Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Many apologies for dragging it out so long, but I had a few details to tie down and needed time to concentrate to make sure it flowed.
Thank you all for your patience, and for my two most loyal readers, S and Nikki, this one's for you!
Madeline met her at Van Nuys Airport the next morning. With a dour expression, the agent placed copies of several tabloids in Maya’s hands. She waited as the actress scanned the articles and the accompanying grainy images.
“Not exactly how I wanted you to make the cover,” the woman drawled. “We have a meeting with the studio people at 10:00.”
“What’s the game plan?” Maya dragged her eyes away from one headline screaming “Maya’s Secret Lover!”
Madeline grunted. “Prayer. And hoping that someone else does something really, really stupid.”
Maya spent the next few days meeting with sponsors and film executives, trying to maintain her dignity despite their obvious displeasure. Everywhere she went the media swarmed, seeking a comment on the matter. Liam and Francine, who were fighting their own media battles back in Barbados, called her on Skype daily.
As she sat in the makeup chair backstage at the Maxwell Miller Show a week later, Maya regretted not taking Madeline’s advice and canceling her appearance. Miller was usually a sympathetic interviewer, but salacious details boosted ratings.
As expected, after discussing her upcoming projects, Miller questioned her about the incident. She started to repeat the statement rehearsed with Madeline when she stopped.
“I know I’m being portrayed as promiscuous and irresponsible, but the truth is I’m in love with the man in those photos, and I have been most of my life. I don’t regret being with him. What I regret is that someone pried into my private life and made a mockery of that love. You tell me who should be ashamed, Max. Me or the media.”
The talk show host’s response was drowned out by the thunderous applause of the studio audience. Backstage, Madeline sighed in relief.
“You did good, kid,” Madeline said as they settled into the limousine to depart the studio lot. “You nearly gave me a coronary when you went off-script but it went well.”
Maya sighed wearily. “At the rate I’m defending myself you would think I killed someone.”
The agent squeezed her hand supportively. “I know it’s been difficult, but trust me, you’re being judged on how well you recover from this. So far, you’re doing great.”
“Yeah, but it’s bloody ridiculous. Half the studio execs who’re treating me look some fallen Madonna hit on me at some point, and most of them are married! Who are they to judge me?”
Madeline nodded in agreement. “I know it’s unfair but it’s the great Hollywood irony. Live and learn, kid.” She eyed Maya speculatively. “I listened to what you were saying earlier. You really love him, don’t you?”
When Maya pulled a face Madeline waved dismissively. “It’s a rhetorical question. I know you love Liam. But now that the chips are down I really see you do. And, more importantly, I can see he loves you.”
Maya cocked an eyebrow in surprise. Her agent had never been a fan of her relationship with Liam. “Where’re you going with this, Maddie?” The agent shifted uneasily in her seat. “I know I haven’t been very supportive of you two but all I ever wanted was the best for you.”
She sighed suddenly. “What do I know about love anyway? My handbag is worth more than the three losers I married put together,” she chuckled, patting the black crocodile Birkin on her lap for emphasis.
Maya hooted with laughter. “If I didn’t know better I would say you’re getting soft on me.”
Madeline rolled her eyes. “A momentary lapse, trust me. Anyway, I made a call to a friend at the LA Times and sent over Liam’s CV. There’s a job waiting there for him, if he wants it.”
Maya gasped at this unexpected announcement. In the past, Liam had considered moving to LA so they could be together, but after several fruitless months of job hunting, he had abandoned the idea and returned to Barbados.
“I know Liam is a proud man and may not want to accept my help, but one of you has to give up something to be together. I’m just saying, you have more to give up,” Madeline said matter-of-factly.
“Thank you, Maddie. I appreciate what you’ve done,” Maya hugged the older woman. “I don’t know if he’ll accept the job but thanks anyway.”
“Thank me by convincing him to move here so you can stop moping about,” the agent teased. “Call him now.”
Maya rummaged in her handbag for her cell phone, then sat back and groaned suddenly. “I forgot, he’s on his way to Jamaica to cover a cricket match. I’ll have to wait until later tonight.”
Madeline pulled out her electronic diary. After a few seconds of frenetic tapping, she looked up.
“I can spare you for three days, before you head of to the fashion benefit in Goa. Why don’t you go surprise him?
Maya giggled. “First a surprise job and now a secret rendezvous in Kingston? Boy, when you’re on board you don’t joke!”
Madeline snorted. “Shut up before I change my mind. Now, before I forget, what’s this I hear about Terrence Bridges getting engaged to that crazy friend of yours?“
Normally, the sight of the magnificent Blue Mountains would hold Maya in awe as she flew past on her way to Kingston’s Norman Manley Airport, but as she prepared to land a day later, but all she could think about was seeing Liam.
Even the sunset ride across the Palisadoes Road didn’t hold its usual charm, and she practically jumped out of the taxi when it pulled up before the stately, high-rise hotel in New Kingston.
Intent on surprising Liam, she slipped past the concierge and headed for the elevator. A quick call to Elise earlier that day had revealed that Liam was staying on the fifth floor.
Maya paused outside Room 507 and glanced at her watch. Providing Liam hadn’t decided on having an early dinner, he should be inside.
The door swung open after the second knock and the smile on her face faltered.
“Oh shit!” Monique Chambers exclaimed.
Ok, I promise to post the final chapter within a week, if not before. I swear....
Image: Fustic House, St. Lucy, Barbados