STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Xena, and Gabrielle, and the usuals are the property of Universal/MCA, and Renaissance Pictures. The use of the prior mentioned characters is strictly for fun, not for profit. No plagiarist activity or theft of character is intended in any way. Besides, this is an attempt at an Uber story, so nothing really needs to be disclaimed. Any similarities to existing people, is strictly coincidental. <G>
SUBTEXT: Ah yes, subtext. This story does contain major references to the loving relationship between two women, and then some. If this is not your cup of tea, then DON'T DRINK! Or read for that matter. If you are under 18, please move on. If this type of subject matter is illegal in your state, then move out, or move on with the 18-year-olds. After all, this world has many resources, however some things are just not meant for some people. Please do us all a favor, and surf on down the line.
VIOLENCE: Yes, there are some incidents of violence, so wear your boots and helmet, and duck if anything comes flying your way.
She walks in beauty,
Like the night,
Of cloudless climes,
And starry skies;
And all thats best of
Dark and bright,
Meet in her aspect
And her eyes.
CHAPTER ONE: Murphys Law (a temptation of fate).
BEEP "Kate this is Diane. Honey we've got a hot one for you this time. It seems the actress . . . hmmmm, what's her name, oh yeah (heh, heh) umm, Jessica Ryan is looking for a personal assistant, . . . again. I hear through the grapevine that she eats PA's for breakfast, and then (hee, hee) cleans her teeth with their bones. Honey I know you can handle this one, and face it doll, Lola is way beneath your talents. I know you care about her, but you are much better than that. After all, sweetie, your gig with Lola is just about the same as a high paid babysitter. Call me, hon, we need to get on this right away. I told her agent that I would call them right back, and schedule an appointment to meet them, and to work out the particulars. Oh, and sweetie, this one is big bucks, for both of us. Ta Ta."
Kate slowly released a sigh. She had been a personal assistant in the entertainment business for a number of years. Since she was about 20 years old. Most of her assignments had been relatively basic. Shopping, answering fan mail, picking up dry cleaning, and helping with other errands, as well as running lines with the entertainers. She had been a babysitter, a chauffer, and a gopher. Even an errand person for visiting diplomats. A year or so ago, all that had been different. She had been brutally attacked by a client's husband, and had been blamed for the incident. It had taken her several months to recover, both physically, and mentally. She still wasn't sure she could return to regular duties, but she realized that all of her training, and abilities were being wasted.
She had graduated from college, with a degree in Office Administration. But, Kate was determined not to fall into the drudgery of daily work in an office building somewhere. Her father had passed away when she was 18, and he had made it adamantly clear that no woman could possibly do anything, except be a secretary for some corporation. At least until she found a suitable man, and got married. Determined to prove him wrong, she planned her future carefully. With a little bit of luck, and a lot of Irish, she would succeed.
Steve, a friend of Kate's, had been a personal assistant in Hollywood for about 10 years. He had hoped to become an actor, but because of a need to pay rent, and the competitive nature of the entertainment industry, he ended up being a PA instead. Being gay made it seem somehow easier as well. Steve had a certain charm, and attraction that led to some pretty lucrative assignments. Most of his clients were aging Divas. Actresses that had at one time been at the top of the A-list, but were rapidly being replaced by the newest crop of fresh young talent. Handsome, and debonair, he made the perfect escort to dinner parties, and award shows, without the complication of a relationship.
Steve thought that Kate would be perfect as a Personal Assistant. She had incredible organizational skills, and a bright personality. And she knew how to cater to those sometimes unruly egos that are so prevalent in entertainers.
After her father's death Kate stayed at her mother's house in Silicon Valley until her college graduation. Her mom had been heavily involved in several different social groups, and had recently started dating a fine gentleman who happened to be the CEO of one of the larger companies in the area. He had offered Kate a job when she graduated, but she was serious about moving to LA, and working out of Steve's agency. She promised him though that if it didn't work out she would look him up.
Steve had a cute little house in Glendale, and he was looking forward to having Kate move in with him. He had recently broken up with his current boyfriend, and was feeling lonely. It would be nice to have his pal there to share stories, and work tales with. At least she would understand what it was like to be a PA. Roger his ex was always jealous of the time he spent with his clients, and the special care he gave them. He felt that Steve was just a little too close to his job.
Moving to LA had been a major change for Kate. The climate was different, and the smog was definitely an entity to reckon with. It took her almost 3 weeks before her body, and specifically her lungs had acclimated to the visible pollution in the LA basin. Kate was a very active and physical individual, and had never smoked, but one trip to the market on her bicycle, and she felt like she was drowning.
She loved the house though, and especially the little office that she and Steve shared. It was all windows, and had a green house quality about it. There was plenty of room for both of their computers, a couple of desks, and a shared bookshelf. Both of the roommates were avid readers, especially Kate. She had lots of Science Fiction/Fantasy books, and a rather extensive collection of murder and suspense novels. She was especially proud of her large selection of lesbian mystery, and Sci Fi books.
By far her best, and rapidly becoming largest collection, consisted of her favorite fan fiction from her favorite internet sites. Her most cherished, were the stories written about her idol, Jessica Ryan. Ms. Ryan was the current star of the hottest action thriller on television. She was relatively unknown, but after the introduction of "Urban Assault Team" she became the most sought after actress of the year. Her picture was on the cover of every magazine. She attended two conventions a year, and always to a sell out crowd. Everyone, from teens to senior adults purchased collectibles, memorabilia, and T-shirts. Almost every city had a billboard advertising the show, with Jessica Ryan's image larger than life.
Kate almost blushed when she thought about the stories she read. One of the largest group of individuals that flocked after Jessica Ryan were the countries lesbians. They collectively agreed that it was about time that television caught up with the era, and started portraying women as strong, independent, and tough. Able to handle themselves, and others in a crisis. Their stories often involved relationships, sexual or otherwise, between the star, and various insundrious enemies, and friends. And sometimes with her partner. Of course none of these stories took into account that she was married, to one of the producers of the show.
Jessica's character, "Kendra Knight" was a special government agent. Responsible for the safety of the country, and it's inhabitants in the year 2050, she was constantly pitted against terrorists, aliens, and other numerous subversives. Her partner in her battle against crime, was a cyber-unit, built partially from electronics, and special shielded alloys, and partially from the remains of an actual human female. She had been injured in an explosion while hunting down terrorists, and the miracles of modern technology were able to restore her, at least partially. The addition of the cyber-parts was necessary, to replace her damaged flesh. She was stronger, faster, and extremely intelligent, having access to the largest database in the known universe. However, an error in programming diminished her emotions, and caused periodic glitches in her active motor base. Kendra Knight had learned to work around these problems, but they frequently happened at the most inopportune times, especially when her life was in the balance. All in all, it made for endless great story lines.
One of Kate's best friends was a woman she had met on the internet. They both shared a common interest in Jessica Ryan. Laura was probably more nuts, than Kate. She had all the memorabilia, including the comic books, and knew just about every small detail that was available about Ms. Ryan's life. Even calling her Ms. Ryan was Laura's idea. Made it sound more formal, or polite. Need to be respectful she always says. Because who knows, someday you might get to meet her, and then you've already practiced being polite, so that you don't sound stupid. Wait until she hears about this job offer! It was also Laura's theory, that Jessica Ryan's marriage was actually a convenient cover up for her true inclinations. Laura just knew that if she ever met Kate, Ms. Ryan would come out of the closet, and the rest would be history.
Kate had been out of the closet since her father's death, but she stayed perpetually single. Frankly she didn't leave much time in her schedule for romance. Between work, school, and her training classes, she barely left room for her addiction to the internet. Nothing, could stop her though from searching out the posts of her latest favorite fanfic writer, and printing them out for later perusal. She even got her client Lola interested in the show, even if Lola thought she was much better than this Jessica person.
Kate was kind enough not to disagree to Lola's face. But, her blush deepened when she thought about the tall, dark haired, special agent, with the piercing blue eyes and the perpetual brown tan. She was beautiful to say the least, and strong. Kate knew from her own involvement in the fan clubs etc., that Jessica Ryan was involved in a number of martial arts programs, and had extensive training in hand to hand, as well as weapons combat. Rumor had it that she had even participated in some Special Forces training exercises, and Navy Seals classes, to make her stunts seem more realistic.
Kate herself had been so taken by the action, and the overall physical nature of the actress, that she had persuaded herself to join a gym, and to take some martial arts and weapons courses. Steve also suggested a body guard course, that involved techniques for attacks, and warding off the various papparazi that plagued most entertainers. To round out her training, Kate passed a driving program to elude terrorists, in anything from a Volkswagen to a limousine. The final course she took was certification, and training to carry a gun. She did not believe in direct physical confrontation, and did not feel she could fire a weapon at another human being, but she felt it was important to protect her clients in the event that they should be attacked. Many entertainers were stalked by obsessive fans, and some had even been killed.
After her training, Kate became very popular with the occasional visiting actors and dignitaries to Los Angeles. Most came for awards shows, or meetings with studios, and requested her by name. The jobs were relatively easy, although there had been one or two questionable clients.
Kate was certain that she had driven, or escorted members of various criminal families, including chaperoning a well known Mafia Don's daughter to her high school prom. She was an excellent escort though, and never questioned her clients about anything too personal. Including their business affiliations. Most of the time, they never even spoke to her, or her to them. Which was a monumental task for her to perform, since most of the time, she couldn't stop talking. For those times, she kept her journal, and vented all of her adventures out in writing. It was her hope to write a book someday, maybe even get published.
Dear Diary, I am really nervous about this new assignment the agency is sending me on. I will be the personal assistant for Jessica Ryan. She is a really big actress in an action series here in the states. (Of course you know that Diary, since a lot of what I tell you is about her already). Actually, she lives here in LA only part time, the rest of the time she lives in a house in Northern California. Somewhere near the beach they said. I would be expected to be at her beck and call at least when she is here in LA, but not at her other home, unless she felt it was necessary. They said she has had a lot of trouble in her personal life, and she tends to be very private, and withdrawn. I would be primarily responsible for her correspondence, and sort of a liason with her representative publicity group here in Southern California.
Stay to yourself, and stay out of her personal business. That's what Diane kept saying to me. "Don't overstep your bounds Kate, she has burned through 7 or 8 assistants already, and she can be pretty mean when she's disturbed. And honey, watch out for that agent of hers, he's a real S.O.B." Diane even said they wouldn't have taken me from my other assignment, but they consider me the best, and more than likely the last resort, before she fires the agency all together.
I'm going to miss Lola though. I was just starting to make some progress with her drinking, and I know she could have done well on her audition this week. Maybe I'll call her, and give her some moral support. Of course, she was really only trying to get me into bed with her, but I can't handle the dramatics. And she really needs to get her life together. Oh well, like they say, actors will be actors.
It was late Sunday night, and Kate couldn't sleep. She was scheduled for a 7:00 a.m. meeting with Ms. Ryan's agent at the studio, to go over her responsibilities, and to discuss what the rules were. They were specific about that, . . . rules. Steve brought her a cup of herb tea, and the two sat on the sofa staring at the T.V. but not really seeing anything.
"I guess I should try to sleep. I hope she likes me, or at least pretends to. I don't know what to think about this. Everything I've heard about her makes me think that she won't like me." Kate sighed.
"Why not? You are the best at what we do. You're smart, cute, and can handle a gun or a spoon, depending on what the circumstances are. What's not to like?" Steve chuckled.
"You don't understand. Diane was adamant about this assignment. Don't speak until spoken to, don't ask, don't tell. When have you ever seen me keep my mouth shut, or not meddle eventually? Look how close I got to Lola. I almost wish I was staying with her. At least it was predictable." She whined.
"Girlfriend, you are starting to sound whiny. You know you can handle this. And this is sooo much more suited to your talents. I mean, it's not like you have to carry a gun to go to the liquor store . . .okay, I guess you're right, this is LA after all. But you know what I mean." Steve threw his hands up in mock despair, and stood to go into their shared office.
Stopping dead in the doorway, he looked slowly around him. Every square inch was covered in pictures of Jessica Ryan. Action photos of her in her role as "Kendra Knight", and then publicity shots of her at awards shows, etc. There was even a life size cardboard standup of her in the corner, wearing Kate's favorite ball cap. Turning slowly he couldn't hide the humor, or the realization that crossed his features.
"Geez, a little obsessed are we? So, that's the major malfunction . . . you are so hooked on her, you're afraid you won't be able to do your job? Hey, you're the best. And there's nothing wrong with a little crush. Who knows, it may even make you do your job better." He flashed a brilliant smile, "Maybe you can break through that "Ice Princess" exterior. Heh, and even get some sugar for yourself."
Unfortunately for him he failed to see the brilliant red pillow that came flying from the far side of the room. After being smacked squarely in the face, he launched into an all out tickle fight with his very best friend. When the giggles died down, they sat quietly together, and resumed their blind staring at the television screen.
Moments later, Steve stood to pop some popcorn, when Kate grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. Whispering, she asked a question, but she was so quiet, he couldn't hear her. "What? Honey you're too quiet, say again!"
"I was wondering if you thought she might think I was cute?" she said a little more loudly.
Blinking at her like a small owl, he swallowed once, then again, and then stared at her for a moment. "For real?" he asked quietly. She could only blush, then nod. "You betcha honey. If she doesn't, then there is no hope for her."
Kate, probably out of nervousness, arrived at the offices of her prospective employers' agent much earlier than she had planned. Stopping in the first floor ladies room, she checked herself in the mirror, and decided that she wasn't entirely pleased with the way she looked. Digging through her bag, she grabbed her brush, and a hair clip, and quickly began to comb her long reddish blonde hair back, and clip it into a ponytail at her neck. She ran her fingers through her bangs, and then thought to touch up her lipstick as well. Reaching for her purse again without looking, she accidentally knocked it onto the floor.
"Shit! I can't believe I did that, now I'll probably be late. I hate wearing make up anyway, . . . this stinks!" Kate blurted in exasperation.
Squatting down to recover the contents of her purse, she quickly scraped everything she could find, and then set the errant bag back onto the edge of the sink. Looking again for the missing lipstick, she started to panic as she dug into the interior of the unforgiving accessory.
"Looking for this?" a soft low voice said behind her.
Jumping out of her skin, she shot a look into the mirror, and was met with an amused pair of sparkling, crystal blue eyes. After further perusal, she discovered
she was very likely staring at her future boss. Turning too fast, she almost ended up in the arms of Jessica Ryan.
"Steady there, don't fall." Jessie chuckled.
"Oh my Gods! Ms. Ryan, I'm so sorry!" Kate blurted. "I'm not normally such a clod. I can't believe this, I . . ."
"Shhh, it's okay, I drop things all of the time. No problem. Here let me help you," she replied, as she finished piling things back into Kate's purse.
Smiling her thanks, Kate was too overcome to even answer the actress. Jessica turned to leave, and then turned back, placing her hand on Kate's shoulder. "For what it's worth, I agree with you, make up just doesn't do your beautiful face justice." Then with a wink at the building blush on her future employee's face, she turned and left through the door into the hallway.
Slumping against the wall, Kate felt like crawling under a rock and dying. Well, so much for first impressions. I'll be lucky if I get my job with Lola back at this rate. And she said I was beautiful. Oh my, how will I face them now? I should go home, I really should. "Buck up there McKenna," she heard her mother say, "be strong. Ye' haven't died yet. Have ye?"
Brushing herself off, and smoothing her hair, she passed on the lipstick, and then hurried to make her appointment. Whether she even had a chance now or not,
didn't matter. What mattered, was to pull together what was left of her damaged pride, and sell her skills. She was a trained professional, and not a child. The important thing, was not how she looked, but what she could do. If Ms. Ryan needed protection, or a letter written, then Kate was her gal. Damn, I have to stop blushing, when I think things like that!
Moments later Kate was being seated at the table of a small conference room. She was joined by Jackson Briggs, the star's agent; Jessica Ryan, and an assortment of assistants, gophers, etc. One assistant in particular, a blonde of medium height, and rather large . . . assets fluttered around Ms. Ryan, like a moth to a flame. Kate thought to herself, that if Jessica Ryan wanted this woman to scratch her ass, she would. It was only too obvious that she wasn't the least bit impressed by Kate's presence. Kate got the feeling that the girl probably thought that they didn't need to hire anyone else, that she was all that Ms. Ryan needed. And . . . she couldn't place him, but Jackson Briggs set off alarms in her head. She knew she had seen him somewhere before, and she didn't think it was pleasant.
After everyone was settled, Mr. Briggs opened a folder that Kate correctly perceived was her personnel file from the agency. He took the time to scan the pages, but it was obvious that he had already read the contents, and was well versed in what they said. After all, Jessica Ryan was his most important client, and he wasn't about to trust just anyone with her safety. A few moments more, and he cleared his throat, and then addressed Kate directly.
"According to your file Ms. McKenna, you are trained in some of the highest levels of Martial Arts, Weaponry, and terrorist evasion tactics. Why do you think you need this kind of training to be a Personal Assistant to a performer?" he inquired.
Organizing her thoughts, she carefully formed her response. "I have always been interested in the entertainment industry. It is no secret that there are a large number of fans, that identify with performers. Some of them to the point of obsession. A number of these people might be considered dangerous. Most of it is just a ploy to get attention. But there are a few, who can become a real problem. I'm sure you are all familiar with the John Lennon murder, and several other stalker situations."
Most of the room nodded their agreement. Ms. Ryan betrayed no interest in her look, but her eyes seemed to shift slightly, maybe a slight rise in her eyebrow. Mr. Briggs continued skimming her file. He paid particular attention to her last job reference, and the letter from Lola that they included. He chuckled slightly, and then readdressed the waiting group.
"So, with all of your training and skills, Ms. McKenna, why did you spend a whole year or more working for Lola Perez. I mean, you would think that being her assistant might have been an extreme waste of your abilities." He smiled condescendingly. "Oh, and Ms. McKenna? You aren't by any chance an obsessive fan are you?"
Controlling the anger that had started to build in the pit of her stomach, she scanned the room for a moment, recognition starting to seep in from her memories. "Mr. Briggs, I am a Personal Assistant. I write letters, shop, pick-up and deliver dry cleaning, and perform the routine duties of a secretary. I run lines, assist with blocking, and even walk the occasional dog. I am also a trained killer, although I do not believe in willingly ending another human's life. You've read my file, and you know that I had an unfortunate incident just prior to my assignment with Lola. It was felt that I needed a break, to recover from that "incident". Lola was the perfect spot for me, but I'm ready to move on now."
"Ms. McKenna, or may I call you Kate? By the look on your face I see that's a no." He smirked, but did not receive a return smile. "Would you please elaborate about this "incident"? I'm sure the rest of the group would like to hear the story."
Jessica Ryan was shocked at the outright attack on this poor girl. Interrupting Kate before she spoke, she fixed Jackson with a glare that would burn holes in titanium, and in a voice dripping just short of menace, answered for the younger woman. "Jackson, I don't think it's appropriate for you to ask, and I really don't think it is anyone else in this room's business what happened before Ms. McKenna was recommended for this job." Addressing Kate, she smiled apologetically. "You don't have to answer that kind of question, it doesn't apply to this interview."
Refusing to be daunted, and now with her Irish turned up full blast, she returned the smile, and then turned and stared directly into Jackson Briggs' soul. He visibly flinched at the power and determination behind those emerald green lasers. "Thank you Ms. Ryan, but I can answer the question. If I remember correctly, Mr. Briggs played tennis with my former employer, prior to Lola. So, I suspect that his need to force me into this line of questioning, is to continue his misguided support for his associate."
She paused a moment to collect her thoughts again. "For the benefit of the rest of you, I was employed by an extremely well known, and important producer/ director for one of the largest studios here in LA. I was responsible for providing secretarial support for his wife, and overseeing his staff. One afternoon when his wife was out, I had stayed behind to finish some invitations for a party she was having for his birthday. He came into the office, quite drunk, and started pawing me, and asking me to have sex with him. I told him no, but he continued to maul me. When I tried to push him away, he grabbed a table lamp, and smashed it into my temple. I fell unconscious to the floor, and he ripped my clothes off, and proceeded to brutally rape me."
Now crying quietly, she searched in her purse for a tissue, and then sighing deeply, continued her story. "His wife came home and found me, and accused him of the attack. He denied everything, and eventually his driver was arrested, and jailed in his place. The court found the driver innocent, and the producer was arrested, but his lawyers managed to twist the story to make it look like I had purposely enticed him into attacking me, as though I enjoyed it. He paid a small fine, did a few hours of service, and they never looked back at him. I, however, continue to be subjected to the "Good Ol' Boys" club of bullshit of which that man is the president, and you Mr. Briggs seem to be the executive VP."
With that, she rose and fixing him with another deadly stare, regarded the rest of the room. "Now, if you all will please excuse me, I have had enough humiliation for a lifetime today. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and I'm glad I could provide you with some sick entertainment to fill your sorry little lives."
She turned, and quietly, but quickly left the room, and stumbled towards the elevator. Standing in front of the doors, she frantically pushed the buttons, trying to will the machine to appear. Back in the conference room, Jackson Briggs was about to see God. He cowered in his chair, trying to go unnoticed by his most powerful and extremely angry employer. Actually former employer as he was soon to find out.
"Jackson! You are the most reprehensible piece of shit I have ever laid my eyes on. I don't know what possessed you to treat that woman like that. We are all familiar with your friend and his shenanigans, and I personally am aware of your lousy history as well. You suck, Jackson. I don't want crap like you representing me, or any of my interests anymore. And I surely don't want this sea of human garbage following me around either." Jessica was shouting by now.
The blond clung to her arm, and started begging. "Jessica, honey, what about little me? You know you need me, baby. Brenda takes good care of her Jessie. I mean, who plans your parties, and hires the caterer, and makes sure your cars have gas, and are clean?"
"Stop whining!" Jessica growled. "All you do is spend my money, and try to get into my bed. You're nothing but a groupie whore, Brenda. Go find yourself a real sugar daddy. I bet Jackson could accommodate you in that department. Oh, my mistake, Jackson couldn't get it up if he had a crane."
She turned abruptly, and mentally kicking herself for allowing the poor girl to go into the story as far as she did, made a dash for the elevator, in the hopes of catching her before she left the building. Just as she approached the elevator doors, she saw them closing. Quickly she dove for the buttons, slapping them as she thrust her arm through the separation. She forced the doors open, and stopped short when she noticed the shadowed outline of Kate McKenna, turned to the wall, her shoulders shaking with the tears wracking her body.
"Don't . . .," Kate sobbed, "Don't come near me. First I embarrass myself in the restroom, and then I'm publically humiliated by that self-important bastard. I hope you enjoyed the show Ms. Ryan, because it's the best you'll ever see from me. The agency was right, you and your organization are just a little less than human!"
Stung by her words, Jessie was momentarily speechless. "I fired him if that's any consolation, and the rest of those scum suckers. I just wanted to apologize, and tell you how sorry I am. I always knew he was a stinking pig, but I guess I was too busy to see just how nasty he really was. I understand how you feel. And again, I'm sorry."
Kate dabbed at her tears, and blew her nose. "You couldn't possibly understand how I feel. I have never in my life intentionally harmed another human being, but right now . . . right now I could put a gun in his ear, and pull the trigger, and not feel any remorse. Well, I would feel remorse, but not really."
"Actually, I do know what it feels like. I grew up in a pretty harsh environment. Acting was an effective escape from the torrent of abuse I suffered at my father's hands. As did my mother. And I know what it's like to wish someone dead. But it's not the way out. The repercussions are too far reaching to make it worthwhile." Jessie replied quietly.
The elevator reached the first floor, and Kate pushed past Jessica, in an attempt to make a hasty retreat. She felt extremely bad about what Ms. Ryan had just told her, and didn't know what to say. Her own pain overshadowed any sorrow she might feel. She decided that the sooner she put this place behind her, the better. Jessie just stood quietly aside, wondering first of all what possessed her to tell this complete stranger her dysfunctional childhood story. With her luck, it will show up on the front page of the tabloids by noon tomorrow. Secondly, she caught herself making a mental note, to have her new agent, whoever that might be, call the agency, and ask to re-interview Ms. McKenna. Because for whatever reason, Jessie decided that Kate was to be her personal assistant, no matter what anyone thought, including Kate herself.
Kate went straight home, dropped her clothes, and headed for the small gym they had set up in their garage. She put on her boxing gloves, and spent the next two hours slamming the heavy bag suspended from the beams by a chain. In her mind's eye, she kept seeing the sneering face of Jackson Briggs, which only pushed her harder in her workout. The phone rang several times, and she guessed correctly that it was probably Diane from the agency, trying to find out whether or not she had gotten the job. She decided to deal with that later, when her nerves finally calmed down.
In her heart, she knew she couldn't blame Jessica Ryan for what happened. It was a shame that such a beautiful and talented woman had to involve herself with such a low form of insect. Kate also knew that if she didn't work out this anger problem, she just might take a gun to someone. It was almost worth giving up her gun and her license, but she had more faith in herself than that.
After another twenty minutes on the heavy bag, she went through her cooling down routine, and then locking up the garage, headed for a hot shower. Carefully avoiding the answering machine, she went into the bathroom, and ran the water as hot as she could possibly stand it. She felt so filthy after that meeting, that she couldn't scrub enough to get it off her skin. The phone rang several more times, but she blocked out the noise, and concentrated on removing the layer of slime from her body.
When she was dressed in comfortable sweats, and her slippers, Kate settled down with a cup of herb tea to listen to her messages. BEEP "Kate . . . Kate? Honey this is Diane. Where are you darlin'? I want to know how the meeting went. Call me." BEEP "Hey there girlfriend. This is Steve. Did you get the job? Should I be prepared for some celebrating tonight? Call my cell phone and let me know." BEEP "This is mom, Katie. I just wanted to let you know that I have a surprise for you. Call me when you get in. Bye." BEEP "Kate, honey, I just heard from Jessica Ryan's people. They were concerned that you were all right. Baby what happened over there? Call me right away, before I get in my car and come over there!"
Oh Shit! I really don't need her to be here right now. I should call her, before she catches me. Finish the messages first, then call her. Okay <sigh>.
BEEP "Kate, this is Diane again. I don't know what's going on, but an agent from a completely different company called representing Jessica Ryan. They said they were still interested in hiring you, and she would like to make an appointment to see you tomorrow. Honey, call me ASAP!" BEEP "Okay, this is about all I can take. Kathleen! I just spoke to Jessica Ryan herself. She is insistent upon hiring you as her assistant. She is hoping that we can let bygones be bygones. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!!! I'm getting in the car right now. You just better be there when I get there."
OH SHIT, I wonder if I can get out of here before she arrives. BEEP "Ms. McKenna, this is Jessica Ryan. I wanted to apologize again for what happened. I have changed agencies, and would really appreciate it if you would consider working for me. And don't worry, this isn't charity. I just feel that you are by far the most qualified person for the job. Please call Margaret James at James and O'Brien. She will schedule an appointment to meet, hopefully tomorrow. Again, I apologize for what happened this morning, and I hope you can forgive me."
Holding her head in both hands, Kate screamed until her throat hurt. Too late, she hoped her neighbors didn't hear her. Damn, how did she know I wouldn't accept the job if it was for charitable reasons. What am I going to do now? Well, first things first . . . .escape! She jumped out of her chair, and running around in circles, tried to find the keys to her car. She found the keys, and then running for the side door, grabbed her purse where she had left it, and then made a dash for the driveway. Too late, she realized her exit had been blocked. First in line was Diane's white convertible, and behind that was a truck from a florist.
She turned quickly, and was going to sprint to the back when Diane's unmistakable voice snared her from behind. She stopped short, and sent her purse flying, the entire contents scattering everywhere. Diane caught up with her, about the same time the delivery guy did.
"Honey, don't you think you can run away from me! I want to know what's going on, and right now." Diane huffed up on her 3 inch stilettos. Right behind her, the delivery guy was thrusting a huge bouquet of red roses into her arms, and then holding out his clipboard, whistling impatiently while he waited for her signature. "Uh, um, thanks. Diane hang on, let me take care of this." She signed the board, and then handing Diane the flowers, turned to bend down and pick up the contents of her purse.
As she took her first step to recover her belongings, she realized that her catsCorky and Violet had just run out the door behind her. She tripped over Corky, and then to prevent herself from stepping on Veronica, she threw her body to the side. Misjudging the distance, she smacked her head on the bumper of her car, and then slowly slipped to the concrete. Just before her eyes closed, she thought she saw a limousine pull in front of the house. Something about hallucinations was her last conscious thought.
Unable to judge how long she had been out, she slowly became aware of first her surroundings, and second, the loud voices shouting all around her. She remembered the cats had gotten out, and decided that was her first priority. Kate carefully placed her hands on the ground, and tried to push herself up. Overcome by a wave of pain and nausea, she laid back down, and squeezed her eyes shut. Carefully reaching to the back of her head, she was shocked to see blood on her hand. She closed her eyes again, and then suddenly she was being lifted into a pair of strong arms. In too much pain to open her eyes, she groaned slightly with the movement. Her subconscious mind taking note of the fresh spring smell of cologne that seemed to come from her rescuer. She knew it was somehow familiar, but she couldn't remember from where.
Sometime later, Kate awoke from a powerful dream. Something about a woman warrior, and kicking the daylights out of some man in a palace somewhere. She saw herself using a fighting staff to fend off the man's soldiers. She vaguely heard Diane's voice coming from her kitchen, and tried to remember what had happened.
"Diane?" She called weakly. "Diane. Where are you? What happened? And where are the girls?" She tried to sit up, but was stopped by Diane's fluttering arrival to her bedroom.
"Oh no, no honey. Don't get up. We've got everything under control, baby. Both the girls are here on the sofa, and the doctor is on her way. You sure took a nasty fall there. But it's okay." Changing to a conspiratorial whisper, she came further into the room. "Honey, I don't know what you did, but not only did she come to the house, just in time to carry you in, but she called her own personal doctor as well. Seems to me you must have gotten the job."
In a haze of confusion, it took a moment before Diane's words seeped past the oatmeal in her head. Oh God! Please tell me she didn't just say that Jessica Ryan not only carried me in, but used the phone to call a doctor . . . please say it isn't so!
"Let me guess, Diane, you let her into my office." she asked with a groan.
Diane looked at her puzzled for a moment, and then asked, "Why, do you have pictures of naked women in there or what? That's the only place I know, where you guys have any phones. Right?"
Kate groaned again, and then pulled the covers over her head, without answering. Moments later, Jessica came in holding Corky the bigger of the two cats, who was slung over her broad shoulder like a shameless hussy. Jessie set the cat down, and making her way over to the side of the bed, chuckled softly.
"Nice cats you have there Ms. McKenna. Um, the doctor will be here as soon as she can. She has to get through some of the traffic on the 210, and then work her way this way. I told her it wasn't fatal. I would like to look at it again, and see if the bleeding has stopped." she smiled, careful not to mention the shrine to her acting career she had just visited.
Slowly, a pair of emerald green eyes met her crystal blue ones from under the covers. Kate's face was crimson, and she expected to hear Jessie burst into laughter, or accuse her of being a psycho or something. After a few moments, and no comment, or any indication that she had even seen Kate's office, she began to wonder if she hadn't escaped detection after all. Maybe she used her cell phone. Yeah, right, and maybe I'm the Queen of England. Still, maybe my Irish luck is with me today. Of course, how do I know she's even carrying a cell phone. Because, stupid, all actresses have cell phones right?
Kate pulled the covers lower, and then turned carefully, wincing with the stab of pain that shot up the back of her head. Dizzy and almost naseaus, she held her hand out to steady herself for a moment, and then when it passed, she lay down with the wound facing her would be rescuer.
Concerned at the reaction, Jessica carefully checked the bandages, and was relieved to see that the bleeding had slowed down considerably. Then stepping to the other side of the bed, she reached over, and very gently turned Kate's head up towards her so she could see her eyes. Kate blinked at her a few times, not sure what to think, and embarrassed at the reaction she was feeling at Jessie' touch. She could feel her body start to heat up, and her nipples harden ever so slightly. Damn it! At least I'm under the covers where no one can see. Sheesh, I might have a concussion or something, and here I am getting horny.
Jessie stepped back, and then placed a finger over her lips in thought. "You know, it's just possible you might have a concussion. Your eyes are reacting normally for the most part, but it would be better for you to stay awake for a while. At least until the doctor arrives. Both my brother and my mother had concussions, so I learned the signs pretty quickly." she said as an explanation for her knowledge.
Jesus Jessie, what is with you today? You find yourself drawn to this kid the first time you meet her, and then the next thing you know not only are you chasing her like a school girl with a crush, but you are rescuing her from her own driveway. And why is it that this one is any different from the other PA's you've worked with? What is so attractive about Kate McKenna? And why should it matter? A little voice in the back of her head answered for her. Because she is smart, cute, and just about the nicest person you have run across in a long time. Not like all the others. Not just after your money or status. Not like Gregory or Jackson or those other pigs. It's almost like magic. Or something. But, that's not the way it's supposed to be. I can't be attracted to her, I'm married, and I'm a star. It's not allowed. Maybe it's because I feel like I can trust her. Although, that shrine needs to be looked into, but not today. For some reason, I dont see her as an obsessive fan, or a threat. Maybe hiring a fan thats familiar with the show, is not such a bad idea after all. Wait until Gregory finds out, hell positively lay eggs.
Diane bustled back into the room, with a tray full of steaming hot mugs of tea. She casually observed, that both women were trying to carefully not look in each others direction. Kate was busying herself straightening the covers, and worrying if all of her underwear was in the laundry, and Jessie was busying herself looking out the window into the yard.
"So, how is the patient?" Diane asked to start things off again.
"Just fine, except for the headache, and dizziness." Kate answered.
"She might have a concussion, so I think it best that she stay awake until Dr. McIntyre shows up. I was going to wait, if thats all right. I need to speak to the doctor myself." She returned her gaze back to the window.
"Uh, sure, no problem. I only wish I wasnt sitting here like this." Kate replied. "I feel like a complete and total idiot. I want to thank you for helping me. I feel kinda lame, if you know what I mean."
Jessica turned to nod, and when their eyes met she almost stumbled. So powerful was the attraction, that she wasnt even sure what had just hit her. She was speechless, and was sure that if she had to speak, she would say something stupid herself. She was formulating her thoughts, when her cell phone rang.
"Jessica Ryan." She spoke into the instrument.
Diane left to find something to occupy herself, and Kate tried to find something else to concentrate on, so it wouldnt seem as though she were listening in. Even though she was sort of, in a way.
"Gregory, Im a big girl, and I can take care of myself." She sounded tense. "I dont give a damn. Jackson was out of line, and I dont want that pig representing me." Her face clouded over. "Gregory. GREGORY! Stop shouting at me. If I want to hire another PA, Ill just damn well do it." She sighed in exasperation. "God damn it!" she hissed, "I know I have an appointment in an hour, Ill be there when I get there!" She slapped the cell phone closed, and jammed it in her pocket.
Kate waited a moment before speaking. "I guess youll be going now." She said, mixed emotions coloring her fair face.
"Um, not just yet. Gregory can keep those idiots entertained until I show up. After all, Im a star, and stars are supposed to be late. Arent they? She grinned broadly, but not quite enough to cover the strain in her eyes.
"I guess Gregory is your husband? Isnt he the Producer of the show or something like that? Oh, Im sorry, Im being a little nosy. You dont need to answer that if you dont want to." Kate blushed with embarrassment.
Jessie smiled back at her new friends first boldness, and then embarrassment. "No need to worry. Im private to an extent, but not that private. Tell you what, if you feel up to it, lets cut the garbage, and have that interview now. From what I read in your file, and what Diane says, oh, and of course from now I think I have all the information I need. What about it? Why dont you ask me questions about the job, and Ill answer them. That is of course if you still want the job, or not."
Kate breathed deeply, looking at her hands, for lack of anything better to do. "I do want the job. I think I could be really good as your PA. I just, well after today, Im not sure if you are making the right decision asking me to work for you. I mean, I . . . well, I dont know what I mean, but anyway."
Jessie nodded her understanding. "Well, how about if I start. Gregory is my husband, at least in name. He belongs to the "Good Ole Boys Jerk of the Month Club". He and Jackson, and I am sure the rest of the local idiots are "friends", if there is such a thing here in Hollyweird. I am growing increasingly tired of all the BS that goes on around me, but I guess its part of the job." She had started to pace, in a distracted, sort of agitated way.
Kate took the opportunity to formulate her own questions. "I was told before all the trouble occurred, that there are strict rules of conduct, that I need to be aware of." Jessie looked at her in surprise.
"Rules? Of conduct? Sounds like Jackson and his crap. I only expect the usual loyalty and discreetness that would be required of any PA position. I have a lot of reporters, fans, and tabloids trying to find out all kinds of things about me. A lot of what gets published is pure garbage. One of the requirements, never ever grant an interview with any member of the media, without clearing it with me. Most of the regulars I know pretty well, and I can usually keep control of the interview. Any time you have any doubt as to whats acceptable, just ask. Dont make too many executive decisions without checking with me first. Gregory likes to throw his weight around, and I dont appreciate it. Oh, and never ever give an interview of your own. The media loves to pump PAs for information. They automatically twist anything that comes out of your mouth. It cant be too sensational for them." She stopped pacing, and looked directly at Kate, to see if she was comprehending the information.
Kate knew only too well what Jessica was referring to. A PA she knew from the Personal Assistants club she belonged to for a while, lost her job, and will probably never work at that business again. A tabloid offered her a huge sum of money to give up information about her employer. The girl greedily told them everything they wanted to know, and then made up some to fill out the story. The actor and his family were publicly shamed, and when the tabloid found out that she had lied about a lot of the things she told them, they refused to pay. It totally ruined her in Hollywood.
"You know I would never do that. I am probably careful to a fault about the privacy of others. I already feel as though I know more about you than I should, and most of that information I got from the internet via a friend of mine." Too late, Kate revealed at least a passing interest in both the show, and Jessica Ryan. She blushed so deeply this time, that she almost fainted from the rush of dizziness that hit her.
Jessica Ryan smiled inwardly, and congratulated herself on guessing that there was more to this girl than she was willing to show the actress. She was concerned about the almost immediate change from bright crimson, to pale white that had crossed the beautiful red-blondes face. She strode quickly to the side of the bed, and reached for Kate as she fell back on the pillows. She was dismayed to see a small crimson circle begin to form on the pillowcase, indicating that the wound on her head was bleeding again.
"Diane, can you call my driver in here please." Jessica commanded.
"Sure thing honey, Im on it!" Diane called back, a little too close to the door for comfort.
Moments later the driver appeared in the doorway. "Whats up Jessie? What can I do?"
"Michael, call Dr. McIntyre again, and see how far away she is. This is turning serious." She murmured quietly.
"Sure, Jessie, Im on it." He shouted as he dashed out the door.
Kate turned a fearful eye on her would-be rescuer. "Whats wrong. I feel so dizzy, and uncomfortable. The pain is incredible."
Jessie leaned further down, to speak quietly to her. Not wanting to scare her any further, and make the bleeding worse. "I just asked my driver to call the doctor again, and see how far away she is. I think we may have already put too much strain on your injury, and its starting to take its toll."
Fumbling around with the various supplies that Diane was bringing in from the bathroom, she found some good sized gauze pads, and used them to replace the covering that was already on the wound. Making the decision before actually thinking about it, she sat down on the edge of the bed, and helping Kate slide over so her head was on Jessie thigh, putting the injury in closer so she could put pressure on the pads. Kate was in too much pain now to even realized the position she had ended up in. Jessie was so caught up in her caregiver role, that she didnt notice that she was casually stroking Kates hair back from her face.
The gesture didnt go unnoticed by either Diane, or Michael the driver. They both looked at each other for a moment, and then back to the two on the bed. Michael grinned a silly half grin, and Diane smiled a mischievous smile, intent on soaking in the whole turn of events, for a major gossip session with Steve, Kates roommate later. Stifling nervous giggles, Michael elbowed Diane, and gave her a mock warning not to say anything.
He cleared his throat to announce his presence. "Um, Dr. Mac is around the corner about six blocks away. She said keep pressure on the wound, and dont move her too much. I guess you knew that though."
"Thanks Mike. Listen, I know this is gonna be loads of fun," she started sarcastically, "but could you call Gregory, and tell him that something has come up, and he will have to meet with the Japanese delegation on his own. Tell him Ill be at the studio in time for tonights shoot. Oh, and Michael, do your best not to irritate him too much. You know how he likes to fight with you."
Michael smiled his winning smile again, and turned to Diane to give her a salute. At that moment, all time seemed to stop for Diane. She realized that she was looking into a slightly older, male version of Jessica Ryan. Oh my goodness! Hes her brother! Excited about this new development, she decided that she couldnt wait until Steve came home, she had to call him right now.
Jessie was staring idly at a picture on the wall, when a small voice drifted up to her. "You have very gentle hands Ms. Ryan." Kate sighed. Jessie blushed and quickly pulled her hand away. "Oh, dont stop on my account. It actually helps hold the pain back." Kate sighed again.
Carefully Jessie resumed her stroking of Kates hair. "You have soft hair Ms. McKenna. Kind of like bunny fur." Kate smiled, but didnt move,and didnt reply.
Moments later, Michael came bustling back into the room. "Whoooeeee! Is he ever pissed off. Called me all kinds of names, and threatened me, and you, and everyone here. What a putz! Best fun Ive had all day."
Catching a glimpse of Diane outside the door, casually listening with a cell phone glued to her head, she formulated her answer. "Thats good Michael. I hope he didnt say too many bad things about you. He really is getting tiresome." Careful not to elaborate, she cut herself short, not wanting to give Diane too much more to talk about on the phone.
"Oh, he just called me a flaming faggot. I told him, it takes one to know one." Michael laughed.
Jessie smiled at her brothers admission, and then made note of the surprise, and then excitement that crossed Dianes face. She disappeared down the hall, talking rapidly in the phone. For a moment, Jessica was concerned that the personnel agent might be talking to a tabloid source, but for some reason she doubted it. Kate sighed deeply again, and Jessie took a moment to tend to the wound. She placed the pad back on the still bleeding cut, and was wondering what else she could do, when Dr. Helen McIntyre walked in the door.
"Okay Jessie, what have you done to yourself this time?" she asked playfully.
"Not me this time, Helen, its my soon to be PA. At least I hope she will be." Jessie chuckled.
"Well, if you are going to start out by smacking them in the head, and dragging them to your office, I dare say you probably wont succeed. That went out with the cave man days." Dr. Helen grinned back.
Without having Jessie move, the doctor checked the wound, and determined that Kate probably needed stitches. With Jessie help, she lifted Kates hair out of the way, and injected some novocaine directly into the incision. Kate winced, and drew in a rapid lungfull of air. Without realizing it, she grabbed Jessicas hand, and was squeezing it tightly. Jessie squeezed back, feeling sorry for the younger woman. She really wished that this day had never happened.
Dr. Mac carefully shaved a small patch around the cut, and then cleaning everything with alcohol, she quickly and neatly put seven tiny stitches in to hold the wound closed. Tying it off, she added a square of gauze with a small amount of antibiotic goop on it. Then she had Kate turn so that she could look into her eyes with a small pocket light from her bag.
"Hmmm, reactions are good, so I dont think you have a concussion. Its a good idea to stay awake for a while anyway to be sure. Let me give you something for the pain. Is there anything youre allergic to?" Dr. Mac inquired.
Kate shook her head no. She was feeling miserable, and wished everyone would just go away and let her sleep. Except for the comfortably warm pillow her head was resting on. She blushed slightly, and mentally slapped herself for her thoughts. She just wanted to rest right now, wrapped around that long luscious leg.
"Well, do you think that injury might have affected her hearing, Jessie?" Helen laughed. Jessie just continued watching Kate resting, oblivious to the doctors
Helen smiled a small knowing little grin. She had been extremely worried about her friend and most famous patient. The stresses put on her from her jerk of a husband, and the job, really worried the doctor. She had often suspected that there was more to Jessica Ryans story than even she knew about. Being married to Gregory was probably the worst thing she could possibly be doing. Helen even suspected that there might be some physical abuse there. Jessica would never complain, and usually covered up the cause of some of her injuries with stories that it had happened on the set, or during training when the show wasnt in production. No, there was definitely something boiling beneath the surface, and if something in Jessie life didnt change soon, she might just explode.
Helen made a mental note to bring Jessie in to the office to see her, and then gathering her bag, placed her hand on the actresses shoulder. "Make sure she takes two of these in about an hour Jessie, and why dont you stay a little longer and keep an eye on her." Touche Dr. Mac!
Jessie jumped a little when her friend shook her from her thoughts. Blushing, she took the medication, and nodded her head. "Yeah Helen, Id hate to think anything else bad might happen to her just because I left too soon. Listen, thanks for coming all the way out here. I really appreciate it."
Helen grinned again. In her own heart of hearts, if Jessica Ryan said fly backwards for me, she knew she would do it. She had been in a relationship with the same lovely woman for nearly five years, and knew that she and Barb would be together forever. But they both agreed that dreams and fantasies were okay. Heck they even girl watched together sometimes. Their motto was "I may be married, but I am certainly not dead." Jessie was a regular focus of some of there lustier thoughts, especially since both were die-hard fans of her show. Of course, Jessie sort of knew about the fan obsession of her two best friends, but she just shined it on.
Dr. McIntyre stopped in the living room, to talk to Diane, who was still busy on her phone. Michael took the opportunity to walk Helen out to her car. He opened the door for her, and then winked.
"What do you think, Doc? Do you think shell be okay?" Michael winked again.
Helen winked back and then tilting her head sideways, smiled a wistful, yet slightly sad smile at Michael. "Which one Mike? I dont know about you, but the fates are definitely stirring up the big pot today dont you think?"
"Great, I thought it was just me. Jessie needs this Helen. If she doesnt find a way to get away from Gregory, shes going to end up sick, or worse. I hate that man!" Michael grimaced at the thought of "Gregory the snake".
"Michael, I dont know what caused her to marry him in the first place. You and I both know, that a "loving husband" just doesnt suit her. I dont know the whole story, but I suspect that Gregory is holding something over her. Do you know what it is?" Helens attitude had just turned serious.
Michael shifted nervously from foot to foot. "I cant really say anything, but he is more or less blackmailing her. It has to do with mom, and some other things like her preferences in a mate. It would ruin her if anyone found out, and the thing with mom would kill her. I hope she can figure out a way to get away from all of this crap. She is so unhappy, Doc, it really shows in her face these days."
"I know Mike, I know. I hope for her sake, this little PA decides to work for her. I just have this feeling that there is some seriously mysterious chemistry, or magic at work here, and I think they are both in need of each other. So, not to change the subject, but hows your love life?" Dr. Mac grinned devilishly at the handsome young man.
Mike blushed, and then a certain sadness crossed his features. "Im single again, Doc. Jeff decided that monogamous bliss was not his cup of tea. All he really wanted was to get introduced around the studio. He had great hopes of being discovered, and becoming the next big star. He just didnt realize that the "Prima Donna" act wouldnt get him very far. It was an ugly breakup, but Im past it. Actually, Diane is fixing me up with Kates roommate Steve. Of course, I dont know if he knows what hes getting into, but God knows Im willing to give it a go, if he is. I get so tired of the bar scene. Nothing much to offer, that isnt married, or scamming for sex. I gave up that nonsense a long time ago. I want to live!"
Helen smiled at her younger friends insight. He really turned out to be a smart kid after all. It will be great when he finishes his law degree, and gets a real job. She knew he liked working for his sister, because he could keep an eye on her, but he needed to get his own life. He might even have better luck at love, when these guys stopped chasing him because of his connection to the studio. His story about Jeff was not the first time that scenario had taken place. Mike was a major magnet for that kind of pond scum. Oh well, one project at a time. Right now it was Jessica Ryans soul that need rescuing.
Continued in Chapters 2-4
Return to The Bard's Corner