Page 52

She turns away from the mirror. "Victor, you don't know how many times in a day I come within inches of slapping you. You just don't know."

"Whoa, baby. I don't think I want to. Makes me nervous." I smile, shivering.

The runner comes by the booth. "Chloe, your limo's here and Taylor needs you in about five minutes."

Chloe just nods. When it becomes clear that I've got nothing else to say she fills the silence by murmuring, "I just want to finish this thing," and since I don't know what thing she's really talking about I start to babble. "Baby, why are you even doing this? I thought it was strictly features for Chloe Byrnes. You turned down that MTV thing."

"You didn't want me to do that MTV thing, Victor."

"Yeah, but only when I found out what your per diem was."

"No. You said no when you found out that you didn't have one."

"Might as well face it," I say. "You're addicted to love."

"Chloe," Taylor calls from the egg. "We're ready. And please hurry. Mr. Benoit might forget his line again."

"I'll see you later, Victor." She slides out of the booth.

"Okay," I say simply. "Bye, baby."

"Oh Victor, before I forget."


"Thanks for the flowers."

She kisses me lightly, moves on.

"Yeah. Sure. Forget about it."


4:00. From my third-floor vantage the club hasn't been this bustling since its inception and tables are being set by handpicked busboys who just skateboarded in, waiters brandishing glasses and tablecloths and candles also set chairs around the tables and the carpets are being vacuumed by guys with shag haircuts and a couple of waitresses who arrived early are being photographed by shadowy clumps of people while dancers rehearse amid technicians and security teams and guest-list people and three gorgeous coat-check girls chew gum and flaunt their midriffs and pierced belly buttons and bars are being stocked and giant flower displays are in the process of being strategically lit and Matthew Sweet's "We're the Same" is blaring and the metal detectors sit in place at the entrance waiting to be entered and I'm taking it all in blankly, considering fleetingly what it all means and also that being semi-famous is in itself difficult but since it's so cold in the club it's hard to stay still so I rush up two flights to the offices more relieved than I should be that everything's finally falling into place.

"Where was Beau? I called him four times today," I ask JD the second I enter.

"Acting class, then an audition for the new big vampire movie," JD says.

"What's it called?" I throw a clump of invites on my desk. "Fagula?"

"Now he's interviewing DJs in the VIP room in case we don't get DJ X tonight," JD says, a fey warning.

"You know, JD, that outfit would look really good on a girl."

"Here, Victor," JD says, grimly handing me a fax.

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING is scrawled on the fax addressed to me that JD basically stuffs into my hands, looking vaguely panicked.

"What is this?" I ask, staring at the words.

"Seven of them have arrived since you left for lunch."

"Seven of them?" I ask. "What the f**k does it mean?"

"I think they're coming from the Paramount Hotel," JD says, finding another one. "Someone has made sure that the logo was erased on top of the fax sheets but Beau and I caught half the number on the second one and it matched."

"The Paramount?" I ask. "What does this mean?"

"Victor, I don't want to know what it means," JD says, shivering. "Just make the bad man go away."

"Jesus, it could apply to anything," I mutter. "So ultimately it's like meaningless." I crumple it up. "Would you please eat this? Chew carefully."

"Victor, you need to make an appearance in front of the DJs upstairs," JD says carefully.

"Do you think I'm actually being stalked?" I ask. "Wait-how cool."

"And the Details reporter is hanging out with the DJs and-"

I start to move out of the office, JD trailing behind.

"-here are more late RSVPs." JD hands me another fax as we head toward the VIP room.

"Dan Cortese?" I'm asking. "A brave man. He bungee jumps, he sky surfs, he's a Burger King spokesperson, but he needs a nose job and I want Dan Cortese unplugged."

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