Brighton’s arrival on set, like everything about Brighton, was the opposite of Milan.
Where her sister made a show of everything she did, coming and going to fanfare for lighting checks and costume fittings, Brighton parked her own car on the street, strolled past the paps and showed up on set like a crew member.
“Hi,” she said to Sans who was adding a few last minute angels and high contrast photos to the ormolu-pastel-French-baroque-expressionism that was Fab Fads’ trademark. “Do you know where Richard is? Or Milan?”
“Oh, hi,” Sans said extending his hand in greeting. He didn’t recognize her without a People magazine logo over her head. “I’m Sans. Are you here for the makeup crew?”
“Kind of,” Brighton grinned, delighted by his informality. “I’m Brighton.”
“Oh god, don’t get me fired,” Sans said. “I really need this job. I didn’t mean to . . .”
“Relax,” Brighton laughed. “I’m not my sister. Where is everybody?”
“You’re sister is getting ready, uh, somewhere,” Sans said. “I think the director is at some kind of lunch meeting. My bosses are all on some other job, I’m not sure where exactly. And I’m not much help, right?”
“No, I guess I’m early,” she suggested, checking her watch even though she knew she was on time.
“I do know where your dressing room is,” Sans suggested. “That could help.”
“Perfect,” she said. “I’ll just get set up and wait in there.”
“I’ll let them know you’re here,” Sans said, leading the way as he fished his cell out of his pocket.
“Thank you so much, Sans,” she said, unaware that she was the first person to say that to him since he’d started working there.
He beamed as he did not say “you’re NOTHING like your sister.”
“She’s here,” the voice crackled over the walkie-talkie.
“Perfect,” Milan said checking her makeup in the mirror they’d been snorting lines off of. “I’ve got to go get a touch up. Cody, you wait here. Robert or whoever will call you on that thing when we’re ready for Brightie’s little surprise.”
“Gotcha babe,” he said, giving her the thumbs up.
“No more party,” Milan said. “You’ve got to be on camera. Gianni, you and Michael keep him honest. Oh, what am I talking about? Cody, come with me.”
“Do I need makeup?” Cody asked.
“You mean, do you need more?” she said leading her sex tape co-star to the door. “We’ll be back boys. Gianni, you might want to get some more supplies for later?” She handed him some bills and then led Cody out the door and across the garden court to the stairs opposite Michael’s.
“You’ll be safer hanging out at Cat’s than with those two,” Milan said as he followed her up. She pounded on Cat’s door.
“So, do I have to say anything when I get there or what?” Cody asked. “Like maybe I should say something about how Brighton and I used to date until the whole sex tape thing with you?”
“You mean what are your lines?” Milan said, looking at him like a parent trying to be patient with a slow child she was fond of. “Do you understand how reality television works? It’s not actually real. It’s just unscripted.”
“Hi Milan,” Ric said, opening the door in his usual painting costume – t-shirt and boxers with paint spattered over-shirt. “Cat’s already gone over to the set. Do want me to call her?”
Cody stared at Ric, brow furrowed.
“No, no,” Milan said. “There’s security to walk me over, thanks to your crazy landlord. What’s that all about?”
“No idea,” Ric shrugged. “He can be a little formal, but he’s usually pretty easy going.”
“Maybe he’s a Nazi war criminal and doesn’t want his picture taken,” Cody suggested unexpectedly.
Ric and Milan turned and stared at him silently for a moment.
“May-be.” Milan nodded and spoke slowly. “Look, Ric this is Cody. I’m wondering if he can hang out over here with you for a bit before the shoot. We’re trying to surprise my sister. They used to date, she doesn’t know he’s here and it would really help out with the whole surprise thing if she didn’t till we’re ready.”
“You look really familiar to me,” Cody said to Ric.
“Wow, I should have cut you off sooner,” Milan said, half under her breath. “Maybe you could make a pot of coffee?” she suggested to Ric as she pushed Cody inside.
“I feel like we’ve met before,” Cody said, still looking at Ric under knitted brows.
Ric began avoiding the look.
“Are you an actor?” Cody suggested. “Or maybe a commercial? I just feel like I’ve seen your face somewhere.”
“Cody, honey,” Milan said giving him a little shove. “Knock it off.”
“I’ll go make us some coffee,” Ric said, darting out of the room.
“Here,” Milan said thrusting the walkie-talkie into Cody’s hand. “Keep this on and come over when we call for you. Okay?”
“Sure babe,” Cody said, looking past her to Ric in the kitchen.
“Ric,” Milan called. “If you could, listen out for his call on the Walkie and bring him over. That’d be great. I’ll get you paid for a day on the shoot, kay?”
“Thanks Milan,” Ric answered. He looked back over his shoulder, caught Cody’s stare and looked away again. “We’ll see you there.”
It was the first day of shooting.
They spent a couple of hours “seeing” the apartment for the “first time.” Fab gave them a tour as Milan tried to pick a fight with Brighton over his work.
“Well, I know this isn’t really your cup of tea, Brightie but I love it,” Milan said hurling herself onto the lime damask Louis Quatorze sofa with the ornate, matte white woodwork and gesturing to the black crystal chandeliers.
Brighton thought it was a horror show, but knew how to get under her sister’s skin.
“Oh, I think it’s really bright and sunny,” she said, with a sweeping look at a room better suited to Morticia Addams than a house plant. “I’m going to love it here.”
“Really?” Milan said, playing to the cameras. “Well, I guess you’ve changed your opinion since the last time you saw one of Fabs’ projects.”
Cameras followed as Fab stormed off the set. He doubled back and hung out off camera at the craft services table, not wanting to miss the fireworks.
Milan tried a little bait-and-switch. She showed Brighton her room. Then they filmed Brighton unpacking suitcases the crew had filled with product placement clothes and cosmetics Brighton had never seen before. Once she was settled, Milan returned and made a fuss saying Brighton’s was the room she wanted.
“Why don’t we share like when were little girls?” Brighton suggested brightly. They had never shared a room in their lives, not even a wing. “I’m sure Fab can get us twin versions of this yummy black canopy bed. Can’t we Fab?” she called to him off camera.
“Fab had to, um, leave,” Milan said, as though it was a secret they were keeping from Brighton. “But his assistant is still here. Sam,” she called gesturing to Sans to come over.
Bobbi rolled his eyes in disgust.
“This is his assistant, Sam,” Milan said, introducing a terrified Sans to her sister.
“Hey,” Sans said. Nervous, his drawl was worse than usual and the word picked up a couple of extra syllables. Ryan, who was beaming from off camera, gave him a thumbs up Sans couldn’t see.
“Oh yes, I met Sans earlier,” Brighton said. “We’re old friends. He helped pick out this outfit. What do you think?”
Milan did a take for the camera. “Oh, it’s, er, great. Hot. Mean it. Really.” It was the catch phrase she was trying out for the show. “Listen. I’ve got a date tonight. So I’m going be going out soon. Will you be okay here by yourself?”
“With just the film crew to keep me company?” Brighton said, putting her arm around Sans and giving Milan a look. “It’ll be hot. Mean it. Really.”
And so it was with great relish that Milan staged the arrival of her date for the evening with Brighton’s ex.
At Milan’s on camera urging, they spent time picking out an outfit for Milan to wear on her date: “Just like they used to do when we were girls at home together.” As if.
Brighton first insisted on changing into a pair of Cowboy-and-Indian-patterned footed pajamas “Since I’m just staying in tonight for a quiet evening on my own with the camera and lighting people.” Then she tormented Milan by only picking things that either looked too small or were overly matronly.
“This suit is perfect,” she shrieked at Milan. “You’ll look just like Jackie O in Dallas.”
Milan was closing fast on high-coke-whore-hissy-fit by the time they broke to reset for the date arrives scene.
“Is he here yet?” Milan hissed at Cat as the costumer struggled to zip her into the red rubber dress Brighton had “helped” her pick out.
“I’m not . . .” Cat said, uncertainly, picking up the walkie-talkie to check on Cody’s progress.
“Give me that,” Milan said snatching it from her and opening a channel accidentally.
“Gang Bang Detention Hall, that’s it,” Cody’s voice filled the air.
“I don’t know what you’re . . .” Ric mumbled, then gave a little cry Cat recognized. It was the little whimper Ric couldn’t control when he was tickled.
“The preppie boy with all those bad boys. I knew, I knew where . . .”
Milan flipped the switch and snarled into the device. “Where the hell are you two?”
Cat’s spidey senses had been tingling since their odd encounter with Sans’ date, Ryan. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but there was something up with Ric lately, since the black eye. He wasn’t telling her something. They’d barely spoken since the shoot started and so the tension between them was worse than if they’d gone on and had the fight. The tone of the overheard conversation had her head spinning.
“Places,” Richard called, with a certain reluctance.
Milan and Brighton sat on the lime green sofa sipping pomegranate champagne cocktails as they “awaited” the arrival of Milan’s date.
“Well, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you about my date,” Milan said, when Richard gave her the signal from off camera.
The stage manager pushed Cody through the door. He stumbled and almost fell.
“I’ve been seeing . . .” Milan said rising triumphantly.
“Cody,” Brighton screamed. She leapt to her feet.
Milan’s smug look of victory dissolved as Brighton ran into Cody’s arms.
Uncertain how to proceed, Cody returned Brighton passionate embrace and kisses. The two made out on camera for an uncomfortably long period of time. The crew squirmed as they watched Milan come to a boil and then, apoplectic with rage, run off the set and out of the building.
Ric, unable to endure Cat’s glare, ran after her. She tried to resist for breath, but ran after him.
“And cut,” Brighton said, unceremoniously breaking the embrace. She gave her ex-boyfriend a friendly pat on the ass. “Nice to see you Cody. See you boys tomorrow,” she called waving to the crew. “Sans? Do you and Ryan want to go grab a bite?”
. . . to be continued
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