I'm not a small-dog person. I'm more of a Rottweiler girl, but Charlie had a beagle named Trophy. It was 6 a.m. and she had to go out.
"Shut up!" Charlie screamed. He lay beside me in bed, face down. "If she pees on the floor again, I'm getting rid of her."
I didn't know what to say. I rarely knew what to say to Charlie. We were 10 years apart in age and what felt like light-years apart in personality.
We'd met at a bar in Hollywood. It was several years ago, and I was 23 and new to Los Angeles. My job prospects were dim.
"I'm Charlie, talent agent to the stars," he told us without a hint of modesty.
I looked at my roommate and rolled my eyes. When Charlie told me I reminded him of a movie star, I laughed. I knew I was no Julia Roberts, but after 12 months of being single, compliments from the opposite sex felt good. With each sip of my martini, any reservations I felt toward him slowly disappeared.
Later that night, he took me aside and whispered, "If you know the right people, this town can be a lot of fun." I felt an ache take over. Would my life in L.A. ever be "fun"? I was working at a boutique, making less than $10 an hour. I'd recently been caught not properly greeting a secret shopper. To keep my paycheck, I'd swallowed any existing pride I possessed and feigned remorse.
"So you want to be an actress?" Charlie asked.
"No!" I yelled. "I can't act."
Charlie's shoulders started to shake with laughter. "That doesn't matter, honey. This is L.A.," he said. "Here's my card. Call me."
Charlie eventually found me a job, but more important, he managed to make L.A. feel warm and welcoming. He introduced me to his friends and we hiked Runyon Canyon.
But as weeks became months, I began to accept that we had little in common. While I avoided confrontation, Charlie searched for it. I liked quiet nights, Charlie liked loud clubs. Nonetheless, I clung to him and ignored any red flags. When I spent the night in Charlie's bungalow and rode along the freeways high up in his SUV, I felt as if I belonged.
"Shut up!" Charlie screamed at Trophy again.
Feeling bad, I hauled myself out of bed and grabbed Trophy's leash. After I walked up Charlie's cliff-like driveway, I stopped to catch my breath and gaze at the palm trees against the cloudless sky.
Then I heard a loud noise and without warning, there it was — a truck speeding straight toward me. I tried to scream, but too late. I was knocked off my feet. When I opened my eyes, my head was resting against the gravel driveway.
"You OK?" asked the driver.
"Yeah," I said, glancing at my bloodied hands. "I guess."
Before I could finish, he ran back to the truck and drove away.
Peeling myself off the pavement, I debated whether to go back inside. If Trophy hadn't finished peeing, I knew there'd be hell to pay. Then I noticed my bloody knees. I walked back in.
I hesitantly opened the bedroom door. "Charlie," I whispered.
He turned over and looked up at me, annoyed.
"I just got hit by a truck," I said, as the tears hit my cheeks.
Charlie sprang to his feet and started screaming. "We'll sue!"
In five minutes, he'd managed to call the paramedics, the cops and his lawyers, all while preparing a bubble bath for me. While he had yet to say those three vital words, I took his efficiency as a sign that he loved me.
After giving me the once-over, the paramedics decided to leave me in Charlie's care and packed up their equipment.
After everyone was gone, I sat on the couch in the living room and waited for Charlie to stop talking to his lawyer.
Wrapped in his black silk robe, I felt good. Taken care of. I wondered what was in store for the rest of the day.
"OK, sweetie," Charlie said. "I've got to work. You need to go back to your place and rest."
After grabbing my stuff, I made a beeline for the door. I didn't want to let Charlie see me cry.
"Bye, sweetie," he called after me. "Feel better!"
Before I could reply, he shouted, "Oh, and don't forget."
I was hoping for three words, but instead I got 10.
"Whatever you get from this lawsuit, I'm taking 10%."
Addie Morfoot's work has appeared in Variety, Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire and Salon. She writes about entertainment and issues that pertain to her family, which, it should be noted, does not include Charlie and Trophy. She is completing her first novel.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.We pay $300 a column.
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