Two weeks later, houx sits crossed legged in John Branca’s office canapé on a rainy Thursday afternoon trying to interview a potential manager. After three possible candidates, the only thing she has established is that her eyes are now beginning to hurt after all the eye rolling she has been doing in-between the candidate’s cul, ass kissing. She knows what she is looking for and it is not these men who seem like “yes” people. houx is looking for someone who makes an entrance, an impact and who will most importantly get the job done. John looks over at houx who is staring off into l’espace giving two shits at what the little, sweating, balding man is saying across from her. He gives her a slight nudge to the foot with his foot to make her pay attention. As the little man finishes up houx sweetly smiles not saying one word. John clears his throat. “Thank toi for coming in, Jeremy. We are still interviewing and should let toi know as soon as we can.” The man weakly smiles before patting his receding forehead with his handkerchief before standing up and heading for the door quickly. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” houx mumbles as he closes the door. John gives her a look. “What is wrong with you, Holly? toi call me up saying toi need to find a new manager, so I find the best in the business, and so far toi dislike every single one of them.” “Correction, John, this is not the best in the business, and if it is, I’ll do my own managing.” “Now hold on there, managing is no easy task. What was wrong with Jeremy? He had excellent credentials, managing some of the best in the business.” houx shifts herself on the canapé rolling her eyes. “And he was a bore! My God, if toi a dit boo, he’d probably cry. I’m looking for a shark, John.” John bends forwards in the chair sighing out and rubbing the back of his neck in agitation. “Why don’t toi just come out with it, Holly, you’re just pissed off that none of the candidates so far have been women.” Holly’s mouth drops open at his words. “Now that is not true. I could give two shits if my manager is male, female, ou in-between. I’m looking for quality and I expect quality. Now, who’s next?” John grabs another folder on the coffee table, tableau and opens it up. “Lana DeVito, thank God for a woman.” houx shoots him a glare. “Just send her in.”

John hits his intercom button on the telephone that is sitting on the coffee table, tableau too, “Send in Ms. DeVito.” Within moments a loud voice can be hard as the double mahogany doors balançoire, swing open to a tall slender woman with dark brown hair is standing in the doorway looking out into the reception area. “You call this a cup of coffee? Jésus Christ, I could teach a wild écureuil to play the harmonica better than this!” houx smirks at her candor. She turns around to face them and smiles before walking towards them extending her hand. “Hello, Ms. Williams and Mr. Branca, a pleasure to meet you.” She sits down and sets down her coffee in front of her with disdain before crossing her legs professionally. houx sits up a little straighter. John looks at her résumé before looking up at her, “Well tell us a little bit about your background.” Lana rolls her eyes playfully, “Ugh, is this really going to be one of those mundane interviews that starts off par me explaining my credentials? My credentials are already right in front of you, so par me telling toi will waste your time and my time – something I loathe. Instead, why don’t I just tell toi why I think I deserve this job?” John raises his eyebrows and looks over at houx where houx is grinning from ear to ear. She folds her arms and looks at Ms. DeVito with amusement. “Please do, Ms. DeVito.” “Well most importantly, I’m damn good at what I do, I have worked with many in the past and I have gone for the jugular multiple times to get them the best deals and pride myself on that fact. Also, something that toi won’t find with other candidates is that I care about my clients, and there is nothing that toi could throw at me that I would not be able to handle. So, do I have the job?” houx holds up her hand, “Now, hold on speed racer. Tell me plus about toi going for the jugular because managing is still considered a man’s world, unfortunately.” John looks at both of them before cutting in. “Not necessarily, each an the statistics have been altering that plus women – “ “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, John. toi know it as well as I do,” houx cuts in looking at him. “And don’t give me useless statistics when I know my competition,” Ms. DeVito adds looking at him before looking back Holly. “Basically, you’re asking me if I have bigger balls than my male competition?” “Basically, yes.” “Then the short answer would be yes because I’ve been in a room with musique executives where I’ve made them cry at the end of a negotiation.” houx smiles, “And that’s exactly what I’m looking for. When toi work for me, Ms. DeVito, understand I only ask for four things: shrewdness, loyalty, professionalism, and a sense of humor. If toi don’t possess any of them then we can’t be in business together.” “Well with that in mind, I have a few stipulations of my own.” houx smirks, “Oh toi do?” “Yes, I don’t work with just anyone, including spoiled princess routines who act like the world owes them something. Also, your reputation is my reputation so I expect full authority on what I think is best for toi and your career, and if toi don’t agree with that then we can’t be in business either.” houx inhales and looks at the floor before looking back up at her. “I can agree to that as long as toi understand that my word is the final decision on anything toi propose. toi may put gas and oil in the car of my career, but I will always be in the driver seat, is that understood?”

John looks back and forth between them as if it was a tennis match waiting for the suivant one to make a comeback. Ms. DeVito leans further back in her siège and smiles to reveal a slight gap in-between her two front teeth, which rather becomes her. She fixes her wispy bangs in contemplation before replying. “You know for an eighteen-year-old toi are pretty shrewd yourself, and I like it.” “And it’s best toi don’t forget that. Now, would toi like to work for me as my manager?” Ms. DeVito looks at John. “Where do I sign and when can I start?” “Now, if toi want, houx has been without a manager for a week now and her prior engagements from her old manager are running out,” John says as he slides the contracts over to her. She reads the documents carefully with a steady eye before signing and when she does looks up at houx with another smile. “Look’s like I’ve got my work cut out for me,” she stands up and extends her hand up to houx as houx stands up to meet her hand. “Ms. Williams, let’s make some history together.” houx smiles back, “Oh, believe me, we will.”

Across town, Michael sits in the sterile and cold examining room of his dermatologist. Sitting on the edge of the examining table, he swings his legs back and forth to pass time as he hums a tune he came up with on the ride over here and reads the posters on the walls about skin cancer and acne. The door opens up to a middle-aged man with a fuzzy mustache and a clipboard in front of him. He looks in and smiles warmly as he closes the door behind him. “How are toi doing, Michael?” “Just fine, Dr. Rice.” Dr. riz goes over to the counter and places down the clipboard as he puts on gloves. “I see toi aren’t in for a routine check-up on your acne today.” He walks over to Michael. Michael sighs and turns over his left arm to reveal a tiny white mark on the inside. “No, I wanted to montrer toi this. I’ve never seen this before.” Dr. riz grabs Michael’s arm and examines it closely before looking up at him. “Have toi seen any plus of these spots?” “No, but then again, I’d be plus comfortable if I inspected your back. Lift up your chemise for me, please.” Michael follows his orders but loathes taking off his shirt, even in front of doctors. He has always been teased about not being toned and having as many protruding muscles, as a regular man should have from his family and since then it’s made him self-conscious. Dr. riz examines his back thoroughly for about ten minutes until he takes off his gloves and throws them in the trashcan. “You can put your chemise back on, Michael.” He begins to write something down on his clipboard. “Well, what is it?” Michael asks, curious as he puts his chemise back on. “After examining your back and finding one tiny spot back there I’d conclude toi have vitiligo.” “Vitiligo? What’s that?” “Nothing too serious, just the skin losing its pigment. In your case, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Do toi recall any family members having this?” “Not that I remember, why?” “It usually is a hereditary disease, but sometimes it just occurs in some.” Michael’s eyes pop out. “Disease?” Dr. riz looks at him with a small smile, “Nothing to be alarmed about. toi may have a few plus patches pop up but that’s about it.” “It’s not contagious is it?” Michael says thinking about houx and how maybe touching her could give her this. Dr. riz chuckles, “No, no, nothing like that. toi can’t spread it through the skin on skin contact. But toi keep an eye on it and let me know if anything changes.” “So I don’t need to take anything?” “In your case, no. Like I said, don’t worry, it won’t get worse, I promise.” Michael shrugs, “Whatever toi say, Dr. Rice.”

Later that evening, Michael looks over at houx in the car with a smile as he holds her hand on their way to the Stars Come Out for the Sun event. “Do I look alright?” He asks as he looks down to adjust his blazer lapel. houx looks over at him and smiles. “You look fine, as always. I also like that your hair is getting curlier,” she says as she touches it with her other free hand. Michael looks at her through hooded eyes and a smirk. “Thanks, babe.” houx looks at him with a playfully raised eyebrow. “Babe? Since when did we start using nicknames?” Michael grabs her cheek with his other hand and whispers against her lips, “Since now.” He gives her a quick Kiss on the lips before sitting back in his siège as they approach the Hollywood Palladium. “If toi don’t like it I can name say something else.” houx rests her head against the siège and looks at him as the sky begins to darken outside the windows. “It doesn’t matter to me, Michael.” She gives him a Kiss on his hand as they arrive to the Palladium. Hell, Michael could call her “Hey you!” and she would be ecstatic. Just to have his time and attention makes her happy and grateful.

Inside the room is full of full of célébrités new and seasoned that makes houx feel like a fan instead of a guest. The room smells of alcohol, money, and the faint smell of pot, (not uncommon for these events). Michael holds onto the small of Holly’s back as he looks around the room looking for a familiar face until he spots one. “Hey, there’s Jane.” houx snaps her head at him. “Jane, as in Jane Fonda?” Michael looks at her quizzically. “Yeah, why?” “Because Michael it’s Jane Fonda! Have toi not seen her movies? Especially the one with Robert Redford?” Michael chuckles at her, “I l’amour to see toi étoile, star struck. Hey, Jane, come over here a sec!” He shouts over to her with a smile and a wave, houx pinches him on the arm. “Don’t bother her!” She harshly whispers in his ear. Jane looks over at them with a smile and walks away from the group she was talking to and comes up to them slowly saying hello to others along the way with such ease and grace that it makes her envious. “Oh my God that’s Jane Fonda!” houx whispers as she gets closer to them. “Jane, I’d like toi to meet someone very special, houx this is Jane Fonda, Jane, this is houx Williams.” Jane smiles and extends her hand to Holly, “Of course, I know who she is. I am a huge fan of your music.” houx sucks in a breath, “I-I am such a fan of your work and you’re the epitome of a fabulous woman, truly.” houx says with a reddening face at her fawning of Jane. Jane laughs and grabs her for a hug, “You are beyond adorable! Michael, she is everything toi a dit and more,” Jane says with a wink at him. Michael looks at houx with awe, “I know she is.” He watches as houx continues to talk to Jane with an innocent and open eye that it takes him back at how she is still fairly new to this business. He smirks as he watches Jane take houx par the arm and escort her to get a water, which houx turns around to mouth an “Oh my God!” at him.

An heure later houx is seated at a table, tableau as she watches Michael mingle with a few of the village people waiting for the evening to be over. Her feet are killing her in her new pumped shoes as she looks down at her feet and sees blisters starting to form on the back of her heels. “Is this siège taken?” A deep voice says besides her. She looks up to see Jon Voight standing there with a drink in his hand. “All yours,” she says as he pulls up a chair beside her. He takes a sip before looking at her, “I’m a big fan of your work,” he says calmly before taking another sip. She looks at him and smiles, “Same here, you’re a brilliant actor.” “Ah, I’m not sure about that, but one thing I do know is that if my daughter was here she would be begging toi for your autograph.” “What’s your daughter’s name?” “Angelina, here I’ll montrer toi a picture of her like the proud dad that I am,” he says playfully. houx chuckles as he pulls out a photo from his wallet and shows a beautiful little girl with dark hair. “She’s gorgeous,” houx murmurs looking back at him. He looks fondly at the picture before putting it back in his pocket. “I was supposed to see her this week, but I had to come here and do this event instead, the price of fame I suppose.” houx shrugs, “Yeah, I guess.” “That’s the funny thing about these kinds of things,” Jon says looking around the room, “People have this perceived notion that we famous people are some mystical creatures who lead this glamorous lifestyle, but when in actuality, we are just as fucked up as they are.” Jon takes another gulp of his drink before looking at the empty glass. “I need a refill, can I get toi anything?” “No thanks, I’m good.”

As he stands up to leave, houx can’t help but think of his words and how everyone here is just normal people. If only her fans knew what Michael and she went through on a daily basis they wouldn’t think their life is so glamorous. To everyone right now, she is here with her famous boyfriend at a fabulous party with other celebrities, when in actuality she is sitting tired at a table, watching him with feet that are killing her. Perception is truly a fickle thing. It amuses and tires her at the thought. Maybe that is what the public is in l’amour with…the allusion, she thinks to herself as she watches Michael talk to Jane who has now walked up to the group and started chatting with them. Sometimes she still feels like she is on the outside looking in at these types of events. She is known, but not too known, yet. It makes her feel awkward and vulnerable, two kinds of feelings she hates to feel. As she continues to look at Michael she admires how even though he gets nervous and uncomfortable at these events he somehow fits. Compared to her, Michael was a veteran in this business, and she needed to quickly learn from him how to do these types of events and soon if she wanted to just as talented as him one day.

“This makes the days all worth it,” Michael murmurs as houx crawls into lit and into his arms yawning. “Yep, this is nice,” Holly, mutters with her eyes slowly starting to close from the long day. Michael holds her in his arms looking up at the ceiling with his mind still running a mile a minute. Most nights he can sleep with her beside him, but some nights he still can’t sleep, but just lying with her in his arms makes things better. He looks down at her and touches her long hair in his hands. “Did toi get a manager today,” he whispers. She stirs and looks up at him with a weak smile. “Yeah, her name is Lana.” “You like her?” She nods. “She’s a shark, so of course I admire her.” Michael chuckles, “When will I get to meet her?” “Well, she’s persistent, so pretty soon.” houx nuzzles her head against his chest and looks at his arm to see the white splotch on his left arm. Suddenly, she is wide-awake. She looks up at him with a concerned look. “What’s wrong with your arm?” “Nothing, just a little vitiligo.” “I’ve never heard of that before, but is it serious?” “No, I went to the doctor today, and he a dit it would be fine.” houx looks at it again, tracing the small white spot with her finger before looking up at him again. “When were toi going to tell me?” Michael looks around the room before looking back at her trying to find the right words. “I didn’t want to worry you.” “Remember what toi said, this only works if we are completely honest with each other.” “I know, I know…. and in the spirit of total honesty, I need to tell toi something I’ve been thinking about.” houx perks herself up par sitting on Michael’s lap and giving him her undivided attention. “What would toi like to talk about?” Michael looks at her in this position sitting on haut, retour au début of him and smirks, rubbing her upper thigh. “Keep sitting like this and I’ll forget everything I have to say.” houx looks down bashfully. “Michael…” Michael chuckles before continuing, “I’ve been thinking about getting my nose done.” houx cocks her head to the side looking at him quizzically. “But why, toi are perfect just the way toi are.” Michael rolls his eyes. “I feel disgusted with my nose anymore. Once the tour is done, I want to get it done, what do toi think?” “I don’t know Michael, I never knew this was such a sensitive area for you, but if it means that much to toi and if it will make toi happier then I guess go for it.” “Will toi be angry with me if I get it done?” “Michael, what kind of girlfriend would I be if told toi not to do something that would ultimately make toi happy? I…” She trails off with her thought, searching for the right way to phrase it. “Yes?” “I just don’t want toi to get carried away with plastic surgery, ya know? The wormhole as I hear some call it.” Michael shakes his head, “That won’t happen to me, I’m not that impressionable, toi know this.” “I do, I just worry.” “Well don’t, I can handle this.” He pushes her back down to him and gives her a Kiss that seems to ease her anxiety, melting the stress of the jour away, their lips moving rhythmically other the others softly until both pull back to rest their foreheads against the other. Michael takes his knuckles and brushes it gently against her cheek. “I promise, I can handle this.”