24

‘Come on. Bob. Snap out of it. The girls’ll be back in a minute.’

‘Eh, what? Oh, sorry, Andy. I was somewhere else.’

‘You still mad at Ballantyne?’

‘What makes you think I ever was?’

‘Come off it. I was watching you when he put you on the spot back there.’

‘Nah. That was no problem. Here they are. Let’s go.’

He stood up and led the way out of the Filmhouse bar, to meet his wife and Julia Shahor as they emerged from the ladies’ room.

The evening’s performance, a Louis Malle feature, was scheduled to begin in only a few minutes. They had almost reached the auditorium when Julia was called to the telephone.

‘Go on in, you two,’ said Andy. ‘I’ll wait for Julia.’

She was gone for only a few minutes. As soon as she reappeared at the foot of the staircase he could see that something was wrong.

She looked close to tears.

‘What is it, love?’

Oh Andyl She’s cancelled!’

For a few seconds a frown of puzzlement creased his forehead.

Then his eyebrows rose. ‘What, you mean… what’sher-name?’

‘Yes. That was her agent. She’s heard about Hilary Guillaum, and she’s said that no way is she coming. The bitch! How could she! What a coward.’

‘And that’s what other people will think, sweetheart. It’s not surprising, though. I’ve a feeling she could be the first of many.

Damn shame, though. I was looking forward to processing her in person!’

‘That’s all right,’ said Julia, squeezing his arm and brightening up in an instant. ‘You can process me instead!’

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