"I'll vacate only after we chat."
She considers this and, grimacing, forces herself to ask quickly, "Okay-how was the Oldham show?"
"Very major," I say, slouching around the room. "Chatted with Elsa Klensch. The usual."
"How is Elsa?" she asks, still glaring.
"Elsa and I are both Capricorns so we get along very nicely," I say. "Is it cold in here or is it just me?"
"And otherwise?" she asks, waiting.
"It was, er, very, very-oh yeah-important"
"Important?" Lauren asks semi-dubiously.
"Clothes are important, baby."
"They eventually clean furniture, Victor."
"Hey," I exclaim. "Lighten up, baby."
"Victor, you've got to get out of here."
"What were you doing?" I ask, moving around the room, taking the whole apartment in. "Why weren't you at the show?"
"I had a photo shoot promoting a terrible movie I'm in with Ben Chaplin and Rufus Sewell," she hisses, barely able to contain herself. "Then I took a bubble bath and read an article on the impossibility of real emotion on the Upper East Side in New York magazine." She stubs out the cigarette. "This was a draining conversation, yet one I'm glad we had. The door's over there in case you've forgotten."
She walks past me, down a hallway covered with a Berber-style woven carpet and Moroccan embroidered pillows stacked against the walls and then I'm in her bedroom, where I flop on the bed, leaning back on my elbows, my feet barely touching the floor, watching as Lauren stalks into the bathroom and begins toweling her hair dry. Behind her a poster for some indie film starring Steve Buscemi hangs above the toilet. She's so annoyed-but maybe in a fake way-that I have to say, "Oh come off it, I'm not so bad. I bet you hang out with guys who say things like 'But what if I want a new Maserati' all the time. I bet your life is filled with that." I stop, then add, "Too."
She picks up a half-empty glass of champagne by the sink, downs it.
"Hey," I say, pointing at the framed poster. "You were in that movie?"
"Unfortunately," she mutters. "Notice where it's hanging?"
She closes her eyes, touches her forehead.
"You just finished a new movie?" I ask softly.
"Yes." Suddenly she searches through an array of Estee Lauder jars, Lancome products, picks up a L'Occitane butter massage balm that Chloe also uses, reads the ingredients, puts it down, finally gives up and just looks at herself in the mirror.
"What's it about?" I ask as if it matters. "It's kind of like Footloose," she says, then pauses and delicately whispers, "But set on Mars." She waits for my reaction.
I just stare at her from the bed. A longish silence. "That's so cool, baby."
"I wept on the set every day."
"Did you just break up with someone?"
"I'm waiting to see if I'm getting a role in Flatliners II," I mention casually, stretching.
"So we're in the same boat?" she asks. "Is that it?"
"Alison Poole told me you were doing pretty well."
She swigs from a nearby bottle of Evian. "Let's just say it's been lucratively tedious."
"Baby, I'm sensing that you're a star."
"Have you seen any of my movies?"
Pause. "Alison Poole told me you were doing-"
"Don't mention that cunt's name in this apartment," she screams, throwing a brush at me.
"Hey baby," I say, ducking. "Come here, baby, chill out."
"What?" she asks, irritably. "Come where?"
"Come here," I murmur, staring straight at her. "Come here," I say, patting the comforter.
She just stares at me lying on the bed, my shirt pulled up a little, showing off my lower abs, my legs slightly spread. Sometime during all of this my jacket came off.
"Yeah?" I whisper.
"What does Chloe mean to you?"
"Come here," I whisper.
"Just because you're a gorgeous guy doesn't give you any more rights than...," she falters, picks up: "... anyone else."
"I know, baby. It's cool." I sit up, gazing at her, never breaking eye contact. She moves toward me.
"Come on," I say. "That's it."
"What do you want, Victor?"