Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, .
Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Allison McGrath, a former movie star, is engaged for the strangest role of her career: playing the role of wife to a very wealthy stranger. The first book of the Ali Clifford saga.
Ali McGrath was scared as she knocked on the door of Suite 1400 in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Her appointment was vital. It was her first tryout in years and she had to get the part. A few moments later the door was opened by a tall man. "Good morning," she said, "I'm Ali McGrath and I have a nine o'clock appointment with Mr. Clifford."
She looked at the man standing before her. He was six feet two with a full head of light brown hair graying at the temples. He was very trim and conservatively dressed in a gray suit with a blue button-down shirt and a striped tie. Ali was puzzled. Her appointment was to audition for a movie rôle and Clifford didn't look like he was in the business. He looked like a New York businessman not a Hollywood film producer. She guessed his age as being early- to mid-forties.
When he held out his hand, she took it in a surprisingly firm grip. "Hi! I'm Bill Clifford. I am delighted to meet you, Miss McGrath. Won't you come in and sit down?"
Ali McGrath was a tall girl — five feet eight — and had a beautiful figure. Now, however, she was very thin — too thin — and it showed. She prayed it didn't show too much. She had golden blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes with very beautiful features. She followed him into the sitting room of his suite. This was her first visit to the Beverly Wilshire which was considered to be a bit staid by the Hollywood types, many of whom hung around the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Preceding him into the room, she took a seat on a side chair. He noticed she had passed up the sofa so he took the other side chair and sat facing her across the coffee table's long axis. Bill noticed the girl was thin. He remembered some of the comments in her file lying on the coffee table between them that he had just reviewed.
"Miss McGrath, I apologize. Things have been very hectic for me today and I never got around to eating breakfast. I would like to order from room service. Could I order something for you?" Bill watched as a range of emotions quickly ran across her face. He noted that he would have completely missed her reaction if he hadn't been watching for it carefully.
Hunger obviously won out. "Thank you, Mr. Clifford. I would be happy to join you," she replied with a warm smile.
Bill went to the phone, dialed room service and ordered two large breakfasts of sirloin steak and eggs with hash browns and toast. With his back towards her he placed the order in a very low voice so she couldn't overhear.
When he rejoined her and sat down, the two exchanged general pleasantries for a while and then Clifford turned to the reason for her visit. "Miss McGrath, thank you very much for coming in to see me. Before I waste time going over what you may already know, perhaps you could tell me what you know about the part. Then I'll fill you in on the rest."
She smiled again. He noted that her appearance was unchanged from when she had starring film roles in the 1970s, except now she did look noticeably thinner. He looked at her carefully but still couldn't decide whether she was wearing no makeup or if her makeup was so well done that it appeared she wasn't wearing any. Bill decided it didn't really matter.
"I really know nothing about the part, except that there is one," she said. Then smiling wryly she added, "Congratulations on finding me. I haven't had an agent in years. Which raises another question: There are some things I won't do. Perhaps I would have eaten more regularly if I had, but that's the decision I made. I just want you to know so I don't waste your time. What exactly is the part?"
Bill started to answer when the doorbell rang. He opened the door for the room-service waiter who came in and quickly opened up his service trolley for use as a table. Then he brought over the two side chairs, set them up in facing positions and then held the chair for her as she gracefully seated herself.
The waiter stood back and said, "Excuse me, ma'am, but aren't you Ali McGrath?"
She looked up at the waiter and smiled warmly. Bill was reminded how much he loved her smile. "Yes, I am, and it's very nice of you to remember me."
The waiter suddenly looked embarrassed and Bill thought he knew the reason. He glanced at Ali and saw she didn't mind the attention. He looked at the name badge the waiter wore and said, "It's quite all right, Charley. You needn't feel embarrassed."
The waiter relaxed and smiled. "I remember you from movies in the 70s. In fact, I saw you in person in Vietnam in 1974 when you came out to entertain. I — my buddies and I — appreciated what you were doing. It sure wasn't a popular place to be in those days, at least not on our side of the line." Suddenly, his face turned grim and his voice went flat. "It cost you your career, didn't it?"
She started to shake her head and saw a skeptical look come across his face. Then she nodded. "I'm afraid it did."
"I'm very sorry, Miss McGrath," the waiter said. "You were our favorite ... but I guess we don't count for much either."
Bill looked at him. "What are you doing now, Charley? The war's been over for quite a while."
The waiter smiled and replied, "I finally got out. Now I'm finishing at law school." Again he looked embarrassed. "Miss McGrath, I ... I'm president of the student association at law school. I'm at USC. Could ... Would you be willing to come and talk to the law students? I know something of your background, and some of us would love to hear you speak. Personally, I think it's a major civil liberties thing that's been swept under the rug. Would you consider it? We would be happy to pay you, of course. I know some of the speakers on the college lecture circuit pull down big bucks. We can't come up with the twenty grand or so an Abie Hoffman gets, but we could go to five thousand for you to make an appearance."
Ali responded with a very warm smile that appeared to light up the room — Bill could see she was really pleased. She looked at him and said, "Charley, I'm here today to talk about a rôle with Mr. Clifford. Please believe me when I say that you have just made me the best offer I've heard in over ten years. If this part falls through, I'll call you tomorrow if you will leave me your phone number. And if it doesn't fall through, I'll still call you," she said. "Furthermore, although I doubt if you know it, I'm studying law, too. I'm finishing at UCLA law school this year. I would be delighted to meet your fellow students."
As she talked with him, she realized Charley was a very handsome man. He stood about six feet three and had dark hair and blue eyes. He was very well built, weighing over 200 pounds. Charley took out a small pad and wrote hurriedly. He ripped off the sheet of paper and gave it to Ali. As he did so, Bill reached into his wallet, took out a bill, folded it up and gave it to him. He went to slip it into his pocket but then stopped. "Excuse me, Mr. Clifford, but I think there's been a mistake. I think you took out the wrong bill."
Now it was Bill's turn to smile. "Charley, I promise I won't tell anyone. If I did, you would be thrown out of the waiters' union. It's bad for your professional image to give back tips." He reached into his pocket and took out another bill that he did not bother to fold this time. Ali could see it was a hundred. "This is for your consideration, Charley. And I know you can use it."
"Thank you very much, Mr. Clifford. I really do appreciate it." Then he turned to Ali and said, "I hope you get the part, Miss McGrath. I think Mr. Clifford is the sort of producer we need more of around here." He excused himself after saying he would be back in a while for the table.
When Ali looked at the breakfast for the first time, Bill saw her eyes widen. He cut into his steak, and as he had expected it was a perfect medium rare. He looked at the girl across the table. "I apologize. I didn't even ask you what you wanted. I just ordered two of what I was having. I'm sorry. Girls don't eat steak and eggs."
Ali had already started on her steak. She put down her knife and fork and studied Clifford's face. She liked what she saw. "Mr. Clifford, thank you for what you did for Charley. You gave him a $200 tip, didn't you?"
Bill just nodded.
"And you know something of my background from the conversation we had, even if you didn't know it before. I don't care what other girls eat. This girl is starving. Literally. I haven't eaten in almost three days. You couldn't know that, but you did see I was hungry. I tried to load up on water, but that didn't work too well. Now would you please excuse me for a moment?"
She went to the bathroom and while she was out of the room Bill again ordered from room service. He asked if Charley could please bring up the additional order. Ali reappeared a few moments later, sat down and finished her breakfast. As she finished the doorbell rang again. It was Charley with another cart. He smiled and left it where it was, winking at Bill. He left the room.
"What's that?" she asked.
"A little more for you to eat," Bill replied. "You're right. I do know you haven't been eating very regularly. I guess I didn't realize it was this bad, though. I really don't know why, or what caused it. It doesn't affect the possible rôle you're here to talk about today, but I am curious."
Ali got up and went to the second cart. She started exploring under the metal covers and found an order of raw oysters. She looked at him with a question in her eyes.
Bill smiled and nodded. "I don't know what you like, so I got some stuff you can graze on. You know ... like a cow?"
"Moo... !" she said with a grin as she brought the oysters back to the table and started eating again. "I've never eaten oysters so early in the day, but I seem to recall hearing they do eat them for breakfast along Chesapeake Bay."
When she finished them she looked up and said, "Hollywood is very open-minded about what you say — as long as you say the right things. That is, the right liberal things. It's fine for Jane Fonda to go to North Vietnam. But if you don't like the way a script reads — for example, typically making the Americans out as the bad guys — you're uncooperative and you don't get any work. I guess I had it up to here with the Army, the CIA and American business men in general being made the heavies. They're Hollywood's new 'men in the black hats.'"
"Miss McGrath, you haven't worked in over ten years have you?" Bill asked quietly. She shook her head. "What have you been doing? It's been kind of hard tracking you down."
"Mostly I've been going to school. I have an MBA, and you just heard about law school at UCLA. I've been staying alive, is the best answer. Now, Mr. Clifford, what is the part you would like me to read for? I'm sure it's obvious that my salary isn't a big deal. I work this week to try to cover this week's rent ... and that's not a big tab."
He looked at her steadily. "The part is playing my wife," he said quietly.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Clifford?" she said, showing her astonishment. "I thought you said the part was playing your wife."
"It is." He smiled and continued. "Let me explain: My wife died awhile ago and I have three grown children. The youngest is in college, while the others are in graduate or professional schools. I decided I'm a little old for the singles scene. I have a great deal of money, so I came up with the idea of casting the rôle as if it were a rôle in a movie. That is basically what I'm doing. The contract is very simple: There won't be any residuals or percentages. It pays one million dollars for twelve months. It's quite simple, really."
He smiled and continued, "But I do have a few questions, though. Miss McGrath, I understand you did many of your own stunts. Is that true?"
Ali was stunned. She didn't believe her ears. All she could say was, "Did you say one ... million... dollars?"
Bill smiled and nodded. "Isn't that enough? But you didn't answer my question. By the way, since you're auditioning for the rôle of my wife, the name is Bill. My wife didn't call me Mr. Clifford since ... since ever! Come to think of it, she never called me Mr. Clifford.
"Bill, the name is Ali, or Allison if you prefer. I think my grandmother was the only person who ever called me that, though. As for your question, yes, I did. I guess I got a charge out of it. Are there any special things you're interested in?"
"Yes, there are. I remember you in a skiing picture. Do you ski?" She nodded. "Play golf?"
Again she nodded. "I used to play pretty well, but I haven't had the opportunity to play for years. But why do you ask?"
"Because I like to ski and play golf. I wondered if you could play the part, or if I needed to hire a stunt double, too," he replied with a grin. "By the way, how old are you? I know what the old studio bio says, but they lie ten years or more in both directions."
"I'm thirty-three," she replied, "How old are you?"
"I'm forty-nine," he answered. "Is that too old?"
"No. I lied. I'm really thirty-five. It's not too old. In fact, you look like you're in your thirties."
"You flatter me," he said. "What else do you need to know?"
"Tell me exactly what is involved in playing your wife. Does that mean I have to sleep with you?"
Bill was very serious as he replied. "Probably. But I mean that literally, not figuratively. I normally get a suite at a hotel, but usually there's only one bedroom. Frankly, Ali, I'm getting a little too old to be sleeping on the couch. Does the idea of sharing a bedroom with me — and possibly a bed — bother you?"
"Bill, I guess it should, but it doesn't. Please don't ask me why, because I honestly don't know. I guess I've played enough nude scenes that it really doesn't bother me. On the other hand, I would have been eating more regularly if I had been willing to do tricks for the troops. As a call girl, the pay is pretty good to start, particularly for a girl who actually had star billing in a Hollywood film.
"What more do you need to know about me?"
"I think I already know a great deal. I have a folder here that's pretty complete. But are you interested in the job? I don't want to waste your time."
She looked at him and he could see her eyes start to tear. He was surprised when she just sat up straighter in her chair. "Please don't say things like that. You're teasing me and you know it. I'm sorry, but I guess I'm just not in shape for it anymore. You are looking at a girl — a woman — who was starving — literally starving — just a few minutes ago. Waste my time indeed!"
She smiled through the tears. "Do you mind if I continue my grazing? I think I saw some smoked salmon — Scottish, isn't it?" He nodded, and she went back to the other cart, retrieving the plate of smoked salmon. She looked up at him. "Yes, I'm interested. Obviously I'm interested. What do I need to do? Do you want me to undress or something?"
Bill looked at her quizzically. "Would you mind taking off your dress? Just your dress."
She looked at him, got up and unbuttoned the plain dress she was wearing. She slipped it off and stood up straight. "I'm afraid there isn't an awful lot of me left," she said wryly. She was wearing only a pair of bikini briefs and a camisole. He could see she wasn't wearing a bra and could see her ribs plainly through her camisole — clearly she was ten pounds or more underweight. "Do I pass?"
Ali's legs were very shapely. She had slim hips and — at least at the moment — very small breasts which he could see outlined beneath the thin top. She saw his eyes focused on her chest. "I'm sorry," she said, "I've never had big boobs, but this is ridiculous, even for me. But you haven't answered my question."
"Why don't you put on your dress," he said. "Do you want the part?"
She looked at him while she stood holding her shirtwaist dress in her left hand. "Yes," she said, "I would like the part. I need the part! What else do you want me to do now?"
"Nothing. Except get back into condition. You really are much too thin." Bill changed the subject suddenly. "Ali, how much money do you need to get clear of all of your debts?"
She looked at him, puzzled. "It would take more money than the mint! Thousands!" Then she smiled wryly. "That's funny," she said softly. "I used to do features for hundreds of thousands and thought I was getting screwed. I guess I really was, too. My co-stars often appeared in the same film for millions. I suppose it's just a matter of perspective. The answer to your question, though, is that it would take between seventy-five and a hundred thousand to be completely clean."
"Where do you bank?" Bill asked. She told him at Bank of America and gave him the branch location. He frowned and said, "Why there? It's not very convenient to where you live."
She smiled and said, "That's true. However, the manager is ex-Special Forces from Vietnam and does everything he can to help me." Bill asked for her account number and bank transit code; she gave it to him.
"What's the name on the account?" he asked.
"Allison McGrath," she replied. "But what does that have to do with anything?"
It was his turn to smile. "Watch and see."
He picked up the phone and dialed a long-distance number. When the phone was answered Bill said, "It's B of A, account number 475-97765, in the name of Allison McGrath. Send a half immediately." He checked the time on his watch, then looked at Ali. "How about some more coffee? You haven't been drinking."
She smiled and said, "You're right. I will have some ... and some more orange juice, if I may?"
Bill checked his watch and asked Ali, "What is your manager friend's name, and what's his phone number?"
She told him the name was Jeff Sills and gave him the number.
He asked, "How much money did you have in your account this morning?"
"Less than ten bucks. Why?" she replied. She was curious about Clifford's cryptic phone conversation.
"There will be substantially more there now. Ali, I'm going to call Sills. Would you please ask him to check your balance? You can consider this to be a test of your acting ability. I'm going to see if you can keep a straight face."
"How much will there be?" she asked.
"I think there will be enough. By the way, do you have your checkbook with you?" he asked as he dialed the number and then passed the receiver to her.
She took her checkbook out of her purse and said, "For all the money I don't have in the account, I might as well use the checks as notepaper." Jeff answered his phone. "Hi, Jeff. It's Ali. Can you do me a favor?"
"Oh, God! Ali, if I do you one more favor, I'm history at this bank. But what the hell. As we used to say in 'Nam, you can't live forever. Sure! What can I do for you?"
"Jeff, could you check your handy computer and see what my balance is? My account number is—"
"Ali, by this time I know your account number better than my own! Just a second."
She could hear him punching buttons on his keyboard to bring her account up on his computer screen. He let out a low whistle and said, "Ali, I need to check something. Would you mind if I put you on hold for a moment?"
She said that was no problem, and she listened to the music-on-hold for a few minutes. Jeff came back on the line. Excitement was obvious in his voice. "Ali, I checked it, and it's not a mistake. You received a Federal Reserve wire transfer from Morgan Guaranty, New York, in the amount of half a million dollars. It's here, it's confirmed, and it's good money. With your previous balance of $7.64, that now gives you $500,007.64! Honey, I don't know what happened, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy! Do you want me to do anything?"
Ali had been slowly shaking her head, but her voice didn't change a bit. "Yes, Jeff, I do. Would you please check and pay off all my loans with the bank? Including the MasterCard and Visa accounts? Your collection people are going to have a fit! I'm going to lose all my good friends in various collection units who call me every couple of weeks chasing me for a few dollars against what I owe them. Can you do that?"
Jeff replied, "Ali, I just checked. It's a little more than $20,000. I just hit the buttons and checked your cards. They're active again, and have their full balances available. Okay? Anything else?"
"Jeff, there is one more thing. How late are you going to be around today?"
"Jen has to work late today, so I was going to stick around awhile. Why?"
"I'm going to be writing some major-league checks in the next few hours and some people may want to be sure they aren't rubber," she replied. "By the way, what time does Jen get off work?"
"She'll be working until seven and then is swinging by the bank to pick me up. Why? As far as taking calls, Ali, I will be absolutely delighted. It seems like I've spent a fair amount of the last few years making up tales for you. This will be a real pleasure! I get to act really pompous: 'My dear sir, of course Miss McGrath's check is good!' In fact, I'm looking forward to it."
Bill scribbled a note and passed it to Ali. She read it quickly and said, "Do you and Jen have any plans for tonight?"
"Come on, Ali! You know us better than that. I manage a small bank branch and we're desperately trying to save enough to make a down-payment on a house — and we're losing. You've had spaghetti at our place often enough. And by the way, are you eating yet?"
She smiled at the question. "I've been feeding my face all morning. Look, Jeff, I have a favor to ask. Promise me you'll do it if you can?"
She could hear the sound of resignation in his voice. "Sure, Ali. Don't I always?"
"Great! You are taking Jen to dinner at Maxim's tonight. Your reservations are for eight o'clock. And Jeff, there won't be a bill. It's on me. I really owe you, and you know I can afford it now." There was hesitation on the line so she added, "Remember, you promised."
The tone of his voice changed. "Okay, Ali, but you have to pick up the pieces. Jen will absolutely kill me when I tell her where we're going without even giving her a chance to prepare for it for three weeks ahead of time. On your head be it. And thanks very much. It's ... It's our anniversary and we had agreed we weren't going to celebrate or exchange gifts. We put the anniversary celebration money in the house fund."
Ali hung up and smiled her thanks at Bill. "Thank you. That was really very nice. I guess you know I love those two. I think they may have saved my life ... and they certainly preserved my sanity. Now what?"
"First, Ali, how would you like to save about $400,000?" he asked.
"I beg your pardon? You're joking, aren't you?" she asked, quite startled.
"No, I'm not. The money I transferred to you has had taxes paid: mine. However, it's now income to you. With the new tax laws you can't income-average anymore. The tax bite on a million is about $400,000, give or take a bit after California takes its piece. If you want to, we can legally keep it out of their grubby hands and in your bank account. Interested?"
"Of course I'm interested. It's more money than I've seen in the last ten years combined. I'm very interested in keeping as much of it as I legally can."
After nodding once, Bill picked up the phone, dialed a number, and spoke for a few moments. A short time later a young woman appeared at the door. He showed her in and she opened a small black bag. Looking from Bill to Ali she asked, "Who's first?"
"I guess I am," Bill said. He rolled up a shirt sleeve. The girl took out a hypodermic needle and inserted it into a vein, then connected it to a Vacutainer bottle to draw blood. When the bottle was filled, she carefully withdrew first the bottle and then the needle. After carefully labeling the bottle she put it aside. Ali had been watching with interest as she drew the blood, then went to the girl and the process was repeated with her.
Finally the woman put her materials away and said, "The reports should be ready within an hour. They will be sent over by messenger." She let herself out.
Ali was rubbing her arm with alcohol-soaked cotton. "I don't mean to be unnecessarily nosy, but what, exactly, was that all about? In my present condition, I'm not sure how much blood I can spare," she said.
"Ali, let's sit down. And why don't you finish your grazing while I tell you about it? It relates to the rôle you agreed to play for a year. You have the part, by the way. But I'm sure you knew that when the money was transferred to your account." Ali took the last dish off the second cart — a huge portion of lump Chesapeake Bay crab meat — and set it on the coffee table.
"I'm listening," she said quietly as she looked at him intently.
Bill checked his watch, and made another quiet phone call. He came back and sat on the sofa next to her. "Okay. First, this is a tax deal. If I pay you money, it's income to you. On the other hand, a husband and wife can move assets between them to their heart's content without creating what the accountants and lawyers term a taxable event. Therefore, the reason for the blood test is it's needed in this state for a marriage license. We're being married at City Hall in an hour."
Ali looked at Bill with an expression of utter shock on her face. "You're serious, aren't you? You really intend to marry me? Today?"
He grinned at her and said, "Sure do! There are some people who will do anything to lessen the tax bite. I realize it isn't very romantic, but there are four hundred thousand good reasons for you to say, 'I do.' Are you game?"
"With the understanding I can get out of it later because in my present weakened condition I was temporarily insane," she said shaking her head in shock. Then with a wry grin she asked, "What do we do now, coach?"
Just then there was a knock on the door. Bill opened it and signed for an envelope delivered by messenger. After opening it he glanced at the contents. "We're all set. The blood tests are done and we're both in fine shape. Are you ready?"
She gave him a wry smile, shrugged, and followed him to the door. His limousine was waiting at the curb to take them to City Hall. When they arrived, it was eleven o'clock. No one was waiting at the Clerk's Office and they got their license quickly. Following the clerk's instructions, they then went down the hall to the office of a Superior Court judge. Just a few minutes later, in the presence of the judge's clerk and secretary, Bill and Ali were married.
The judge finished the very brief ceremony and then said, "You may kiss the bride."
Bill took her in his arms and gave her a warm kiss. He was surprised to feel her lips open and her tongue dart into his mouth. The kiss ended as far more than the friendly kiss he had intended. Bill could hear bells when he kissed her. As they left the judge's chambers, Ali looked at the third finger of her left hand. She admired the plain gold wedding band Bill had taken from his pocket and was surprised that it fit perfectly. After they had gone a few steps down the hall, she stopped abruptly. After taking another step, Bill stopped and turned around to see why she had stopped so suddenly. She was bent over and it looked as if she were crying. He went back to her and took her in his arms. When she looked up, he realized she had been trying to control her laughter. In fact, she was still giggling.
"What's so funny?" he asked, looking at her with a very puzzled expression on his face. Clifford thought her giggle was the cutest sound he had ever heard.
Ali was still giggling so hard she couldn't talk. All she could do was slowly shake her head from side to side. Finally, she was able to speak. "I'm sorry, Bill. I'm laughing at the situation! Do you realize the first time you kissed me was when we were married? For Heaven's sake, even in the movies we rehearse the clinches! You've been here before. Moreover, you're doing it to save me some money on my taxes. But it's the first time for me! Brides are supposed to cry at their weddings, not laugh! Thank you for marrying me and saving me so much tax money."
With a shake of her head she regained control and asked, "What do we do now?"
"We go and see your creditors."
They set off and visited a couple of banks to settle charge-card bills and then a couple of department stores. Twice the people in the credit office called Jeff who pompously told them, "Of course Miss McGrath's check is good!"
Meanwhile, Bill made a couple of phone calls. At Nordstrom's, after finishing with the credit department, Bill insisted on swinging by the Better Dresses department. Ali quickly entered into the spirit of the afternoon. Bill, in consultation with the buyer, found the perfect dress for her. It was a shade of blue that exactly matched her eyes. While she was changing, he made yet another call. She reached for her now-reactivated charge card to pay for the dress, but was told it was already taken care of.
After dropping her off at the hair salon in the store, Bill returned to the hotel. While there, he sent off a couple of faxes to New York. One went to his attorney and the other to his principal bank, Morgan Guaranty. Then he went back to Nordstrom's to see if Ali was ready. As he read a magazine, he smiled to himself. It had been a very eventful few hours.
A few minutes later, Ali emerged from the salon looking absolutely gorgeous. Thinking about it, he decided she was only marginally prettier than she had been when she went in. My God, she's beautiful, he thought.
"How do I look?" she asked.
Bill looked at her thoughtfully and walked around her. Finally, he stood with his hand on his chin. "Okay," he said thoughtfully. Her face fell, and he could see she was hurt. Then he added with a grin, "For a goddess! Ali, you are out of this world!" She instantly displayed a beaming smile that was as bright as sunshine. It's like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, he thought.
"What now?" she asked.
"Let's go back to the hotel. There are a few more things on their way. Incidentally, do you need anything from your apartment? For that matter, do you even need the apartment?"
Her face fell. "Oh, my God! I forgot the rent! Bill, could we swing over now? I could take a cab ... Oops! I don't have any money." He just grinned.
They went out to the limousine and drove over to her apartment which was in a very unfashionable section of the San Fernando Valley. She went to the superintendent's apartment and rang the bell.
The superintendent, Mr. Garçia, looked at her skeptically when he opened the door. "Miss McGrath, when can you give me some money? The owner is really on my back! I've given him all of your excuses and invented a dozen new ones of my own."
Ali smiled at him, and he smiled back inviting them both in. The apartment was very neat and smelled of Mexican cooking. Ali introduced Bill merely as Mr. Clifford. Garçia's wife came out of the kitchen and gave Ali a big hug. She was a very attractive — and very heavy — woman who enfolded Ali in her arms. She went out to the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with tortilla chips and salsa. Garçia opened two bottles of Dos Équìs for them and two more for his wife and himself.
While this was going on, Ali had taken out her checkbook and wrote a check. "Señor Garçia, I have a surprise for you," she said. "I owe you for two months. The check is for the back rent, this month, and two more months in lieu of notice. I'll be moving out. I finally got a part after all these years!"
She gave him the check and Garçia looked stunned. Then he smiled. The smile got bigger and bigger until he was beaming. "Miss McGrath, am so happy for you! You are the best actress in all of Hollywood! But why did it take so long? You have been here and have been available. Why they not call before?"
Ali smiled at him warmly. "I really don't know. I think I know, but I hope I'm wrong. Señor Garçia, thank you so much! Muchas graciàs, señor! Hastá là vistà!"
They took their leave and went up to Ali's apartment where she paused for a moment before entering. It was obvious to Bill that she was ashamed of it but she ended up asking him in for a moment anyway. The apartment is Spartan, Bill thought, but spotlessly clean.
Ali went into the bedroom and Bill looked in the kitchen. As he suspected, there was no food of any kind. Her cupboard and refrigerator were almost completely empty. There was just a bottle of water chilling in the refrigerator. Ali returned with a small suitcase and another small stack of bills including her telephone and electric bills. She wrote out checks, put them in the envelopes and then put the envelopes in her purse. Smiling at him ruefully she said she didn't even have any stamps.
"Do you want me to send a mover around to get the rest of your things?" he asked.
She appeared embarrassed but looked directly at him. "This is the rest, Bill. Everything else has been sold." Suddenly, he saw her face crumple. She sat down at the table again and took out her checkbook. She looked quickly at the numbers, did some quick mental arithmetic, and scrawled out a check which she gave him. It was for slightly over $450,000.
Bill was caught up short. "What is this?" he asked.
"That's the rest of the money you gave me, Bill." She was sitting up straight in the chair and looking him straight in the eye. "Bill, I'm worth less than $10,000 a year. You've saved my life. I obviously can't pay you the rest of the money you gave me — you know where it all went. But I'll do anything you want me to do until it's all paid back. Thank you for helping me so much." Tears were rolling down her cheeks, but she was still holding her head up straight.
Bill felt like he had just been emotionally ripped in half. When he held out his arms, she got up and came into them. He just held her tightly as she started to cry. He could feel her shoulders shaking from the sobs while he held her and gently stroked her hair. Slowly, she regained control. "You'll be perfect in the part Ali ... and worth every dime!"
She tried to smile through her tears and did a remarkable job of it. "Thank you, Bill. It felt wonderful with you just holding me like that!"
She really is a top-flight actress, he thought. Then he carefully tore the check up into little pieces and dropped them in the trash container. After putting his arm around her they went out to the waiting car.