Author's Note: I did one of those for my St. Berry fandom, and now I've decided it's time my second OTP had the same honor. Hope you enjoy it!
This story is the Puckleberry part of my Christmas gift to one of my best friends, Ashley. I hope you enjoy it, babe!
Disclaimer: This story is based on the book Rain Lady by Faye Wildman, which belongs to Ms. Wildman and Silhouette Books. Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy (who is a new daddy, congrats!).
Woman in the Rain
"That's perfect!" Jesse St. James said, excited. "Perfect!"
Rachel Barbara Berry shook her head negatively. Her hands, which held the thick script, were dripping with sweat. Who would have guessed that, three years later, just seeing a name printed of a paper sheet was enough to shake her so badly, to the point where she wished she could throw the script on Jesse's desk and refuse the role.
"Look, baby, you have to take it", he carried on. "Your last movie was three years ago! True, it adds some mystery to your life, but money is money. As your manager and accountant, I have to say you're broke. Completely broke".
"Yes, I know. I'm definitely penniless".
"That's right". Jesse pointed to the script she had in her hands. "That's sure money! A Noah Puckerman movie is always a box-office hit!"
"I'm aware", Rachel mumbled, hoping he couldn't see how shaken she was.
"Look, you can't keep hiding all your life. You're young, talented and beautiful, Rachel".
"Maybe I can't act anymore".
"Sure you can. You have to".
Rachel knew she was giving excuses. She actually didn't want to see Noah Puckerman again. Dropping the script on Jesse's desk, she stood up. She was petite, looking elegant even wearing jeans and a light blue cotton T-shirt, as she was at the moment. Her hair, thick, dark raven tresses, framed a beautiful face. Just her very Jewish nose kept it from being perfect, and small lines around her eyes and mouth made her look older than her 25 years of age. They revealed a pain that Jesse, her closest friend for the last three years, had never even guessed.
Walking around his desk, Jesse picked up the script and put it in her hands. "Why don't you go home and read it carefully? I'll call you tomorrow morning to hear what you think".
"Are you sure you're just taking the usual ten percent if I say yes?" Rachel tried to joke.
"Yes, I am, and you know it. But I can't deny it would mean a lot to me, having one of my clients say yes to such a role", he added with a grin.
She looked down to the script she had on her hands. On the front page, in curvy font, it read, Woman in the Rain, by Noah Puckerman. Maybe she should read it, to please Jesse. But only to please Jesse.
"Okay, I'll take it home", she said, slowly, "but that doesn't mean I'm taking the part".
Jesse smiled, trying not to show his joy. "Then why don't you come and have lunch with me tomorrow? We can talk about it together".
As she waited for the elevator, Rachel tried to keep memories of Noah Puckerman out of her mind. But it was hard, with her script in her arms. She didn't even have to close her eyes to see the handsome face; the cool hazel eyes that could turn deep green when he was turned on; the rebellious dark locks…
"Are you waiting for the elevator?" Someone asked, harshly bringing her back to reality.
"Yes, I am", she walked in a hurry. "I'm sorry".
"That's okay" the elevator operator openly checked her out. "Which floor?"
Rachel left the building and joined the crowd that hurried home. It was nearly twilight, and the air was hot, muggy. Carefully holding the thick, heavy script, she looked for the tiny alley she had left her car at. She felt like her life had reached a critical point, as if she would lose forever the calm, relaxed existence she led, as soon as she finished reading those pages.
That's foolish! She told herself, opening the door of her dark blue Prius. Three months ago, she had told Jesse she was ready to work again, and now she couldn't back off. Yes, the script had been written by Noah, but he had written several other things. She had to be strong. She couldn't afford to be vulnerable again.
Jesse is right, she reflected as she drove towards her house. She needed the job. Both for herself and for money. Three years ago, she was beautiful, successful, sought-after star. Now? Now she had gotten over her split with Noah; recovered from a near nervous breakdown and from everything that had turned her delirious happiness into a terrifying nightmare.
Reaching the building where she lived, Rachel parked her car on the underground parking lot and picked up her mail before going up. As usual, almost all the mail was composed of ads and bills. None of her old friends knew where she was. She had managed to isolate herself from everything and everyone. Even the press had stopped looking for her, going after easier-to-find actresses. Next day, she would give the bills for Jesse to pay, as she had been doing for the last three years. Poor Jesse! He had thought he had hit jackpot when he signed her on as her manager. It had never crossed his mind that Rachel would retire so early from acting.
She walked in her home, dropped the mail and the script on a small table by the door and went to the living room. She liked that room, decorated with a brown-leathered couch and two armchairs, paired up with thick, beige carpet. Her bedroom, a large space carpeted with the same carpet as the living room, had a huge bed, covered with a brightly colored quilt. There, she led a reclusive existence, from which sometimes she wanted to run away; simultaneously, she liked to have that cozy little apartment to hide in.
Through the large windows of her living room, she looked at other buildings and at the green trees that grew on the nearby park, at that hour peppered with children. There, safely hidden on New York City, she had been living for the last three years since she left her and Noah's house in Los Angeles.
She ran her fingers through her chocolate brown hair and suddenly realized that having received that screenplay likely meant Noah knew now where she was. Well, sooner or later it would have happened. Sighing, she paddled to the kitchen, turned on her coffee machine and picked up some vegetables for a vegan frittata. Noah's screenplay waited, ready to be discovered.
It was nearly midnight when Rachel finally closed the script. Remains of her hurried meal were still on the small tray she had taken to the bedroom with her, next to an empty coffee pot. She always knew Noah was an incredible writer, but she had never thought he could come up with something as great as the story she had just read.
With a sigh, she released the breath she hadn't even realized she was holding and tried to rid from the emotions the story caused her. It was excellent! It would be an amazing movie! Just from reading she had related to the heroine, Hannah Darnell, a young girl whose life was untimely destroyed by her sudden, reckless decisions.
It wasn't that Rachel thought her life was similar in any way to the movie's heroine. Hannah was a pathetic girl who uncovered her fiancé Joe's lies and half-truths and got even becoming promiscuous, hurting other people like she had been hurt. Later in the movie, she reconciled with and married Joe, but, haunted by the lack of sense of her actions, she ended up committing suicide.
Rachel walked to the window. The view had changed with the darkness. Lights blinked everywhere, inviting her to go out, try life out of her safe haven, have her name in lights on a movie theater marquise. The attraction was nearly physical. Yes, she would make the movie. And, if she managed to act well, she would have a triumphant comeback. However, Jesse hadn't mentioned anything about the production company behind the movie, the director, the rest of the cast, where it would be filmed… She would have to ask the next day.
Rachel looked at the clock on her wall. Was there any chance of her making the movie without running into Noah Puckerman again?
"Are you telling me you're gonna say yes?" Jesse was surprised, but happy, when Rachel told him her decision, the next morning.
"I'll audition for the role", Rachel corrected. "It's a great script".
"The best ever written by Noah Puckerman, believe me. And no worries, you've been already approved".
"Approved? By who?"
"What do you see?"
"Puckerone Films belongs to Noah Puckerman, doesn't it?"
Rachel took a deep breath. "I told you I didn't want anyone to know where I was".
"You lost me, Rachel". Jesse seemed confused. "You told me you were ready to work again. I went out searching for something and got you a Noah Puckerman movie. Now you're complaining?"
Rachel pressed her quivering lips. Jesse had no idea of her relationship with Noah Puckerman. It had been a very well kept secret.
"Look, baby", Jesse carried on, "Puck wants to come back home to America. He wants to film this movie in Charleston. The role of Hannah seems to be written with you in mind".
Rising abruptly from her seat, she began to pace, nervous.
"I'm starting to believe you're afraid of Puck, and not acting".
Rachel turned him her back, without answering.
"I met him", Jesse went on. "He's a nice, carefree, hard-working type of guy. This movie will probably be awesome. I saw Melodrama, his previous movie, four times. It's magnificent!"
"Good for you".
"Then your issue is with Puck. What has he done to you?"
She couldn't resume in a handful of words all the hurt and pain she had felt. Because of this, she recomposed herself and faced her friend, pretending to feel calm. "I've met Puck as well. And it wasn't pleasant".
"And do you think that's a good reason to let go of the best chance of your life?"
Rachel shook her head negatively.
"Rach, that's your best shot at a comeback. You still have fans all over the world, you're still known".
"I don't agree. I think they already forgot me".
"If that happened, you're to blame".
And so is Noah, she thought.
"Alright". Jesse's face hardened. "What if I tell you you're completely bankrupt? You have debts with me, with the bank, with several other creditors?"
"Well?" He insisted.
"You're blackmailing me".
"No, I'm not. Truth is, your situation is awful and so is mine. And I don't want to file for bankruptcy. I still have Andrea and my kid to support, and that is our chance at getting out of the hole. And it's not worth it to waste it just because you and Noah Puckerman don't like each other".
"I know it's a great screenplay, Jesse. I do! And I would love to say yes, because of you, but…"
"Then what?!" Jesse was losing his cool. "You'll just have to see the man professionally. Just keep your cool. I know you can do it, Rachel. You're a great actress".
"Not that great", she whispered.
"Don't be a fool! Puck looked like he was a fair, honest man. I liked him".
"You don't understand, Jesse!" Rachel insisted, aware that not even three years had reduced the pain she felt when she remembered her past.
"Yes, I do, but that doesn't improve our financial situations. I've managed to get an awesome deal for you", he picked up a manila envelope, filled with papers, "and I want you to sign it".
"I'm not signing anything!"
"You can think everything you want from him, but, as a businessman, Noah Puckerman is excellent. This is a great contract".
"I'll sign a deal with anyone but him".
"But Puck wants you". He put the envelope back on his desk. "I know I can't force you to anything, but I hoped you'd like to help me".
"And I do, Jesse. I really do!"
"Then sign the deal. For me. Please".
"Can you give me at least another night to think?"
He looked at her for a moment, upset. Then, he shrugged. "Okay", he gave in. "Why not? C'mon, let's go out for lunch and forget about that for now".