While Walt gave his sale's pitch, Gwen stole a peek at Eric. He was still as gorgeous as ever. Too bad he had the personality of a troll. They were sitting side-by-side on a small leather sofa across from Walt's desk, desperately trying to ignore each other. Which was fine by Gwen. If she never laid eyes on Eric Mendez again, she'd be a hell of a lot happier.
"...but it's not just about the money," Walt was saying. "A picture like this only comes along once in a lifetime--"
Gwen tapped her watch. "Ten minutes, I said, and you've already wasted eight."
"Guess I'd better cut to the chase then." Walt leaned back in his chair giving the battered springs an audible workout. "God's honest truth, Gwynnie ... You're in danger of being typecast. The dumb blonde routine is old." His eyes cut to Eric. "And your last two pictures bombed."
When they both piped in at once Walt flashed a meaty palm. "Save it. The critics all but wrote your obituaries months ago. So let's not delude ourselves, okay?" He steepled his fingers and his thin lips eased into a smile. "But you can change all that with my help. Just bring me the same magic you had in Starlight Dreams and we'll be biting our nails at the Oscars again. These roles have 'breakout' written all over them."
"Your sales technique needs a little work, Walter," Eric said in a bored voice. He snagged the script from the edge of Walt's desk and flipped through the pages. "I just have two questions. Why all the secrecy? And who's the screenwriter?"
Walt gestured dismissively. "Don't sweat the small stuff, kid."
"An unfinished screenplay isn't 'small stuff'," Gwen said. "We don't even have an ending. The last fifty pages are missing."
"A minor detail." Walt scooted forward and split a sober look between them. "Listen you two, I wouldn't be producing the thing if I didn't believe in it. Trust me, The Escort is gonna be huge. We're using state-of-the-art CGI, and a little something extra. That's why everything's so hush-hush. The studio's sparing no expense."
Gwen wasn't convinced. "I don't care how much money Paragon throws into it. I want to see an ending--and for the record, I'm not the desperate one here." She tossed her script aside and darted a thumb in Eric's direction. "He needs this more than me. I've already got two offers lined up."
"Yeah, and I've got two ovaries." Eric rolled his eyes. "Face it, cupcake. We're both in the same sinking boat."
"I'm not you're damned cupcake." She grabbed her coat from the armrest. "Walt, your ten minutes are up."
Walt sighed. "Can you at least sleep on it?"
"No need to beg her," Eric said. "She knows her career is one flush away from going down the john." He flashed a grin, then leaned into her and whispered, "You're as desperate as I am, so what's the problem? Afraid you won't be able to resist me?"
Gwen shoved him off her and he had the nerve to laugh. Ever since he won that stupid Oscar for that stupid movie they did five years ago, his ego had reached new heights. She'd been even stupider to marry the jerk---a weeklong debacle that still gave her heartburn.
"Or maybe you're scared you can't bring it," Eric said with a lift of his brow. He slipped a pack of Wrigley's from his shirt pocket and removed a piece. "Not that I blame you. I'm a hard act to follow."
The asshole knew how to push her buttons. "Don't flatter yourself. I just don't feel like stroking your ego again."
"Yeah, right. Go shovel that slop somewhere else. Admit it. You think I'll steal your thunder."
Walt made a 'T' with his hands. "Okay, that's it. Time out. You're acting like babies."
"This is exactly why I won't work with him." Gwen rammed her arms into her coat. "I can't do this again."
"Look, I'm just kidding, all right?" Eric folded the gum into his mouth. "But these are the facts, cupcake ... I'm a professional. Hell, I could work with the devil if the script called for it. Know why? 'Cause I'm a damn good actor." He shot her a wink and stood. To Walt, he said, "Whether she signs on or not, I'm in. Send the contracts to my agent. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a cold beer and a hot lady waiting on me."