Behind her stood a woman she thought she’d never see again. Well, that wasn’t necessarily true, she could’ve seen her around town, and they still had shared friends. Although the breakup was amicable, their friends did choose sides. So they might’ve seen each other again, but not here. Is she stalking me? She thought briefly.
“Jessica? What are you doing here?” Sandy tried to keep the contempt out of her voice. There was no point in escalating – an escalation that could end in a shouting match.
Jessica bit her lower lip and shuffled from one leg to the other. “I uh…” she stammered. She looked up and appeared to gather the courage the beginning of her sentence seemed to lack. “I need your help with something.” Jessica couldn’t make eye contact, and stared at the ground.
Sandy took a deep breath. It hadn’t always been bad, she thought, had it? They had managed to find happiness together, but it had been frustratingly brief. A couple years, even. They were transient eras of passion… Of contentment… Even, she thought suddenly, of love. As they both pursued careers that were incompatible not only in ideology, but in the time they had together, the love sublimated into terse confrontations with the passion vanishing like the curl of a wave before it crashed on the beach. A beach of lonely separation.
Jessica cleared her throat, and Sandy looked up to meet her gaze.
When two people have spent so much time, good and bad, together, communication wasn’t limited to just words. Jessica saw the slight raising of Sandy’s eyebrows and received the communiqué. “I’d rather not discuss it here.”
The staffer who had removed Sandy’s microphone and battery pack stood at an uncomfortable attention, her arms folded across her chest. She couldn’t just tell Sandy and her ex-wife to get the hell out, but the frown and steady tapping of her shoe conveyed the message properly. Sometimes, you didn’t have to know a person to pick up on non-verbal communication.
Sandy stood from the chair and walked out of the green room, her shoulders squared and her head held high. More than one denizen of the multi-story building watched the tail of her pantsuit jacket sway back and forth. Sandy would never give any of them the satisfaction, but not Jessica. The corners of Jessica’s lips twitched up before she regained her composure.
* * *
The doorman performed his services as expected, but a crowd had gathered at the entrance to the building.
Jessica, are you and your wife back together?
Jessica, can you confirm the rumors that you’re pregnant?
Jessica, your last film failed to meet consumer expectations…
The door to the limousine cut off the last question and nearly cut off the paparazzi hand holding a recording device.
Sandy sighed. “This is one of the reasons we can’t be together!”
Jessica looked out the dark tinted window and saw the throng of people milling about. Some looked at the limo expectantly, phones to their ears. “Please take us to my penthouse, Gerald.”
Gerald nodded, put the limo into gear, and lurched away from the curb.
“What’s this all about?”
Jessica shook her head. “I can’t talk about it here.” She stared at the back of Gerald’s head. “They have people everywhere.”