14 October 2011

The Reluctant Millie Bright

Chapter Two

After picking up a few goodies from the shops, Liam found himself standing on the doorstep of a five bedroom townhouse in Chelsea. Thankfully, the cover of darkness shielded him away from being recognised by any passerby.  It was a warm evening and though he had been looking forward to catching up with his friend of many years tonight, a friend in which he had started out in the biz with- his thoughts were still on Millie.  Since seeing her today at the restaurant, it seemed as if everything they had shared today and in the past was coming back full force and in bright technicolour.  The last time he had seen her, she had given him an ultimatum, at his penthouse. And he could remember every word spoken during that one last heated conversation.

Liam was racing around his apartment, shoving clothes into his duffel bag as he checked his wrist watch, he had under an hour to get his shit together and somehow make it to JFK to join the director and some of the cast to jet out on location for his next film project.  He turned around to see Millie standing anxiously by the door.

"How long have you been standing there?" he asked, half looking at her and half deciding what else he should bring to the shoot.

"Not long," she replied, curling and uncurling her fingers, "Where are you going?"

"I have to be at the airport soon- what's up?" he asked, grabbing his jacket and remembering his passport in the drawer of his desk.

"We need to talk," she  said, "And it can't wait."

"It's going to Millie, I'm in a rush as you can see,"  he replied.

"I can see... but this can't wait,"

"Look, I'll promise to call you when I land in Australia okay? I just can't talk now," he exhaled.

"If I'm important enough to you... then you will at least hear me out." 

"You are important to me Mills, but so is my career... I really don't have the time now... your timing is impeccable though... I will promise to call you, as soon as I land and we can talk about whatever is on your mind okay?"

"So, what? You're going to push me to the side yet again?" 

"Yet again? What are you talking about?" he stopped fumbling with his stuff, to question her.

"You heard me, again I'm sidelined for your precious career... sometimes I don't even know why I bother for you," she announced.

"I don't side line you Mills," he said frustrated.

"Yes you do and don't you forget it," she was counting off her fingers now, "One, there was the surprise I planned for the both of us but you called me last minute to say you had to do re-shoots for the film you were working on; two, you were meant to accompany me to a Christmas party but yet again, the subject of work came up and three, it was my birthday and I wanted you to be there but guess what..."

"I hear you loud and clear Millie, you don't have to spell it out for me!"

"I damn well am spelling it out for you, because you don't know and you continue to do this," she yelled, "All you care about is your fabulous career."

"That's not true," he interjected.

"It is true and I'm fed up with it, I'm fed up of being second place..." Millie said, as she touched her temple and started hyperventilating.  Her face was devoid of colour and she staggered to the nearest seat, the sofa.

Liam stood his ground, not at all helping her. A couple of minutes ticked by, Liam stared at her and then at his wrist watch.  He was fuming.

"What is it?" it came out, barely a whisper.

"What is what? I haven't got time for this Millie..."  he said through clenched teeth.

"Yes, I know you have to go to the airport and catch your flight and do what you do best, acting I suppose, because you never even give a second thought to me- is it me or is it your career?"  she looked at him, hoping, but he didn't have time for this, grabbing his duffel bag, he headed for the door, "If you can't even tell me to my face that you're choosing your career, then you won't ever see me again."

"Don't be like this Mills, we can talk about it but I really have to go," he said opening the door.

"Then this really is goodbye,"  she said, picking herself up from the sofa and heading past him and down the stairs.

He tried calling her back but she wouldn't stop and he heard the front door slam behind her.

The door opened and standing there was his good mate Artie, that's what he liked to be called but he was known to the world as Hartley Armstrong, heartthrob and bachelor but now he was a family man, a father and a husband.  They hugged and Liam walked into the expanse of their hallway. The overhead chandelier twinkling, creating reflections of crystal on the walls surrounding, the wrap around staircase and the ornate table in the middle with a large Chinese vase full of fresh flowers.  This was understated luxury and wealth. 

"How you doing mate?" Artie asked, showing him the way to the living area.

"Good, seems fatherhood is agreeing with you," Liam noted.

"Yeah, I'd have to say so.  Life never held much meaning until those two bundle of joys came into the picture," Artie replied with a grin.

"Did you say two?" Liam said.

"Yeah, we weren't quite expecting it either but as twins run in Frieda's family, y'know," Artie smiled.

"So, when do I get to meet Frieda?" Liam asked as Artie pointed to the woman standing holding the baby.

She walked towards her husband and handed him the snoozing baby, a baby girl and shook Liam's hand.

"I'm Frieda- Artie's told me all about you, he speaks very fondly of you,"  Frieda said politely. 

"I should hope so, it's nice to meet you," Liam smiled.  He had heard a lot about Frieda St Claire-Armstrong, from the tabloids from hearsay, that she was hard to work with, demanding and manipulative but she didn't seem like that at all, well on first impressions anyway.

"So, Artie tells me you're here on business, promoting your latest film?" Frieda said, opening up conversation.

Liam sat in an armchair opposite her and Artie, there were refreshments laid out on the table for them but Liam really wanted to wind down and have a slug of whisky instead, maybe that could wait till later.  He watched as Artie rocked the little baby in his arms and the loving glances from his wife, "Yeah, I've worked with Woody Allen before, so we're pretty solid on the whole actor-director relationship, great cast too, so I couldn't pass it down."

"Artie tells me you're in London for a bit, do you have any plans?" Frieda asked.

"Yeah, I love London, haven't been here in a while so we'll see how it goes," Liam replied.

"We'll? You have a girlfriend here?" she said inquisitively.

"You'll have to excuse my wife, she's a bit inquisitive,"  Artie laughed and grinned at his wife.

"If that's your way of saying I'm a nosey Parker, I would have thrown this pillow at you, but as you're holding Harley, I'll get you back," Frieda said teasingly.

Liam noted the exchange between the two, it was intimate and somehow sickly sweet but he enjoyed their banter.

"So, do you have a girlfriend here?" she repeated.

"Liam doesn't do girlfriends... he's married to his work, always has been," Artie smiled, "Isn't that right Liam?"

"You're not painting me in the greatest light are you mate? Two can play at that game, I have a few stories on him, that I'm sure he hasn't told you about," Liam joked, leaning forward to sip some tea.

"I'm intrigued, do tell," she smiled warmly towards him.

"Well, there was this one time, we were in this bar in Vegas and there was this stripper..." Liam began and before he knew it, Artie had walked towards him and literally dumped the baby into his arms.

"Make yourself useful, old boy," sitting back next to his wife.

Liam cradled the baby girl in his arms, she was awake now and she was staring straight at him, "Aren't you a pretty girl," he whispered and was rewarded with a smile.

"I think she's far more then pretty," Artie smiled.

Liam looked up at him and shook his head, "Fishing for compliments, I don't know."  He turned his attention back to Harley, who was now gurgling at him. 

"Actually, whilst I've got you here Liam, we wanted to invite you to Harley and Flynn's Christening next  Saturday, we hope you can make it?  And we wanted to also ask you, if you could be a god parent to both of them," Artie asked.

Liam looked up surprised and then looked back down at Harley, "I would love to, really would."

"Great, I hope you can bring your girlfriend," Frieda winked.


Millie sat down with a cup of tea on the sofa of her small flat,  she had managed to unpack with speedy efficiency, partly to do with trying to distract herself from the events that had happened merely hours ago.  It was late and thankfully she didn't have to get up too early tomorrow. A day off, a rest.  The TV was on but she wasn't paying any attention to it, lost in her circulating thoughts again.  Seeing Liam today, being kissed by Liam today, only brought back a multitude of memories she just couldn't escape.  The man in which she had fallen in love with so long ago, thought of as being her future- oh she was so wrong, disturbed by her naivety.  The grief of such a union, made it hard for her to breathe.  She  had trained herself on survival, in the coming months after their break-up, she had dismissed every billboard, every commercial, every tabloid and every release of his film as fiction, it had been planted there to test her. She would look but then she would ignore it and she would resume as normal. 
No doubt he would be back before she could say the words, I hate you - but did she really hate him?  She was overwhelmed, disheartened, still hurting and she was brought back to the time when she first met him. Their first meeting, crystal clear. 

"Seriously Camilla, you have to come out- I brought you a ticket so you can't not go," her next door neighbour Devon said. 

Devon was her friendly next door neighbour, who recently became a good friend.  She did a lot of travelling for work and Millie had offered to water her plants and feed her two cats. Right now Devon was waving two tickets for the after party of the film she had wrapped up. 

"I don't have anything to wear Dev, honestly, I can't just turn up to an after party wearing my PJ's can I?" Millie said stoutly.

"Oh God, Camilla you're so stubborn... we're practically the same size, you can borrow one of my dresses.  Come on over and we can get dolled up together," Devon said, strutting out of Millie's apartment and back into her own.

A few hours later, they hitched a yellow taxi and made their way to one of the most exclusive night spots the city had to offer, surpassing the queue of wannabes, they strode right in. They went straight to the bar to order some cocktails, Millie looked around and noticed a few faces she saw on TV and film. She wasn't fazed or starstruck- these events weren't really her thing, but she didn't want to let Devon down, especially on a film she was particularly proud of.  Millie tugged down the red dress, lent to her by her friend.

"You really ought to stop fidgeting in that dress Camilla, honestly, it's called a mini dress for a reason and no yanking down is gonna make it any more longer, you'll probably end up stretching the fabric,"  Devon rolled her eyes.

"That's the bloody point Dev, I didn't want to wear this dress in the first place," Millie replied.

"But you're here now and you look stunning, even if you can't see it... they obviously see it..." Devon said her eyes conveying the crowd. 

"Thanks for the reminder," Millie said, "Please don't call me Camilla, it makes me sound old and boring."

"Oops, sorry I forgot about that," Devon smiled as she handed Millie a Cosmopolitan and took a sip of hers. 

Devon worked the room like she was the hostess with the mostess, everyone came to talk to her and even though she introduced her to most people, Millie felt left out.  Devon was talking to some producers when Millie excused herself and headed towards the bar,  passing a group of men, she immediately felt the cold liquid seep through the fabric of her dress.  Great, she hated the mini dress because it was short but now she hated it even more because the front of her dress, looked like she had been stabbed in the front conveying an unruly dark red wet patch.  She looked around for Devon but she couldn't find her anywhere- and she really couldn't be bothered to search for her, even to tell her she was leaving.  She would grab a taxi and text her to let her know she got home okay.

She was making her way out of the club and onto the street and was on the look out for a cab. 

"A beautiful girl like you, shouldn't be standing here on your own," came the velvety voice. 

Though the voice was velvety there was definitely an undercurrent of arrogance beneath the stellar voice, she turned around and saw him.  He was at least six foot, wearing a pristine grey suit with a white open collared shirt and his hair, looked like he'd just woken up, which only conjured an image of him climbing out of bed after having a bit of a work out. 

"Thank you for your concern, but I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself," she replied back, looking towards the road for any taxi's. 

"Did you have a bit of an accident then?" he asked, querying her dress. 

"It's a bit of water, no biggie, it'll dry off eventually," she said, steering her attention back to the road. 

"Where you going?" he asked. 

She looked at him and then ignored him. 

"Did you hear me?" he asked softly. 

"Oh yes, I heard you loud and clear," Millie acknowledged. 

"So, why didn't you answer me?" 

"Because I chose not to," finally a yellow cab, it pulled up in front of her and she got in and before she could close the door, he was only inches away from her face.

"Wait!" he said, holding the door, "Have dinner with me?"

"I don't know you," Millie said, trying to close the door. 

"Exactly, so that's why you'll have dinner with me... right now, scooch over," he said, opening the door. 

"You're kidding me right?" Millie said un-moving. 

There was honking of cars behind them, "You either get in or out, I ain't got all day here," the New Jersey taxi driver said with impatience. 

Millie moved over.  Liam closed the door and leaned towards the taxi driver and gave him an address. 

"I always get my way eventually," he smirked.

"Yes, A is for Arrogance, B is for Bravado, C is for Clueless because you are completely Clueless in Seattle aren't you? So sure of yourself... big shot actor, you think you can get about any girl... with the right line right? You are sadly mistaken," Millie said, staring outside the window. 

"Well, that was a first... a first knock back... I think I like you even more now..." Liam said. 

"You don't even know me, to like me and before you even think about it... I'm not some challenge you can conquer, perhaps if you treat women with respect then you might actually not come off as a total dick!" Millie said. 

"Whoa, hang on a minute... I respect you," he began. 

"Really? And respecting me was forcing me to go out to dinner, a dinner I choose not to participate in. Wow, even more clueless then I thought." 

"Feisty little thing aren't you?" he said. 

"Stop, the cab!" she about yelled, the cab screeched to a halt and she was out of the cab before he even had a chance to blink. She was getting into another cab on the other side of the road and she was gone. 

Millie stood up and walked the short distance to the kitchen and set her cup in the sink, she stared outside the window- the memories tortured her. She had moved cities to escape them but running away lost it's pzazz, especially as the the shadows followed.  She had to get a grip, pull herself together.  She was made of sterner, stronger stuff.  So what if Liam Blake was a man, a man she had loved... there was no way in hell, she was going to fall in love with him again. Men were dicks, they all were and Liam Blake was no exception. 

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