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Bootycall 2 by Hawkins, J.D. (1)

 

Chapter 1

 

Dylan

 

You can’t run away from the past.

You can tidy the mess it leaves behind. You can even clean yourself up; do the twelve steps, find God, think happy thoughts and do yoga, but it’s still there. You can drink, and fuck and fight, try to get so high, feel so good, that you bury the pain beneath all the ecstasy, but when you come down, the past will be waiting for you, like a monster at the gates.

Patient, immovable, unrelenting.

The wounds of the past never heal, you just learn to cover them up.

So far I’ve been doing a good job of distracting myself from the pain. I’ve developed a pretty good method of blocking things out over the years – it involves women, parties, and never saying no.

Then this new movie comes along, the biggest project of my life, with the hot shot director who’s going to put my career back on track, get me pointed back in the right direction. It’s a second chance at doing what I do best – if I still can.

The catch? Gemma comes along too. The girl who’s supposed to keep me in line, who’s supposed to keep me away from the things that make the pain disappear. A guardian angel that I never wanted.

She’s a pain in my ass. A square. A watchdog. Tough and uncompromising. Organized, on-time, and on my back. Breathing down my neck and busting my balls every chance she gets.

It doesn’t help that she’s the sexiest woman I’ve ever met, and it’s pulling on emotions within me that I thought were dead a long time ago.

I push open the hotel room door and see her jump up from a sitting position on the couch. Then the police officer beside her stands up.

“Oh, I didn’t know you had company,” I say, a smile rising on my lips. “Shall I leave you two alone?”

“Dylan! Where the fuck have you been?!”

“I just went for a little walk,” I say, as clean and pure as the driven snow. I stride into the room and touch her gently on the shoulder, before offering my hand to the officer, who’s eyeing me with a little suspicion on his beaten-down face. “Hey, nice to meet you.”

He takes my hand and I give him a good shake.

“Ms. Clarke was worried you’d get yourself in trouble. She says you left the premises in a temper.”

“Oh dear!” I say, giving him a warm sitcom chuckle. “Not at all. I just got a little stuffy in the casino – you know how those places get on a busy night – and went for a little walk, a little fresh air. I feel pretty good now, actually.”

Gemma stares at me, too incredulous to speak, while the officer’s concern relaxes.

“It’s fine,” he says. “I stuck around…seeing as it’s you. You’ve got a bit of a reputation. Wasn’t sure if I’d need to call back-up. Or an ambulance.”

“Ha! That’s all just publicity, you know. ‘This actor’s a bad boy.’ ‘This actor is a smart guy.’ We’re all just boring, regular people when you get down to it.” I shrug, sheepish.

He nods. “But that doesn’t sell movies, right?”

I snap my fingers and point at him. “Absolutely.”

Gemma shakes her head when she sees the officer smiling. He fiddles with his cap and steps closer, as if about to whisper a secret.

“Hey, I probably shouldn’t, but do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Sure, go ahead,” I say.

“That movie where you play a car thief; did you do your own stunts in that?”

I laugh. “Of course! You think I’d turn down the chance to drive some of those cars?”

He whistles in awe. “That’s pretty fucking cool. That movie has some sweet rides in it.”

“Oh yeah,” I say. “And you know what? Once that movie was done, they gave me that Skyline.”

“Seriously?”

“No shit.”

We share a laugh that’s interrupted by Gemma sighing in exasperation. We straighten up a little, losing the smiles fast.

“Ok well, everything seems to be in order here. So I’ll let you folks get back to your business.”

“Sorry for wasting your time, officer,” I say, as I follow him to the door.

“Hey, uh, one more thing. You mind signing something for me?” he says, just before stepping through the doorway.

I wink at Gemma before turning back to him.

“Of course. Least I can do.”

Once the police officer has left, in proud possession of a signed traffic ticket, I close the door and walk back into the suite, where Gemma is sitting on a couch with her arms and legs crossed angrily.

“So—” I begin.

“Don’t. Even. Start,” she breathes in a voice made of fire. “You might be able to charm a police officer, but you’re not going to get anything from me.”

I settle slowly on the armchair opposite her. She glances at me for a brief moment, and even the sight of me makes her face screw itself into an expression of pure disgust. I reach into my pocket and pull out the small, square, gift-wrapped object, before placing it on the coffee table between us. Gemma continues to wag her feet furiously. I wait, knowing that her angry impatience will get the better of her eventually.

“What’s that?” she snaps, sharply, as if she hates herself for saying it.

“A gift. Open it.”

“I don’t want a gift. I want to go back to LA. Back to the financial department. Back to spreadsheets and budgets. Back to a dull office job at the studio with no surprises, and no crazy actors to deal with.”

“Open it.”

She glares at me, her chest heaving with the heaviness of her anger. She unfolds her arms and slowly reaches for it, tearing the crepe paper off it swiftly.

“A notebook?”

“It’s leather. A moleskine. The kind that Hemingway used.”

For a moment she looks down at it with sincere eyes, the tenderness of something that’s touched her, but then she glances up at me and the softness disappears. She tosses the moleskine aside.

“I can get a notebook anywhere.”

“I know you can,” I reply, “it’s…symbolic.”

“Dylan,” she sighs, “I’d like to be able to trust you, I really would. I’d like for us to get along, and just do our jobs; make this movie. But you keep making it so difficult. Every time I start trusting you, or building some kind of connection, you go and act like a complete asshole. Why can’t you just behave? Why do you keep doing this?”

I stand up and walk towards the window, gazing out over the neon skyline, a city of sin and desire. It’s always felt like my kind of place.

“I wish I could answer that, Gemma. I wish I could give you a neat little bow-wrapped reason. A tidy, consistent, character arc. A cause for the effect. That’s how it happens in the movies, right? Except real life is different. It’s…complicated. Messy.”

I step towards the couch and sit beside her. She turns her head slowly, and we look into each other’s eyes, both of us searching for something.

“It’s not that different,” she says.

“I thought you said you don’t believe in happy endings?”

“I don’t,” she says, turning away. “But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying.”

I reach out slowly and take her hand, and she flinches and tries to pull away – but then she relents and allows me to take it.

“I wanna ask you something, Gemma.”

Her eyes flick to our hands, then back to me, then back to our hands. She sighs. “Well, I’m stuck in a Vegas hotel room with you, miles away from home, and hours away from losing my job – so I’m a pretty captive audience.”

I wait for her to look at me again, and when she does, I lean in.

“Don’t you get tired of being in control all the time?”

Her eyes seem to grow, like shimmering stones in the bottom of a pool.

“You have no idea.”

I bring her hand up to my cheek, brushing it against the stubble, feeling how limp she’s going.

“So let me take over for a bit.”

“I—” she pauses, taking a deep breath in and holding it before letting it out. I move her hand from my cheek down to my chest, pressing it against the strong beat of my heart.

“Gemma,” I whisper.

Our lips are drawn to each other by forces we don’t even realize, the space between us disappearing. When our mouths meet it’s soft and tender. The swell of our heartbeats seems to echo in the silent room as we fall into each other, lose ourselves for a moment in the sweetness of each other’s lips. Her kisses grow demanding, hotter and faster, and I press harder, my tongue stroking against hers. Her hand traces the line of my jaw, scraping against my stubble. I touch her stomach, following the line of her curves to the small of her back, and as she presses herself against my chest I feel the way her body melts into me.

She moans softly as my hands reach to cup her ass, then catches herself, her whole body stiffening like a puppet being pulled away suddenly. When I open my eyes she’s pacing up and down the hotel suite, furiously rubbing her brow.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“We shouldn’t be doing things like this, Dylan. I’m struggling to keep my job as it is.” She checks her watch and slumps her shoulders in defeat. “It’s nearly three am. We have seven hours to get back on set.”

She looks at me in a panic, the unspoken plea for me to go along with her written all over her face. I stand up and grab my coat from the back of the chair.

“Plenty of time. We can sleep on the jet.”

It takes us about half an hour to make it to the airstrip, and as soon as we’re up in the air Gemma is out like a light, not even enough energy left in her to take a shower. I watch her fall asleep, her expression peaceful and demure. I whisper to Rachel for a blanket, and when she brings it, I cover Gemma carefully, so as not to wake her up. She turns slightly and settles.

I’m pretty tired myself, but for some reason I don’t want to close my eyes, not when she so calm, the delicate lines of her face elegant in repose. Something about her has its teeth in me, and won’t let go, pulling on a part of me that I don’t want to admit exists.

I barely know her, but I still see so much when I look at her. A way out. A different life. Something pure and clean. Something strong and inviting.

The question is: What does she see when she looks at me?

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