“Josie?” One of CWA’s Spring interns appeared in the doorway of William’s office. I was filing some of William’s emails while he was at lunch. “I can’t figure out how to create new folder thingies,” he’d emailed me, just an hour ago. “You just go to options and click ‘create new folder’,” I wrote back from the group computer in the mailroom. “Can you just do it while I’m out?” he’d written back. I'd said he’d become somewhat self-sufficient since I started the agent trainee program, but for William that still stops shy of a kindergartner's grasp of technology.
I looked up from William’s computer. “Yeah?”
“There’s some people here to see you in the lobby,” she said.
“For me?” I asked. “Are you sure?”
She nodded. “I’m sure.”
I sighed. Occasionally, some desperate, struggling actor will do some Sherlocking on the Internet, find out of the name of an agent’s assistant, and show up unannounced, begging for just five minutes of your boss’ time. This never happened in New York, but it’s happened a handful of times since I've moved to L.A. There is a desperation to the wannabes out here that I've never seen in New York, that I'm experiencing myself. L.A. is shrouded in a veneer of perfection that sharply illuminates the gap between your place in the world and the glittering success of the 1%. It can make you do things, pathetic things, that you never thought you would be capable of doing.
I’m so stressed and overworked that I’ve turned into one of those snobby, smug agent’s assistants that you see on Entourage or something— “William is a lit agent, not a talent agent,” I’ll snap, immediately feeling like a real asshole when I see the disappointment drop down on their faces like a curtain. I’m usually a kinder person! I want to say. This place has expelled it from me.
I locked William’s computer and trudged out of his office, making my way down the hallway and the grand double staircase into the marbled, black and white checkered lobby. CWA’s L.A. offices are stunning—located right in the heart of Beverly Hills in an old stucco mansion, a lush, sprawling courtyard just outside the entrance. “Someone here to see me?” I asked Leandra, the equally stunning receptionist. I like L.A., but I certainly won’t miss how image-driven this town is. CWA’s west coast office hires receptionists from a modeling agency, whereas in New York, it’s perfectly acceptable for even the most gangly-limbed and beak nosed interns to man the front desk. New York celebrates its weirdos, and that's why I love it.
“Waiting in the garden,” Leandra said.
I nodded and headed for the double doors, pushing them open and squinting into the midday sun. It took a second for my eyes to adjust, but when they did, I let out a loud yelp. “Is this real life?”
“I can assure you this jet lag is 100% real,” Nina said, throwing her arms around my neck. She gave me a wet kiss on the cheek and stepped aside so that Ashley could hug me too.
“You guys are insane!” I said. “I told you not to come.”
“Well, I’m glad we ignored you,” Ashley said, “we’ve been here less than four hours and we’ve already had a Ryan Gosling sighting.”
“It totally wasn’t Ryan Gosling,” Nina said.
“You would have seen it was him if you’d stopped sexting Nick for just one minute!” Ashley said.
“Ew, Ashley sexting is so 2012,” Nina said, right as one of the company’s most powerful agents brushed past us.
“Hi, Mr. Holtzman,” I said, meekly, and he gave me a brusque nod.
Nina slapped her hand over her mouth, waiting until he was a safe enough distance away before groaning. “Please tell me I didn’t get you fired.”
“Please,” I said, “at this point it might be a blessing in disguise.”
“So you slept with Peter?” Ashley gasped, dunking a piece of bread into olive oil. To my great surprise, when I told William Nina and Ashley had surprised me, he told me to take the rest of the afternoon off.
“Are you sure?” I’d asked. I hadn’t had a day off since three Sundays ago.
“You deserve it,” William said. “Go. I’ll cover for you.” Then he’d called to the intern who sometimes filled in for me when I was in the mailroom, and told her to make a reservation for three at The Ivy. “And it’s on the company,” William added, before I left his office. William might rub some people the wrong way, but I’ll say this about him—he recognizes and rewards loyalty and hard work.
“Well, technically, yes, we slept together," I said. "I passed out with my tongue in his mouth."
Nina nodded her approval. "Hot."
“Wow,” Ashley said, “you must be really exhausted to have turned down sex with Peter.”
After our kiss on the balcony, Peter and I had made our way to my bed—where I promptly fell asleep in the middle of making out with him (I have no memory of this. Peter filled me in the next morning. Apparently I'm a beastly snorer now too.)
“Or it’s just physical, unquestionable proof that you’re not into him anymore,” Nina said, tartly.
Ashley rolled her eyes. “How can you still be team Richard after everything? He broke up with Josie the night before she left for LA, and now he’s running away, like he always does, without even giving her the courtesy of an explanation or a chance to say goodbye.”
“And how can you still be team Peter after he’s made it clear that his type is young, naive lap dog?” Nina shot back.
“He admitted to Josie that he was wrong to not believe in her”—
“Guys!” I made the time out sign. “Please. This is my first day off in three weeks. This is the first time I’ve seen you in three months. Can we not play who is the bigger douche bag right now?”
Ashley glared at Nina. "Not until she tells you."
I dropped my hands in my lap. "Tells me what?"
"Richard finally wrote back to her Facebook message."
I swiveled to face Nina. "What? What did he say?"
Nina ripped apart a piece of bread, but didn't eat any of it. "He told me he's moving to San Francisco."
San Francisco. I shut my eyes and tried to compose myself before I said anything else. "Did he say why?"
Nina shrugged. "Sort of. Not really. He said there is an opportunity out there but he's not sure if it's his yet and he doesn't want to say anything until he knows for sure." Nina looked at her plate as she continued. "He also said that he didn't want to leave New York, but it was the only way he knew how to make a clean break with his family, and that he wanted to do something that would make him a more worthy boyfriend for you one day."
I made a fist underneath the table, then released it. "He said that?"
Nina looked me right in the eye. "Yeah, he said that. He obviously still loves you."
Ashley cleared her throat. "If he still loved her he would have told her"—
"Ash," I said, sharply.
“Sorry,” she mumbled.
We nibbled on the bread for a few minutes in silence. “Can I at least ask,” Ashley said, eventually, “if you’ve talked to Peter since he spent the night?”
“I haven’t, I said, “but I’m going to. There’s a party to kick off the launch of the new film financing department this week. I’m sure we’ll have a chance to talk there.”
“But what is there to even talk about?” Nina asked. “Do you want to be with him?”
“No,” I said. “I don’t know, maybe. I felt...something...for him last night, that I didn’t think I felt anymore. But I would be an idiot to try and start something with anyone while I’m out here, and not in the right frame of mind. I can’t be trusted to make good decisions when I’m running on fumes.”
Nina nodded, seemingly satisfied. “I think that’s wise.”
“And I think it sounds like a lot of justifying of the very simple fact that you have feelings for Peter again,” Ashley said. Nina opened her mouth to protest but I gave her a look. She shut her mouth, seemed to think for a second, then said, “So what are we going to do after this?”