Return to You
"You want me to what ?"
Everett Parker would have smiled if he were
that kind of man. But he wasn't, so he patiently watched and
waited. He was excellent at waiting, and even better at getting
what he wanted.
"This is a joke, right?" The young man swept
his hand through his hair. "Well, it's not funny."
Leaning back in his leather chair, Parker
took a sip of his scotch before answering, aware of the tension he
was causing. "No joke, Michael. You heard correctly the first time.
I want you to shoot the film in Mill Valley."
"Shit." The director speared his fingers
through his hair again and started to pace.
Parker nursed his drink, watching him
coolly. Once Michael's tantrum ran dry, he'd do what he was told.
After all, the terms of the offer would be irresistible.
He'd make sure of that.
It was almost a shame he had to do this. He
admired the young man. Of all the people around him, Michael
Wallace was the only one who stood up to him. The rest of them
cowered in corners, peeing on themselves as he walked by.
He wasn't manipulated easily, something
Parker usually relished. At this moment, it irritated him. He
needed Michael's cooperation, but he'd never consent of his own
free will—meaning Parker was going to have to force him. Not easy,
but certainly not impossible. He just had to find the right
bargaining chip. "Sit down."
Glaring, Michael dropped into the chair on
the other side of his massive desk. To his credit, he remained
silent, though his heated eyes said enough.
Good boy , Parker thought, feeling paternal pride even though Michael
wasn't tied to him in any way other than business.
Which was what he intended
to remedy. "You're the hottest director in the business. You can't
be surprised I want you to direct Love
The corner of Michael's lips quirked. "That
wasn't what surprised me, and you know it. Stop playing games,
Once upon a time, the boy had called him
One more thing he had to set right.
Parker pushed aside the nostalgic thoughts
so untypical of him and got back to the matter at hand. "Mill
Valley is not only the perfect backdrop for the movie, it's the
most cost effective. It's as simple as that."
"There are dozens of little towns in
California that would be just as suitable."
"I want the movie shot in Mill Valley."
Michael leaned forward, brimming with
repressed intensity. "Why? What does Mill Valley have that can't be
found anywhere else?"
My daughter. "Mill Valley is the most quaint of small
"Since it had a complete facelift two years
"Mill Valley would need more than a facelift
to improve it. It'd need complete reconstructive surgery."
"Enough," Parker said quietly. Most people
froze in fear when they heard his low, menacing tone.
Michael was an exception. "No, it's not
enough. I want to know why it's imperative to shoot this film
"Because I say it's imperative."
"Get some other director to do it then. How
about Blasdell? He's up-and-coming and needs a break."
"I want you to direct."
"And if I say no?"
Parker cocked a brow in mock astonishment.
"What about your contract with Parker Pictures?"
"I'll break it."
"Break it and you'll never work in this
"Damn it, Parker. What the hell is your
"No game." With the
instincts of a seasoned predator, he moved in for the kill. "I
want you to direct
this movie. I'll make any provisions I see fit and you'll follow
them, just like your contract says. In return, once this movie is
wrapped up, I'll release you from your contract."
Michael looked up sharply. "What?"
Everyone had a weak point. Find it, and they
were yours. "You heard me."
"I want it in writing."
"I wouldn't have expected anything
The young man stared at him through narrowed
eyes, fingers tapping rhythmically on his thigh. "Why don't I
believe it's going to be that easy?"
"It will be." Parker sipped his scotch and
"Isn't it too early in the day for that?"
Michael asked out of the blue.
"It's never too early for fifty year
He propped his elbows on his knees and rested his
chin on his steepled hands. "Jesus, Parker. Does she know?"
Parker didn't pretend to misunderstand.
"Does it make a difference?" The answer was
"Of course it makes a difference. I haven't
seen her in eleven years."
"It shouldn't matter. Eleven years is a long
time. You've moved on, and she's moved on—"
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