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Blind Item

By´╝ÜKevin Dickson


NICOLA MADE A FAST RIGHT off Sunset Boulevard up into the Hollywood Hills. Her trusty GPS device on the dash said the destination wasn’t too far ahead. She looked in the mirror and ran a finger through her light brown curls. She slowly blinked her smoky eyelids and pursed her lips.

“Good enough,” she said out loud, knowing that she’d be wading through a sea of cookie-cutter Hollywood hopefuls at the party. Rounding a blind corner, she nearly rear-ended a matte-black Lamborghini that stopped suddenly in front of her.

“Shit!” She exhaled as her car jerked to a halt just a few feet from the sports car. That would have been expensive. The Lamborghini was the last car in the line for valet parking in front of an ivy-covered wall that must be the party address.

Ahead of her were blacked-out SUVs, luxury sports cars, and a tanklike pink Bentley. Knowing what her turquoise 1995 Toyota Tercel must look like at the tail end of such a row of car porn, Nicola was gripped by an urge to just keep driving.

Her plans to escape were foiled when a black Range Rover pulled up behind her, blocking her in. Her eyes widened as she saw Seamus O’Riordan at the wheel, the film star she’d swooned over on her last movie date with her mom, before she left Dayton almost a year ago.

As she watched in her rearview mirror, she saw him leaning back in his seat. He was talking on the phone, loose black ringlets hanging down almost to his left eye. Her mom was going to totally flip out when she got this week’s star-spotting report.

Nicola was surprised when his eyes made contact with hers in the mirror and he gave her a half smile. She jolted in shock, but then his hand moved toward the steering wheel and he blasted the horn. Looking ahead, she realized the line had moved. Crap, she had just kept a movie star waiting.

She pulled up to the ivy-covered wall, feeling flush with embarrassment, and a valet walked up to her window, a look of consternation on his face.

“Hey, sure you should be here?” he asked brusquely, eyeballing her old car.

Nicola glanced into the rearview mirror. The movie star was still staring at her. She panicked.

“Uh, yeah, I am, but I’m just gonna go, I’m gonna leave,” she sputtered, shifting the Tercel into drive and pressing down on the gas as hard as she could. It didn’t do too much, and the Tercel slowly veered away from the valet area to begin creeping up the hill.

I’m just going home, she thought. Straight home. That was ridiculous, and mortifying. Her car had just been rejected by the valet.

She crept higher into the Hollywood Hills, the engine of her car keening at the steep incline and occasionally throwing in a loud knocking noise just for good measure. She couldn’t find anywhere to turn around on the narrow street lined with cars parked all along the road. Valets ran past her downhill in the gathering LA dusk.

She slowed down. A parking space was coming up on the right. Her boss, Gaynor, had made it clear that Nicola had to tackle this party on her own. Hollywood parties were the bread and butter of Huerta Hernandez, the PR agency where she worked. And like bread and butter, in a very short time, Nicola had come to find them bland, greasy, and very white. But Gaynor had done her friend Billy a solid by offering Nicola a job when she moved to LA. She didn’t feel like she could blow it off.

Nicola sighed and slipped into the parking spot. Getting out of the car, she inhaled LA’s signature sunset scent: smog and jasmine. She tugged at the embellished hem of her black silk, borrowed-from-a-stylist Alaïa dress. It was surprisingly unwrinkled. Running her fingers along the sheer pleats, she glanced cautiously down the treacherous hill she had just driven up. At home she wouldn’t have thought twice about running down the middle of this road. But she didn’t wear borrowed two-thousand-dollar Louboutins to parties back home. Nicola checked the red duct tape she had carefully affixed to the bottom of the soles so they could be returned to the stylist undamaged, and whispered “Let’s go to work” to her reflection in the window of the Tercel. She began a precarious walk down the hill toward the rolling bass and laughter that were floating up the canyon, sounding like any other night at the office.

The valet who’d rejected her car saw Nicola walking up and ran over.

“Where did you go?” he asked innocently.

“You rejected my car,” Nicola said breathlessly. “I went and parked it myself.”

“I didn’t reject your car, lady,” laughed the valet. “I just don’t understand why Seamus didn’t drive you in his own car.”

“What?” said Nicola, stopping dead.

The valet smirked. “He was pretty pissed you took off the way you did. Anyway, head on in and enjoy yourself.”