Page 26 of Imperial Bedrooms

"She told me she went to see her mother," I say. "She showed me pictures of herself with her mother."

Rip fake-smiles. "So, she has a mother now? In San Diego? Sweet." But after he studies my reaction the smile fades.

"The first time I found out they were together I had gotten some information she couldn't lie her way out of and I let it go because she promised me she wouldn't go back to him or do anything with him but ... this time ... I just don't know."

"What don't you know?"

"This time ... I don't know if I'll hurt him or not." Rip says this so gently and with so little menace that it doesn't sound like a threat and I start laughing.

"I'm serious," Rip says. "This is not a joke, Clay."

"I think that's a little extreme."

"That's because you're probably very sensitive."

After a long pause, Rip says flatly, "I only want one thing. I want her back."

"But obviously she wants someone else."

Rip takes a moment to study me. "You're a very bitter dude."

I'm leaning forward, clutching my sides. I glance at him before nodding.

"Yeah. I guess I am."

We're walking across the grass toward the black limo and the driver waiting there and Rip glances at the Astronomers Monument as we pass it and I'm staring straight ahead, unable to focus on anything but the heat and the surreal blue sky and the hawks sailing over the soundless landscape, their shadows crossing the lawn, and I wonder if I'm going to be able to make it back to Doheny without getting into an accident and then Rip asks me something that should have been just a formality but because of our conversation now isn't. "What are you doing the rest of the afternoon?"

"I don't know," I say, and then remember. "Are you going to Kelly's memorial?"

"That's today?"


"No," Rip says. "Didn't really know him. We did some business, but that was a long time ago." The driver opens the door. "I've got to deal with this dickhead about the club. You know, the usual." He says this as if I should be hip enough to understand what exactly he means, and before getting into the limo Rip asks me, "When are you seeing her next?"

"I think maybe tonight." Then I can't help it and ask, "How do you feel about that?"

"Hey, I hope she gets the part. I'm rooting for her." He pauses, and grins. "Aren't you?"

I don't say anything. I just barely shake my head.

"Yeah," Rip says, convinced of something. "I thought so." And then, as he slides into the back of the limo and before the driver shuts the door, Rip looks up at me and says, "You have a history of this, don't you?"

I'm supposed to go to a Golden Globes party at the Sunset Tower tonight but Rain doesn't want to even after I tell her that Mark and Jon are going to be there and that if she wants the part of Martina I should formally introduce her to them outside of Jason's office in Culver City. "This isn't the way to do it," she mutters. "But it's the way we're going to do it," I tell her. When she arrives at my place, newly bronzed, her hair blown out, she's wearing a strapless dress, but I'm still in a robe, drinking vodka, stroking myself. She doesn't want to have sex. I turn away and tell her I'm not going if we don't. She downs two shots of Patron in the kitchen and then strides into the bedroom and carefully takes off her dress and says, "Just don't kiss me," gesturing at her makeup and while I'm eating her out my fingers move to her ass and she brushes them away and says, "I don't want to do it like that." Later, as she's putting the dress back on, I notice a bruise on the side of her torso that I hadn't seen before. "Who did that to you?" I ask. She cranes her neck to look at the bruise. "Oh, that?" she says. "You did."

Entering the party at the Sunset Tower we're behind a famous actor and the cameras start flashing like a strobe and I pull Rain with me toward the bar and when I catch my reflection in a mirror my face is a skull, sunburned from the hour spent at the observatory, and on the terrace overlooking the pool, snaking through the hum of the crowd with Rain, I say hello to a few people I recognize while nodding to others I don't but who seem to recognize me and I make small talk with various people about the Kelly Montrose memorial even though I wasn't there and then I spot Trent and Blair and I move in another direction since I don't want Blair to see me with Rain, and projected onto the walls are black-and-white photos of palm trees, stills of Palisades Park from the 1940s, girls who were cast in the new James Bond movie, and trays of doughnuts are being passed around and I'm chewing gum so I won't smoke and then I spot Mark with his wife and I bring Rain over to where they're standing and Mark frowns when he sees her, and then erases it with a smile before we fake-hug, his eyes never leaving Rain, his wife's reaction a barely concealed hostility, and then I launch into an explanation as to why I haven't been at the casting sessions and Mark says that I should come in tomorrow and I assure him I will and just as I'm about to make a pitch for Rain my phone vibrates in my pocket and I pull it out and there's a text from a blocked number that says She knows and after I type in ? Mark and his wife drift off and Rain, seemingly uncaring that I didn't pitch her to Mark, is behind me talking to another young actress and a new text arrives: She knows that you know.