As half-expected there was a stand-off at the studio. The blonde Tessa (Daisy), the brunette Megan (Dana) and the redhead Rosemary (Lenka) faced Eva in a tight line.
The silence was almost scary.
Muriel stood at the side of them, remaining tight-lipped and watchful.
Eva took the initiative.
“Hi, I know you guys are hating this. Losing Claire must be like losing a sister and now you are expected to accept me as the replacement and I’m very much aware I’m not one of you.”
“You’re right about that sister.”
“Rosemary my name is Eva and I expect you to use it.”
“Or else what?”
“Or else I’ll give you a hard time.”
“There are three of us.”
“And I’ll take on the three of you if necessary.”
Tessa cracked and smiled. “You have balls.”
“It sounds like you may have no more than one babe for support Rosemary.”
“No Eva,” Megan said. “You could be the tough bitch we need as I feel we are going stale and need rejuvenation. I’m giving you a chance.”
“From what I know of you from watching the show, you really are not suited to play to role of a bitch with me. Yield now and it’s over.”
“Yeah Rosie. We can get her kicked off the team if she fails us.”
“Okay Tessa, I hear you. Welcome to the team Eva,” said Rosemary, holding out her arms.
Kissing her gently Eva said, “Its not a question of me failing you guys, think of it the other way round.”
Kissing Eva Tessa laughed and said, “You cheeky bitch.” And Megan grabbed the two of them and called, “Join us Rosemary.”
The PR crew then went work to produce publicity stills and a film clip for immediate distribution to their network and the media.
“Thanks for the welcome guys, Eva said when the PR team withdrew. “You know Betty. She’s been assigned to show me the ropes and to attempt to reduce my goof-ups to smooth my introduction. I know fuck all about acting and even less about filming.”
Tessa, establishing herself as leader with the departure of Claire, looked at two men standing beyond Muriel.
“Guys you heard what Eva said about being a greenhorn. It might be a good idea to keep her in that role, at least for the opening weeks of our new 20-episode season. We’ve been told she’s an uneducated natural so let viewers see her develop. Come over and meet our new pal.”
Tessa introduce the writer and co-scriptwriter Jack Holland and scriptwriter Peter Adams. Electricity seemed to leap between Jack and Eva when they shook hands and she was surprised that no one appeared to notice, least of all Jack. Oh god, she thought, was he married?
“Watch Peter,” Megan whispered. “He’s a lecher. Jack is such a gentleman we think he might by gay.”
Oh no, what a crime to civilization, Eva almost chocked.
Muriel said, “Well I can’t say all of that was a time-waster. Thank you girls for making the effort. You original three come to lunch with me. Eva you go for a two-hour lunch with Jack and Peter so they can begin to get the feel of you.”
“Are there any parts of me the this production house prohibits them from feeling?” Eva asked looking naïve.
Everyone cracked up and it was only then upon hearing laughter from higher up that Eva saw the camera crew and realized everything had been filmed, probably from the time the first people began assembling. God, she must adjust behavior and conversations accordingly in future, not knowing when she might be filmed.
* * *
Eva’s new accommodation was in two-bedroom suites in a 4-star hotel, much improved on her original accommodation.
“Who’s the unlucky one who gets me?”
Rosemary (22), Megan 21 and Tessa (23) looked at one another. Tessa then said, “We have agreed for the sake of unity and pleasant relationships you get to choose.”
“Good god why me?” Tessa asked, looking a little stunned.
“Because you have the best body.”
“Oh Christ,” Tessa wailed.
“No relax. You have some fire in you. I believe we’ll bounce off each other and become really good friends.”
“Aw,” Megan moaned but Rosemary said that was good reasoning and perhaps it would come to pass. “Besides my tongue fits Megan’s pussy best.”
The other three women laughed at Megan’s embarrassed look and they cackled again when Eva said, “A few pussy licks strengthens any girl’s character.”
The four women spent the next three days giving magazine and newspaper interviews and Tessa appeared on TV to talk about the sad loss of Claire Street who’d played Augustine.
“But onward and upward,” she said to the interviewer. “In the studio audience here is Claire’s replacement. She’s a young woman who is nothing like sweet Claire. Would you like to meet Eva Everett who has been engaged to push our show to new heights?”
“Oh yes, I’d be delighted,” said Presley Jones. “Miss Eva Everett please come on stage.”
There was huge applause as Eva stepped forth in the traditional dress of the Boston Babes of jeans, boots and black top with various patterns.
“Welcome Eva. As I’ve noticed in newspaper photographs you are younger and um…”
“Ah yes, thank you dear. You are younger and not quite as attractive as your fellow babes. Is this intentional?”
“Definitely. Our producer Mr Darren Bryce has some very strong views about this. He wants to lift the show before staleness causes audience drift.”
“The newspapers said you’ve had no training in acting and know even less about theater and film?”
“Yeah Presley… great name… but I’m not without a brain. Mr Bryce has been creating my role as he sees it and he’s explained the reasons why he’s doing this to fire my motivation. He pictures me as Cinderella taking the show to new heights. But of course that is illusionary. Never will I be able to out-act my distinguished fellow babes.”
“Well you seem to be very well briefed. Were you a fan of ‘Boston Babes?’
“Yes since the opening episode. You see the show fits my age and interest demographic.”
“Oh I see. And was Mr Bryce pleased about your loyalty to the show?”
“I can’t answer that because we never discussed that topic.”
“B-but he engaged you on first sight as his replacement star?”
“With greatest respect Presley he didn’t engage me until seeing the results of my screen test. Also he’s backing me because what he sees in me rather than whether I’ve watched the show on TV and no way am I a star. I walk onstage for the first time knowing I’ll be in illustrious company of real TV stars. I’ll be a nobody. My knees will be knocking and I’ll probably wish I was safely behind a counter at J C Penny’s selling stockings, not that I’ve ever done that.”
“But you’ll act you little heart out.”
“It’s probably a big heart behind these big ‘uns Presley,” Eva said juggling her boobs.
The audience screamed with laughter and Presley’s hand was over her mouth.
“Sorry if I caused offence Presley. And how are Sam and Jess?”
“You know I have children and know their names?”
“Oh yes. Ever since I was a small girl I’ve read gossip magazines and followed the lives of stars and gossip columnists and the career highlights of top presenters like yourself. You ought to be very proud of your fine looking children and I bet they are proud of their mom.”
“I er I… well thank you. Well we are out of time. Tessa, I mean no offence to you, Megan and Rosemary but after this brief appearance of Eva tonight my feeling if we have just witness the birth of a new TV star.”
“I can agree with you Miss Jones. For someone who has just stepped out of college Eva displayed amazing presence and maturity. Claire was the highest rated actress of we babes and if Eva rises to take that crown then I won’t mind because by that stage I will be a believer.”
“Thank you ladies. We have just heard from Tessa McKinnon who plays Daisy as one of the four ‘Boston Babes’ and Eva Everett is just Eva at present because she’s in the process of being written into the script for the new season of ‘Boston Babes’ and doesn’t yet know her screen name.”
Arriving in the dressing room to have their screen make-up removed Tessa hugged Eva.
“You were amazing, simply amazing with awesome presence and yet no sign of acting.”
“Thank you Tessa for giving me the opportunity to be introduced to viewers who watch our network. I feel I’ve taken a big step.”
A make-up assistant came up and said, “May I have your autograph please Miss Everett?”
“What? Don’t you mean Tessa who plays Daisy?”
“It’s yours I want Miss Everett. I just watched you on TV.”
“I’ll sign if Tessa also signs.”
“Yes please Tessa.”
“Oh okay,” Tessa said, giving Eva a surprised glance.
* * *
Eva took a call.
“Hi, it’s Jack, Jack Holland.”
“Yes I recognized your voice.”
“You now have my number.”
“Yes I do. What do you want?”
“Hey, is that being friendly?”
“The girls told me you are not very friendly with them; standoffish was one comment.”
“Well they are scatty.”
“And I’m not?”
“It appears to me that way and unlike them you’ve made no attempt to influence me as author of developer of the Boston Babes story when we talked over lunch the other day.”
“Well what you do is none of my business. I’m paid to be an actor and to follow script although with the right to challenge at our first readings.”
“Like I said or rather suggested, you are measured, not scatty.”
“It’s so typical of guys to call females scatty simply because they emote.”
“Christ that’s a good line; mind if I use it sometime?”
“Do what you wish. Is this our call finished?”
“No it isn’t. Peter and I knew from PR that Tessa was appearing on TV this evening so watched. We didn’t expect to see you. Christ you were sensational.”
“Says who? I wasn’t acting.”
“But you projected. For someone who hasn’t been trained in camera presentation you were unbelievably good.”
“So Tessa told me.”
Jack sounded flabbergasted. “Tessa told you that?”
“Are you doubting what I say Jack?”
“No, no. You must understand, she is a cold and heartless bitch.”
“No wait, I’m sorry. I’m a little screwed up about women and by women. I’ve been dumped twice, heavily.”
“And you think women don’t have brains?”
“What? Oh, very droll. May I speak to you sincerely?”
“I’d hope you always do.”
“No I mean… aw oh crap. When I first saw you I was enchanted. It’s true Eva. You burn.”
“I felt I could feel your aura and when I shook your hand I was jabbed by something, like electricity.”
Eva was unable to hold back. “You felt that too?”
“Yeah, now doesn’t that grab you?”
“It was an interesting experience but that’s all Jack. I’m not interested in dating you.”
“But why not?”
“Because if we are true to our beliefs, the series is bigger than any of us. If I dated you the other babes would be resentful, even if not admitting it. They would expect me to receive favoritism when you write my part. It just wouldn’t do.”
“But I promise I wouldn’t do that.”
Eva sighed. “I’m probably the sorry one here Jack. I was attracted to you but it just can’t be. Write me out of the series if you must. I could live with that; the question is could you? Good night Jack.”
There was no reply and she cut the call.
Tessa came into the room, dressed for bed.
“You were talking loudly and so I heard most of that and filled in the gaps with my imaginative mind. You are one crazy girl.”
“You would have done the same in my place.”
“Would I? I wonder if I possess the courage. You are an amazing person Eva.”
“Amazing or just being myself and true to the team I will work with. Take your pick. But if you dare say one word about this to anyone and I’ll screw your fucking neck Tessa.”
“God, I do believe you’d try. Calm down bitch. Coffee?”
“Yes thank you. And please chat to me about other things. Jack was right for me and I know it but it was just not to be. We have to get over these things and move on.”
* * *
The next day Darren called Eva.
“You were great on TV and provided a great boost for our new series.”
“Thanks. I guess you are calling to bawl me out on something. You wouldn’t be so stupid to attempt to have sex with me again.”
He roared with laughter. “No the family would like to meet you. My wife suggests dinner this evening.”
“Has the family met the other babes?”
“At social functions yes.”
“Then why am I being singled out?”
“Because as we all agreed, there’s something about Eva. None of us came up with a convincing answer.”
“And so having dinner with the family completes unanswered questions?”
“It might. You know your thought process seems very mature for a 21-year old.”
“You can blame it on my mother. Okay, I’ll come by cab if you give me the time and address and promise no one in your outfit knows about this.”
“Wow, you are expecting to have the sky falls in if anyone finds out?”
“Something like that.”
Tessa had received a draft of her script for Episode 1 on the new series late that afternoon so Eva said slyly, “I’m going to a show, I haven’t decided which one. Want to accompany me? You’ll need to dress up.”
“Ah that sounds good but I’ve begun my first reading. If you don’t mind I’ll give it a miss.”
“That’s okay. I’m impressed by your professionalism.”
Eva came out of her room with her hair piled high and wearing a plain blue silk cheongsam (mandarin gown).
“God you look lovely. Oh yummy tits.”
“It’s the only formal dress I own. Now I have been paid I must go shopping. Perhaps you could accompany me Saturday morning?”
“Yes for sure. Have a good evening. This script appears to be taking us in a new direction. My part has me acting like camp mother.”
“Call Jack now and demand changes.”
“In the morning will do.”
“No that’s when he’ll be expecting you to call. Use tough strategy darling.”
“God you not only look like a 26-year old in that dress but you sound like a female that old.”
“But I’m too skinny and scare off males with my worldliness.”
“Not for long babe. Wait until your first appearance is screened.”
* * *
Joy Bryce answered the door. She was blonde, dressed in tight black and her big smile was very welcoming. Eva thought how could her cock-happy husband think of fucking anyone other than his wife?
“It is so lovely meeting you Eva. I couldn’t believe you’d accept our invitation to dinner. You must have oodles of invitations?”
“I may have earned black marks if I’d turned down the boss’s family.”
“He wouldn’t dare. You look lovely dear. Please come through. We’ll grab a martini from the kitchen and go in and meet the others.”
“May I call you Joy?”
“Of course dear.”
“Joy my preferred pre-dinner drink is a beer to drink straight from the bottle. If that’s not possible no problem.”
“Of course, you may have anything you want. You’re our guest.”
“This is Eva,” Joy announced and everyone in the room turned and conversations died.
“Hi everyone,” Eva said, raising the beer in her hand.
“A beer drinker? Come over and join we guys,” Darren said. “And welcome to our home Eva.”
Joy hustled Eva over to meet her daughter Sharon and daughters-in-law Gina and Elizabeth. After the exchanges of pleasantries Darren pulled Eva over by the hand to meet his sons Philip and Raymond and son-in-law Dirk.
Eva said, “Oh hi Dirk, you were pointed out to me as director of photography and would be working on ‘Boston Babes’, being the principal DP in production.
“Yes that’s right. And I watched your screen test so no one had to point you out to me.”
“I guess you met Sharon at one of the studios?”
“Yes she was visiting her father, after money I believe, and she told me my zip was undone. That was five years ago and we got along well, married and now have two children.”
The women wandered over and Sharon, the more forward of the women asked, “Why do you drink beer Eva?”
“My mother has done so for as long as I can remember and I began sipping from her bottle and when I turned sixteen she produced my own bottle that night and the habit grew.”
“But beer makes you fat?”
“Yes and I was told by my Gran never to sit on a man’s knee because you’ll become pregnant. Some of these things are not always true for everyone. I used to sit on my father’s knee and never became pregnant.”
Sharon shrieked everyone into laughter.
Just then a guy wandered in dressed in black and wearing a black Stetson and black shades.
“Take your hat off inside my house Dillon.”
Joy was ignored and the guy walked right up to Eva who was grouped with Sharon and Gina. He grinned at Eva and said, “And who might you be?”
“I’ll talk to you if you take off your hat.”
The guy snatched off his hat just as Joy, who’d come up behind him with a determined look, was reaching for it.
“I’m Eva Everett from out of Albany.”
“You don’t look American.”
“Well you don’t appear house trained so consider we are quits on insults.”
He grinned. “I’m Joy’s kid stepbrother. We share the same mom. My name is Dillon Fitzgerald.”
“What the jazz guitarist?”
Dillon appeared quite startled. “You’ve heard of me?”
“Yeah, I heard you at the Boston Music Festival last year. You kinda got to me. I’m not one of these bimbos who demand musicians play numbers they recognize.”
The room was hushed as this most unexpected conversation continued.
“Then want kind of bimbo are you?”
“Thanks for the compliment. I’m a musical mutant but good music rings true for me. I fancy I’m an aficionado of classic guitar and can recognize the playing of countless top exponents, perhaps twenty but that may be pushing it, within ten bars of hearing them play.”
“How many of my CD’s do you have?”
“You refuse to be recorded for distribution. But I do possess the unauthorized ‘DF’s One Hour Workshop’ I downloaded from the Internet.”
“That’s pirated music and is illegal to possess.”
“You can be arrested.”
“Then arrest me but before you do so you may find it difficult finding the evidence.”
“Oh that’s charming from someone so possessive of his original music but I bet you have heaps of recordings of music from other composers. Think about that. Now fuck off and talk to someone else.”
“I will and damn you.”
“How is it Joy is so lovely?”
“What do you mean… oh, god you are a sly bitch.”
Dillon went over to join the men to probably sulk.
“And so you’ve met my charming half-brother,” Joy said, kissing Eva and apologizing.
“There’s no need to apologize. It was okay. He needs a good woman to train him.”
Sharon said softly, “Judging by the way you handled him that good woman might be you.”
“He doesn’t want to screw me, at least not the way you might be thinking Sharon. All he wants is to screw my neck.”
The women muffled their laughs to avoid antagonized the belligerent thirty-year-old Dillon.
Three days later Eva received her draft script and read her lines aloud. Although they sounded obscure because it was a one-way reading she was pleased. In her mind the balance was perfect. She was tentative as a newcomer but a little saucy with just a touch of toughness showing… it was very much like Darren had wanted her cast. And that was very much like who she was.
She called Jack.
He said, “Hi Eva. I’m in a restaurant having late lunch with a bunch of buddies and we’ve getting drunk.”
“Good for you.”
“Oh dear. You’re still mad at me making a pitch for you?”
“Not at all providing you accepted my reason for rejecting the pitch.”
“Yeah I do. It made sense.”
“Then let’s be friends.”
“Okay. So what’s wrong with your lines?”
“Nothing. I’m so naïve I find them completely acceptable and thought I should call and tell you so you can relax knowing that was me out the way and that would allow you to go out and get a little drunk.”
“I’m pleased. Now you take care Eva.”
“You too Jack. You’re a lovely guy. Bye.”
Eva yawned and lay down for a nap. She’d like to go out and get bright on booze but had no one to do that with. Tessa’s boyfriend had arrived back from somewhere and she’d gone out with him and Rosemary and Megan had gone to their gym. Eva didn’t do gym but thought she should resume swimming and bike riding. Well she had to do something if she wasn’t getting enough sex to help her keep fit. Yeah.
Eva’s phone brought her out of sleep.
“That’s a pretty big apology for me.”
“Is that Dillon?
“Oh, so I’m the only one who’s offended you?”
Eva giggled and said he sounded somewhat more appealing when in a conciliatory mood.
“Yes but you may believe you need to be somewhat abrasive to provide an edge with your composing.”
He laughed and said that may well be the most intelligent comment he’d heard all week.
“God you can even stoop low enough to become a grease ball.”
“Did Sharon tell you to call me?”
“God, do you have external surveillance installed? She called me three times telling me to call.”
“Call to apologize?”
“No just to call. She believes you might be good for me. I was astonished to learn you are the replacement walk-on in ‘Boston Babes’.”
“Well someone has to do it.”
“Careful, you might trip over your modesty.”
Eva said she would be surprised if he watched that show.
“Well at least you don’t know everything. Guys watch the show to keep up to date with babes and watching them carry on makes guys feel superior.”
“May I take you out for dinner tonight?”
“May I take you out for dinner tonight?”
“I was calling to ask you that same question.”
“And I thought that would be the case but then thought you might be relieved that I’d accepted your apology you might have forgotten that purpose of your call.”
“Um, don’t get mad but you are one very strange girl.”
“And you are strangely interesting. I bet you repel most women.”
“Who told you that? Fucking Sharon I bet trying to keep you out of my influence?”
Frowning over that comment, wondering exactly what he’d meant, Eva said, “No and don’t be so mean. She’s lively and rather nice and is fearless like me. No my instinct told me you’d frighten off a lot of your women because your intensity is racked up a little too high for them.”
“I find you okay and assume you are capable of improvement.”
Dillon laughed and said cheeky bitch. “Yeah I’ll come to dinner with you tonight. Do I bring an overnight bag?”
“Earn my respect and you can sleep with me. I have quite high standards.”
“Aw, I bet you do.”
“I’m on the cusp of launching into a career and I don’t want anything to interfere with that such as acting foolishly over any guy and I don’t necessarily mean you.”
“But you do mean me.”
“Christ you and Sharon should be living together. It’s rare to run into women who are such straight talkers as you two and who are not butch.”
“Well work on your insecurity problem and things like that won’t loom large for you.”
“What insecurity problem?”
“We’ll get around to talking about that sometime. Let’s not rush it and don’t get nervous at me talking like this. I’d rather you screw me than you wanting to screw my neck.”
Eva gave Dillon the address and she agreed with his suggest time of 8:30.