Later that week, I met Maya at a small café up the street from the office. It was a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf with patio furniture sitting on the terrace outside of the main street. I was sitting in the cool morning sunshine, sipping my hazelnut-flavored coffee when a shadow passed over my table. I looked up to find Curtis standing there. I had not seen him much that week after our initial encounter, but every time I passed him in the hallway, he winked and grinned. He seemed like an affable, flirtatious guy, and he was really cute. Despite our mutual attraction, I had no desire to start up with him. I kept holding out hope for some kind of peace treaty with Kale, and I knew a liaison with his executive producer would err on the side of bad taste and ill-advised company behavior. Yet here he was, acting all cheerful and smiling.
“Hey, how’s it going?” he asked with that familiar grin.
“Good,” I replied, taking another sip of coffee.
He moved forward and asked, “Can I sit?”
I motioned for him to sit and he did. Maya would be here soon and deflect any overt come-ons, so I felt comfortable. “How long have you been working with Kale?” I asked.
“About five years,” he replied.
“Really? That’s pretty long for this town,” I said.
“Nah, good relationships last,” he replied and eyed me for a moment. “You know, Kale mentioned you two went out.”
“Is that all he said?” I asked, feeling out the situation. I hoped Kale had not told him about the mess I had made because it was embarrassing.
“Pretty much,” he said. “He’s kind of private. Are you still seeing him?”
“No,” I said and looked down.
“No?” he asked as he cocked his head to try and grab my attention again. “You’re single?”
“Yes, but … ”
“But I’m not looking,” I said with disinterest. I wanted some firm boundaries set with Curtis right away.
Curtis seemed entertained and laughed. “That so?”
And then Maya showed up and eyed Curtis with suspicion. I stood up and she kissed me on each cheek European style and said, “Hola, chica.”
“Maya, this is my executive producer, Curtis,” I said as I sat back down.
Maya nodded and took a seat between us at the small table. Curtis looked at Maya who seemed serious and guarded. He took it as a cue and stood up. He nodded at Maya and grinned at me, “Hey, nice to meet you. I have a meeting so I’ll see you later,” he said and waved as he left.
“Oh I see, yes, he’ll see you later, will he?” she said with a look that suggested disapproval.
“Come on! I work for him,” I protested at the suggestion.
“Sí, and it’s best you keep thinking that way, chica,” she replied.
“Oh, but they’re going to cast the movie soon.” I laughed. “That will be fun!”
“Kale said you never play with the talent.” She looked at me seriously again.
“But I can look,” I said with a laugh. Then I shifted and leaned forward to speak in a low voice. “Is Kale seeing someone new?”
Maya looked uncomfortable. “We should not speak of this,” she warned.
“Oh, come on. I won’t tell,” I reassured her.
Maya looked ready to squeal when the person in question, Kale, walked up. I made a mental note not to take breakfast so close to the office. He looked at the two of us and smiled. My heart jumped in my chest, and I shifted away. I felt a surge of desire and frustration. I missed him. He looked me straight in the eyes and nodded. God, this man was striking to look at. His deep blue-green eyes always lit my fire. I also found his well-built body balanced by his broad, lightly hairy chest a big turn on. I feared I might need to wipe drool away.
“Ladies, you having a nice breakfast?” he asked, looking right at me.
“Sí,” replied Maya. “You join us, yes?”
Kale shook his head and maintained my gaze. “No, meetings all morning, but you enjoy,” he replied and walked on.
My stare stayed fixed on his sculpted backside – that made two perfectly shaped derrieres in one morning, and I was in heaven. He was wearing slacks and a white shirt and tie. He was a “suit,” that was for sure, but one who looked more like a male model with those high, angular cheekbones and his perfectly slicked-back blond hair. He didn’t normally wear suits, so I figured something was up today – maybe with the financiers. He had once said he had to look the part when he met with the money people. He normally wore casual T-shirts and jeans – all, of course, expensive and pressed. He never looked sloppy.
“You feel for him?” asked Maya.
I nodded ever so slightly and felt my eyes water a little. I quickly composed myself and responded, “Yes, but I fucked it up.”
Maya nodded, “Sí, and he a good guy.”
Was she rubbing salt in my wound? I didn’t think she meant to, but she wasn’t making me feel any better. I sulked for a moment, then sighed and sucked in air. Maya changed the subject and mentioned she was going to Mexico for a couple of weeks to see family. I listened but was distracted. It hit me how hard it was going to be working by Kale’s side in these coming months, but I was determined not to mess up my first professional screenwriting job. I didn’t need to compound everything and make it worse.
My mind momentarily drifted to Drew, my love-hate nemesis. I had not seen him since the day he confessed his love and his desire to avoid any significant commitment that could lead to marriage. Remember, I had an affair with Drew, got caught, and broke Kale’s heart. In turn, Drew confessed his relationship issues, and in turn broke my heart. We have not even texted or emailed. I needed to stay away from him. Our encounters had ruined everything with Kale – and here I was full of feelings of loss, longing and despair with no one to blame but my weak self.
Maya noticed the sadness in my eyes. “You need to move on, chica,” she urged. “You can’t let this go on. It makes you sad. I don’t like you sad. You’re too beautiful.”
I sighed and nodded. “You have fun in Mexico. I’ll miss you.”
Maya stood up and leaned over to hug me. “Be safe,” I said.
“Sí,” she replied and stepped back. She smiled and left with a cheerful step and spring. She seemed happy. I realized I had not asked her a thing about her own life. I decided to find out what was putting that spring in her step when she came home.
A short time later, I walked into the office to find Curtis and Kale in a heated discussion with Monica. I walked right into it and all three turned and looked at me with unhappiness. I was stunned and wondered what it was all about. Monica stood there and stared at me. She seemed very hesitant and then finally shoved a stack of notes at me.
Monica’s eyes shifted from Kale to Curtis and then back to me. “Notes on your revisions.”
“Oh, okay,” I replied uncertainly. I started to read them. My eyes widened. “This is a complete rewrite,” I protested. “Am I not doing what you want?” I asked with insecurity coursing through my veins.
Kale looked at Curtis and then at me and sighed. “Just do the revisions,” he replied in an unpleasant way. Kale turned and walked stridently back to his office. He looked annoyed and frustrated.
Curtis stared at me. “Well, you heard him,” he said.
Monica shrugged and walked away toward Kale’s office, which bothered me. She had his ear, and she was the script supervisor, not the writer. Something about that on both a personal and professional level bothered me. I wasn’t sure what the subtext in that interaction meant. Anxiety rushed through my mind. I wasn’t feeling like myself at all – it was all much too serious. I needed comic relief – all good California girls can joke their way through any situation. I tried to think of something entertaining to say.
“This isn’t Water World,” I said with a sniff.
Curtis grinned at me. He got the joke and replied, “You better hope not.” He moved in closer, and I looked up from the notes. He smiled at me in a genuine way. “You want some unsolicited advice?”
I nodded, and he stared at me for one more second. “You should just sleep with me and get it over with.”
He laughed and snickered. I think my mouth must have dropped open. He wasn’t being the least bit threatening. Was this sexual harassment? What did he mean by that? And what did any of it have to do with the script notes? He touched my shoulder and rubbed it, and then he turned and walked away. I felt like a confused child. Between the artistic insecurity and the puzzling comment, I was just lost. I decided to go back to my office and follow the script notes to the letter.