Los Angeles. One Race offices.
“Oh, come on, Richard. You gotta be kidding. Sheila Harley?” Vin retorted, rolling his eyes. “For Chris’ sake!” He snorted in disbelief.
“I’m not kidding, Vin.” Richard replied, taking a deep puff from his Havana cigar. “We’ve been watching the tapes and we all think that even though that chick…” he trailed off, glancing at his assistant. “What was her name again?”
“Lorraine.” Richard’s assistant supplied.
“Thanks—Lorraine has a natural born talent, Sheila Harley is a more experienced actress and she is also well known among teenagers. She will attract a much larger number of the young public to theatres, which will benefit the box office of the movie and consequently the studio and yourself as executive producers.”
Richard’s voice sounded devoid of any inflection or emotion, businesslike, as if he was merely stating facts.
It was then when Niko intervened. “Thought we were trying to make a masterpiece of art and not just money.”
As if in slow motion, Richard turned his attention to Niko. “If you want a masterpiece of art, Nicholas, go buy a Picasso. We are talking about not losing money with this project.” He calmly replied, puffing his cigar. “You’re the director. Your role is simple here, stick to it.”
In response, Niko seethed, swallowing his smartass reply. He knew where the owner of the Studio could stick that Picasso. But Niko thought better and kept quiet. Mr. Richard Hopkins would probably enjoy the experience too much.
“What do you say, Marcela?” Vin looked at her, searching for allies.
He wanted Lorraine to play ‘Leah’ and not that Sheila chick. He didn’t give a damn that Lorraine was an unknown actress or without experience. She was far more talented not to mention that while casting together, he had felt the chemistry Lorraine and himself had, playing. It was an undeniable fact.
In response, Marcela sighed softly, putting out her own cigarillo. She had seen the tapes and her guts clenched thinking about Sheila playing that role. It would be as if they were throwing pearls to the pigs. But she had a goal to reach and she wouldn’t let her conscience get in the way of her revenge.
“For once, I have to agree with the Studio, Vin.” She leaned in her chair. “I admit that Sheila wasn’t my first choice, but you know as well as I do that I can recognize potential when I see it. And my guts tell me that Sheila only needs a chance to show what she has in her.”
Marcela’s voice was soft and confident. She knew that her opinion would weigh upon the final decision and she was not going to let her only chance to destroy Luna pass up.
“I’m sure Niko will be able to get the best out of her, and I bet Miss Harley will end up giving us some nice surprises.” Richard intervened, getting comfortable in his chair.
Marcela noticed Vin’s indecision for a second and got ready to strike her blow. She knew that she was walking on very thin ice here and so, Marcela used one weapon that always worked in the past. To feed Vin’s ego.
“Besides, we all know that Luna’s script is flawless, a masterpiece of writing actually.” Marcela paused for effect, getting the nods in agreement from every single member of the administrative council of the Studio. Then she continued, taking Vin’s hand in hers. “Your more than just talented wife shaped ‘Leah’s’ role to a point of perfection, Vin. It would be impossible for any actress to not be able to play it just following Luna’s advice.” Marcela added, sharing a look with her ex-husband. “And I don’t want anybody eclipsing your performance, dear.”
“I agree with Marcela, Vin. You are the star of this movie and your wife did a great job with that story. We all expect for her to get as involved in the project as you.” Richard said seriously and Marcela laughed inwardly. Her ex-husband would be able to make it big in business being an actor. “I’m hoping Luna will help Sheila to understand the idiosyncrasies of ‘Leah’s’ character, since she was the one creating it, just like she did with your character.”
Vin let out a heavy sigh, defeated.
The reality was that Richard and his partners had the last say in the matter. At the end, they were the ones putting up 60% of the budget. Arguing further would get him nothing and Vin suspected that he may end up losing his only chance to shoot ‘Hannibal’ next.
“Fine.” Vin reluctantly agreed. He didn’t like it, but he had no other choice.
Richard grinned and turned his attention to his assistant once more. “Someone contact Miss Harley’s agent. I want her casting with Vin today.” He said, getting to his feet and extending his hand. “Vin, you won’t regret this decision.”
Vin chuckled sadly and shook Richard’s hand. “Whatever, Richard.” He replied, sighing hard.
Luna was not going to like it; she was not going to like it one damn bit.
“I can’t fucking believe it.” Luna muttered in disgust, glancing at Sheila.
Just one look at her and Luna’s soft hair stood at once. Her guts were screaming ‘DANGER’ in capital letters.
The girl was sinfully beautiful. A breathtaking body to die for, full of curves in the right places, flawless skin and to top off everything, it all seemed natural. A shameful gift from Mother Nature for every male on earth, including her husband.
Luna scowled silently. She wasn’t stupid. She knew this was the first step within Marcela’s plan to destroy her marriage. A direct strike that, even expected, it certainly didn’t ease the impact. Quite the opposite. Marcela was using her dirtiest schemes because the old woman hoped for them to end up working, eventually.
“This is how business works, Luna.” Vin replied, puffing from his cigarette as he caught Sheila giving him the once over.
He still didn’t like the fact that Lorraine wouldn’t play ‘Leah’, but he couldn’t say he felt that disappointed after all. Sheila was even more beautiful in real life. He was married, of course and he was in love with his wife. But that fact didn’t mean he was blind all of a sudden. He still could watch and even enjoy the view.
Luna noticed the way that Sheila’s gaze was devouring Vin’s body and her husband’s reaction. He was flattered and enjoying the attention. Payback’s a bitch, Luna. She scolded herself silently and narrowed her eyes, lost in thoughts.
It was clear to Luna that she couldn’t act as the jealous wife or she would lose the war before the first battle took place. Not to mention that she ran the risk of ending up acting as Vin himself had done while around Roberto. Treating her husband as a piece of property to be disputed over wasn’t exactly the more intelligent approach. It would end up backfiring sooner rather than later. A luxury Luna didn’t have anymore.
She had to be wise and cunning, using her own weapons to counterattack. She couldn’t allow herself to lose her cool, at least for now and until she had more information.
Allison had given Luna some really useful advice. Such as taking the time to watch her enemies before making one single move. To hold back, never revealing her game. To play dumb, pretending that she wasn’t getting what was going around. To listen instead of doing the talking. In summary, to anticipate her enemies’ every single move, expecting the unexpected.
Luna took a slow breath and turned to look at Vin. “Give me your best shot, baby.” She purred sensuously, making sure her hand brushed against Vin’s crotch.
Vin shivered hard and met his wife’s intense gaze. A shocked expression written all over his face.
“You’re not upset anymore?” He asked warily. All of sudden Luna didn’t look like herself.
In response, Luna shrugged one shoulder. “It’s like you said. Business. It’s just a movie and you are an actor. A fucking great actor actually. Show them what you got in you, baby.”
Vin grinned and encircled Luna’s waist, pulling her to him. Then he bent his head, pressing his full lips to her ear.
“I’ll show you what I got in me.” Vin growled, breathing in Luna’s essence. She smiled and rubbed herself against his body, feeling him getting hard in seconds.
“Keep that thought in mind, Mr. Vincent.” She nipped his neck. “I’ll be all yours tonight.”
Damn! His cock smelled Luna’s pussy and whimpered in frustration. The sooner he was done with this shit, the better. Vin wouldn’t wait until they were back home. He would take Luna to his office. He knew that pussy would be soaking wet and just waiting for him.
Vin whimpered and tightened his hold around Luna’s body causing her to shudder fiercely in anticipation.
“Whenever you want, Vin.” Niko’s voice sounded behind him.
Vin cursed silently, nodding, and forced his body to regain some control. After a couple of minutes, he squeezed Luna’s bottom and reluctantly he released her, heading towards the stage.
Sheila glanced at the bulge within Vin’s cargoes and grinned, thinking she had caused it. This was going to be easier than she thought.
Niko got ready and gave them some final instructions. Then he took a seat at Luna’s right side.
“I don’t like this shit one damn bit.” Niko muttered, pulling out a joint. “Go ahead, guys!” He gestured around and lit his joint, taking a deep puff.
Luna didn’t reply but studied Sheila Harley carefully while pretending to be watching the girl playing the scene with Vin. As if she didn’t feel in the least bit threatened by Sheila’s presence, Luna pulled out a cigarette and lit it up.
Vin and Sheila started playing different scenes. Several times they were interrupted by Niko, giving directions and advice to Sheila making her blush in embarrassment.
She was not nearly as talented as Lorraine and everybody knew that, including Sheila. But it wasn’t as if she gave a damn about it. The movie was just the means she would use to get what she really wanted. It would give her the chance to be close to Vin almost 24/7 and she was confidant it would be just a matter of time until Mr. Diesel ended up falling for her. She would make sure of that.
As the minutes passed by, Luna found herself more and more absorbed in her own thoughts and less on the performance taking place a few feet from her. At least Marcela had been right about one thing. Sheila wouldn’t eclipse Vin’s performance at all.
It was clear that the girl’s goal was not to get the main female role; her goal was way more ambitious than just that. She looked like the kind of chick that wouldn’t think about playing by the rules. Used to getting what she wanted. Taking without asking for permission. Spoiled not only by her mom, who was also her agent and assistant, but also by the media.
Luna didn’t need to be told twice. Sheila wanted Vin Diesel and she wouldn’t care what she had to do to get him. Too bad Luna wasn’t planning to let that happen, at least not without fighting for her husband, even if she ended up being the only one fighting to save their marriage. Silently she hoped Mark Vincent was stronger than Vin Diesel.
After almost an hour, Niko got as satisfied as he knew he would be with Sheila’s performance and decided he had had enough for one day, calling the session to a halt. He still had to deal with the shooting for three months. Something Niko wasn’t exactly jumping in excitement over anymore.
It had been a real pity to not be able to count on Lorraine to play ‘Leah’. At least he had made sure that she would be in the movie. She wouldn’t have any dialogue, but she would be part of the extras. She would play another jury member. Then Niko’s mind drifted to the sweetest blonde he had seen over the years. Sandra.
The girl hadn’t passed the casting, but Lorraine had begged Niko to at least find a way to have her in the movie. Niko couldn’t do that, but instead he had talked with the Studio. After several hours of going back and forth, Niko had convinced them to hire Sandra as his second personal assistant for this shooting. Of course Sandra had squealed in delight even if her job would consist mostly of bringing coffees around or being the ‘errand girl’.
“I was thinking it would be great if you could help me with my role, Vin.” Sheila said, slowly closing the distance between them.
Vin arched a brow and met her gaze. “We both know you don’t really need my help for that, Sheila.” He replied without moving from where he was standing. She smiled, batting her eyelashes innocently and rested a hand on his forearm, stroking it up and down slowly.
“Maybe you are the one who would need my help.” She whispered as she glanced down at his crotch. “With your role, of course.”
Vin chuckled. This Sheila chick was something else. He had no doubt how she had ended up getting the role of ‘Leah’. Vin admitted that he wasn’t the one to go judging people; he also had done things he wasn’t proud of.
This was a tough business and you did what you could with the little you had. Still, he liked to be the hunter, not the hunted. Too bad I’m not playing in the kids’ league anymore. Vin grinned cockily and moved around Sheila, not offering her any answer.
Luna watched Sheila stroking Vin’s arms and swallowed back down the bile rising so damn fast she felt like puking her guts out. She was feeling sick in seconds and did her best to hide her anger. For a second Luna wasn’t sure if she would be able to play this game; she wasn’t a damn actress. Besides Luna didn’t know if she could trust Vin again and the suspicion bothered her more than just a bit.
Then Vin was heading towards her, smiling that disarming smile he had and Luna let out the air she had been holding with a painful sigh. She wouldn’t give that little bitch the satisfaction of showing herself weak or insecure.
She returned Vin’s smile with one of her own and met him halfway, kissing her husband as if she hadn’t seen him in months. Vin returned the kiss with equal passion and both hurried their steps, heading directly to the elevator.
Sheila turned around and watched as Vin held his wife in his arms, melting. Then they parted lips and, grinning, they both exited the auditorium, followed by Vin’s bodyguards.
Sheila narrowed her eyes and swallowed her wounded ego. She had just tested the waters. Sheila was not the kind of woman who would give up a challenge. Much less considering the prize at stake. She would change tactics and would attack again, once the shooting started.
Meanwhile, Sheila would keep Richard busy and would collect as much information as possible about Vin Diesel’s wife. At the end everybody had a weak spot and so Sheila thought she would find Luna’s and would strike a lethal blow.