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HOLLYWOOD EMBASSY: EPISODE 1.04

INT. BELLA’S SUITE – DAY


BELLA sits with a pile of mail, a cup of coffee and her pajamas, rooting through the letters as ANDREW lies backwards on the couch, lounging.

ANDREW
I count four invitations, two bills, three pleas for work, and one death notice. My, Bella, darling, was the power over us not enough? Must you really have branched into organized crime?

BELLA
[absently]
Invitations are marked; they don’t count because you can tell without opening them which ones they are. [She sighs] Oh good Lord, would you look at this! Andrew, honey, the esteemed Mister Linwood requests my presence at his upcoming pre-release for, and get this…“Andrew Pryce’s latest masterpiece, starring the beautiful Danielle Dannen and the ruggedly handsome Jake Boyd”.

ANDREW
What in hell is the man playing at, we’re not even done filming, we’ve got three weeks left on the schedule. Hasn’t he heard of post-production?

BELLA
“Come and celebrate with us to get the word moving.”

ANDREW groans.

BELLA & ANDREW
Ad blitz.

BELLA
You have got to admit he knows what he’s doing.

ANDREW
What, you mean now that his head isn’t so firmly up his own arse?

BELLA
I didn’t need that imagery, Andrew.

ANDREW
Does anyone?

They flip through mail.

ANDREW
Well, well. Here’s the final order.

BELLA stops immediately, snatching the letter, ripping it open.

BELLA
What? Who’s it from? Damn it, who died? I thought you were joking, you ass, but you just had to go and be serious for once. Who’s gone and died now?

ANDREW
[smirks]
Your career. It’s from Tom.

BELLA sneers.

ANDREW
Careful, you’ll wrinkle.

BELLA
Careful, I can kill you.

She opens the letter and carefully reads through it.

BELLA (cont’d)
Regret to inform…pursuant to…two weeks…good luck in future? [Her eyes nearly blaze with fury] That ungrateful…

ANDREW
Would, perchance, the word you want to use right now be anything in the vein of an inappropriate action that one might take? Perhaps one, such as I? I did see a rather fetching young lass today on the street that I could take inappropriate actions with. That word?

BELLA
Oh, Andrew, darling, you don’t even know the start of the words I want to say.

She glances at the letter, shaking her head.

BELLA (cont’d)
[firmly]
I am going to kill that man. Final order, indeed.

ANDREW smirks.

ANDREW
And here I was thinking I would spend the day in inexorable boredom.

OPENING CREDITS

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

CRYSTAL sits with STEVE in the midst of a very long, very awkward silence. They eat and sip their drinks, but they don’t say a word. Everyone around them talks and laughs, but they remain in a deadness of silence.

STEVE
Don’t suppose I can escape with an, ‘I need to gloss’ excuse.

CRYSTAL
Unless you’re keeping some other secrets from me?

STEVE
Secrets? Me! Shocked. Awe!

CRYSTAL
It’s our first date. [Leaning in confidentially] We’re allowed secrets.

STEVE makes a show of wiping his forehead.

STEVE
Good, because I mean, it’s hard to tell the girl you’re dating about the ex-Commie, proletariat, opera-worshipping transsexual in me that’s just dying to burst out.

CRYSTAL stifles a laugh as she sips at her wine.

STEVE [cont’d]
Okay, I think the most intriguing thing about me is that my apartment has rats. I know, I know, I lie because I seek attention. But the rats are very real. Quality real. One bit me today, I can prove it with the tetanus booster that drained my bank account.

CRYSTAL
Maybe you should avoid rat bites as a conversation piece.

STEVE
Right, what’s the one normal people use. How was your day?

CRYSTAL
Fine, thank you!

STEVE pushes around his cutlery.

CRYSTAL [cont’d]
Right. Detail. Well, I went for an audition only to find out that the location had changed. And then I went looking for a pair of good walking shoes, only to find out that apparently, I get mistaken for a popular drag queen in certain parts of town. After that, I locked myself at home until that chilling fear of being androgynous passed and I bought some lipstick, just in case.

STEVE
Details are good.

CRYSTAL
Thanks?

STEVE
Eat up, chocolate mousse here is, you know…not divine, but I suppose it could be purgatoriffly perfect.

CRYSTAL
That good, huh?

STEVE
And better. [He’s already half done his] So, what about your family? Got one of those, or did you exchange yours in at the store, someone had already bought one for you?

CRYSTAL
No. [Quiet] No, I have a family.

STEVE
And?

A pause.

CRYSTAL
And if I had the receipt on one of the items, I would definitely take it back.

STEVE
Ooh, ouch. Let me guess. Nosy brother? Angry brother? Shopaholic sister? That’s mine. There’s only so many identity thefts you can take, huh.

CRYSTAL
No, not really any of those things. [She sighs] Can we go back to talking about the rat bites?

STEVE
That bad?

CRYSTAL
Rat bites.

STEVE
If this is some subtle way of telling me that your sister is a rat, you are doing very well.

CRYSTAL
[snorts] You don’t know the half of it.

STEVE
So get me to a quarter of it and we’ll save the half part for the next date.

He gives her a charming smile and she leans forward.

CRYSTAL
Well, if you really want to know…

INT. KERRY ISIS’ OFFICE – NIGHT

KERRY sits with WILL. WILL sits up perfectly straight, almost as if he would break in half were he to move at all. KERRY flips through a measly script and sighs, almost as if this were a chore.

KERRY
Boring, cliché, mediocre, impressive. [She reads something] Innovative. [She turns her gaze on WILL] What do you think of your work?

She lays it out on the table and pushes it across, her perfectly manicured nails splayed atop the paper.

KERRY [cont’d]
Quite honestly, I would appreciate your view on what the public is looking for in a script these days. [She gives him a wry smirk] You can do that, can’t you, Mr. Penn? Or has Andrew given me yet another void of substance?

WILL
Trust me, Andrew’s lack of substance is all him. No, I’m quite aware of the public. There’s the slump, right. It’s because of so much of the revisiting, but, yeah, there’s so much crap out there, it’s like certain studios aren’t even trying, you know?

He laughs conspiratorially.

KERRY
[Laughing, somewhat warmly]
Mr. Penn, you are preaching to the choir.

WILL
So what I was thinking is that we could maybe walk through an idea. I’m not going to pitch you another love story, I mean, god, shoot me if I do that.

KERRY
Go on.

WILL
[takes a very deep breath]
With the political scope as it stands today, my script is about a son. That script, um…that uh…

KERRY
Your script?

WILL
Yes! Yes, my script. Right. It’s about family. See, you can all have the good writing in the world, but without a concept and a big draw, you’re screwed.

KERRY
I am aware, Mr. Penn.

WILL
[swallows]
Right. Of course you are. [He exhales] Wartime broke up the family. And it’s the son who lives in the States now, but he clings to his roots back in Scotland. His father avoided the war. His grandfather fought in the Great War. You know? No one talks about that anymore, which is a shame. You can’t let history just die away, you know?

KERRY simply sits there, staring at him.

WILL
That scene there, is a question of faith. Because in this movie, there’s an ever-present threat and eventually, you know, war does break out. I mean, you know, I mean, this is in the near-future, of course! This isn’t now! I’m not pandering to a political party, I…I swear.

KERRY
Mr. Penn.

WILL
Yes?

KERRY
Can you handle a project of this scope?

WILL simply stares right back at her, gaping.

KERRY (cont’d)
I’d like to see a script. I like your idea. I will, however, require a bit of a love story in there. While you may pander to politics, I pander to my demographics.

WILL
Right. Yes, of course. Right. [He grasps his script pages tighter] I uh…you want a screenplay?

KERRY
I want a screenplay. We’ll be in touch.

WILL just nods fervently.

WILL
Thank you! Yes, thank you, Ms. Isis. I’ll get right on it.

Before chancing fate, WILL books it out of there.

INT. HOLLYWOOD EMBASSY – NIGHT

STEVE is walking CRYSTAL back up to her room. Every once in a while, the occasional person walks by very deliberately, obviously trying to figure out what’s going on. CRYSTAL is smitten, leaning in and all her body language points to him getting lucky.

STEVE
So, you’re sure that the fourth glass of wine wasn’t a mistake? I’m pretty sure it started talking to me by the end and I think it was saying ‘mistake’. Or possibly to order a steak.

CRYSTAL laughs softly.

CRYSTAL
I like you.

STEVE
I like that you like me.

CRYSTAL glances over her shoulder to her suite.

CRYSTAL
Do you want to come in for a drink?

STEVE
Weren’t we just saying wine was a mistake?

CRYSTAL
[pointedly]
You were talking about steak.

STEVE
You have drinks?

CRYSTAL
Maybe. If you play your cards right…

He leans in and kisses her forehead, kisses her nose, and slowly kisses her on the lips.

CRYSTAL (cont’d)
Steve…

STEVE
Friday night. Dinner.

CRYSTAL
Again?

STEVE
Again. And then we’ll see about that drink.

He eases away and gives her a smile, wandering carefree down to the elevators as CRYSTAL lets herself into her place, grinning the whole time. STEVE’S phone rings just before he gets in the elevator.

STEVE
Hello? [He grins] Hey, you. No, I’ll be there soon.

He gets in the elevator and the doors close.

INT. BANQUET HALL – NIGHT

There are sparkling lights about, dozens of people with drinks and gowns, mingling around and all apparently having a good time. NICK is hosting and ANDREW is almost always by his side. BELLA and ANDREA talk intently while JAKE and DANIELLE walk arm-in-arm and pose occasionally for pictures. WILL and SARAH sit drinking with RICK while CHRISTIAN talks with strangers and his cell phone, avoiding talking much to actual people. BELLA parts from ANDREA and tugs ANDREW aside. MATT socializes about.

BELLA
Honey, you’ve got that look.

ANDREW
[through gritted teeth]
Is it, perchance, the one that says I’m in the mood for murder?

BELLA
It just looks like you ate some bad oysters. Smile, Andrew, the women love it.

They stop and pose for a picture.

BELLA
[through a smile]
It’s nearly midnight.

ANDREW
Oh? And is there some sort of bargain I’m not aware of? Will Nick Linwood really turn into a pumpkin if I wait long enough? Lord knows he’s a gourd.

BELLA
Cute. [She tugs him to the sidelines] Put the seething hatred away for a minute and help me?

ANDREW
[sighs, put-upon]
Must I?

BELLA
At least let it take the back seat.

ANDREW
[glances around the party, sighs, finally settles his gaze on BELLA]
What is it?

BELLA
How do I stop Tom from leaving?

ANDREW
[smirks]
Well, Bella, you could always sleep with the man. [in sotto voce] If you haven’t already.

BELLA glares.

ANDREW (cont’d)
Oh, good lord, don’t give me that wither, I’d like my libido on tonight. Well. Realistically, you could cite contract dispute, but I’m sure Christian has already told you that’s impossible, the darling.

[He thinks for a long moment]

BELLA
And do you have anything helpful?

ANDREW
I’m afraid it’s all tracking back to sleeping with the man.

BELLA
[dryly]
You’re so very helpful. Like the older brother I never had.

ANDREW
Speaking of familial relations. [Points to two women] Do you think those two are twins? I always did make exceptions for twins.

BELLA sighs and walks away without another word, heading straight back for ANDREA and obscuring her gaze of the party with a shielded hand.

ANDREA
He’s ogling those women.

BELLA
He thinks they’re twins.

ANDREA
Ah, so…exception?

BELLA nods. ANDREA pours her a glass of wine – filled to the rim – and hands it over. BELLA smiles gratefully and downs half of it in a single gulp, searching her purse for a cigarette and her lighter.

ANDREA (cont’d)
What were we talking about?

BELLA
Tom.

ANDREA
Ah, yes. The Parable of the Quitting Agent.

BELLA
I recall that one. It had quite a bit of blood in the end from me ripping out his throat.

ANDREA
Oh, Bella. He’s awfully pretty. At least poison him?

BELLA
No point in a closed-casket, I suppose. So, what the hell do I do? Without having to resort to Socratizing him?

ANDREA
[thoughtfully]
Do you think he might stay if you offered him a raise?

BELLA
Oh, sweetie. I knew I loved you for your idealism. [She pats ANDREA on the head; almost sadly] Always thinking the best of people.

She gets up with purse in hand, cigarette and lighter in the other and wanders outside, avoiding reporters and fans lurking on one side, lighting up and finding SARAH having a smoke. BELLA lights up easily and leans against the wall.

SARAH
Rough night?

BELLA
Tom wants to quit.

SARAH
Oh. That.

BELLA
Sarah, do you possibly know everything?

SARAH
Just the good stuff. Actually, he called me up.

BELLA freezes, stares at SARAH.

SARAH (cont’d)
Wanted to know how mad you’d be. [She holds her hands up] I tried to talk him out of it! I promise! [She takes a long drag] Matt asked me here tonight, you know? Like I wasn’t coming or something. And he’s been all finicky lately. I think he’s in another one of those moods, where he wants a new career path.

BELLA
[distracted]
Good for the boy wonder. [She puts out her cigarette] Any chance you can call Tom back and tell him not to quit by any means?

SARAH
Sorry, baby, that boat’s sailed.

They both stare at each other.

BELLA
Baby?

SARAH
I’ll regret it forever.

BELLA
Good.

She quickly slips a mint into her mouth and heads back into the party, flashing her invitation on the way and nearly stumbling into MATT schmoozing a producer. MATT’S eyes light up as he sets them right.

MATT
Bella!

BELLA
My favorite drunken bellhop.

MATT
M’not drunk.

BELLA
I’d ask you to walk a straight line, but Andrew might come over and make a bad pun if I did. [She links arms with him, wandering into the thick of the party] Sarah tells me you’ve got paprika in the pants.

MATT
[peers downwards]
Did Jake and Will get my laundry…

BELLA
Expression, darling. You’re four sheets to the wind. [Pauses] The boys put paprika in your pants?

MATT
[Plaintively]
It itched.

BELLA
So, care to use that considerable extra energy you’ve got in helping me solve my dilemma?

MATT
Dilemma. [Sighs happily] I love that word. Dilemma. Say it with me? You’ve got your ‘D’ and your ‘Emma’. [Pauses] Ooh, hey, I think they’ve got chocolate martinis over there. [Slips away from BELLA without another word]

BELLA
Oh, for god’s sake.

CHRISTIAN, WILL, and JAKE sit at a table together, flicking folded up papers at each other, all of them tipsy.

WILL
She wants a script.

JAKE
We got that the first time. The dozen after that were really a bit extraneous.

WILL
A script.

CHRISTIAN
[sighs]
Jake, did you forget to wind him up?

JAKE
I’d hit the off switch if I could only find it.

WILL
[emphatically]
Kerry Isis eats guys like me for breakfast with whole-wheat toast and a side of oatmeal and she wants me to write a script! I’m screwed!

JAKE
William, don’t be ridiculous. Kerry Isis doesn’t eat!

CHRISTIAN and JAKE dissolve into laughter, just as BELLA appears at their table.

BELLA
Boys?

CHRISTIAN, leaning over JAKE, peers up and is almost crying, he’s laughing so hard.

BELLA (cont’d)
I seem to have missed the joke.

CHRISTIAN
Will’s screwed.

JAKE
And hardly literally.

WILL
[scowls]
I hate my life and I hate my friends.

BELLA
[Studies all three of them for a moment]
Oh, you are absolutely no use to me.

She walks off without another word. JAKE turns to the waiter.

JAKE
Monsignor? Another round of tequila, please and thank you!

BELLA wanders through the dance floor, but doesn’t make it to the other side, abducted into the arms of RICK and spun immediately.

BELLA
My favorite ladykiller.

RICK
My favorite man-eater.

They smirk at each other.

RICK (cont’d)
[As he twirls BELLA]
You’re frantic tonight. Doesn’t seem like you.

BELLA
I’m sure you’ve heard.

RICK arches an eyebrow.

BELLA (cont’d)
Is it possible you’re completely out of the loop? This trouble with the tabloids is cramping your style, Rick.

RICK
Don’t remind me. What’s up?

BELLA
Tom’s quitting.

RICK
Ouch.

BELLA
Yeah. I’ve been making the rounds for advice, but you know this lot.

RICK
More than I care to, some days. You know, Bella. You could always ask him to stay.

BELLA
And is that what you did right before you broke up?

RICK
[Pales slightly]
Bella…

BELLA
Hon, at least they’re not being hypocrites with their advice.

She leans in and kisses him on the cheek, leaving the dance floor while RICK stands there, looking a bit shell-shocked. He recovers quickly enough and finds some pretty brunette to dance with. She heads back over to the table that previously housed WILL, JAKE, and CHRISTIAN to find that only CHRISTIAN remains.

BELLA
All alone?

CHRISTIAN
Pit stop in the bathroom.

BELLA
I don’t suppose you found some loophole in the language of the contract that’ll let me keep Tom on a leash?

CHRISTIAN
[Groans mildly]
The images…

BELLA
[patiently]
Did you find anything?

CHRISTIAN
[Smiles sympathetically]
I’m sorry. But, no. He has free reign to leave. You could always sue him. He’d be forced to stick it out here.

BELLA
Mm. Appealing, but of course, he’d never trust me again. Or like me. But then, who actually likes anyone in this town?

CHRISTIAN
[Nods, understanding]
Good luck, huh?

BELLA nods, sitting there as CHRISTIAN stands and stretches.

CHRISTIAN (cont’d)
I think I’m about spent on the party-thing.

BELLA
[Concerned]
You got a ride back?

CHRISTIAN
I came with the boys, but I can find something. [He leans down to kiss BELLA on the cheek] Have a good night.

He leaves and DANIELLE takes his place.

DANIELLE
I think Nick’s used so much hot air, we could pilot a balloon of this place. And you, you look absolutely dashed over here! What happened!

BELLA
On a scale from one to ten, the usefulness I’ve received tonight has been imaginary.

DANIELLE
Aw, Belle.

BELLA
I don’t suppose you have anything?

DANIELLE
A helping of pills, actually. I was slipped them in the bathroom.

BELLA
[Hesitates, but just for a second]
No, I don’t think I can drug him. Legally.

DANIELLE
Then I’m useless too. Away with me!

BELLA
[Smiles]
At least you tried.

She stands.

DANIELLE
[Worried]
Are you going? It’s barely past midnight!

BELLA
And Nick isn’t a pumpkin, even.

DANIELLE
[Warily]
Was there a risk of that?

BELLA
Ask Andrew for the story.

DANIELLE
Oh, I would, but he’s…inconvenienced.

BELLA
The man does work fast. [She nods to the door] So, I’m gonna…

DANIELLE
Yeah. [She waves, smiles prettily] Have fun.

BELLA
Don’t break too many hearts tonight.

DANIELLE
I’ll do my best.

BELLA smiles and wanders out into the cool night air, taking a minute to collect herself as she tips her head up and searches for stars. She doesn’t find any.

INT. HOLLYWOOD EMBASSY THIRD FLOOR HALLWAY – NIGHT

CRYSTAL is wandering around in the halls, cell phone in her hands. She’s clearly waiting for a call. The elevator doors make a sound as they open and BELLA trudges out. CRYSTAL freezes, like she’s in the way.

BELLA
I’m not going to yell.

CRYSTAL
I…wasn’t worried you were?

BELLA
You have that skittish doe-eyed look. Unless that’s permanent. Do you Botox?

BELLA’S tone is tired and she digs out her key slowly.

BELLA (cont’d)
No. You’re still too young for that. Talk to me in five years, then the answer might be different. [She pauses, sighs] Tell me, Crystal. Have you ever been so disappointed by someone in your life? Have you ever wanted to benefit, even though their happiness would be at stake? Or are you still too good and new to have screwed someone over like that.

CRYSTAL watches silently, phone still in her palm.

BELLA (cont’d)
What do you say to a man you’ve worked with for over ten years, who’s finally come through on his promise to quit?

CRYSTAL
Maybe you just say…’good luck?’ Maybe you tell him how much you’ll miss him, how critical he was to working with you. [She takes a hesitant step closer] And maybe when you tell him how much he means and how well you wish him, he’ll always be a friend.

BELLA
[Smiles, shaking her head]
You know, you’re just like her when she got here.

CRYSTAL
I’m sorry. Her?

BELLA
Andrea. You remind me so much of her.

CRYSTAL pauses, not sure if this is a good or bad thing. BELLA finally gets her door open.

BELLA (cont’d)
Have a good night.

CRYSTAL
[Awkwardly]
You too?

BELLA shuts the door with a small slam and CRYSTAL goes back to pacing, glancing worriedly over her shoulder once or twice, before realizing she has no stake in BELLA’S life.

INT. ANDREA’S SUITE – DAY

It’s early morning and ANDREA is on the phone, pacing around as she prepares coffee and a light breakfast for herself.

ANDREA
I’m sorry. [She frowns] Did I hear you right? I thought you just said…[Listens for a long while] No. No, I wasn’t aware the role had been shortened. No, I was told that it was a recurring appearance with a bid for more episodes.

She sets down her cup of coffee.

ANDREA (cont’d)
[Coolly]
I see. Miss Carson knew about this. And did Bella happen to…[Pauses] I see. Well, thank you for the update. I’ll be sure to speak with her.

ANDREA hangs up and throws the phone onto the couch.

ANDREA
Damn it. [She runs both hands through her hair, pacing a little] Damn it, damn it, damn it. [Mutters to herself] Bella, I’m going to kill you.

She ties her hair up quickly and storms out into the hall, pounding on BELLA’S door non-stop. It’s opened by BELLA, staring and wincing.

BELLA
Speak softly.

ANDREA
You went home at…

BELLA
I drank when I got back.

ANDREA
[Raises her voice]
So, then, anything you were forgetting to tell me? Maybe between your BS reasoning and excuses to keep Tom, you might have told me something? [Speaks even louder] Maybe that my part had been written off!

BELLA
Andrea, I am so very…

ANDREA
Oh, please, don’t apologize. I’d like to actually leave this conversation not thinking of you as a total liar.

BELLA
I just wanted you to be pleased you got the part to begin with.

ANDREA
I’m a big girl, Bella. I can take it. You should have just told me, Bella. Because at least then, I would remember what it felt like to trust you.

BELLA sighs and rubs her eyes.

BELLA
Andrea…

ANDREA
Don’t. Just, don’t.

She storms out, slamming the door and making BELLA wince.

INT. EMBASSY LOBBY – DAY

MATT sits, flipping through the paper, drinking a cup of coffee. The elevator opens and BELLA exits, large sunglasses on her face. MATT’S face lights up and he hops over the counter to join her at her side.

MATT
Have I mentioned you look gorgeous?

BELLA
Matthew…

MATT
Because you do. And see, here’s the thing. I met Jack Carlson last night and he told me that he knew a guy who knows a guy who knows you and he’s casting for his next big picture. And we all know how good your influence is, so I was thinking maybe you could get me the audition?

BELLA stops in her tracks, taking off her sunglasses and leveling MATT with a glare.

MATT (cont’d)
[Gets a look of ‘oh, shit’ on his face]
Um…

BELLA
Matthew. I am about to lose my partner of over ten years in the casting business. Last night, I drank to excess until my brain decided it wanted out in twenty different directions. This morning, a close friend found me out for the Judas I am and now, you want an audition? You want a role hand-delivered on a platter, just for you? You realize that movie is about the nth item on my ‘to-care-about’ list?

MATT
Bella, I…

BELLA
Backtracking isn’t going to help you now, hon. Because Matthew, if I so much as choose to make sure you never work in this town again, it is a matter of phone calls. Now. Do you still want me to pull favors so you can audition for some part you’re the wrong type for anyway, or are you going to do your damn job and get the mail upstairs and deliver some goddamn coffee!

BELLA turns, realizes that the whole of the lobby is staring at her and MATT. She shakes her head and shoves her sunglasses back on, storming out of the hotel. MATT exhales, closing his eyes tightly. From the office, MR. CRAITH pokes his head out.

MR. CRAITH
Problems?

MATT
Do I get any sort of trauma-benefits or anything?

MR. CRAITH
From incidents with Bella? No. No, I can’t afford that.

MATT
Right. So uh, I guess I’ll be delivering the mail!

MATT skitters off quickly, mail in hand.

EXT. RODEO DRIVE – DAY

CRYSTAL is peering into shops, looking for a top to go with her skirt and looking at her reflection in the glass, fixing her hair.

TALIA
Don’t bother. No one actually cares what you look like out here.

CRYSTAL freezes, doesn’t turn, but watches TALIA’S reflection in the glass instead of her own.

TALIA
You’d look nice in the yellow.

CRYSTAL
Talia. What are you doing here?

TALIA
Shopping! I have a big date on Friday.

CRYSTAL
Don’t you mean work?

TALIA
Aw, my baby sister is growing up and learning sarcasm. [TALIA leans in and tweaks CRYSTAL’S nose, even though CRYSTAL pulls away. TALIA leans up against the shop] Oh, come on. Don’t be like that. I’m your sister!

CRYSTAL
Not by choice.

TALIA
Ouch. A girl could get hurt with those kinds of words. Come on, let’s go shopping, just like old times.

CRYSTAL
[Icily]
I’m busy.

TALIA
Oh, yeah? Doing what. Waiting for the phone to ring? That special someone? Or maybe the part you’re never going to get. You don’t think I came out here to do this, do you? Do you honestly think I intended this?

CRYSTAL tries to ignore TALIA.

TALIA (cont’d)
Some people become full-time waitresses or bartenders. Some people just become reality stars. And some people, like me, find a job that makes them money.

CRYSTAL
It’s degrading and it’s wrong and Talia, it’s disgusting!

TALIA
[Smiles to herself]
I sometimes wonder how you’ll be justifying it when you’re doing the same thing six months from now.

CRYSTAL
I would…never!

TALIA
Six months. We’ll see, sis.

TALIA kisses her on the cheeks and walks away, strutting her way down the sidewalk as CRYSTAL turns away and walks as quickly as she can back to the Embassy.

INT. CHATTERLY’S TAVERN – DAY

The tavern is clearly for the upper class. Mahogany wood and no one without a business suit. Everything is made to impress. ANDREW and NICK sit with a script of rewrites and two large pints of beer.

NICK
We’re missing something.

ANDREW
Another drink, I think.

NICK
In the script. We are missing something in the script and I will not have this be forgotten like the rest of your wares.

ANDREW
[Takes a deep breath]
Yes. How about another lager? Hm?

NICK
[Taps his pen thoughtfully against the script]
You know what we need?

ANDREW
[Under his breath]
A blowtorch?

NICK
We need a risqué scene. We’ve already got the R rating for the violence, so why not push a little sex into it. [He flips open his script and points at something] Here. Where Nicola is getting ready to go out and kill Marcus’ boss without him knowing about it. Let’s prolong this. I’m thinking sexy lingerie, I’m thinking some sensual music, I’m thinking…

ANDREW
Soft-core porn?

NICK
Well, we wouldn’t call it that.

ANDREW
I believe Miss Dannen requested one nude scene and that was the sex scene.

NICK
We can rewrite the contract. Danielle’s a trooper. [Frowns] Has she gained weight?

ANDREW
No, of course. I’m sure, she’ll be quite up for it.

NICK
Good. Now, let’s talk about the issue of money…

The camera fades out on the conversation, ANDREW looking like he wants to kill himself. We watch through the window as time fades and only at dusk do they leave the bar. From there, we pan back over to the Embassy.

INT. EMBASSY FIFTH FLOOR HALLWAY – NIGHT

SARAH sits, camped out on the floor outside CHRISTIAN’S suite with a magazine in hand, flipping through it casually and waiting for him. CHRISTIAN comes out of the elevator, haggard and exhausted.

CHRISTIAN
Is this the welcoming committee? You’re a few years late.

SARAH flips the magazine shut and hops to her feet, helping with CHRISTIAN’S things as he opens the door.

SARAH
Nope, just me. Just a friend.

CHRISTIAN
I see. And you’re here to ask me what, as a friend?

SARAH
[Wanders around inside, as though casually looking for something]
I’ve been thinking of taking a vacation.

CHRISTIAN
That’s…great?

SARAH
I hear Iowa’s nice.

CHRISTIAN pauses and sets his briefcase and papers on a table.

SARAH (cont’d)
But I want to make sure my reasons for going are the right ones.

CHRISTIAN
Sarah, I’ve got a case to work on. Can we cut around the crap and just get to the point? What’d Bella tell you?

SARAH
Just that you had a possibly one-way ticket to Boringsville, USA. I’ve been there. I have the t-shirt.

CHRISTIAN
You’ve been to Iowa?

SARAH
Well, maybe. I think. They all look the same to me. Some Midwest newspaper. I went because I had this jackass boyfriend and I wanted away from him. He was in Seattle, and I wanted to be…not there.

CHRISTIAN
I’m not running.

SARAH
I didn’t say you were.

CHRISTIAN
It’s a lucrative job offer. And I’m getting sick of this town.

SARAH
Christian? Do you honestly believe there are people here who aren’t sick of the place?

CHRISTIAN
So why stay?

SARAH
It’s where the work is. And occasionally, where the friends are.

CHRISTIAN
Did you want a coffee or something while you’re here?

SARAH
Sure. [She sits herself down] So, tell me about the job.

INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY – NIGHT

BELLA wanders down the halls with a bottle of wine in one hand and two glasses dangling from the other. She checks her watch and it reads 2AM. With a oblivious nature to the time, she rings the bell of TOM’S apartment, standing there in front of the peephole and smiling contritely, shrugging slightly when she hears movement near the door.

BELLA
I came to apologize.

The door opens and TOM stands there in his pajamas, which is what BELLA is also wearing.

TOM
You look good.

BELLA
You look better. [She holds up the wine] Like old times?

TOM
It’s a mess.

BELLA
I’m a mess too, I don’t see you objecting.

She pushes past TOM to find an apartment filled with boxes and she takes a moment to let it sink in before wandering inside and taking a deep breath.

BELLA (cont’d)
I assume we’ll be doing this on the floor.

TOM
Furniture got picked up yesterday. I’m roughing it.

She stands opposite of TOM and looks at him longingly, handing him a glass and the two just stand there before BELLA pours them each a glass of white wine. She smiles and raises her glass to him.

BELLA
Here’s to you. Talented, handsome, intelligent, and moving on.

TOM
I’m not leaving you, Bella.

BELLA
Tom, you’re making it sound like I have a self-esteem problem. Quit it while you’re dragging behind. [She toasts to him] To you. My friend. And I wish you all the best up there in the Pacific Northwest.

TOM
I’ll never forget you.

BELLA
[With a true smile, coy and sly]
Tom, if you could, you’d have a dozen young ingénues knocking on your door to try and figure out how to do it. [She drinks the wine] Now, come on. Let’s go get plastered one last time so you can have some last-minute blackmail on me.

TOM
[Follows BELLA into the living room]
Just like old times.

END EPISODE
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