Rome didn’t know what to think about the phone call he’d just made. Sinders Cinema Marketing was the company the producers of the film he’s just finished were using to do the marketing. What were the chances he’d accidentally call them when he meant to call Mark? How was it that their numbers were so similar?
Beyond that, the girl he’d spoken to—Ella--had been really cool. Her accent had caught his attention right away. He couldn’t tell what sort of accent it was at first, so when she’d mentioned that she was originally from LA, but had spent a great deal of time in France, it made more sense. He pictured a young, beautiful French girl with dark hair and eyes. She’d said she was twenty-two, so only a few years younger than him. Rome had been tempted to ask her out, right there on the phone, but that was sort of cringy, and he didn’t want to be that guy.
Still, he’d meant what he said about calling her back. She seemed like the kind of girl he could talk to for hours and never get bored. He bet she had a lot of adventures to share, too, what with her having been in Europe for so long. He sat on the couch and pictured himself walking hand in hand with a beautiful girl, laughing, maybe splashing their feet in the waves at the beach. Perhaps this phone call had been more than luck. Perhaps it had been kismet.
Marge had called to ask about the audition, and he’d told her it had gone pretty well. Then, she’d told him she got him an audition for another movie. This part was even bigger than the role he’d played in The Way You Hurt Me. Rome had agreed to audition, even though he knew there was a good chance the production company making the film would use Sinders Cinema Marketing, which would make his father mad. He’d just have to get over it, though. Practically every other production company in Hollywood used Sinders, except for his dad’s company, Verona Productions.
He honestly didn’t know what the big deal was anyway. So Lloyd Sinders had charged him more for a marketing campaign than he had originally quoted. That had led to a fight that now spanned over two decades. Monty Verona was a stubborn man, to say the least, and Rome didn’t want to get on his bad side. But it all seemed a little ridiculous to him. At the end of the day, it had been settled in court with a payout from Sinders and a stern warning from the judge that the two parties should just stay away from each other. That didn’t mean it would hurt anything for Rome to be in movies produced by companies that used Sinders, though. Actors had nothing to do with the marketing other than promotions booked through their own agents and posing for pictures often taken by freelance photographers--not the marketing company.
Rome sighed and punched in Mark’s number noting it was a one not a seven near the end of the digits. “Dude, I’ve been waiting forever for you to call.”
“Dude… why didn’t you just call me?” Rome asked, shaking his head at his idiot best friend.
“Because, I didn’t want to screw it up for you. Your phone going off in the middle of an interview would be so lame.”
“Audition--not interview. You’re an actor. You should know that.”
“Whatever, dude. I haven’t been to an interview… audition in years, brah. One of the perks of being on a TV show. I’m thinking about it, though, after your recent success.”
Ignoring what was meant to be a compliment but only made him self-conscious, Rome said, “Right. Well, it went pretty well. I should hear in a few days.”
“Sweet. All right. Say, where are we partying tonight?”
“I don’t know, man. Aren’t we getting a little old to be going out every single night of the week?”
“No way, brah. This is LA. We’ve gotta be seen. How about Lucky Red? We haven’t been there in a while. That hot waitress you like works there, the one with the red hair.”
“Mark, all of the waitresses at Lucky Red have red hair. It’s kind of the theme.”
“Oh, right, brah! I hadn’t thought of that. Sweet! So… Lucky Red, then? See Rosa?”
Rome thought about the girl in the parking lot, the blonde who’d told him that’s where she was going that night. She’d probably think he was there to see her. But Rosa was hot, and he was pretty sure there was more to her than one might think. She’d told him that she was waitressing while she was going to school to be a nurse, so it wasn’t like she was just another bimbo, model-wanna be working as a drink slinger while she waited for her big break. “All right, man. Lucky Red it is.”
“Sweet. Pick me up at 9:00?”
“Isn’t that a little early?”
“Brah, I gotta get my drink on soon, or I’m gonna be sober.”
Rome chuckled, hoping he was just joking considering he’d worked earlier that day. “All right. See you at 9:00.”
“Let Bart know.”
“Will do.” Rome shook his head. Mark was so crazy. One of these days, he was going to end up in serious trouble if he didn’t get this drinking and partying under control. It didn’t meld well with his hot-headed disposition.
Rome set his phone down, but he couldn’t help but think about the phone call he’d made before he’d rang Mark. Was there a chance Ella from Sinders Cinema Marketing would be at the club tonight? He doubted it. But then, fate had caused him to call her number earlier… so maybe she would be. The idea brought a smile to his face. He definitely wanted to know what she looked like--and he was definitely going to call her back. But not now. That would be weird and desperate. And she was probably off work now, too. No, he wouldn’t call her tonight, but he would call her. Soon.
The clatter of silverware against dishes was jarring. Ella wasn’t used to being around so many people. Even when she was free to go wherever she wanted, it was just her and Aunt Suzette most of the time. Her stepsisters, Anna and Drew, never stopped talking either. They were prattling on about how awful the auditions they’d gone to earlier that day had been. Tim ran a hand through his dark hair, doing his best to pretend to be interested, but Ella could see in his eyes he really didn’t care what either of the girls had to say. He was listening because he was being polite.
Lucky Red was loud and crowded, and Rome wished he hadn’t bothered to come out at all. Even after a couple of beers, he wasn’t feeling any more relaxed.“Would you lighten up?” Mark urged him. “Come on, man. Rosa’s looking hot tonight. She keeps smiling at you, and you’ve only got eyes for your beer.”Rome loo
Concentrating on her newest marketing campaign was super hard for Ella when all she wanted to do was stare at the picture of the actor from yesterday’s poster and check her phone. She knew it seemed ridiculous to think that Rome would actually call her back, especially so soon after he had called the first time, but that didn’t make her any less anxious to hear his voice.She had his number from the caller ID. In fact, she’d memorized his number. She couldn’t call him, though. Teresa might not actually do all of the things she threatened to do,
He had waited until almost 4:00 in the afternoon, but now that his audition was over and he had nothing standing in his way, Rome sat down on the edge of his bed and purposely called the number he’d accidentally called the night before. He prayed Ella was working and that she was the one who answered. For all he knew, Sinders had a whole bunch of customer service representatives.“Sinders Cinema Marketing. This is Ella.”
Dinner was almost over, and Ella hadn’t heard a word anyone had said at the table, she’d been so lost in her thoughts. Rome knew who she was. He wanted to meet her. In real life. That was both amazing and terrifying at the same time.Ella wasn’t that pretty. She had been told for most of her life that she looked like her mother, who happened to be a famous model. But she knew now that she hadn’t inherited her mother’s beauty. Her stepmom told her all of the time that she had a witch’s
Rome called Ella every day, sometimes twice a day if he didn’t get to talk to her too long the first time. Some days she had more time to chat than others. Every time he talked to her, he became even more fascinated with the girl. Within days of meeting her, he knew how extraordinarily special she was. He wanted to be with her so badly, but every time he asked her out, she said she was busy.“What about your aunt’s birthday party tonight?” Rome asked Friday afternoon. He’d called her a little earlier than normal because he wanted to see i
Ella hung up the phone and then went over to the dress she’d been working on all week. She had no idea how this would work. If Tim came to get her, and she was locked in the attic, she’d be screwed. Her stepmom would just tell him that she wasn’t there. If he didn’t come to get her, she’d look ridiculous coming to dinner in her dress. But… she didn’t really have a choice. She needed to put it on now in anticipation of her stepmom coming to let her out. Would she just shove her back into the attic and lock the door when she realized Ella intended to go to the party?
In the half-bath, Ella hung the bag Tim had handed her on a hook on the back of the door and unzipped it. She gasped at what she saw hanging there. The gown was gorgeous. A crystal blue color, with lovely gem embellishments all down the bodice, the skirt was full and flowy, and she knew it would look lovely on anyone--even her.Quickly, she took her soup-covered gown off and tossed it in the garbage, thinking there was nothing anyone could do to get that stain out. As carefully as possible, she slipped into the blue gown, which fit her like a glove. He’d even go