Home > Between the Lines (Between the Lines #1)(7)

Between the Lines (Between the Lines #1)(7)
Author: Tammara Webber

“Mom?” I don’t have to actually ask the question.

She looks at me, blinks likes she’s waking up. “He’s not coming.” The tears are in her voice, even if they aren’t on her face.

“Got held up with a case, I guess.” The words are sour in my mouth and I don’t even know why I said them. If his absences and last-minute cancellations were infrequent, his recurrent justifications would work. But they aren’t, and they don’t. “Come on—Immaculada has everything ready. We can enjoy it without him.” I try to keep the bitterness out of my tone, but fail.

“I don’t really… I’m not really hungry,” she says, and I want to shake her. How can his behavior possibly surprise her now? This is his demeanor towards both of us, and has been forever. I don’t get it, but I don’t give a shit anymore, and she shouldn’t, either.

“Okay.” I stand up, hands in pockets, unable to fix this for the millionth time. “I guess I’ll go ahead and meet John. I’ll tell Immaculada to pack up the food; maybe you’ll be hungry later.” She won’t.

“Yes. That’s a good idea. Thank you, Reid.”

I breathe a sigh. When she says my name, it drains the anger—at her, anyway—like she’s pulled a plug. I lean down and kiss her before I leave, pretending not to hear when I get into the hallway and she says, “I love you.”

*** *** ***


When Chloe tags along for auditions, she insists on a five-star hotel, as though I’m already a big star. No penthouse suite, yet, but I’m sure she has plans.

I’m the first one down to breakfast. The waitress brings my coffee with cream in a tiny crystal pitcher and little straws of raw sugar in a matching crystal box. My omelet is created to order and served on toile-embossed china. If I land this part and achieve the fame and fortune my father wants for me, this could be my life. All the time.

Just outside the restaurant window, a blonde celebrity walks by, surrounded by her entourage. Dark sunglasses obscure her face. She ducks her head and slides into the back seat of a waiting black Mercedes SUV with black tinted windows just as the paparazzi catch up, at least a dozen photographers calling to her.

I’ve only been approached by someone in public twice. The first was several years ago, here in LA. As my father and I had lunch after an audition, a woman with a toddler in tow approached the table. She told me that my role as the daughter of a bipolar woman in a television ad for antidepressant meds prompted her to seek help for her depression. My father beamed and said, “Would you like an autograph? Emma, sign your napkin.”

The second time was a couple of months ago, the result of a minor role in a periodically re-aired Lifetime movie. Emily had a choir competition in San Francisco, about ninety miles south of Sacramento, and I tagged along for the weekend. While exploring a tiny indie bookstore, we were approached by a girl.

“Hey, were you in that movie about the Civil War? You were the sister of that guy who deserted the Rebs to join the Union?” I nodded guardedly, and she continued. “Well my dad went to Notre Dame, and my brother decided to go to Michigan State, and it’s like he defected to the dark side!” She laid a hand on my forearm and I resisted the urge to jerk away. “My whole family’s pissed! I totally identified with your character, you know?” I nodded, but I didn’t know.

Emily offered to take a photo of me with my fan, this stranger who eagerly slung her arm around me and pressed her face to mine. I’m pretty sure I looked beyond freaked.

“Okay, we’ve gotta go now, thanks for watching,” Emily said, thrusting the phone into the girl’s hand, linking my arm through hers and propelling me out the door.

While I was reviewing lines in my room last night, my father and Chloe went out. When Chloe knocked on my door to tell me, I could see her to-the-shoulder earrings and full-throttle eyeliner through the peephole. Her outfit was more like a couple of wide belts than a legitimate top and bottom. They returned at 3 a.m., obviously wasted. I heard them trying to get their key card to open a neighboring door, then mine, and finally their own.

At the table this morning, my father is mute and Chloe wears sunglasses and nurses black coffee. She’s not thrilled about my table choice, adjacent to the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows with a view of the sunny blue sky on this rare non-hazy day; but it’s the perfect spot to people watch. Until Dan arrives to interrogate me about my audition for the enviable role of Lizbeth Bennet opposite Reid Alexander.

“In his last film, he all but named his costar.” Dan gestures animatedly with both hands, his elbows on the table. “The director was on the fence between two or three, and I heard that he said ‘I want Allyson’ and she was in.” I seriously doubt that even Reid Alexander has that sort of power, but I keep this thought to myself.

Dan eyes me closely, as he always does when he is about to make an Important Statement. “They’re looking for chemistry. This is ‘Darcy and Elizabeth,’ for chrissake.” All three of them stare at me. Chemistry between the romantic leads. What a novel concept.

“Um, okay, I know.” I only just refrain from rolling my eyes. “I think it went well, but we’re either going to have chemistry or we aren’t, right? I assume they’ll do callbacks on several—”

“Richter has been directing for two decades. Big names, big films. He knows chemistry, and if the two of you have it, he’ll see it.” Is that not what I just said? “What—specifically—did he say when he stopped the scene?” He asked me this exact question five minutes ago. I don’t know if he thinks I’m lying or just carelessly omitting something significant.

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