BECOMING THE FABULOUS MISS C
By Angel Sentier and Lady Parsley
The next morning, Chloe walked through the doors of Premiere Advertising for what she assumed would be the last time. It was five a.m; way too early for any of the Triumvirate to be present. While she would have given almost anything to see Ginger with the shiner she'd given her, she was too afraid the woman might still strangle her where she stood if she were to show her face.
She swept all of her things on the desk into a large box and opened the drawers to do the same. She paused when she saw that the red phone, next to the other three which she planned on leaving behind, was blinking rapidly. After punching in the unlock code, it revealed that she had ten missed calls.
Her breath hitched in her throat as, with a sigh, she turned the phone off and threw it in the box.
Dennis shook his head. "Someone has been neglecting his trims."
Philip knew that it wasn't just his hair that looked bad at the moment, and silently thanked the hairstylist for not saying anything about the purple circles under his eyes or two days worth of stubble on his face. "Sorry," he mumbled. "I've been... busy."
"You do realize that your head has my signature all over it? It's me who gets the blame if your style looks more than six weeks old." He sighed and gestured Philip over to a salon chair. "Sit your fine ass down. Now, tell me what's wrong," he said as he draped him in a cloth.
"What makes you think anything's wrong?"
Dennis didn't bother to answer; he just gave Philip a long look in the mirror and raised an eyebrow.
"Okay, something's wrong," Philip conceded. "I've tried everything to fix it. Nothing's worked." He sighed. "I think I've really screwed up."
"How so?" asked Dennis, setting to work.
"There's this woman. She thinks I hate her."
"No! But..." He winced. "Remember what I told you last time? About being tired of all the fake? I might have said some things to her about honesty and wanting something real..."
The shears paused in their snipping for a moment. "You told a made-up woman that you wanted something real? I see... You said something stupid."
"Basically," he agreed. "But I met her when she was real, and then again when she wasn't. I didn't realize she was the same person until recently."
"Is that so?"
"Well..." Philip considered for a moment. "I think deep down inside, I might have known it was her, but I just didn't tell it to myself, or something like that. She won't admit that she's the same person, though, and now she's avoiding me. Probably because she thinks admitting it would make it a reality and as long as she doesn't see me, I can't tell her I hate her."
"Have you told her that you don't?"
"I've tried. She won't pick up her phone. Her cell phone goes directly to voice mail. She doesn't work at the place I knew she worked at anymore. I've tried texting her, emailing her, leaving messages, faxing..."
"How about going over to her house?"
"I don't want to seem like a stalker..." Dennis gave him another disapproving look and Philip let loose another sigh. "I'm at a loss for what to do. I've been sitting in my hotel room for days with a shoe in my hand like an idiot."
"She, uh... left behind a shoe the last time I saw her."
"I see..." He spun the chair around to cut the front of Philip's hair.
Philip's eyes went wide and then narrowed in confusion as he looked up to see two large framed pictures of him and Chloe as Miss C from the tabloids on the opposite wall. "Uh... Why do you have those framed?" he asked.
"Oh, I always frame my best work," replied Dennis, with a wink.
Philip stared at him for a moment. "I've been set up, haven't I?"
"Define 'set up.'" The shears went to work again. "You want some advice, sugar?"
"I'll take anything at this point."
"If she won't admit it to you, why don't you just prove it?"
"You have one of my shoes. They're what you call 'factory seconds.' The reason why is because they leave a very distinct crescent moon shaped bruise on the outside of the foot. Just go over there and match the foot to the shoe."
Philip thought it over, then nodded, a slow smile creeping across his face for the first time in days. "That could work..."
"I've also got some advice for your other problem..."
Chloe was taking a break from packing up her apartment, for the second time in less than a year, to go through the classifieds. There were plenty of ads for secretaries, just none that paid as well as her last job. The odds of finding someone as bitchy as Ginger were pretty slim.
I wish Teri would wake up, she thought. Then not only could I stop worrying about her, but she'd hire me for sure, seeing as Ginger is being sued by Philip and the company won't look too kindly on that.
She circled a few likely prospects to call later and turned to the rental section. She wasn't looking forward to moving into an even smaller, crappier apartment, but she could no longer afford the small, crappy place she lived in.
After a few minutes of searching, she threw the paper on a box and headed for the refrigerator with a sigh. The days-long depression she hadn't been able to shake was coming back in force the more she looked at the ads, and that meant it was time for an ice cream break. Where once her endless store had been dwindling, her little fridge was once again packed to the gills and there were empty cartons strewn all over the apartment, much the same way an alcoholic would bottles of booze. She grabbed some Phish Food and flopped on the couch.
Her legs landed on the remote control for the television, flipping it on. As her luck would have it, the Bravo! Channel was playing Philip's version of Hamlet. For some reason, she couldn't bring herself to turn it off. She sniffled as she watched Philip be a jerk to Ophelia, the prelude to another batch of tears.
Their relationship felt so unfinished. Probably because it was. Some ridiculous part of her almost wanted to answer his calls so he could yell at her and have done with it. But mostly, she just wanted to crawl away and forget everything awful that had happened, leaving the wonderful, untainted parts for her to fondly remember. Before she screwed it all up... Just like every relationship, she thought, miserably, settling in for another self-abuse session. Okay, admittedly, Jason screwed up the last time and pretty damn majorly, but still...
She yanked up a handful of tissues from the almost empty box nearby and blew her nose loudly.
Her brow furrowed. Did Hamlet just call my name? It was the same voice, British accent and everything. She took the remote and turned down the volume.
"Chloe!" This was followed by knocking.
She covered her face with her hands. Philip was at the door. She had wondered how long it would take... Maybe if she was quiet he'd just leave...
"I know you're in there..." A momentary pause. "...Chloe! I heard your telly and your car is in your driveway. So unless you walked somewhere and left your television on, you've got to be home!"
Crap... Just be quiet, he'll eventually go away.
"Come on..." Pause. "...Chloe! I just want to see your right foot!"
She blinked. "What?"
"Ah-HA! You are home!"
"Fuck..." she muttered. "No, I'm not!"
"Is your right foot home?"
"My right foot doesn't want to see you!"
"If you don't open the door, I'm going to keep screaming your name and when I lose my voice I'll go get an air horn to do the job for me. I'll do it, I mean it!"
She sighed. If he did that, and she wouldn't put it past him, the neighbors would complain. And even though she was leaving the apartment complex, she really didn't want to be responsible for Philip being led away by the police.
She got up from the couch and, with the chain still drawn, she opened the door a few inches. Admittedly, aside from his hair, he looked terrible. He looked like he hadn't had any sleep in days. It was nice to know she wasn't the only one.
"Did you come to humiliate me?" she asked.
"No. I came to see your right foot. Are you going to let me in?"
She really didn't understand the foot business, but she slid the chain and opened the door. "Your British is showing, by the way," she said as she stood back so he could enter.
"I'm under just a little emotional duress," he said, dryly. He stopped in the entryway, looking around at all the chaos. "This is a bit different than I remember it. Where are you going?"
"I don't know," she mumbled. "Probably to a storage unit and then to Tessa's or Teri's until I can find another job. Can I offer you something?" She went to the fridge and looked in. "I've got Moose Tracks and some caramel stuff, but that might be a little runny..."
She sighed, closing her eyes. She never thought her name could sound so good and yet so heart-wrenching at the same time. "What?"
"Could you just... come over here for a second?"
Let's get this over with, she thought. There was apparently no hope of prolonging what would probably be the last time they met. She went to the couch and sat down, turning the television off with the remote as she did so. He knelt in front of her and removed her fuzzy red slipper, at which point he stopped and stared at the bandages.
"What happened to you?"
"I sprinted barefoot through an orange grove."
"Long story. But it should be okay to take those off. The swelling's gone down."
Carefully, he unwound the gauze, and then took from a paper bag he'd brought in with him the broken rhinestone shoe she'd left behind.
"I believe this is yours."
"No, it's not." She didn't feel guilty about that one, since it wasn't a lie.
"All right, it's Davis', but you were wearing it."
"How do you know Dennis?" she asked, surprised.
"He does my hair. Don't change the subject!"
"I feel like I've been set up."
"Apparently, that depends on your definition." He slipped the shoe onto her foot and examined it. She noted how the bruise on her foot matched exactly where the shoe strap pressed against it too hard and sighed, realizing why he'd been so set on seeing her feet. Here was something she hadn't anticipated. She'd been sold out by her hairstylist.
He looked up at her. "Are you still going to tell me you're not the same person?"
Sadly, she shook her head. "Go ahead."
"Go ahead and what?"
"Yell at me. Be angry." She stared at her lap, unable to look at him. "Tell me how I led you on, lied to you, or, at the very least, committed the sin of omission. I wanted to tell you so many times, but the opportunity always got away from me, and then eventually, it had just been too long. Sure, I expected it all to end, but I kept hoping for a little bit longer, just a little bit more, because I was greedy. I wanted it all. It was stupid... Especially after everything you said about wanting reality, when all the time I was this made-up doll, you have to hate me now."
"Are you finished?"
"Good. Because it sounds like you're doing a pretty good job of hating yourself." He sighed. "I don't hate you... Chloe. I've been trying to get a hold of you all this time so I could tell you that."
She glanced up at him. "Really?"
"Yes. But how could I, when you wouldn't admit to me that you were Miss C, or, more importantly, even speak to me."
"But I lied to you..."
He shook his head. "Everything you said to me as Miss C was the truth. Every bit of her was you, even if the exterior was different. You said you wanted to tell me, and I believe you. I probably could have realized the truth about you before now, too, but I didn't. We've both made mistakes. But I don't think that anything that's happened is reason enough to call everything off." He reached up and took her hands in his. "I've learned something... Chloe, impossible as that is to believe. It doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, as long as who you are on the inside is the truth. And on the inside, you were always..." He glanced down, briefly. "...Chloe. Isn't that right?"
Her heart was throbbing. Incredible as it was, it was sounding like he still wanted to be with her. She nodded, swallowing thickly. "Yeah." Something was bugging her, though. "Philip?"
"Say my name."
Again, he glanced down. "Chloe."
"One more time?"
She grabbed his arm and examined it. "Did you... Did you tattoo my name on your arm?" she asked in disbelief. The marks could be covered with make-up or a large wristwatch, and if it wasn't looked at too closely it could even be mistaken for an obscure freckle pattern, but sure enough, written near his left wrist in brown ink was the name Chloe. "A tattoo on an actor's arm is prime real estate!" she exclaimed, still staring at it. "What were you thinking?"
"This way I'll never forget your name," he said. "It was Darius' idea, he wrote it down for me, and I thought it was a pretty good one, but if you want, I'll have it done in bright pink, blue, or red; something that can't be covered by make-up. Just say you'll be with me again. I don't want just Miss C or just..." Glance. "...Chloe. I want all of you, every part of you. I--"
"Hold it," she said, anticipating what he could have been about to say. She bit her lip slightly, considering. "You might be ready to say that, but... I don't think I'm ready to hear it, yet."
He paused for a moment, then nodded, conceding. "If things don't work out..."
"Yeah," she said. "I like you a lot, Philip. And apparently, you like me enough to brand yourself," she added with a wry smile. "But I'm not quite ready to take that big a gamble on my heart with someone who seems too good to be true. These last few days were Hell. If we're going to be together, I want a sure thing."
He smiled. "Longer than a Hollywood forever."
"Much longer," she agreed. "Longer than Brad and Jen."
"And Tom and Nicole."
"And Johnny and Winona."
"I don't think Joey and Winona are all that comparable to us..."
She blinked. "You know Johnny Dep?"
"Johnny, right!" He nodded, his forehead wrinkling slightly. "A very odd man."
"That says a lot, coming from you."
"Thanks," he said, dryly. He hesitated a moment. "Well... If you're not ready to hear those words... Would you be ready to hear 'Move in with me?'"
Her eyes widened slightly. "In L.A.?"
"It is my home." He gestured at the rest of the apartment with a nod of his head. "And it looks like you're nearly packed anyway."
She pursed her lips, thinking it over. "I want to split the rent."
"Oh... Well, I'll take the crappiest bedroom you have."
"I've only got one. We'll have to share. Oh, damn." But he was grinning like a goof as he said it.
She sighed lightly. "I know it seems like I'm being hesitant, don't get me wrong, I would like to move in with you. But as it stands, it looks like I'm only doing it because I have no where else to go. I just don't want it to seem like I'm taking advantage of you..." she said.
He stared at her. "You've never had a boyfriend who treated you right, have you?" The resolve in his expression renewed itself as he tightened his grip on her hands. "Give me an audition. Let me have three months. If it doesn't work out, then we can part ways, and I'll pay for you to move back, or anywhere else you want..."
She couldn't help but smile at his business-like tactics. "Philip..."
"I'll prove it to you. I can be the man you deserve."
"I'll show you what it's like to be in a real relationship. Well, as real as it can be, while dating a Hollywood actor..."
She finally succeeded in gaining his attention. "What?"
She put a finger to her lips. "Too much small talk." She knew her expression probably revealed how vulnerable she was feeling, but at the moment, she didn't care. Her eyes were growing bright green with tears as she looked up at him. "Can I... Can I just cuddle with my boyfriend on the couch right now?"
He smiled, rising slightly to sit down next to her, and then gather her into his arms. "Why are you crying?" he asked.
"It's nothing," she said, shaking her head against his chest. "I'm just... I didn't think I could be so happy."
He rubbed his cheek against the top of her head, the shadow on his jaw catching strands of her hair. "Me too."
As her leg dangled off the edge of the couch, the broken shoe fell from her foot. She didn't move to pick it up; she wasn't going to move for a very long time.
THE END... until next time.
Author's Note: At last! The finale of Chloe's story, more or less. Again, we'll still be clarifying things in Teri's story, which is coming up next! We hope you look forward to it and continue to give us feedback! We'll see you all again, we hope, in "Reduced To This!"
--Angel and Parsley--
If you enjoyed this story and it's companions and want more... We are currently adapting these stories as Audio Dramas! So, you can hear Chloe, Philip, and everyone else as these stories are woven together in an on-going radio play! And it's not just what we have of these stories, oh no... The audio series will go above and beyond what's on these pages. We're very excited about it and thought we'd share this with our readers who have been so supportive and patient with us.
For more information, please visit pendantaudio dot com and please have a listen to the other shows as well, the people at Pendant Audio are so multi-talented and their shows are very entertaining! (And you may hear me and Parsley acting in them, as well!)