|sugar_cycle (sugar_cycle) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2011-02-10 21:05:00
|Entry tags:||changing woman, coyote|
New Year's Eve Bash
Who: Jack, Kami
What: Deciding to trust their newly renewed friendship
and hoping that Jack isn't going to try anything funny, Kami accepts Jack's offer to ring in the New Year at an industry party.
Where: Somewhere posh and in the Hills
When: December 31st, bleeding into January 1st
She still could not believe she stood, shoulder to shoulder with any number of agents, actors, directors, and critics, in a lavish Hollywood mansion on New Year's Eve. Not at this point in her career, anyway. If this had been five years in the future, of course. She was going to be a star and everyone would know the name Kamillah Boisvert. Not yet, though. Since her demotion, all she had managed were a few voice-acting gigs - a commercial here, a call-back for a cartoon there.
But this? This was arriving.
Smile positively glowing, Kami looked up to the man who had brought her along for the ride. Well aware of her duties as his guest, she had gently disengaged from a conversation at ten minutes until midnight and searched him out. He was easy enough to find - a tall, lean figure in all black with his dark hair pulled back from his face. No one else possessed quite the same easy charm that Jack Mallory had. Now she stood at his side and waited for the countdown to begin.
Something inside her whispered this could be a bad idea but duty and a renewed friendship muffled that. As if to further reinforce her independence from such doubts, Kami reached out to lace her fingers with his. "Thanks again," she whispered, leaning in slightly to be heard over the music and conversations swirling around them.
Jack smiled down at her and gently squeezed her hand. Only Kami could pull off sexy and classy and retro Hollywood all in one outfit. She looked stunning in the blue satin dress she'd chosen, her silver strappy heels matching the sparkle of her necklace and in her eyes. And she looked happy, too, completely in her element.
"Thank you for coming with me," he replied, low and warm. "You've really been quite the hit here. People have been asking 'who's that girl?' all evening. I tell them, of course." His smile turned smug. "An actress, new in town from New York, who's done some off-Broadway work. And my friend." He squeezed her hand again and regarded her warmly. "So are you having a good time?"
A dimple appeared as the smile exploded into supernova territory after his words. "I'm having a blast," she answered, full and total honesty in her voice. "I really can't thank you enough for this. I didn't really have any plans and I wasn't sure if you..." She cut herself off abruptly with a laugh and had the grace to go slightly pink-cheeked from the guilt as she forced herself to finish, "I wasn't sure if you were serious or just looking for something. Pretty cynical of me, huh?"
Moving around to stand in front of him, Kami took both his hands in hers and looked up into his face, dark eyes sparkling but somehow searching. "I'm sorry," she sighed. "I know better than that. You're better than that, too." She gave their hands a little swing before releasing him and reaching up to straighten his tie with absent fingers. "This has been one hell of a chance. Thank you for this."
His smile in return was very nearly the equal of hers, the one that melted glaciers and broke a million hearts. "I couldn't let something like this go by without spreading the wealth," he shrugged as she fiddled with his tie, then reached out to hold her hands, the reflected color of her dress making his eyes even more intensely blue as he met her gaze. "I don't blame you for being skeptical. I'm just glad you decided to take the chance. For your sake as well as mine."
Kami giggled and allowed him to shift her hands without a struggle. "I guess it would be a little weird to show up at one of these with your agent as your date," she teased. "As nice as she is and she is a complete doll who wants to have a meeting with me once we get into the new year for real. Seriously, though... I'm glad I came, too." She untangled one hand and directed a finger at his chest, eyes bright with more laughter. "The question is - have you been having fun? Did you find someone to be with at the actual official midnight bong?"
Arching his eyebrows, he scanned the party guests with a wry smirk. "As a matter of fact, no, I haven't. I don't think Hilda would appreciate me kissing her. Besides, I think she's selected her target for the evening," he snickered, nodding at his agent, who had her arm firmly latched onto that of a fairly well-known producer. "What about you?" he grinned down at her, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "You have anyone in mind?"
"Mmm, I've had offers." Kami met his expression with an eerily accurate mimicry. "But I thought it would be better manners if I checked on my escort first." She made a show of looking around for a clock. "I probably have a couple minutes left if I need them, though..."
Jack made an equally elaborate show of checking his watch. "Yyyyeah, you have some time. If you want it, that is." He cocked his head at her and grinned, hoping she didn't need it.
A shouted ten broke into whatever she had been about to say and Kami sighed, dropping her hands and giving a resigned shrug. "No time," she announced. "We'll have to make do, I guess." She paused and nine, eight were heard in the silence. Her face had gone strangely still, a small smile still lingering on her lips as if she waited for a cue.
He looked at her, frozen for a moment. Then he slipped his arms around her as the party goers counted - seven, six, five - and as the final seconds of the year passed into yesterday, Jack leaned down, his face close to hers. "Here's to a fresh start for us, Kami," he murmured as his lips met hers.
Miracle of miracles, she did not fight him. Her hands moved up to rest lightly against his shoulders but she tilted forward just the slightest and her chin lifted to meet the kiss straight-on. Her lips soft against his, she offered nothing more intense than a chaste, closed-mouthed kiss but a sweet lingering happened in those moments as she allowed him to initiate and take. As mayhem erupted around them, they stood locked into a breathless, silent little tableau.
Finally, Kami drew back and her hands slipped from his shoulders to press against his chest, fingers idling at the lapels of his jacket. She looked at him from beneath dark lashes and quirked a small, crooked grin. "Happy New Year, Jack," she murmured.
"Happy New Year to you too, baby doll." Reluctant to lose the moment and the incredibly warm and wonderful feeling that filled him, he allowed his hands to linger at her waist as he returned her grin. "Best New Year's ever. Thank you," he said softly. "Thank you so much."
With a sudden, impulsive move, Kami shifted forward and slipped her arms around Jack's waist in return for a quick, fierce hug. "All I did was show up and look cute," she laughed into his shirtfront. Releasing him after a few quick seconds, she took a step away and smiled up at him. "You're the one with the connections, Jack... And the generosity to ask me."
"What can I say? I like sharing my good fortune. Getting paid back in hugs and smiles like yours make everything worth it." He basked for a moment in the radiance of Kami's happiness, then released her to take her hand. "Hey, you want to see something? No, not that kind of something," he quipped with a grin. "Come on. I guarantee it will be amazing."
"I bet you say that to all the girls." She giggled but again neglected to fight him as he tugged her along behind. With expert ease, she navigated behind him through the crowd, high silver heels tapping against the fine floors with sure-footed grace. "You're not going to get us kicked out, are you?"
"Nah, it'll be fine. Everyone's wandering all over this house anyway." He led her down a hallway that took a couple of turns and ended in something of a conservatory, with some comfy chairs and shelves and a piano. That wasn't his destination, though. They crossed the room, stopping in front of a wall of curtains. Grasping the fabric, Jack grinned down at her. "Behold."
He pulled the curtains apart, revealing a glass wall with a door leading out to a wide balcony. The city of Los Angeles lay spread out before them like a glittering blanket of light, so bright the sky above glowed. On either side of them were other houses perched on the hills above Hollywood, most alight with other parties. The fireworks display was still going on in the distance, at what would be the Hollywood Bowl.
Jack slid open the door and gestured with a small bow and a definitely smug smirk. "After you."
Kami paused only to raise one dark eyebrow at him before nearly skipping past him to stand right up against the balustrade, palms flat against the cool stone as she leaned out further. The slight wind stirred the loose curls escaping from her updo and she gave a little unconscious shiver. When she felt a bit of goose-flesh start, though, Kami drew back and readjusted her light shawl for better coverage. Her eyes never left the scene in front of her, tracking each flash of brilliant light, smile growing at each pop of sound. It was perfect and temporary and dreamlike, she thought. It also felt dangerously like the scene of a marvelous rom-com and she turned to look for her erstwhile leading man. The distant flicker of lights did little to help but a few artfully placed spots towards the house and the moonlight led her attention to his tall form, dashing in the deep blackness of his tailoring. She smiled but said nothing.
"Gorgeous, isn't it?" Jack's words were low, almost dreamy. With a few long-legged strides he crossed the balcony to stand just behind her, not wanting to interfere with her view. Placing his hands lightly on her shoulders, he leaned down so his mouth was a few inches from her ear. "This is your kingdom, princess," he murmured. "Fuck Disney. You'll own this town. I know you will."
The shiver that ran through her at his whispered nearness was masked nicely by a musical little laugh. "Damn straight," she answered. Bringing one of her hands up, she covered his on her shoulder and gave a little squeeze. "I just need to get out there more. A couple of voice-overs will only do so much." Twisting her head to look back at him, Kami smiled again. "Hilda's talked me into a meeting with her next week," she informed him cheerfully. "I think it was the mention of a call-back I got for a cartoon. She got that crazy light in her eyes."
Jack grinned and squeezed her shoulders. He barely stopped himself from kissing her cheek. He'd already stolen a midnight kiss from her - he didn't want to push his luck any further. "Ohhh, when she gets that crazy look, there's no stopping her," he chuckled. "She'll have your portfolio whipped into shape and shopped around to every project in town in no time."
"I thought so. She seems like a really good agent." Kami's new smile was pure mischief as she drew her hand away and turned back to stare out over the glittering city. "She certainly was promoting the hell out of you to me tonight."
"Was she now?" Behind her, Jack straightened and gazed out at the skyline, his smile gone pensive. That warm, radiant fullness he'd felt in his chest ever since the craziness surrounding the Halloween party rose up in him again; he only seemed to get that feeling about her. He took a deep breath to clear his thoughts and let it out in a soft laugh. No need to ruin the moment. "She's very good at what she does."
"I'll say. I almost offered you a job there." She laughed again, a relaxation settling in at his continued good behavior. Sure, there had been the kiss at midnight but that was tradition; you had to kiss someone and she would much rather kiss someone she knew than any of the complete strangers at the party, no matter how glamorous or cute they were. Besides, if she were honest, Jack had each and every one of them beat in the looks department. The point being, though, he hadn't tried to push things. "But, you know, I had to tell her that there really wasn't that peach of a role you need open. Yet."
Kami resisted the impulse to turn again to observe how he would interpret this and instead focused her attention full ahead on the city below. It looked so much like a star-filled night sky, like something back home. It felt nostalgic and sweet and safe.
The same could almost be said for the feelings racing through Jack as her words sunk in. Nostalgic, sweet... and very, very dangerous. His thoughts jumped once again to the Halloween party, and the strange intense longing he experienced for Kami before... well, before all the weird shit happened that he could only recall as either a dream or a really good acid trip - an experience which oddly seemed to make the longing worse. And then his mind jumped to Disneyland and the blossoming friendship they shared only a few short months ago. A friendship that he ruined by trying to take the reins and steer it in the direction he wanted.
...Or thought he wanted. And maybe, just maybe, that was the problem. Maybe he should just let Kami decide where their relationship would go.
Jack's smile widened as he took in the lights of Los Angeles, and he gently squeezed Kami's shoulders. He felt... liberated? Definitely happy. His heart was full to bursting, but at least for the moment he wasn't freaked out by it. This was the best plan he had ever come up with. And all he had to do was let Kami take the lead, set the ground rules and lay the course for whatever they would end up being to each other.
A 'fresh start', indeed.
They continued to gaze out over the city in silence for long moments before Jack felt Kami shiver slightly beneath his hands. "How you doing, baby doll?" he smiled softly into her dark hair. "You want my jacket?"
"Hm?" She looked up and back at him and surprise shone in her eyes. Then she really registered his question and smiled. "But then you'd be cold," Kami pointed out. She followed the observation quickly, though, by slipping out of his grip and tugging her shawl up higher until it hung around her neck like a scarf. She held both hands out and cocked her head to one side like an innocent little girl, expression sweet with mischief. "Yes, please."
With a satisfied smirk, Jack removed his black suit jacket and quickly helped Kami into it before the chill night air stole his body-warmth from it. "There you go. All nice and cozy." He stepped back to study her, and smiled. Silhouetted against the glittering backdrop of the city below, she looked as happy as he'd ever seen her. "I'll be fine," he continued, holding his arms out. "I have at least one more layer on than you have."
Kami laughed and pulled his jacket closer around her, snuggling into the too-big garment. "Guys are lucky," she observed mildly. "None of your stuff makes you worry about straps or bras or what is or isn't showing." That said, she took the unspoken offer and stepped closer to Jack, wrapping her arms around one of his and leaning into him. Her small frame barely put any weight on him and, even in her heels, her head barely rested against his shoulder. She felt good, she thought. The anger and guarded words seemed ancient now, part of an entirely different relationship. Whatever happened at Halloween and how Jack chose to give her space, they were blessing. She smiled peacefully. Then she looked back out over the city. "This is amazing," she murmured. "Thanks for thinking to show me."
"I saw it and immediately thought 'I have to show Kami.' I'm glad you like it." Jack tucked his hands in his pockets and smiled, enjoying the feel of her leaning against him, and the vista before them, and, well, everything about this evening. But especially Kami. He once more fought down the urge to kiss her, despite the sweetness of the moment, and gave a soft, contented sigh instead. "Hey," he said finally, "how would the princess like a guided tour of her kingdom? I don't know how much of this area you've seen, but it's really pretty at night even from street-level."
Drawing away, Kami turned bright-dark eyes up to him and her grin turned impish. "Are you going to play knight?" she asked. Something in his voice tickled her sense of self-preservation and she hugged herself warmer in his loaned coat. "I could probably scare up a lady's favor or something if you want," she continued, "but you know the code of chivalry." She lifted a finger in teasing warning. "No taking advantage of the helpless princess."
Jack allowed himself an amused chuckle instead of the outright laugh that threatened to erupt; Kami was about as far from "helpless" as a princess could get. "I assure you, my intentions are purely honorable," he replied with his best thousand-watt grin. "No side trips to break into a film backlot, no drunken escapades on Sunset. Just a simple ride home, taking the scenic route. Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Loews Chinese Theater... You know, Hollywood. Your kingdom."
His grin went a bit sly and cheeky, and he took a step back and sketched a low sweeping bow, as elegant as it was playful. "Your carriage awaits, my lady. The heater works really well in it, too."
"It better," she returned cheerfully and she matched his bow with a graceful curtsey. "I'm not spending the first day of the new year trying to get all my bits to work again because you froze them off." One of her small hands emerged from the sleeve of his jacket and, reaching out, she briefly touched his forearm. No teasing could be found in the gesture nor was it dictated by old emotions; the short duration of her touch held nothing more than habit. She felt peaceful, happy... It was nice. Shaking herself out of the momentary reflection, Kami smiled again. "Lead on, good sir. I'm ready for that tour."
True to his word, Jack delivered on the tour. And true to his word, he behaved like a gentleman the entire drive home. He was too busy playing tour guide, truth be told, pointing out this landmark or that celebrity's home, the top down on his Fiat Spyder and the heat blasting. Also true to his word, Los Angeles at night was almost as pretty from street level as it was from up in the hills.
Eventually, though, the tour came to an end back at Pax Letale. Still playing the role of chivalrous bastard, Jack escorted Kami back to her apartment and waited while she dug through her clutch for her key, watching her with a smile. This night had been better than he could have ever imagined. The cherry on top would be a goodbye kiss from Kami. (No, the cherry on top would be an invitation to come in for drinks and whatever, but that would have been too much to hope for, even after such a spectacularly brilliant night.)
"So," he started as Kami unlocked her door, a smirk on his face as he adjusted the suit jacket folded over one arm, no longer needed by either of them. "Was it worth it?"
She looked over her shoulder, hand on the knob, and grinned at him. "Do you really have to ask?" she laughed. Door unlocked, she gave it a little shove to open and it swung inwards to reveal a tantalizing sliver of the apartment within. She turned to face him and laced her fingers behind her back as she tipped her chin upwards to better deliver her grateful smile. "It was great, Jack. Thank you so much."
With only the briefest glance over the top of her head into the apartment, Jack returned his attention to the gorgeous woman in front of him. "The pleasure was all mine, Kami." His smile turned cheeky, but it was warm and fond, not the sly smirk he was capable of when he was trying to get something from someone. "There's a saying that what you do on the first day of the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. If that's true, and I hope it is, this is going to be a great year for you. Maybe even for both of us."
"Maybe," she agreed. A moment of quiet settled between them, weighted with something she had managed to ignore for most of the night. Warmth still filled her top to toe despite the ride, maybe because of the ride through the Hills with him. She had not spent so many hours in Jack's company since before... When they were co-workers. To her surprise, the thought brought nothing more uncomfortable to mind than a sense of time passing, time wasted. It was the strangest feeling and she realized slowly that the year was already better; she had forgiven him... And herself.
Giving a little shrug and smiling, Kami studied his face for another moment. "I think you're probably right," she finally said. Then, abruptly, she unlaced her fingers and shifted her weight forward until she was precariously balanced directly on the balls of her feet. "Thank you again, Jack," she murmured. "I really had a great time." With that, her lips brushed warm and fleeting over his cheek in a friendly little kiss before she returned to her former position and reached back to again settle her hand on the knob of her apartment door.
The warmth of that little kiss lingered on Jack's skin and filled him with a contented happiness; the gesture carried with it the sort of comfort and familiarity that passes between old friends, old souls. Kami had always brought out that feeling in him, it seemed, despite only knowing each other less than a year. It had even been present on that awkward morning after the Halloween party, when he and Kami and Shae had been so freaked out. That was something to ponder later, though. He'd gotten his cherry on top, and he wanted to enjoy the moment as thoroughly as he could.
"So did I," he smiled in response, warm and low. "We'll have to do it again sometime." He instinctively reached out and touched her arm as she settled back on her heels, fingertips lightly running over her skin. Then with a nod, he put his hand in his pocket and stepped back. "Goodnight, Kami. And Happy New Year."
"Goodnight, Jack." Kami hesitated one more moment and then, with a parting wave, she slipped through her open door. Closing it quickly behind her, she leaned against it and closed her eyes. She pressed her clutch over her heart for a moment and focused on taking a deep breath. Well, she thought and a sheepish little giggle escaped her, that went better than she had thought possible.
Maybe too well if the tickle in her stomach spoke the truth.
Shaking her head, Kami started towards her bedroom, one hand reaching up to start pulling hair pins loose. One curl after another tumbled down to her bare shoulders and she allowed herself a shiver. Friendship with Jack was going to be something that took some thinking. Anything else? Once bitten, twice shy.
But it was still a perfect night. He earned his place on her New Year's Day list of deliveries. Most definitely.