New Horizons Ch. 01-06

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Author’s Note:

This story is a lesbian romance and is a much slower burn than my other stories. There will be sex, but not right away. If you’re looking for immediate gratification, stick to my other works. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter One

There was a sudden burst of laughter from the theater. Even from within the privacy of her office, Alex could hear the faint ebb and flow of audience feedback.

She would never admit it to anyone, but it’s partly why she liked to work late. The theater’s administrative offices provided the perfect division for her. Close enough to be reminded of the sanctity of live theater—far away enough to dull the pain that she’s not the one eliciting that reaction from an audience.

For now, she tuned it out as best she could and concentrated on the contract in front of her. Which wasn’t easy with the laughter erupting almost every other minute. Apparently, the theater company renting the stage tonight brought in a young, raucous audience.

“When’s the last time you actually watched a show?”

Alex looked up from her computer at the intrusion, but not with annoyance in her eyes. She was well used to Courtney barging in without warning. The two have known each other for more than 10 years when they met at a college audition while both attending NYU. Neither of them landed that role, but they did land in Courtney’s tiny, studio apartment bed that night.

Once they figured out that they wouldn’t yell at each other so much if they took sex out of the equation, Courtney became Alex’s best friend, theatrical muse, and main confidant. During college they had a wildly successful theater group—far more successful than any college kids should be— though a big part of that was due to her family name.

They both hated the politics within the insular college. If you weren’t a senior and paid your dues, you’d never get a role. Alex was tired of playing understudy to under deserving actresses and so was Courtney. They decided to make the shows they wanted with roles they wanted to play, doing it how they wanted. And like typical college theater nerds, they thought they were edgy and progressive by gender bending each of their plays.

Alex was still proud of a lot of what they did. And only slightly embarrassed by a couple of those experiments.

Her romantic relationship with Courtney may have ended after a couple dates, but Alex couldn’t’ be happier about where they ended up. Nobody understood her like Courtney did.

Alex knew she came across as guarded. More than one date has told her that in recent months. But most people didn’t understand the microscopic parenting she endured.

Perfection of the Art. That’s what her father had called it. It followed her around everywhere. The need to be a beacon for culture was an ever-enduring mantra of her family. Being a normal human, was not.

Courtney had insight into the intricacies of Alex’s family. She had briefly gotten to see the tenderness Alex’s mom showed her before her death and the shrewd father that took over after. Alex had never seen a great deal of affection from her parents, but after her mom’s death, her father turned even more into the theater. Nothing Alex did could impress him unless it directly benefited him.

“I was going to come kidnap you for reasons of alcohol, but you have that furrowed, concentrated look you get more and more these days.” Courtney ungracefully fell into a chair across from Alex’s desk and sighed dramatically, tossing her auburn curls out of her eyes.

“I’ve always furrowed my brow when I concentrate,” Alex defended herself.

“Yeah but lately you’ve looked slightly in pain.”

Alex knew she was probably right. Tis’ the season she told herself. Summer had been a grind. Between rental contracts, finalizing the season and her frequent trips to the Hamptons with the flavor of the week, she felt depleted.

“You know you’re just as talented as anyone out there. You’re wasted behind that desk.” Courtney nodded towards the direction of the stage and paused to give Alex a once-over before lowering her voice seductively. “Even if you do look exceptional in those tight business skirts you’ve been wearing.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively at Alex.

“No, Court. What I know is that I’ve been told by people who matter, that I’m not as talented.

“Your father is not ‘people’. Your father is an asshole.”

“Be that as it may, he’s a talented asshole. Who has an eye for talent. And he’s made it clear what my talents are to me. And to every other director in town I might add.”

Courtney looked like she was going to protest again so Alex put up a hand to stop her.

“Court, I love you and how protective you are. But I’m happy. I promise. I like my work, it’s fulfilling.” Alex stood suddenly, trying to indicate that the conversation was over.

“Let’s go get a drink, I can’t look at these contracts anymore.”

“Blanche darling, you had me at ‘drink’. Lez go.”

Alex rolled escort bayan her eyes at her friend’s use of the nickname. An old call back to the days she made a name for herself in an all-female production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

But even if she tried, she couldn’t stop the smirk appearing on her face. Courtney was simply the best. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a sexual innuendo or subtle flirtation, Alex appreciated her friendship more than she could put words to. Though she doesn’t like to talk about it, Courtney’s not so subtle disdain for Alex’s father made her feel less alone in this theater.

Thinking about her father always gave her slight anxiety. He was never the warm man she always hoped he’d be. The kind who would ask her about school or really anything. But that just wasn’t who Simon Anders was. In fact, “father” was probably pretty low on his list of identifying features.

Simon is a director first and foremost. Being the Artistic Director of one of New York City’s most renowned Off-Broadway theater companies would be next on his list of identifiers.

Years ago, Alex knew he also considered himself a husband. But since her mother’s death during her junior year of college, he rarely mentioned being married. And being a father? Alex knows that’s not something he ever needed or even wanted. She was an inconvenience at best.

As she gathered her coat from the back of her door, she pushed those thoughts out of her head. She rarely thought about her mother and she wasn’t going to start tonight. Drinking with her best friend was a much better option than wallowing in the past.

As Courtney also stood to leave, Alex noticed her look down intently at the desk before looking back up with a smirk on her face.

“Well now I know what you were doing in here. Doing some light reading are we?”

Alex looked down. Shit.

She forgot the book that was on her desk, facedown so you could see the author’s face peering out from the back cover. Probably the most beautiful face Alex had ever seen. Quinn Collins. Not that she’d freely admit her little crush to Courtney. She’d literally never hear the end of it.

“Stop, you perv. We’re finalizing a contract for her show. Do. Not. Repeat. That. I’m serious Court, we need to keep this under wraps for now. My dad is anxious enough that I convinced him to bring the show here.”

“Wait, you’re serious? You’re going to be doing her show? Here. An edgy, one woman show that your father would never ever, ever approve of for his precious, pretentious theater? Ok spill.” She sat back down in a huff.

Alex sighed. She’d been meaning to mention this to Courtney for a while now but knew she’d react like this—Courtney wasn’t ever calm or neutral about anything. She had a way of adding a dramatic flair to even the most mundane bit of information. Courtney was the one who made Alex go to Quinn Collins’ show in the first place.

But the negotiations had to be completely confidential until the signatures were signed. It was hard enough convincing her pig-headed father to let her produce this show through for Horizon’s highly anticipated Winter Series.

“I’m pretty sure I heard you mention alcohol. Can we continue this while I sip something strong?” Alex asked.

“Fine.” Courtney stood up again. “But we’re talking about this the second a drink is in your hand. I know you have a lady boner for her,” she said as she pointed back down at the book cover.

“You’re absolutely disgusting,” Alex responded, but she had a smile on her face. She could never really be mad at Courtney.

Alex put her arm around Courtney’s familiar waist as they left her office on their mission of much needed alcohol.

“Come on Stella, the bar awaits,” Alex laughed out as she pulled her friend onto the New York street.

Chapter Two

The Library, their usual spot around the corner of the midtown theater was relatively empty still. Most nights it didn’t fill until the various Broadway and Off-Broadway shows got out. Most of the customers were stage managers, stagehands, techies, and others who worked in the industry.

Alex’s theater was technically an Off-Broadway house, but due to the prestige of her father’s name and the success of the theater company itself, their location was in the thick of Broadway theaters. She could name most of the people that came in and out of this bar.

They headed to their usual table to the right of the dingy bar. The whole place probably could have used a renovation 20 years ago. But there was something about the old theater feel that Alex loved.

The tables all looked like someone had tap danced relentlessly on them in some grungy bar musical and you couldn’t find matching chairs in the room if you tried. But this was as much of a home to them as the theater itself.

As they sat down Courtney nodded to a curvy brunette behind the bar and pointed silently to their table. The brunette gave a quick nod to Courtney and then smiled bursa vip escort widely when she saw Alex was with her.

“Uh oh. Care Bear Attack is a go-go,” Courtney smiled devilishly at Alex as the bartender came over to their table, not so subtly swaying her hips.

Alex’s smile tightened as she realized too late what Courtney meant. “Hey Carrie,” she said to the woman, trying not to make eye contact by grabbing the nearest menu she could find.

“Hey Alex. Haven’t seen you in a bit,” Carrie smiled at Alex flirtatiously, not even bothering to look at Courtney.

“Fall has arrived, new season, busy times and all that,” Alex distractedly rattled off as she pretended to read a menu she didn’t need to read. Her order never changed.

“I’m amazing, thank you for asking. My application just got accepted for this new high rise in the Flat Iron district. Exposed brick. To. Die. For.” Alex couldn’t help but laugh as Courtney ended her not-asked-for update to Carrie.

“Uh right. Congrats. That’s awesome,” Carrie replied back as she furrowed her brow looking between the two friends, clearly not understanding the joke.

“One bourbon neat and a glass of red, please,” Alex added to put Carrie out of her misery and hopefully make her leave promptly.

Carrie grabbed the menus off the table and hesitated before she left. “If there’s anything else you need, let me know. I’m over there,” she pointed to the bar, “until eleven and then I’m being cut loose early”.

She left without waiting for a response. Or perhaps in fear of whatever would come out of Courtney’s mouth next.

“Unnecessary.” Alex chided Courtney once Carrie was safely out of ear shot. But her small smirk couldn’t hide her own amusement.

Courtney ignored the jab, narrowing her eyes at Alex.

“I don’t get you. You refuse to date any of the gorgeous women that go in and out of your own theater, but you have to go and spoil our favorite watering hole by sleeping with her? Don’t think I’ve forgotten about our long-lost Jamba Juice. I miss my Peach Perfection.”

“First of all, when have you ever before used the phrase ‘watering hole’? Secondly, that forbidden Jamba Juice isn’t even the closest one to your apartment. A Peach Perfection is a block away from where you sleep.”

“Not the point,” Courtney defended back holding up a finger. “The point my dear friend, is that you have been holding out on me. Quinn Collins. Her book strategically placed on your desk with the photo up so you can ogle it all day. Spill”.

“That is not remotely a point you were making a minute ago,” Alex deadpanned back. She knew she wouldn’t get out of this one. Not with Courtney.

Instead of saying anything, she quietly watched Carrie approach the table with their drinks. This wasn’t a conversation she wanted an ex-lover to hear. Not because Quinn’s show meant anything personal to her, but they still needed to sign the final contract. That’s what she’d been telling herself every time her eyes found that book cover on her desk and she’s caught by most beautiful dark brown eyes she’d ever seen staring back up at her.

Alex gave herself a mental shake knowing Courtney would pick up on even the smallest amount of daydreaming.

“One bourbon,” Carrie winked at Alex as she put the drink in front of her, “and one glass of wine.” She put Courtney’s glass down without looking at her.

As Alex took her first sip, she looked up to notice Carrie still standing there. The hopeful look sent a pang of guilt to her stomach. Carrie wasn’t a bad person. In fact, she was really fun and incredibly sexy. Alex just wasn’t interested in anything serious with her.

After seeming to realize that Alex wasn’t going to say anything else, Carrie turned and headed back to her spot at the bar.

Courtney snorted quietly before taking a sip. “You’ve got to actually start letting these women down, ya know. You leave them all in this limbo and then I get to watch sad puppy eyes over the rim of my wine.”

“I don’t like closure. Never leaves room for anything else,” Alex replied quietly considering Carrie at the bar. Maybe she had been too rash about her. Her eyes lingered on the bartender’s back as she bent slightly to shake a new customer’s drink.

Courtney didn’t miss the look. “Ah. I see.”

“What do you see, Court?” Alex snapped back. Her tone was way harsher than she meant it. She was just a little tired of the unwarranted advice and analysis tonight.

“Nope.” Courtney shook her head and took a sip of wine. “I’m not taking your angry bait babe. Tell me about Quinn’s show.”

Alex sighed audibly. It was as if Courtney could read her mind sometimes. Most people quaked when she turned on her “don’t fuck with me” voice. But Courtney would never let her get away with what worked with others.

Alex turned back to absentmindedly study Carrie’s profile as she took another sip before answering her friend.

“Pretty basic. Her book sales went through the bursa elit escort roof after her little stint in the festival last year. Now everyone in New York wants the Times bestselling author on their stage. We won the bid.”

“Meaning you won. How surprising. Go on.”

Alex didn’t acknowledge the sarcastic comment.

“Her team wanted a small downtown theater since they didn’t think she was ready for a huge media splash yet. But we pitched for it anyway. Well, I did. I put together this whole proposal on why I was so moved by what I saw in the festival. How I thought Horizon Theater Groupcould help elevate it even more. Anyway, I thought it was a long shot. But then I got a call from her manager and agent and they wanted to see the space.”

“Did she come with them?” Courtney asked the second Alex paused to take a sip.

“No, her manager implied he handles a lot of the business side of things for her. Though I imagine she’s busy. She just finished a book tour too.”

“How convenient for her. Wish I had people I could hand stuff off to.” Courtney added as she rolled her eyes slightly.

Courtney often expressed disdain for those who she perceived to be privileged. It was a wonder she respected Alex at all considering the handouts in life Alex was rewarded due to her father’s name. But Courtney knew Alex’s work ethic more than most. She saw Alex struggle to get a degree while taking care of her sick mother, all the while seeing friend after friend chase their dreams to the stage.

And that respect was mutual. Alex understood Courtney’s pride when it came to money and work so she would never tell her how proud she was of her. But she was.

Courtney was as talented as they came. Unlike their other friends at school who had parents sending them wellness packages each weekend, Courtney had to work for everything she ever had. With a single mother in and out of jail, Courtney was only able to go to school because of scholarships. Alex couldn’t even think of a day during college except show days when Courtney didn’t work.

Courtney went on. “So, are you dealing with her book agent? Manager? I don’t even know what book people are called.”

“No book people for her stage show. She has a manager who’s handled all her modeling contracts and he came to see the space. So did her entertainment agent. But it sounds like the show is pretty separate from the book.”

“Were they nice or all model-y?”

“What exactly is ‘model-y’ supposed to be like?”

“I don’t know. Vain, beautiful, thinks theaters smell funny….” Courtney smiled at her own ridiculousness.

“My theater does not ‘smell funny’,” Alex scoffed.

“But they were typical management, I guess. Their main fear was that the theater’s house would be too big. They wanted something in the 200 seat-range for her first show.”

“But why? If she’s going to do a show, people are going to know about it regardless of the house size. Any whiff of fame, even D-list fame, gets people to theaters here.”

Courtney swirled her drink in her cup asking all the confused questions that have already gone through Alex’s head since these negotiations began. She didn’t try to hide her disdain for New York’s current trend of hiring Hollywood types instead of real stage actors, but this was different. Quinn Collins wasn’t just some ex-model looking to make her way into acting.

She wrote a really successful book and then her own one-woman show based on it. It’s not like she just got cast as the lead in CATS because she once was in a popular TV show years ago. Alex was really impressed by the woman actually.

“Did you read the book or are you just using the cover for your spank bank?” Courtney scrunched up her nose as if Alex had been the one to say something crudely gross.

Alex took the napkin on the table, flung it at her friend and was satisfied when it hit the mark. “Court! Jesus. What is wrong with you?”

Courtney put her hands up innocently. “Don’t be a prude. I know you’re not one.”

She gave Alex a suggestive wiggle of her eyebrows to punctuate her point. Alex couldn’t help but roll her eyes and laugh at her friend.

“Yes. I read the book. It’s different than the show. Not as personal. Way more focused on the intricacies of the fashion industry. But she doesn’t go into as many childhood stories.”

“She got into some scandal with Jenna Matthews a few years back.”

Courtney loved to gossip and spent way too much time on various entertainment websites. Alex only knew about the Quinn gossip because Courtney went on about it at length when they went to the festival show last fall. But Quinn didn’t talk about it in her book or the show itself, so as far as Alex was concerned, none of that was her business.

“Also not in the book,” she told Courtney as she took the last sip of her drink and let it burn its way down her throat before continuing.

“From the way her team speaks about her, she’s incredibly level-headed. I think they just don’t want to bite off more than they can chew. Most of her experience has been in the fashion world, not acting. Anyway, after weeks of back and forth on the contract, the union negotiations, media negotiations and so forth, it looks like we have it. Meeting tomorrow with my dad and Rick to finalize our side.”

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