Annah walked casually along Sunset Strip, mixing in with the tourists, most of whom took no notice of the tall woman. The homeless of Hollywood were easy to ignore, especially when one was looking for Marilyn's star, which was in front of a fast food restaurant, or John Wayne's footprints. Annah's faded jeans and worn t-shirt fitted her snugly, her long dark hair was tied back in an ever-present ponytail, and her only sweater was wrapped tightly around her small waist.
She liked days like these; warm but not too hot, when she could just walk around and if she was lucky, score a half eaten burger, maybe some fries. With the California summer just beginning, the tourists were beginning to flock to the Mecca of movie making, and though she hated to beg for money, sometimes she just had no choice.
So on this day, it was with a certain amount of surprise, and even anger, that she felt herself grabbed as she walked in front of the door of the Williamson agency.
"God dammit Jordan, you're late again. Where in the hell have you been?"
A woman that Annah was certain she had never seen before, began looking her up and down. Her hair had been bleached on top of bleached, and her tan was obviously store bought.
"And what's with the clothes? Since when do you do casual? Wait, make that grungy."
Annah stiffened, "Look here lady, I don't know who the hell you think you're talking to but I-"
The woman cut her off, "Listen Jordy, you were supposed to be here an hour ago. Barry wants to talk to you about the movie, and you know damn well how cranky he gets when he has to wait. Now go in there and make him happy."
Annah looked down the hall at the door the woman was pointing at. 'Barry Williamson- Agent'-, was adorned in gold letters.
The woman began shoving her towards the door. "But wait, I think you have the wrong person. I have no idea who any of you people are."
"Very funny, now get your ass in there." The woman opened the door and after pushing Annah inside, closed it softly behind her.
"Well, it's about time Jordan. Despite what you might think, I don't have all damned day to wait for you."
Annah stood there looking at the chubby bald man, with a cigar in his mouth and phone pressed to his ear.
'This has to be a joke, I'm on one of those shows, candid something or other. That has to be it," she thought.
Barry hung up the phone and looked at the woman who had yet to take a seat. "Would you sit already, you make me nervous."
Annah smiled, and did as she was told. She hoped that at least she'd get a few bucks out of the people filming the show; she hadn't eaten since the morning before and though her long neglected stomach knew better than to protest, she still couldn't stop the thought.
"Now listen, they want you to start filming next week. I know you told me you needed a month, but they don't want to let this thing get any further behind than it already is. You need to go down and start fittings, and they revised the script, again."
Barry looked at Annah expectantly, and when he saw no reaction he continued, "They keep giving me shit about the drinking Jordan, and I had to promise them that there weren't going to be any problems. You have to be on time, you have to bother to show up, and you have to be an all around pleasure to work with. The studio will not hesitate to fire you this time, and I won't be able to stop them. It's in the contract."
Annah continued to stare at Barry, quite blankly by anyone's standards. She was waiting for the joke to come, or anything that would tell her that all she had just heard wasn't true.
"I'm supposed to make a movie?" she finally asked, unnerved when Barry stared at her as though she had sprouted horns from the top of her head.
"Are you drunk?" he finally asked, pulling the cigar from his lips.
"No," Annah said indignantly. "I just keep waiting for the punch line, sir."
"What's with the sir shit, Jordy? This is no joke, I have a car coming to pick you up and you'll start fittings today. Johnson should be there, so play nice. Have you eaten?"
"Well, we can't have your main source of nutrition be Parrot Bay and cranberry juice," Barry said as he pushed the button on his intercom. The blonde woman, who had met Annah at the door, answered.
"Ginger, get something to put a little meat on Jordan's bones, please."
"It'll be up in a few minutes."
Barry looked at the woman sitting across from him, really looked at her, and there was something...something different about her, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Lately, with Jordan's continuing substance abuse problems, he was never quite sure who he was dealing with. Having been her agent since her career began, it was disheartening to see someone with so much talent wasting it on the bottle. The thinness of the woman across from him could only mean that things were getting worse.
"How is Rivers," he finally asked.
"Oh dammit Jordan. Rivers, you know, the woman that you live with? Your other half?"
"Fine?" Annah answered, and hoped it was the right one.
"She still have you sleeping on the couch?"
Annah thought that there was nothing wrong at all with having to sleep on a couch, hell she had done it plenty of times in the past, but she figured that this Jordan person probably didn't like it too much.
"It's no big deal, it'll work out," she said, and got a genuine smile from the chubby red-faced man in front of her.
Ginger reappeared, with a stacked club sandwich and an iced tea and placed it in front of Annah, who without any prodding began to eat with a gusto that Barry was sure he had never seen.
"A little hungry there?" he joked, pleased with that his client was eating.
Annah just smiled, and continued to have her fill.
'It'll be okay, I can do this. I'll get fitted for the clothes and then I can be on my way.'
Annah sat in the back of the large white limo that had been sent for her, or actually for this Jordan woman, and comfortably adjusted herself into the leather seat.
What an amazing day it had turned out to be for Annah. One minute she was walking along the gritty sidewalks of Sunset Boulevard, and the next sitting in one of the plushest offices she had ever seen in her 28 years. Now here she was, sitting in the back of a limo, on her way to a movie studio to be fitted for costumes. She smiled, and then began to laugh at her dumb luck. She felt more than a bit sad when she realized that as soon as dress-up time was over, she was going to have to go and look for a place to sleep for the night.
After arriving at the studio, Annah was met by a pompadoured man on lifted shoes, at least 10 years older than what he was trying to pretend to be.
"Jordan, you're late. I hope this isn't going to be a habit for you."
"No, it won't be."
"Your hair is darker, when did you do that? I'm going to have to have the stylists work on it, and you look like you've lost a lot of weight. I'm taking a chance on you Jordan. I'm not interested in any of your drama; neither are the producers, and especially not the studio. Please, I'm asking you now as your director to try to be a good girl. It's only 4 weeks, and then you can go off and do whatever you want with yourself."
Annah looked at the shorter man, and felt genuinely sorry for him. Whoever this Jordan woman was, she obviously had a few problems, and there seemed to be people all around her who wanted to help. She hoped that Jordan would take them up on it, and see what she had going for her.
After a quick date with a stand in hairdresser, who apologized for Rhett not being able to come and take care of her, Annah was on her way to one of the costume trailers with her newly trimmed and colored hair.
"Hello Miss Allen," a thin, gray haired woman greeted her, "Just a few things to get through and then you can be on your way."
Annah nodded, and sat on a chair placed in the middle of the room for her. She took in some of the things hanging on racks, and noticed that there wasn't a whole lot to them.
"Am I wearing that stuff, Ma'am?" she pointed, and the woman nodded.
"It isn't much, I know, but its what they want. Call me Midge, It's nice to finally meet you."
Annah smiled, and then wrapped her arms across her chest, and sent a silent prayer of thanks that she would only have to try the stuff on, and not have to be the one to wear it in the film.
First up was a leather cat suit, one that snugly fit her body and left nothing to the imagination. Midge filmed Annah once she had the outfit on, and made her adjustments as Annah tried to remain as still as possible.
"You're a lot thinner than your initial measurements Jordan. Is everything ok?" Midge asked.
Annah looked down and nodded, and Midge went back to making her adjustments, content to let the subject drop for now.
Next was a black leather bra and thong. As uncomfortable as Annah was in the get-up, she figured that Jordan would have probably been used to this sort of thing, so she played it cool.
"You're going to need a bikini wax Jordan, I'll schedule you one before you come in next week."
Annah couldn't help but blush a bit, but she still didn't say much. After more skimpy outfits, most made of leather, and two pairs of jeans and tank tops, Annah was finished, and couldn't have been more thrilled.
"Don't look so relieved Jordan, you act like you've never done this before," Midge joked.
"It certainly feels that way, especially today."
"Are you sure you're all right?"
Annah smiled, and took a long look at Midge, who in a weird way reminded her of her grandmother, and nodded.
"I'll be fine, and thanks."
"What is this? Jordan Allen thanking the help? Don't let this get out, people would be shocked."
"Maybe I don't say it much, but I do appreciate it."
Midge patted Annah on the back, and walked her to the door of the trailer. She sighed, and hoped that the taller woman was going to be all right this time around. The film was riding on Jordan's shoulders, and the older woman offered a quick prayer that she'd come through all right.
Annah settled back into the limo, and with the lull of the bumper-to- bumper traffic of the afternoon LA freeway, promptly fell asleep.
"Miss Jordan, Miss Jordan, you're home."
Annah slowly opened her eyes, and saw that she was still in her waking dream, and living someone else's life.
"I can't go in there," she said to the driver. "Can you drop me off downtown?"
"I'm sorry Miss Jordan, I have strict orders to drop you off at home, and only at home."
"I can't go in there," she said softly, knowing that the last thing she could do was invade this woman's home. And it would be worse if said woman was already inside. It wasn't as though she could just walk in and say, "Hi, it's been really fun being you for the day."
Then a woman came out onto the driveway of the large home, and looked at her curiously.
"Are you coming in, or are you going to stay gone for three more days?"
"Shit," Annah muttered, and stepped out of the car. "Goodnight Milo," she offered the driver, who tipped his hat and made his way down the long driveway and back into the Hollywood night.
The stranger came up to Annah, and put her arms around her waist, before burying her face in her chest. The first thing Annah noticed was how good the smaller woman's hair smelled, like the freshness of the Pacific ocean in the morning, and how it felt nice to have someone to hold in her arms again.
Painful memories came bubbling back up to the surface of Annah's consciousness, and she struggled against the onslaught of emotion.
She remembered that day with perfect clarity. Remembered the pain of having the one person she thought was the truest thing in her life tell her that it was all a lie, that the money was all gone, and that she wanted Annah out, leaving her with nothing. After a stint in the county jail, thanks to her former girlfriend, she had to go out and find work. With limited education and a record, there was only so much she could do. It seemed like door after door was shut in her face, and no matter how hard she tried, it was inevitable that she end up on the streets.
At first, it seemed like she wouldn't survive, that the combination of lack of street smarts and the shock of finding herself in such a position, would do her in, and that she would end up another Hollywood casualty.
However, it seemed the more that the odds were against her, the more she found ways to make do. The shelters were good enough, and sometimes having one meal a day was much better than having nothing at all. LA was full of abandoned buildings and places that the homeless could find a place to settle down for the night.
Annah had spent 6 months on the street, and was determined that she would have a steady job and place to live before the year was up. There were people she had met that had been out there for five years, eight, some even more than fifteen. Annah knew, with a stubbornness and sense of pride that her Greek heritage had given her, that she would never allow herself to get to that point.
How things had changed for her in one day! Here she stood, still holding a small and very soft blonde- who seemed to be weeping, and Annah found herself whispering the word, almost like a prayer, "Rivers."
Rivers led Annah inside the one story home, and she was shocked to find that the home was a simple one. It was not at all the opulent thing that she had pictured in her mind for a movie star. She briefly wondered if Rivers was an actress as well, but decided it was in her best interest not to ask.
"Are you hungry?"
"Of course," Annah grinned, she wasn't about to turn down another meal.
'I'll eat and then I'll get the hell out of here before Jordan comes back and kicks my ass,' Annah thought.
The blonde pulled a plate from the oven and set it down before Annah.
"I was hoping you'd come home today," Rivers said, and hoped that her fear didn't show in the green depths of her eyes.
"I'm sorry," Annah said, and it seemed like it was the right thing to say, even if she didn't entirely understand it. It seemed like whomever this Jordan person was, she might have taken more than just a few people for granted, and Rivers probably received the brunt of most of it.
"Where did you go?"
Annah looked down at her food. The pot roast had practically melted in her mouth, and was unsure of how to answer the question of the day.
Where was Jordan Allen, and when was she going to come home?
Rivers took the delay in Annah's answer as yet another of Jordan's attempts to shut her out of whatever was still left of their relationship, and fought the urge to lash out at Jordan for yet another of her indiscretions.
"Who is it this time Jordan," she asked, trying to keep her voice level.
"Now, listen Rivers," Annah began, as an attempt to stall answering these new charges. She was cut off by a now standing, and very pissed off blonde.
"No you listen, Jordan. I told you one more time and that was it for us. I told you that I wasn't going to spend another god damned day with you if you were going to screw around on me. What is it about them, Jordan? Are they prettier than me? Better in bed? Tell me, damn you!"
Annah couldn't imagine that there were very many women who were prettier than Rivers, what with her perfect mouth, and small nose, and even the way she would run her fingers through her hair when she was irritated. 'Jordan must be nuts,' she thought.
Annah didn't know what to say, and wondered how it was that Jordan's lover still didn't realize that she was looking at and speaking to her doppelganger. She was suddenly brought back to the present when Rivers knelt next to her chair.
"Is that it Jordan? Are they better in bed?"
"No," Annah answered automatically. She knew how that one could sting, and she was unwilling to bring that kind of pain to anyone.
"I just don't understand why I'm not enough, why it always has to be this way with us."
"It doesn't have to be," Annah said, as her hand traveled to the top of Rivers' head, and rested there in the halo of short blonde hair.
Rivers grabbed the hand, and noted how rough it now felt to her, attributing it to the fact that she hadn't touched the woman in weeks, that they had barely even spoken in passing. She brought Annah's hand to her lips and kissed the palm, before placing it against her cheek.
"You don't have to sleep on the couch tonight."
Annah turned back to her food, and tried hard to hide the rise of panic that almost made her bolt.
Their bedroom was probably the largest in the house; the carpet a deep royal blue that swallowed each of Annah's steps, with one small window covered in drapes an even darker blue than the carpet. The bed was low to the ground, a California king with a sled style frame, the Oriental Print of the comforter matching the decor of the room perfectly. There was a door to the left, which Annah assumed was the bathroom, but when she walked in it looked like she could fit another bed in there.
There was a walk in closet to the immediate right in the bathroom, filled with clothes and shoes that belonged to Jordan and Rivers. Walking further into the bathroom were a Jacuzzi style bathtub, and a marble tiled shower, with six adjustable heads lining the shower from top to bottom . It was ridiculously opulent, and it seemed to be the one room that was truly so, but Annah decided that if she ever had that much money she would want a bathroom exactly like it.
Rivers joined the taller woman in the bathroom, and put her arm around her waist.
"You're looking like you've never seen this place in your life, Jordan. What's wrong with you?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Rivers. I think I'd like to have a shower, if you don't mind."
"Can I join you," the smaller woman snuggled in closer to Annah, and there was no question as to her intentions.
"If you don't mind, I think I'll go solo this time around."
Annah could see the small hint of hurt in the blonde's face, but she couldn't bring herself to make that much of a sacrifice on Jordan's behalf, no matter how much she despised having to see the painful emotions that Rivers had obviously been going through.
After being left alone, with the shower jets pulsing over her very tired and stiff limbs, Annah decided that after the shower she was going to have to leave. It was getting way beyond complicated to be Jordan Allen, and she was reluctant to hurt Rivers any more than Jordan probably already had. It had been simple to become someone else, if only for the day, and while she knew that leaving and going back to her old life was the right thing to do, she didn't have to exactly like it.
When she came out of the bathroom she wrapped a plush towel around her large frame, as her clothes had been carted off by Rivers and put in the hamper.
"Do I have some sweats or something?"
Rivers lay in the bed; the covers pulled up to her chin, and pointed towards a set of drawers against the wall.
"In the bottom drawer. There should be some T-shirts in the top one. Since when do you wear anything to bed?"
"Since tonight. Listen, I have something to tell you Rivers," Annah began as she dropped the towel and began dressing. She had never been modest about her body, and while she had lost about 25 pounds by being out on the street, and was a lot thinner than she wished, she was sure that Rivers would notice that there was a big difference between her and Jordan.
There was a gasp from the bed as Annah disrobed, and blue eyes met darkened green. Annah knew that look, and for a moment she even thought about how nice it would be, to have someone to share that part of herself with, someone to hold, even if just for the night.
She sat on the edge of the bed, and held Rivers stare with her own.
" I can't stay," she began, but before she could finish, Rivers lowered the blanket that had been covering her body.
She was wearing aqua panties, cut high on her hip, with a matching bra that perfectly showcased her attributes. Annah noted the small mole, on the left side of her rib cage, and could imagine running her fingers across it, then sliding further down the perfect abs, to the small roundness of Rivers' hips.
"Don't leave me again, not when I need you," Rivers said softly, and as much as Annah's instincts told her to move, to get off of the bed and get out of the house, she once again met the verdant eyes, and could not refuse her.
Annah climbed further onto the bed, so that her body was lying along Rivers'.
"Can I just hold you, please? We don't have to do anything, I just want to feel you against me."
Rivers seemed pleased by Jordan's attitude, for cuddling was something that Jordan never wanted to do. The taller woman was often content to lay back and receive pleasure, often falling asleep before reciprocation, and Rivers was left feeling used and angry. It was part of their relationship that she had dealt with for almost six months, and despite how often she thought of leaving, she could not bring herself to do it. By staying as long as she had, she was left feeling anxious, like she was waiting for something that was never going to happen. She knew it, and Jordan knew it, it remained a question of who was going to leave for good, first.
Meeting Jordan at a party given by a mutual friend, she was immediately struck by the confidence and cockiness that the taller woman displayed. They talked well into the night, and after offering to see Rivers home, they found themselves back at Jordan's place, and that was it.
Things had gone well for about three months. Jordan was content to have Rivers around, and often said how comfortable the smaller woman made her feel. It wasn't long after that the long nights out started, and then the social drinking turned into a constant thing, and soon Jordan wasn't bothering to come home at all. Rivers kept busy, her career as an entertainment lawyer taking off and making her forget about some of the things that were going on at home, but it just kept getting worse. This latest episode, with Jordan being gone three days, and coming back looking thin and tired, only served to add to the long list of reasons why she and Jordan should no longer be together. What made it even worse was seeing a lot of these indiscretions in the tabloids and on the television. As much as Jordan told her not to believe everything she read, pictures were another story.
But there was something about the way Jordan held her on this night, like she was as special as the taller woman had once made her feel, that made her think that perhaps things would be all right, that in some way they could get better. It made her think that they could be close again, and that maybe the love that Rivers thought they once shared, wasn't so long gone.
The buzz of an alarm clock brought Annah's senses fully on alert. Being on the streets meant you often had to find sleep wherever you could get it, and that meant keeping aware of all of your surroundings. She noted that the clean scent of the warm body in front of her was more than just a little soothing, and that Rivers' deep rhythmic breathing was enough to make her want to fall back to sleep. She knew that she hadn't had that good a rest in over 6 months, so she reached over and shut off the alarm, praying that one Jordan Allen wouldn't decide to show up and catch her in bed with her right arm curled protectively over her woman.
Hours later, Rivers asked, "You going to stay in bed all day, or what?"
The warm breath against the back of her neck tickled, and Annah found herself giggling, which was something she hadn't done since she was a little girl.
Growing up in Southern California was simple enough. She had two parents that loved her. Greek immigrants who struggled to make a better life for themselves than in their home country, and who had made every effort to give Annah the best that they were capable of. She went to private school right through high school, and while she never exactly had the finest clothes, or the best car (how she loved her old beat up '67 Mustang), she never felt that her life was lacking in any way. Her parents instilled a strong sense of pride, and self-respect, and Annah carried that with her everyday.
It was on the day of her high school graduation that her life took a tragic turn, and in some ways she had never recovered. While driving to see their only child receive her high school diploma, something that neither Ari, nor Athathanasia had ever achieved, their car was hit head on by a delivery truck. Neither of them survived. While it seemed so cliché, the only child left to fend for herself after the death of her beloved parents in a car accident, that was exactly the way it happened. There were no relatives alive to care for her, and Annah wasn't exactly going to use what money she did have to go to Greece to find some long lost cousins. She was truly alone.
Annah had never even applied to go to college, figuring she could work for a while and then go to school, and with her parents death, that plan was forced into action. The house she had grown up in was not paid off, so she was forced to move in with friends. Annah had no savings and couldn't collect on the small amount of insurance money until she turned 21, so she took whatever odd jobs she could find in order to survive. It had worked for her, and she had eventually been able to afford her own place.
Now 10 years later it looked like she was back to square one again. She had often wondered over the years how the gods that her parents used to tell her about allowed so much tragedy to befall one person, but as her mother used to tell her, "It's part of being Greek Annah, your life has to have drama."
"What's so wrong with staying in bed all day?" she wondered out loud, and was met with a playful smack to her bottom.
"Well, if you remember correctly, we have to go to that premiere in a few hours."
Annah sat up, and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, "Premiere?" she managed to croak out.
"Yes, premiere. Barry is sending a car for us in two hours, and since I know that it takes you forever to get ready, I figured I'd better wake you up."
"I can't go to any premiere," Annah began, thinking of ways she could escape when Rivers was otherwise occupied.
"What do you mean you can't go to any premiere? This has been planned for weeks, Jordan, you have to go. You know Johnson told you it was good to get out and start promoting your new movie. Since when are you not Miss show off?" Rivers teased.
"Since now? I feel like a new woman, Rivers, and I really don't think it's a good idea for us to go."
Rivers sobered, her face hardened, "Is it me? Do you not want to go with me?"
Annah grabbed Rivers hand, "Jesus! Rivers it isn't you! I should be thankful to have you on my arm anywhere I go, but I just don't think I can do this. Not today."
"Jordan, I just don't think you have much of a choice. With Barry and Johnson double teaming you, you have to go."
'Damn,' Annah thought, 'Will the real Jordan just please come home, it would be so much easier to have to explain all of this than to have to go to some stupid premiere. Maybe I can just sneak out when she isn't looking, but how in the hell am I going to get down this hill? She'd catch up with me before I got to the bottom.'
"Stop looking like you're going to hurl all over the bed, baby. You're a pro at this, remember? I don't think I've ever seen you look so scared," Rivers soothed, stroking Annah's freshly dyed and cut bangs back from her forehead.
"What am I supposed to wear?"
After settling on a dark blue Armani suit, which seemed to hang off of Annah's lanky frame, she and Rivers were picked up by Milo and driven towards Grauman's Chinese Theater. The place wasn't far from where Annah had been strolling when she initially found herself dragged into living someone else's life.
She couldn't help but wonder where the real Jordan was, and when she was going to come back and reclaim what was hers. Just the thought made her want to vomit. She rolled down the window just in case it came down to that.
The traffic was closed off to the general public, but that didn't mean that the streets weren't still filled with pedestrians trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite film and music stars. Limos were backed up for three blocks as the rich and famous strolled up the infamous red carpet and waved to the gathered crowd, as well as taking the time to pose for the assorted paparazzi.
"Damn, this is going to take all night to get through," Rivers complained.
"Let's walk," Annah offered, thinking the solution was simple enough.
" In this dress?" Rivers looked at Annah incredulously, her palm against her Versace clad bosom.
" Really Rivers, come on, let's walk. It will take a hell of a lot less time, and I don't just want to sit here and wait."
"Are you sick or something?" Rivers asked, feeling Annah's forehead for fever.
"No, I feel fine. I'll feel even better once I get out of this car."
After alerting Milo to their intentions, Annah opened the door of the limo and stepped out into the cool night. She reached out her hand for Rivers to climb out and they both began weaving through the line of waiting cars.
"Jordan, over here," a fan shouted, and at once cameras began flashing and a throng of people instantly became aware of the taller woman as she came walking through.
Annah figured that Jordan might be polite and smile or wave, but it wouldn't have been a smart idea to stop and try to mingle. She was increasingly aware that the crowd could easily come in on them and they'd be trapped. She knew she'd be able to get out, but it was Rivers' panicked look that made her think twice.
She increased the speed of her gait, and pulled Rivers along with her, until they were in front of the large theater that was a Hollywood landmark. She remembered all of the lonely nights she had stood in front of the structure and wished her life was as charmed as what she assumed the Hollywood elite's to be.
"There's Brooke," Rivers said, a little louder so as to be heard over the hoopla, and she steered the taller woman in that direction.
Before Annah could ask "Who?" she found a mic shoved in her face, and the lights of a television camera making her squint at the harsh brightness.
"Hi, Jordan, can we ask you a few questions before you go in?"
" Do I have a choice," Annah asked, and Brooke laughed, smacking her on the shoulder in a playful manner.
" Oh, you're always such a kidder. What are you and Rivers wearing tonight?"
Annah tried not to panic, thinking that she knew nothing of designers and where she got the clothes, only what Rivers had handed her the suit and said, "Wear the Armani." She decided to play it safe and with a grin turned towards Rivers, "Honey, why don't you tell Brooke what we're wearing?"
Rivers, shocked that Jordan would even suggest such a thing, recovered quickly and filled the interviewer in. Annah took the time to look around and noticed some of the stars she had seen on Hollywood billboards, and in movies, when she actually could afford to go to movies. It all seemed so far away, an elusive half dream that Annah still had trouble believing.
"So Jordan, tell us about your new film?"
Annah realized it was do or die, this would be her first big moment as Jordan, and she couldn't screw it up.
"We start filming in a week," she began confidently, hoping that her smile and demeanor didn't reflect how truly terrified she was. "I've gone for fittings, and met with the director. Things are coming along nicely. I'm very excited."
"Someone just told me that you two walked here?" Brooke asked, as she smiled. Annah noted that someone could have taken ad space on her large and very white teeth.
"No, well, we walked a bit of the ways because I thought it was silly to just sit there and wait. I know Rivers is going to kill me later because of the shoes she's wearing, but we'll live. There are people out there with more serious problems than having to walk half a block to a Hollywood premiere."
Brooke's smile faltered and for a moment Annah believed the brunette might be sick, what with someone giving her an answer that wasn't part of the Hollywood norm. No one talked about unpleasant things, except when presenting or winning at Awards shows. Everyone knew that.
"See you later Brooke," Rivers said, and dragged Annah towards the entrance of the theater.
"What in the hell was that all about?" Rivers whispered through her teeth, so that it would appear to anyone watching that she was smiling. If it was one thing that she knew Jordan hated, it was making a scene in front of reporters. Rivers had been told plenty of times never to cross that line with Jordan, and it was something that she always kept in mind when dealing with the actress.
"What do you mean?" Annah asked.
"Jordan, I have never seen you give an interview like that before. Since when do you care about anyone else's problems but your own?"
"How would you say my typical interviews go?"
" Well, you act like a cocky bitch and talk about yourself, and then I sort of get pushed to the side while you flirt with Brooke or whoever else you're talking to."
"Why are you with me?" Annah asked, meeting the smaller woman's eyes, the question out before she could stop herself. For the life of her, she could not understand what Rivers saw in Jordan, or why she would stay with someone who obviously had very little respect for her.
There was a certain amount of uncertainty in Rivers' expression, as though she wanted to say something, but was holding back.
"Now isn't the time to talk about this Jordan," Rivers said as she looked away.
"We should you know, talk about this," Annah said, taking the blondes hand in hers. A part of her wanted Rivers to be happy, and if that meant being with Jordan, than so be it. She certainly had nothing to offer the attorney, and it seemed as though Rivers genuinely cared for Jordan, though she didn't quite understand why.
"Let's go inside," Rivers said, and walked away, leaving Annah standing alone.
After the film, which Annah thought was boring, she and Rivers left quickly through the lobby.
Rivers stopped the taller woman by pulling on her hand, and turned to face whoever it was that had called out to her.
Annah was sure she should know the woman, if only because of the way she smiled as she sauntered over to the couple, her red hair full of curls, and the way that Rivers stiffened and held onto Annah's hand tighter.
"I was hoping I'd get a chance to talk to you two. Hello Rivers."
Rivers nodded, a smile barely on her lips.
"You're coming to the party aren't you?" the redhead asked, the words dripping from her glistening lips.
Annah looked towards Rivers and the smaller woman looked away, obviously leaving it up to Annah to decide what to say.
"I'm sorry, but we're both really tired, and I think we need to just go home and relax."
The redhead looked shocked, but recovered quickly and pasted her smile back on.
"Jordan Allen home before 11? Someone better tell the papers," she said a little too sarcastically for Annah's tastes. She wondered what part of the puzzle of Jordan's life she fit into. On instinct alone, Annah knew that she did not like this woman, and was anxious to get away from her.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll handle all of that Gina." Rivers said cooly before she turned on her heels and pulled Annah out of the theater with her.
They found Milo easily, and were on their way home when the uncomfortable silence got to be too much for Annah to take.
"Are you going to talk to me?" Annah asked, and she noticed that Rivers had been staring out of the darkened window so as to avoid looking at her.
"What should we talk about?"
"Whatever is bothering you, for a start."
Rivers sighed, "I just keep wondering how many times I'm supposed to be faced with your indiscretions and keep my cool about it."
Gina. The way Rivers reacted, the coolness towards the both of us as soon as she spoke to me. The way she held onto my hand. Jordan slept with her, and Rivers knew about it; and stayed.
"I'm sorry," Annah offered, though the words sounded lame to her own ears.
"How many times have I heard this from you? How many more will I hear from you? Who were you with before you came back this last time?" Rivers turned towards Annah, and the tears made a slow path down her cheeks.
" I don't know what to tell you Rivers. All I can say is that there are some answers that I just don't have, and maybe there are some that you don't necessarily want."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Rivers asked, anger and hurt warring for dominance.
"I don't think anything is going to make you feel better, to be honest."
Rivers turned away and continued to stare out of the window, the fight gone out of her for the time being. The silence filling the car made Annah deperately wish for the simpleness of her life a few days prior.
Annah walked into the house and removed her jacket, then went straight to the bedroom and began taking the rest of her clothes off. She turned on the shower jets and quickly rinsed her body, the tension making her neck ache.
She wondered where the hell Jordan was, and what she was doing, and when the hell she was coming back. By her count, she had been gone for four days, and even though this was obviously part of her regular routine, it made Annah wonder when the shit was really going to hit the fan.
After toweling off, she wandered back into the bedroom to find Rivers packing a large black suitcase.
Annah walked over to her and grabbed the bundle of clothes that Rivers was about to place in the suitcase.
"What are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm taking back my life, Jordan. I've had enough, finally I have had enough. I can't let you keep doing the things that you've done and stay in this relationship. It was fun, and I admit that the fame factor might have kept me in it a lot longer than I should have, but this is it. You aren't going to change, and I want a wife and maybe eventually even a few kids. That isn't a part of your plan Jordan, and I guess I just needed to wake up and deal with it instead of being a desperate little wench who'll put up with anything you throw my way."
Annah looked at Rivers and had to stop herself from smiling. It was the first time that Rivers had actually stood up for herself, and Annah wanted to congratulate her. However, Jordan had to react, and Annah struggled with what she wanted to convey.
"Maybe this is for the best then, Rivers. Maybe we do need the time apart."
" How did I know you'd say that?" Rivers said, as she continued gathering more clothes.
" It really is all I can say. But I have a condition," Annah said, taking a seat on the bed. She noticed that Rivers looked down at her legs, eyeing the expanse of skin on display. As much as she hated to admit it, her heart began to beat a lot faster, physical sensations she hadn't felt in a long time suddenly resurging and screaming at her to handle her business.
"You really are in no position to offer conditions, but let's hear it." Rivers stood with her hands on her hips, and even though she was glaring at Annah, she looked as beautiful as ever.
"Stay here, I'll leave. I don't want to have to wonder where you are, or if you're ok. At least if you're here, I'll feel better. Please, do this for me," Annah looked up at a still standing Rivers and grabbed her hand and pressed it to her lips.
"This is your house Jordan, it was yours before I was in the picture. I don't want to be constantly reminded of you, especially when it is most important that I forget."
"No Rivers, I insist that you do. Where else do you have to go at this time of night?"
Annah could see that Rivers was considering it, and she knew that this would be her chance to get out of the mess that was Jordan's life.
"Where are you going to stay?"
"I don't know," Annah said, as she quickly thought about the few places she'd have to squat for the night.
" I'm only agreeing to it because I know that you have plenty of people that will offer you a bed for a few days. It shouldn't take me too long to get an apartment and I'll be gone, but I have a condition too," the blonde stated.
Annah nodded her head for Rivers to continue.
"Stay here tonight. It is way too late for you to go out, and I'd feel better if you did."
Annah knew that one more night in a real bed was going to do wonders for her body, and so she said simply and without hesitation, " I will."
"Jordan, get up."
Annah was pulled from a pleasant dream about her and Rivers when she heard the object of her affection calling to her from the doorway of the guest bedroom.
"Don't wanna," she said, clutching her pillow closer to her face.
Rivers thrust the cordless phone in her face, and said, " I think you better take this."
"Hello?" Annah croaked, her voice rough from sleep.
"Jordan, it's Johnson, we need you at the studio, now. Come as you are, we're going to start filming today."
"What?" Annah was suddenly wide-awake.
"There have been some rewrites, we've got to start on this today if we want to keep the budget down. We need your ass down here now, I just sent a car, they'll be there in about 15."
He hung up and Annah held the phone to her ear for a few more minutes until her brain could finally wrap itself around the horror that was wracking at her fuddled mind.
"What's wrong Jordan? You look like you want to be sick." Rivers asked, taking a seat next to the prone woman.
"I have to go and make a movie."
Annah was on the set less than an hour later, dressed in Jordan's baggy shorts and a t-shirt.
Johnson came to meet her in the trailer that she had been shown to, and she was still checking out the small kitchenette when the director found her.
"Thanks so much for getting here, I was worried after last night."
"Why?" Annah turned to the shorter man, and noticed that his toupee looked crooked. She debated whether or not to tell him.
He sat on a stool and joined his hands together, "I know how you like to party Jordan, and I was concerned when I found out you didn't go to Gina's little shin-dig."
"Rivers and I were tired, and I honestly would rather have gone home."
" Rivers is a good girl, Jordan," he said, his eyes boring into her. He reminded Annah of her father. Ari was always good for a stern look or two.
"I know she is, I don't know why she puts up with half the crap she does. You don't have to worry though, she broke up with me last night."
"What?" The director stood, "She answered the phone this morning."
" I know, I told her to stay at the house and I'd find somewhere else to go. I don't want to worry about her, and I'd feel better if I knew she was there."
"Okay, where is the real Jordan and what have you done with her?" Johnson asked, and Annah felt as though her eyes were going to fall out of her skull and roll onto the floor at his feet.
"Relax kid," he patted her on the back, " I know this is our first time working together, but we've known each other a few years now. I like your attitude, and maybe it isn't too late for you and Rivers. I don't want to have to worry about you not showing up for work Jordan, or about you coming to the set toasted or zonked out of your mind. Can I trust you?"
"Yea, of course you can. I'll do my best," Annah said sincerely, and she was met with a genuine smile.
Hair and makeup came to the trailer soon after Johnson left, and a script was delivered for Annah to go through. Apparently some scenes had been changed, and those were the ones on schedule to be filmed that day. Two people were there to work on her, and they explained that the elusive Rhett wasn't feeling well and they were his stand ins. Annah thought it was funny that even makeup men had stand ins, but chose to keep that to herself. As one woman worked on her hair, and a young man took care of her face, she held the pages up and attempted to memorize her numerous lines. It didn't take her too long, she had always had a photographic memory, and she had the makeup man, Jeremy, read through the scenes with her. Bouncing the dialogue back and forth helped her grasp her lines in no time.
Maybe this wasn't going to be so hard after all.
Filming, as it turned out, was a long and laborious process. Annah spent most of her time sitting in a chair waiting for the scenes to be set up, and for everything put into place the way that Johnson wanted it. While she sat there trying not to fall asleep she wondered what Johnson's first name was, and why he was content to have people call him a wiener, even if it was his real name.
She was wearing the tight black leather cat suit that she had been fitted for that first day she had found herself in Jordan's life, and she noticed it was a little tighter. She attributed that to the fact that she was getting plenty of food, more than she could pack down. It was the one thing she was thankful for, after these past few days. Well, that and meeting Rivers, and she quickly offered a small apology to whoever was listening that she had put her stomach first.
"Jordan, let's go," Johnson barked her way, and she stood and took her mark. It was then that she got nervous finally, when faced with the other actors, some of them looking at her with admiration, others with undisguised desire, and even a few with disdain. It was a scene in which she was to rally the people into fighting for their way of life against an army of raiders who had murdered most of their families.
"Action!" Johnson yelled, and the set grew silent as one of the actors said his lines.
"And why should we believe you?" he asked.
Annah tried to answer, but she only managed to turn her head before she promptly, and regretfully, threw up.
The rest of Annah's day wasn't nearly as awful, and after a few rough takes, she had it down well enough that Johnson wasn't yelling "Cut," every other minute, and the other actors weren't looking at her like she was a complete mess.
They probably think I'm toasted.
The extent of her dramatic experience had been as one of the extras in "Oklahoma," when she was in the eighth grade. She remembered that she had gotten sick right before she went on stage, and that was the end of her acting aspirations. She figured that if she was good enough to convince the people that were closest to Jordan that she was the actress, then she must not be half bad at it.
Finishing her first day, she had to admit she was tired. She could certainly understand how Jordan may have needed substances to keep herself together. There was a lot of pressure placed on the star, to be perfect and pretty and to do as she was instructed. Annah could understand the stress. All she wanted was to go home and be close to Rivers...
Shit...she kicked me out.
"Milo?" Annah knocked on the window.
The partition separating the front of the car slowly rolled down, "What is it Miss Jordan?"
"Take me to Sunset Boulevard, by La Cienega, please."
" I have strict orders to take you to the Beverly Hotel."
"Orders? Who the hell is ordering you to do that?"
"Miss Rivers, she told me that you have a room there and that I was to take you straight over. I think she's meeting you for dinner."
"Thanks Milo," Annah said, and slumped down in her seat.
She wasn't so sure that she liked having her life planned for her. As a matter of fact, she was positive that she didn't like it at all. She wondered if this is how other stars sometimes felt, like they weren't in control of themselves at all, and at the mercy of agents and directors and publicists that told them where to go and when to be there.
Then she perked up.
I'm going to see Rivers.
The lobby of the hotel was almost empty for that time of evening, and the people who were there paid no attention to Annah as she walked in. She began looking around and spotted Rivers sitting in one of the overstuffed chairs that adorned the room. The chair practically swallowed the smaller woman, and she had her eyes closed as Annah approached her.
"Hey, you feeling ok?" Annah asked softly, thinking that maybe Rivers wasn't feeling well. She looked a bit pale, and Annah thought that she was a bit too thin for her own good.
Rivers opened her eyes, which looked darker than normal, and smiled sleepily.
"Long day, Jordan, just a really long day. How are you? You had me worried after you called."
Annah thought for a moment, and was absolutely sure that even though she was sick, she had never called Rivers.
"Uhm, what did I say?"
Rivers stood and tilted her head as she regarded the taller woman, "You said, 'Don't worry about me Rivers, I just wanted you to know I'm all right.' Then you hung up. I had Barry call down to the studio and he told me you had gotten sick. Are you coming down with something," Rivers asked as she felt Annah's head for fever.
"No, just got nervous I guess," Annah said as she found something interesting to look at on the floor.
Rivers laughed, "You? Nervous? I got you a bungalow Jordan, and I think you need to get to bed. You've got to be getting sick."
Rivers walked them out to a cemented path, to a bungalow that was surrounded by dark green lush vegetation. It gave the place a feeling of solitude, that this was the only place for miles. It was the ultimate in privacy, and quiet, and Annah could more than understand why the rich and famous of Hollywood would want to stay there.
Rivers opened the door for them and Annah immediately thought that she had never seen so much white. Everything, from the carpet to the drapes, from the bedroom to the bathroom, was done in the most amazing white that she had ever seen. The furniture that wasn't white, was cream colored and had the deepest darkest wood, and Annah was sure the finest artisans in the world had created it. She knew that there were people that had only dreamed of staying in such a place, and she was uncomfortable in the surroundings she was placed in.
"Rivers, this is too much," Annah said, as she made her way towards the door.
"You mean the cost?"
"Well, I'm sure there is that, but I mean, I don't think this is a good idea. I could have stayed at a regular hotel," she protested.
"Jordan, we stayed here the first week we got together, and you said then it was one of the few places you could feel at home. So what is so different now? You have your privacy, you can come and go as you please, it's paid up for two weeks, and I didn't think it was a big deal. I wanted you to be comfortable until I found my own place."
"But Jordan pays for the comfort." Annah said the words and then wished there was some way, any way, to rewind the previous moment and take it all back. She didn't want to have to use any of Jordan's money if she could avoid it.
"No, Jordan, I paid for it. Believe it or not, I do have my own money. I may not have Jordan Allen's millions, but I do have something. I bought my own car, I have paid for us to go out more than once in the past, and you have the nerve to bring up money? You are such an asshole, Jordan. I honestly do not know what I ever saw in you."
Rivers made towards the door to leave, but Annah grabbed her arm to prevent her from walking out.
"I shouldn't have said that, I'm sorry. I'm tired, and cranky, and I need to sleep."
Rivers looked up, and watery dark green eyes met icy blue.
It happened so fast, that later Annah would swear she had no clue it would happen at all, but two sets of lips met and what was soft and gentle, soon turned hard, demanding.
Annah knew she was treading dangerous waters, but she could not remember the last time she had kissed someone, or when it had felt so damn good. She could feel that Rivers' hands had started to wander, and she couldn't help but moan when said hands were squeezing her ass and pulling her closer. When Annah felt Rivers tongue sliding against hers, she pulled away, and looked down at the panting woman.
"We can't do this," Annah said, placing her forehead against the shorter woman's.
"We can't not do this," Rivers said, and moved towards the inviting lips that had tasted so good to her.
"But you aren't mine, Rivers."
"What do you mean, I'm not yours? I've always been yours, Jordan. It was you who was never mine."
Rivers stepped away, and placed her hands on her hips, a pose that Annah knew she would never tire of seeing. It just made Rivers looked so cute, in a "I love you, I hate you," kind of way.
"I have an early call," Annah said, and the look Rivers gave her could have 'melted Zeus' balls,' as her grandmother used to say.
Rivers turned and walked out, slamming the door as hard as she could for good measure.
"You look like shit, Jordan."
The hair and makeup man, that Annah deduced was the missing Rhett, had been waiting in her trailer for her to arrive and thought that Annah might need to hear that first thing on walking through the door.
"Thanks, now where do you want me?"
He pointed to a chair in front of a mirror and instructed her to sit. He began combing through the long dark tresses, and tying them away from her face so he could do her makeup first.
"So, how's that little hottie you live with?"
"Is there more than one?" Rhett asked, his eyes wide.
"Well, no. She's ok, I suppose," Annah said, sighing. The truth was, Annah felt really shitty about what had happened the night before and hadn't slept much. No one had ever kissed her the way Rivers had, and in those moments of honesty that she had allowed herself, she knew she wanted more. She could only imagine that Rivers was more than pissed about what had happened, and Annah didn't want to have to deal with that so much this morning.
"Spit it out."
"Are you fighting?"
"No, well, sort of. She's mad at Jordan, and me." Annah said the last part under her breath, but Rhett, used to the strange behaviors of Hollywood stars, had long ago learned to read lips. His hearing of mumbled offerings was impeccable.
"Wait, there are two of you?"
Annah looked up into the mirror at the soft blue eyes that were staring at her, and shook her head no. "It was a figure of speech," she said lamely, hoping he would buy it.
He continued pulling her hair back, and after a minute or two had passed, he said, "Jordan, when did we last cover your gray?"
Annah appeared to be thinking it over, hoping Rhett would answer his own question.
"I knew it!" Rhett suddenly exclaimed.
He pointed his brush at her, as if it were loaded with bullets and capable of great harm.
"Who are you?"
"What do you mean, who am I? You know who I am." Annah fought to keep the panic out of her voice.
"Jordan has never had a single gray hair, in all the years I've styled her! She would have kicked my ass for even suggesting such a thing."
"Oh, dammit." Annah said, and made Rhett sit before she launched into her tale.
An hour later, hair and makeup completely done, Annah looked at Rhett and smiled.
"You have a gift, Rhett. Never in a million years would I have thought I could look like this."
"Nonsense, you've got cheekbones that rival even mine, and flawless skin. You are a natural beauty Annah, and I don't see that often in my line of work."
"So, what do I do?"
"Well, the one thing about Jordan is that she'll come back only when she's good and ready to. That could be days, weeks, you just never know with her. You're doing a fabulous job; word out is that people haven't seen Jordan Allen this good in years. The buzz is that you're working on a blockbuster Annah, and Jordan is going to be a bigger star than ever. If she came back now, who knows what she'd be getting herself into?"
"So you think I should stay?" Annah asked, though the idea scared her more than she was willing to admit.
"Think of it this way, what else have you got to do? If I were in your shoes, I'd be riding it for all it's worth. You're doing the work, you are entitled to a little of the benefits. I'm not saying go out and spend all of her money, but think of it this way, she's going to clear about 4 million for making this movie, not to mention all of the promotional stuff, I don't see anything wrong with you having a little bit of that."
"I haven't spent any of her money, all of my food and stuff has been taken care of, and Rivers paid for the bungalow. She's the one who is going to be hurt by all of this, Rhett. She really does love Jordan, as much as I can't believe it, she does," Annah said as she looked down. She hated thinking that Jordan had and would never appreciate how wonderful Rivers was.
"True, I know she does, but Jordan doesn't love anyone but Jordan. I never could understand why she kept Rivers hanging on the way she has, but even worse is why Rivers would stick around."
"Well, the past few days I think she really has started to stand up for herself a lot more. I just find myself caring for her a lot more than I should, and I have nothing to offer her. At least nothing that isn't based on a lie."
Rhett leaned against the counter that served as storage for the make up and hair supplies that he used, and smiled at her. His movie star good looks did not go unnoticed by Annah, and she wondered why he had never tried to make it as an actor.
"Don't you both deserve some sort of happiness Annah? Or is it so hard to believe that she might genuinely like you, once she got to know the real you?"
"And how do I do that?"
"You've got to woo her, every girl wants to be wooed. It's part of your genetic makeup I think. Take her to dinner, to the opera, hell, take her to see Mamma Mia. You can't go wrong with ABBA. But let her see you, and not you trying to be Jordan," Rhett punctuated his last statement by pointing his brush at her again.
"And when Jordan comes back?"
"Well, we can wait to worry about that."
Annah grinned, and looked back at her reflection in the mirror. It was the first time in the past few crazy days that she didn't feel like an actress in a role that was clearly not designed for her. More importantly, it was the first time in a long while that she felt like she had a friend.
Continued In Part 2 (Conclusion)