“What do you think? Lobster thermador or rack of llama flambé?” she said, zeroing in on the two most expensive things on the menu.
“Your goal is to punish me by making me broke, aren’t you?”
“You’re the heir of an independently wealthy legacy family,” Andria pointed out. “A couple of expensive dinners won’t make you broke.”
Dylan had the good grace to blush. “Yeah, I guess so,” he said. “I don’t really know how much money we have. Mama’s financial advisors handle everything.”
“Your family owns half the town. I don’t think I’m exaggerating.” She smiled up at the waitress. “Mushroom risotto, please.”
“I never really thought about it,” Dylan said. “I want to sustain myself on my freelance photography. That’s going very well. I never relied on the family money.”
“That’s just it,” Andria snapped. “You don’t think about it. You’re still not thinking about it. Of course you’re using family money! You’ve never had to worry about where you’re going to sleep. You’ve never had to make hard choices.”
Dylan stared at her. “I had no idea you felt that way.”
Andria grimaced. “I don’t mean to make you feel bad. But honestly Dylan. You’re such a noble soul, but you also have no idea what’s it’s like for me. Clifton moved out as soon as he graduated, so now it’s just me and Uncle Arma. He’s not even related to me, you know? He’s the son of Dad’s wife before Mom, who she had with her ex-husband. He was still living with us when Dad died, so he got the job.
“Uncle Arma’s a scary guy. Last night he had a screaming argument with the refrigerator. And I don’t even want to know what he does at his night job. I think he works for that uncle you never talk about. I’m just keeping my head down until I graduate.”
Andria took a deep breath and a long drink of water. Then she forced a smile. “Look! Our food is here.”
Dylan’s worried face softened. He offered a sad smile. “Doctor Hodgins Sword was an amazing man,” he said. “Did you know he delivered me? The way Mama tells it, Sawyer might not have made it without him.”
“I didn’t know that! But there weren’t that many doctors in Avalon who could have handled a problem delivery. It should have been him.”
“I know I have an abundance of family, and you have very little, but my family wants to be shared. They really like you.”
Andria smiled back a little more brightly. “Thanks, Dylan.”
Then the waitress walked by, and Dylan raised his hand. “Excuse me madam, but could you bring us the dessert menu?”
The waitress shrugged and turned her back on him.
“The food may be amazing,” Dylan said. “But the waitress could use instruction in proper decorum.”
“It’s the least I can do for someone with your talent. I hope that if I kiss up enough, you’ll give me priority when you become a star.”
Abby laughed self-consciously. “I know it’s hard to break into acting. It’s not like the casting agents are breaking down my door. You exactly have to wine and dine me to get my attention.”
“Of course you are! I’ve spent my entire career honing my radar for up-and-coming stars. You have the talent. All you need is more skill. And now that we’ve built a special bond, it’s in my interest to help you get that skill.”
“So in the interest of getting you a part, I have some supplemental rehearsal material for your upcoming auditions. After dinner, let’s swing by my office and go over them.”
“Your office? All right, let’s do it.”
“Cream, no sugar, please.”
“I like mine like my last producer: old, plain, and bitter.”
Abby was surprised when he caught her hand. “You really have no idea what an amazing person you are,” Nemo said with an adoring smile. “I’m privileged to work with you. Together we’re going to build an acting career like the world has never seen.”
Abby flushed. “Th-thanks. You said you had some rehearsal materials for me?”
“Absolutely! Sit down and let me get it.”
Abby sank down into a seat in his living room, clutching her hot mug of coffee. Her heart was racing, and her lungs were tight.
By the time he appeared with a folder full of papers, she had regained her composure. “All right!” she said cheerfully. “I have to get to bed early tonight, but let’s see what we can do in the next hour.”
“Just an hour?” Nemo sounded disappointed. “All right, then. We’ll make it count.
Lots of involved dialogue in this one. It took me forever to write. Also lots cross-pollination sims!