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“How old are you, James?”
“Uh, I’m 26.”
Bette pursed her lips and nodded her head slowly, as if she was contemplating his last revelation. Her stare was making James nervous as he raised his eyebrows and gave her a tentative half smile.
“Is that…a problem?” he asked, unsure of himself.
“That you’re 26? No, not at all. I was just curious.” Bette answered. “So you started your own talent agency a year and a half ago, but tell me what you did before that?”
“Well, I did a stint as an assistant to an agent up in L.A. after graduating from USC…”
“Oh, what was your major?”
Bette chuckled, thinking about Tina for the first time since she arrived at the restaurant.
“What was that?” James asked.
“That little ‘humph?’” He imitated.
“You just…reminded me of something.” Bette said, shaking her head slightly as images of her distraughtly singing girlfriend invaded her mind’s eye.
“Kay. So during college, I had a job working in the mail room of this really big music agency. Man, I saw more naked people in photos than I care to admit.”
Bette’s eyebrows knitted in confusion as she smirked at James’ declaration.
“Groupies. They’re crazy. The company represented some big time rock acts. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t see a few racks and sacks of both men and women. Some were nice to look at, but the vast majority of these folks were images that will haunt me forever. And their requests were equally disturbing.”
Bette held up her hand signaling the end of James’ forthright descriptions. “It’s okay, I can do without knowing the requests.” She said with a giggle. “When you graduated, did you assist one of the agents with the same agency?”
“No, I was unfortunate enough to land a gig working for this horrible agent who was just a piece of work.” The waitress came back with refreshed beers on tap for the lunching duo. James didn’t hesitate to take the first gulp as soon as she set it down in front of him.
Bette couldn’t help but laugh. James was the typical fratboy attempting to play grown-up.
“Anyway, I normally don’t use the term to disparage women, but this woman was the biggest bitch I have ever met. Conniving, ruthless. I dreaded going to work for her every day. But she had the biggest recording acts at the time, so I stuck around as long as I could.”