Chapter Title: All the Right Moves
Rating: PG (adult language).
Word Count: ~5,360.
Characters: Maraina Stratten, Helena Caine, Kirk James, Noel Cruz, Cate Willis, Danny Wright
Word Count: ~5,360.
Characters: Maraina Stratten, Helena Caine, Kirk James, Noel Cruz, Cate Willis, Danny Wright
Synopsis: Winning the Contest provides Helena and Kirk with life-changing opportunities. Mari starts to realize that all that glitters in Hollywood is not gold.
“This isn’t a Podunk, one street light town, Janie Mae. I have no clue what the hell you’re talking about.”
Author's Note: Thanks Betty! :)
Mari stepped out of the shower, drying her hair on one of the plush hotel towels. There was just something about suites in five star hotels - not that she’d had that much or any experience staying in one, but she assumed, anyhow - that was simply marvelous. Even the soaps and lotions smelled expensive, but the towels…Oh heavenly, fluffy clouds of cotton.
“Can we steal the towels?”
Helena looked up from the love seat she’d spread out across. “I plan on stealing this robe. Both robes actually, so don’t get any ideas.”
“I bet we can just charge it to the room if we wanted to,” Mari said, sitting on the bed. “Thanks for letting me stay over tonight. It will make tomorrow go so much easier.”
Helena snorted. “Let you? More like made you. If your mom’s cooking hadn’t been so awesome, I totally would have ordered tons of room service.”
“It’s not like you’re leaving tomorrow,” Mari pointed out. “We’ll have plenty of time to run up a nice tab.”
Helena’s eyes narrowed. “How many of these sleepovers were you planning?”
“Until you kick me out and then only after I’ve begged and pleaded for just one more night.” She went on her knees, hands clasped together in prayer, then held up three fingers.
Helena threw a cushion at her and laughed. “Well, this gives us a change to girl talk without interruptions.”
Mari got up and nodded, heading for the bathroom. “What else do you want to know about Odyssey?” She asked over her shoulder. She put the towel over the glass door of the shower stall, looking longingly at the luxurious shower system with two body sprays and more massage jets than should be legal. She wondered if Helena would notice if she jumped back into it.
“Did you fall and can’t get up?”
Mari sighed and walked out of the bathroom. “What other trade secrets are you going to get out of me with your wonderful shower torture system?” She sat down on the empty side of the love seat.
“I know, right. I’m wondering if its against the law to sleep with those ‘who needs a man’ massage jets.” She closed her laptop and notebook. “I need to sleep on this, though, and let the information sink in. Right now I don’t think I could differentiate between all the profiles I created for each interviewer based on what you’ve told me.”
Mari’s eyes widened. “You’re insane.”
“You’ve just figured that out now?” Helena got up and headed for the small refrigerator and pulled out two ciders she’d ordered from room service. Well, she’d ordered a full six-pack, but that was neither here nor there. She handed one to Mari before sitting back down and tucking the robe around her legs. “You’re legal enough, right?”
Mari shook her head after accepting the bottle. “Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” She twisted the cap off and drank. “Yum.”
Helena took a sip and nodded, looking at her expectantly.
“’He’s so hot, he’s molten’?” Helena air quoted. “You totally left me hanging all night. You’ve always had a small —” she held her arms out wide — “crush on Westfield and it shows in your writing.”
Mari shook her head. “Crush on dark, tortured, bad boy redeemed, Rafe Leonidas. There’s a difference, you know.”
“He’s so hot, he’s molten. Yeah,” Helena took a large sip, “such a big difference.”
Mari frowned and got up from the seat, cider in hand and started pacing and drinking. She opened her mouth to say something but closed it again, then chugged more of the cider and continued pacing.
“He’s amazing,” she finally blurted out. “And sexy as hell and sweet.” She turned and faced Helena. “He totally did the knight in shining armor bit today when I couldn’t get into the studio because of my usual dumbassery and he just…” She pressed her hand and the cold bottle against her warm face. She closed her eyes and groaned, falling backwards onto the bed. “He’s totally awesome!”
Helena opened her mouth to warn about spilling and making a cidery mess, but her mouth slid shut when the clearly empty bottle rolled out of Mari’s hand.
“Did you drink that whole bottle?” Helena looked at her own half-full (because she was just that kinda of girl, at least for tonight) bottle.
Mari pushed up to her elbows and frowned, looking at the empty bottle in the middle of the floor. “I guess? Do you have any more?”
“NO! You delinquent.” Helena sighed. “You are seriously crushing on this guy.”
“I know,” Mari groaned. “And delusional to top it off. Sometimes I actually talk myself into thinking he likes me, too. Or kinda likes me, at least a little bit. Or finds me amusing?” She fell back down and looked at the expensive looking ceiling fan. Her mind drifted back to how good Mr. Patrick Westfield had felt against her. The way his warm breath sent a full body tingle with just a few simple words.
She smiled at the memory, but then reality came crashing down. “But even if I had a snowball’s chance in hell with him, we work together. Sorta and isn't there a rule about fishing in your own pond or something?”
“Don’t go fishing while your house is on fire,” Helena answered.
Mari looked up. “Why would you go fishing if you’re house is on fire? If you catch any fish you won’t have a house to cook them in.”
Helena saluted her. “You’re not a troll, Mari.”
Mari rolled onto her stomach, resting her chin on her hands and looked at Helena. “That’s not how this little pep talk is supposed to go.”
“I’m getting to it, you uppity wench. You’re supposed to say, ‘Mari! With your long, luxurious hair—’” she shook out her still drying locks and sprayed water everywhere, at least until a cushion hit her in the head. “Oi!” she grumbled and sat up. “’And those gorgeous long legs and killer curves,’” she continued, smacking her hips, “‘why, you’re beautiful and he’s going to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with you and whisk you away on his private jet to a remote island where you’ll make adorable little babies together.’”
Helena’s mouth hung open, her bottle hung limply in her hands as she stared at Mari. “Please tell me you’re just drunk and haven’t been overdosing on the CW again. I’ve told you those shows will suck out your brain cells via the TV.”
Mari shrugged. “But them boys are so pretty!”
“Good God, that’s some massive teen makeover angst to the nth degree.” She finished off the cider and looked longingly at the mini fridge.
“But you’d be an awesome plucky BFF.” She laughed when Helena glared at her. Then reality crashed her party again and the smile on her face slowly disappeared. “I know I’m not a troll but he dates supermodels, so…”
“Actually, I think his two ex-wives were both supermodels.”
Mari threw the cushion back at Helena. "Gee thanks, that makes me feel so much better.” She sighed. “In the reality where I rule the universe with an iron fist, I’d totally be banging him—”
“Like a screen door during a hurricane!”
“Will you stop doing that, Momma Bear?” Cate snarled as she looked up from her computer. “Your little cub will be just fine.”
Mari ignored her and continued pacing. “I’m just nervous for her. I got her into all this and can’t believe Chuck kicked me out of the office for her meet and greet. I told her I wouldn't leave her alone.”
She’d promised Helena and had fully intended to run interference, if needed during the interview. They’d gotten ready, stocked up on energy drinks, dragged Kirk out for coffee and started the day with confidence, even though being picked up by a different driver, was a serious bummer all around. Then the minute they’d arrived, Kirk and Helena were whisked away by HR and Mari had been exiled to the nunnery. She glanced at Cate who made a mighty fearful Mother Superior.
Cate rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why you’re so worried. HR won’t allow us to perform human sacrifices to the Dark Lords anymore.” Mari stumbled to a stop and stared. Cate simply shrugged. “They ran out of room to hide the bodies.” Her head suddenly snapped up.
Mari had a distinct urge to say, “What is it Lassie,” but wisely refrained.
“I sense a disturbance in the creative force.” Danny barged into the office and sat down. “Oh, it’s just you.”
He ignored her. “Have you seen the other finalist, Mary Catherine something or other?” He shook his head. “Smoking hot. Rode up with her and some HR gopher who’s babysitting her. Damn I’d wished I’d gotten that job.” He looked up. “What?”
“Momma Bear is worried about leaving Helena alone with Sterling and Jeremy.” Cate nodded towards Mari.
Cate shook her head and looked back at Mari. “You know you don’t have to worry about Sterling not only because she’s your friend, but also, he really liked her stuff. As for Jeremy, well, I gave Wayne a heads up and he’ll keep cranky pants in line. “
Danny and Mari glanced at each other and cringed. “What happened,” he asked while Mari finally took a seat.
“This Kirk guy is really good,” Cate said, looking at her computer. She scribbled down some notes on her notepad. “I’m going to use some of this for that Scott/Kerrigan episode.”
Mari snapped her fingers to get Cate’s attention. “Why is Wayne babysitting Jeremy?”
Cate leaned back on her chair and sighed. “That’s right, you’d already left for the airport.” She looked at Danny. “Where were you?”
“Afternoon?” He asked. “At the Stacks with John. Wayne asked us to look into some old scripts.”
Cate laced her hands behind her head, her lips stretched into a wide Cheshire smiled. “Yesterday we were graced with Sofia Royce in her full blown diva glory. She went straight for Jeremy demanding that the Kele character be nixed and that storyline be shifted to her character. She was screaming at him at the top of her lungs until Sterling brought down the wrath of Zeus on her head. From what Patty said, and she had the best seat in the house, Sterling told Ms. Diva that if she didn’t get her obnoxious loud voice out of the building, he’d personally call his close friend, Marty, and tell him that due to ‘contractual obligations’, they simply couldn’t spare her for his film any longer. But that he, Sterling that is, knew of a lovely and talented actress who’d be available after a stint in a Tarvernier film and he’d, Sterling again, would be eternally grateful if Marty would consider her for the part in his film.”
Mari’s eyes widened and mouth hung open. “He didn’t!” Cate just nodded slowly.
Danny hissed. “Burn. The rumored meeting with Scorsese must not have gone that well. Or was it Leo that killed that idea?”
Cate shrugged. “Does it really matter? I’m still holding out hope she gets the part because she’d be out of our hair for a solid month. Maybe two, if we’re lucky.”
“God, I wish I’d been here to see that,” Mari sighed. She knew it wasn’t really fair to judge someone without actually ever meeting them, but Sofia’s diva reputation was well known and much talked about amongst the Scribblers. Even laid back, soft-spoken Wayne had battle scars and to have earned the scorn of charming rascal, Sterling Mitchell, it must truly be gargantuan in size even if Mari hadn’t experienced it first hand.
“Why isn't Wayne in charge of Odyssey?” It made sense, really. Wayne was much more the glue that held the show and it’s crew together. Jeremy, as brilliant as he was, didn't deal well with all the little details that Wayne just naturally handled. It was more as if Wayne was the mother hen and Jeremy the cool uncle. “He’s been around the show longer and he’s just as talented as Jeremy.”
Mari looked up at a stunned looking Danny and shuttered off Cate. Oh crap. Had she really just dissed their boss out loud?
“Trying to mount a coup already?”
Mari blinked. “No! I was just…” She licked her lips. “I like Wayne and he’s amazing. I’ve learned so much from all of you.” Yeah, that didn’t sound like pandering. Not. At. All. “It’s just that Jeremy is—”
“I’d go with madly brilliant, right about now,” Danny piped in.
“Yes,” Mari agreed. “His creative process is mind blowing. But he’s the visionary leader, not the boots on the ground type of guy. He creates fires and Wayne puts them out.” She shrugged. “I guess I was wondering if…” Jeremy was a connected backstabbing asshole, holding Wayne back on purpose. At least she didn’t say that out loud.
Cate rested her elbows on the table and crossed her arms. “You’re wondering if there are sides, right? You’d choose good guy Wayne because he’s a gifted teddy bear of guy, but you want to follow the super nova bad boy because he’s a bloody genius and creatively gets your juices flowing.”
She squashed the denial that was on her lips. A writing career, especially a Hollywood one, had been beyond a pipe dream before that traffic jam changed her life. But now? It was actually possible for her to carve a little niche for herself if she kept her head down and got a few years of experience. In this business, there was a lot of who you know as much as how much talent you actually had. So yeah, if she was brutally honest, she needed to learn about the politics. And learn to keep her thoughts to herself and her mouth shut. Dammit.
She shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Danny said, he nodded at Cate. “She’s a momma bear, too. And we’ve all made that choice. Even Wayne.”
“Wayne could’ve been the top dog,” Cate said. “But he chose to spend time with his wife and actually help raise his kids. He chose to be Jeremy’s sounding board. At least that’s how he put it to me.” A lopsided grin hitching her lips upwards. “When I asked him.”
Mari closed her eyes and let out a noisy huff. Relief oozed from every pore. The last thing she wanted was to alienate coworkers she was quickly thinking of as friends.
“You should have seen the panicky look in your face,” Danny said. “It was adorable.” The door to the office opened and Helena blindly walked in. “Actually,” he said, “it was just like that.”
Mari got up and walked over to her. “Helena? Sweetie?” She looked at Cate, who shrugged.
“Do you want some water or a stiff whiskey? Or both?” Danny asked.
Helena opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Mari grabbed her elbow and dragged her to the sofa, pulling her to sit down. Within seconds, a water bottle and a glass of amber liquid appeared in front of Helena.
“Take your pick,” Danny said.
Helena blinked, grabbed the shot of whiskey and downed it in one swallow. She pushed the glass back to Danny, then grabbed the water. With a quick twist of the cap, she was downing that as well. Mari, Danny and Cate just shared a glance and then waited.
“He offered me a job,” Helena whispered. She cleared her throat, took a deep breath and met Mari’s expectant gaze. “They offered me a job.”
“Sterling and Jeremy?” Mari asked. Helena nodded.
“Thank God,” Cate said. “The lack of estrogen in our meetings really bugs the hell out of me.”
Danny looked at her. “What are you talking about? There are women all over the Odyssey crew.”
“Yeah,” Cate snarled. “In the costume department. In make-up. Do you know how many female writers have permanent positions in this crew? Two.” She pointed to herself and Mari. “Now there’s three. Do you know how many men? I can’t even name all of them because there are so many.”
“I didn’t take it,” Helena replied.
“What?!” Three voices chimed in together.
Helena pulled out a large manila envelope from her bag. “They’ve made me an offer and told me to look it over. I don’t even know how to do that. This freaking thing is denser than War and Peace.” She shoved it at Mari. “I can’t do this. I have responsibilities back home. I can’t just pack up and leave.”
Mari opened the envelope and started reading through it. Or skimming it. It looked very similar to her own, but she’d have to talk Monica about it. That was the other thing. She actually had an agent which seemed ridiculous, but Sterling had insisted she talk an agent to oversee her contract. Cate had recommended Monica Cartwright and that had turned to be a great match up.
“Monica is going to be at the party, right?” She asked Cate.
“Considering she represents half of the show, I’d say that’s pretty much a guarantee. We’ll have her take a look at for you. She’s a total shark.”
“Monica Cartwright represents you?” Danny asked Cate and Mari. “Both of you?”
Cate nodded. “Who’s yours?”
“Phillips, over at Isis,” he said with a pout as he plopped down on the chair.
“It’s not like he’s incompetent,” Cate pointed out.
“I know, but he’s certainly not the Monica Cartwright, either,” he replied.
“If it’s any consolation,” Mari said, “she only represents me because Sterling pulled strings.”
Danny stared at her. “Shut up, Mary Sue.”
Helena’s head snapped up in time to see Mari’s mouth drop open wider than a whale shark. So much for being friends.
“Yeah, well, you shut up. You…bobble head, you.”
Cate shook her head and turned to Helena. “And she calls herself a writer?”
“She’s not good under pressure,” Helena answered with a shrug. “Give her an hour and a chance to Goggle witty replies and she’ll come back with something.”
Mari spun around and faced Helena. “Et tu, Brute?”
“I still love you, despite your obvious short comings.”
“Truth hurts, precious?”
Mari turned back to him, ready to read the riot act, but stopped when his lips twitched. Not in the arrogant, I’m an asshole way, but in the arrogant, I’m pulling your leg, rookie, way.
“Jeremy is right, you’re downright hot when you get all flustery angry.” He shimmied his body on the chair and wiggled his nose, then smiled. It was a move that made any man look ridiculous. On Danny, it just made him pathetically cute in an immature nerd sort of way.
Mari crossed her arms and stared at him. “Jeremy said I was hot?” She couldn’t see it. Jeremy was, well, Jeremy. Brilliant. Temperamental. High maintenance came to mind when it came to describing him, but sexual was never in that mix.
Danny shifted in his chair. “Well, get enough alcohol into him and everyone becomes hot.”
Cate groaned and put her hand to her face.
“What?” he asked. “We’re guys we talk about all the women we work with.”
“Quick,” Helena told him, “pull out the deus ex machina because you are in it deep and sinking fast.”
Danny’s eyes widened and his gaze bounced between the three women. “Don’t women talk about sex?”
“Sure we do,” Cate answered, “but it usually involves Johnny Depp.”
Helena nodded. “Or Chris Hemsworth.”
“Patrick Westfield.” Mari realized her mistake immediately. “I said that out loud, didn’t I?” She felt the blood drain from her face. Great. Now she was going to be known as that fan girl with a crush. She looked at Helena for support but the embarrassed cringe in her face said it all.
“Well,” Cate said, breaking the stunned silence, “its not like we didn’t suspect which ship you sailed.”
“It’s. Not. Like. That.” It was, but she thought she’d been hiding it well and if her coworkers knew, than what did that mean for the man himself. God, no wonder she hadn’t seen him since yesterday’s fiasco. She thought she’d played it so cool, but now…
“At least it’s not Wesley.” Cate turned to Helena. “If he hits on you, and he will, you’re allowed to bitch slap him back to puberty.”
Helena tilted her to the side. “I would have expected that from Dave Farley.”
“Nah.” Cate shook her head. “Dave hits on everything with two legs, so don’t be impressed when he hits on you, but because he scores so often, he takes rejection like a man and moves on if you’re not interested, instead of being a whiney little bitch who throws a tantrum and tries to get you fired because you’re not impressed with his tiny little prick.”
Mari stared at Cate. Because…Whoa, Nelly, that was more than she really expected, especially from Cate. Though now that she thought about it, Cate was anything but a shrinking violet. The real thing was the longer she worked for the studio, the clearer her rose colored glasses became. Movie star looks and great press didn’t always equate a normal human being, much less a nice guy. It was kinda sad to learn that her teenage crush had been a dick to someone she respected professionally and liked personally.
“Ain’t nobody got time for tiny little pricks.” Of all the supportive things she could have said, Mari cringed. She really shouldn’t be allowed to speak without a pre-approved script.
“I know, right?”
“So, you’re saying, that I’m going to be surrounded by dbags, if I take this job.” Helena nodded. “That’s a rousing endorsement.”
Danny cleared his throat. Twice.
Cate rolled her eyes. “Okay, not every guy you’re going to work with is an asshole. Some,” she pointed at Danny, “are quite normal and not an absolute disgrace to the human race.”
“You will end up working with truly misogynistic pricks if you stick around long enough, but the upside to working with the beautiful and shallow, is that you can end up banging some smoking hot guys who are trying to use you to get an audition when in fact you’re just using them to get off.”
Helena opened her mouth to say something, but snapped it shut. All things considering…she shrugged. Danny held up his hand slowly. Cate simply dipped her head and waited.
“Is this how women really talk when men aren’t around?” Danny looked at them for confirmation. “I feel like I’ve been allowed entry into a secret society. I must go forth and share with my brothers the knowledge that women are just as horny and sexually addled as men.”
“Darling, ply us with alcohol and chocolate and we’ll teach you how to do a proper blow job.”
“Helena!” Mari stared at her friend. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
“It’s not like we haven't talked about it before,” Helena replied. “Hell, it’s not like we haven’t written about bjs hundreds of times in our stories.”
“Hundreds is a bit much,” Mari said. She could feel her face heating up. She wasn’t a prude, but she really didn’t know Danny all that well and it just seemed wrong to be talking about about blow jobs with a coworker or at least mixed company.
“I’m more into receiving bjs,” he shrugged, not bothered by the lascivious turn in the conversation, “not giving them. I’m kinda selfish that way, but I’m more than willing to be your test subject.”
“Nice try, hoss,” Cate said. “But unless your name is Johnny, Chris, or,” she turned to Mari with a sly smile, “Patrick, you're shit out of luck with the ladies in this room.”
“Just my luck,” he said and pulled out the buzzing phone from his pocket. “Have to pick up my suit from the cleaners.” He stood up and started walking to the door before turning back. “Say, if I return with alcohol and chocolate, will you continue to share the secrets of your people?”
Mari snorted. Helena just smiled. “And will you share those secrets with your brethren?”
“Not if it gets me laid more often.”
“Ladies,” Cate intoned, “we can rebuild him. We have the technology. The capability to make him better…smoother…indefatigable.”
“That sounds so dirty,” he said. “I’m in. Belgium truffles good for you?” He turned Helena. “You have to take this job. You must. You must. For my sake.” He winked and closed the door behind him.
“I hate men,” Cate groused. Mari and Helena just looked at each other, then back to Cate for an explanation. “He’s probably going to wear the same dark navy suit he’s worn for the last year or so and no one will bat an eye. For us, we wear the same outfit more than once and people start wondering if we have a gambling or drug addiction and can’t afford new clothes. And heaven forbid you don’t wear a designer label, then you’re criminally unfashionable and they’ll have pictures to immortalize our shame. If I didn’t have an insider in the costume department, I’d be stuck eating ramen for a month just to buy a dress I can only wear once.” She shook her head and pulled out her phone, then looked up. “You two have outfits for Friday, right? Whatever you do, don’t wear something plain and off the rack. HR will skewer you.”
Mari shot up from the chair and smiled. “Yup. Have it covered.”
Helena sent her a dubious look. “We do?”
Mari shot her a silencing glare. “In fact,” she looked at her watch, “we are going to be late for out fitting.”
Mari crossed the room and grabbed Helena’s elbow, pulling her up and dragging her out of the office. “Later, Cate,” Mari called out.
“Take the job, Helena!”
They stood in front of the closed door for several long seconds as Mari looked for a secluded spot away from prying office gossip eyes and ears. She pulled Helena to a quiet spot near an empty conference room, then started digging through bag. Helena leaned against the frame and crossed her arms.
“Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!”
Mari looked up and cringed. “I kinda thought we could get by with some generic black dress or something. So I didn’t think twice about it.”
“Forgot all about the contest and pictures, didn’t you?”
The shoulder dropping pathetically was a telltale sign, but she also nodded. “Do you have something to wear?”
It was the sweet, hopeful, puppy dog eyes that almost made Helena pat Mari’s head. Instead, she just sighed and shook her head. “I forgot to pack my Vera Wang, so we’re destined to be ridiculed in the annals of Fashion Crime of Week unless you have connections with fashion elite.”
Mari bit her lip, found her phone and dialed. “Noel, I need your help.”
“Oh, you didn’t.” Helena covered her face and groaned.
“What’s wrong? Where are you? Do I need to make room in the freezer?”
Mari looked at Helena. “What?” Then turned back to phone. “Why would you need need to make room in the freezer?”
“I really like him,” Helena said. “A true friend helps you hide the bodies.”
“Oh.” Mari looked from Helena to the phone. "Totally.” She pulled the phone back to her ear. “No, not like that. We’re fine, nobody’s dead, yet, but Helena and I need to get some nice clothes for the party.”
There was such a heavy silence from Noel’s end that Mari wondered if the call got dropped. “Noel? You still there?”
“Do I look like I belong in Queer Eye for the Straight Girl?”
Well… “You have better fashion sense than me.” Mari replied.
“A rock has more fashion sense than you,” Noel snapped back. “I’m not some fairy godmother that waves her wand and gets you ready for the ball, Cinderella.”
Mari’s eyes widened. “Ooh!” She tossed the phone to Helena and went back to digging through her bag.
“Hey, Noel, it’s Helena. I had nothing to do with her calling you fashion advice.”
“Talk about cliche,” he answered. “How come you don’t have any fashion sense?”
Helena shrugged without thinking, then realized he couldn’t see her response. “I was out playing football with the boys when that was handed out in school.”
“Found it!” Mari held out a small card which was promptly snagged by Helena.
“Do you know Bibbidi Boutique?” she asked, reading the card. It was actually really clever how the designer had skirted the Disney trademark while still making the coach logo recognizable.
“Oh definitely,” Noel replied. “They’re awesome.”
“Really?” She looked at Mari. “He says he knows this place.”
“Are you kidding me?” He asked. “This isn’t a Podunk, one street light town, Janie Mae. I have no clue what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Well, you don’t have to be an ass about it.”
Mari grabbed the phone. “Yes, it’s a fine ass,” she said before he could get a word out. “Meet me in Torrance in thirty.” She rattled off the address.
“Torrance? This time of the day? Just to help you pick out a dress? Bwahahahaha.”
“If you help us, you can be my plus one at the party.”
The laughter stopped. “Your Hollywood party with all the cute boys?”
“Lots and lots of cute boys.” She promised and hoped to god it was true.
“Next time, start with the carrot, not the stick. See you in Torrance in twenty.”
Mari dropped the phone back in her bag and looked at Helena with a huge smile. “He’s totally helping.”
“Your genius is impressive. And evil.” She looked over Mari’s shoulder and her smiled dropped. “Oh, oh.”
Kirk walked down the hallway, looking a bit dazed and confused. And holding a packet that looked remarkably like the one Helena had stashed in her own bag. Mari and Helena looked at each other, then made a beeline for him.
“You okay, darling?”
Kirk looked at them, took a deep breath, then handed the packet to Mari. “They’ve made me an offer to use my designs and a staff position.”
Mari did quick skim through the document and looked up, then threw her arms around him. “That’s awesome! Congrats.” She pulled back, but he looked anything but excited. “Isn’t it?”
“I don’t work well with other people.”
Mari was at a loss there. Kirk knew his limitations better than she did, but he was way too talented to throw away this opportunity just because he didn’t like most people. She turned to Helena and glared, urging her to say something helpful. Helena stared back, then caught on.
“But you’re crazy talented,” Helena pointed out. “As long as you don’t kill anyone in the office, they’ll work with you. It’s Hollywood.”
Mari rolled her eyes and shook her head. That was not the most encouraging thing to say, but Kirk didn’t seem to mind.
“They want me at the party. I don’t think I have much of a choice. I’m not good at parties.”
“Don’t worry.” Mari patted his hand. “We’ll be there, too. We got your back. Do you have something to wear?”
He looked down at her, brow furrowed. “Yes.”
“Something that doesn’t make you look like serial killer in training?” Helena pointed out.
She had a point. The black pants, heavy biker boots, also black, and the beat up Army surplus jacket was almost identical to the clothes he’d worn at the airport. Mari was surprised the art department hadn’t gone running the opposite direction. On the other hand, they did beat to their own drummer, maybe it was HR that would have run for the hills. Either way, he couldn’t show up at the party looking like he could easily murder everyone present.
“I know the cure of all ills." She started pulling Kirk down the hallway. "Retail therapy.”
“What does she mean?” He looked at Helena and she kinda felt sorry him.
“We’re going shopping, big guy.”