The Kiddie Corral 2
"We hope to see you again tomorrow on Kiddie Corral," the lively blonde said as she smiled into the camera.
"We are clear. Good job everyone. See you back here tomorrow," a voice said over the loud speaker filling the small sound stage.
Walking off the set thanking everyone was Jeanie Thompson, the creator and star of Kiddie Corral. It was a locally produced show which aired on several stations across the country owned by "Big" Bob Mackey.
"Hey Jeanie, I need to speak with you for a moment," station manager Jim Peterson said as he dodged equipment to catch the small blonde.
"Sure, Jim. You will have to walk with me though. I have a public appearance in a few hours and I want to go home first."
"Not a problem. I can do that," he said. He realized walking and talking with her was a marathon event, as she seemed to speed up her pace. His out of shape body protested the exertion.
"Umm, the station owner has picked the new producer of the show."
"Did he go with my suggestion of Bill Band?" she said.
"Umm, no. He wanted someone with a bit of an edge, so he picked Samantha Singleton."
She stopped abruptly. "He picked who?" Jeanie asked.
"Samantha Singleton?" he said as the worry showed through his voice. He knew this would get the small blonde worked up, but watching her internally combust was not in any of the scenarios he had envisioned.
"You have got to be kidding me! That pariah? Oh no, she is not touching my show. This is a kids show, for Gods sakes. Why in the world would he pick her?" she ranted. Jeanie turned around her usually pleasant face filled with a menacing look. "Is he doing her?"
"No!" said Jim defiantly. He paused deep in thought his eyebrows furrowed as he attempted to shake the disconcerting image from his mind. "No. He chose her because he thinks shes the best candidate for the job."
"Yeah you just keep trying to convince yourself of that," answered Jeanie, sarcasm dripping from her voice. "Do you even know what her idea of a petting zoo is?" She threw up her arms in disgust as she started to walk again. "I cant even go there."
Jim inhaled sharply trying to catch his breath then ran after his favorite host. "Hold on Jeanie."
She turned sharply around. "Now is not a good time to discuss this."
"Theres nothing to discuss. Its a done deal."
"Excuse me? What happened to creative control?" yelled Jeanie her face turning crimson with rage as her body began to noticeably tremble.
He had never seen that expression before yet it looked familiar. The usually demure blonde had a wild look in her eyes and he was trying to place it. After considerable thought it came to him. Oh this is bad, he thought. She looks like Callisto on a bad acid trip. He shuttered half expecting her head to begin rotating uncontrollably spewing pea soup over his new jacket and those lovely jiggling, bouncing. Focus Jim, focus! Stop looking at her boobs. She is in crisis mode! "Now Jeanie its not as bad as it seems. Shes a tough lady but she gets things done."
"And she does everyone in the process! Kiddie Corral is an innocent childrens show that teaches kids about the joys of animals. It is not about animals copulating!" She paused momentarily. "With or without other animals!" She began swinging her arms wildly as she continued her tirade. "I have spent the last ten years working to create a wholesome image and a nice little television show dedicated to educating young children. I am not going to let some two bit little tramp come onto the set and destroy everything I have created. Not when we are finally getting the recognition we deserve. Now you call Big Bob and you tell him I want a meeting and I want it now, as soon as Im through with my appearance."
"Meeting with Bob isnt going to change things. The ink is already dry on the contract."
Jeanie grabbed the unsuspecting man by the collar and pulled him down to her eye level. "You just get him here."
"Arent you taking this a little bit personally?" Jim said choking from the tight grip around his neck.
"It is personal. Its my show," she hissed releasing him from the strangle hold.
"Didnt you two know each other in college?" asked Jim leaping backward out of her reach when he realized his mistake.
"We went to the same college. That is all!" she said gesturing with her hand.
"I thought you two knew each other."
"We were acquaintances. We bumped into each other at parties but we were never friends," defended Jeanie. "And dont you go starting rumors. Whose side are you on anyway?"
Im on your side. Always. You know that. I just dont like seeing you so worked up over something you cant change."
"Cant change my ass. You get me that meeting Jim." She turned and stalked through the door. "You call me on my cell phone," she added.
Jim stood in front of the lambs pen shell-shocked.
He looked over at the young animal. "Well I think that went well dont you?"
Jeanie stopped in front of the double doors leading into Big Bobs spacious penthouse office then extracted a compact from her purse, applying a new coat of lipstick onto her full lips. Confident that her appearance was perfect she placed the mirror back into her bag and smoothed her blouse and skirt before reaching for the doorknob, attempting to contain her composure before making her entrance. She hated this part of her job but she knew that if she didnt nip this in the bud she would be stuck with that evil heretic running her show.
Nervously she opened the door and walked confidently inside. Bob sat in his high back leather chair behind the desk wearing his signature ten-gallon cowboy hat. To his right was her faithful friend and colleague Jim. She froze in mid stride when she looked to her own right. Sitting with her legs crossed wearing a black silk blouse, short gray skirt and black pantyhose was a tall slender woman with piercing gray eyes and long auburn hair flowing loosely over her shoulders.
Jeanie stalked up to the desk planting both hands firmly onto the fine oak furniture and glared at Big Bob. "What the hell is she doing here?"
Samantha stood up extending her hand out to Jeanie. "Its good to see you again," she said calmly.
"You have some nerve showing up here," hissed Jeanie batting the hand away, never looking in her direction. "I asked for a meeting with you Bob and Jim. Make her go away before I do."
Big Bob stood up coolly from his chair. He was a very large man, standing six and a half feet tall with a very robust build, his white hat adding several inches to his appearance. He was an oilman from Texas and was known to be very tough with his competitors but docile among his employees. He had always had a fascination with the entertainment industry and jumped at the chance to own a small piece of it every time a small station filed Chapter Eleven.
They were on the verge of finally taking some of their shows to the national networks, the first one in line being Kiddie Corral and he was convinced the tough as nails independent film producer Samantha Singleton was just the person for the job even if she did have a reputation for sexually explicit films that pushed the boundaries in the industry. Now he just had to convince his favorite host to give her a chance and do it quickly before Jeanie drew first blood. "Now Jeanie," he started, drawing out his speech with his genial southern accent. "Were all adults here. Lets sit down and discuss this like rational people"
Blue eyes burned with anger. Jeanie didnt budge glaring directly into Big Bobs eyes seething with rage. "This is not happening Bob. Not now. Not when we are this close to national distribution," she said holding her index finger and thumb less than an inch apart to drive home her point. "I will not let you ambush me with some two bit little tramp to boss me around."
"So I like to have a good time," quipped Samantha enjoying the show quietly.
"Its a friggin childrens show. Shes a pornographer! Do you see the conflict of interest here? What were you thinking?"
Samantha stood from her chair, walked over to the desk and nonchalantly sat at the edge crossing her legs seductively. She was the very essence of cool. "I am a legitimate filmmaker."
"Who uses underage children for sex scenes!"
"The laws are very different in Europe and only one of my actresses was underage. I didnt break any laws."
"And that makes it okay? This is America! What will the public say Bob? You might as well just pull the plug now before the news hits the stands."
"Now Jeanie," drawled Bob. "Thats ancient history. It happened over five years ago."
"They were lovers for Chris sakes!"
"Now that is an out and out lie," stated Samantha. "I was doing her mother."
"And homosexuality is just what American parents want in a childrens show!" yelled Jeanie swinging her arms wildly. She turned to confront Samantha. "I have spent the last ten years of my life creating a wholesome image for myself, living a good Christian life. The parents trust me with their children." She turned to Bob. "And now with one stupid uninformed decision youre going to tear down everything I have worked so hard to create. Damn you Bob!"
"My private life is of no concern to the general public. Im here to liven up the show and sell it to the major networks so you can reach more kids. You really need to get over this holier than thou attitude," interjected Samantha.
"Tell that to Fiona."
"Of Fionas Furry Friends?" asked Samantha. "You let me worry about her and just keep doing your job."
"What job? Im not going to have a job when the announcement is made public! She is going to take any little piece of dirt she can find on you and put it back in the papers. Parents are not going to let their children participate on a show with the likes of you!"
"Like I said you let me deal with her."
"Shes our chief competition. She crucified me in the papers when I divorced Michael. Its taken a year of public appearances and damage control to take the spotlight off our marital problems."
"Its not your fault Michael ran off with the pool boy," Samantha said casually.
Jim sat silently watching the conversation bounce from one person to the next. He knew that Bob was making a political statement by hiring Samantha hoping and praying that it didnt backfire and destroy Jeanies dream. She was definitely qualified and if his sources were correct she would be the one to bring their little show into the national spotlight. Now if he could just get Jeanie to cooperate. "Jeanie whats it going to take to get you to back down and give Samantha a chance?"
"Not a fucking thing!" cried Jeanie. "I will not now nor will I ever work with this woman. Its her or me. Make your decision Bob."
An uncomfortable silence filled the room. Tension clouded the air as Samantha stood up to speak. "The least you can do is give me five minutes to talk. If I havent convinced you that I can make this work and sell your show into national distribution then I will rescind the offer."
"There you go Jeanie," said Big Bob. "It cant get any fairer than that."
Jeanie took a deep breath glaring at the tall redhead. "Fine. Five minutes. Just be warned that nothing you can say now or ever will change my mind."
"I can be very persuasive you know," purred Samantha.
"When pigs fly."
Samantha stood up and smoothed her skirt gesturing toward the hall. "Lets step outside."
Jeanie turned and walked toward the door. "Your attempts are futile Samantha. My mind is made up," she mumbled as she stepped through the double doors.
"You might want to duck your head as we exit. No need to run into any of those flying pigs," quipped Samantha, an evil grin on her face.
Jim and Bob watched as the shapely women excited the room shaking their heads. "So do you think she can convince Jeanie?"
"That woman could sell kiddie porn to Oral Roberts. Shell have her convinced in three," replied Bob.
Three minutes later the door opened revealing the tall form of the redhead. "Ill see you on the set Monday morning at 7:00am," she said waving to Jeanie down the hallway before stepping back into the office.
"I take it things went well," stated Bob.
"I told you I can be very persuasive."
"So you caved in just like that?" asked Monica, Jeanies best friend and confidant.
They were sitting in a favorite little café located near the Santa Monica pier talking about the events from the previous day. Jeanie picked at her salad averting her eyes from the steely gaze of her buddy. "I didnt just cave in. She made a good case for herself."
"How can you forget about her reputation? When Fiona learns of this every sordid detail of her past is going to be splashed across the headlines."
"Fiona is just a little puissant television host. Her show is a rip off of mine anyway."
"Theres more to this story. What arent you telling me?" inquired Monica.
"Nothing," defended Jeanie. "Look its done. I just have to make the best of it. Besides Im good at what I do. The public cant fault me for who my boss chooses to run the show. If it backfires Ill take my ideas elsewhere." She finally looked up at Monica. "You do think Im good enough to get hired elsewhere dont you?"
"Of course I do. I just cant stand the idea of you having to start all over again. This isnt about,"
"Dont even go there," whispered Jeanie glancing in all directions for reporters.
"Thats it. What does she have on you?"
It doesnt matter now. Can we not discuss this?"
"This is personal isnt it?"
"Of course. Its my show."
"No thats not what Im talking about. You have always gotten your knickers in a twist whenever that womans name has appeared in the headlines or as the topic of discussion. How well did you know her in college?"
"No better than half of America and Europe," mumbled Jeanie. "Now do you understand how badly this could blow up in my face?"
"Ah Jeanie. This is the twenty-first century and we are in California. Lots of girls experimented in college."
"If this gets out Im finished. I work with children Monica."
"And Samantha now has a vested interest in the show. She isnt going to let that happen. And you had a husband for nine years."
"Who left me for another man. I can just feel Fionas breathe on the back of my neck. Shell exploit anything to get her show sold at the convention next month."
"Then fight back. She cannot be as wholesome as she appears. I bet she has some skeletons in her closet."
"Thats not my style Monica. I want my show on the air because its good not because I found some dirt on the competition."
"Thats a losing attitude. Wake up girl. Youre not in Kansas anymore. This is Hollywood."
"I have no kids, a failed marriage and a producer whos going to make the animals nervous around her. What am I going to find on Fiona? She has the perfect marriage, two kids and a dog. She even has a white picket fence around her goddamned yard and she goes to Sunday services religiously. Its the American dream and shes just the type of person people want their kids around. How do I compete with that?"
"No one can be that squeaky clean. Maybe you could bribe her priest if he isnt too busy with the choirboys."
"Fiona is. Ive been searching for years."
"So you do have some fire in you. Well then at least tell me about Samantha."
"Theres nothing to tell. I was young."
"Youre not going to budge are you?"
"Well then cheer up kid. Youve weathered worse storms."
"You dont have to work with her everyday." Jeanies eyes grew vacant as she thought about Monday morning and the woman causing all of her misery, a slight blush creeping into her face.
"Oh my god," exclaimed Monica.
The words brought Jeanie out of her trance. "What?"
"You werent just experimenting were you?" Monica lowered her voice to a whisper. "That explains everything."
"Talk to me Jeanie. You didnt take it very hard when Michael left and you always said your marriage lacked passion."
"He was gay," defended Jeanie. "Of course there was no passion."
"Ah Jeanie," said Monica her voice filled with empathy. She leaned over the table to grasp her friends hand but Jeanie withdrew it quickly from the table.
"Holding my hand is not going to help things. Paparazzi are everywhere."
"Yeah but I really am straight."
"As am I."
"This is your best friend, your buddy. If you cant talk to me about this problem then at least talk to a psychologist. Its Hollywood. Everyone has one."
"I dont have a problem."
"Youve put your life on hold chasing a dream because of a few small minded Bible toting assholes who think they have all of the answers."
"And Im not going to blow it now. Theres a lot more in this life than sex."
"Youre right. Companionship, love, commitment. You still have feelings for her dont you?"
"Oh come on. Id do her and you know how much I love my man and his equipment."
"Dont even put those thoughts into my head. I have bigger worries right now."
"Okay hon. Just remember I am here if you need to talk."
Jeanie peered affectionately at her friend. "Thanks."
Jeanie walked through the door of her modest two-story condominium petting her faithful friend as he ran inside to greet her brushing up against her ankle leaving tufts of black fur clinging to her pantyhose. She walked over to the kitchen and the blinking light on the answer machine and pushed the button.
"You have one message." She listened to the annoying beep then froze when she recognized the smoky voice on the speaker. "Jeanie it really was good to see you again. Im sorry I had to resort to such under handed tactics to get you to listen but you really left me no choice. I have your best interests in mind."
There was a pause on the tape. Jeanie shuddered as she continued to listen. "Anyway I will look forward to seeing you on Monday morning. Maybe in a few days you and I can have dinner together. I think a long talk is overdue. Sleep tight Toto."
Jeanie grabbed the answer machine ripping it from the wall and threw it across the kitchen floor listening to the sound of plastic tearing apart, a small comfort to her. "What a bitch!"
Jeanie tossed and turned under the covers, her mind racing with thoughts of the direction her life was turning. An avalanche of emotions cascaded around her keeping her from a much-needed evening of rest.
Samantha Singleton. The name made her involuntarily shudder. In college she was president of the Lambda Delta Lambda sorority, the first and only openly gay sorority on campus. She was the original party girl and everyone had aspirations to be just like her, lesbian or not. She had the looks of a runway model, the IQ of a genius and a witty personality and she became her ticket to the A-list befriending her when they shared a communications class together.
Jeanie remembered the first time their eyes met. She had just started dating Michael, the first boy who ever made her feel remotely sexy. He was a junior when she entered the university and dating an upper classroom held its own measure of excitement. He was a journalist and a jock standing over six feet tall with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes, the ultimate surfer. She was convinced after their first date that he would be the man she married until she met Samantha.
Those eyes. With one look they had mesmerized her leaving her shocked and confused until Samantha innocently suggested they become study partners. Samantha jokingly told her that it was important to be seen with heterosexuals for appearance sake. Their study dates eventually became more frequent and the two spent time together always during the light of day, going to movies and plays, taking trips to the pier or just walking along the beach talking. They spent countless hours in deep conversations discussing everything from Desert Storm to the latest in Paris fashion and everything in between, with the exclusion of relationships.
Jeanie knew that Samantha had a reputation but because of her extraordinary looks and personality it never affected her status on the A-list. It was widely known that she could drink the boys under the table and take their girlfriends to bed and still the guys would clamor around her all with the misguided dream that she would become straight after a steamy night of sex with them. It was even rumored that she bedded some of them just for variety.
Jeanie couldnt remember the exact day she started to experience feelings of jealousy over those stories but it happened and their friendship began to change or as Samantha explained, "It evolved."
But Jeanie knew the direction she wanted her life to go in, childrens programming and there would never be a place for someone like Samantha in her future and the inner struggle began.
She rolled over on her stomach and stared at the clock. It was 3:00am and sleep still evaded her. She covered her head with a pillow in a vain attempt to stop the thoughts running together in her mind. Those eyes. The allure of her presence. She concentrated on her breathing techniques trying to empty her mind of all thoughts until darkness surrounded her.
She could feel the gentleness of the cool ocean breeze caressing her heated flesh awakening the nerve endings within her skin, the ice melting between her breasts as it connected running a slow trail down to her stomach before disintegrating into a small puddle in her belly button. Passion ignited within like slow smoldering embers of fire. The warm soft moisture of her tongue lapping at the liquid before it disappeared created an inferno that began between her thighs and continued up her spine creating shivers along every inch of her body as one breast became lost in the soft warmth of her touch. She cried out softly arching her back into the waiting mouth eager to bring her pleasure. Her moans grew along with the small cries increasing with intensity as her enjoyment mounted. The desire intensified taking her to heights she had only dreamed of as her body writhed and bucked under the erotic touch. She grasped the sheets between her fingers her body rocking forward violently as she cried into the quiet summer night, her body covered with a sheen of perspiration, her passion sated.
Jeanie woke up suddenly, her body covered with sweat as she shook her head violently attempting to lose the image. "I must be losing my mind. That or maybe I just need to get laid." Frustrated she fell back into the pillows covering her face. Monday would be here too quickly or was it that she thought it was a lifetime away. "Someone shoot me."
Fiona Pullman was a plain woman. Unlike Jeanie Thompson she did not possess the kind of striking good looks that Hollywood adored. She was a plain looking woman with medium length brown hair and hazel eyes. She was small standing barely 53" with an average build.
As a result she worked twice as hard to achieve her success in Tinsel town the old fashioned way, with lots of begging, money and manipulation using plenty of blackmail when her back was against the wall. Her father was a powerful businessman with plenty of new money and she built her reputation on clean Christian living using god shamelessly as a weapon to aide in her quest for success. No life was too precious for her to destroy.
She sat behind her desk smoking a Marlboro reading the latest entertainment news in the Daily Variety. Fans and air purifiers were placed strategically around the room to suck up the foul odor as she turned the page of the magazine. Her eyes widened with luscious delight when she saw the photograph of Samantha Singleton under the headline Mackey Productions is Proud to Welcome Independent Producer to His Team.
Quickly she scanned the article letting loose an evil laugh as she read the entire piece, ignoring the door when it opened revealing a handsome tall, muscular man with thick black hair and green eyes wearing a cheap suit, her own private dick, Jimmie Johnson. "That sounds like the laugh of a woman holdin four aces in her hand," he said before sitting down in the chair in front of her.
"I take it four aces is a winning hand in your world," she said snidely.
"One of the best maam," he said, his Texas accent drawing out the last word.
"Samantha Singleton has been named the new producer of Kiddie Corral. Its the best news Ive had since Jeanies husband ran off with the pool boy."
"The woman youre payin me to investigate?" Fiona nodded, an exuberant expression on her face. "Forgive my ignorance but who is Samantha Singleton?"
Fiona turned the magazine around and pointed out the photo in the article. "Shes the woman Im going to have you start following from now on. I want you to watch her day and night. Did you have any luck getting your friend hired on the show?"
"Everythangs in place. Brett started workin this mornin as a carpenter on the show. Ive given him a couple of small but very high tech cameras to take pitchers of anythang unusual and hell be givin me every lil detail bout changes on the show."
"Perfect. Its a great day Jimmie. Samantha Singleton is the last person on earth parents are going to want to have their children associated with. Bob has finally flipped his lid with all of his liberal ideas about equality. Even in California people arent going to let their children hang around a known homosexual. I couldnt have written a happier ending to this story."
"That pretty gal is into chicks?" he asked his eyes lighting up as he thought about the implications of the words.
"That bitch is into everything on two legs and the sheep are scared of her," she quipped. Fiona rolled her eyes as she watched Jimmie cock his head to the side obviously not understanding the joke. "Shes a bonafide pervert Jimmie and I guarantee youll be able to get incriminating photographs of her in the next two weeks to seal the deal in blood."
"Oh," replied Jimmie hesitantly his eyes widening. "Oh, I git it now. But if in you know this now why do you need Brett and me?"
"Because Jimmie my boy, you can never be too careful in this business. I want you watching her day and night, especially the nights. I want photos of her with everyone she meets with and when the time is right Ill have all of the ammunition I need just before the convention to knock Kiddie Corral and Dorothy back to Kansas. Now get going and do your job. Im not paying you to sit around here and watch me gloat."
Jimmie stood up a look of disappointment on his face. "But I came here early so we could,"
"Not now Jimmie." She leaned over the table caressing his ruggedly handsome face. "We have work to do so go."
"All right maam," he said dejectedly and turned to walk away.
"And dont call me maam," she said after him. "Its a real turn off."
Samantha strutted around the revitalized television set making minor adjustments here and there. She had spent the weekend redesigning the five-year old stage to make it look more palatable to the powers who held the money, insisting on a closed set to shield the improvements from the spying eyes of her chief competition. Confident that the additional money in the budget had been well spent she peeked out of the door and searched the hallway for the elusive little blonde, ducking casually back onto the set when she heard the familiar gait of her host.
Jeanie pushed through the doors stopping abruptly to stare at the new design. She wanted to hate it, hate everything about it but it was stunning. The look was crisp and sleek and fun. She hated Samantha even more at that moment. Her eyes widened with delight at the new improvements, her expression changing quickly when she felt the alluring presence of the evil Samantha Singleton standing dangerously close to her.
"So do you like it?" Samantha asked whispering into her ear, the warmth of her breath tickling Jeanies senses creating an eruption of goose bumps to arise involuntarily along her skin. The voice softened with only a hint of smugness. "If its too cold in here I can have one of the guys turn up the heat."
Jeanie turned her gaze toward Samantha, a slight weakening of the knees creeping into her stance. "Im fine," she muttered. "Its plenty hot in here."
"Yes it is," purred Samantha eliciting a cold glare from Jeanie.
Samantha gently caressed her forearm eliciting another unwanted response as Jeanie fought valiantly to contain her composure. "Well?"
Jim watched from across the set running to his host when he sensed her discomfort. His intuition had told him that he was missing a piece to the puzzle and watching the two interact even for a moment convinced him that his suspicions were right and it was something that could be devastating to the show. "So what do you think Jeanie?" he asked excitedly. "Everyone has been working like busy little beavers to make the place shine for you this morning."
"Interesting choice of words," mumbled Samantha, her voice low enough to go undetected.
"Its nice." A beat. "Its an improvement but its going to take more than a shiny new paint job to tip the iceberg."
"Honey were not going to just tip the iceberg. Were going to melt it into a tiny warm, wet puddle on the floor," interjected Samantha.
Every word out of her mouth sounds sexy, thought Jeanie. Warm wet puddle in my belly button. Shake those thoughts out of your mind. "What exactly do you know about animals?" Jeanie put her hand in front of her shaking it. "I really dont want to know."
"You dont really believe that crap?" asked Samantha. "Forget it. Weve got a lot of work to do before rehearsal. Let me show you around." Samantha grabbed her arm gently leading her around the set to show her the changes, explaining some of her ideas. Jeanie followed uncharacteristically quiet listening and watching intently concentrating on the words and not the warmth of breath on the back of her neck causing the hairs to rise slightly until they were sitting at a table in the conference room. She sat down attempting to remember how she ended up sitting down so close to the evil redhead.
Big Bob sat at the head of the table with Jim sitting across from them. Samantha stood up moving even closer to Jeanie, her shapely hips swaying gently beneath the tight linen skirt as she spoke, her voice animated. "Phase one is almost complete and as Jeanie so intelligently stated earlier it is going to take more than some paint and a new design to set us apart from the competition Fionas Furry Friends."
Jeanie involuntarily turned a slight shade of pink as she listened to the pitch, finding herself mute to the allure of this evil presence. "What do you propose?"
"We need to be more creative. We cant keep bringing in the same animals every week. To begin with we need to expand, teach the kids about exotic animals from around the world."
"This is not the Crocodile Hunter," interrupted Jeanie. "We teach the children about domestic animals and the joys they can bring into our lives."
"Oh right. Like lambs. You know Spagos makes an incredible rack of lamb. Im not talking about lizards and spiders. Im talking about baby animals that we dont actually raise to eat."
"We dont talk about that," defended Jeanie.
"And its a good thing too. How do you think kids are going to feel when they realize lil Annebelle the cow grew up to be happy meals for the first grade? There are plenty of warm and fuzzy little creatures all over the world to introduce to the children, including animals on the endangered list. Animals we dont eat. Why not start teaching them about those animals?"
"Annebelle is a milking cow."
"Youre missing my point. The show is stagnant. Thats why its not being picked up nationally. There are plenty of cute cuddly creatures all around the world that children would love to learn about not to mention all of the animals native to North America, animals not raised for the soul purpose of becoming entrees. Im not suggesting we switch the entire focus of the show but I do believe we need to add some substance and do it before Fiona does it first."
"What about the cost?" asked Bob.
"Youve got to spend money to make money. Besides I have a lot of contacts in the animal world."
"I bet you do," mumbled Jeanie.
"All it will take is a few phone calls and I can have the right people with the right supervision visiting the set with plenty of baby animals. We continue with the same format only we incorporate a ten-minute segment into each show introducing these baby creatures, including a weekly spot on endangered species. Foundations to protect these animals will cover the costs for the free publicity alone."
"Shes got a point Bob," interjected Jim.
"In addition Ive arranged for more time away from the set. Field trips to local farms, the wild animal sanctuary and we will be working with the local shelters to do a monthly show featuring pet adoption. A special audience will be invited including only families and their children pre-screened who are searching for that perfect addition to their lives.
"It all sounds good but how do you propose we do this when we wont have a show once Fiona reads the paper?" asked Jeanie. "Just announcing the addition of Samantha is going to throw a dense cloud over anything else we try to do."
Samantha turned to look at Jeanie. "Ye of little faith. I have that angle covered. You just worry about making the best show you can and I will worry about the politics."
"I wish I could share your optimism," replied Jeanie.
"Youll just have to trust me. Fiona doesnt fight fair and neither do I. When Im through with her shell be thankful that her show is picked up on the community cable channel. Ours will be on a major network."
Jeanie sat in her chair motionless listening to the ideas spilling forth from such an evil woman. Every idea out of her mouth was golden. Those beautiful sensual lips. She shook her head certain now that she hated her more than ever.
Big Bob stood up when Samantha finished her pitch. "Thank you little lady."
"For what?" asked Samantha.
"Fer proving me right. You are the right woman for the job and lord knows I love to be right about these things. Jeanie, Jim you two have been rather quiet. Do you have any objections to the new changes?"
Jeanie shook her head still stunned mute by the wealth of creativity that spilled forth from that lovely mouth despising the beautiful redhead even more.
Jim rushed to catch up with Jeanie as she sped out of the studio at the end of the day. "Hey Jeanie hold up. I want to talk with you."
"Make it quick," she replied not slowing her gait.
"Why the rush?"
"I feel the urgency to get home and bathe," she answered pushing the button to retrieve the elevator.
"Working with cows and pigs can do that to you," he replied slightly out of breath as he caught up to her working his slovenly body overtime to keep up the pace.
"I wasnt talking about the pigs."
Jim stepped into the car great full for the reprieve. "Whats going on between you two?"
"Nothing. I said I would work with her. It doesnt mean I have to like it and just because she says everything is under control doesnt mean my world isnt going to come crashing down around me when Fiona Pullman decides to play her hand."
"You have to admit her ideas have been nothing short of brilliant and there is a definite spark around the crew."
Jeanie stepped out of the elevator at the garage level stopping abruptly before turning around to confront Jim, anger and agitation appearing in her usually soft features. "Thank you so very much for reminding me. Could we not talk about Samantha Singleton right now? Im officially off the clock."
Jim stared back. He was very concerned about his star. Her usually cheerful face and bright eyes had remained dark and dull throughout the day reminding him that things would only get worse before they would get better until the light bulb flashed in his brain. "Jeanie youre not jealous of her are you?"
"Why would I be jealous of her? Just because every guy on the set and some of the women waited on her hand and foot? I couldnt even get a damn cup of coffee today from my assistant!"
"Jeanie youre the still the star of the show but she is the new boss. Everybody was just trying to make a good impression. Its human nature. Give it a couple of days and things will go back to normal."
"How can a woman like her working around children be normal?"
"You dont mean because shes a homosexual do you?" Jeanie ignored the comment and began walking toward her car with Jim following closely on her heels. "Jeanie Thompson you are not a bigot!"
"No but Ive spent my life trying to make my dream a reality. Do you know the sacrifices Ive made?" Jeanie stopped in front of her car fumbling frantically for the keys. "Do you? And she just waltzes in off the street with all of her brilliant ideas and steals it out from under me. I just wish Fiona would start her smear campaign and end this nightmare."
"Jeanie hold on," said Jim grabbing her by the shoulder before she could open the door. "Now I know there is more to this than you are letting on but lets focus right now on you."
Dark blue eyes searched helplessly for answers. "You cant help me with this."
"Yes. For once I can. This show was your brainchild and everyone laughed when Big Bob put it up for national distribution. Its a kiddy show but he has had nothing but faith in you. And do you know why?" Jeanie shook her head. "Because of your presence on film and with the children. You connect with them and the audience like Jim Henson did with the Muppets."
"Ive failed," interrupted Jeanie. "Ive tried for three years to convince the network executives and in a few short days Samantha has already succeeded in doing what I couldnt. I know I should be happy and maybe if it was anyone but her I could enjoy it."
"Jeanie you havent failed. Youve not only kept the show on for five years but turned it into a successful show." Large doe eyes looked up at him unconvinced. "Lets look at this logically. "Pretend youre an accountant. Every day you handle the books keeping the budget and every day your numbers are perfect down to the penny. One day youre off the million-dollar budget by a few dollars. You search and search for the one little figure thats wrong but you cant find it so you ask someone else to take a look at the figures and within five minutes they find the minuscule error. All it took was a fresh pair of eyes to find and correct the mistake but youre still the mastermind keeping the numbers in order."
"You really suck with words Jim but nice try."
"Dont you see? Youre still the mastermind behind "Kiddie Corral". But we all have become comfortable with our nice little show and the success weve enjoyed in a few markets around the country. It just needed a fresh pair of eyes to take it to the next level."
"And Im sure that her fresh pair of eyes is the only set youve been staring at all day," replied Jeanie snidely.
"And that is why youre in front of the camera and she is behind the scenes."
"Whats that supposed to mean? Are you saying Im not sexy?"
"Dont go putting words in my mouth." Jim threw up his hands in frustration. "This woman really gets under your skin."
"Shes evil Jim. Weve made a deal with the devil."
"Im going to ignore that but if you ever want to talk about it Im here to listen. Samantha could never work directly with the children. She cant turn it off like you can. You have an audience that adores you and the camera loves that beautiful wholesome face. Youre the girl next door and a sexy one at that. When the show goes national theyre going to forget about Samantha Singleton. Youre the one theyre going to remember."
"Get real Jim. When this show goes national all theyre going to be talking about is Samantha Singleton and how she pulled it off. Im not stupid."
"Okay so the suits are going to congratulate her and they will remember her. But without you in front of that camera the show will not continue and I would stake my reputation on it. And maybe they will be singing her praises."
"Is this supposed to be comforting me?" interrupted Jeanie.
"Jeanie look at whats important. You will be reaching millions of children and their parents. You will be educating them. All Samantha is doing is giving you the larger audience you deserve and in the end those who are most important, the children, will remember you. Isnt that why you have worked so hard?"
Jeanie stared nervously down at the concrete, a tinge of pink illuminating her face. "Youre right. All Ive ever wanted to do was educate the children." She gazed at him her dark blue eyes turning soft. "Thank you for reminding me whats really important. I feel like such an ass for forgetting."
"Its good to see my gal back," he replied leaning down to gently embrace her. "Now are you ready to talk about whats really on your mind?"
"Not now. I think Im going to go down to the gym and work off a little bit of steam."
"Or pent up frustration," teased Jim. Jeanie shot him a horrified glare. "For what its worth whatever it is between the two of you I think you should just let things happen."
Jeanie sat in the drivers seat and slammed the door shut never looking back at Jim before turning the engine on and beating a hasty retreat out of the garage.
Jeanie searched the free weight room for an available partner to spot her. Convinced it was futile she lowered the weights on the bar and sat down on the bench relaxing before her first set. She leaned back scooting her body under the bar and closed her eyes before grasping the handles tightly with both hands. She inhaled sharply then slowly exhaled and opened her eyes staring into skin-tight spandex shorts wrapped around a small waistline. Her eyes traveled up the voluptuous figure until she was gazing into the intense gray eyes of Samantha Singleton smiling sensuously at her. Startled she quickly sat up slamming her head into the bar before falling back grabbing her head. "Oh shit. What do you want?" she asked rubbing the sensitive skin.
Samantha stood silently sucking the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. "Always the graceful one Toto."
"What do you want? And stop calling me Toto."
"Relax. Its just the two of us. You used to love that nickname."
"I was young and stupid."
"You were never stupid," replied Samantha kneeling down to examine the injury.
Jeanie batted her hands away. "Im fine."
"Im sure you are but I want to see if were going to need extra make up to cover any bruising. You really should be careful. A girl can get hurt without a spotter."
"I was doing just fine until you showed up," hissed Jeanie.
"Im sure you were but now that I am here let me help. I have to protect my investment."
"Fine," grumbled Jeanie. She was in no mood to argue and wanted to finish her workout swiftly and run away from the evil presence. She looked around searching the room for unwanted paparazzi noticing only one other person in the area. She smiled admiring the finally sculpted muscles of a tall handsome stranger with thick black hair before concentrating on the bar and Samanthas crotch strategically placed only inches away from her face. Focus on the bar and no one gets hurt!
After a strenuous workout Jeanie stood in front of the locker in her short t-shirt and shorts clinging to her delicate frame, her body glistening with perspiration. Samantha walked past her brushing against her back, the contact eliciting unwanted desires from within. She stared forward looking over at the redhead through the corner of her eye as she stripped out of her clothes and wrapped a towel around her neck.
"Did you forget the combination to your lock?" asked Samantha approaching dangerously close to Jeanie.
"No," she replied hesitantly. "I was just thinking."
"Thinking about my dinner invitation maybe?" asked Samantha standing a breadth away completely naked with the exception of the towel covering her neck, her voice taking on a sultry tone.
"About that. Im kind of busy all this week." Jeanie fumbled with the combination careful to avoid looking at her, beads of nervous perspiration forming over her top lip.
Samantha edged closer taunting the blonde. "Its still early. We could grab a bite at the café next door."
Remember evil comes in beautiful packages. "Im bushed." Jeanie closed her eyes rolling them in the back of her head. Smooth choice of words.
"Im bushed too," Samantha said drawing out the words. "But eating is a very important function in life. Give me one good reason we shouldnt do it together."
Jeanie turned around to confront her involuntarily staring down at two full breasts before looking into the redheads twinkling eyes. "Ill give you two good reasons." The words spilled from her lips before she could stop herself.
Samantha smiled at the obvious arousal her body was causing. "Well Im waiting," she said holding the towel tightly by both ends thrusting her chest forward like a peacock. "Its okay to look. I dont mind."
"How many women have you said that to?"
"Only one who ever mattered."
Jeanies eyebrows furrowed as she cast a questioning glance. "What do you want from me?"
"Id like to sit down and talk so we can put the past behind us. Were going to be working together on a daily basis and theres no need to continue with this tension between us." Samantha nonchalantly covered her chest with the towel as a courtesy to the blonde.
"Not tonight okay. I just want to go home. Maybe next week."
"Well a maybe is much better than a no. Ill see you at work tomorrow," Samantha replied before walking past Jeanie to the showers.
Jeanie waited until she was out of sight in the bathing area and opened up her locker, grabbed her belongings and rushed out of the gym.
Fiona stamped out her cigarette clearing the air before the door opened. Jimmie Johnson walked through the door sporting a cheesy grin. "Oh its only you."
"Yes but I have some good news for you." He stood there watching as Fiona lit up another cigarette.
"Well what is it?" she asked impatiently.
"Oh right." He handed her some digital printouts. "They were together at the gym last night and they looked pretty hot together."
Fiona flipped through the images rapidly. "Theres nothing incriminating here but its a start. Keep watching them. Something is bound to happen. Now what about the show? Has your guy heard anything that can be useful to my show?"
"He heard plenty." Jimmy crossed his arms smugly.
"Well." This one definitely got slapped with the stupid stick but hes so darn handsome.
"Oh right." Jimmie went on to describe to her every detail of Samanthas new ideas as told to him by his partner.
Fiona stamped out the butt of her cigarette and walked around the desk sitting in front of the big dumb hunk and crossed her legs seductively. "Well Jimmie that just might work only were going to beat her to the punch and go off sight this week."
"So youre pleased then."
"Very. Now come here and let me show you my gratitude."
Fiona stood in front of the barn as the crew finished setting up their lights. It was early morning and she had spent a large amount of money pulling strings to get clearance for the shoot at the fairgrounds on such early notice. She scurried around making sure everything was in place for the live a.m. broadcast.
Morning fair goers had just begun mulling around the venue curious to see what all of the commotion was about. She stood there in her usual costume next to the eight children who agreed to appear in front of the camera for the annual greased pig contest only this time it would be children and a piglet. Fiona had her hesitations about the idea but if Samantha Singleton thought it would be a ratings grabber then she was up to the challenge.
She applied a fine coat of spray on her hair and re-touched her make up waiting impatiently as the lighting crew once again adjusted their equipment when the sun descended behind some ominous looking clouds. The weatherman had predicted rain but this was California and the weatherman was just an overpaid comedian who was never right.
Finally the cue was given and she stepped in front of the camera introducing herself to the audience announcing that the show was on live and uncut. One by one she introduced the interesting group of children that made up the contestants before giving the signal to start.
Everything was going as planned and the piglet was released into the pen. Eight boys and girls made a dash for the pudgy creature as it squealed and ran frantically in every direction. Shots were taken of the audience as they howled with laughter when one rather large boy jumped onto the ground and wrapped his arms around the piglet only to watch helplessly as it slipped through his hands, courtesy of the coat of grease applied to its body.
Fiona stood to the side in front of one of the main cameras providing a blow-by-blow description of the activities angrily wiping the mud off of her face and joking about it as she did. Inside she was berating herself for agreeing to such a ludicrous idea. It was complete mayhem in the pen as the contestants knocked each other over in an attempt to capture the elusive creature.
Fiona cringed as the sound of thunder clashed above her, the clouds darkening. A torrent of rain came crashing down onto the canopy covering the pen. Water leaked between the canvas creating puddles of mud as the contestants battled on oblivious to the excess water.
Fiona stood bravely underneath her cover continuing with the show interjecting educational bits of information regarding the barnyard animal. Inside she knew it was a disaster. Eight kids now covered in mud and a screaming piglet. It was a nightmare. She fought to contain her composure finally losing it when one of the children came sliding into her feet first and knocking her into the mud.
As soon as her assistant Nancy reached her the overhead canopy crashed from the weight of the rain sending buckets of water pouring over her head as she sat there in the mud and cold rain. The children had stopped momentarily, laughing uncontrollably at their hostess. It was officially a disaster.
Nancy walked up to the growling hostess after the end of the show to offer some comfort. "Look at the bright side Fiona."
"Look at me. Im covered from head to toe. There is no bright side."
"Only if you look at the glass half empty."
"Tell me my bright and cheery girl where is the bright side? The show was live! That means no edits, no retakes. It was a flipping disaster."
"Yes but were still on cable so not too many people will have watched it."
"And thats supposed to comfort me!!"
Samantha had insisted that rehearsals for the morning taping be canceled so she could call an early meeting with Bob, Jim and Jeanie. They sat in the expansive conference room of Mackey Productions in front of the wide screen television watching the morning episode of Fionas Furry Friends, howling with laughter.
After several minutes of jokes and continuous amusement Samantha shut the TV off and turned to her coworkers, an evil grin invading her face. Bob stood up still holding his sides. "I dont know what you did or how you did it but that was pure brilliance little lady. I cant remember a time when I have laughed this hard for this long."
"I told you Bob Im connected."
His eyebrows furrowed. "You dont mean connected as in connected do ya?"
"No Bob Im not the mob. Rest easy big guy. That should keep Fiona quiet until the convention."
"Too bad no one watches her show," quipped Jeanie.
"Im glad you liked it but I did make a few calls so some people were definitely watching this morning."
"How did you pull that off?"
"Lets just say I do impressions as well. That cheery girl Friday has an unmistakably annoying voice."
"You didnt?" asked Jeanie.
"I did. I warned you I dont fight fair."
"Youre an evil woman Samantha Singleton," interjected Jim.
"Ah yes but now I use my evil for good."
Jim and Bob filed out of the room patting her on the back as they exited leaving the women alone. "So Jeanie before you leave have you thought anymore about that invitation?"
"Youre not going to let up are you?"
Samantha moved closer until she was face to face with the smaller woman gazing affectionately at her. "I dont give up easily. Its not in my nature."
The tension thickened as the redhead looked adoringly at her host. Jeanie found herself lost in the depth of emotions behind those gray eyes before replying. "You make me nervous."
"In a good way I hope. Jeanie I forgave you a long time ago."
"You forgave me?"
"Yes. We have a lot to talk about. Too many things have gone unsaid for so many years."
"Is that why you blackmailed me to get this job?"
"You left me no choice. I never intended to use the videotape. How else could I get close to you?"
"You mean this was all just a way." Jeanie stopped lost in thought.
"I just want a chance to be in your life again. Ive been with dozens and dozens and," started Samantha.
"I get the point," interrupted Jeanie. "But Im not."
"Ready," finished Samantha. "You were my closest and dearest friend. That feeling never goes away. Just let me come over tonight." Moments of silence passed. "Ill cook you dinner."
"If you like."
"Okay Ill see you at six."
Jeanie peered into the kitchen already nervous about the arrival of her guest. She wanted to say no to the invitation but the sincerity in Samanthas eyes caused her to lose her senses. And your mind, she thought Now the source of her constant discomfort would be arriving shortly.
It was time to face her fears. One day while cleaning earlier in the week she moved the microwave away from the wall stopping dead in her tracks when she saw a pile of mouse droppings. The idea of vermin in her house was embarrassing enough but the mere idea that she was sharing her living quarters with more than just one cat had paralyzed her with fear. She figured Ares would put an end to the unwanted creature but after one week the spilled soda and droppings were still there and there had been no sign of a dead mouse.
Now she stood near the entrance of her kitchen and placed her great black savior on top of the counter, her hands shaking and her pulse rate speeding up. She was positive the mouse was hiding behind the microwave and would make its move as soon as the appliance left its place on the kitchen top. Ares looked up at her questioningly obviously confused as to why all of a sudden he was allowed on the counter previously referred to as the forbidden zone.
"Okay Ares. Its time to be the hero. Do your cat thing. Earn your name. Remember this is war." The animal began to sniff around excitedly confirming Jeanies suspicions. His eyes glazed over with excitement causing his human further discomfort and reaffirming her fear. Jeanie inhaled deeply then exhaled slowly. "You can do this." She repeated her breathing technique. "Okay just move the thing and the cat will save you." After several seconds of procrastination she finally moved the microwave.
An unidentifiable sound startled her. Her eyes widened as the enormous white furry creature sprang from behind the appliance landing on her arm. Terrified Jeanie screamed, a blood curdling sound, and flew backwards away from the counter with the critter in tow, crashing into the wall and slamming her head against the barrier leaving her dazed. Ares leaped from the counter and jumped into her lap as Jeanie continued to shout in terror swinging her arms wildly to get the disgusting thing off of her lap.
Ares continued attacking the animal clawing Jeanies bare legs in the process as she lashed out furiously ignoring the cries of his disoriented human now on the verge of tears.
Samantha heard the disconcerting screams followed by the crash and opened the unlocked door to the condo running to the aide of her coworker. By the time she reached her Jeanie was curled up in a ball on the floor crying, her hands covering her face for protection and blood dripping from the deep gashes caused by the sharpened claws of the cat. Ares was curled up a couple of feet away from her aggressively biting and licking the offending creature. "Are you okay?"
"Is it dead?" asked Jeanie, her voice choked by tears.
Samantha looked at the cat playing contentedly with the object in question a glazed look of pure bliss in his eyes then searched the room for the mouse. "Is what dead? Jeanie what happened?"
Jeanie continued to cringe behind her hands. "It was horr, horrible. It just jumped and then it." She shuddered thinking about the incident. "Was on my arm, then I hit my head and Ares saved me. Just grabbed that thing with his teeth. Oh god I cant look."
"What jumped on you?"
"The mouse! It was a giant white mouse with big teeth and a long slimy tail!"
Samantha looked around a second time finally making the connection. "Oh the mouse," she said attempting to contain her laughter.
"Is it dead?"
"Well I guess you could say that Ares knocked the stuffing out of it."
"Will you bring it out to the dumpster? I cant touch that thing."
"Of course. Ill protect you." Samantha started to giggle.
"Im having a heart attack and youre laughing at me?" Jeanie looked up glaring at the redhead. "You can be so cold sometime."
"Honey I cant help it but its time you faced your fears. Ares wont let the big bad mouse hurt you anymore and neither will I."
"This isnt funny," mumbled Jeanie rubbing the sore spot on the back of her head and looking disdainfully at her bloodied legs.
"Oh but if you um look at Ares I think youll find the humor." Samantha approached the counter and picked up some of the droppings and smelled them.
"What are you doing?"
"Honey these arent rat droppings. Its catnip."
"And the um mouse isnt real. You were attacked by a cat toy. It must have been wedged behind the microwave and popped out when you moved it." Samantha turned away walking toward the sink to grab some paper towels and wet them, careful not to let Jeanie see her laughing.
Jeanie stared blankly forward at the cat visibly stoned from the catnip scattered across the counter and floor, her face turning a deep shade of crimson.
"For what its worth," started Samantha in between chuckles. "It was a really big toy."
Jeanie hid her head in embarrassment until the laughter subsided then joined in. "You waited ten years for this?"
Samantha kneeled down and dabbed the wounds with the moist towel then gently placed her arms around the visibly shaken blonde listening to the sound of her heart racing. With the tips of her fingers she tilted Jeanies head upward gazing into deep blue eyes filled with a mixture of embarrassment and traces of fear left over from the mishap. She wiped the tears from her cheeks gently caressing the soft skin with the back of her hand in comfort. "Ssh. Its okay. It could happen to anyone."
"No these things only happen to me."
"But youre so cute when they do," replied Samantha. Her forehead touched Jeanie as they gazed into each others eyes, their noses grazing one another affectionately. Her own heartbeat sped up matching that of her terrified friends as she leaned forward and gently kissed her on the lips. Jeanie reciprocated by opening her mouth exposing a probing tongue as the kiss lingered on. After breaking contact they gazed at each other wordlessly, two heartbeats sounding as one. Samantha leaned in a second time only to be stopped by Jeanies hand as she shook her head.
"Why not?" asked Samantha breathlessly. "Because youre not gay?"
Her tone was gentle and empathetic not the condescending tone Jeanie expected. "Yes," she whispered.
Samantha continued to hold her in her arms placing her palm softly against her breastbone. "Then Im the only woman who makes you feel this way?"
"Yes. I mean no. I mean, I dont know what I mean. Why, why do you say that?" stammered Jeanie attempting to ignore the warmth running south down her spine.
"Because after such a frightful experience your heartbeat is supposed to slow down. Right now its beating as fast as mine."
"You make me nervous."
"I make you feel something, something youve spent years trying to ignore."
"It was college. I wanted to experiment."
"Then I would say it was a very successful experiment."
"We had hot monkey sex. Not exactly the grounds for a deep meaningful relationship."
"Hot monkey sex? It was much more than that."
"No it wasnt. I didnt even know what I was doing back then."
"Oh believe me you knew what you were doing. Jeanie if sex was all I was after I wouldnt have invested a year learning everything I could about you. I probably know more about you than you do."
"Not anymore. Our lives are completely different now. You love the fast track with wild parties. You drive a fancy car. After all these years youre still on the A-list only its the Hollywood A-list. I like my simple life. I still want to have kids. Our lives have gone in entirely different directions."
"Weve taken different roads but they still us led here to the same place. This is where my heart has always been. Every time I was with a different person you were there."
"You mean Im a slut and I dont even know it?" quipped Jeanie.
"I mean that I never stopped thinking of you. Every time I saw a blonde walking on the street I followed hoping it might be you. And every time I was with a woman I prayed that she would make me feel the way you did when we were together but it never happened."
"Then why did you leave me?"
"Because I wanted you to be happy."
"I was happy with you."
"As long as we kept it a secret. I was already out. I wanted to share you with the world but you werent ready to be gay. Eventually I would have come to resent you and I never wanted that to happen and I couldnt force you to live the life I needed to live."
"Wow. I thought you just got tired of me. Why didnt you ever tell me this?"
"I didnt want to pressure you. Then you would have ended up hating me."
"Ive hated you for ten years."
"Im glad I wasnt around to see that."
"So whats changed? I havent exactly run around the world screaming, "Im a homo!"
"No but your career is established and I can protect your position. If I thought for a moment that our being together would cause you any harm I wouldnt pursue a relationship."
"You sound pretty sure of yourself. How can you guarantee that?"
"Is that what you really want? After ten years in a passionless marriage do you really need a guarantee?"
Jeanie gazed downward thinking about the conversation while Samantha waited patiently for an answer. "No. I just want to be happy. Like we were in college."
"Only now were older and smarter and have a lot more experience."
"At least one of us does," interjected Jeanie.
Samantha pulled the small blonde into her arms until they were face to face. "Remember with each lover you were there," she quipped.
"Oh right. Im a slut. How many women have I slept with?" Jeanie grinned as a pair of warm soft lips covered her own lost in the bliss of the touch. The contact started out gently with affection, deepening with each moment as two long lost lovers sought to reconnect with the passion of ten years gone from their lives.
"So how do we explain us showing up at work together?" asked Jeanie, her hand placed possessively over Samanthas thigh as they drove down the busy boulevard.
"Well tell them you had car trouble."
"You want me to lie?"
"Toto were not in Kansas anymore. This is Hollywood. The truth would only confuse them," quipped Samantha slowing to a stop behind a semi truck at a red light. She looked over at the beautiful woman in the passengers seat pinching herself to make sure it was real.
Jeanies eyes were fixated elsewhere as a small blur darted under the truck. Suddenly she opened the car door oblivious to the red light about to turn green and jumped out of the vehicle. Instinctively Samantha turned off the ignition, grabbed her video camera from behind the seat and followed capturing every second of the remarkable scene.
Jeanie stood in front of the giant truck holding her hands in front of herself and shouting to the driver. "Stop. Turn off your engine!"
The agitated truck driver was yelling, "Lady move. What are you crazy?"
Jeanie held her ground. "Theres a kitten on your wheel! Stop!"
After tense moments the driver rolled down his window. "Get the hell out of my way. The light is green!"
Jeanie ignored his pleas while the line of traffic behind him began honking their horns wildly as the other lanes of traffic moved forward through the light. "Step away from the truck! Shut your engine off." She repeated the instructions then stood there defiantly as the angry man stepped out of the vehicle her body pumped with adrenaline. "Im not crazy. At least not right now. A kitten ran on top of your wheel. Youll crush it."
"What is this candid camera?" he asked pointing to Samantha and her camera.
"I swear. Im telling the truth. Turn off the engine and step away from the vehicle."
Reluctantly he acquiesced. Jeanie walked up to him and pointed under the trailer. "I saw it go over there. Honest." The driver walked underneath the truck returning moments later with a tiny bundle of filth meowing loudly.
"Here you go lady," he said handing the frightened creature to her. Jeanie clasped the baby animal to her breast ignoring the tiny needles digging frantically into her neck drawing blood and walked toward Samantha while onlookers clapped showing their appreciation for the rescue.
Samantha continued to videotape the event until she was safely in the car before hopping in and driving away. "Life is good Jeanie. Television host risks her life to save the life of a stray kitten from the wheels of death. I couldnt have written a better script if I tried."
"Lets hope she doesnt hit the jugular," answered Jeanie referring to the bundle attached aggressively to her neck with sharp tiny claws embedded deeply into her flesh.
Fiona quickly stamped out her cigarette and began blowing smoke around the room, waving the clouds away with her hands as the door opened revealing the tall form of her enemy.
"Relax. Everyone knows you smoke," stated Samantha walking through the door.
"Well, well if it isnt the cat that ate the canary," replied Fiona smugly. "How is Jeanie these days? Was it as good as you remember?"
"So you dont deny your involvement with her?" asked Fiona confused.
"Why would I? You have photos that would prove otherwise."
The smugness left Fionas face. "How do you know about that?"
"Its my job to know. So tell me what is it you want?"
"I think you know what I want."
"Stop speaking out of both sides of your ass for a moment and get to the point."
"Fine. Stay away from the convention and I wont destroy Jeanies life."
Samantha walked over to the desk and leaned down to confront her, her expression exuding confidence as she began to speak. "Not gonna happen but I will tell you what is going to happen. Youre going to forget about this little tape," she said picking the video up from the desktop, "And about our involvement saying nothing to the press. And the next time we meet it will be at the convention like civilized people. May the best show win."
"And what makes you think Im going to do that?" asked Fiona. Samantha pulled a videotape from behind her back and threw it on the desk. "Whats that?"
"Just a little movie I made. I must say you have style when showing your gratitude to your employees. You might get farther in this business if you paid them a little bit more."
Fionas eyes widened in terror. "How did you?" She stopped too flustered to continue.
"You should ask Jimmie boy. Hes been on my payroll for months. Now unless you want your husband and kids and the rest of your Bible toting cronies to see what kind of Christian life you have been leading I suggest you stay very quiet about Jeanie. It will be a fair fight." Samantha turned around, a satisfied grin on her face and walked to the door.
"You bitch!" cried Fiona slamming her hands on the desk in frustration.
"Thats Ms. Bitch to you."
Everything had gone as planned at the convention. An episode of Kiddie Corral featuring the new segment on pet adoption and Jeanies daring kitten rescue was the hit in childrens programming garnering a great deal of interest by top distributors.
Fionas Furry Friends didnt fare as well and was no longer a threat to their own show after top executives were subjected to the infamous episode featuring the greased piglet competition. Samantha had paid good money to have the videos switched and even re-edited the soundtrack to include the song, It Never Rains In California. The show did however receive the greatest amount of laughter leaving Fiona bitter and angry. After a heated confrontation with Samantha she had to be restrained and taken from the building as she vehemently shouted at her, "Im going to get you! I swear Ill get you Samantha Singleton!"
Samantha had laughed keeping her cool and replied, "And my little dog too," winking at Jeanie as she did. Bob had received some offers on the show but Samantha wasnt satisfied. Her ultimate goal was to sell it to National Distribution the largest and most influential distributing firm in the business. They were the company that would place Kiddie Corral in every major market across the country.
She waited until the time was right and approached Jessica Thomas, the head of programming at National Distribution and her former teacher from UCLA.
"Its good to see you again Jessica. So what do you think of our little show?"
"It has potential Samantha," she replied. "But Im not convinced it would be a good investment for our company."
"Whats holding you back?"
"Your involvement. Going from independent film producer to childrens programming is a marketing risk even for a company of our size."
"This is the twenty-first century Jessica. Isnt it time to join the rest of the world?"
"With the wrong publicity it could be a marketing nightmare and seeing you and Jeanie together reminds me of your college days. I dont think my colleagues are ready to take that risk."
"Well Jessica lets take a walk down memory lane. I know you hold the power so let me persuade you otherwise."
Jeanie watched the two women walk away her heart sinking. She knew it had been a long shot at best but Samanthas enthusiasm and confidence had rubbed off on her convincing her they could pull this off. She fought valiantly to contain the tears threatening to cascade down her cheeks until Samantha reappeared with Jessica.
"Jeanie I would like you to meet Jessica Thomas," introduced Samantha.
"Nice to meet you Jeanie and welcome aboard," replied Jessica extending her hand.
Jeanie stared at her momentarily stunned before taking the proffered hand. "Its a pleasure to meet you as well." She looked at Samantha then back at Jessica. "Does this mean."
"Weve made an offer on the show and soon as Bob accepts its official. Kiddie Corral will be seen in all the major markets across the country. Samantha will fill you in on the details." She excused herself and walked away.
"What? How?" started Jeanie.
"I told you I can be very persuasive. By the way I have a gift for you." Samantha handed her a brown paper bag.
"Love the gift wrapping," quipped Jeanie opening the package. Inside was a videotape labeled private viewing only. "Is this?"
"Yes. Im the only one who has ever seen it."
"And Im supposed to believe that."
"Yes. Jeanie Ive never stopped loving you. I knew that we were destined to be together one day. I told you we were soul mates even before the term became hip."
"Even after I married?"
"Especially after you married."
"Whats that supposed to mean?"
"Honey I know people and you are queer."
"Is that supposed to be a compliment?"
"Just a statement of fact. My faith in you might have wavered if you had fallen in love with another woman but I knew what your true passion was."
"A little arrogant dont you think?"
"Watch the tape and youll see what I mean."
Jeanie reached over and slapped her playfully. "Im not sure if I like you knowing me better than I know myself."
Samantha wrapped her arms around Jeanie giving her a congratulatory hug. "Ive waited ten years for this. Im not going to mess it up now."
Jeanie leaned her body into the tall form pressing her hips against her lover reveling in the tingling sensation coursing through her body. They rocked back and forth gentling caressing each other allowing the innocent contact to linger.
After several moments Jeanie spoke. "How did you get her to change her mind?"
"I told you Im very good at what I do. I believe in the show. Its good."
Jeanie looked at her questioningly. "Thats it. You did what weve been trying to do for four years now in a few short weeks."
"Yes. You dont believe me?" asked Samantha coyly.
"I think theres more to the story. Care to share?"
"Lets just say I made a lot of movies when I was in college," replied Samantha slyly.
"You didnt. You mean you and her?"
"Hey I said I was good. I never said I was nice."
"So we won. The show is going national," started Jeanie.
"And were free to pursue our lives together with the full support of the company," finished Samantha.
Jeanie was jubilant. For the first time in years she felt as though her life was complete. She jumped up and spread her arms out to her sides and tilted her head backward gazing toward the heavens, then spun around twice.
Samantha closed her eyes, covering them with one hand and peeking through one opened eye laughing at the silly behavior. "What are you doing?" she asked embarrassed.
"The snoopy happy dance. Come on didnt you ever read comics. When Snoopy was happy he twirled around with his arms out."
"You look ridiculous."
"Yeah but it feels exhilarating. Come on try it with me."
"Not in a million years."
"Try it just once."
"Whats wrong? Afraid of not looking sexy?"
"Nope. Afraid of looking like an idiot." She looked around at the crowd. "In front of hundreds of people."
"So youll do the dance in private?"
"Oh come on. I bet I can get you to change your mind."
"Nothing you could ever do or ever say could get me to do something as ridiculous as that. Certainly not in public. I have a reputation to maintain. And not in private so just forget it."
A mischievous glint appeared in Jeanies eyes. "I can be very persuasive you know." She leaned forward and whispered into her partners ears.
Samanthas eyes widened with shock, a goofy grin erupting on her face. "YOUll let me do what to you! Where! How many times? Thats blackmail."
"I learned from the best."
"That you did grasshopper."
A large crowd of conservative business executives gathered as Samantha Singleton, the essence of cool and the queen of mean enthusiastically did the Snoopy happy dance oblivious to the attention.