Angelika’s bleary eyes creaked painfully open. She was lying fully dressed, top to tail with Samantha in her narrow single bed in Sam’s elegant hotel suite. Luke lay snoring exuberantly in the second bed that was situated across the room.
“Oh God.” murmured Angelika, who surmised that hormonal hamsters had to have been fornicating all night in her mouth.
Samantha's eyes snapped open. “You are aware that you kept me up all night, talking and kicking me?”
“I'm sorry. I feel terrible, I really do...” replied Angelika, chastened. Samantha could be such a mother some times, and Lord knows she didn’t need one of those right now.
“I am a pregnant woman, you know.” admonished Sam, “Oh zip it. Here's an Advil. And water. Rehydrate.”
Angelika gratefully accepted them and then she looked over at Luke’s disheveled and bedridden form. “Who’s he?” she asked.
“You're oldest and dearest friend, apparently.” replied Samantha, snottily.
Angelika incredulously mouthed "Really?" and Samantha nodded. As if to underline the point, Luke chose that moment to fart voluptuously in his sleep.
“Weird.” responded Angelika, pulling her Gucci frock into a slightly more modest assemblage. “Well. What do you want to do today? Personally, I feel like sleeping by the pool."
“Can do.” said Samantha, while stiffly pulling herself out of the tiny bed and tottering to the bathroom.
“Oh shit, hang on, I'm supposed to meet someone...” Angelika wracked her echoing memory for an inkling of a clue, but no, millions of brain cells were definitely gone for good this time.
Luke stirred, muttered “Herbie the Lovebug.” And then he immediately resumed snoring.
“Excuse me?” replied Angelika, and then with a heavy thud it struck home, “Oh fuck, he's right.” She looked up at Sam who had just emerged from the bathroom clad in a complementary Hotel Majestic bathrobe and asked, “Can you hand me the phone?”
Samantha begrudgingly passed it over and Angelika frantically dialed a local number. A very sleepy and hung-over Shelly finally answered it. “Yes?”
“Shel,” croaked a husky–voiced Angelika, “we're supposed to be having lunch, right? With Herbie the lovebug.”
Shelly sounded more than a little confused, “Oh..Who?...oh...sorry, darling, I can't make it - rampant runs. Don’t even think of coming over here, it’s truly a scene of utter depravity and I’m probably highly contagious.”
“Lovely. Well I'm not going alone.” pouted Angelika, while desperately searching for a hand mirror in her purse. Having located one, she immediately regretted that rash decision.
“You'll be fine,” continued Shelly, “Herbie's a doll. As long as you're in the restaurant, what could possibly happen? Stop being such a baby, he's really important. You have to go. It's the Hotel Du Cap.”
“OK. Fine.’ said a resigned Angelika, ”I'll get a cab. Look, eat some bread. Feel better and I'll call you later.” She then hung up the phone, looked at Samantha and said, “Shit.”
The surly French cab driver deposited Angelika outside the wildly impressive entrance to the uber-chic Hotel Du Cap. This was where the real players stayed and a bar bill here could within minutes reach such dizzying heights that one would have no choice but to immediately procure a second mortgage. Angelika gazed up in awe at the serenely palatial hotel exterior and the phalanx of feral looking yet elegantly well-behaved cypress trees that lined the driveway as she shakily paid for the cab.
Angelika was still wearing last night’s now decidedly off-white and rather inappropriate-for-lunch Gucci confection as Samantha had had nothing to offer her in the way of non-stained, non-maternity couture. She’d managed a quick shower and had tried to repair her wrecked makeup, but thankfully Samantha had been charitable enough to lend her friend a fabulous pair of sunglasses and now Angelika didn’t look too bad, if all things were considered. She gave a silent prayer that Herbie wouldn’t remember her look from the previous night. He was straight after all, she reasoned, and straight men rarely notice designer gowns until they physically have to pay for them.
“Merci bien.” shouted Angelika to the disappearing dust cloud that had until just recently been her ride. A grey haired concierge approached smiling, which marginally took the edge off her intense sartorial discomfort.
“Mademoiselle Angelique? Monsieur Schuley vous attendez.”
“Huh?” replied Angelika, as her own native tongue was a struggle right now, let alone advanced bloody Francais.
“Mister Schuley, he is wait for you.” said the charming concierge. Angelika smiled, feeling much more at home. She really liked this man.
“Cool. Where's the restaurant? Je suis starving.”
“Follow me, mademoiselle, s’il vous plait.” Angelika suddenly felt very Audrey Hepburn and as gracefully as her long, tight skirt would allow, she hobbled after the lovely man into the hushed marble lobby of the famed Hotel Du Cap.
Angelika was finding it a touch irregular that the restaurant appeared to be situated down one of the maze-like residential corridors, but she let it go. What did she know? Maybe that’s how they did it in Cannes. She was feeling decidedly too brain-dead to argue the point in any language; her stomach was concave and growling from lack of food and she also sensed that a rapidly administered cocktail might just help matters no end.
Finally they reached a door subtly marked Eden Roc Suite and the concierge discretely rapped upon it.
“This is the restaurant?” queried Angelika, trying not to panic.
“Mais, non. Is much better.” replied the concierge.
A tiny warning bell chimed in the far off recesses of Angelika’s addled psyche, but there wasn’t much that she could do now without looking like a completely unsophisticated dweep, so she stayed her ground, while nervously stifling her instinct to run.
The door opened and an effusive, smiling Herbie appeared, wearing a prohibitively expensive, most definitely cut-to-order Brioni suit and a pink Lacoste sports shirt. Herbie obviously didn’t shop at The Big and Tall and he certainly was no prettier in daylight. “Merci, Henri. You can go.”
The bowing concierge obeyed and Angelika gulped as her guardian disappeared in the opposite direction from which they’d just come. “Angelika. How are you? Still sporting the fabulous Gucci, I see!” continued Herbie, opening the door wide.
Angelika flushed and looked beyond Herbie into what was the most glorious and spacious suite ever to be perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. The aquamarine ocean stretched to infinity beyond the terrace and there was a palpable aura of elegant calm as a light sea breeze wafted sensuously through the room, carrying with it the co-mingled scents of gardenia and jasmine. Talk about a room with a view. A white, linen-draped table was set up elegantly on the wraparound terrace and a fine bottle of vintage Dom Perignon idled teasingly on ice. Angelika reflected that she could probably die here very happily.
“Wow. Not bad.” she said, knowing full well that this had to be the understatement of the millennium.
“Come in.” welcomed Herbie.
Angelika couldn’t discern any visible sharp teeth or any protruding dorsal fins, and so against all of her better judgment, she stepped cautiously across the threshold into Herbie’s exquisitely airy suite.
Herbie led Angelika to the marble tiled terrace where he expertly popped the champagne’s cork and without spilling a drop, poured her a glass of Dom Perignon. He raised his in a toast and smiled, “To you.”
“Yeah. I'm fab.” replied Angelika, who felt stupidly overwhelmed by all of this. They silently sipped their respective glasses, and the wine was perfect; the flavor, the temperature, even the crystal glass was undeniably the finest Angelika had ever experienced. Herbie immediately refilled her glass and Angelika felt herself begin to relax.
“Sit, Angelika, I won't bite. Have some fois gras.”
Angelika sat on the softly yielding chair and then she helped herself to one of the tiny round toasts that were thickly spread with pale, creamy and delicious pate’. The sensation was incredible as it burst in her mouth while teasing her taste buds into love-struck submission.
“Oh my God. That is the best thing I've ever tasted, really.” She said, trying desperately to remember her table manners, while fighting an undeniable urge to stuff the whole lot into her face.
“Have some more.” said Herbie, while negotiating his enormous carcass into the spindly chair opposite Angelika’s. She didn’t wait to be asked twice, and she devoured the pate’, then the oysters, then the goat cheese and endive salad which had been delicately doused in a tangy raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. She had evidently been transported to gastronomic heaven. Herbie watched her with amusement as he chain-smoked and periodically refilled her glass. He’d never seen an actress eat quite this much before. Actually, he’d never seen an actress eat, period.
The wine and the victuals were helping immeasurably and Angelika eventually found herself coming back to life. Herbie started to talk about his passion for film and literature and they discovered that they shared a mutual love of many of the same books that they would both have like to see made into features. Herbie actually owned the rights to some of her favourites and he spoke eloquently and zealously about continuing to make the kind of interesting, challenging films that no other mainstream studio in Hollywood would ever touch.
Angelika found it incredibly refreshing. Herbie was a hyper-literate and extremely intelligent being and he had real integrity when it came to film. He actually made her want to continue acting but on the caveat that she should hold out for projects with real artistic value. She sensed that he was on the verge of offering her just that kind of career with Everest Films and she was deeply flattered. My God, she thought, this powerful man gets me. She knew then with absolute clarity that her life’s course was about to change dramatically.
They were half way through the second bottle of Dom, when Herbie suddenly stubbed out his umpteenth cigarette and after struggling with his mountainous stomach, he pushed his chair back from the table and emphatically announced,
“Hey, Angelika, I've got a great idea. Let's put on bathrobes and give each other massages.”
The warning bell now came screaming back, but this time with fire alarm intensity. “Huh?” She replied, almost choking on her chilled champagne.
But Herbie had already started undressing, right there in the middle of the marble terrace and the man weighed three hundred pounds if he was an ounce. Angelika smiled, weakly.
“C'mon, what are you waiting for?” continued Herbie enthusiastically, as if this was the most normal thing in the world.
Herbie was now clad solely in a pair of enormous Y-front briefs and a luxurious Hotel Du Cap bathrobe, only he was so morbidly obese that the tie belt couldn't begin to circumnavigate his huge bulk.
“C'mon - take something off!” he demanded.
Angelika, who was seriously freaked out by now, hastily removed her shoes. “There you go!” she smiled, as winningly as possible, given that she was about to be molested by Moby Dick. This didn’t placate Herbie.
“No. Put on a bathrobe!” he said, generously throwing one at her. Angelika dutifully wrapped the sumptuous bathrobe around her fully clad form.
Herbie was rapidly becoming intensely irritated. “You're so fucking uptight, C'mon relax! Get on the bed, I'll massage you.”
Angelika had no fucking idea how to handle this one, so she tried her level best to act cool until she could figure a way out, “No that's okay, Herbie, I'm fine. Totally chilled.”
Herbie then approached Angelika and forcefully pulled her up from the table, dragged her across the room and pushed her face down on the immense Egyptian cotton-swathed bed. “You'll sit on the bed.” he said, an unspoken threat evident in his guttural tone.
Breathing heavily, he began rubbing her shoulders, hard. Angelika was frightened by now but somewhere inside of herself she realized that she was relieved that she wasn’t entirely sober, otherwise she might seriously fucking lose it and God knows what he’d do then. The man was a maniac; a huge, scary, drunk, powerful maniac. Angelika had to remain calm and think, God-damnit.
“Um, Herbie...I'm not entirely comfortable with this situation.” squeaked Angelika, with further crashing understatement.
“Why?” replied Herbie, who looked genuinely perplexed by her continuing resistance.
“Um...You know what?” Angelika looked hopefully at Herbie, “I really dig you a lot, but my whole thing is that I only like young stupid boys that I can boss around?”
Suddenly, Herbie sank to his knees by the side of the bed and looked up at her imploringly, in the manner of a young lamb and pouted, “Angelika, I can be really docile.”
Oh Christ, thought Angelika, well at least he was off the bed, “No, it's not that, Herbie,” she continued looking down at his supine form, “you're such a powerful and interesting man, that it couldn't possibly work. I mean, I could never really, properly disrespect you enough. On that level.”
Herbie stood up, scarily red-faced and thoroughly incensed and then he violently threw Angelika's Robert Clergerie sandals at her. “Well, get the fuck out of my suite,” he screamed, “and you can tell that cunt Shelly that I want my fucking money back.”
Angelika, shoes in hand, leapt off the bed, grabbed her bag and sunglasses and then she sprinted for the door, slamming it fast behind her.