Mary knew it was a lame premiere as Hollywood premieres went, but she still wanted to go. And she wanted to go by herself, which upset her mom. She and Maggie had been pretty much joined at the hip since her rescue, and while that was mostly good, Mary knew she was going to have to start doing some things on her own or risk turning into one-half of a doubles act, like the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
When she got a text from Dane Collins telling her he was coming to town for the premiere and asking her if she’d go with him, Mary was thrilled. She’d met him in Vancouver when she and Maggie had flown up to the set for a visit. It had been a great time and she felt like she’d really connected to him.
He’d had played a fictional character, a composite of a couple of the kids who’d been part of Mary’s street life. It wasn’t a very big part, but Dane told her he was planning to move to L.A. after the movie aired so he could “get some traction.”
He told her he hoped he could look her up when he did.
He was really cute.
She told him she’d like to keep in touch. He’d asked her out to dinner but her time had been booked solid doing interviews and having meetings with publicists and the producers.
Back at home she’d looked him up on IMDB. He was older than she was, in his late twenties, and had worked a lot on Canadian shows like ReGenesis and DaVinci’s Inquest. Most of his characters didn’t have names, just tags like “Street Kid” and “Student.” He told her he did a lot of theater. That impressed her. You had to be a real actor to do theater.
She tracked down as many of his projects as she could, scouring Hulu and Netflix and CastTV, and Amazon. In most of the shows he was barely on screen for a minute but he’d had a nice subplot as a young policeman on a cop show called The Bridge. You could tell how talented he was.
When Dane asked her if she’d come to the premiere with him, it kinda felt like her reward for not getting to go to prom.
She’d spent $300 on a dress to wear to the event and even more having her hair and makeup done. She thought her mother was going to chide her for spending that much money, but instead Maggie had hugged her and told her how pretty she looked.
It had been a long time since Mary had felt pretty.
It had been a long time since she’d worn heels too and she nearly tripped getting out of the limo Dane had rented.
A big security guy had caught her before she fell flat on her face and set her back on her feet so gently and smoothly no one had even noticed.
Dane, who was waving to the cameras, hadn’t noticed her stumble. She was glad about that. She was nervous enough without him seeing how graceless she was.
When the television lights turned on her, she was momentarily blinded, and started to panic as reporters started shouting questions at her.
Dane saw her distress and answered for her, telling everyone that they were happy to be there and couldn’t wait to see the movie.
“Who are you?” someone asked.
“He’s Dane Collins,” Mary said. “He’s one of the co-stars.” Dane had given her a one-armed hug then and kissed the top of her head.
“I love this girl,” he said to the crowd and digital cameras flashed.
Inside, Mary went squee. She knew “love” was just actor-speak but it still felt good.
She almost floated into the theater.
The good feeling lasted until the opening credits which were set against an amped-up cover of “Ain’t No Love In the Heart of the City.”
The movie was bad. Really, really bad.
People laughing in the wrong places bad.
People jeering out loud bad.
“Can we leave?” she whispered to Dane.
“Ssh,” he said, “my best scene’s coming up.”
Mary sat back in her seat, closed her eyes and wished she could disappear.
There was a general stampede for the door as the final credits rolled, which even Mary knew was a violation of screening protocol.
She didn’t realize she was crying until Dane handed her a napkin greasy with popcorn butter and said, “You’ve got snot running down your face.”
Mortified, she’d wiped her nose but then she didn’t know what to do with the used napkin and ended up getting “butter-flavored oil” fingerprints on her dress.
Dane didn’t notice; he was busy texting.
“Who are you texting?” she asked.
“My girlfriend,” he said casually.
Your girlfriend? Mary thought, pretty sure he’d never mentioned a girlfriend to her.
He sent the text and snapped the phone closed.
“Let’s get out of here,” he said finally, already heading up the aisle.
She almost tripped following him.
“You want to get something to eat?” she asked hopefully.
“What?” he said, looking around to see if there were still any reporters in the lobby.
“Something to eat?” she said. “I’ve been to that Thai place,” she pointed across the street. “It’s great.”
“No,” he said, “I’ve got to get back to the hotel.”
I can’t believe I blew a month’s rent to fly down here and Mary’s agent wouldn’t even meet with me, Dane thought. Bitch.
He pulled a small pill bottle out of his jacket pocket. Shook two pills out and swallowed them dry.
Mary’s mouth was suddenly dry too.
“What are those?” she asked.
“Happy pills,” he said and offered her the bottle, shaking it a little so she could see the white pills inside.
Mary could feel her world melting around her.
She had loved the OxyContin high she got from crushing the pills and snorting them.
The memory was almost physical.
She was reaching for the bottle when the big security guard swooped in and snatched it right out of Dane’s hand.
“No,” she whimpered.
“What the f***?” Dane said and tried to grab the pills back.
“Do you have a prescription for these pills?” the security guy asked.
“Yes asshole, I have a prescription for them.”
“Then you shouldn’t be offering your prescription medicine to someone; especially not someone who is working so hard to stay clean.”
“How ‘bout you mind your own business?” Dane said, pulling roughly at Mary’s elbow. But she was looking at the security guy. “I know you,” she said. “You’re in my 7 a.m. meeting.”
She thought for a minute.
Dane looked from Mary to Wayne. “Well now that we’ve all been introduced to the rent-a-cop, let’s get out of here,” Dane said. “And give me back my prescription pills or I’ll go to your boss,” he added nastily.
“I don’t think so,” Wayne said. As Dane stared at him in disbelief, Wayne turned away and headed for the bathroom.
“What? The? F***?” Dane said again and followed Wayne but was too late to stop him from dumping the pills into a urinal.
Wayne saw him in the mirror and smirked.
“Dive for them,” he suggested.
Dane threw a punch, which was the second stupidest thing he’d done that night.
Wayne put him down with a one-two combination.
Mary saw it all from the door.
“Is he all right?” she asked.
“He’ll live,” Wayne said. “Let me take you home.” She nodded, wide-eyed.
He took a deep breath, then asked, “You want to hit a meeting on the way?”
“Can we get something to eat first?”
“Sure,” he said, turning out the light in the rest room. “You like Thai?”
Mary nodded happily.
Wayne knew his sponsor was not going to be happy about this turn of events but he’d been lusting after Mary since the first meeting she’d attended. She was like a scrawny little kitten, skittish but needy at the same time. Something about her tugged at his savior instincts.
And it didn’t hurt that she was rich.