Sunburnt

Greta hits rock bottom and trades in her Chardonnay for coffee. She moves to sunny Bombay Beach, Florida where she gets a new apartment in a quaint cottage, a new job and a new lease on life. She spends time at the beach soaking up the sun and reflecting on her past destructive relationships. She meets a mysterious married man Garth, who she keeps bumping into. Greta dates a local musician Jimmy, but after his untimely suicide she must find the cause of his death. She and her girlfriend Kat put on a concert with the help of magnetic club owner Sly and invite superstar Crash to perform all of Jimmy’s music. Will they discover why Jimmy took his own life?

Sly is a dazzling man, living the high life as owner of one of the towns hottest clubs, Voodoo. He has it all, wine, women, a beach house and a sister who has one of Hollywoods’ hottest cooking shows, Elvira! He cannot find love in his life, until he meets Greta. But is it too late to change his ways?


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15. Sunburnt

Chapter 53

 

I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're beautiful. Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.

Andy Warhol

 

Sly was holed up in his bungalow. It certainly was a home away from home with beamed wood ceilings, walnut flooring, a private waterfall pool, massive fireplace and living, dining  and bedrooms. He had been ordering room service, some filet mignons and champagne, drinking nonstop and had had a few visitors, mostly high priced call girls from an agency in town. He felt it was worth it, worth it to rid himself of any feelings he had had for Natalie, who screwed him over.

 

He felt somewhat ready to see the world again now that he had that bitch out of his system. He had an appointment today with a talent broker Tabitha Mitchells to see about booking some raw talent for the club. She was, apparently, the best in town. We’ll see about that, he thought. He had left word with his sister but she had not returned his call yet.

 

Sly drove to Wilshire Blvd and found Tabithas’ office. It was a yellow stucco building with a simple sign on the front. He stepped inside the door. The interiors were just his style, black and minimal. He waited in the reception area, reading Vanity Fair magazine.

 

“Ms Mitchells will see you now.” The receptionist said. Sly walked into a large office. Sitting at an antique Chinoiserie desk was the most striking redhead he had ever seen, with perfect peachy skin and large green eyes that glowed like emeralds on her face. She was wearing a black button down Prada dress and thigh high black snakeskin boots. She smiled a warm smile at him.

 

Sly was smitten.

 

“Nice to meet you Mr Wishbone.” She extended her hand

“Nice to meet you Ms Mitchells. Call me Sly…” He said, feeling the velvet touch of her skin for the first time.

“Okay Sly,  please, call me Tabitha.”she said softly

“Thanks Tabitha.” He said

“So, lets get down to business, shall we?” she said coldly. “Please tell me what you are looking for.”

 

I’m looking for a wife, he thought. Like you.

 

“I need some new acts for my club, fresh talent, really hot stuff. I heard you’re the best in town.”he said. His business head was still functioning.

 

Sly couldn’t help but stare at her figure. She was a knock out, this broad. He liked her style. It was very cool and businesslike. He’d see if she knew the business or not.

 

“I see…..What comes to mind is Keith Brown, he’s an urban cowboy does blues with a rock twist, very powerful performer…And then on the other end of the spectrum I’ve go the hottest all girl act in town Ectasy. They’ re hotter than the pussycat dolls and Beyonce all put together. Six black women that will knock your socks off. They’re a really big crowd pleaser……Sound hot to you?

 

“Yes, I’ll take them and I’d like to take you to dinner to seal the deal.”

 

Tabitha smiled. “Deal.”

 

Sly thought to himself, she could be the one. He had a feeling, a tight, nervous feeling which only came around once or twice in a lifetime.

 

Chapter 54

 

I loved old black and white movies, especially the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals. I loved everything about them - the songs, the music, the romance and the spectacle. They were real class and I knew that I wanted to be in that world.

Sharon Stone

 

I had some shopping to do for the hotel. I needed champagne buckets, stationary, chocolates, lamps, tissue holders and bathroom accessories. It was very exciting having my new job and working with Garth, we were very professional around the construction crew.

 

I felt totally content with Garth although at times I still yearned for the excitement I had felt with sly. I wondered how he was doing. I wished him well, didn’t want to have any bad feelings, after all, he had told me he was dating. It was my fault for expecting too much, too soon.

 

I stopped in a small shop and browsed around the accessories. I found some beautiful candlesticks that I thought might wok in some of the dining rooms.

 

“I love these….I would need forty-five pairs.” I said

The gentleman shop owner in the store was beside himself. “I order from China, I could have these in two weeks for you Ma’am.” He said excitedly.

“Perfect. Sold.” I said

 

And so my purchasing went smoothly. I never would have known I was a natural decorator if it wasn’t for Garth.

 

The Gala was approaching. I heard about it from Garth, all the minute details and the fact that Joanne was helping co-ordinate it. It was going to be a grand affair with a full orchestra, six course meal and a professional comedian to host it. I couldn’t wait. I’d have to buy a gown, something which I had never done in my life.

 

 

Things were changing for me. I was blossoming upwardly, moving into society. I felt that I owed it all to Garth.

 

Kat and I still talked about Jimmy. We missed him and the CD had got some attention from the record industry from Crash’s show at Voodoo. I called Kat.

“Hey you wild woman.” I said

“I’m glad you called, I was just going to call you.” She said.

“Oh yeah? What’s up?” I said

“They found Jimmys’ diary or notebook or whatever….” She said

“Yeah?”I said waiting for the news….

“There was more than just Suicide lyrics in it…..Jimmy might have been secretly gay.”she said sadly.

“Really? Jimmy?” I was shocked.

“He made some references to being in love with a man who didn’t love him back.” Kat said

“Wow….That is really weird” I said

“Yeah, Poor Jimmy. I think he was just confused, something was not right in his head. That’s what made him such a genius.”said Kat

“Yeah…I know…..Listen. I have some good news for you…..How would you like to attend the Gala for The Chateau with us?” I asked

“Really? Me?” Kat said

“Yes, you would be our special guest.”

“Well, I don’t even have a date.” She sad

“Garth has a friend, Cliff, he’s a film director. He says you two would hit it off.”

“Alright!!! I’m in, thanks.” Kat said.

“We have to go shopping.” I said

“Oh yes….I know just the place.” Kat said

“Great.” I said

 

Kat was such a loyal friend. We’d known each other since high school since I had defended her about her weight from an overbearing bully. She was very self conscious about her weight. She was always there for me. I was lucky to have a friend like her through thick and thin.

 

Chapter 55

 

Adultery - which is the only grounds for divorce in New York - is not grounds for divorce in California. As a matter of fact, adultery in Southern California is grounds for marriage.

Allan Sherman

 

Garth was relaxing at home, watching a Martin Scorsese film and having a beer. It was good to relax for a change, he had been on a nonstop schedule with the Chateau.

 

Joannes’ lunch date had proven stressful. There was a lot of anger there from their marriage and now there was also all of the added bullshit with Sol. He wasn’t sure if he would ever recover from this blow to his fragile ego.

 

 

The five million in the bank sure would help ease the pain though. And then there was Greta, she was such a doll. Having her in his life made life good again, made it bearable. He wasn’t sure if he would ever remarry. Marrying was the last thing on his mind right now….Maybe just ride it out and see what happens in the future.

 

Marty sure was a damn good film director. His buddy Cliff thought he was the greatest, but what did that cracker Cliff know? He hadn’t even invested in The Chateau yet.

 

Chapter 56

 

I don't get a whole lot out of the romance thing, but I realize girls do. So I'll go out of my way to make them feel romanced.

James Lafferty

 

Sly and Tabitha arrived at Café La Boheme in style. Sly felt alive and vital with this beautiful creature on his arm. Tabitha was glowing in a white lace dress…Somewhere from the sidewalk a flashbulb went off capturing them together for the first time.

 

The interior of the restaurant was dazzling with a multitude of chandeliers suspended above them while the ruby red décor glimmered softly under the glow of two giant fireplaces.

 

Sly pulled out Tabithas’ upholstered chair.

“You look beautiful.” he told her

“Thank you.” she said

“You really impressed me today with your acts.” he said.

“Its just business. Its what I do.” she said.

“Its not often that one finds the combination of beauty and brains in the nightclub business.” He said. “So, tell me about you.” he was engrossed.

“Well, I’m really just plain Tabitha O’Malley from Oklahoma living her dream in Los Angeles, City of Angels…And you?” she said

“Me? I’m from New York, the outskirts…..But I moved to Florida awhile back and love it.”

“I’ve never been there…What’s it like?”

“Hot.”

 

They laughed.

 

Sly was head over heels in love. Screw Natalie and all the others that had come before this woman. He felt so damn good tonight, nothing could ruin his mood, nothing like……

 

A high pitched voice was hear from across the room. “Little Brother? Is that you?”

 

It was her, big Sis. She was here. On his date. She was here to upstage him on his date with the perfect woman. Now the faces of the entire restaurant were on her, flashbulbs popping, people buzzing and pointing. Brother and sister reunited in Los Angeles.

 

He hugged her.

 

“Elvira, this is my date Tabitha.”

Tabitha shook her hand. “I love your show Elvira.”

“Thank you, thank you so much. I love making all my little dishes, I like to call them my special children.”

 

Here she goes, Sly thought, doing her showbiz song and dance. He smiled stiffly. Now Tabitha would be in every publication from here to Toledo.

 

Elvira turned to her brother. “You didn’t tell me you were in town.”

“I did call, but you did not return my call.” He said

“Oh dear, silly, silly me……I have been so swamped with work, the show is a mess, the actors, the director, the guest chefs…..You know Wolfgang Puck don’t you?”

 

She droned on and on and finally they kissed goodnight. Sly waited for the entourage to leave. He smiled at Tabitha…

 

“Now….Where were we?”

 

Chapter 57

 

Cockroaches and socialites are the only things that can stay up all night and eat anything.

Herb Caen

 

Sly was stoned. Maybe it was a love hangover, maybe he was intoxicated by the aura of Tabitha. It was eight o’clock pm and his plane was boarding for West Palm Beach. He looked around the terminal at the people. There were husbands and wives, old people, young people but not one friendly face towards him. What was his life coming to? Work? Strangers in a club? Life was built on relationships and suddenly Sly wanted one. He wanted her. He dialed his phone at the gate door.

 

“Tabitha?” he said

“Yes? Sly?” she said

“Hi, its me…”

“Oh hello, I thought you had left already.”

“My plane is boarding now…..I’d like to invite you to Bombay Beach next weekend, come and see my club”

“Really? That sounds nice.”

“Yes, how’s next week looking for you?” he asked somewhat anxiously

“I think I could arrange it.” She said positively

“Great. I will send you a ticket.” He said

“I really enjoyed meeting you Sly.”she smiled

“Thanks. You too.” He said

“Have a good trip back and we’ll talk.” She said

 

Fait accompli. He did it. He wasn’t going to let this one slip away. It was the beginning of something good and he could feel it. And no bad vibes were allowed with him. Only good vibes.

 

Chapter 58

 

Good-looking individuals are treated better than homely ones in virtually every social situation, from dating to trial by jury.

Martha Beck

 

Kat and I rode down I-95 to Bal Harbour in Miami. Kat was busy yakking about her new job and I was busy thinking about the gala. Most of the details were being taken care of, Garth had a few more obligations to fulfill. Things were going well with my new job at The Chateau. All the final details were in place, the hotel was almost done.

 

The lobby was spacious and sparsely decorated with California style furnishings, large terra cotta planters and iron tables. The rooms were plush and personal, each room was slightly different and had its own personality and décor. The touches I provided made each guest feel as if every detail had been attended to.

 

“So?” asked Kat

“So? So what?” I said

“So, how it going with Garth?” she asked

“Garth? He’s great.” Is said

“So? Are you head over heels in love with him or what?” Kat persisted.

“I am. But its in a quiet way. Its not like I am in love with Brad Pitt or something….” But its nice. He’s a good man, a wonderful and caring man.” I said

“So…Are you still in love with Sly?”

“No.” I said

“So……..” she persisted..

“So what now.” I said

“How about me?” Kat said

“I told you, we’re hooking you up with Garths buddy Cliff the filmmaker.”

“What if I don’t like him?” she whined

“Then dump him. There will be plenty of people there to talk to.” I assured her

“But he’ll be my date and I’ll be stick with him?” she said

“Please Kat, you are reading too much into this.”

“Do you think we’ll find the right gowns?” she asked

“I hope so.” I said

 

We arrived at the very lush and expensive shops of Bal Harbour. We valet the car and started clothes hunting.

“Oh look, there’s  Escada.” I said

 “Lets go look in there.” Kat said

We browsed through the racks, carefully analyzing each garment.

“What do you think of this one?” I said, pulling out a blue  Jason Wu gown from the rack.

“I love it.” Said Kat

 

A snooty saleslady suddenly appeared and whisked the dress off to a fitting room with a three way mirror in it. I began to undress and slip into the gown. It fit me perfectly and I gave myself the once over in the mirror. Kat called out to me.

“How is it?” she asked

“See what you think.” I said. I stepped out and Kat gasped. “Wow…I feel like this is the royal wedding.” I modeled the lovely gown complete with beaded sash for Kat.

“I think I love it. “ I said

“Me too. Its definitely you Greta.”

 

I purchased the dress using Garths credit card and we walked along the shops and stopped to have some coffee.

 

“Things sure have changed for you.” Kat said

“Really? Do you think so?” I said

“Do I think so? Yes! Just a few months ago you were out on the street, recovering from Peter, feeling like shit and now you are dating a good man, have a great job and are actually happy. I’ve never seen you this happy.” Kat said matter of factly.

“Well, now that you mention it, you are right.” I said

“I want my life to take off too.” Kat said miserably

“It will, give it time.” I said

 

We ordered our cappucinos and cheesecake. Some foreign looking shoppers walked by, some Japanese and some Europeans wearing brightly colored golfing attire. It was the life of the idle rich.

 

I wondered what lay ahead of me. I really wanted to do something meaningful in my life, something that mattered. I wanted to be fulfilled spiritually as well as materially. We’d see what the future holds….So far it was looking good.

 

Chapter 59

 

When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I'd like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.

Annie Leibovitz

 

Sly arrived to chaos at Voodoo. An ambulance was out front and a young woman was on a stretcher. The bright lights from the ambulance had attracted many onlookers and gawkers and Sly was annoyed at the negative attention on his club.

“What the hell is going on? He said

“She was dancing and she slipped on some ice cubes, might have twisted her ankle of some shit.” Said the bouncer

“Jeez….I am gone for a few days and the place goes to shit. Now everybody, get back to work.” Sly yelled.  “Anything else I should know about?” he said

“The Reggae Band cancelled, the lead singer has tonsillitis and they can’t find a replacement.” the Manager said

“The Saturday night band?” Sly said

“Yes,”

“Goddammit. Alright then, I’ll be in my office.”Sly was pissed.

 

Sly looked at the stack of demos on his desk and pulled out Did wild. He dialed her number.

“Hey Didi? I got a gig for you doll.” He said

 

Chapter 60

 

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Mick Jagger

 

It was Saturday, the day of the gala. I was at The Chateau giving the rooms the once over, checking the fruit baskets and flower arrangements. Garth was in last minute meetings with the architect and interior designer.

 

When I was sure that all the details were in place I drove home to get ready for the gala. I pulled my gown out of the closet and lay it on the bed, carefully avoiding any wrinkles. Suddenly I began to feel like a fake, a big pretender. Who was I to be going to a gala and wearing a gown like this? Who did I think I was? I had the urge to drink some Chardonnay, just a touch to calm my nerves which were rattling like crazy. But I didn’t. I was strong and this night would not be ruined. We had worked too hard and too long for anything bad to happen

I would be a confident and charming hostess. Tonight I would have to face Garths’ ex –wife and Sol, the developer. They would be sizing me up, critically searching for flaws in my appearance and clothing, knowing that I wasn’t one of them. I was just the help. But now I was more than just the help, I was Garths’ new girlfriend.

 

This gave me the strength I needed. This was a biggie.

 

I took a long, nice, hot shower and lathered up in my favorite body wash. I dried off and did my hair and makeup. Keeping it all minimal and finally putting on the gown.

 

The gown looked fantastic and I felt special. I hoped all would go smoothly……..

 

Chapter 61

 

Its an addiction... and addiction is something I should know something about.

Keith Richards

 

Sly picked Tabitha up at the airport. She was here. They had an important function tonight at Palm beachs’ newest, hottest hotel.

 

Sly put Tabitha in his guest room to freshen up and went into the kitchen to make some wine and cheese. They would stop by Voodoo later, after the opening. He was sure she would enjoy it, give her a little Floridian glitz and glamour from Palm Beach.

 

Tabitha emerged from the guest room looking stunning in a red off the shoulder dress.

 

“Wow.” He said

“Do you like it?” she asked

“You look fantastic.” He said

“Thank you.”

“The lady in red, is dancing with me…..” he took her in his arms and they danced to some soft music. Sly wanted to tell her that the moment he saw her had changed his life forever, that he wanted to change and be a better man. A man who needed someone. But he kept his feelings to himself. He hoped that this was it….he had found love at last.

 

Chapter 62

 

I never thought I was wasted, but I probably was.

Keith Richards

 

Garth waited in the lobby for Greta to arrive. People were arriving in droves, looking very dressed to the nines. Garth looked resplendent in his tuxedo. At last I arrived, looking elegant. Garth pulled me off to the side.

 

“I want you to have this.” He held a box in his hand

“Oh Garth!” I said, shocked that he would think of something for me after all that he had to deal with tonight.

 

I opened the box, inside was The Seahorse necklace from Kaufman de Suisse. It was a magnificent white gold necklace with a large blue topaz in the center of two seahorses. It was dazzling.

 

“Oh Garth…I am speechless.” I said.

 

“Its beautiful” said Kat. Kat was by my side looking exceptionally glamorous in her Monique LHullier gown. She was excited.

“Cliff should be here any minute now.” Garth said

“Ah, here he is now.”

 

Cliff arrived in a radical black outfit, with a black hat and a purple tie. Garth hugged him.

 

“Kat, I would like you to meet Cliff C Weid, filmmaker.

“Nice to meet you” Kat said, shaking his hand and smiling.

“When do we eat?” said Cliff

Kat laughed, “Funny you should ask that because I am starved as well.”

It was looking good……

 

“I think we can go ahead and be seated now.” Said Garth

 

They walked into the ballroom which was decorated in black and purple lights, white tablecloths. The orchestra was in place, tuning their instruments. They sat down at their seats. The lights dimmed and there was a buzz of anticipation in the air.

 

Buzz Adams the comedian appeared in the spotlight.

“Welcome ladies and gentleman to The Chateau. I am Buzz Adams and I will be your host tonight…..A funny thing happened to me on the way over tonight……”

 

The show began and the orchestra played. Dinner was served. Kat and Cliff hit it off……

 

Chapter 63

 

I'm the No. 1 developer in New York, I'm the biggest in Atlantic City, and maybe we'll keep it that way.

Donald Trump

 

Sly and Tabitha were sitting with some local celebrities enjoying their dinner. Tabitha was having a field day with Sly and he felt confident at knowing what a super lady she was and that she was his, at least for now.

 

I got up to powder my nose and headed towards the bathroom. As I passed a table I noticed that ahead of me right near the bathroom entrance was Sly. He was sitting with a stunning redhead. I felt like I wanted to hide but it was too late. They were directly in my path. I kept on walking and stopped.

 

“Hello Sly.” I said and nodded to the redhead.

Sly stood up and hugged me.

“Greta. You look beautiful.This is my date, Tabitha.”He smiled awkwardly.

“Nice to meet you.” I said

“Tabitha is here from LA, she is in the entertainment business.”

“Lovely…”

“Why are you here tonight?” he asked

“Oh, I am the stylist for the hotel.” I said proudly

“Oh, I didn’t know you were a stylist.” He said

“Well, I guess I never told you.” I said

“So nice to see you Sly….Tabitha…”

 

I was overwhelmed. Sly looked better than ever. Did he always have the need to have a beautiful woman on his arm? The more I thought about him the more I realized what a fool I had been.

 

I stepped inside the well lit bathroom and surveyed myself in the mirror. I did look hot tonight. Nothing was going to ruin my big night with Garth.We had worked so hard for this moment. The she stepped in the bathroom. It was Joanne. She saw me and gave me an icy stare.

 

“Are you Greta?” she asked.

“Yes, I am.” I said “Nice to meet you.” I shook her hand politely.

“Yes, a pleasure dear. I have heard quite a bit  about you.”

“Oh……” I stammered.

“So you are seeing Garth.” She said matter of factly

“Yes, I am, we are good friends.” I said

“I’m sure.” She said with an evil look in her eyes.

“Well, nice to meet you.” I said

 

I exited the restroom. The place was full of landmines. I made it back to our table, shaken up Garth looked up from his food.

“Everything alright?” he asked.

“Oh perfect, just perfect “ I said

“Ready for a dance?’ he asked me

“Yes.”

 

He took my hand and we danced. Then I suddenly realized that the orchestra was playing Jimmy’s song….I felt all the stares slipping away and I realized that I was dancing with the most important man in the room. He wanted me. I was no longer the ex-drunk girlfriend. Life was changing for me and I was proud of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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