Black Star. LA
Luna got out of the car and raising her gaze, she stood still, staring at ‘Black Star’. She was back and couldn’t seem to get her body to move; she felt numb, paralyzed, frozen in place.
‘Black Star’ had been much more than a house; it had been her house, her home; their home, Vin’s and hers. They had been so happy here; she had been so happy here, so damned happy, but also so fucking miserable, so damned unhappy.
It hurt to remember; it hurt to think about how everything went to hell so damned fast; how she lost everything from one day to the next. Her husband, her son, her life…It hurt to think about all the wrong decisions she had taken and all the things that should have been and weren’t.
“Wait!” Vin called, jumping out of the car, stopping Luna dead in her tracks.
“What?” She giggled, watching Vin almost tripping on his feet to get to the main door ahead of her.
“We gotta do this the right way.” Vin grinned and without wasting a second he scooped her up and carried her to the front door. She let out a squeal in surprise just to start laughing out loud.
“You’re nuts! Put me down, Vin! You’re gonna hurt your back!” Luna put her arms around his neck and wiggled a little, not really making a great effort to have Vin release her; she didn’t really want him putting her down.
“You weigh less than a feather, baby.” Vin gallantly replied as he fumbled with the unfamiliar key, trying to unlock the door by touch since he couldn’t see around her hip. “I could hold you here all night, beautiful.”
“Flatterer,” Luna shifted up and nuzzled his neck, softly brushing her lips across his skin. Vin controlled a shudder; he loved it when she did that.
“Yeah, but will it get me anywhere?” His voice came out hoarse with desire and Luna grinned wickedly.
“How about the master bedroom to begin with?” Luna’s full lips pressed against his ear and she softly nipped his earlobe.
His cock twitched wildly in the confines of his jeans at the sound of her smoky voice and her soft caresses.
He heard the lock click and pushed the door open. “Not gonna last that long.” Vin groaned as he walked into the spacious foyer, carrying Luna princess style in his arms, and kicked the door closed at his back. Then he bent his head towards hers and kissed her lips softly.
“Welcome home, Mrs. Vincent.”
The words were spoken barely above a mere whisper but they echoed across the place and within Luna’s head as if Vin had shouted them. Her breath hitched in her throat at the meaning behind those four words and the intensity of Vin’s gaze. Her home.
“Welcome home, Mr. Vincent.” Luna whispered breathlessly.
End Flash Back
There were so many memories amidst these walls, so many… Memories were the only thing left and they hurt so much Luna pressed her hand against her chest, feeling her heart pounding madly.
“The first night we spent in here…” Luna’s gaze slid across the façade as she spoke absently. “It had been raining really hard during the whole day and the power went down. We had to light candles to walk around the house. There were candles everywhere…” Luna paused, sighing softly. “The pantry was full of food but we didn’t have electricity, so we threw together what we could and cooked it in the fireplace,” she chuckled sadly, “we made such a mess…”
Allison stood at Luna’s side. “Sugar, you don’t have to do it. We can go to a hotel.” She whispered, taking Luna’s hand in hers, squeezing tenderly.
“No way…” Luna shook her head.
There was no way she would stay any other place but here. She just couldn’t. ‘Black Star’ might be an empty house now, as empty as her heart was, but it was still her house. Hers.
Luna set her jaw hard. She had lost almost everything that mattered to her because of a series of events and mistaken decisions. The only worthwhile thing left was this house. She was alone but she still had ‘Black Star’.
“No fucking way…” she repeated with more emphasis.
As much as the memories hurt, they were part of what Luna was. Facing her demons, embracing her pain was part of the healing process. She needed to hold onto something real enough that she didn’t lose her way again. There wasn’t anything more real than the pain or the anger. Luna wouldn’t act like a coward; she wouldn’t allow her fears to grab a hold of her actions. She wouldn’t lose control again. It had cost her a lot in the past.
Vin’s place. LA
Vin let out a heavy sigh, rubbing his forehead. He had been reading the last two financial reports of One Race and they weren’t as positive as he had thought they would be.
It wasn’t that the company had financial problems, but the results hadn’t fulfilled the expectations. Too many projects on stand by were causing the effect, they needed to produce something, anything, and fast or One Race would end up having serious troubles. The profit made by his movies in video shops and TV wasn’t enough to keep the company going much longer.
Under other circumstances Vin wouldn’t be so concerned but this meeting was essential for him. Not only because the administrative council had to give the head ups to ‘Hannibal’, but because Luna would be present too.
“Yo, man, we gotta talk about Mike.” Dave entered Vin’s office without knocking. “He’s getting on my fucking nerves, bro.”
“Not now.” Vin glared up, he didn’t like to be interrupted while working in his office.
Dave glared back but lifted his hands as if apologizing. “I know you’re busy, bro, but I really gotta talk with you about that fucker. He thinks he’s the shit and is bossing me around. I’m getting sick of that, man.”
Vin grunted, meeting Dave’s eyes. “I said not now.” He bit out, setting his jaw hard. These squabbles were getting old and Vin was starting to be fed up with Dave’s bullshit.
Dave’s hands balled into fists as his expression hardened. “What the fuck’s wrong with you, man?”
As if in slow motion, Vin knit a brow at Dave’s outburst, visibly tensing each muscle in his frame causing Dave to regain his composure in a second flat, pretending to be saddened.
“I mean, I know you’re worried and shit ‘bout the meeting, bro, but you’re looking through me now?” Dave feigned to be hurt by the way Vin was treating him. “You don’t look like yourself, Vin. She really did a number on you, bro.” He shook his head in disbelief.
Vin made a point of ignoring Dave’s slip about Luna; he just wouldn’t go there, at least not now, but he wouldn’t ignore his instincts either. Vin also noticed that the few times Dave referred to Luna he always said ‘she’ instead of using her name.
Dave’s subtle hostility and ill feeling against Luna had never been a secret to Vin. Still, Dave had carefully measured his words, consciously avoiding the use of any pejorative name when talking about Luna, never disrespecting her while being around Vin.
However that was not all. Vin’s guts had been screaming at him that there was something odd with Dave, even though Vin couldn’t place what it was, exactly.
It wasn’t that Dave was now comfortably installed in Vin’s house and life as if he was never gone, or the fact that Dave tried to boss people around like he owned the place. Those were things Vin had somehow anticipated that would take place because that was the way Dave was. It annoyed Vin but didn’t cause him to feel uneasy. It was something else, something more subtle that had been mercilessly nudging at Vin. The suspicions about his childhood friend being the one behind the shit pulled at ‘Privilege’.
Making a supreme effort to keep himself in check, Vin took a slow, deep breath, blowing out the air through his nose and refocused his attention on the matter that had brought Dave to his office in first place.
“First it was Valentino, thinking he was the shit and bossing you around and now Mike? You seem to have a persecution complex, man.” Vin answered, not in the least fooled by Dave’s vindictive performance.
Sarcasm was heavy in Vin’s voice and Dave gritted his teeth, swallowing the nasty reply he wanted to shout at the top of his lungs. He didn’t like to be treated this way and he sure as hell wasn’t used to it either.
Dave had always been the third string, right behind Valentino, but still he had enjoyed a privileged place next to Vin.
“I don’t have that shit, man.” Dave stiffened on his seat. “But that fucker keeps busting my balls at every chance he has with the fucking security around the house.”
“Mike’s the head of security; he’s just doing his job.” Vin calmly answered. “He is as meticulous as Valentino was.”
Dave snorted. “For fuck’s sake!” He threw his arms up as if exasperated. “I’m as meticulous as any of them. ‘Sides, I live here. Don’t you think I know what’s best for you?”
“No, you don’t.” Vin replied with finality.
Dave had said what was best for Vin and not what was best for Vin’s safety. It had been just a slip, Vin noted, but once more it wasn’t lost on him. Vin was starting to realize that until now half of the things Dave said always held a hidden meaning or were calculated to pull a reaction.
Dave’s brows drew down together, crumpling his forehead. “What do you mean with ‘I don’t’, exactly?”
Vin noticed how Dave had gone on guard in seconds; it only caused his suspicions to be confirmed, turning Vin’s uneasiness into anger, but once more Vin controlled his temper, keeping himself in check.
It seemed to him that Dave didn’t like how things were turning out. Too bad for Dave because Vin wasn’t planning to let people manipulate him anymore. That was a mistake he wouldn’t make again.
“Oh, come on, don’t play victim, going on the defensive on me.” Vin chuckled, his lips curving up in a small grin. “You’re a great bodyguard, Dave, and you’re cool, but let’s face it, you don’t have discipline or a solid head on your shoulders.” He explained indulgently. “Now, if you excuse me I got shit to do.” He dismissed Dave, returning his attention to his financial reports.
Dave scowled inwardly but got to his feet, leaving the room without adding anything else. There was a time to push and there was a time to move backwards, and now it was the time for the latter. He would observe and would wait though; closely keeping an eye on Vin’s every action from now on. Revealing his game was not something Dave wanted to do, not right now anyway.
Vin watched Dave’s retreating back and narrowed his eyes in suspicion. He had spent enough time around Dave to know that his childhood friend wouldn’t let things go.
Dave was not the kind of guy who left someone have the last word on a matter, any matter, not even if that someone was Vin himself. It was in Dave’s nature.
This last thought caused Vin’s unease to increase once more; he had no other choice but to admit he wasn’t sure what to do next. Vin had never been a good strategist and everybody knew that intuition had always been a woman’s guide. If Luna was there, she’d know how to proceed though but he was completely lost.
Vin leaned forward, resting his elbows onto his desk. Fuck, baby, I really need you with me, he pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a heavy sigh.
Thinking about the movie showing him having sex Vin felt his guts revolting with nausea and he swallowed back down his throat the bitter taste of bile rising fast. He should tell Luna about it and about his suspicions linked with Dave, but how was he going to do such a thing? Luna would be not only disappointed and pissed off but deeply hurt. By chance hadn’t he caused to her enough pain and humiliation already? What was the point on rubbing that shit in her face?
I won’t live enough time to apologize for all the fuck ups I’ve made, goddamnit! Vin cursed silently, shaking his head in disgust. He was so deep in shit he couldn’t see to get out.
Black Star. LA (later that day)
Luna leaned forward a bit, resting her hands against the counter at the kitchen and closed her eyes. She could hear her friends’ laughter from where she was standing and smiled sadly. There was so much love surrounding her that Luna felt overwhelmed and even jealous of her friends’ joy.
There they were, lively talking, sharing jokes, teasing and having a wonderful time together like only true friends could do. The living image of love and affection represented in three different phases.
Renee and Valentino, still enjoying the never ending honeymoon that only newly-weds seemed stubbornly reluctance to let go of, happily married and about to become parents.
Alice and Mike, dying to get hitched up with each other, full of plans, dreams and hopes, eagerly waiting to take that huge step that would seal their fates forever.
Allison and Steve, madly in love with each other and yet holding back, secretly fighting a lost battle against the powerful attraction they couldn’t hide just like the sun couldn’t be covered with a finger.
And herself, embittered, humiliated, broken.
She could envision her distressing future, getting old alone, nourishing her resentment against everything that reminded her of the good old days, surrounded by at least a dozen stray cats that would keep her company. The unsociable, grouchy witch in the neighborhood; an old bag that kids would make fun of while throwing stones at her windows covered with handmade embroidered lace curtains or ringing her bell just to run like hell before she could answer the door.
Valentino entered the kitchen and went still, watching Luna’s glazed expression. He had been closely paying attention to her every action over the course of dinner and had wanted to talk with her alone as soon as he had a chance.
Steve had sent to Valentino the file that ‘munchiman’ had sent to Luna. Just like Steve, Val had immediately known that ‘munchiman’ was Dave and he didn’t have doubts about Dave’s intentions; he wanted to hurt Luna, making sure she didn’t want anything to do with Vin in the future.
It had happened before though, when they all were teenagers. In the past, Dave had always considered any decent girl that had crossed paths with Vin a threat, a hazard to his permanence in Vin’s life. So Dave had always found a way to get rid of every single chick before Vin felt too attached to any of them. That was the main reason why Dave had been making sure most girls Vin met over the years were porn actress or just simply sluts. It had been much easier that way, until that night at Vin’s house.
In Dave’s eyes, Luna had gotten in his way, and even though she had always treated Dave with respect, it wasn’t any less true that she had openly ignored him, keeping herself at distance. It had been as clear as a sunny day that Luna didn’t like Dave, and she didn’t trust him. It was a mutual feeling though, and everybody had noticed that as well.
Val recalled what he had seen on that file and had agreed with Steve that the best thing to do, at least for now, was to keep the secret. Hurting Luna was not something Val wanted to do and it pissed him off big time to have to keep such a thing from her and from Renee as well.
In some sort of weird way his actions were leveling him with Vin, choosing to hide the nasty reality instead of facing it. But there was no way Val would run the risk of causing Luna a cardiac arrest or to upset Renee. Besides, Luna would be devastated if she found about what Vin had done. It added humiliation to injury.
Taking a deep breath, Val pushed aside everything else and focused his attention on Luna.
“You okay, princess?”
It was a stupid question to ask, Val knew, but it was out before he could stop himself.
“Yeah,” Luna blinked, meeting Val’s concerned face, offering a weak smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “I’m just a bit tired, that’s all.” She lied causing the big Latino to eye her suspiciously.
“What a terrible liar you are.” Val grinned briefly.
Luna chuckled. “Yeah, well, that goes to show you just one of the many things I’m not good at.”
The self-deprecating half smile Luna offered to him caused Valentino to sigh heavily. “Luna…”
“Yeah, I know, I know…” Luna sighed, forcing a smile on her lips. “It’s just that…”
“It’s okay, baby, you don’t have to justify yourself; you don’t have to be strong all the time.” Val closed the distance between them and held her tightly. “You don’t even have to pretend that you’re okay, not with us.”
He suspected that coming back to ‘Black Star’, meeting Renee and her growing belly, the imminent encounter with Vin and having them all there laughing and having fun had to be harder than she thought it would be. Luna was making a great effort to deal with everything at once, doing her best to keep cool, Val knew, but it was unavoidable that she felt overwhelmed with sadness.
Val knew Luna was not the kind of woman who needed a man at her side and in her life to be a fully realized person; she was not that insecure. Still he was sure Luna missed the companionship, the complicity and the intimacy a relationship provided. True friends were great and they sure as hell could give love and affection, but there were emotions and feelings that only a man could share and give to a woman.
Vin might be all fucked up and he sure as hell had treated Luna as if she was worthless shit, disrespecting her time and again, but he was her husband. As many flaws as Vin had, Val knew without trace of doubt that he loved Luna more than he had loved any other woman. He had a shitty way to show it, Val conceded, but still Vin’s feelings for her had been as deep and real as his own feelings for Renee were.
Luna closed her eyes, holding Val back. It was too hard to pretend around him, because Val had always been able to read her like an open book.
Feeling safe in Val’s embrace caused Luna to allow the wall made of indifference and anger she had built around her to protect her broken soul to crumble into pieces and she started crying, her face buried in the Latino’s broad chest.
“You still care for him, right?” Val whispered, stroking her back up and down, soothing her.
It was a question Val already knew the answer to. He could have said ‘love’ instead of ‘care for’ because it was the same. Val knew Luna still loved Vin or she would have moved on already.
Luna lifted her teary gaze meeting Val’s eyes. “How can I care for that fucker when he has broken my heart so many times I already lost count, Val?” She breathed out, choking back a sob. “He’s humiliating me and disrespecting me and…” Luna gritted her teeth, “¡Coño! What’s wrong with me?”
Val sighed hard. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Luna.” He wiped away her tears with his thumbs. “I’m mad with him and I want to beat the shit out of him, I swear, but I still care for that asshole.” Val shrugged his shoulders. “He’s my brother…or was…” Val frowned, lost in thought for a second.
Luna thought about Val’s words. “Do you miss him?” She asked softly.
It pissed her off but she had to admit that she missed her husband, even if he was an asshole. Two in distress made sorrow less. It wasn’t a comforting feeling but somehow Luna needed to know that she was not the only one feeling that way.
In response Val shrugged his broad shoulders. “A little.” He knew how Luna felt.
Luna’s brow arched up, slightly puzzled. “But you have Mike and Steve.”
Val nodded. “Yeah, and they are cool, but they are not Vin.”
Luna sighed softly, nodding in understanding.
She knew Vin and Val had grown up as thick as thieves and they had also gone through a lot of shit together. Luna suspected they had done things neither of them was proud of. There was no way Val would be able to wipe away his past, his memories at a stroke; they were part of what he was.
At some point within the course of their lives, Vin and Val had taken separate ways, even if still being close friends and spending most of their time together. Maybe it was that Val had kept growing, maturing, getting wiser, while Vin had somehow been left behind, helplessly stuck in his role of Peter Pan, stubbornly refusing to grow up, becoming a grown up man.
“What am I gonna do tomorrow, Val?” Luna bit her lower lip. “I’m not sure if I’m ready to face him.” She sighed hard.
Val pulled Luna to him closer and hugged her tightly. He himself felt a bit like Luna felt. Val didn’t know what he was going to say to Vin, or even if he’d say anything at all. He was still pretty angry and wasn’t sure how he would react when they saw each other.
“I’ll be there with you, okay?” Val kissed her head softly. “You’re not alone, Luna.”
In response Luna nodded, but said nothing in return.
Val knew that wasn’t nearly enough and that things could get out of hand pretty fast. There was no way to know for sure what was going to happen at the meeting. Who knew what Luna and Vin would say when given the chance to talk with each other. There were a lot of restrained anger, rancor, pain and sorrow involved.
In the past, Luna hadn’t been able to hide her emotions and feelings behind an inexpressive mask, which caused everybody to be able to read her like an open book. It had been one of her weak spots; she wasn’t familiar with the expression ‘poker face’. Not anymore.
Determined not to end up making the same mistake again, Luna had used her skills as a writer to create a female fictional character, describing every single mannerism she would use, discarding those that wouldn’t fit with her own personality, enhancing the ones that would fit perfectly, ruling out, selecting, dismissing, choosing.
As if she was an actress, getting ready to play a role in a movie, Luna even rehearsed every single move, every gesture, every action and every gaze standing in front of the mirror, even forcing her voice to sound devoid of any emotion or inflection until it sounded natural and not forced.
Luna had seen Vin developing this acting technique for months while rehearsing ‘Seth’. If he could do it, so could she. The key was to create a believable character, providing it with enough depth so it stood for a couple of hours.
Selecting the outfit her character would wear had been another essential matter, almost as important as the tone of the voice or the gestures. It took her a bit more time to make up her mind about this particular part within her creative process; she knew half of her success depended on the very first impression she was able to cause.
Luna hadn’t had any other choice because deep down she had known that there was no way that Luna Vincent could do what had to be done. For that task, she needed a cold, heartless woman, someone without scruples; someone unable to feel remorse; someone inspired on the malicious, wicked female roles that had been immortalized on celluloid for decades.
Vin had spent an unusual lot of time trying to making up his mind about what to wear the following day for the meeting. He had wanted to dress up for his wife.
He hadn’t been in the least concerned about Luna having as much control over the company as he had himself. Quite the opposite, Vin had been endlessly pleased with the idea of Luna being as involved as he was in his business.
Thinking about that had caused Vin to chuckle to himself, recalling Dave’s face when Vin had told him about Luna sharing his awarding veto control over both his companies.
That was something that Dave hadn’t anticipated, Vin had bet money, and he had also been sure that Dave hadn’t liked it one damned bit.
Dave had asked Vin if he thought she’d use that fact against him and Vin had been sure that Dave’s brain had been already entertaining the many possibilities. Once more, Dave had referred to Luna as ‘she’, and yet once more Vin had had the last word. So, becoming suspicious at the way Dave had acted, Vin had gauged Dave’s reaction, replying that he hadn’t thought that Luna would use it, but that he had no doubt his wife would do such a thing. And I can’t blame her though, Vin had added silently. How could he?
Luna would be pissed off as hell because of his senseless behaviour. So Vin had had no doubt that Luna wouldn’t let the chance to straighten things out go so easily. She would use it, making sure to strike back a lethal blow.
Vin had been sure that the fact that Luna was able to control both his companies might mean trouble in the future for whatever Dave had been up to, because it gave her a lot of power over both Vin’s career and his life. Something Vin was now realizing Dave had wanted to do for a long time.
Probably Dave had to be realizing now that he had underestimated Luna’s intelligence. Not that Vin blamed Dave for such a terrible mistake; he himself had done it in the past. It always got him in serious shit though. If Dave was thinking about fucking with Luna he was in for a huge surprise.
Luna was not a woman to mess with. Getting in her way was something a wise person would never do, unless that person had gone nuts, that was. Luna was fucking unpredictable; no one would be able to know for sure what she’d end up doing. Not even Luna herself.
It would be a complete waste of time and energy to try and anticipate Luna’s next move, because just thinking about the many possibilities would end up frying any brain. There was no way to come up with a back up plan to strike back either; Luna would take advantage of her skills as a writer, going through each and every single scenario, foreseeing her enemies’ reaction, plotting, scheming.
If Luna had been a General, her military tactics would outmaneuver any of her counterparts’ tactics because she wouldn’t be afraid of running risks. Not to mention the ease with which Luna got inside people’s head.
Was that fascination? Yeah, he was fascinated with his wife’s subtle schemes and found himself thrilled and excited in advance, just wondering how she would do such a thing.
One Race Films office. LA (The following morning)
The expectation created in view of Luna’s attendance to the meeting had disturbed the otherwise cut-and-dried preparations that such meetings entailed in the past, and not even the arrival of Vin, dressed up in a charcoal grey tailored suit and pearl grey shirt a few minutes before, had provoked such level of excitement among the staff.
The sound of high heels firmly clicking on the parquet floor abruptly ceased the lively chatting the members of the administrative council of One Race Films had been immersed in since they entered the meeting room.
Conscious of every single gaze fixed on her every move, Luna stretched her back completely, lifted her chin defiantly and entered the room.
Everything seemed to still as soon as Luna, equally dressed up in an elegant red dress, her hair tied up in a simple bun and carrying a black briefcase, finally joined the rest of members of the council. Just her racing heart and the painful knot in her stomach betrayed her otherwise inexpressive countenance.
“Luna!” Samantha smiled widely, her face brightening with happiness.
“Samantha.” Luna stretched out her hand, stopping Samantha dead from holding her, offering instead a polite yet cold hand shake.
If coldness could embody a woman she would look like Luna Vincent. Icy, distant, impassive.
Vin’s chest tightened painfully watching the hurtful expression Samantha’s face showed when Luna greeted her with such indifference. His heart hurt, knowing he was the only one to blame.
The scene repeated over and over as Luna politely yet indolently greeted the rest of the members, shaking hands with them and took a seat at the table, right in front of him.
According to the agenda, Gordon, being the treasurer of the company was in charge of explaining the financial reports, giving way to a tedious recital of profits and loss accounts, cash flow and income statements.
Luna tried to focus her attention on every single word Gordon was saying, doing her best to understand the technical terms. In spite of the fact that she had been studying these very same reports for a whole week Luna hadn’t gotten any more familiar than before with the slang that accountants and economists used. To her it still sounded like Chinese, and for a second she saw herself, getting to her feet and saying ‘fuck that, let’s mean business’, but she thought better. Patience was a virtue even if Luna wasn’t very good at it.
Glancing at Val’s notebook Luna knit a brow. Surreptitiously, the Dominican had been drawing geometric shapes while pretending to be taking notes. It seemed to Luna that she was not the only one having issues understanding Gordon’s technical prattling.
Their gazes met briefly and Val smiled apologetically just to grin sheepishly, turning the page. He couldn’t help it; Gordon’s presentations always bored him stiff, not to mention that he didn’t understand shit about what Gordon was talking about anyway. He was an actor and not an accountant.
In fact absolutely no one was paying attention to Gordon’s words and he knew it. Gordon didn’t care too much. It was not always the same, but on this particular occasion there were much more interesting things going on within these four walls.
Samantha was looking down at her lap, her hands jerkily fumbling with a piece of paper. She had been waiting for this meeting, wishing to have a chance to straighten things with Luna in person. Now, after the cold, distant welcome Luna had greeted her sister in law with, all Samantha wanted was this damned meeting to end.
She had done everything she could think off to show Luna her love and understanding, receiving in return the cold shoulder. It was so unfair that Samantha felt like breaking something. She was not responsible for her brother’s actions and yet Luna seemed to not give a damn about that fact.
Right across Samantha was Paul, tapping a pen onto the desk, anxiously glancing back and forth between his siblings.
Nila, Paul’s wife, had made Paul promise he wouldn’t display his unique sense of humor, or lack of it over the course of the meeting; she had even warned her husband in advance about the not so nice consequences of breaking his promise.
Paul glanced at Luna and he angrily pressed his lips in a thin line. He hadn’t liked the way Luna had greeted Samantha. It was one thing to be pissed off with Vin but dismissing Sammy the way Luna had done was a whole different matter. Paul was a guy and by extension he was as guilty as his twin brother even though he had done nothing wrong. He guessed that to Luna all men were insensitive bastards and Paul could understand that, but Samantha wasn’t any of them. She didn’t deserve to be treated in such disparaging way, not by Luna or anyone else.
Luna had lumped them together and that was a very unfair situation. They were Vin’s siblings but they didn’t agree with their brother’s behaviour and sure as hell didn’t like or share the way Vin had been treating Luna either.
They had both found themselves in the middle of a situation that exceeded them, placing both of them along with the rest of the family members in a very delicate position. How to show understanding, affection, love and support to Luna without turning their backs on Vin?
Meanwhile, the only one who seemed to be paying attention to Gordon’s presentation was George. He was at the meeting as a mere observer, since he didn’t belong to the administrative council, at least not as an active member. George was the general manager of ‘ORNY’, the New Yorker section of One Race Films.
Vin had created ‘ORNY’ thinking about using the section in the future to extend his business, shooting documentaries and other projects such as TV shows. So far, the only activity ‘ORNY’ had been seriously involved in had been the project they were going to develop to create a school in Santo Domingo, so the young Dominicans directors could have a chance to show their talent.
Cutting her eyes in Vin’s direction Luna stole a quick look at her husband, noticing that the edge of a golden chain showed at the open neck of his tailored shirt. She didn’t remember Vin wearing a gold chain and briefly wondered if there was something hanging on it.
What the fuck do you care? She scolded herself and lifted her eyes, meeting his just to find that he was staring down at her hand, at the tan line that her wedding ring had caused.
Luna had removed it for the meeting, not wanting to send a wrong message, and now she wasn’t sure if it had been a wise decision. They both knew that if she had removed it weeks ago, the tan line would have vanished already the way it had vanished from Vin’s finger.
He moved on, Luna, you should do the same. Disappointed, Luna returned her attention to Gordon even though she could still feel Vin’s intense gaze as if piercing her very soul and shifted uncomfortably on her leather chair.
Vin noticed the way Luna’s body had tensed in seconds when she had realized he was staring at her hand. More than anything Vin wanted to tell her that even though he had removed his wedding ring, it hadn’t gone anywhere far. Quite the opposite, he still wore it, just not where everybody could see it.
Now, watching the tan line on her finger Vin realized that maybe she had recently removed it or maybe she had done it just because she was assisting the meeting. After all his many fuck ups and the pain he had caused her, she was still wearing her wedding ring. The realization made him felt like an insignificant, worthless piece of shit.
Lifting his gaze, Vin looked at her again, taking in as many details as possible. She looked fucking beautiful, dressed up in that red dress. Vin wanted to brand the vision within his brain forever and the selection of color wasn’t lost on him either.
It was his favorite and Luna knew it. It definitely suited her even though it was a color Luna almost never used in the past. Damn! What the hell had he been thinking pushing her away? He was such a retarded moron.
Refusing to show how the intensity of his gaze was affecting her and fiercely determined to start straightening things out, Luna lifted her head and held Vin’s eyes, defiantly staring at him for a long moment.
The meeting and everything and everyone else were momentarily forgotten, and for a fraction of a second her heart found its way to her gaze, revealing her deepest feelings. Right now nothing else mattered to Luna, with the exception of showing her husband all the damage his actions had caused to her.
I’m holding on your rope
Got me ten feet off the ground
And I’m hearing what you say
But I just can’t make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down
You tell me that you’re sorry
Didn’t think I’d turn around and say…
That it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
I’d take another chance, take a fall, take a shot for you
And I need you like a heart needs a beat
But that’s nothing new
I loved you with a fire red, now it’s turning blue
And you say sorry like the angel Heaven let me think was you,
But I’m afraid it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late…
Vin would have dropped to his knees if he hadn’t been sitting. Nothing would have gotten him ready to see what he saw in his wife’s eyes. Vin felt like dying inside.
It was not the heartbreaking pain or the unbearable sorrow, not even the insidious anger or the deep disappointment what caused him to avert his gaze, ashamed, but the betrayal. He had betrayed his wife by taking advantage of her feelings for him, using them as a projectile weapon against her. He had taken her love and had mercilessly torn it apart, reducing it to shreds.
So busy had he been making sure that Luna thought he didn’t love her anymore that he hadn’t thought about the consequences of actually achieving his irrational goal. He had done such a great job that now the only thing left was an empty hollow that seemed to devour him as if a ferocious predator.
The weight of his actions crushed Vin down and he took a ragged breath, realizing the irreparable damage he had caused.
Regretting every single action and every single decision was not going to solve anything. Apologizing would lead him nowhere. What he had to do was to make amends and the sooner, the better. It was the time to face his fears. He was not going to elude his responsibilities anymore. Time to grow up, proving he had learnt from his mistakes.
“…and that’s about all regarding the financial situation of the company.” Gordon concluded his presentation, pulling everybody out of their thoughts.
“Thanks, Gordon.” Vin cleared his throat as he straightened on his chair. “According to the next point within the agenda, the budget of ‘Hannibal’ has to be put to vote by a show of hands.” He met Luna’s gaze.
Luna nodded in agreement; she had nothing to say against the budget. She herself had discussed it with Vin many months ago, even helping him to find a way to reduce it, in case One Race Films had to produce the movie without the support of the Studio. Luna had almost forgotten the many hours they both had spent on such a task, going over every single section within the budget until it had been cut to a somewhat reasonable amount of millions.
“Okay, then, votes in favour?” Vin asked as he lifted his hand.
Immediately, Paul lifted his hand as well, and so did Samantha and Gordon.
Vin looked back and forth between Val and Luna, patiently waited for them to express their consent. The idea of Luna and Val siding together to stop this project from going ahead popped in Vin’s head, but he dismissed it quickly. Vin knew they wouldn’t go against the company.
After what seemed an eternity but were just a couple of seconds, Val and Luna glanced at each other and lifted their hands as well, causing Vin to let out the air he had been holding in a rush.
“Thank you.” He smiled in gratitude.
The budget had been approved by absolute majority. The only thing left was to give the head ups to the project itself.
Feeling a bit more at ease, Vin leaned backwards on his seat and cleared his throat once more. “I guess the only thing left is to give the green light to ‘Hannibal’ so we can seriously start with the pre-production, concentrating our efforts to make it possible that shooting starts before autumn.” He paused anew just to take a deep breath. “Votes in favour?”
Before anyone had the chance to lift their hands, Luna cleared her throat. “I don’t think we should concentrate our efforts on shooting ‘Hannibal’, at least not right now, and much less considering the ‘precarious’ situation the company is going through at this very moment.”
Her tone of voice cut through Vin as if a sharp knife and he sighed heavily.
Luna leaned causally backwards and met everyone’s gaze briefly before going on. “I’d say that it would be wiser to study in depth some of the other projects One Race had been offered to produce before making a final decision about ‘Hannibal’.”
Samantha and Paul frowned at once. They didn’t know about the existence of other projects.
“What other projects, Vin?” Samantha asked, disconcerted by the suspicion of his brother keeping essential information linked with the company to himself. That was not the way Vin used to act in the past.
Vin glanced at his sister and then looked at Luna again. “There are no other projects, Luna.”
In response Luna knit a brow. “Hmmmm, that’s not what I’ve heard, Vin.” Her condescending tone of voice caused Vin’s guts to clench painfully. “As far as I know you’ve bee offered a role on two different movies. And you’ve been offered to produce them both as well.”
“You shouldn’t give credit to every single piece of shit the tabloids publish about me.” Vin answered calmly even though his voice carried a hint of sarcasm.
“I shouldn’t do that, now should I?” Luna coked her head to one side, a tight smile spread on her lips. “Then care to explain the administrative council what’s with ‘Hitman’ and that other sci-fi movie ‘Babylon AD’?”
Vin didn’t know for sure where Luna was heading. Was she trying to bring him into discredit in front of the others?
“You were the one who said I should stop shooting that kind of movie and concentrate on selecting dramatic roles.” Vin got out thickly, losing his cool damned fast. What was she up to? “Besides, I don’t think that shooting a movie just to show off my muscles would solve One Race’s financial situation, we’ll be only delaying the unavoidable breakdown.”
At his words, Luna’s vision washed red but she managed to regain control. “I thought you didn’t have issues showing off your muscles, Vin.” She replied evenly, even though her blood was boiling in her veins. “Unless you can only do that while not being aware of cameras recording your performance.”
Paul and Samantha crossed glances with Gordon; all of sudden they didn’t know for sure what was going on. Somehow it seemed as if all of them had been forgotten, if for a moment.
Val glanced at Luna, disconcerted. Steve had told him that he had deleted the file, wiping away any trace of its existence. There was no way Luna had found a way to recuperate the file; she didn’t know enough shit about computers to do such a thing.
So there were just two options. Luna knew much more about computers than she was letting on and she had been fooling all of them, or someone was keeping Luna updated about Vin’s whereabouts.
Luna waited for Vin’s reaction at her words; she had carefully chosen them so Vin knew what she was talking about without arousing the suspicions of his siblings or Val’s. Luna didn’t want any of them knowing that there was a tape showing her infamous husband having sex. She hadn’t done so out of the goodness of her heart or to avoid embarrassing Vin in front of the rest of the members of the administrative council, but because she didn’t want them getting involved. The less people knowing about the matter, the better. She had been humiliated, that was true, but that didn’t mean she had lost a single shred of dignity.
The double meaning on Luna’s words caused that Vin’s heart stopped dead, just to start racing within his chest. She knew it; somehow Luna had found out about the fucking tape recorded at ‘Privilege’. How the hell she had known Vin didn’t know for sure but he suspected Dave had something to do with that.
Fuck…Vin took a slow, deep breath, blowing out the air through his nose, fighting the sudden urge to kill Dave for his daring; he did his best to not show his anger. He didn’t want Luna misunderstanding him, thinking it was directed at her.
“I didn’t get the main role on ‘Hitman’. It seems I was asking to get paid far more than what they were ready to give.” Vin explained evenly, not a single trace of emotion on his voice. “Regarding ‘Babylon AD’ I’m still in conversations with the director and as soon as we reach a deal, if we reach one, we will subject the matter to the approval of the administrative council.”
“See? It seems that after all I should give credit to every single piece of shit the tabloids publish about you, Vin.” She smiled softly but her smile didn’t reach her eyes. “If there’s a butt cigarette it’s because someone has been smoking.” Luna’s mocking tone of voice caused Vin to growl under his breath. She always found a saying to silence him.
“Can we vote now?” He asked anxiously.
“Sure.” Luna nodded.
“Votes in favor?” Vin lifted his hand and braced himself for the unavoidable.
Again, Paul, Samantha and Gordon lifted their hands, showing they were in favor of starting the shooting of ‘Hannibal’ in autumn.
“Valentino?” Vin looked at Val, a silent plea in his eyes.
In response Val tensed, not knowing what to do. For one side he wanted the movie to be shot once and for all, but for other side Val wasn’t sure it was the right time for that. It was clear Vin was not ready to front such a challenge. Not physically or emotionally. It would be devastating if they started shooting ‘Hannibal’ and for some reason they had to stop.
Making up his mind, Val plunged ahead. “I’m going to abstain.”
Vin shut his eyes, cursing silently. He honestly couldn’t expect Val would be on his side. Vin knew he had betrayed his friend’s trust. It was only fair that Val showed his reservations regarding ‘Hannibal’.
Luna drew in a deep breath, slowly breathing out. She knew everything was in her hands now. If she said ‘no’, then ‘Hannibal’ wouldn’t be shot anytime soon. Her being awarded veto control allowed her to stop any project from being approved even if the rest of the members of the council had voted in favour.
That had been the only reason why Luna had wanted to belong to the administrative council in the first place, to make sure that Vin didn’t fuck up his only chance to make a reality of his ultimate dream.
Conscious once more of every gaze fixed on her, Luna cleared her throat and plunged ahead.
“I vote against.”
Vin closed his eyes, defeated. That was it. He was done. He didn’t have energy left to say anything else. All that Vin wanted was to crawl under a rock, like the swine worm he felt he was and forget about this fucking meeting.
“Meeting is over.” Vin opened his eyes and got to his feet.
Exiting the meeting room without averting his gaze from the floor he hurried his steps and headed towards his office, slamming the door closed.
“What the fuck, Luna?” Paul snapped without thinking. “You’ve gone nuts, or what?!”
“Paul.” Val warned him quietly.
At Paul’s outburst, Luna knit a brow but other than that didn’t show any acknowledgment that she had heard him or cared about his words.
“Hannibal is a huge project and it’s going to require his absolute concentration to make a decent movie or he’ll end up being the laughing stock of the business.”
Paul gritted his teeth. “That’s not the reason why you’re doing this.” He bit out angrily. “You’re punishing him for what happened and you know it.”
With a coldness she felt far from feeling Luna met Paul’s angered gaze. “I don’t have to justify my decision, Paul, not to you or anyone else.”
Val tensed. “Meeting is over, Paul, forget about it.” His voice sounded cold and hard.
“The fuck I’m doing that!” Paul retorted, not giving a damn about Val’s warning. “I can’t fucking believe you’re doing this, Luna.” He shook his head in disbelief and plunged ahead. “Do you hate him that much that you need to destroy his career too?”
The second after he said that last line Paul regretted it with everything in him. He had no right to say that, much less considering his brother had done the same.
Luna’s breath hitched but even though his words had felt like a slap, she held Paul’s gaze and then. “He doesn’t need me for that, Paul; he’s doing a pretty good job himself.”
Paul opened his mouth to argue further, or to apologize, he wasn’t sure, but whatever he saw on Luna’s eyes caused it to die before he got it out.
“Come on, Sammy, we’re done here.” Paul got to his feet and exited the meeting room, feeling angry and ashamed. Angry with Luna and his brother, and ashamed of himself.
Paul couldn’t believe what Luna had done; what his brother had done. He never thought Luna would act in such a despicable way, but it wasn’t less true that his brother had brought it onto himself. It didn’t make sense.
Samantha watched his older brother from the corner of her eyes and sighed hard. She knew Paul felt frustrated and that was the only reason why he had spoken to Luna in such a way. Not that Samantha blamed Luna either. The only one to blame was her infamous brother; he had brought this shit on himself.
“I’m sorry you’re hurting so badly, Luna, but this won’t make you feel any better.” Samantha sighed hard and exited the meeting room, without waiting for a reply.
Luna knew it hurt them to see their brother feeling defeated, but she wouldn’t give up; she just couldn’t allow Vin to destroy everything he had been working so hard for just because he was desperate. Neither of them saw it that way, of course, but Luna didn’t care what they thought about her. She was doing what had to be done.
Gordon and George crossed glances in silent dialogue and, standing to their feet, they also left the meeting room, after saying their good byes.
“You better than anyone else knows what ‘Hannibal’ means to Vin.” Val looked at Luna, gauging her reaction.
“And that’s exactly why I’m doing it.” Luna answered as she pulled out a cigarette, lighting it up. “I know that ‘Hannibal’ is his ultimate dream, but I won’t let him throw such a unique chance to show his talent out of the window.”
Disclaimer: I don’t have the rights of this song, not that I claim them. This is for fun. No damage had been done, no money made.