A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 4

Walking into the conference room, Angelina and Sheridan gently placed their briefcases on top of the large maple table and began to sit side by side in two oversized, leather, executive chairs.  Adjusting her skirt as she sat, Angelina opened up her attaché case and pulled out the edited copy of the manuscript while Sheridan pulled out the contract and papers they were sent.  Both pulled out a copy of their resumes and list of references.

Pulling out a pair of glasses, Angelina wiped the smudges off the glass lens with a Kleenex. 

“What the hell are those?”  Sheridan asked. 

“A fashion accessory,” Angelina said with a smile.

Sheridan rolled her eyes, “You don’t even wear glasses.”

“True, but I look smarter.”  Angelina suppressed her giggle as the door opened.

“Good afternoon ladies. Welcome.  My name is Gene Mullen.  It’s so nice to finally meet you,” Gene said as he shook hands with the women. 

“Nice to meet you too.  I’m Sheridan Anderson.”  Sheridan grasped the man’s hand and shook it firmly.

‘Strong handshake she’s got,’ thought Gene.

“Hello.  I’m Angelina Lydon.  Here are copies of our resumes and references for your information” 

'Nice eye contact.  Very easy on the eyes,' Gene smiled as his thoughts raced through his mind.  He was not expecting this.  He never thought he would be dealing with two women who appeared to be very professional and, judging by their resumes, qualified.  Neither had a lot of experience, but they certainly were intelligent women.

“I appreciate you both being able to meet with me on such short notice.  My clients who are interested in this project were eager to get started.”  Gene began talking.

Sheridan began, “We’ve both gone over these contracts you sent to us and we had a few questions we were hoping you would be able to answer.”

“Of course, I would be happy too.”  Gene was somewhat worried all of a sudden.  The contracts were pretty straight-forward, he thought.

“We were wondering why you wanted to hire us?” Angelina got straight to the point.

Sheridan interrupted her partner, “What Angel means….”

“Angel?”  Gene look confused.

“I’m sorry, I call Angelina, Angel for short.”  Sheridan corrected her un-professionalism.

Gene’s lips formed an ‘O’ as he understood.

Sheridan continued, “What Angelina means is that we didn’t think you would need to hire us, since you have your own production company, which we both assumed includes writers.”  Sheridan smiled as she waited with baited breath for Gene’s answer.

“Yes, the company does have writers at its disposal.  However, this project is very delicate and my clients and I both felt that in order to preserve the storyline, we should hire those who know the material best.”

“Who exactly are your clients?”  Angelina asked as she put down her pen and folded her hands over her legal pad.

“Once we have you ladies signed and onboard for this project, you’ll be meeting your new bosses.  Til then, that’s confidential.”  Gene replied with an efficient business tone.

‘Oh great.  Knowing our luck, we’ll be working with the mafia,’ Angelina turned towards Sheridan as she scribbled her thoughts down on the legal pad.

Sheridan looked down to read the note and back up to meet Angelina’s eyes.  They looked frightened and Sheridan knew she had to be a bit more aggressive and get some answers that would guarantee their safety.

“Our potential employers wouldn’t by any chance be into anything illegal, would they?”  Sheridan didn’t have time to tactfully word her question, this was the best she could do under the pressure she was feeling.

Gene chuckled understanding where their line of questioning was coming from.  He somewhat smiled as he spoke, “I can assure you, the company and this film are part of a legitimate corporation.  This isn’t a cover for any illegal operations.  I’m being secretive to protect the identities of my clients until we have you both on board and can sign an agreement to keep this project quiet; a confidentiality clause, as they say.  They are not part of the Mob, I can assure you.”  Gene smiled as he spoke his last sentence.

Angelina blushed at his last statement, “I shouldn’t watch The Sopranos.  It’s making my mind work overtime.”  Sheridan was grateful to see Angel relax.

The conversation went more in-depth.  Sheridan was good at this part, asking questions and dealing with specifics.  Angelina was taking notes.  She knew she should have brought her laptop to type the minutes of this meeting; she was much faster at typing than writing. 

Sheridan was thorough as they went over the hours of work involved.  What in general, the company had in mind for a timeline, as well as percentages and paychecks.  Sheridan had the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.  She wasn’t sure how they could hold down full time jobs and do this project at the same time.  The company had requested a revised script and labeled as such per the industry standard.  From that point, a shooting script would be put together so that all of the departments could develop a budget.  They would need a sound stage, props, costumes, and some location shots.  The list was endless but important.  This would determine the dollar amount. 

Sheridan and Angelina would have to discuss this more at home.  Neither of them could afford to give up their jobs but the project seemed to explode in Sheridan's head when the numbers were laid down on the table in front of her.

As the women signed their names to the contracts, Gene congratulated them and welcomed them into the company.  He then collected the contracts while smiling and said he would return momentarily.  Gene was pleased as punch that he had them signed.  The writer’s were onboard without much of an excuse and now so would be the cast and production company.  They only needed one more thing, a director. 

They had been meeting with Gene for almost two hours.  Refreshments were brought in for them which was a good thing, since Angelina’s stomach began to grumble.  She had finished off her glass of water an hour ago and was getting very thirsty.  Sheridan’s eyes lit up as she poured herself a cup of coffee.  She looked at her cell phone and saw that Tom had tried calling twenty minutes ago.

A young woman walked into the conference room, “Good Evening ladies.  My name is Marybeth, I'm Gene’s assistant.  He’ll be back in just a few minutes.  Can I get you ladies anything else or give you a tour?”

“Hello,” Sheridan and Angelina spoke and shook Marybeth’s hand.  “Could you tell us where the restrooms are located?”

“Certainly, follow me.”

As the three of them walked down the corridor and turned, Gene and his clients were walking into the conference room that the women had just vacated.

Gene had made copies of the resumes and references that the ladies had given him. He handed each one of his clients a copy on their way into the conference room. 

As they took their usual seats, they all began reading.  Afterwards, they were asking Gene questions about the writers.  All Gene could do was warn them that the women were not at all as he pictured them to be.  They may be fans, but they were intelligent, nice looking women, who were well prepared.  Gene started to laugh, “Although, they won’t be prepared to meet you five gentlemen.”

The oldest and his cousin, who were both hesitant about this project from the beginning, appreciated seeing their credentials.  “They appear to be quite smart on paper.  Boston University and Penn State are very good schools.  This might not be so bad.  At least I don’t feel like we will completely fail with this project,” one of them mumbled.

They heard the women approaching by the clicks of their heels on the floor.  Marybeth opened the door and stepped aside, allowing the ladies in.  Giving them a quick nod and a ‘hello’ to the clients.

Gene came over and whispered something to Marybeth then greeted the two women.  “Why don’t I introduce you to your new bosses?  This is your cast and the producers for this project.” as he motioned for the women to join them.  Sheridan and Angelina stood there, not really looking at who was in the room, but noticed movement and suddenly five people.  Not people, men, five men who looked vaguely familiar.  Not just vaguely, but very familiar to the ladies.

Angelina made a small, sharp gasping sound and Sheridan mumbled a very soft, ‘Oh God.’

Gene continued to speak, as he was being amused watching the girls try and stay composed.  He was feeling a bit guilty about not being able to warn them, but then he thought this would be a good way to judge their professionalism.

“Sheridan Anderson and Angelina Lydon, please meet Alex McLean, Howard Dorough, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, and Kevin Richardson.”

Quickly, Angel wiped her hands on her skirt then began to shake each of their hands and say hello.  She maintained eye contact with each of them, never looking down to find their hands, impressing Gene. 

Sheridan straightened and pulled her shoulders back as she firmly shook their hands. ‘So far, so good,’ Gene thought.  ‘And neither one of them has lost their voice while saying hello either, no screaming yet by fan standards.’

As they took their seats again, Sheridan and Angelina were sitting beside each other at one end of the conference table.  Their new bosses were seated opposite them, except Kevin who anchored one chair at one end of the table and Gene who sat at the other end. 

Angel picked up her pen from her pad and quickly wrote something for Sheridan.

“Busted,” was all it said.

Sheridan locked her eyes on Gene, getting her message across that she wasn’t too happy about this.

The squeak of springs made all the heads in the room turn towards the foot of the table.  Kevin sat with a highlighter, drawing lines across the pages.  “So ladies, how does that little blurb go?”  Kevin paused for a second as he thought about it for a short second.  “Oh yes,” Kevin made little quote marks in the air with his index and second finger.  “All stories, and characters are fictitious.  Any resemblance to real people, or events, is purely coincidental.”

Angelina’s mind raced saying a little prayer, ‘Oh God, please no anxiety attacks.  I swear I’ll be good.  I’ll be at Church on Sunday. Just please let me be able to make it through this meeting.’

Kevin waited to see if he had hit a sore spot.  Angelina seemed to be gasping for air like a big old bass.  Oh yeah, he had struck a nerve with that one.  He watched the little blonde, she didn’t flinch but scrawled something on the legal pad that only the two of them and Gene could see.

Angelina’s eyes dropped to the pad.  “I hope you didn’t quit your job.  We’re going to have legal bills!”  Angelina closed her eyes after she read Sheridan’s note, she felt faint.  Angelina’s eyelids popped open when Kevin spoke again. 

“Nick, how much was that fine for the sea grass shit?”  Kevin’s tongue was balled up in his cheek.

“Hell man, I don’t remember, that was ages ago.”

Kevin licked the tip of his finger and turned the pages of the script, “Oh yeah, here it is, Thirty thousand, five hundred, and seventy three dollars, but it’s all coincidental.”  Kevin laughed as he looked at the women.

A.J. cleared his throat, “Look, Kevin ain’t too happy about doin’ a fanfic for our first flick.  I happen to like your work.  Brian is hesitant, Howie likes the spin you gave his guy, and Nick just wants to learn to surf.  So ladies, lets do it.”  A.J. turned the page, “We will need some changes.  Broadway Boy over there is going to London.  Each one of us will schedule a series of meetings with both of you and tell you what we want changed.  We’ll let you know what you can keep.”

“Uh-oh,” Angel almost moaned a little too loud.

Sheridan soaked up A.J.’s directive and then looked at Gene.  “I thought that you wanted to preserve the storyline and that we were to maintain some type of creative control with this project.”

A whoosh of air came from the opposite end of the room.  “You’ll have control, afterall, it is your story, as highly inaccurate as it is.”

“I think she has you pigeon holed pretty well cousin,” Brian smiled as he offered a glimmer of hope to these women.  The guys weren’t divas and rarely acted like it.  It seemed that both Kevin and A.J. were in a diva mood though.

Sheridan smiled as she looked across the table, making a mental note that she would deal with Brian in the future if she had any problems.  All this time, she thought Howie was the grand peacemaker.

Angelina had yet to speak, her ears soaking up the conversation.  She was trying very hard not to stare at the handsomest man in the room, in her eyes anyway, Nick.

Gene looked to each one of them.  “Now we all understand that the ladies have the final say so.”

Kevin’s mouth began to open but Gene’s hand making the old stand by stop sign; ceased him from going further.

“Unless of course, you have a real problem and then I will play mediator.”  Gene watched Kevin’s mouth close.

Sheridan checked her tongue in her cheek.  “Let’s begin, we’ll start with A.J. since he seems to want some changes.  We can set up meetings as necessary.”

“Will you need a production assistant or secretary to help you ladies?”  Howie was offering to inflate the payroll and help them out.

Angelina shook her head no, “We’re fine.  We live together and do just fine on our own.  Just the two of us.”

A quiet snicker from Nick made Sheridan glare at the man, since Angelina had made their relationship seem like something it wasn’t.

Angelina looked around the room at the five men, all but Brian were grinning slightly.  Kevin was the worst as he sat back in his chair and smirked.

“We live together, that is all.  I’m not the one who sets everyone’s ‘Gaydar’ off.” 

Now all the men began to laugh except for Kevin, the stab was meant for him and Sheridan had delivered it in a non-threatening manner.

Nick and Angelina’s stomachs were growling and beginning to break up conversations. Menus had been brought in and passed around since the meeting was running very late.  Everyone ordered something to eat, even though the tension was high. 

“Angelina, do you know how to surf?  I’ve been taking lessons.  I really want to learn how to surf.”  Nick took a bite of his chicken wing.

“No, I don’t know.  I’m from an area where there are only lakes.  When I lived in Boston, I would go to the ocean, but you can’t really surf there either.”  Angelina had ordered the same meal as Nick.

“Then how did you get all that stuff in there?”  Nick’s greasy fingers slid over his copy of the script.

Sheridan was repulsed.

Angelina was… well… it was Nick.  What did she expect, a neat Nick?  “Sheridan is a pain in the rear for when it comes to this stuff.  The technical portions came from research.  And please, just call me Angel, everyone else does.”

“Are you my Angel?”  Nick smiled at her.

The four men along with Gene and Sheridan moaned over the questions.  Nick’s flirting caused Angel to choke on her dinner.

“No sleeping with the employees Nick,” Kevin munched on a bread stick.

“Who said she would?”  Sheridan shot back, a little pissed that he would be so amateurish and rude.

Angelina’s eyes spoke enough words to keep her quiet.  She was amazed at how the conversation took a complete 180 degree turn on her.  ‘What the hell?’ she thought, ‘Okay, the big jerk is trying to intimidate you Angel, stay calm,’ Angel continued to give herself a pep talk.

“So who wrote who in this story?”  Howie wanted to know who knew about who and how the two women had written the story.

“I don’t think that is pertinent Mr. Dorough.  We write together and then blend the character traits that we like and put them into words.”  Sheridan jammed her fork into a salad.  It was un-nerving as hell to be in the same room as the man she worshipped.  It was like eating dinner with the devil himself.  Her mind drifted back to Chicago and the scene of, “We Both Reached For The Gun.”  Sheridan thought back to where her eyes were focused and it was not the actor’s face, which happened to be Kevin's.  “Open, close, open, close,” drummed in her head to its own cadence.

Sheridan opened her eyes to find Kevin staring at her from the chair next to her.  She hadn’t seen him move next to her, her mind lost in her own little fantasy world.

“I like your hairstyle.  It’s sort of Chicago-ish” Kevin didn’t smile, this chick was hard as nails and as cold as they come.  Angelina seemed to be hitting it off with the rest of the guys while Sheridan was zoning out.  Kevin was still trying to figure out who wrote what.  For some reason, it was important to him.  Kevin leaned back in the chair.  “I see you like to write.  Have you done any other work besides us?”

Sheridan took the question as a smart remark.  “Yes I have.  I worked at a paper in my hometown.  Covering the local news and sports.”

“Oh,” Kevin was reminded about their resumes, the women did come with some experience.  “Do you have a nickname like Dani or something?”

“No, just Sheridan.”  Sheridan tried to maintain calm, hoping that the only one who could read her at the moment was Angel.  Inside Sheridan was butting heads with herself.  She didn’t like the fact that they were going to play with the script, she didn’t like the idea that she was making small talk with Kevin.

“Excuse me,” Sheridan stood up and left the room.

Kevin sat looking at the door she had just walked out of.  Angelina figured some kind of excuse was in order.  “She’s way down on her caffeine level for the day.  She gets a bit off if she doesn’t get enough.”

“Is that all Angel or are you going to play straight with us?”  Again, A.J.’s non-subtle words broke the tension.

“Meaning?” she quirked an eyebrow at him.

“Who wrote about who?”  Howie offered the question again.

“That seems to be very important to you guys, but my questions is why?”  Angel couldn’t think of one damn good reason why they were all hell bent on knowing who had written the parts for each one of them.

“It helps us understand you,” Nick’s cocky grin glowing brightly.

Angelina shifted slightly, her bullshit meter dinging in her ears.  Oh yes, they wanted to know, but it was to see who had a shot at changing their parts and gaining some type of influence over them.  Turning towards Howie, “Simple, we collaborated on A.J., Brian, and you.”

“That leaves me and Nick,” Kevin said from beside her in Sheridan’s seat.  ‘When the hell did he move?  He’s like a God damn snake,’ Angel was trying hard to control her breathing.  Kevin could be a sneak if he wanted to be.  Sheridan had called that one.  With a flirtatious smile, she answered Kevin, “I wrote you Kevin and Sheridan wrote Nick.”

Oh, the Backstreet Boys looked like they had been hit by a train.  Their faces dropped and Nick turned the mega-watt smile on.  “So, Sheridan likes me.  I’m cool with that.”

‘Oh you little dawgs,’ Angel grumbled in her head.  ‘I lied suckers, but I’ll let you figure that one out.‘

Sheridan came back into the room and joined the group instead of returning to her seat.  “I’m sorry gentlemen, I’m a little low on my coffee today.  I’m getting a headache.”

“Do you want me to go grab you a cup from someplace?  I would be more than happy too.”  Nick stood up, ready for service.

“No thank you.  I think we should call it a night.  I think Angel and I are still a little in shock over what has transpired this evening.”

“Need to go home and get that teeny scream out of the way Sheridan?”  Kevin smiled warmly for the first time at her.

Angelina’s attitude was building momentum.  She couldn’t believe these guys. They were playing the old game of divide and conquer.  Kevin turned to her next and Angelina just knew she would get all the aggression that had been aimed at Sheridan before she told him that Sheridan wrote about Nick.

With a curt nod, he smirked, “Till our next meeting.  Sweet Dreams.”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”  Angelina screamed in her head.  No, this would have to be straightened out immediately. 

Grabbing their briefcases, they headed towards the door.  As Angelina reached the door, she turned back to find the men deep in conversation.  This is not good, she mused.  “By the way Gentleman.”  Angel looked out the door and down the hall to make sure Sheridan had kept walking like she had hoped she would.  Sheridan was half-way up the corridor when Angel turned her head back into the room.  “I lied about the parts.”

She saw shock on one face, amusement on another, and A.J. laughing loudly.  Kevin and Nick were both pissed.  Of course they were, they were the leads in the film.  “Night gentlemen,” she grinned and winked at them as she walked out the door.





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This is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

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