“I used to,” she murmured, rising to her feet.
“Point taken,” he conceded, jumping to his feet to block her path. “Look,” Alex said, dropping his bag to the floor. “I know I have to abide by your rules. Especially if I want to be a part of Mollie’s life. But you have to cut me some slack here.”
Marina involuntarily clenched her fists. “Slack? You want me to cut you some slack?”
Alex frowned, not sure how to dig himself out of the proverbial hole that was threatening to swallow him. “Yes, damnit.” He stood up straighter, cognizant that he often made himself small in Marina’s presence. “I poured my heart and soul into this show. It has the potential to be something we can both be proud of, something worthy of Danny’s memory. But I need you.”
“Okay. Fine. I’ll read it.” She picked up the envelope.
“I mean it. Thank you.” He picked up his bag and with a wave to Jared, he headed for the Subway that would take him downtown.
Laying on his childhood bed, in his childhood bedroom he once shared with Danny, Alex was replying the scene with Marina at Curtain Call over and over in his head, mentally kicking himself. It definitely could have gone better. He let his enthusiasm and pride obstruct his abitlity to listen to Marina’s concerns.
There was a soft knock at the door and his mother stuck her head in. “I just wanted to say goodnight.”
“Night, Ma,” he replied dully.
“What’s wrong, Mijo?” She frowned. “It did not go well with Marina?”
“That’s an understatement.”
Elena sighed. “I know, it’s none of my business, but you have to stop expecting your show to speak for you. Don’t get me wrong, you are a talented writer and your show is terrific and not just because I’m your mother. But Marina deserves more, she needs more. Maybe you need to stop hiding behind you pages.”
“Thanks, Ma. Buenos noche.”
The following afternoon, Alex arrived at Curtain Call. “Hey, man,” he greeted Jared as he took a seat at the bar beside Will.
“Salutations,” Jared grinned. “What can I get you?”
“Just coffee, please and thank you. Have either of you talked to Marina?” he inquired.
Jared raised an eyebrow. “What did you do now? Or us this just some fishing expedition?”
“I gave her the script last night before storming out. I was wondering what she thinks of it,” he admitted sheepishly. “The suspense is killing me.” He fixed his coffee to his liking.
“She’ll think it’s bloody brilliant,” Will interjected. “Because it is.”
“It’s not bad,” Jared admitted grudgingly.
“Thanks for your support,” Alex scowled. “Wait, I only gave it to you yesterday! You’ve finished?” he suddenly perked up.
Jared and Will laughed. “Guess he’s just fishing for compliments,” Jared snickered.
Alex shook his head. “You both suck. I just want her to understand why I wrote it. I want her to love it. I know initially she agreed to do it, but that was more for Mollie than for me.” He ran his hand through his hair. “I kinda got overzealous last night and I’m worried I ran her off.”
“She hasn’t said a word to me about it,” Jared informed him. “She probably needs time to process. It’s not exactly a light hearted comedy.”
“I know. I know you’re right but I really want her feedback.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” Jared shrugged.
“So, I was thinking,” Will interjected. “I think we should hire Adam as Musical Director.”
Will nodded. “He’s one of the best… he’s available.”
“And he’s cheap,” Jared added.
“Think he’d be interested? I don’t know if the music is his usual taste.”
“I gave him a script,” Will admitted. “He’s in.”
“I owe you my first born,” Alex announced, leaning over and planting a sloppy wet kiss on Will’s cheek. Will rolled his eyes, trying to fend off further affection. “Holy shit! Producer, Music Director, and 2.5 leads. This shit is coming together!”
Jared’s phone rang and he glanced down at it. “Speak of the devil.”
Jared looked out the window at Marina’s penthouse view of Central Park.
“Thanks for coming,” she said, pouring two cups of coffee.
“Remember that dump you lived in when you first moved to the City?”
Marina smirked. “I loved it, but it had a lot to be desired.”
“Such as personal safety?”
“Exactly! It was like a different world moving to Everhouse.”
He smiled. “First place I’ve ever lived that felt like a family. Guess that’s why I still live there.”
Marina looked wistful. “Except for this fabulous view, I miss it.”
“Trade ya,” he grinned. “Speaking of Everhouse, we’re getting a new tenant.”
Jared nodded. “Yeah, Alex signed a lease with Adam yesterday.”
“He’s back for good, whether or not you want to accept it.”
Marina nodded absentmindedly.
“So, how is Mollie?”
“Some days, I do not know what I am going to do with her,” Marina replied with a frown. “I guess she’s being a typical moody teenager, right?”
“I’ll see your typical moody teenager and raise you one possibly bipolar twenty something.”
“Ugh,” Marina groaned. “I have been so preoccupied since Alex came home, I haven’t even asked how Ben was. I suck as a best friend.”
“You’re right, you do,” he teased. Jared studied her closely. “Do you think you could love Alex?” Jared asked gently and Marina answered with a happy sigh. “Guess that answers that,” he mused, taking a sip of his coffee.
“As a human… I thought about it once, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Well, before I met Dannt. But Alex never made a move, so I figured he wasn’t interested. And then I met Danny and he was so different from my asshole ex-husband…”
“And now he’s no longer a human?”
She giggled. “I just mean, he’s not just any guy. He’s my brother-in-law, Mollie’s uncle… He’s so talented. His script is stunning, absolutely amazing. Danny would be so touched, so proud. And he’s an amazing uncle to Mollie.”
“But… I don’t know… I don’t know if I can forgive him for leaving when Danny died.” She wiped a tear that trailed down her cheek. “I was suddenly a widow, a single mom with four kids… the only thing in my favor was that I get a small fortune from my divorce settlement from that cheating bastard, Shawn and child support from Kyle because Danny’s life insurance settlement took years to get because he died in a freaking terrorist attack. I could deal with all of that. I grew up without money, I could take care of myself and my kids. What I needed was family. Luckily, I had you. And where the hell was Alex? He took off to London and wrote a brilliant musical expressing all of his pain.”
“To be fair, he did lose his brother.”
“I know that!” she snapped. “But I lost both of them!”
“Yes, you did. Danny is never coming back. But Alex is here and he’s trying, kid. Talk to him.”
Marina scowled. “Can we go back and finish the earlier topic? What’s going on with Ben?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, knowing that Marina had succeeded in changing the subject. “I don’t know if he’s okay or spiraling. He won’t talk about it, but I notice subtle changes in his personality.”
“That’s why you think he’s bipolar?”
He shrugged. “Call it father’s intuition? I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Maybe you’re overreacting? Reading into things?” she asked hopefully.