Rachel squeezed her arm. “Tell me. What have you been up to? Are you acting?”
“Here and there. I shot a pilot that didn’t get picked up.” It hadn’t been during this most recent pilot season, nor the one before that, but Rachel didn’t need to know specifics. “Mostly I’m going to auditions, taking classes. You know.”
“Yeah, I do.” Rachel drained her glass. Champagne. Festive. “I sure do. What classes are you taking?”
Charlotte shrugged. “It’s at the Sunset Playhouse. Trinket Augustine.”
“I know that name. Why do I know that name?”
“She used to be on a soap. I can’t remember which one. And she’s done a lot of theater in New York. She writes plays, too.”
“Yeah, I think I know her.” Rachel looked at her for a moment. “Are you working, or…?”
“I’m working. I’m a legal assistant in Century City.”
“Wow.” Rachel stared at her. “That sounds like a real job.”
Charlotte knew what she meant, and it wasn’t a good thing. A real job meant one which precluded the possibility of getting any acting jobs. Actors got real jobs when they couldn’t afford to be actors any more. She’d been working at Ausberger for the better part of a year. She knew what it meant.
“They’re good about letting me go on auditions.” They probably would be, if she’d ever had any auditions to go on. “It’s entertainment law. So it’s sort of in the industry. Good for connections.”
“Oh, that’s good.” Hard to tell if Rachel was just being polite. “Do you get to see a lot of celebrities?”
“Not really. Mostly they don’t come to the office. Paragon Dufresne was in today, though.”
“Paragon? Really? Did you get to see her?”
“Served her coffee and everything.”
“That’s pretty cool. How’d she look? I hear her skin’s bad.”
“She looked good. Pretty. She’s very thin.”
“What was she in for?”
“I don’t know. She’s a client. We handle all her routine legal affairs.” Rachel looked a little disappointed, so she found herself continuing. “She uses one of her own songs as her ringtone.”
Rachel wrinkled her nose. Her eyes sparkled. “Ohhh, that’s awful.”
“Isn’t it?” She smiled, but she regretted spilling that bit of information. Point of sober fact, she didn’t know for certain it was Paragon’s own song, and it was a cheap shot to mock her for something that might not be true.
The conversation stilled. Her glass was empty. Now she was obligated to order another. She was saved by David, who leaned in and touched Rachel’s shoulder.
“Hon, our reservation’s in twenty minutes. Would you rather stay here? We might not get a table later.”
Rachel looked at her, uncertain, and Charlotte was touched that she was considering canceling her plans, whatever they were, so she could stay and chat. But it was late, and it was a work night, and the chat had run its course. She set down her wine glass on the bar.
“I should get going, too. Rachel, it was so good seeing you.”
Yes, it was the right move. Rachel looked relieved. “You too. We should really get together more often.”
They should. This was what networking was all about. She should somehow maneuver her way around to asking Rachel about helping her find work. They should exchange numbers at the very least. She should hang out with Rachel more and meet more people who could help her career, or she should do any one of those million things she wasn’t going to do, because Rachel was a nice person who didn’t need someone leeching off her good fortune.
Rachel stood up from her stool to give her a kiss on the cheek and a hug, which was unexpected and lovely and uncomfortable all at once, bone against bone, no softness on either of them. David settled for a handshake, and Charlotte took her leave of the happy couple and melted into the crowd.
When struggling actress Charlotte Dent is cast as a leggy killer robot in a big, brainless summer blockbuster, the subsequent hiccup of fame sends a shock wave through her life. The perks of entry-level celebrity are balanced by the drawbacks: destructive filmmakers, online ridicule, entitled costars, and an awkward, unsatisfying relationship with the film’s fragile leading man. Self-aware to a fault, Charlotte fights to carve out a unique identity in an industry determined to categorize her as just another starlet, disposable and replaceable. But unless she can find a way to turn her small burst of good fortune into a durable career, she’s destined to sink back into obscurity.
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Genre - General Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating - PG
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