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   Chapter 1 Roses for Juliet

Roses for Juliet By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 10050

Updated: 2018-03-14 10:00

Chapter 1

Some days he felt like a circus barker, "Come one, come all and see our wide range of variety acts."

To himself he could add the part about the performing monkeys in tutus.

He sighed and kept what he liked to call his 'work face' on. It was mostly blank with a touch of concern, interest and understanding. Steve fought the impulse to roll his eyes as his client stormed and raged around the office like a caged beast. He watched the gestures and listened to the carefully modulated voice. Steve could see why the man before him did well on the silver screen. At the moment though, that wasn't his concern.

"It should be my only concern, " he thought to himself bitterly as he watched the actor make another round of the office. That, after all was his job, promoting the careers of the famous faces. And he was good at it. He represented some of the top personalities of the world of the stage and screen. He should be concerned about their stage presence, talent and crowd appeal. He should worry about getting them on talk shows and in magazines.

Unfortunately, more often than not other members of the firm dealt with those issues. His role was usually a combination babysitter, confessor and janitor. He was good at that job too. Steve allowed himself a small, tight smile but didn't let it linger. He wouldn't want the client to think he was amused.

The actor, Nick Alex by name, was easing out of what Steve liked to refer to as Phase 1 of his diatribe. He paused to take a sip of his scotch and soda, then effortlessly slid into Phase 2. Steve resisted another sigh. It was progress, but not much. Phase 1 merely stated that something had happened.

Phase 2's primary concern was the shifting of the blame. It laid the groundwork for Nick to state, and in most cases truly believe, that he had absolutely nothing to do with whatever went wrong. It was not his fault. Someone else was to blame. It wasn't until Nick felt fully justified in his behavior that Phase 3 would begin. It was then that Steve would find out what happened and start the process of spin.

Steve sipped his coffee calmly. There was no point in rushing Nick. He would get there eventually. In the outer office Steve could hear his secretary arrive and settle in for the day. Many of Steve's clients called him in at odd hours and she knew not to disturb him if the door was closed. She would hold all calls and visitors automatically. They had a system developed over fourteen years of working together. When calamity struck he would turn the framed picture sitting on the corner of her desk upside down as he passed.

Steve knew two things about the man in front of him that the world was not likely to learn. The first was that Nick Alex's real name was Oscar von Horwitz and the second was that no matter what disaster had struck the actor this time, it was most definitely his fault. In the six years Steve had done business with the man he had won three Emmys and been nominated for three more. He had accrued quite a number of Golden Globes, totaled no less than eight vehicles with his drunken driving and at least twice that many women with his drunken behavior.

Steve watched Nick pace the floor as he sipped from his travel coffee mug. He brought it from home and it held his first cup of the day. He kept it carefully turned so the mug's message would not show to the pacing man. Steve doubted he would notice, given his state of mind but Steve was one who noticed details and it would bother him. He had worked hard to be perceived as a professional, and as appropriate as the "Life is rough, wear a helmet" slogan was at the moment, it was certainly not professional. Steve studied Nick as he moved.

The Hunk of Hollywood was beaded with sweat and he tugged at his collar with a hand that wasn't quite steady. His other hand gripped the tumbler of scotch so hard his knuckles were white and Steve feared for the survival of the glass. Nick's skin was pale with hectic spots of color flaming across his cheekbones. His famous wavy locks were in complete disarray. Steve was frequently presented with the less than glossy appearance of the actor but rarely had he gotten this bad. Steve's ears perked up as Nick paused, finished off his drink and set the glass down on the desk before flopping into one of the chairs. That was the signal for the beginning of Phase 3. Maybe now he would actually find out what happened.

"You believe me right?" Nick whined. Steve fought back a wince.

"Of course it wasn't your fault, " he replied automatically. Nick sighed.

"I knew I could count on you."

"Why don't you tell me exactly what happened? Don't leave anything out, " Steve cautioned holding up his hand to stop Nick's interruption. "I know it isn't your fault but if I am going to keep them from making it look like it was your fault I need to know everything."

Nick nodded and gripped the arms of the chair. References to the obsequious them

calmed Nick down. Steve knew in Nick's mind, they were always responsible for everything. Nick closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady himself. As he let the breath out, he opened his eyes.

"Okay it's like this you see. I was out last night, no where in particular really, you know, " Nick began. "Just bouncing around, right. A little fun here. A little fun there. Nothing wrong with a little fun now and again. And I don't know, I was flying pretty high, feeling no pain and all by the time I got to Asteroids. You know the place, great place off Franklin in that old warehouse building they converted? Has this far out space theme going?"

"I know the place, " Steve replied nodding. It was fast becoming Nick's end of the line spot. Steve had already extricated the actor from a number of difficulties there. A fact Nick always conveniently forgot. The last time it had taken quite a lot of cash and fast talking to convince the management that barring Nick from returning would be bad for business. Luckily the owner was a big fan.

"Yeah well I was pretty wasted, but I picked up this hot chick there. Man she was something. Great tits, long legs. Anyway we were getting pretty down in the booth you know, " Nick smiled and gave a half chuckle at his sexual exploits. Steve waited for the disastrous punch line.

"Well anyway the manager he comes over real nice and all and tells us we really are gonna have to take it out of the club so we head back to my place. We barely made it back to my place, man you should have seen the bang up parking job I did. My gardener is gonna be pissed man." Nick chuckled at the thought then his smile started to slip after a few seconds of contemplation.

"Here it comes, " Steve thought.

"Thing is I don't remember much after the club you know. Just bits and pieces. It's all spotty like. And well I woke up this morning and well she was just dead." Nick went silent and swallowed hard. Steve sighed. This wasn't the first time he had been forced to remove an overdosed party girl from someone's bed. Steve just hoped Nick hadn't done something stupid with the body before coming to the office.

"Where is she now?" Steve asked.

"Still at my place, " he answered. "I didn't know what to do so I just locked up and left."

Steve nodded. "Is your cleaning service coming in today?"

"No man, they come on Tuesdays."

"Good, " Steve replied, thinking fast. He tapped his finger on the table as he worked through the steps needed in his mind. "Now, people may remember that you left with her from the club." A look of panic flared in Nick's eyes. "All you have to tell them is that she was gone when you woke up."

"Gone when I woke up, " Nick repeated. The panic dimmed.

"Yes, just that. Don't embellish or get creative with it. Just that she was gone when you woke up. Don't elaborate."

"Don't elaborate, " Nick parroted.

"Exactly, " Steve stood up. "Now I want you to drive home and make sure there is enough space in the garage for me to pull my car in." Luckily Nick had a garage attached to the house with only a door between. The cars he wasn't driving at the time were stashed in a separate garage in the back.

"But I'd have to park outside, " Nick whined. "It's hot outside man." Steve ground his teeth but forced his voice to remain calm and steady.

"I know it is hot outside, Nick and I assure you that you can get back in the air conditioned garage soon, but I need to pull my car into the garage so that I don't have to take the girl's body outside."

"Juliet, " he said.


"Her name, man."

"Oh, " Steve replied. He didn't want to know her name, didn't want her to be a person. It would only make what had to be done more difficult. "Fine, Juliet. Now will you park outside for me?" Nick nodded. "Great, " Steve led him towards the door. "I'll only be a few minutes behind you. Don't go back into the bedroom, okay? And don't let anyone in."

"Just behind me?" Nick asked as he led him past Nancy's desk.

"Yes, just behind you." Nick walked to the elevator and Steve pressed the button for him. The doors slid open with a ding. Nick got on the elevator and pressed the button as the doors closed. Steve turned back to his secretary.

"I take it this is a bad one?" She asked.

"Nan, you really don't want to know." She smiled sympathetically at him.

"How much of your schedule do you want me to clear?"

"Just today, please. Oh and call Eric and tell him I'm on my way."

"Will do." Nancy flipped to the card placed in the back of her Rolodex. All it said was Eric and a number. It was a number she only had to dial when things got bad enough that she knew questions weren't a good idea.

Nancy didn't ask. She didn't want to know.

Steve got his car keys from where he had tossed them on the desk and pressed the down arrow for the elevator. Leaving Nick alone with his problem for too long didn't seem like the smartest of ideas.

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