Chapter 37 Appearances
Logan and Veronica were lying in bed later that night, talking.
"That would be a great space for the paintings we bought at the Arboretum." Veronica nodded toward the eastern wall of their enormous bedroom. There was a row of high, square windows running the length of the wall, through which they could see stars at the moment but beneath them, the wall had plenty of room for artwork.
"I think we should move the bed over there." Logan said.
"Really. Why?" Veronica felt like the space between the two large windows overlooking the back yard was made for a king sized bed.
"I think I'd like to be able to look out these windows," He hooked his thumb toward the windows beside the bed, "see the back yard from bed, watch the sunset. And I'm not crazy about the morning sun in our face."
"Okay first of all," Veronica enumerated, "we wouldn't be able to see the backyard from way over there, just the tree tops, which is exactly what we see out the front windows now. Second of all, the sun has usually set long before we make it upstairs. Third, by the time the sun is high enough to come through those windows in the morning, its way past time to get up. Fourth, if the bed were against that wall, we'd have to go around it to get to the closet and finally, the bathroom and fireplace would be too far away."
"So that's a 'no' to moving the bed over there?"
"That's a 'no way in hell; you're out of your mind' to moving the bed over there."
"Okay." He grumbled. "You never let me have what I want."
"I just let you have everything you wanted."
"Oh yeah." He pulled her to him into a tight spoon. "You're the best."
"You're the best." She smiled, wrapping her arms around his, loving the way she fit under his chin and the feel of his warm strength all along her back. "I'm going to miss you while you're in California."
"Me too." He said. They hadn't spent a night apart since he had come to Minnesota. "You should come with me."
"Okay." She sleepily agreed. "I'll text Johnson that I had to go to California for a few days but I'll be back in the office on Monday. It'll be fine."
"Are you being sarcastic?"
"Am I still awake?"
"I can't always tell in the dark."
"Oookay, I don't even know what to do with that."
"You always know what to do with it." He chortled.
"Are we still talking about my penchant for sarcasm?"
"You really don't get this 'working for a living' thing, do you?" she asked.
"I get that it sucks." He said. "It gets in the way of us having fun."
"You're having fun." She assured him.
"Yeah," he admitted. "But if it weren't for your job we'd be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want, where ever we want."
"That sounds like a meaningful existence." She snorted. "I like my obligations. It's not that you don't come first, but…you can't be the only thing in my life. I don't want to be one of those useless people that just bounce from one fun event to the next. Neither do you. I want to be involved; I want to be part of something bigger. I want to matter, at least a little bit, in making the world a nicer place for others besides myself."
"You want to be Sam Beckett; leaping through time, righting wrongs and fixing lives."
"I don't know about leaping through time."
"Good; time travel is still impossible. As for the rest; you make the world a nicer place for me."
"And you make it a nicer place for me too but I'm glad you're writing; I don't want you spending every waking moment thinking about nothing but me and having fun."
"It's more like nothing but fun and having you." He joked. "Don't forget; writing is fun and my main character is you, so…"
"Well, my job is fun too. It may not be a nonstop chuckle fest but I enjoy it."
"I just wish you didn't have to do it every day." He complained.
"There's no such thing as a part time FBI agent."
"Sure there is; they're called 'consultants'."
"I don't want to be a consultant; I want to be a field agent. A lead investigator. Don't make me defend my career every time you want to hop on a jet."
"Sorry. I don't mean to." He murmured in her ear. "I know you love your job. I'm glad you love it, I'm just saying; if the time ever comes when you don't love it anymore, feel free to retire. With a little careful planning, we can probably make it on my income."
"Now who's being sarcastic?" she elbowed him in the belly.
"Moi? Never." He giggled.
"I hate hyperbole. I'd rather die a million horrible deaths than touch it with a thirty nine and a half foot pole."
"Nah. Hyperbole is okay. It's great. I love hyperbole. It makes me har—"
"So how long are you planning on being on the coast?"
"Oh…I don't know. Just a couple of days, tops. Patch things up with Trina and do a little surfing. Dick's been bugging me to come out."
"You staying in LA or going down to Neptune?"
"In between. I'm playing it by ear."
"Were you planning on seeing my Dad at all?"
"You don't have to," she assured him with a yawn. "But if he finds out you were out there and didn't even say hi, he might…"
"Yeah." She giggled again.
"I think you're overestimating the Sheriff's taste for my company." He said.
"What?" she scoffed. "You're his favorite."
"His favorite what?"
"Well, you're my favorite." She said, snuggling against his chest. "You're bringing Jeff aren't you?"
"I won't need him around when I'm talking to Trina," Logan said. "And he'd just be in the way at the beach."
"Take him anyway." Veronica urged. "He could use the time to go see his family."
"I thought he might like a few free days here to hang out with Bryn."
"Hunh…it might do him some good to get away from her for a few days." Veronica stated.
"What? Why?" Logan asked, alarmed. "What's wrong with Bryn?"
"Apparently nothing," Veronica admitted. "She's gorgeous, funny and smart. They're completely mismatched."
"I know you don't like JR but that's pretty cold."
"I do like Jeff!" She protested. "But it took me years to figure out there's a lot of good stuff beneath all the layers of snide."
"He got used to you, too." Logan grinned.
"JR is great." She said, reluctantly. "I just don't see Bryn sticking around long enough to find out."
"How do you figure?"
"Come on. How do you think it ends with a girl like her and a guy like him?"
"Happily ever after?"
"Right." She snorted. "Because in your experience, hot girls fall for nice guys?"
"Are you saying that you're not hot or that I'm not nice?" He asked. "Anyway, I'm not sure my experience is anything to go by. Is this like that time you freaked on Jackie because of Wallace?"
"What?!" Veronica squeaked, indignantly, twisting around to face him.
"I was drunk, so I may be remembering it wrong," Logan said, charitably, "but I seem to recall you going all Mama Bear on that poor girl because you thought she was Wallace's date, or my…Did you freak out because you thought she was my date?"
"I never did any such thing!" She said loftily, conveniently forgetting that she had done exactly that at their senior Home Coming Dance.
"You have always been so cute when you're jealous." He sighed, happily nostalgic. "I mean, except for those times when you weren't."
"You were drunk." Veronica said, firmly. "Never happened."
"Au contraire, mon petite, I used to be drunk quite often." He corrected her. "But that does remind me that Wallace, the nicest guy we know, has had plenty of hot girls."
"And did those little affairs ever end well?" Veronica demanded, easily keeping up with his conversational pirouettes. "And Wallace is a catch."
"You're saying JR isn't?"
"He lives over our garage." Veronica snorted. "How many girls do you think have that on their 'must have' lists?"
"He's employed. I hear that's a real turn on these days."
"I'm just saying they have nothing in common!" Veronica warned. "She'll get tired of him sooner or later and the longer it lasts the worse it'll be when she rips his heart out."
"Since when do you care what happens to JR?"
"I just don't think you'd like it if he gets all twisted up over her, that's all." Veronica mumbled into his chest.
"You're such a phony." He giggled, unconvinced. "You pretend you don't care but you're worried about him!"
"Are too." He squeezed her tightly.
"Am not!" she pretended to push him away.
"You're nothing but a softy;" He rolled on top of her, "a tiny, blond marshmallow."
"I'm done talking to you," she giggled, still trying to push him off of her. "Go to sleep."
"You're a mouthful of sticky, delicious sweetness." He pressed kisses down her face, neck and shoulders as he spoke.
"BE QUIET." She gasped, trying to wriggle out from beneath him. "I'm sleeping."
"And you're even better when you're dipped in chocolate." He murmured, moving under the covers.
"Mmmm…you'd be even better dipped in chocolate." She purred.
"Whoa." His head popped up from beneath the blankets and he rolled off of her. "Calm down. People are trying to sleep over here."
As it was, JR wanted to go to LA and he spent the morning telling Logan all the reasons why it was imperative that he come along. It was early afternoon when Logan called Veronica to give her his itinerary.
"We've got a villa at Pelican Hill," Logan said as he packed a bag, referring to the luxury resort on the coast of Newport Beach. "JR is going to make sure everything is up to my standards, then he's heading down to Neptune to see his folks while I go duke it out with Trina, once and for all."
"That's the right attitude." Veronica nodded, approvingly. "Go in there with your hackles up, fists raised and beat some sense into that sister of yours."
"Why is it that I can sense your sarcasm so much better in the light of day?"
"I don't think it's the light," Veronica lowered her voice to be sure that no one in an adjacent cubicle overheard her, "as much as the fact that we're not lying next to each other, naked."
"What, you think that distracts me?" he raised an eyebrow, skeptically.
"From Trina?" she teased.
"What are you wearing?"
"Great. You've just disproved my theory while, ironically, proving me right."
"I'm imagining that you're naked." He sighed.
"I'm at work!" she laughed.
"When are you coming home?"
"I'm not the one leaving town," she reminded him. " What's your plan?"
"I like that 'lying next to each other naked' idea."
"Focus, Doll Face! You've got a flight to consider, a war with your sister to end; you're swamped."
"You started it. Keep up the dirty talk and I won't get out of this room, much less to California."
"Seriously, what's your plan?" Veronica asked, trying to keep him on point. "How are you going to approach her?"
"I don't know…I guess I thought I'd just wing it." He shrugged, reaching into his suitcase and tossing out a pair of socks.
"Not a great idea," She said. "You can't apologize if she won't let you in the door. Bring her flowers and candy; that's always a good start."
Logan was uncomfortable about Veronica being all alone in the big house for days. She just laughed at him, reminding him that she'd been spending frequent nights on her own since she was 16, the house had an alarm system and she was trained in self defense and the use of side arms.
"Don't worry your pretty little head," she assured him, "I'll sleep with my Sig within reach."
"I'd feel better if you had a tire iron handy." He smirked.
"I'll keep that under my pillow." She joked. "I dare anyone to try and get the drop on me while I'm sleeping!"
"The Great Pumpkin better not make the rounds while I'm gone."
"Well, if you come home to a kitchen full of pies, you'll know something has gone horribly amiss."
"God, I miss you already." Logan said into the phone several hours later.
He stood in front of a set of floor to ceiling French doors leading out onto a wide veranda with a view of the seventeenth hole and the ocean beyond. His luxury villa at Pelican Hill featured six such doors; three off the common living area and one in each of the three large, well appointed bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms opened onto the western facing veranda; the third had a smaller, private veranda with a view of one of the resort's large, beautiful swimming pools.
"I miss you too." Veronica said, using his call as an excuse to take a break from her computer. "I'm still at the office because I kind of dread going home when I know you're not there."
"This is stupid; I'm coming home."
"No, you're not. You went all the way out there to patch things up with your sister and you're not coming home till you do."
"I don't wanna." he whined.
"At least make an effort! She's your sister." Veronica insisted. "Besides, it's good for us to miss each other. Think of how much fun it will be to see each other again after a couple of days."
"Is this like that stupid theory you had about loving each other warts and all? 'Cause that sucked."
"It's not my fault your warts turned out to be Madison Sinclair!" she snapped into the phone, immediately regretting her words. Logan said nothing as she bit her lip, screwed her eyes shut and said "Yeah, that did suck."
"But in the end, you loved me anyway." He smiled.
"I did. I do." She sighed. "And to prove how much I trust you, I think you should take some time to get some surfing in while you're there."
"Yeah. Then I won't have to listen to you whine about it."
"When do I ever whine about it?"
"You don't." she admitted. "This is a pre-emptive strike."
"Wow. We've come a long way since the days when you got all bitch-cakes on me over going to Mexico for the weekend." Logan observed.
"I never got all 'bitch-cakes' on you for that!" she protested.
"Check your files, Sweetheart. Bitch-cakes was your go-to attitude."
"It wasn't the surfing I objected to," she said, defending herself. "It was what you did when you weren't surfing."
"Surf, eat, sleep. To which did you have an objection?"
"Hah! And the company you kept."
"You mean Dick?"
"Compared to some of your other safari companions, Dick is an upstanding citizen."
"I'm glad you think so; I'm meeting him at the beach tomorrow."
"You know, Dick has improved amazingly since he married Mel."
"Yeah, it's wild how tame he got when she caught him by the balls."
"I still can't believe Mel decided he was a keeper." Veronica mused.
"Life is strange." He agreed. "Do you have any idea how many people would say that about me?"
"People think you're strange?"
"Well, very few would describe me as a 'keeper'."
"Mmmm. You're my little secret, Baby Lips." She smiled. "Now you'd better get a move on if you're going to win your way back into Trina's good graces. Don't forget the candy and flowers."
"I won't." Logan assured her. He ended the call and then frowned. "'Baby Lips'?"
As if on cue, the door to the villa burst open and Candy bounced in, followed by a scowling JR.
"This place is AWESOME!" Candy yelled. "There's like; two golf courses, a bunch of pools, bars, shit to eat…and the beach is like, RIGHT THERE!"
"I can't believe you brought him along." JR said, fixing his glare on Logan.
"He was a lot more fun on the flight than you were." Logan said. It was true; JR had spent the time in the private jet immersed in his laptop while Logan and Candy played video games on the flat screen. Having no money, Candy had bet haircuts against Logan's hundred dollar bills. Candy had been down three cuts when they crossed the Rockies but by the time the luxurious little aircraft had set down at John Wayne Airport, Logan had owed him six hundred dollars.
"I can't be responsible for him, Moneybags." JR muttered in an undertone.
"Relax, Grandma!" Logan laughed and clapped JR on the shoulder. "No one's asking you to be responsible for anything."
"So what are we gonna do first?" Candy asked, flopping down on the deep, comfy couch.
"I'm going home." JR said, picking up his bag.
"You live around here?" Candy asked.
"We both grew up near San Diego," Logan said. "About ninety miles down the coast."
"Why the fuck did you move to Minneapolis?" Candy demanded.
"I followed him." JR nodded toward Logan.
"I followed Veronica." Logan admitted. Candy nodded as though that explained everything.
"See you tomorrow," JR said, pulling open the front door.
"What time?" Logan asked.
"I'll be back in time to bail you out, if that's what you're asking." JR grinned.
"No need for that!" Logan assured him. "I've got plenty of people who can post bail here."
When JR had left, Logan turned to Candy. "I've got some stuff to do, too." He said. "You okay here on your own?"
"Uh…yeah." Candy chuffed. "How long you gonna be gone?"
"I don't know. Don't wait up." Logan cast a derogatory glance at Candy's outfit. "There's a gift shop; take some of that money you won off me and get yourself some decent clothes."
Logan ran into no trouble at all getting onto the studio lot. He hadn't expected any difficulty there, it was his sister's reception that worried him. Even so, when he'd been shown into the studio in which her show was shooting, she'd flashed him a big smile when he caught her eye. As soon as she had a break, she came over to where he was sitting and gave him a hug.
"Logan! I'm so glad you came!" she cried happily, throwing her arms around him. His surprise was tempered as she hissed in his ear; "not here!" but the thought also occurred to him that his sister just might be a better actress than he had ever given her credit for.
"We have so much to catch up on!" she sang, letting go of him. "It'll be a few hours till I'm through for the day. Do you… want to come back later?"
"I'd like to hang out and watch if that's okay?" he glanced at the Director, over Trina's shoulder. "I promise to be good."
"Oh!" Trina, plainly surprised, looked to the Director, who just smiled and nodded.
"He's been on set before," the man said. "I'm sure he knows the drill."
Several hours later, a towel around her neck as though she'd been doing road work, Trina came to find him.
"Okay, baby bro…let's do this." She said with a tired smile.
"You hungry?" he asked as they made their way out of the studio to the parking lot. "You want to get dinner somewhere?"
"I'm mostly tired." She said. "We've been at it since six."
"In the morning?" He had never known her to rise before ten.
"Yeah. Yesterday was a technical nightmare so we had a lot to cover today. Blah, blah blah…I know how much you hate talking about the business. Let's just get something delivered and we can…shit." She stopped dead in the middle of the lot. "I forgot; I used the car service this morning."
"Don't you use it everyday?" Logan asked, grinning.
"No, only on the early calls." Trina headed back to the gate house without noticing her brother's amusement. "Usually I like to drive; it gives me time to collect myself and focus but days like today I found that what I really need is that extra time to wake up and mainline coffee. Turns out, I'm not as young as I used to be."
"You're twenty nine."
"I used to be twenty six." She sighed. "Hey, Rocko! I'm done for the day; think I can get a ride home?" This was to the middle aged dispatcher in the gate house. He gave Trina a big smile and a nod as he picked up the phone and called for a car.
"You know, Courtney Cox was thirty when Friends first aired." Logan said when she turned back to him.
"That's right!" she perked up. "And Lisa Kudrow was like, a million!"
"A million, give or take 999,969 years." Logan nodded, then glanced at the dispatcher, "and his name is 'Ricky'."
"He lets me call him 'Rocko'." Trina cut her eyes at Logan as a long black Lincoln glided to a stop next to them. Before the driver had time to get out, Logan had opened the back door for his sister to tumble into the wide, comfortable back seat.
"Home, Jeeves!" Trina commanded as Logan got in beside her. As soon as the car pulled away from the gate, she hit the power button, raising the privacy window, then looked at Logan. "You were so nice to me in front of my coworkers. I appreciate you keeping the big guns in check until we get to my place."
"Do you think anyone would mind if I puked in the limo?" Logan asked.
Even with the window up, the driver could hear Trina's laugh.
"Did you think I came to the set today to pick a fight with you?" Logan asked as they dug into the Pad Thai dinner they'd had delivered.
"The thought crossed my mind." Trina said dryly as she raised her glass of chardonnay to her lips. "But only because that's what happens every time we talk."
"Yeah…" Logan looked at her. "Sorry about that. That's why I'm here."
"So pick away." She sighed.
"No! I'm here to apologize." He explained. "I'm done with all of that. What happened happened and it doesn't matter anymore if we see it differently. I'm willing to call a truce, if you are."
"If I am?" she raised her eyebrows. "Logan, I've been trying to avoid fighting with you for years."
"Have you? I didn't notice." He answered before he could stop himself. She just rolled her eyes.
"Of course you didn't." she sighed. "You have a one track mind and once I was off your radar, you never gave me a thought, did you?"
"I called you the other day." He protested.
"And I appreciated that!" she retorted. "Best congratulatory call ever."
"What? I'm a jackass! You never noticed?"
"Well, I did," she laughed. "But it's refreshing to hear you say it!"
"So," he lifted his wine glass as in a toast "Truce?"
She said nothing, but lifted her own glass to lightly touch his. They both drank.
"You know," Logan began, "I always assumed you wanted to be an actress because the idea of working for a living gave you hives but…"
"It does." She admitted.
"I watched you today." He said firmly. "You work your ass off on that set."
She chuckled and took another sip of wine. "It's the most fun I've ever had." She admitted. "And not just because it's a hit; I do enjoy the publicity and the attention; not everyone can handle the fame but we were raised on it, weren't we?"
"Yes; early bedtimes, eat your broccoli and smile for the cameras." Logan grimaced.
"I love it!" Trina laughed. "I admit it; I love the cameras, the paparazzi, all of it! But you know; the best part is knowing that we're producing something good. That's a totally new experience for me."
"Like a virgin." He smirked.
"You remember the first time you got it right?" she challenged.
"I always got it right." He lied.
"HA!" she snorted. "Doesn't matter how good the work is if the project is wrong. You introduced me to at least one of your wrong projects although I don't remember…was she 'Rode Hard' or 'Put Away Wet'?"
"She was a nightmare best left unnamed and unremembered." Logan did a full body shudder.
"Never mind." With a shrug of one shoulder, Trina consigned Kendall Casablancas to the memory hole. "I've finally got it right and it's the best feeling, ever. It's like my whole life finally makes sense! Like you must have felt when you realized Veronica was it."
"So much you don't know…" Logan murmured under his breath.
"I've been around this business for a long time…" Trina said.
"Knock it off with the sarcasm; I'm trying to tell you something!" She chastised him. "Something you need to understand."
"Fine!" He threw himself back on the couch in an exaggerated expression of being consigned to hearing her out. "Speak!"
"I spent years hanging out on sets, trying to find a way in; dating craft service personnel, script supervisors, extras…every one of them really an actor, writer or producer. People just like me; willing to do about anything, put up with anything for a shot at the big time. I had an advantage of course. Daddy always ran interference for me and I know the name got me attention I never would've rated if I were Trina Smabey of Bumfuck Illinois."
"You know there really is no such place? I looked."
"Would you shut up?" Trina glared at him but couldn't help smiling. "I'm trying to tell you that I always knew how much I owed Aaron Echolls for being my Dad. He made me feel like I belonged."
"People think that being adopted by movie stars is like winning the adoption lottery; what could be better? But it's an inverted fairy tale! I wasn't the Ugly Duckling that turned out to be a swan; I was a duck, waddling around in a herd of swans!"
"More like a murder of crows." Logan observed.
"Whatever. Growing up, I never felt beautiful or glamorous enough. Daddy made me feel like I was both. You remember the day he beat the shit out of Dylan—"
"Goran. Yes. I'm not likely to forget it."
"When Daddy yelled 'My daughter' at him…that was like…the happiest moment of my life."
"That made you happy?"
"I know." Trina sighed, acknowledging the wrongness of her emotions. "I feigned horror and a little part of me was horrified but a much bigger part just fixated on the fact that Aaron Echolls was screaming, for all the world to hear, that I was his daughter. You have no idea how much that meant to me."
"No. I don't." Logan muttered.
"It never crossed my mind that what I saw that night was something that was always there, just beneath the surface. I thought it was just…paternal rage; a once in a lifetime thing. I would have taken a bullet for him right then."
"That would have been a miscarriage of justice." Logan said, not quite under his breath.
Trina took another sip of her wine and looked hard at her brother. "I'm only telling you this so you can try to understand why I stood with him. He was always on my side. That was the story I preferred."
"When faced with a choice between a good story and the awful truth, choose the story. Yeah." This all squared with what Charlie had said.
"He's been gone for five years." Trina took a sip of wine and continued. "When I first heard about his suicide, I was devastated. You have no idea how bereft I felt!"
"You've got to be kidding." Logan said, dryly.
"I'm not! I had lost the only person who had always been in my corner and I had no one to turn to!"
"You think I have no idea how that feels?" Logan demanded, incredulous. "Where have you been for the last seven years?"
"Look, Yogi; I'm sorry I wasn't there when Mom died. I didn't know what that must have been like for you until I went through it. I should have been there for you. I just assumed you had your little cohort around you, like always. The only reason you ever needed me at all is because I could drive and buy alcohol."
"That's what you thought." He muttered.
"When Lily died, you had people to mourn with you; The Kanes, Duncan, Veronica…When Mom died, you had Daddy…When he died and I needed someone to understand how I felt, I discovered that you weren't the only one who hated him. Everyone did. Everyone."
"What?!" Logan was so surprised by this revelation that it knocked his objections to her misconceptions about his own losses right out of his head.
"They kissed his ass because he made them millions. I spent decades among the wannabees on the fringes of Hollywood. Besides our big dreams, you know what we all had in common? We were at the mercy of the big shots…and they knew it. Turns out Daddy wasn't very nice to people who were of no use to him. Oh, he had a veneer of charm but it didn't take much to wear that away. Once I'd lost his protection, once no one was afraid of repercussions, there were plenty of people more than ready to tell me stories. It's really appalling, the joy people take in telling you things they have to know you don't want to hear!"
"You grew up in Neptune and didn't learn that until Aaron died?"
"Shut up. You know me; I always try to see the good in people." Trina said, loftily, causing her brother to burst out laughing. "I do! You should try it; it makes life so much more pleasant. Well, most of the time."
"I bet it does!" he gasped. "Your problem, Trine, is that you see good where it doesn't exist."
"You're probably right." She sighed. "I've cut some people more slack than they deserved. But I have no regrets! You know why? All those years of making friends with nobody's has paid off in spades. Spades, Yogi! You know how I got this gig? I never read for comedies! I assumed it was our name that got me an audition."
"Well, it is Hollywood." He shrugged. "Are you saying it's not?"
"NO!" she laughed. "The show's creator is a guy who was a Grip on Wilder Things, the casting director was a script coordinator on Law and Order and the director is a kid I knew when he worked for craft services on The Surreal World! Everyone involved is someone who has known me for years and thought it would be fun to work with me! I finally get my big break and it had nothing to do with Daddy!"
"Oh my God." Logan looked at her, eyes wide. "You actually got hired for your own qualities?"
"Yes!" Trina's voice betrayed her own wonderment at the situation. "No one saw that coming."
"You always did have a knack for getting along with people." Logan said, grudgingly. "Your pores leak with appreciation for the Little People Without Whom You Never Would Have Made It."
"And you always had the knack for pissing off everyone within earshot?"
"That's not a knack," Logan explained. "I worked hard on developing that skill."
"But why? What's it ever gotten you?" she asked. He cut his eyes sharply at her, then rolled them.
"Now you sound just like Charlie." He groaned.
"Charlie?" Trina asked, blankly.
"Charlie Stone. Your half brother." Logan reminded her, irritated by her continued refusal to acknowledge Charlie.
"Oh. Him." Trina made a face. "Your half brother."
"Why do you do that?"
"Do what?" she pouted.
"'Your' half brother. 'Your' mother. No one makes as big a deal about you being adopted as you do."
"I…guess it was so no one else could point a finger at me and say 'who are you trying to kid? You're not one of them'. It's like girls who claim they're fat; then all their friends tell them how great they look."
"I'm the one who wanted to be someone else but you always made it a point."
"It's hard to believe we grew up in the same family yet our experiences were so different." Trina said.
"They chose you; they got stuck with me." Logan smirked.
"Everyone adored you." Trina scoffed.
"I don't think that word means what you think it means." Logan muttered.
"I just think it's odd," Trina said, tossing back the rest of her wine in an attempt to hide the bitterness in her voice, "That I can reach out to you a million ways from Sunday and you just slap me back but one word from Charlie the Wonderful and you're on the next flight to LA."
"I—it…" Logan blinked as a strange sort of déjà vu washed over him. "What are you talking about?"
"Nothing." She pouted. "But I'd like to know where the hell Charlie was when you needed bail…or a ride home from T.J. 'cause all your buddies left you passed out on the beach. I'd like to know how many times Charlie made excuses for you when you were too hung over to show your face at breakfast. Or kept you away from her when y- when Mom was shit faced."
"Jesus, I must have been a pain in the ass!" Logan snapped. "No wonder you don't want another brother; you can't stand the one you've already got. Don't get me wrong; I don't blame you for hating me from second I showed up."
"I didn't hate you!" Trina cried indignantly.
"Right." Logan rolled his eyes. "I've seen the headlines; 'Echolls Family Has First Real Child'. That had to have filled you with filial devotion."
"There was never any such headline."
"I meant the headlines between the lines."
"I never hated you! You were my baby brother; I wanted to dress you up and push you around in my doll buggy! I adored you from the second they brought you home but Mom wouldn't let me anywhere near you." Trina made a sound of disgust. "Just because I said I wanted to bite your face."
"You had the fattest, reddest little cheeks!" Trina recalled. "They looked like candy. I may have licked you but I never would have bitten you. I was seven years old, for Christ's sake! Even your mother must have known I was old enough to know better."
"Oh my God." Logan stared at her.
"That's right." Trina said defiantly. "I'm not twenty nine, I'm thirty. I turned twenty one when I was nineteen and I stayed there for four years, so what? I have something better than youth or beauty."
"You're that good an actor?" he asked.
"I'm a terrible actor!" she laughed. "But I have presence and that can not be faked."
Logan couldn't argue with that; his older sister had always known how to fill a room with her personality. He laughed.
"Lynne spoiled you rotten," Trina went on. "We all wanted to; you were the cutest little guy who ever walked. Dad was afraid she was spoiling you. He…shit."
"He tried to make a man out me?" Logan politely supplied. She looked at him but her glare quickly melted.
"I tried to be there, Logan." She said. "I went to your stupid Christmas concerts, your surf competitions, you…I don't know; whatever the hell else you did. I was the one who taught you how to tell the star fuckers from your real friends and how to tell the cool kids from the wannabees when you got to High School. Maybe I wasn't there every time you needed me but—"
"You were." He cut her off, emphatically, leaning forward earnestly. "It wasn't your job to protect me. You were always there when I needed you. And I would be honored to escort you to any or all of the award season events you think you might need me for."
Eating dinner and unburdening her soul had the effect of reinvigorating Trina. She insisted on taking him out and showing him what life in the Lime Light could be. She wisely called the car service and for the first time ever, Trina and Logan Echolls were seen together at a most of the hottest venues in LA.
The first places Trina took him to were those in which the paparazzi camped out; no call to her publicist was necessary to get the flash bulbs popping. She loved it all and was surprised to see her younger brother's discomfort. He actually flinched.
"Relax, Yogi; the cameras love us!" she said as they entered the dimly lit club filled with those celebrities one can't open a weekly magazine without seeing.
"It's not the cameras, it's the accompanying text." He told her.
"Oh what are you afraid of?" she asked. "You're not 'Aaron Echolls' son' anymore; now you're 'Trina Echolls' brother'!"
"Oh, I haven't been 'Aaron Echolls' son' in a while. You haven't been paying attention; I've been 'Accused murderer' for years now."
"So run with it;" She advised. "Start a band and call yourselves 'Accused Murderers'. Look! There's Katy! KATY, YOU LITTLE BITCH, I LOVE YOUR SHOES!"
And the night was off to a flying start.
Trina dragged Logan from place to place until he lost track of how many they'd hit. Not that it mattered; he couldn't have cared less. They were all the same; dimly lit, strobing lights, music too loud to do more than smile and pantomime, packed too full of too many vaguely familiar people all too determined to have the best night ever. He could barely remember when, or if, he'd ever enjoyed the club scene.
No wonder I dropped so much Ex in the bad old days and drank myself sick; I was trying to escape this boredom.
At first the nonstop flashbulbs bothered Logan but he quickly adapted, especially when he realized they were mostly aimed at his sister. This was a new development in their lives and welcomed by both. Trina was delighted to introduce Logan to everyone until he wasn't sure if she was showing him off or just showing off. Little by little, as they went from club to club all over town, he began to notice that Trina didn't just know all the beautiful people; she knew everyone. There wasn't a bartender, waiter or coat checker in a first, second or third tier establishment that Trina wasn't on a first name (or close facsimile thereof) basis.
Logan's knee jerk reaction was to be embarrassed by her popularity but then he gave himself a mental kick in the shorts and decided to be proud of her instead.
"You actually like this, don't you?" he asked at the ninth or tenth place as she shoved a drink into his hand.
"What, this club?" she said, taking a sip of her own drink. "Not really but Gutter Punk Bill is an old friend; I had to stop by and say 'hi'."
"I don't mean this place, I mean all this." Logan waved his hand in an all encompassing gesture. "All these people."
"Well, yes!" she laughed. "I know it's shallow but I love being admired by strangers! Don't drink that whole thing; we're not done yet."
"Oh God." Logan tipped back his drink despite her warning.
"You tired?" She asked, unable to believe it."Like an old married man?"
"I thought it would be different, now that you're a star." He admitted. "These places are all the same."
"I'll show you what's different." She smirked. "follow me."
Two minutes and a quiet conversation with an enormous bouncer later and Logan found himself following Trina up a dark winding stairway. The VIP lounge was a large, tastefully appointed room furnished with a private bar, beautiful couches and armchairs and a waitstaff ready to supply whatever refreshments the select patrons could possibly desire. One wall was entirely made of one way glass so the privileged few could watch the action on the dance floor below without being ogled themselves. The music from below was piped in but tuned low to be background for conversation and deal making of every kind.
"I've been coming here for years," Trina whispered in Logan's ear, "and never knew this room existed till six weeks ago. Ratings have their privileges; now I have my own couch. Come on."
Logan dutifully followed her to a deep, soft leather couch with a clear view of the floor below. She draped herself over one end of it and indicated he should make himself comfortable.
"They serve the good stuff up here." She said. "Anything you'd like."
As she spoke, a young man in uniform appeared at her elbow. "Trina, you're looking gorgeous as ever tonight? The usual?" he asked.
"Yes please, Antoine!" she smiled. "and my little brother will have…?" she looked at Logan.
"Dirty martini." Logan said. "Grey Goose."
In the blink of an eye, they had their drinks in hand and were enjoying the relative quiet after the din downstairs.
"Grey Goose." Trina said. "What are you, fifty?"
"I like what I like." Logan shrugged. "What are you drinking? Wait, don't tell me; a cranberritini."
"No, smartypants. Straight up cranberry juice."
"Yep. It's delicious, low cal, promotes UT health and looks like I'm having a cocktail. At my age, I really can't drink all night and be fresh for work in the a.m."
"Is that all you've been drinking tonight?" He was surprised.
"No, I had a sip of a beer at a few of the places we hit. Mostly, I just pretend to drink; that's why I order bottles and not draft; easier to fake it."
"Faking it is your thing?" he innocently asked.
"What do you think acting is?" she smiled. "Are you having fun?"
"A blast." He said absently, looking around the room at the other small knots of VIPs. "You know any of these people?"
"Uh huh." She smiled at someone across the room. "But up here, we pretend we don't."
"Do all the clubs have rooms like this?" He was pretty sure he knew the answer.
"Uh huh." Her smile grew broader.
"Can you get us into all of them?" he was pretty sure he knew the answer to that question, too.
There simply wasn't time to visit the VIP rooms of all the top tier clubs in the area so he left it up to Trina to choose the best. Before last call, they'd managed to make appearances in four of the places Trina had spent the last few years dying to get into. In each of them, they'd been ushered immediately into the innermost inner sanctum of the establishment. Having a hit TV show in LA was like being royalty in Tsarist Russia.
It was close to 3:00 a.m. when the limo finally pulled up to Trina's courtyard and the two of them tumbled giggling out of the back seat.
"Thank you, Ricardo; you're a prince among men." Trina said as she stuffed a large tip into the hand of the driver. "I'll speak well of you ever after this evening!"
"When do you have to be at the studio?" Logan asked as they dragged themselves in the front door.
"Oh, I've got plenty of time." Trina assured him. "I'm not due in the makeup chair for hours."
"I shouldn't have kept you out all night; sorry about that." He giggled, sounding not the least bit sorry.
"Shut up!" she shoved him toward her couch. "I haven't had done that in months and I haven't had so much fun doing it in years!"
"You've never had so much fun; you've never done it with me." He told her as he kicked off his shoes and stretched out on the couch.
"That's true." She agreed. "You're much more fun now that you're legal! Back in the day, you drank like it was a contest to see who could get sick first."
"I drank to forget!" he proclaimed.
"Did it work?" she asked, recognizing her cue.
"I don't remember!" they cried in unison.
"I'm a grown up now." He murmured, his eyes drifting closed.
"That's not all you are." She laughed. "You're a snob!"
"I. Am. Not." He solemnly denied the charge without opening his eyes.
"Yes you are. You acted like I was dragging you from the slums of Calcutta to a leper colony until you found out about the VIP rooms. Then, you miraculously transformed into Mr. Life of the Party, Pass the Cigars and Caviar!"
"I was being polite." He opened his eyes and looked at her. "I didn't want to be rude to your friends."
"Vince is my friend," she acknowledged "But I've never seen that other guy before."
"They were playing poker; I wanted in." he explained.
"You wanted in alright! Snob."
"I'm not a snob," he said, patiently. "I'm an equal opportunity misanthrope. I'll grant you they appear similar but the differences are significant. You can look it up."
"Who was that guy, anyway?" Trina was done teasing him for his classism. She had kicked off her own shoes and was taking off her earrings. "You two sure seemed to hit it off."
"His name is Nick. Nick Peterson. He's in Imports. He invited me to come on his boat."
"Wow. All that on a first date? He loves you." She rooted through the linen closet in the hall.
"Of course he loves me; he took all my money." Logan explained the mechanics of male bonding. "He thinks he can win even more off me if he can get me sea sick."
"Well, the joke's on him!" Trina laughed as she tossed the pillow at him. "You never get sea sick!"
"Never say never." he mumbled as he punched the pillow and closed his eyes again.
It had been a very good evening.
To be continued...