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The following is part 3 of a deleted scene from my novel The Opera.

Zola part 3

She smiles and Jack wants to kiss her. Her mouth is on the larger side, very appealing, with full lips, making her exotic, not the classic beauty.

Jack finishes his glass, takes the bottle, tops off her glass and fills his, half way. He likes how a proper glass of wine is always a third to a half full, depending upon the glass; he thinks it appears elegant, aesthetic visually, and it is also aromatically purposeful. He looks at her as if he’s got something to say, based on his proficient eye for observation.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?” Zola asks.

“You’re afraid to touch me, aren’t you.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“I’ve seen you. You touch everyone you speak to. You lay your hands on people and make contact with them. Even strangers. But you’ve never once put your hands on me. I’ve noticed you move like you’re going to, but you always pull back.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid…”

“What is it then.”

“I guess I don’t know if you’d mind being touched, I mean people are probably trying to touch you all the time.”

“Don’t tell me there’s the barrier of celebrity between us. I’d like to think we’re more familiar than that.”

Zola reaches out and puts her hand on Jack’s upper arm. “Ok, you happy?” She laughs shyly and takes her hand away.

“Yeah, I’m satisfied.” He says with the eyes that make a woman feel like she hasn’t a bone in her body. “One of the things I like about you Zola is that you make me forget I’m a celebrity. I feel real around you. Don’t let that change.”

“I try to treat you like a real person, but it’s hard to forget. I do try. …I know something that might help. Do you smoke pot?”

“Oh no. No, no, no. No I don’t.”

“Hm. That’s interesting. Why do you respond like that?”

Jack shakes his head.

“Funny. I took you for a pot smoker.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re a hippie.”

“That’s a stereotype.”

“I guess you just seem like a guy who takes a toke now and then.”

“You got the wrong guy. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“I don’t think you could ever disappoint me. Tell me about yourself. You know everything about me. I know nothing about you.”

“I’m just used to keeping my private life private.”

“You said you trust me.”

“Why, what do you want to know?”

“Tell me something about your personal life, something only your friends know.”

“I…I’d rather not.” He says thinking about the first time he had sex. He was fourteen years old, she was fifteen. It was in her bedroom when her parents weren’t home. Jack remembers the smell of her linens, a combination of almond and the natural scent of her skin. He fell in love with her and then she cheated on him. Jack was broken-hearted, yet he didn’t withdraw from people, rather he withdrew into his music, and stayed away from girls throughout the rest of high school. Jack never told anyone that he was afraid to trust, afraid to be hurt again. In college, he slept with every girl willing to spread her legs for him, until he fell in love again and got into a relationship for a couple of years. In the meantime, he was working on his acting career, inspired by Corey whom he met in college in L.A. Jack did TV commercials, Extra work, and small roles in independent films, before he got his big break.

He got his first starring role in a feature film, a critically acclaimed performance by Jack in the box office hit entitled Dark Tomorrow, which was what Jack often refers to as a romantic trauma. His girlfriend was jealous about the lead actress and she fought with Jack ceaselessly. It was more than a convenience when his agent called him about an opportunity in New York, so he went out to audition, and after ten or so call backs while he remained in New York, he got the part. He played the part of a teenage runaway named Charlie who got another runaway pregnant.  The film was called The Fostering, and Jack’s performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Jack moved to New York and used that as an excuse to break up with his girlfriend. She was obsessive and suffocating. In New York he was able to breathe.

Jack once said to an interviewer, “it was like one day I was a kid in a garage band moving on to take a crack at psychology in college, next day I was Mr. Mariano at age twenty-one.” Fame happened overwhelmingly fast. Women were coming out of the woodwork. Jack knew all the women, regardless of age, were using him, but he was ok with that because it allowed him to use them too. He fell in love a couple of times, had brief relationships, but he learned then that it was hard to be in a relationship with real women that he’d meet outside of the business, because they were either dating him because he was famous, or using him to get famous. If they were genuine, then they were insecure and jealous and not wanting to be in the celeb scene, which was inevitable. He fell in love with his first actress in the making of his third film, Dalton’s Voice. That’s the worse way to begin a relationship, according to Jack, because they expect you’ll fall in love every time you’re in a movie with another woman. It’s called acting, Jack would think.

Jack started going for models. Their level of jealousy was tolerable, because they either liked to cheat or flirt themselves, or just assumed appealing to the opposite sex was a given in the business, so they more easily accepted it. Their boundaries were also less than actresses. Actresses could have a grand amount of personal space of which it was a violation to trespass upon. Other actresses could be touchy feely, but models were even more so, and they loved everyone around them to be touching and feeling and being intimate with each other. It created for a secret sexy society which only those worth touching or were attractive or chic enough were members. Jack’s own jealous nature became fueled by that. Especially as he started getting older and maturing, finished with the field and the parties, and his models started getting younger, just beginning that lifestyle. Then there was Adia, his next big heartbreak. That’s where he left off..

Jack says after the skim of his brain, “Yeah, there’s really nothing interesting to say.”

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