"I feel so old," Nico moans, collapsing onto their bed after they return from their visit to his doctor, "My father was at least 40 when this happened to him."
Jacklyn grabs him by the shoulders, "I have been stressed out for days, worried you had some fatal illness. But an ulcer, that's treatable. I thought...I thought we might lose you. This is good news."
"You're right," Nico says. He hadn't been as worried about his own health as she had been; whatever happened to him was his own doing. But Jacklyn didn't deserve to suffer more than she already had for his transgressions, and he'd been spared for her sake. "Thank you, for taking care of me," he adds. He hadn't wanted to go to a doctor at all, but she insisted, making the appointment and brining him herself.
" I love you," she says, sliding into his arms, "Of course I'll take care of you."
For these past few days, his betrayal was forgotten as Jacklyn worried about him, imagining all kinds of sad and devastating scenarios, watching Nico waste away slowly, or having him taken suddenly in a quick and agonizing death. She experienced his death over and over, felt the emptiness and despair far worse than their separation when he was a mere phone call away from returning to her.
None of her imaginings turned out to be true, and the relief overwhelms her. She tears at his clothes, wanting to celebrate his life, her life, their life together, in the most primitive way. Nothing he did matters now, not the lies, not the betrayal. He's alive, and she loves him, and that's all that matters.
Bill insisted they attend one of Lady LaLa's parties that evening. "All my talent will be there," Bill tells them, "And that includes you."
"I don't see why I have to be here," Randell complains, "I'm just the drummer. No one cares about the drummer. Hell, half the 'talent' here are auto tune pop stars, they don't even met their drummers."
"That's why you're here," Jacklyn says, "To represent the drumming minority."
Lady LaLa herself joins them at the table. "I know you," she says looking directly at Jacklyn, "I forget your name though...You'd be more memorable without hiding behind a band, you know. Is this them, your band? They're cute!"
Randell decides this is his cue to go find somewhere else to stand and endure this party.
Jacklyn and Nico avoid mingling with pop stars by dancing with each other. "How long do we have to stay?" Jacklyn wonders.
"Ask him," Nico gestures towards Bill.
"Well, I saw LaDonna Queen doing coke with P Diddy in the living room," Randell reports, while Nico is off getting them some drinks, "So much for her rehab."
"Celebrity gossip? Really?" Jacklyn laughs.
Randell shrugs, "I thought about dancing on the counters, but I'm an invisible drummer, so no one would have noticed. Anyway, I have to bring home all the exciting details of the party to Stacey. To make her totally regret not coming with me. Because, you know, she totally cares what drug is up whose nose, and whose cock is in whose mouth, or ass." After casting a quick glance to his left, he continues his party report, "O.M.G., Ashley Chiu is wearing knee highs with her mini skirt. That is such a faux pas! Call the fashion police!"
Jacklyn has stopped listening, her attention fully focused on the approach of Marilyn Hennessy, her hated rival.
"Well, well," Marilyn says, "Jacklyn Austen. You know, it was at a party at this very house where first...um...met Nico."
"Don't even fucking talk to me!" Jacklyn snarls, slapping Marilyn hard across the face. She's not dealing with this passive-aggressive bullshit from Nico's former mistress.
It's been some time since Jacklyn was in a bar brawl, but she hasn't forgotten how to kick the shit out of someone, even in high heels and a tight dress. Nico arrives just in time to see Jacklyn knee Marilyn in the gut. The fight attracts the whole party's attention, and Bill comes over to intervene, grabbing Marilyn while Nico takes Jacklyn by the arm and leads her down to their car.
"You asshole," Jacklyn rages at him as soon as they are away from the other guests, "I have to deal with your fucking whore giving me shit at industry parties. Did you fuck her here, in this house? And you brought me here, to this place where you'd been with another woman?"
"Fuck you, Nico," she sobs, collapsing in tears by the side of their car, her anger spent, leaving only misery.
Coming to this party wasn't his idea, and he didn't know Marilyn would be here. He'd even forgotten that it was in the bathroom at LaLa's house where he'd first betrayed Jacklyn. But none of that makes him any less guiltless.
"Jacklyn," he says softly, kneeling beside her, "Let's go home, okay? We can talk there."
"What is there left to say?" she says through her sobs.
"I don't know," he answers, "I love you. And you love me. We have to work this out, somehow. Let me take you home." Only hours ago it seemed like they were getting it back, like they were putting this shit behind them and becoming like they were before he cheated on her. Now, it's back to this.
"Jack, she's not gloating. She's desperate. You won, and all she can do is snipe at you from a distance."
"Yeah, I won," Jacklyn snorts, "I get to keep the man who betrayed me."
"I know, I'm not much of a trophy," Nico smiles, "But you do love me. And I'm crazy about you. Don't let her destroy what she can't have."
"Marilyn, darling," Bill says after the two women are separated, "Don't fuck with my talent."
"I'll fuck who I want to fuck," Marilyn snaps back.
Bill gives her an icy stare, "I'm serious, Marilyn. You fuck with my talent, you fuck with me. You don't want that."
"Is that a threat?" she asks, trying to sound light-hearted and teasing. But not even her considerable talent as an actress can hide her real fear. Bill Arthag's name may not be known outside the industry, but there's not a celebrity in this town that won't cower in front of him. He pulls strings they can't see, he has connections in every branch on the entertainment business, has his hands on every lever. If he wanted to ruin her, he'd find away, and she knows it.
"I don't need threats," Bill says with a charming smile. "Just stay away from my talent. Understood?"