Perro Perdido had to cut their tour schedule short; as soon as she started showing, it was time to go home for what Jacklyn started referring to as 'my confinement'. She would have preferred to keep performing right up until the last few weeks, but Bill pulled the plug on that, saying 'No one wants to watch you sing if you can't bare your midriff.' As their tour ended, Bill got them one last gig to cap it off, playing for a music industry award ceremony. Perro Perdido wasn't up for any awards themselves, but they'd become popular enough to perform during the ceremony.
And of course, there's always an after party, which Bill insisted they attend. While Nico orders a drink, Jacklyn gets pulled aside by a very buzzed Lauren Bumgarner, who won an award for best country song. "Your father was such a huge influence on my career," Lauren slurs, "You are so lucky to be from a musical family. My family are all boring lawyers."
Jacklyn just nods. Her father was an alcoholic, prone to sudden rages and crying jags; she wouldn't call herself lucky. But she doesn't need to spread that information around this gossip mill.
"So, I gotta ask you," Lauren says, leaning close to her to whisper conspiratorially near her ear, "What was that like, finding out you were pregnant with your gigolo's baby? I mean, it happened to my mother once, not with Nico, with another one of her boy toys. But even though she's very publicly pro-life, there's was no way she was having it, let alone go out with him in public. So, I just have hard time imagining, what was going on in your head when you decided to transition Nico from part-time to full-time, if you get what I'm saying?"
"I'm sorry -- what?" Jacklyn says, not sure she understands what Lauren was saying in that rush of words.
"Well, you know, you're paying this guy for sex, and then you get knocked up. I can understand keeping the baby, I guess. What I don't get is getting seriously involved with a guy like that. I mean, it's not like you need him for the baby right? Not with the kind of money you have..."
Lauren's speech is all over the place, Jacklyn finally gets what the woman is telling her. And she's not going to discuss her personal life with Lauren Bumgarner.
"Nico, Lauren Bumgarner just told me her mother pays you for sex," Jacklyn says, pulling Nico aside. Lauren is pretty buzzed, Jacklyn thinks, maybe there's some explanation, something that will make come out better than it sounded.
Nico takes a deep breath, "Yeah, Jacklyn, she did. Before you and I got together, I used to...do that. To pay the rent. You know how it was."
"I know how it was, Nico, but I never stooped to selling my body," she says, keeping her voice low.
"It's different for girls," Nico says with a slight shrug.
Jacklyn refrains from kneeing him in the groin. "You should have told me," she says, "How am I supposed to trust you? How am I supposed to face the world knowing that I'm surrounded by women who've fucked the father of my child and paid him for it?"
Nico reaches a hand around her waist, "It's not as bad as all that. Most of my clients were Beverly Hills housewives; you'll never have to see them. Even Lauren Bumgarner's mother is beneath you. And I didn't do it for pleasure, I did it because I was desperate for cash. I'm not going to run out on you, I promise. I love you, Jacklyn, and that's all I need."
The tour may have been cut short, and Jacklyn is getting some time off to take care of her 'condition', but this is no vacation for Nico. Bill has him on a tight schedule, doing interviews, TV appearances and photo shoots on a daily basis. Today they met at the studio of celebrity photographer Herb Glitts.
"I don't get why you're doing this with just me," Nico protests, "We're a band. I'm just the guitarist."
"Yes, and you're very talented," Bill says, waving his hand dismissively, "But more importantly, you're every teenage girl's wet dream, and with Jacklyn out of the picture while she turns into a human balloon, you are the face of this band. I'm not letting you go into hibernation, I need to keep you guys out there."
"But, Randell," Nico says, bringing up the oft forgotten drummer.
"Randell is no one's wet dream," Bill says, "Now get over there and pose."
So Nico gets out there and does his job.
"That's just beautiful, honey," Herb says between shots, "The camera just loves you. Now take off your shirt."
Nico has had to get used to a lot of cultural differences since leaving his native Firenze for L.A., but having men call him 'honey' is something he just can't get accustomed to.
"How was the shot?" Jacklyn asks when he comes in, "I bet Herb was all over you."
"Yeah, just a little too much," Nico says, "What are you making?"
"Just a salad," she says, "I'm trying not to put on too much baby weight. I feel like such a cow as it is,"
"You are not a cow," Nico says, pulling her around to kiss her neck, "You're fucking gorgeous."
"Not now, Nico," she says, pushing him off her, "I'm just not in the mood."
She hasn't been in the mood for weeks, but Nico can be patient, and he releases his grip on her ass, "All right," he says, "Let's eat. And don't worry about your baby weight. You aren't eating enough."
"Bill is dragging me to some industry party tonight," Nico says over lunch, "At Lady LaLa's house. You should come along; you never go out anymore."
"I don't think I'll be up to it," Jacklyn says, "Being pregnant makes me so tired all the time. And besides, I'm not sure I want to bring our kid to LaLa's place, not even in utero."
So Nico goes to the party alone with Bill. "There are a lot of big names here tonight," Bill says, "LaDonna Queen and P. Diddy are here. And LaLa of course. I'd like to see the paps get a few shots of you dancing with her..."
"No way," Nico says flatly, "I don't want to have to explain that to Jacklyn."
"Honestly, you two need to learn to separate your business and private lives," Bill says, "You're just shooting yourselves in the foot with this whole happy couple routine. Knocking her up was the stupidest thing you could do at this point in your band's trajectory."
"There are so many famous people here," Tori says, her voice breathy with awe, "We're going to get caught."
"You said you wanted to go to a real Hollywood party. I've done this a million times," Gavin reassures her, "Just act like you belong here, and no one will question us. Just don't fawn on them or ask for autographs. Tonight, you're a star."
Award-winning actress Marilyn Hennesy joins Bill and Nico's conversation. "Bill, darling, you must introduce me to your gorgeous friend," she purrs, "Is he one of your musicians?"
While she talks to Bill, Marilyn looks Nico over like he's a new car she means to purchase. Nico tells her about the band, and about Jacklyn and their relationship, hoping to ward off her advances. Bill's attention turns to his wife, being chatted up by Carey Burden. The director has a notorious reputation in Hollywood for his affairs, and Bill decides to get between him and his wife, and wanders off, leaving Nico alone with Marilyn.
"I'm not a singer," Nico protested when Marilyn suggested they perform a duet on LaLa's karaoke machine.
"Neither am I," she insisted, and took his hand, leading him along.
She may not sing professionally, but she's obvious well-trained for it, Nico thinks. She hits every note perfectly. But she doesn't have the raw emotion that makes Jacklyn such a great vocalist; Marilyn's performance is all about exhibition, not about the music.
"Gavin, that's that famous director, Carey Burden," Tori says excitedly, "Oh, you don't think he's coming here to kick us out, do you?"
"Remember, act like you have every right to be here. Don't fangirl him," Gavin reminds her under his breath as Burden approaches.
"You," Carey says, "You are perfect. You are my Dream."
Gavin is used to men hitting on him, so he blows it off easily enough. "I'm not. I'm here with someone."
Carey keeps talking as though Gavin never spoke at all, "I'm casting for my next movie, based on Gaiman's Sandman series. And you are exactly what I want for the part of Dream. Even better that you're still an unknown actor; I don't want anyone's preconceptions getting in the way of your performance of my character."
"I'm not an actor at all," Gavin admits. Tori giggles nervously, afraid that this will be the moment that gets them kicked out.
"You absolutely radiate Dream. I must have you," Carey insists, "I'll have my assistant Alison get you set up with a SAG card." the director pulls a card from his pocket and scribbles phone numbers and directions on the back, "Go to her office tomorrow. I'm going to text her now so she can get this ball rolling."
"But--" Gavin protests to the unhearing director, who, as promised, pulls out his phone and walks away, texting his assistant.
"Oh, this is so exciting!" Tori squeals when Burden is out of earshot, "You're going to be a star!"
Bill told him to mingle, but Nico can't get away from Marilyn to talk to anyone in his own branch of the industry.
"I'm playing an Italian woman in the movie I'm currently working on," she says, "I've been working with a voice coach for my accent. Here, listen," she says, and then recites a few of her lines in her practiced accent. "How was that?"
"Very authentic," Nico answers.
"My coach isn't actually from Italy, like you are," she says, "I'd love to get some tips from someone native to the language. Maybe you could help me out?"
"Bill keeps me pretty busy," Nico says.
"Oh, I'm sure you have time to have lunch with me," she says, moving a few steps closer, walking her fingers up his jacket collar, "I'm as busy as you are, you know. But there's always time for...lunch."
Nico is rescued from his awkward situation by the approach of Carey Burden.
"You aren't going to try to rope me into another of your depressing movies, are you?" she quips, "And I seen to recall your casting couch was a little...hard. I don't think I'd want to find myself seated there again."
Nico takes the opportunity to get away. There's only so much temptation a man can resist, and Marilyn Hennesy exceeds the limits of what he can take. Beautiful, sophisticated, talented, she's everything he loves about women, and she's all over him like bees on honey.
"Here you are," she says, following Nico into the bathroom, of all places.
"Do you mind?" he asks, trying to get her out of the room.
"Mmm, I don't mind if you don't mind," she purrs, closing in on him.
"You have to go," he says, but his voice makes it clear that it's not what he wants her to do.
"Where do you want me to go?" she asks, her voice like velvet as her hands find his belt.
"I don't want to do this," he says, but he doesn't move to stop her.
"You very obviously do want this," she says, grabbing his cock.
"Please don't do this," he begs, leaving it up to her to stop, since he can't work up the strength to stop it himself.
"Speak to me in Italian," she says before wrapping her lips around him.
"How are you going to face Jacklyn now?" he asks his reflection when Marilyn, finished with him, leaves him alone in the bathroom. It was a mistake, he decides, one he'll never make again. One that he hopes Jacklyn will never discover.
Nico finds Bill up in the hot tub with his wife and Carey Burden.
"I need to get out of here," Nico says.
"Take it easy, kid," Bill says, "I'll call the limo for you."
When he gets home, Jacklyn is already sound asleep. Nico climbs in beside her, feeling unworthy to share her bed. "Never again," he whispers in her sleeping ear, "I will never do anything like that again."