with great authority.

“Oh,” Beverly said, and the fact that her eyebrows nearly reached her hairline did not give Leah a good feeling. But Trudy was dragging her into the middle of the studio and a rack of clothes.

“Ohmigod, these are gorgeous!” she exclaimed. “Do you sell them?”

“Not really,” Beverly said as she walked over to stand next to Leah. “Every so often I will. I usually end up using them on a film somewhere.” She looked at Leah. “So are you Michael’s fiancée?” she asked with a twinge of incredulity in her voice.

“Oh no,” Leah said, and shook her head, laughed as if that was hilarious. “I’m really just a…ah…a friend. My name is Leah.”

“Nice to meet you, Leah. You’re lucky. Michael doesn’t usually do this for his friends.”

What did that mean?

“Help yourself. This rack over here probably has something more appropriate for a major studio premiere,” she said, pointing to the corner.

Leah and Trudy instantly made their way to the rack Beverly had indicated and started sorting through beautiful dresses and gowns.

“Why can’t I ever get a role where the character wears this sort of thing?” Leah sighed as they looked through. “Why do I get the role where I have to wear camouflage gear or bathrobes?”

“At least you have a part in a movie,” Trudy said. “Think of all the poor schlubs in America who never get to come to a shop like this. Are we lucky, or what?” She picked up a floor-length yellow chiffon number and held it up to Leah.

“That was made for Nicole Redding for a scene in Washington Square. But it ended up on the cutting room floor.”

Trudy wrinkled her nose and very carefully stuck it back on the rack. “Oh! Look at this,” she said, and withdrew a knee-length, turquoise blue sheath from the rack, held it up to her body, and twirled around to the mirror. “This is gorgeous. And this would look absolutely fabulous on me.”

“Actually, it would look fabulous on her,” Beverly said, and gingerly took the gown from Trudy and handed it to Leah. Leah had no compunction about stepping directly in front of a gaping Trudy at the mirror and ignoring Trudy’s protest that she found the gown first. She held it up to her. It was beautiful. She could just imagine Michael’s face when he saw her in this, the little smile lines around his eyes, his eyes going dark—

“Try it on,” Beverly urged her, and pointed to a curtained area.

“I don’t think I could fit into that in my wildest dreams.”

“You are a little big through the hip,” Beverly said, eyeing her critically, but then she smiled. “I can alter it. Just try it.”

For the chance to try it on, Leah could ignore the hip comment, and stepped behind the curtain Beverly indicated and started peeling off her clothes. But as she was struggling to pull the gown up over her hips (she did seem a little big through there), she heard Beverly ask Trudy how long Michael and Leah had been an item.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Trudy said. “They used to be in love, and they broke up, but then they found each other again, completely by accident, and it’s love again. Isn’t that wild?”

“It’s really wild. The last time I spoke to Mike, he was seeing Nicole.”

Great, that one again, Leah thought. Trudy must have given Beverly a look, because she quickly said, “Oh, I don’t mean anything. It’s just interesting, because Michael…well, he’s a good friend of mine, but let’s just say he gets around. And they always think he’s the one. I think even Nicole thought he was the one.”

“Huh, that’s interesting,” Trudy said, and Leah could tell by the pitch of her voice that she was uncomfortable, “because Leah is the one. He told her so.”

Oh nononono, Trudy, don’t do that! Leah silently begged her. In some respects, L.A. was a tiny little town, and remarks like that got around.

“I’m not saying she isn’t,” Beverly graciously agreed. “It’s just that he’s such a great guy, and he’s so charming and handsome, and I was just making a point that a lot of his dates think that it’s a bigger deal than it is.”

“Well, this is the real deal,” Trudy said emphatically.

“That’s great!” Beverly responded, and it seemed to Leah that she was getting a little irritated with Trudy.

Leah managed to get the dress on and zipped it up as far as she could before flinging the curtain open. “Ta-da!” she sang.

Trudy squealed with excitement. “It’s gorgeous! You’re gorgeous!” she cried.

“Can you zip it?” Leah asked, hobbling around in the skin-tight sheath.

Beverly tried with a lot of huffing and puffing and finally said, “I can’t zip it all the way. I’ll have to alter it.”

Leah took a deep breath and, holding her arms wide to keep herself from teetering over, turned around.

Both Trudy and Beverly stood back and nodded. “Perfect,” Trudy said.

“The dress was made for Renée Zellweger, but you’re a lot bigger than her. You might want to think of losing a few pounds,” Beverly added.

“Thanks,” Leah said.

Beverly grinned. “So what do you think? Do you like it?”

What Leah thought couldn’t be put into words. She felt transformed. The dress was absolutely beautiful. It had a plunging neckline, open to the waist, and a bare back. It was belted at the waist, and a slim sheath hugged her to the knees. It was definitely movie-star fantastic, and Leah felt like a million bucks in it.

“Let me make some quick measurements, and we’ll get you some breathing room,” Beverly said, and walked away, leaving Trudy and Leah alone.

Trudy smiled broadly, nodding her approval. “Girl, you are going to knock his socks off.”

Leah smiled.

“Don’t worry about Beverly,” Trudy whispered. “She’s jealous.”

Beverly reappeared with a yellow tape measure and a bit of chalk. She made several marks on the dress then promised to have it ready by Friday afternoon, just in time for the premiere.

“Thank you so much,” Leah said, shaking Beverly’s hand.

“It’s my pleasure,” Beverly said. “Michael is such a good friend.”

As they walked outside, and Trudy paused to light up a smoke, she said, “I have the distinct impression that Beverly wants to be really good friends with Michael.”

“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“I am not.”

“You are.”

“Okay, so what if I am? You just look so gloomy. But hey, who’s getting the dress? And what shoes are you going to wear with that? Okay, here’s what I am going to do for you. I am going to take you to Goodwill to get some shoes—”

Goodwill?” Leah cried as they got in the car.

“Yes, Goodwill!” Trudy replied, clearly affronted. “Do you have any idea what the fine ladies of Brentwood and Bel Air toss out to Goodwill?”

Actually, Leah had no idea.

That afternoon, the women suited up in camouflage again (with a lot of grousing at the wardrobe guy about how fat they all looked), took up empty paintball guns, and walked through the blocking. Tomorrow, they would take the blocking into an old back lot set that had not been struck and still had housing facades up from the last film.

When they broke for the day, Trudy stopped to talk to Michele and Jamie, and Leah walked back to the locker room. As she neared the commissary tent, a familiar face stepped out into the sunshine, grinning broadly, his arms wide. “There you are, the flower without the light for the cigarettes.”

“Hello, Adolfo. Still lurking about looking for a light, I see.”

“No, no, this is not true. I am waiting for you.”

“Me?”

. You do not recall? You did not give me your name.”

Leah laughed, put the tip of her gun to the ground, her elbow propped on the butt. “I don’t know if I should give you my name. What are you going to do with it?”

He smiled—a very lovely smile, in all honesty—and said, “You will not give me your trust, no? Ah, but if I have your name, I will do nothing but whisper it to the stars when I wish for you.”

“And you said you weren’t any good at lines!” she exclaimed with a laugh.

Adolfo looked positively wounded. “You do not believe me. Why is this? Do you not believe a man can see a woman as beautiful as you and wish for her to be his?”

Leah couldn’t help smiling. Cheesy? Absolutely. Flattering? Hell, yes. “I think that when a man sees a woman, he’s usually interested in something else.”

Adolfo grinned at that. “I did not say that I am not interested in this something else as well, sweetheart.” He winked.

Leah had to laugh. At least the guy was honest, she had to give him points for that, and he had a way of saying sweetheart that could turn a grown woman to jelly.

“If I may, nameless one…why do you have this gun?”

She glanced down at her firearm and picked it up, pointed it directly at Adolfo’s chest. He instantly threw up his hands, his eyes going wide. “If you aren’t careful, I will spray you with red paint.”

“You may spray on me whatever you wish,” he said, slowly lowering his arms, and took a tentative step forward and casually reached for the gun, took it from her, and turned it around, pointing at the tent. He brought it up to his shoulder as if he meant to fire it, looked through the site, pulled the trigger—and of course nothing happened. He laughed and lowered it. “This is useless,” he proclaimed.

“I should hope so. It’s a prop.”

“Prop? What is prop?” he asked, handing the gun back to her.

“An inanimate object used on a movie set,” she said, and cocked her head to one side. “What did you say you did around here, again?”

“I did not say. But now that you have expressed such keen interest, I shall tell you. I am the person with lights,” he said, and gestured heavenward.

“Lights?”

“Yes, lights. The things that hang down from the sky while you make the movies.”

“Ah,” she said, nodding. “Which film are you working on?”

Adolfo smiled. “Which film? Many, many films. And which film are you?”

War of the Soccer Moms.”

“Ah,” he said, nodding. “A very fine film. You are the star, no?”

She laughed roundly. “No.”

“No? How is this possible?” he asked, and touched her chin with his fingers, admiring her face. “You must be the star.”

“Believe me, I have asked myself the same question many times. Why aren’t I the star?” she joked heavenward, flinging her arms wide.

Adolfo clucked his tongue, dropped his hand, and looked away. But then he shifted a sparkling brown gaze to her from the corner of his eye. “I should very much like to give you wine.”

Leah laughed.

“I mean this. I should like to give you wine and learn your name.”

“My name,” she said, smiling up at him, “is Leah.”

Leah,” he said on a long sigh. “The name is nectar for my lips.”

She couldn’t help but laugh again. “But I can’t have wine with you, I’m afraid.”

Adolfo frowned and demanded, “Why? Why, why, why, Leah? I adore you, I seek you out, and yet you barely give me a name by which to call you. Do you find me repulsive?”

“Not at all,” she said with a smile. “But I don’t know you, Adolfo. I don’t go out with men I don’t know.”

“But how shall you ever know me if you do not let me give you wine?” he protested.

“I don’t know,” she said with a cheerful shrug. “Maybe I’ll see you doing the light thing when production starts,” she said, drawing an invisible light thing in the sky before picking up her gun. “I’d love to stay and chat, but this uniform is really hot, and I’ve got shoes to buy.”

Hasta luego, Leah. I shall whisper your name to the stars,” he said, gesturing poetically to the clear blue sky. And he smiled so warmly that she actually felt her skin tingle a bit. She waved at him, and slinging her fake gun over her shoulder, she walked on, laughing skyward when she heard him begin to sing her name to the stars.

Subject: My First Movie Premiere
From: Leah Kleinschmidt <[email protected]>
To: Lucy Frederick <[email protected]>
Time: 7:15 pm

So guess where I’m going. Okay, okay, you can tell from the heading. Can you believe it? It’s the premiere of The Hero, and you will not believe the dress I am wearing. It’s turquoise blue, and I found these really fabulous CFM shoes (you will NOT believe where) that are almost the exact same shade. Isn’t that cool?


Subject: Re: My First Movie Premiere
From: Lucy Frederick <[email protected]>
To: Leah Kleinschmidt <[email protected]>
Time: 10:20 pm

Okay, start with where you got the shoes, then at least tell me how you are managing an actual movie premiere (and isn’t Ewan McGregor in that movie? I LOVE LOVE LOVE him!). And when you get through telling me all that, then maybe you can explain why you can suddenly decide on a color for your stupid movie premiere dress, but you can’t seem to help ME settle on a color for the bridesmaids’ dresses! Speaking of bridesmaids, when I take into account my cousins, and my friends from Holyoke, and a couple of women I work with, who I cannot leave out, that gives me 10 bridesmaids, including you. What do you think? Is that enough?
     Oh yeah, BTW, just in case you think I’m an idiot, I am not. I know that because you are skirting around the central question of HOW you are going to the premiere, it can only mean one thing: Michael. Leah, have you lost your mind? How can you not see that you are setting yourself up for a huge fall?


Subject: Re: Re: My First Movie Premiere
From: Leah Kleinschmidt <[email protected]>
To: Lucy Frederick <[email protected]>
Time: 8:21 pm

Thanks for understanding. Did I tell you he says he loves me? Don’t bother writing back to tell me how crazy I am because I already know it. Anyway, I have to go. I told Brad I’d go with him for pizza to celebrate his getting a commercial today. It’s regional, but it will definitely pay his share of the rent, and frankly, I was beginning to sweat that. Check you later, L.
     P.S. I was just kidding about the turquoise. I am fine with whatever color you choose.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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