Andie suddenly understood the wilted flowers. She felt her shoulders begin to droop toward one another, and a tear sprang to her eye like she’d been kicked in the nose. For fear her voice might crack, she said nothing and gave a small nod before rising to her feet. The first thing that came to mind as she started to walk away wasn’t her own disappointment, or her family’s resentment about her leaving, all for nothing, but rather if she would be able to get the eleven hundred dollars back from her landlord.
“Where are you going?” asked the older woman.
“Well Lawrence didn’t exactly break that to her like he should have,” said the younger. “Sit down, Andie.” Numb, Andie felt her feet carry her back to the chair, which she sat on the very edge of, wide eyed. Did they want to further humiliate her?
“I expected more theatrics after her first performance,” Lawrence said, looking ruffled. “I didn’t think she’d become a frightened deer and run out of the room.”
“Camille, Lucy and I have seen a lot of people today, Andie,” he continued, turning his attention back to her. Andie tried not to shrink under his gaze. “No one has impressed us quite like you.”
“You come alive when you perform,” said Camille. This time when she smiled, it reached her eyes. Andie wondered if she’d judged her too harshly when she’d thought of her as a sour old grape.
They can turn on you, she warned herself. “Thank you,” she mumbled.
“We have a proposal for you,” said Lucy. “It’s a bit bigger than the Fall Call. Longer term. It’s also a bit…” she trailed off, looking to Lawrence and Camille for help.
“Experimental,” said Lawrence.
Andie’s eyes narrowed. Did she look that naive? She might have grown up in small-town, farm country Midwest, or the equivalent of a dirt hole to these people, but she knew better than to start dealing in the back rooms of LA agencies.
“Listen, I don’t want anything to do with backroom black couches. I know about those, and I’m just not that kind of girl,” Andie said.
Lucy let out another one of her sharp laughs. “Oh, no, not that kind of thing!”
Camille glanced from Lucy, then to Lawrence before her face shifted to a look of bemused understanding.
“No, you’d be strictly front-of-house,” Lawrence said. “This is BetterCorp, Miss Rowe.”
“Look, we want you to have time to think it over. Since it’s a new program, we’re a bit secretive,” Lucy said. ” We’ll need you to sign an NDA before we hand over the contract for you to look over. What do you think?”
“Can you tell me anything about it?” Andie asked. Lawrence looked at his watch.
“It’s all in the contract, dear,” said Camille.
Lucy reached under the table and pulled out a wide, brown leather Burberry bag. From it she withdrew a single sheet of paper followed by a thick stack of paper in a soft cover binder. She slid the single sheet toward Andie first.
“If you have any questions about the contract, you can always ask us tonight at the mixer we’re hosting,” said Lawrence. “Details are on the invite inside the binder. Others who have gotten the same offer will also be there.”
“There are eight of you this time,” said Camille.
“This time?” Andie said as she took the pen and scanned the non disclosure agreement. The wording felt like Greek in her brain, but she knew it was standard fare for Los Angeles. She’d probably finish reading the contract with a law degree.
‘Better Corp has requested, and the Recipient agrees that the Recipient will protect the confidential material and information which may be disclosed within the Contract…’
“Yes, we’ve run similar campaigns in the past,” said Lucy. “All we ask is that you sign the NDA and read over the contract by the day after tomorrow.”
Lawrence glanced at his watch again as the pen in Andie’s hand hovered over the dotted line at the bottom of the agreement. She tried skimming the paragraphs, but none of the words sunk in. She made a silent promise to herself to read the massive contract more thoroughly, then scribbled her signature and the date underneath Lucy’s.
“Perfect!” said Camille, clapping her hands together. “Now, if all goes well you’ll be signed to Prodigy.”
“They’re the BetterCorp Agency? I called but couldn’t get a call-back.” Andie said.
“All talent comes through us first, dear.”
Leaving the room with the binder under her arm, Andie felt light, like the top of her head had been filled with helium and she might float up to the ceiling if she didn’t concentrate on staying on the ground. She hardly spoke a word to her Uber driver on the way back to her dingy apartment. Finally, back within its four expensive walls with the door locked behind her, she let out a scream, kicked into the air and wrapped her arms tight around her torso, face aching from smiling too hard. She laughed out loud and fell to the floor, certain that if anyone could see her they would call her crazy.
She eyed the thick contract binder she’d thrown on the air mattress. She reached for it but only peeled back the corner of its soft binding before withdrawing her hand. So many pages to read, but all she wanted to do was call everyone she’d ever known to tell them the amazing news. Was it news? Sure, she’d been offered a chance, but what if it didn’t work out? Brushing those thoughts away, Andie reached for her phone and pulled up the first person she wanted to tell. The phone rang.
“Hey, April,” Andie said when her younger sister answered the phone with an exuberant scream of her own.
The two talked for hours about Andie’s day and what Los Angeles was like and what April was doing with her summer break from school, until Andie saw the clock: 8:22 PM. She chimed in, “OH, April, I have to go! I’m invited to this party tonight and I don’t have anything to wear.”
“What do people wear to LA parties?” April asked.
“Good question, kid,” Andie said. “Hopefully things from the bottom of suitcases. I love you. Go give ’em hell, but not too much.”
“You too!” April laughed and then hung up.
Andie flipped open the binder cover to find her invitation, hoping to see a dress code listed. Finding nothing, she typed “LA party fashion” into Google which yielded absolutely no pertinent information. She pulled up pictures of musicians, actors and models to get some quick inspiration, but all of her clothes looked too ruffled in comparison. Too much lace and plaid and cutesy floral prints. She thought about bailing.She’d already texted Marcella to let her know she wouldn’t make it out for drinks. She needed to start reading the contract anyway…
An hour later and only 20 minutes late, Andie climbed out of an Uber at the nightclub, Liquid, on Sunset. She’d pulled out the most basic clothes she had: a pair of dark blue skinny jeans which she’d purposely ripped a hole in the knee of with the help of her keys, a faded graphic tee that she usually wore to bed, some ankle boots, and a wide brimmed hat over wavy hair. She prayed it would be enough to help her blend in– blending in was better than standing out because you were the fool who wore a prom dress to a nightclub.
Note: Ok, so this is as far as I got for Day 2, and then I was tired and didn’t post it last night. I’m about 400 words short and about 8 hours past due, but that’s ok. That just means there will be two NanoWriMo posts today! I’m not freaking out at all. Totally chilled.
** If you’re curious where I found the Jim Halpert gif (the best kind of gifs there are in existence), it was in this funny article about the stages of writing a novel, here. Enjoy!