They had arrived at the studio about thirty minutes before Sloan's appointment. Sloan had signed in at the front gate while a security guard had made a phone call verifying the appointment and issuing a pass. While waiting, Sloan could not help but notice the occasional glances that the middle-aged rent-a-cop aimed at him. It was much different than the professional scrutiny that he had experienced in similar situations in the past.
Dana was bemused to notice that her husband was receiving the lion's share of the attention. Perhaps it was just the fact that Dana already had studio credentials....perhaps. As their eyes met, she saw her husband blush as he realized that they were both thinking in a similar vein.
The Pièce De Résistance had come when he asked to verify Sloan's identification. He had not even batted an eye when he compared Sloan with the picture on the drivers license. granted there was a resemblance, and Sloan was an androgynous name, but the license listed Sloan as M, not F.
As they got back into her car for the drive to the back lot, Dana almost burst out laughing.
"You realize that all you needed to show him was your SAG card?"
Her husband blushed even deeper as he realized his mistake.
"I think I.D. is going to be a problem if I am going to live this role 24/7."
"I agree. Perhaps Ms. Sharp will have some ideas on that."
They parked in Dana's marked spot. She was struck by the way Sloan got out of the car, knees together, swivel to the right, lift upward from the ground. It was almost like he had been doing it all his life. Her reverie was broken when he leaned back in and looked at her bemused expression.
"Nothing, sweetie. Just woolgathering."
She got out and locked the car, then walked around it to her husband, looking for any sign of nervousness.
"What????" his tone was somewhat exasperated.
"I'm sorry, but you just look so natural. I mean I know it's you but it is almost like you are a completely different person."
Sloan gave a small snort, "I'm shitting bricks here."
Hearing those words from that mouth gave her a start before Sloan quickly added, "Don't worry, Dana. I said that to let you know that your husband is still in here, but you need to know that in public this is who I have to be, okay?
"It's amazing." She shook her head lightly as if waking herself from a dream.
"Okay, let's get you to that interview"
Upon arrival at Danielle Sharp's office, they were asked to wait. The secretary buzzed into the inner sanctum and informed Ms. Sharp that
Dana Taylor was here and that her 10:00 appointment had arrived. A few moments passed before Gabriel Vargas hurried out to greet Dana.
"Hi Dana, what a coincidence. I was just about to head back. Matt sent me over with some papers for Ms. Sharp to sign." He barely spared a glance for Sloan as he continued, "Let's go. We have a lot of ground to cover."
Dana was swept out of the office before she had the chance to say goodbye to her husband. She could not help wondering whether Gabriel knew who Sloan was, or about Danielle's plans, but as she hurried to keep up he gave her no reason to think he might be hiding anything.
He began by filling her in on the timetable for Soft Kill, then spoke about the plans for the upcoming Carnaval party. Gabriel pointed out that she would be assuming a large part of the responsibility for that particular event, as it was supposed to be a farewell party for him, and he couldn't very well be responsible for planning his own party.
She took out her tablet and began taking notes as they crossed the lot toward her office. When they got there, she found her assistant, Beverly looking frazzled behind the desk on her phone.
"She just came in, one moment please."
Beverly looked from Dana to Gabriel and back with a hint of worry.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Taylor, but Raoul is on the phone. Apparently they shipped over the wrong rags from Central and we now have a costume crisis on our hands."
"Beverly, right?" interjected Gabriel, before she could respond.
"Yes, Sir" was the immediate response as the Director's right-hand man took her full attention.
"Deal with it. Unless Ms. Taylor or I tell you otherwise, you are now Production Designer for this project. She will be replacing me, and has complete confidence in your ability."
He then ushered Dana into her own small office past the dumbfounded assistant.
Regaining her composure, Dana asked Gabriel, "What makes you think she can handle the job?"
"Beverly James, Bev to her friends. Fifteen years of experience in over a dozen major films and countless smaller projects. Loves to wear gaudy bright clothes and is a graduate from SMU/Meadows film school. She met you on your first project while you were still at UCLA and has helped to acclimate you to the industry. You have, in turn, been helping her out as your career has taken off. You trust her implicitly, and we both know that she is much better than most people give her credit for."
"It's my job....well....your job, soon", he grinned.
Looking around her office, he smiled. "Better start packing, the moving men will be here in a few minutes."
"Your new office. My old office." He gave her a crooked smile, but she caught a slight hint of sadness in his eyes.
"Miss Taylor?" Sloan's head snapped up from his reverie, "Ms. Sharp will see you now."
Sloan rose and entered Danielle Sharp's office.
The plush carpeting muffled the sound of his heels as Sloan entered the office. His heart was pounding, but he projected an outward calm as he crossed the room to the large mahogany desk. Danielle Sharp watched as Sloan gracefully approached her, drinking in every nuance. This will be fun, she purred to herself as she stood up and rounded the desk to meet him.
"Hello Sloan, I am Danielle Sharp."
"Yes Ms. Sharp, I know. We met at the wrap party for your last film."
As Sloan reached for her hand, she could not help noticing the fluidity of his movements, as well as the fact that he reached out to her with his palm down, grasping her hand lightly with his fingers then releasing it. She placed her left hand on his right shoulder and guided him to the sofa, giving him her best smile.
"Let's get comfortable, shall we?"
As they sat facing each other, the Producer watched his posture and elegant manner. She felt a heat rising as she observed him, closely. She decided to shock him immediately, just to see how he would react.
"So Sloan, Dana tells me that you should be given an audition for Soft Kill. Is she being honest, or is she just blinded by love?"
Sloan's eyes narrowed at the jab. "I cannot speak for my wife, but I am confident in my ability to play this role....I know I can do it."
"Hmmmm", she gave him a non-committal look. Well, I must say that you do look the part; however, we all know that looks can be deceiving."
He held his tongue, choosing silence rather than risk saying the wrong thing. She examined him closely with a critical eye, surprised at his poise. Reaching out to grasp his chin began turning his head left and right.
"Pierced ears.....good. I have seen your head-shots and read your bio. By the way, your agent is an idiot. Were I you I would drop him like a bad habit."
"My agent?" Dave Shirzer had been Sloan's agent since he graduated from college. they rarely spoke, as it was usually Penny, his secretary, that contacted him about auditions. "Dave is a great agent."
Danielle laughed, shaking her head as if amazed at his ignorance.
"You really think so? Look at me."
She grabbed his chin firmly and looked him in the eyes, her deep blue gaze piercing like a knife into his soul. She spoke calmly, like a patient tutor with a not too bright pupil.
"Dave Shirzer is a pimp, you silly girl. He grabs up the cute little insecure movie star wannabes that flock to this town every week seeking fame and fortune. He puts their faces and resumes into the system. He extorts a ton of extraneous fees in their contracts and if by some miracle, one of them gets lucky, he sells their contract to a real agency and makes a tidy profit. If they don't make it big in a hurry, he helps them make ends meet by hooking them up with a guy named Marco Lane. Ever meet Marco? Dark, handsome guy with a Mediterranean accent?"
Sloan started at the mention of Marco. Early on, when he and Dana had been struggling to make ends meet, Dave had indeed introduced Sloan to a friend named Marco that could hook him up with side gigs for extra cash. He had almost taken it, but Dana had picked up more than enough work to keep them afloat.
"So naive," she tut-tutted, sadly. "Marco gets them into the party scene, shoot a little porn, shoot a little smack, then he puts..." she leaned in so close he could feel her breath on his painted lips, "...their cute little asses on the street to work it off."
She leaned back with an impish grin. Sloan wanted to shake his head, deny her claims, but her eyes held him in a firmer grip than her hand.
"Poor baby. I am shocked and amazed that this town hasn't already chewed you up and shat you out." She leaned in and patted his cheek with a soft caress. "You must be either very talented or very lucky." Danielle tilted her head to the side, watching his reaction. "Let us hope, dear girl, that you are both."
It was a complete shock when Sloan realized that she had risen and was pressing a button at her desk. He had been too dumbstruck to move. Her gaze was almost hypnotic, and he was rapidly becoming frightened.
The door opened, and her secretary peeked in. "Yes, Ms. Sharp?"
"Coffee please, and some mixed fruit."
"Yes, Ms. Sharp!"
The door closed, and Sloan started to rise, not sure if he had been dismissed.
He complied but watched her warily. She intensely watched him as if formulating what she wanted to say. After a couple minutes, she spoke again.
"We have a monumental task ahead of us, my dear. in order to accomplish that task, you must put yourself into my hands. You must trust me and obey me in all things. You must follow every instruction, no matter how silly it might seem. Do you understand?"
He shook his head, "No ma'am, I don't understand. What exactly am I being asked to do?"
Danielle sat on the edge of her desk and gave Sloan a look as if he was something the puppy left on the carpet. Just as she was about to speak, there was a light tap on the door, and it opened to a trio of caterers who brought in fruit, juice, coffee, pastries, and a large tray table. After they had set it up and withdrawn, she chose her words carefully.
"My dear girl, I am going to train you to be a complete woman. I am your Henry Higgins and you are my Eliza Doolittle. You will obey me in all things and I will help you prove to my husband that Dana is right about your talent."
"Obey in what way?"
"In every way."
"It sounds a little....it sounds like slavery"
"I promise you that I will not abuse your trust, as long as you are an obedient and diligent girl for me. Of course, if you fail to do so, you will face consequences...but, you are always free to leave at any time."
"If I chose to leave, what would happen to Dana?"
"This bargain does not involve Dana. It is between you and I. I have papers prepared for you to sign. Take them home and go over them with your wife. If you feel that it is too much to ask, do not sign them and you will be on your own. You look convincing, and maybe you can earn the audition without my help, but I don't think that you can ever truly understand the character without it."
"We will get to them before you leave, but, for now, let's have a little brunch."
They sat at the table and Danielle dipped a strawberry in cream before lifting it to her lips. Her gaze was fixed on his as he watched her tease it with her tongue and lips, before finally biting down on it.
For some reason, the sight made his cock begin to swell as she dipped another strawberry and lifted it to his mouth.
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