Heather Wainwright rolled the straw of her drink between her plump raspberry coated lips, her iced skinny mocha now mostly just watered down espresso.
“Do you want me to stop for another?” Lexie asked, eying her sideways from behind the wheel of the BMW Active Hybrid, her short black hair bobbing with the subtle movement.
“No. Just next time get me a bigger size to begin with.” Heather dropped her empty cup into the holder in front of her and stuck the nail of her thumb between her teeth. She was anxious but unable to identify the source of the emotion. With as often as she’d felt that way lately, she should have been getting used to it.
Should have been were the key words. More and more, her anxiety interfered with her daily activities. She’d even started to get a reputation on some of her sets as a diva. Maybe she should take Lexie’s advice and give herself a vacation. She’d certainly earned enough clout in Hollywood to take a break without losing any career footing.
She sighed. Even if she wanted to take a break, she couldn’t. Not now. She was booked almost solidly for the next year and a half with various film projects. Even if she could get out of some of her obligations, she wouldn’t. It was too much like quitting, and Heather would never be called a quitter.
“At least you had a few days off.” Lexie seemed to sense the source of Heather’s sigh. “Maybe I shouldn’t have signed you up for this. You could have used the three solid weeks.”
“No, it’s fine.” Her tone came out whinier than she’d intended. Yes, she could have used the rest, but she’d never pass up an opportunity to help the Urban Arts Partnership, and Lexie knew that. That was why Lexie had proven herself as the best assistant Heather had ever had—she understood the actress in a way few people did. In fact, after working together for two years, Lexie was more of a friend than an employee. “I’m sorry I’m being a bitch about it. I want to do this.”
Heather had only gotten back to L.A. five days before having just finished a six-week shoot in Colorado. She hadn’t even finished buckling her seatbelt in the car outside LAX before Lexie’d delivered good news and bad news. The good news was her next film had encountered a significant delay in production, giving her an extra three weeks before she’d have to start filming. This meant she’d have time to rest, but more importantly, it meant she was available for the annual 24-Hour Plays, a charity event that benefited the Urban Arts Partnership. Heather had been disappointed when she’d thought she wouldn’t be available for the event—she tried to never miss it.
The bad news was that the 24-Hour Plays’ usual spokeswoman, Rosie Barrett, had fallen on the set of her own movie and broken her leg in three places severe enough to require surgery. At the last minute, Montblanc, the sponsors of the event, were scrambling for a replacement. Without any consultation, Lexie had volunteered Heather for the job.
Heather rested her elbow on the window ledge and glared at her driver. “But tell me again why you thought I’d be up for taking Rosie’s place?”
It was Lexie’s turn to sigh. “Because you’re an avid supporter of Urban Arts and you are a born schmoozer. It’s a perfect gig for you.” She glanced in her side mirror, avoiding Heather’s piercing stare. “At least I didn’t sign you up for that interview that Jenna Markham’s people have been bugging you about.”
“If you’d done that, I would have fired you.”
Jenna Markham was a cross between an investigative reporter and Barbara Walters. She dug up the deepest darkest secrets of her subject’s past and then made him or her get all weepy about it in a televised interview. Heather had managed to keep most of her roots buried. She was not about to blow that with a bare all interview.
“See? I know that. Which is why I told her no and I told Urban Arts yes. Because you want to help Urban Arts.” Lexie bit her lower lip. “Besides, though I still think you need to take some time to chill, now is not necessarily the best time to do so. You need something to keep your mind off of Collin moving out.”
Heather flung her hands in the air in frustration. “I don’t need anything to keep my mind off of Collin! This isn’t a devastating breakup. I’m fine. How many times do I have to say it?”
“It doesn’t bother you at all that he’s been sleeping with someone else for the past who knows how long? That he’s moving in with her?”
Heather dropped her hands to her lap and shrugged. “Eh.” She couldn’t explain her feelings about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Collin Satchel. While his decision to move out left Heather alone in her twenty thousand square foot Bel Air house, she didn’t feel any lonelier than she had when he was living there. Their entire relationship had been based on sex and playing a mega Hollywood couple for the media. Truthfully, the sex hadn’t been all that fulfilling.
“I slept with other guys too,” Heather admitted now. “Don’t look at me like that. Collin and I had an understanding. The only rules were use protection and keep it on the down-low.” Not that any of her trysts had gotten her off the way she’d needed. What was she missing?
“Well, even if you really are fine, which I doubt, the press is going to say otherwise. Unless you’re out in the world, being seen, showing how fine you are without him. Hosting the plays is a perfect opportunity for that.”
“You’re right, you’re right.” Heather could improvise anything, schmooze anyone. So what was her hesitation about hosting the 24-Hour Plays?
It was the importance of the event—that was what. Of all the causes and funds Heather championed, this one truly mattered to her. Acting had been the only thing that had pulled her through her childhood, and the Urban Arts Partnership was all about keeping the arts in underprivileged schools. She was afraid she couldn’t do it justice, that she’d do more harm than good.
But the event needed a spokesperson. They’d thought of her and Lexie had accepted for her. Backing out now would definitely hurt the success of the plays. “You’re right,” she said again. “But you have to write every one of my spokespersonish speeches, Lex. And if there’s any other extra work to do, I’m throwing it to you.”
“Of course. That’s my job. Anyway, the only thing really extra is tonight. It’s casual, so no biggie.”
The tonight Lexie referred to was where they were currently headed—the Meet and Greet for all the behind-the-scenes people. There would be reps from Montblanc and Urban Arts, as well as the backstage crew managers. Heather just had to share a few drinks, laugh at a few mediocre jokes and smile for a few pictures. Then she’d be out of there—free and clear until the official start the next evening at nine.