пятница, 4 ноября 2022 г.

Julia Naumova Famous love stories

 On the morning of May 10, 1956, Alain Delon, with a small suitcase in his hand, left the building of the Gare de Lyon in Paris. During the last months of his military service, he often imagined this moment and painted in his mind pictures of Parisian life. Reality quickly sobered him up. Knowing no one in this huge city and having no money for a hotel room, Alain felt fear that replaced confidence in success. But then I thought: “Nothing, the main thing is to act.”

The young man did not even think about conquering Paris. For a start, it was just necessary to survive and not succumb to the persuasion of the mother to return to the wilderness, to his native town of Bourg-la-Reine. And for this it was necessary to find a job, moreover, one that would make it possible to make useful contacts. What kind of occupation to choose, he has not yet decided. He firmly knew only one thing - he would make every effort not to vegetate in obscurity and poverty. In the struggle for success and prosperity, he most of all relied on his energy and charm. He was only twenty years old. A handsome face and hopeful blue eyes usually provided the young man with the attention of others. In military service in Indochina, Alain tanned and matured, and even a short army haircut did not spoil his appearance.

Already two hours after arriving in the capital, Alain found himself a place to live, and this first victory inspired him to implement the next point of his plan: to find income, even if it was temporary. Rented in a demolished house, after several weeks spent in the fort, when he was dismissed from the service for illegal possession of weapons, he did not seem terrible.

The young man had no friends in Paris, but in the suitcase was a piece of paper with the addresses of relatives and acquaintances of his colleagues. They even offered the addresses of the girls, but Alain just shrugged his shoulders: he himself could easily find a girl for himself without much difficulty. There would be a desire. In the army, he was known as an irresistible heartthrob and struck up a stormy romance with a woman from a neighboring village. At first, his superiors looked at his delays from dismissal through their fingers; but one day, arbitrarily taking a jeep to go on another date, Alain ran into serious official trouble.

But even after that, Alain's passion for adventure did not disappear. Walking along the Parisian streets, the young man looked at the girls he met. Noticing their interest in him, he smiled, but did not go further than this. Now he was worried about something else: would any of the people on the list help him?

Delon pinned his main hopes on Pierre Beauvais, a petty bank employee. With his help, Alain hoped to get a job as a courier. He did not dream of more, since even secondary education was given to him with tremendous difficulty - not because of a lack of ability, but simply because he never had a desire to master science. He did not regret the absence of a diploma for a minute, because in return he received the opportunity to truly know the world.

Having strayed through the narrow streets, Alain found a two-story house where Beauvais lived. Having risen to the second floor, the young man did not find a call on the door and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. There was a rustle, the door opened a little and a woman stared at Alain through the crack.

— What do you need? she asked unfriendly.

— I'm looking for Pierre, Pierre Beauvais.

“That bum doesn't live here anymore. I kicked him out.” The woman opened the door fully. It was a fat woman in a yellow dress with a torn hem.

“Oh, sorry to bother you, madam,” Alain turned to leave.

“Wait, boy,” the woman called out to him. Why do you need Pierre?

It's my first day in Paris. I thought he would help me find a job.

The woman nodded, carefully examining the young man. His handsome face and military uniform made a favorable impression on her.

My name is Genevieve. If you have nowhere to stay, you can spend the night with me,” she offered, holding the torn hem.

Not at all pleased with this prospect, Alain took another step from the door and almost fondly remembered his new home.

Thanks, Genevieve. I already found a room. Now I need a job.

The woman was disappointed, but was not touchy.

“I don’t know where Pierre is, but I’ll help you with work. Go down to the first floor and call the apartment directly below mine. Mr. Toma lives there, he works at the post office, maybe he can find something for you. Tell him I sent you.

Madame, you are my savior! Alain kissed Genevieve's hand with feeling and began to quickly descend the stairs.

"Go, go, soldier," the woman muttered, looking after him regretfully.

Mr. Toma, a short elderly man turned out to be the head of the delivery department of the nearest post office. He liked the young man, and he offered Alain a place as a newspaper peddler, however, for a meager salary. Of course, it was not like the job of a courier in a bank, but after a moment's thought, Delon agreed. It was agreed that Alain would come to the post office on Monday morning; thus, he had a few days left to search for other recipients and additional work. However, with the rest of the people on the list, he was even less fortunate than with Beauvais. He could not find a house on the Boulevard des Capucines at all, and at other addresses in the apartments to which he called, the owners had never heard of the tenants he was interested in. Having exhausted the list, Alain had a quick bite to eat in a cheap cafe and went to his apartment to rest.

When he woke up in the morning, the sun was shining, and Alain took this as a good sign. However, leaving the house, the young man found that it was not cold in the street. A thin military uniform did not protect well from the wind, and Alain now and then went to warm himself in various cafes that came across on the way to the city center. For some reason, Alain was sure that he would rather find work there. In one cafe, he went to the counter to order coffee, and noticed a man in a beige jacket at the nearest table. He sat with his back to Alain, and yet he had no doubt that this was his army comrade Lucien Lejeune. After waiting a little at the counter and hoping that he would turn around, then decided to go to his table.

Lucien, hi.

He turned his head and stared at Alain in amazement.

“God, this is the meeting!” he exclaimed. - You're in Paris. Retired? he asked, looking at his friend's military uniform.

Yes, early dismissal. I want to try my luck in the capital.

“You are absolutely right, we would never have made generals. What are you doing?

- I am the second day in the city, looking for work, although I have already agreed in one place.

“Listen, I’m late now and I can’t talk anymore. Come to me in the evening, I will gather a few friends. Maybe they will tell you where to turn, - Lucien scrawled his address on a napkin and handed it to Alain.

"Thanks, see you tonight," he said, and went back to the counter to get his coffee. The comrade patted him on the shoulder, was once again surprised at the unexpected meeting and left the cafe.

Alain went around several restaurants on the Champs Elysees, hoping to get a job as a waiter in one of them. Managers asked if he had experience in such work and, as a rule, immediately refused, having heard a negative answer. Only in the "Colosseum" he was asked to come in a month, they might need another waiter to meet visitors at the entrance to the restaurant.

Since noon, the young man walked the streets and did not try to look for a place anymore. He decided that he would work at the post office for a month, and then become a waiter at the Coliseum. Besides, he counted on Lucien's help. His former colleague had already lived in Paris for several months and knew the city better than he did. At seven in the evening, Alain was standing on the Boulevard Barbet, near the house where Legon lived.

- Alain! Well done for coming, otherwise it began to seem to me that our morning meeting was a hallucination,” Lucien greeted him. “Come and meet my friends.”

Lejeune introduced him to several young men, who began to scrutinize the newly arrived young man. He immediately became alert. Looks like they weren't helping.

Have you recently arrived in Paris? one of them asked.

Yes, just yesterday. I recently retired from the army,” he replied.

— Trying to find a job in the city? Do you have special education?

— No, I was sorry to waste time getting it.

Well, now you're wasting your time looking for a job.

Alain frowned, and Lucien came to his aid:

Stop it, Andre. My friend found a job at the post office on the first day. We are doing the same thing with him, as before. I got a job as a courier in a small company, I sort out their letters and packages,” he explained to Alain.

"You won't make much money doing this," Andre said.

Soon, Lucien's new acquaintances dispersed, and the friends were left alone.

“I wonder where this puffy Andre works?” Alain asked.

He hopes to make a career in banking. Now he works there as a clerk.

- Clear. His character is suitable, - said Delon. — In the morning I went around several restaurants, but I could not get a job, although I was asked to go to one place next month.

“I will try to help you, although there is hardly anything suitable in my company. This is a very small company. Where did you stay?

“Rented a room for a pittance in a crumbling house. It will be taken down soon.

At least I can be of some help. Come live with me. We will rent a bigger room in the same boarding house. My salary is ridiculous, but there is some money in the bank. Just before I retired, I received an inheritance.

- Thanks. Am I sure I won't bother you?

- What you! Think about the army.

For some time they talked about former friends, then Alain thanked his friend and promised to transfer his things to the boarding house tomorrow. Lucien undertook to talk to the owner about moving to another room.

The young man returned to his home not in despair, but in a state close to him.

“I can't live in Paris on meager pennies,” he thought, “it would have been better to stay in Marseille or go to my mother. How to find an opportunity to earn money?

Nothing came to his mind. He felt like a stranger in this city. The only person he could count on for support was Lucien Lejeune. The list of Parisian recipients that Alain provided with his comrades did not help him, but he accidentally ran into a former fellow soldier. Together it will be easier to survive in Paris.

In the next few weeks, little change occurred in the young man's life. She and Lucien lived together on the Boulevard Barbet, in the morning Alain worked at the post office, and then sometimes helped a friend deliver letters. Alain's salary did not last long, he had to borrow from Lezhon. At the beginning of the summer, Delon visited the Colosseum several times, but the waiter was not yet required there. Yet he was not completely denied.

"Alain," Lucien said one evening. “My bank account has dried up. Judging by our earnings, we will not be able to pay for the room in July. We urgently need to come up with something.

- Do you already have a plan? the young man asked his friend.

- I guess, yes. Do you know the grocery store next door? We can unload their boxes of goods. There are no other offers yet.

- I agree, only early in the morning I go to the post office. Can we unload the cars?

— Yes, they arrive late in the evening. Let's divide them like this: I work in the morning, and you work in the evening.

- Deal.

"Let's go spend our last fifteen francs at the Café Saint-Germain-des-Pres." Our friends will be there today.

I miss Andre so much. I dream to see him. With his teachings, he reminds me of a parish priest,” Alain quipped.

“Cheer up, there will be others,” Lucien smiled.

This cafe was trendy. Students, young employees and extravagant bohemians gathered there. Alain liked to come there, listen to music and chat with friends. That evening, he drew attention to two girls sitting at the next table. They glanced at their watches every second, waiting for someone. He especially liked the swarthy girl who sat facing him. With long black hair flowing down to her shoulders and huge dark eyes, she struck with her wild beauty. Catching his eye, she stared at him for a moment, then turned away.

“Don't even hope to meet this girl,” Lucien advised, noticing the glances of his friend. - This beauty rejected Andre himself a couple of weeks ago! he declared aloud.

The friends burst into laughter.

“Nothing like that,” Andre was offended. - She was waiting for her friend, and I did not particularly insist on an acquaintance.

“Of course,” said his neighbor. - I remember with what face you returned to the table.

Taking advantage of the favorable opportunity, everyone tried to take revenge on Andre for his ridicule. In the end, angry, he got up and left.

“Today your wishes come true,” Lucien said quietly to Alain. “I didn’t want to meet Andre, and he disappeared.

- You're right. Since today is such a day, I'll go meet the black-haired beauty.

Alain had already begun to rise when he noticed that two young men had joined their friends. Apparently, the girls were waiting for them, as the company got up from the table and headed for the exit.

“It’s okay, you’ll meet another time,” Lezhon consoled him.

They also did not stay long in the cafe, since Alain had to go to the post office early in the morning. On the way home, friends discussed future prospects: Alain dreamed of getting rich by building fantastic ideas, and Lucien had more specific plans - the young man wanted to open his own company for the delivery of urgent letters and parcels.

“I have researched the matter a little. Thank God, I’ll be working in a similar company for half a year soon,” he said. “However, I need to invest several thousand francs in the business for the salaries of employees, rent for the premises and some advertising. If things go well, you can buy a couple of cars in order to deliver parcels faster.

“You have grandiose ideas,” Alain replied.

He himself was not particularly attracted by such a prospect. Maybe because he had no idea where to get even an extra hundred francs, and he didn’t have to rely on a loan. He never had a bank account, Lucien spent all the money from his. Despite this, for the first time since his arrival in Paris, Alain's mood cheered up. The reason for this was the girl he saw today in a cafe.

Another two weeks have passed. Friends raised money to pay for a room for the next month, but their financial situation remained deplorable. Once, already without any hope, Alain looked into the Colosseum. The manager came out to him.

— When can you start work? he asked the young man. - If you do a good job with the duties of a waiter and do not start being late for work, you will soon become a waiter.

Allen thought he misheard. He no longer hoped for such luck. Even the waiter's earnings exceeded the amount that he was paid both at the post office and in the store. And what was there to talk about money, taking into account the tip given to the waiter. He thanked the manager, promised to return to work the following Sunday, and rushed to Lucien's office to tell him the good news. A friend showed up and was very happy.

- Fiction! he shouted. — The restaurant is located on the Champs Elysees. All celebrities go there. When do you start work?

- From this Sunday. On weekends they always have a lot of visitors.

- It should be noted. Today we will go to Saint-Germain-des-Pres, we must wipe the nose of this dandy Andre. Imagine, he got a little raise at the bank.

— Okay, I need to inform the mail about the dismissal. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to unload the boxes in the evenings now, I will have shift work.

Forget those boxes. Now the main thing for you is to get a job as a waiter. Then you will definitely get rich.

Alain chuckled softly. After two months of barely making ends meet, the new salary seemed huge to him. He said goodbye to Lucien before evening and went to the post office. When he announced that he wanted to leave at the end of the week, Mr. Toma was genuinely upset. He sympathized with the handsome and energetic young man, who was always polite to him, but there was nothing to be done.

"Come visit me sometimes," said the old man. - If you want to return to work, there is always a place for you.

"Thank you, Mr. Thomas," replied Alain. You were the first to give me a job in Paris. Due to her, I managed to live in the city for two months.

In the evening, he and Lucien met friends in a cafe and sat down at their table. Half an hour later Andre came up, dressed in a new suit. He was holding a pretty girl by the hand.

“Meet my cousin Annette,” he announced importantly.

“I hope she’s not as boring as her brother,” Alain said in a loud whisper.

Those at the table laughed. Since only one seat remained free, Annette was put in it. For the sake of Andre, no one wanted to crowd, but in the end, the friends put together several chairs and sat on them.

— Annette, are you studying or working? Alan asked the girl a question.

“I hope to become a dancer, I study at a ballet school,” she replied, smiling.

- Not a dancer, but a ballerina. You are always talking nonsense,” her brother corrected her in an unhappy voice. “They will still think that you are going to perform in a cabaret.

“I can’t wait to see your skill,” Alain continued the conversation. Let me invite you to dance.

- With pleasure, - the girl answered and rose from the table.

She couldn't take her eyes off him. Handsome, slender, in a black shirt with an unbuttoned collar, Alain struck the girl's imagination. The young man's friends watched the dancing couple for some time, and then, like last time, they began to play a joke on Andre:

“Your sister was taken away!”

“You don’t take good care of your cousin!”

He frowned and muttered:

Annette is old enough to figure out who to dance with and when to say goodbye to her partner.

The music stopped, and Alain and Annette went to the table. At that moment, the young man noticed the dark-haired girl who had liked him so much last time entered the cafe. Now she was alone and looked at Alain with interest, but the situation was again not in his favor. After he began courting Annette, it was inconvenient to strike up an acquaintance with another girl. Still, he gave her a slight nod and returned to his friends.

“Your sister can perform wherever she wants, Andre,” he said. She is charming and an excellent dancer.

“We stopped by for a bit today,” he remarked. - I have added duties in the bank, so you need to come to work with a fresh head.

“Let's drink to Alain's luck,” Lucien offered a toast. He was hired today at the Coliseum restaurant.

Everyone perked up and began to ask the young man about this event. He briefly answered questions from friends.

“What can I say,” Lucien entered into the conversation, “he almost moved to the restaurant, trying not to miss the place promised to him. With his perseverance, he will achieve a lot.

“Alain, I wish you success,” said Annette. - I hope to see you again.

These words were met with meaningful grins from Alain's friends, and the girl blushed. She got up from the table and headed for the exit after Andre.

- Good luck, Annette. Thank you for the dance and the wish, - Alain called after her.

“Yes, the sister does not look like her brother at all,” someone remarked.

“The thing is, she's a cousin, not a sister. I think she liked you,” Lejeune said to his friend. - If you're lucky, then in everything. I got a job and a girl at the same time.

- Exactly, Alain, take revenge on Andre. Take care of his cousin, the others said.

Annette is attractive enough to date her for her own sake. I would love to see her again,” he said to everyone's amusement.

There were two days left until the end of the week. Alain gradually got used to the idea that he would work in the Coliseum and imagined it every minute. How he did not want to put on his uniform again! She bored him in the army, but there was no choice. On Sunday, his shift began in the morning, and he came to the restaurant early.

“Good morning, young man,” the manager greeted him. “You can change in that room over there. Your suit is already hanging there. Then come here, I'll explain to you what the waiter's job is.

Wearing a white uniform shirt, Alain heard the door slam and turned around. A tall young man, five years older than him, entered the room.

“My name is Tieri,” he immediately introduced himself. Are you the new waiter?

“No, just a waiter for now,” Alain replied.

- We urgently need another waiter, otherwise it’s hard for the guys to serve five tables. I'm a bartender,” Tieri added. - When you become a waiter, you will tell me the drinks that customers order.

- I hope that this will happen soon, - said Alain and headed for the exit. “Excuse me, today is my first day here, and the manager is waiting for me.

- Then hurry up, he loves to find fault with trifles.

The manager explained to the newcomer how to meet visitors and offer them free tables.

“Try not to crowd them together, otherwise everyone will have to be served by one waiter, and the rest will be offended,” he concluded. - Good luck with your start.

"Thank you," Alain replied, and began arranging the stacked menus.

There were few visitors in the morning, and he had time to get to know all the waiters. Most of them were his peers and welcomed him warmly. They offered to have lunch together after the end of the shift, but Alain did not take enough money with him. Referring to urgent business, he refused, promising to join them next week.

In the evening he told Lucien about the first day of work.

- Well done. And I'm so tired of my office, - said Lezhon. “I wrote to my father and suggested starting a new business. The only pity is that he will have to move to Marseille if he agrees. My old man does not recognize Paris.

Are you going to leave Paris? Only everything began to improve little by little, exclaimed Alain. After all, it was you who, during the service, kept repeating from day to day that you can live only in the capital.

“True, but I want to succeed and one day come back here a winner.

Alain said nothing, but in his heart he also dreamed of winning. However, he was much more interested in fame than money, no matter how many years it takes to achieve it. The young man constantly thought of the various paths leading to her. It was obvious that he did not want to go to college to become like Andre. He was disgusted with the daily routine work in the bank, as well as in any office.

“Lucien, Andre has a very nice cousin, doesn't she?” he turned to his friend, abruptly changing the subject of the conversation.

He chuckled.

Our friend dreams of being the head of a large bank in the distant future. If you start courting Annette, he will have a stroke and he will not be able to take the coveted chair.

— It will be necessary to visit our favorite cafe more often. Surely Annette will come again. You know, the last time I met that beautiful girl there was the one who was sitting at the table across from me one day.

— Her name is Nina, she is an aspiring milliner, she works in an atelier.

- How do you know? Allen perked up.

- I asked my friends. She spends almost every evening at Saint-Germain-des-Pres.

“I will definitely get to know her.

— Dare!

The young man liked working in a restaurant. He went to the Colosseum with pleasure and two weeks later the manager called him.

“We are pleased with your work,” he said to Alain. — Are you interested in the position of a waiter?

- Oh sure.

“Then you can start next week. The work schedule will remain the same, now I will show you your tables.

Of course, Alain, as a newcomer, was given the most unprofitable site - none of the tables entrusted to him was located by the window, which was especially important for visitors, but he was still pleased.

In the evening, she and Lucien went to a cafe to celebrate his promotion. The first person to greet them was Annette. Alain looked around, but did not notice her cousin.

Hello, dancer! He greeted the girl. Is Andre lost?

He refused to come because he was tired.

"In that case, I'll have to entertain you today."

“Agreed,” she whispered, looking down.

They walked over to the table Lucien had chosen.

- What will you drink? Alain asked Annette.

"Order me a lemonade," she replied.

Throughout the evening, the young man looked at the visitors of the cafe, but Nina was not among them. Before leaving, he completely switched to Annette.

“Let’s go to the cinema tomorrow,” he suggested to the girl.

“I don’t even know,” she hesitated. - The fact is that I finish school late. It's okay, I'll skip the last class.

“Thank you in advance for the sacrifice,” Alain smiled. I hope the art won't be seriously damaged. Where is your school located?

Annette gave the address, and he promised to pick her up at six o'clock. Alain chatted with the girl all evening, and Lucien got bored.

“I don’t know what you saw in her,” he grumbled to a friend, after they saw off their friend and rode the bus home. “Of course, she doesn't resemble her brother, but she's quite ordinary.

“You are unfair to her,” objected Alain. - I think the girl is very cute.

“We didn't even celebrate your promotion properly. We drank lemonade all evening in company with Annette,” Lezhon lamented.

This remark made them laugh, and Lucien forgot about the bad mood.

August and September flew by for Alain unnoticed. The work of a waiter required much more effort than the duties of a waiter. Tourists were the bulk of the visitors during these months, and he learned a few phrases in German and English. He rarely visited Saint-Germain-des-Pres now, and he never met Nina there. He also did not see Annette, after several dates their acquaintance broke off. In the evenings, Alain often dined with other waiters and the talkative bartender Thierry, but Lucien Lejeune remained his best friend. They continued to rent a room together on Boulevard Barbey.

On the morning of early October, the owner of the boarding house knocked on the door and handed Lucen a letter from his father. He quickly read it and happily said:

My father agreed to provide me with the necessary loan. Now you can seriously think about starting your own business.

"So you're going to Marseille?" Alain asked.

- It's a pity, of course, but my move is the main condition of my father.

My birthday is in early November. Will you stay another month in Paris?

- Necessarily. We will celebrate this holiday properly.

In October, the life of friends changed. Lucien, who wanted to keep as many memories of Paris as possible, tried not to spend a single evening at home. She and Alain became regulars in the nearest cafes and bars, where they sat up with friends until night. Lezhon went to such meetings and alone, because the next day Alain worked in the restaurant until late. On the first of November, returning from the Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Lucien winked conspiratorially at his friend.

“We have a wonderful present for you,” he announced. You will be extremely surprised when you see him.

- I'm very interested in what you're up to. We'll have to wait patiently for a whole week, Alain replied.

On November 8th, he was given a small bonus at the restaurant, even though he had only worked there for a short time. Friends explained to him that the owner always gives gifts to employees on birthdays. Of the new acquaintances, he invited Tieri and the waiter to the holiday, with whom he became friends more than with the rest. The celebration was decided to be held in "Saint-Germain-des-Pres". The organization of the evening was undertaken by Alain's friends, led by Lezhon. When Alain entered the cafe, his company, seated at two tables, loudly greeted the birthday boy.

He was given congratulations and small souvenirs, but judging by the whispering and the mysterious looks of his friends, he realized that the main gift promised by Lucien had not been shown.

“I wish you health and wealth,” his friend toasted. - And so that you never get bored alone, let me introduce you ... Nina!

At the end of his words, the girl herself appeared in a bright dress with her hair loose over her shoulders. He went up to Alain and kissed him on both cheeks. Everyone applauded and burst into joking remarks, and the young man, out of surprise, was unable to utter a word.

“Happy birthday,” Nina said in a low voice.

“Sit down, please,” Alain pulled a chair for her. I still can't believe you are here. I have long dreamed of meeting you.

Do you like our present? Lucien asked loudly over the hubbub at the table.

“I am shocked and completely happy. It seems that today is not my birthday, but the day of wishes come true. And you are my guest of honor,” he turned to Nina.

She smiled but said nothing. She seemed to feel a little uncomfortable in such a noisy company, although she knew most of Alain's friends. This fact puzzled him. He was sure that until recently Lucien did not know the girl, and now he treated her like an old friend. What happened? He couldn't wait to get an explanation.

Meanwhile, the birthday celebration continued. Many of his friends brought their girlfriends with them and, in pairs, left the table, moved to the dance floor.

- Do you want to dance? Alain asked Nina.

— Probably, yes. Today is your day.

The girl moved smoothly and at the same time very relaxed. There was nothing in her manner from the movements of Annette memorized at the ballet school. The ever-changing expression on her face, the twinkle in her eyes, and the habit of throwing her hair back sharply betrayed Nina's passionate nature. Alain was delighted with the girl. The whole evening they did not part. Finally, the guests began to disperse, and the young man asked:

- Can I take you out?

“Of course, I live not far from here,” she replied.

Lucien, thank you for the evening. I promised to see Nina out,” Alain said to a friend. - I'll be back home later.

"I'm not expecting you today," Lejeune said, drawing out his words.

The girl stood outside, tapping impatiently with her fingertips on the banister of the stairs. When Alain went out, she took his arm and named the street where her house was located. They decided to walk.

How did you end up in the cafe today? the young man asked.

- It's a long story. The first time we ran into each other was in a cafe at the beginning of summer, right? Then I came to Saint-Germain-des-Pres several times alone, but you were not there. When I finally noticed you, you were dancing with some girl. I'm very jealous, so I forgot about this cafe and about you too. But a couple of days ago I ended up here again, saw your friends and asked them a question about you. Lucien immediately invited me to your birthday party. They persuaded me to show up later to arrange a surprise.

“You are the most extraordinary girl I know. Of course, a little crazy, but I like it. Why do you think I'm interested in Annette? She is the cousin of a friend of mine, and we sometimes meet in the same company.

Nina looked at him seriously with her huge black eyes and said:

"Promise not to look at other women while we're together."

- Promise. There is no one better than you anyway, ”Alain laughed, but his companion did not even smile.

Stopping in the middle of the empty street, she hugged him tightly and kissed him on the lips. He trembled at her touch and, in turn, squeezed the girl in his arms.

"We're almost there," she whispered, pulling back slightly. - Will you come?

- Absolutely.

Nina unlocked the door and took his hand.

"Careful," she warned, "there's a mountain of stuff in the hallway."

Alain stepped over the rolls of cloth in the dark and found himself in a small room. Nina didn't turn on the light, and he stepped towards her, putting his arm around her shoulders and leaning down to kiss her. she quickly turned to him and returned the kiss, and then looked into his eyes. This defiant and at the same time submissive look aroused in Alain an insane desire. With youthful passion, he grabbed the girl and would not let go, even if the roof of the house began to collapse, and they were threatened with death under the rubble.

With her temperament and flexible body, she resembled a panther. Her black hair was scattered over the pillow, her lips parted, she pressed close to him and did not unclench her hands for a long time. Her sensuality was intoxicating.

“I can’t part with you,” Alain muttered, lying on the bed. Nina's head rested on his chest, and he was all enveloped in her silky hair. My friend will soon leave for Marseille. Get over to me.

He wrapped a strand of her hair around his finger and, bringing it to his lips, kissed it.

"Unfortunately, that's not possible," the girl replied. - I often take orders for home delivery, you will be annoyed by the sound of a sewing machine.

- No, it will not.

- You're lying. Besides, because of you, I will be constantly distracted.

- Undoubtedly. I won't let you work all the time.

- Here you see! Let's meet in the evening. I live alone, you can sometimes stay.

“Sometimes,” Alain drawled in an unhappy voice. Why are you setting any boundaries? We are too good together to be separated for a long time.

"Okay, okay," the girl agreed. - I will think.

Alain tried to destroy her doubts with a kiss. He lifted the girl's face, wound her hair around his arm and did not let her go until she accepted all his conditions.

Waking up in the morning, the young man touched Nina's hand and made sure that their meeting was not a dream, and the girl lying next to him was quite material. He got up from the bed and began to dress, then hastily washed himself and returned to the room. Nina didn't move. Alain did not want to leave without saying goodbye to her, and he woke her up with a kiss. The girl stretched and rubbed her eyes.

Are you leaving already, love? she asked in a hoarse voice.

- I have to go to work. We'll see you today?

Come tonight if you like.

A little sleepy and yawning, she looked like a kitten. Alain barely resisted not to hug her, but realized that if he did this, he would get his first absenteeism at work. Stepping back from the bed, he said:

- What time will you be home?

“About seven, but I have to finish the dress.” She sat up in bed, counting the time. - I'll be waiting for you at nine.

"I'll be there at nine sharp."

For a moment he ran into the Rue Barbey to clean himself up and ran into Lucien, who was locking the room. He immediately put down the key and pounced on his friend with questions about Nina and the night spent with her.

Lucien, I'm late for work.

“You look torn to pieces,” he remarked, looking at the unshaven Alain. — Will you share your impressions in the evening?

- I can’t, I arranged to meet with Nina.

- Okay, don't say anything. Everything is so clear. I'm glad the gift went well.

“Thank you for an amazing birthday,” Alain said gratefully and disappeared into the room.

Lucien went to the office. It was his last working day there, and he felt a little sad. Only three days remained before his departure for Marseille, and he felt sorry for leaving Paris.

Alain spent the whole day trying to concentrate and not mix up the orders of visitors. However, as soon as he put thoughts of Nina out of his head and seriously got down to work, Thierry instantly unbalanced him with his jokes.

“I would give dearly if my friends also introduced me to such a beauty on my birthday,” Tieri said. Did you meet for the first time yesterday?

Alain did not consider it necessary to answer his questions and frowned. This reaction seemed funny to Thierry, and he continued to make his remarks. At the end of the shift, they almost had a fight.

"Keep your stupid remarks to yourself," the young man said sharply to the bartender. “I don’t have to listen to your nonsense all day.

Thierry pouted, but fell silent.

Alain flew to Nina's house, as if on wings. Too bad I can't talk to Lucien, he's leaving soon, he thought, but he hoped his friend would understand. Fragmentary memories of a date with a girl inflamed the imagination of a young man. At nine o'clock he approached her house and entered the entrance. Nina lived in the Latin Quarter in a small apartment, partly equipped as a sewing workshop. In addition to working in the atelier, she took orders for home delivery and sewed dresses for clients in the evenings, and closer to the night she went out to sit in a cafe next door.

She opened the door for her lover and slowly extended her lips for a kiss, as if greeting an old acquaintance. She smiled at the ardor with which he embraced her.

"I've been thinking about you all day," she admitted.

- Me too. I was afraid to slip someone a fish instead of a steak. It didn't work at all.

- What do we do? the girl asked, snuggling up to him and dragging him into the room.

- I do not know. You drove me crazy.

Alain came home, as on the previous day in the morning. Nina had to go to work and pushed him out the door without hesitation.

“Very cruel of you,” he tried to resist. He didn't have to rush anywhere, on this day his shift at the Coliseum began in the afternoon. “Tonight we are seeing Lucien off to Marseille. Do you want me to pick you up and we'll go to the party together?

- Let me meet you. I'm interested to see where you work.

“Restaurant Coliseum on the Champs-Elysées,” Alain called the address, raising his eyebrows in surprise. Are you really coming?

- Yes, do not even hope to escape through the back door.

"You're my inventor," he said, running his fingers gently down her cheek. - I adore you.

“Finally, go, otherwise my client will be left without a dress.

Alain returned to the Boulevard Barbet and woke Lucien with a knock on the door.

— What, are you celebrating the first day of idleness? Allen asked him. Wake up, it's already ten o'clock.

“I was waiting for you late yesterday. Thought you'd come back," Lejeune replied. “I don’t want to leave, I will miss our friends, Paris and this little room.

"Why are you doing all this?" Delon asked again.

Lucien frowned.

“I don’t have your looks or energy. People like me are doomed to sit in an office forever.

"What nonsense," muttered the young man.

- Not at all. You are doing well at work. And the girls? Anyone is ready to throw themselves on your neck, even Nina. But literally all our friends are in love with her!

- And you?

“I really liked her,” Lejeune admitted, lowering his eyes. “But she chose you, and so did Annette. You have an attraction that I lack.

"Lucien," said Alain, startled. “Are you in love with Nina and so generously invited her to my birthday party?” It was not a gift, but a sacrifice.

- Stop doing that. Anyway, as soon as she approached us, she began to ask about you. If you heard what she said about you, you would be completely proud.

Alain smiled involuntarily.

- Nina is crazy, you never know what she will throw out the next moment.

Lejeune glanced longingly at his suitcase at the door.

Do you remember about tonight's party? he asked a friend.

- Of course. I'll go to the restaurant early. You are my best friend, Lucien, said Alain, I will miss you.

The sadness of parting passed on to him. He sympathized with his comrade, because now he himself could no longer imagine how one could live anywhere but Paris.

Nina met him outside the restaurant, and together they went to pick out a souvenir purse for Lucien. Alain bought it and asked me to package it beautifully.

Is he leaving for a long time? the girl asked.

“I think if he returns to Paris, it will not be very soon,” Alain replied. He is going to Marseille to set up his own company.

The party went surprisingly well. None of his friends every minute reminded Lucien of his imminent departure. Everyone was having fun, as usual. Nina warmly wished him to always achieve success in his plans and kissed him on the cheek. Many, like Delon, brought him gifts. Legion was moved. The guests dispersed only in the morning. When Alain, having seen Nina home, returned to his room, the exhausted neighbors who had not slept all night asked him:

Are you both leaving?

He disappointed them, but thought he should find a smaller room and decided to talk to the owner about the one Lucien rented earlier.

On Thursday, he took his friend to the station and said goodbye to him. He felt a sense of loneliness when he returned to the boarding house - the room seemed empty. He went to Nina and again tried to persuade her to live together, but was refused. The girl loved him, but continued to persist in her decision. Soon Alain practically moved in with her. They met almost every day. Often the girl was waiting for him after the shift near the Colosseum, and in the evenings they walked along the Champs Elysees, and then went to Nina's apartment.

Alain left the boarding house on Barbe Street and settled nearby. The hostess of the room accepted him as a son, and always tried to treat him with delicious dishes that she herself prepared.

Gradually he began to forget Lucien. Of course, he forever remained his friend, but Alain no longer caught himself thinking that in the evening, as usual, he would meet him in a cafe or in their room at the boarding house. Life changed rapidly, and under the influence of new events, memories were erased.

Chapter 2

One Sunday, Alain had to work until the restaurant closed. He got up late and only at noon left Nina, so at ten in the evening he felt cheerful.

“Hey, kid, there are new customers at your table,” the manager called out to him, noticing that the young man was chatting with the bartender.

Alain quickly straightened his shirt collar and picked up the menu. The visitors were two well-groomed, elegantly dressed women who clearly intended to spend the evening washing the bones of their acquaintances.

"Good evening," the young man greeted them with an amiable smile. - Would you like an appetizer?

The women looked at each other and smiled.

“We'll have a glass of red wine and order in a couple of minutes,” the fair-haired lady said, looking at him playfully.

Alain bowed and went to the bar.

“Lucky for you,” said Tieri, pouring the wine. — Brigitte Aubert, an actress, is sitting at your table.

- Yes, what are you?

How did you not recognize her? She was talking to you.

- And who is the second?

I don't know, maybe she's also an actress.

Alain respectfully brought two glasses of wine and stood at the women's table, holding a notepad and a pen at the ready.

“Turkey fillet and green salad,” Bridget said. - And what do you want? she turned to her friend.

“I feel the same,” she answered indifferently, watching her companion with interest, who did not take her eyes off the young waiter.

Alain went to the kitchen to convey the names of the selected dishes and stumbled upon his comrades who were waiting for him.

- You are lucky. Ober is famous for the fact that she often invites young men she likes to her. Tieri said she's making eyes at you. Tonight you will surely go with her. Do not drop the honor of the waiters "Coliseum"! Tomorrow you will tell me what happened.

"You're all crazy," Alain replied casually. - Better prepare two green salads and a turkey for hot.

However, a recent conversation had disturbed him. Stepping out into the hall, he carefully looked at the actress and caught her eye.

It can't be, he thought. He did not dare to approach the bar, as he noticed Tieri's burning eyes and guessed that new parting words would follow. He felt uncomfortable, and he got the feeling that he was being judged as a dish from an additional menu.

All evening Aubert looked at Alain, entertaining her friend with this. Taking advantage of the moment when she left the table for a minute, she called the young man with a wave of her hand.

“Is there anything else you would like, madam?”

— Yes, that is, no. Listen, what time do you finish work?

"At midnight," he replied in surprise.

“I'll be waiting for you in a taxi near the next house.” She pointed to the building on the right and looked at him impatiently, waiting for an answer.

"Very well, madam," he said with a forced smile, and pushed the chair back to the actress' friend who had returned.

- Well, did you succeed? - not hiding her curiosity, she asked Bridget.

- Everything went perfectly. We meet at twelve.

- Not bad! Are you not afraid?

- Look at him. A sample of an executive waiter, besides a nice little one.

"That's right," agreed her friend, turning and looking at the young man.

"Why don't you ever arrange a date like this for yourself?" It's funny.

— Bridget, you know I have Antoine. He loves me…

“You are hopeless,” Aubert exclaimed.

Alain was on pins and needles. He did not feel remorse at the memory of Nina, but he was disturbed by his comrades, who discussed the unusual incident behind his back. “If I had refused, I would have become simply ridiculous,” he reflected. There was nothing to do. Aubert and his girlfriend paid off, leaving him a generous tip, and left the restaurant. He changed his clothes and went to the neighboring house indicated by the actress. She really was waiting for him in the taxi. As he approached, the woman opened the door and moved over so he could sit beside her. Then she gave the driver the address and the car started moving.

- What is your name? she asked the young man.

— Alain. I know what your name is.

— Admirer?

- Almost became it.

“And you are impudent,” she laughed and pressed herself against his shoulder.

He did not dare to hug her in the car, sat tensely and silently, while Bridget chatted incessantly.

- My apartment occupies the entire second floor of the house, it's so convenient. Now you can see for yourself,” she said.

The taxi stopped near a bright four-story mansion, and Alain prepared to get out and offer his hand to his companion, but she suddenly muttered:

- Stay here.

He followed Bridget's gaze and noticed at the entrance a man in a long raincoat and with a bouquet in his hands.

“Here is the money,” the actress said hurriedly, handing the driver a bill, “take the young man wherever he says.” Farewell, - she threw Alena and slammed the car door.

The stunned young man could not utter a word until the driver said with a laugh:

- Bad luck. Never mind, find someone else.

Then the young man cursed Bridget, who put him in a foolish position, and swore to himself never again to participate in such undertakings of spoiled ladies.

For several days he was the hero of the waiters at the Colosseum. Everyone was excited and tried to find out the details of his date with the actress. Allen was silent. Nevertheless, rumors about him flew to Nina. She seemed hurt and began to interrogate him.

Do you prefer actresses now or just older women? she asked, as usual, waiting for him after finishing work at the exit of the restaurant.

— Nina! Stop paying attention to the stories. I have the impression that the people around have no other business than to discuss a visit to our restaurant Madame Aubert.

“Oh, you call her Madame Aubert,” drawled the girl. “I don't believe you one bit. If the date didn't work out, it's probably because she changed her mind, not because you said no.

The reproach was absolutely fair, and Alain did not immediately answer it. Nina interpreted his silence as a confession and walked away. The young man rushed after her and grabbed her hand.

- Stop talking nonsense. We are so good together.

“I have no doubt that you are well and comfortable with me. But I do not want to be a fallback and a kind fool who always caresses and comforts a windy handsome man. Find someone else for this role.

The girl pulled away and walked towards the bus stop. Alain did not stop her, but decided to talk to Thierry tomorrow. He returned home early and had no idea how to kill time until the evening. Lucien left, and Nina was offended - he didn’t have a single close person left to go somewhere or just chat while sipping wine. Forced loneliness angered him, and the next day he attacked Tieri.

“You are a damn gossip. You think you can make god knows what about me and you can get away with it? he said rudely to the bartender.

- What are you talking about? About your rendezvous with an actress? Yes, everyone is talking about it, why are you throwing yourself at me?

- You have the longest tongue. Nina knew everything.

Sorry, but I didn't tell her. Leave me alone. If you insist, we'll talk after work.

Alain walked away, but was not going to retreat. He was ready to fight with every waiter in order to restore his reputation in the eyes of Nina. He was waiting for Tieri near the exit of the restaurant, when Nina walked past him, embracing a tall man. She deliberately brought her new admirer for a walk along the Champs Elysees in order to arouse Alain's jealousy. She did not want to quarrel with him completely, but she was offended and thus decided to take revenge.

"Hi," she nodded to the surprised young man.

— Good evening, Nina. Now I understand that you were just looking for an excuse to get rid of me in order to meet with all sorts of rogues, Delon shouted after her.

The girl's companion stopped abruptly and turned to him.

- What you said? The guy narrowed his eyes and stared at Allen.

“Rene, let’s go, he’s crazy,” Nina pulled him frightened by the hand.

"Don't tell me," the man pushed her away. “Let’s walk the girl home, and then we’ll talk alone.”

- With pleasure, - Alain answered and went after them.

Nina was horrified. She had no idea that her antics could go so far.

“Rene, we stopped seeing him. He may be jealous, but it's over, she said.

“I don't care. He asked for it himself. Go home, he told the girl.

- But…

"Or do you want to see me teach him a lesson?"

Nina covered her face with her hands and slowly entered the entrance.

“Let's go to the alley,” said Rene, and Alain followed him.

- I'm not a rogue. You will pay for daring to call me that,” snapped Nina's new admirer, standing under a lantern that dimly illuminated the narrow alley.

Alain tried to repel his blow, but did not have time. Rene's fist landed on his cheekbone and the young man flew back, hitting his right shoulder hard on the stone ledge of the house. He managed to stay on his feet, which allowed Rene to hit him a few more times. Then he left, not caring about the young man he had beaten.

It seemed to Alain that if he fell now, he would not be able to get up. He made it halfway to his house and was completely exhausted, every movement reeking of pain in his bruised shoulder. Looking around, he saw in front of him the house of Bridget Aubert. Without thinking about what he would do if the actress was not at home or she would not let him in, he entered the entrance and began to climb the stairs.

In response to his call, the woman flung open the door and stared in horror at the young man's torn and dirty jacket.

"Don't stand at the door, come in," she commanded quickly, holding his hand. - What happened? Were you attacked on the street?

"Almost so," Alain replied, wincing as she touched his shoulder, helping him to sit up.

- Take off your shirt. Can I help you? she asked, seeing that he was in no hurry to undress to give her the opportunity to process the abrasions.

Alain for some reason was embarrassed and was in no hurry to unbutton his buttons. He decided that he was embarrassed by the bruises and scratches on his body. Bridget quickly opened his shirt and shuddered at the sight of a crimson bruise running from his shoulder to his chest. However, she took a cotton swab with alcohol in her hands and washed the abrasions and bandaged her shoulder.

“Thank you, Bridget, you are very kind,” said Alain, when the actress handed him a glass of wine. - I'm going home now.

- No, stay. It was not enough for you to fall in the street. If not located, do not tell what happened.

The young man was silent.

"I'll make a bed for you on the couch in the living room." Lie down soon and sleep well. I'm sure tomorrow everything will hurt even more.

Falling asleep, Alain thought that the eccentric actress did not refuse to help him and did not leave him on the street. By this act, as well as unobtrusiveness in finding out the reasons for his condition, she earned the sincere gratitude of the young man.

In the morning, according to Bridget's predictions, he could not move because of the pain. The actress brought him a telephone so that he could call the Colosseum and ask for a two-day vacation. All day she fiddled with him: fed him broth, made compresses and comforted him. The latter required him much more than food, as his pride was dealt a serious blow. At first, he certainly wanted to get even with the offender, then, due to weakness, he postponed the execution of his plan.

— Bridget, how long can I stay with you? Alain asked the actress.

“Yes, at least stay forever,” she answered ingenuously and added, “I live alone.”

Alain did not go into the details of her life and leaned back against the pillows. The thought of not having to get up and go home was appealing. By the evening of the second day, he managed to get up and, without wincing, move his right hand. The young man once again thanked the actress and got ready to leave.

“I seriously suggested that you stay,” she said. Are you not satisfied with my care?

- Bridget, you know that now I am forever indebted to you. But I can't embarrass you and bother you any longer.

- Nonsense. Bring your things here tomorrow.

Alain glanced at her, trying to guess her thoughts. While it was clear that she liked him, and she did not want to let him go.

“There is one undoubted merit in her,” he thought, “she is utterly frank and does not even try to hide the motives of her actions.” Nevertheless, he doubted and weighed the pros and cons of moving to the actress for a long time. She will get the opportunity to control him, but he can always justify his nightly absences with delays at work in the restaurant. The relationship with Nina was over. Not that he feared her new suitor. Alain simply did not want to meet with the girl who witnessed his defeat anymore.

“All right, Bridget, I accept your kind offer and stay,” he said at last, and went up to her.

This time he himself wanted to take the initiative and he put his good arm around her shoulders. She snuggled closer to him, looking dubiously at his bandaged shoulder.

"Are you sure you want this?" she asked.

"More than the first time we met," he muttered, and pressed his lips to hers.

When they entered the bedroom, Brigitte drew the curtains and sat down next to him on the bed, kissing his face and hands. To Alain's great surprise, the actress did not show authority in this situation. On the contrary, she was gentle and supple. There was not a word of truth in the gossip about her rudeness and indomitability in bed, transmitted by his comrades. Brigitte completely yielded to him supremacy, and she herself completely surrendered to passion.

"I'm ready to take the first step," the young man said softly as they settled comfortably on the wide sofa.

Bridget raised an eyebrow questioningly.

- What are you talking about? she smiled, lighting a cigarette in the dark.

“I want to move my pillow here,” Alain explained. The rest of the property will arrive tomorrow.

- Deal.

The next morning, the actress decided to go shopping and left him the keys to her apartment. The young man got out of bed late and immediately went to his former mistress for things. She was upset that a handsome tenant was moving out, but promised that she would always take him back if he decides to return.

“Thank you, Margot,” he said. "I'll come visit you sometime."

— Will you dictate your new address? Suddenly someone wants to look for you.

No, I will only tell a few friends about it.

- Good good. Goodbye, son.

Alain was sad to part with a sweet old woman who often treated him to pies and did not require payment for the room just in time.

“I hope Bridget will be better than here,” he thought. At the moment, the move seemed like a mistake to him, but he always carried out his plan.

Half an hour later, Alain returned to his mistress and put the suitcase in the hallway.

“Alain, come here,” the actress called him from the kitchen. — I cooked you a juicy steak.

He went into the kitchen and gently kissed Bridget, who was loitering over the stove, on the neck.

“Darling, you are spoiling me. I guess you'll get tired of it soon," he said.

- How soon?

"About two months," he answered thoughtfully, looking at her hand.

- Can you guess by hand? the actress asked.

No, in the eyes.

- Nasty, - Bridget waved at Alain. He caught her hands and pulled her towards him. "Okay, let's have lunch," she suggested, pulling herself out of his arms.

A day later, the young man returned to his duties at the Coliseum. The rest of the waiters didn't dare question him about the reason for his absence, even though they were curious. They heard rumors about a quarrel between Alain and Rene, and Nina stopped meeting the young man after the end of the shift. He did not frankly with friends either about breaking up with a girl, or about his relationship with Bridget Aubert.

His mistress began acting in a new film, and he often spent his evenings alone. But every weekend, the actress held receptions, gathering friends and acquaintances in her apartment. He liked to communicate with representatives of bohemia: actors, aspiring screenwriters and artists. They were somewhat self-satisfied, but they were interesting conversationalists. Once, at one of these gatherings, Bridget, who adored predictions and was fond of compiling horoscopes, invited a fortune teller. She turned out to be a rather young woman, dressed in an elaborate outfit. Her fingers were studded with rings, and many jingling chains hung around her neck. Entering the room, she immediately approached Alain.

"I'll tell him first," she said.

He sat down next to her and reluctantly held out his hand. He didn't like the attention directed at him, the chuckles of the guests, and this woman in fancy dress.

“You started a new life in Paris,” she said. - When did you arrive?

- Half a year ago.

- Give me the exact date.

— Tenth of May.

The fortune-teller looked around triumphantly.

- Day under the auspices of Taurus. You will become rich and famous. You just have to always follow your intuition,” she continued. “I also see a lot of women. You are beautiful and they will always fall in love with you.

This fortune-telling ended, because the guests of the actress began to laugh and shout:

Bridget, don't miss your favorite!

The actress blushed and turned away. Alain took advantage of this to free himself from the soothsayer and approach Bridget. Nevertheless, the woman's words made an impression on him. He thought that his dreams might actually come true.

In the three weeks he spent with Bridget, his life had changed little. He continued to work at the Coliseum as a waiter. He spent his days off from work with his mistress, who, contrary to his forebodings, was still attentive and attached to him in her own way. True, two months have not yet expired.

Together they decorated the apartment for Christmas. Alain bought at the market and brought a small Christmas tree. Seeing the tree, Bridget felt sad, then broke off a small branch, brought it to her face and began to inhale the smell of needles.

- What's wrong with you, dear? Alain asked.

Without answering, she got up and went into the bedroom. A minute later, Alain put away the toys and tinsel and followed her. Already in the corridor he heard her sobs and rushed into the room.

— Bridget, dear, what happened? Did someone offend you?

- I'm so unhappy. We met him last year at Christmas and dated for almost a year. But then he left me,” she said through tears.

It seemed to Alain that he had been slapped. So, with her former lover she was happy, and with him she cries from grief. But at the same time, he felt compassion for her. It was hard to see the tears of such a lively and resilient woman. He put his arms around Bridget and rocked her like a baby until she calmed down.

“I feel much better with you,” she said.

But this recognition could not fix anything for Alain. He regarded Bridget's previous words as a betrayal, and all the charm of life with Bridget disappeared. The woman did not feel this, since Alain behaved as before - he teased her a little and kissed her every minute, but now it was a pretense on his part. Secretly, he was already contemplating how to change his life. Work in the restaurant no longer suited him, the maximum that he could achieve there over time was to take the place of the manager; and he dreamed of wealth and fame. However, even the opening of his company required money, and he did not have any, as well as ideas about what kind of activity could bring him success.

Christmas has come. Bridget and Alain were waiting for guests in the evening, so they got up late.

- You know, dear, I invited one interesting young actor, we met recently at the film studio. His name is Jean-Claude Briali,” Aubert said.

It doesn't matter what his name is. I'm wondering if there will be a fortune teller?

- Cute! Do you like her?

I still remember her with horror. Warn me in advance of her arrival and I will lock myself in the bedroom.

"That's impolite," Bridget said with a laugh. "Besides, you'll miss the Christmas party." Get up, it's time to prepare for the arrival of guests.

She got up from the bed and put on a pink peignoir.

Around eight in the evening the first guests appeared. By nine, when everyone had already sat down at the table, there appeared and

One guest was a little late. A handsome brunette entered the living room, accompanied by the hostess and shouted loudly, blocking the noise reigning in the room:

Let's drink to Christmas!

He uncorked the bottle of champagne he had brought with him and, with a beaming smile, began to offer everyone a drink.

"Jean-Claude, you're in a hurry, as always," several of the guests shouted with laughter.

“Allow me to introduce Mr. Briali, if anyone does not know him,” Bridget said.

The man bowed elegantly and, taking his mistress by the arm, asked in a conspiratorial voice:

“Madame, where would you like to sit?”

“Please, Jean-Claude, come in,” she fussed. Your place is next to me.

The guest nodded in satisfaction and followed her. Alain frowned, as he was sitting almost on the edge of the table, in addition to the right and left of him, aspiring actresses settled down, annoying him with their antics.

Briali has clearly taken on the role of host. He constantly made toasts, kissed the women's hands in turn and joked with Bridget. When everyone stood up and began to move chairs to make room for dancing, Aubert led a smiling Jean-Claude to her lover.

— Monsieur Briali, this is Alain.

“Very nice,” said Jean-Claude. - Who did you shoot with?

“I'm not an actor,” the young man squeezed out, and Bridget laughed, thinking that Briali was joking.

"It's unfair," the guest continued, still seriously. - You have the appearance of a real hero-lover.

Allen blushed and said nothing. After waiting for the hostess to join another group of guests, Jean-Claude asked:

- If it's not a secret, who do you work for?

“I'm a waiter at the Colosseum,” Alain replied coldly. — I recommend visiting our wonderful restaurant.

He turned away and was about to leave.

“Not everything is so hopeless,” the actor said cheerfully. I hope you don't intend to stay there forever. In the near future, you can even become a director.

- In the morning I was very glad that Bridget did not invite a fortune-teller, - the young man answered dryly, but already much more kindly.

Yes, I do not pretend to be a clairvoyant. It's just that you're the only person here that I wanted to chat with. So Madame Aubert met you in a restaurant? Don't be offended, I've heard about her tricks.

She helped me when I was beaten in the street.

Alain did not tell anyone about this unpleasant story, but Briali, who showed interest in Alain without embarrassment, involuntarily disposed to frankness.

“Understood,” said the actor. - For several days I am free from filming on the occasion of the holidays. Let's have lunch together tomorrow and talk.

Do you know a little cafe on the corner of Rue Varenne and Rue Bourgon?

He liked the proud young man and wanted to continue his acquaintance with him.

“I know, and I won’t refuse dinner.

They agreed on a time and joined the dancers, inviting Delon's recent table neighbors.

During each party, Alain was amazed at how the neighbors endure the noise coming from the second floor, but the celebration of Christmas in this respect has surpassed all acceptable limits. The stormy fun continued until the morning: the guests blew crackers, opened new bottles of champagne and sang loudly. However, in other apartments of the house the holiday was celebrated no less lively.

Bridget and Alain went to bed only at eight in the morning, when all the guests had left. They decided to leave the living room covered with confetti and serpentine in its untouched form until the arrival of the housekeeper. At three o'clock in the afternoon the young man woke up and began to quietly get out from under the covers, so as not to wake his mistress. But that dream was very sensitive, and, without opening her eyes, she asked:

- Where are you going?

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you up. Jean-Claude invited me to dinner.

I wonder what he's up to. Maybe he will offer a role in his new film. No wonder he mistook you for an actor yesterday.

- Hardly. I don’t know how to play at all, ”Alain objected, although in his heart he fully admitted such a prospect and rejoiced at it in advance.

“You would think that someone knows how to do it,” said Bridget grumpily. - OK Go. I'll take a nap.

He kissed her on the forehead, got dressed and went outside. It was cold and windy, and to get to the Rue Varennes, Alain had to move to the other side of the Seine. However, he arrived at the cafe at the appointed hour and noticed Briali sitting alone at a table by the window.

"Good morning," Alain greeted him.

His new acquaintance looked at him with a distant look and muttered:

- Hi. In my opinion, I got excited with the hour of the meeting. It was necessary to appoint her no earlier than eight in the evening. And how do you feel?

- I'm afraid so too.

- Sit down, now let's drink coffee and we'll both come to our senses.

Alena was again surprised by the calmness and confidence that his new acquaintance radiated. Briali had the ability to win people over instantly. Half an hour later, Delon found himself telling him about his arrival in Paris, meeting Nina, the fight that followed and moving to Bridget Aubert. He accumulated and kept experiences for too long. He needed to share them, and at that moment Jean-Claude was there. He drank coffee in small sips and listened attentively to the young man.

“An incredible story,” he said when Alain finished his story. - Life throws you in different directions, but the most important thing is that you rise higher. You have to start building a serious career. I myself do not know how to do anything except how to act in films, and it seems to me that by becoming an actor, you can also achieve a lot. You have an attractive appearance, you are not stupid. This is what directors and producers need.

“I never thought of such a possibility,” the young man answered honestly, looking doubtfully at Briali.

- So think. Just don't take advice from Bridget. It seems to her that she alone in the whole world is able to play.

- This is not true. But in any case, I always make decisions myself.

- Excellent.

At that moment the waiter brought the buns. Young people pounced on them and discussed their favorite dishes until the end of dinner. Their tastes did not coincide at all: Jean-Claude loved only meat, and Alain preferred fish. They parted at about seven in the evening. Briali left his phone to a new acquaintance and took a promise from him to call in the near future.

Returning home, Alain found Bridget comfortably seated in a tidy living room. She sat by the window and slowly flipped through the pages of the magazine. The thoughtful look of her lover aroused her interest, and she asked:

— How was lunch?

“Not bad, considering how we feel after yesterday’s feast.”

Did Brialee offer you something?

- Nothing concrete. We just chatted. I told him about my life in Paris.

- Clear. Can you share with me too? We've known each other longer.

“Bridget, dear, you already know everything about me,” Alain said affectionately and hugged her. "You look wonderful," he whispered in her ear.

- Shameless! You do whatever you want with me,” she purred back and lifted her head to kiss him.

The whole week after Christmas the young man was busy in the restaurant. Several waiters took leave and he had to work seven days a week. He did not forget about Jean-Claude's proposal, it seemed to open the door to another world for him, but he did not know anything about the acting profession and was afraid of failure. At the same time, he wanted to leave the Colosseum because his restaurant reminded him of Nina. He did not admit it even to himself, but he missed the girl very much. Bridget was kind and friendly, but she lacked Nina's temperament, which made him simultaneously feel passion and hatred for her.

In early January, he returned home late, but the actress had not yet slept.

“Briali called you,” she said. He's angry that you forgot about him. I invited him to visit us next Sunday.

“Great, I like him.

Yes, he is lucky enough, besides that he never refuses to help others. This is a rare quality for an actor.

Alain was sure that Jean-Claude would start to rush him with the decision to pass tests at the film studio, but he was mistaken. The guest never touched on this topic. He remained true to his own advice not to discuss with Aubert the possibility of Delon's participation in the filming. All evening he entertained the hosts with jokes about famous directors and told funny stories that had happened to him.

- Imagine, the director says to me: "Jean-Claude, show your most refined manners." Here, as luck would have it, I hit a chair with my foot and stumble, while pushing my partner. As a result, she knocked a vase of flowers off the table and poured water on her dress. Everyone present was laughing like crazy.

"Poor Yvette," said Bridget, laughing. Has she forgiven you?

What was left for her? We repeated this take ten more times after her dress was dried.

Alain listened eagerly to the conversation. He dreamed at least once to visit the set and see the process of working on the film. As if reading his thoughts, Briali spoke:

Why don't you ever visit Bridget after filming? In the evenings, we often gather as a company and drop into some cafe. Join us. How about Thursday?

The young man looked questioningly at his mistress. He doubted that she would approve the actor's proposal, but Bridget said:

- Why not? I like to rest and relax in the evening in a pleasant company. Alain, you only work until noon on Thursday, don't you?

"Yes," he replied cheerfully. “I can't wait to see you in last century costumes.

- It's decided, let's go to the cafe "Saint-Germain-des-Pres," - summed up Briali.

He did not stay long to give Bridget the opportunity to rest after a day of work on the set. After he left, Alain said:

“I'm curious to see the cameras and the spotlights. When you watch a movie, you can't imagine it all. But do you really mind?

- Not. Come and admire as much as you want at the nasty lighting and rude cameramen. You will be aware of how films are made that the audience then admires.

- You're lovely. I hope you put everyone in their place at the movie studio?

I defend myself as best I can. I'm tired, I'm going to bed.

Three days dragged on for Alain endlessly. On Thursday morning, he glanced at his watch, imagining the set as a vast and heavily guarded area. What was his disappointment when the attendant led him to a cramped, stuffy pavilion, where it was impossible to squeeze through because of the outstretched wires and lighting lamps installed everywhere. Bridget had already finished her work and was waiting for him in her usual dress, but Jean-Claude appeared in a black frock coat and velvet trousers.

- How do you like my suit? he asked.

Alain barely suppressed a smile, Briali looked so ridiculous in his opinion.

"Jean-Claude, get changed quickly," said Aubert. You are the only one left in the suit.

“I’ll be here in three minutes,” he promised, and disappeared into the dressing room.

"He won't make it," Alain said with conviction.

The young man served in the army and learned how to quickly put on a uniform, but he still doubted that the actor would be able to change clothes with such speed. Briali dispelled his suspicions by emerging from the dressing room even earlier than promised.

“It is very important for us to learn how to quickly change a suit,” he explained to the young man. - Imagine that you are playing in the theater and you need to jump onto the stage in a minute in a different dress. True, I know someone who rushes backstage and at the top of his voice calls the costumers: “Help! Get dressed!”

- Not me! Bridget exclaimed.

“So I confessed,” Jean-Claude shouted triumphantly, and everyone laughed.

The evening passed cheerfully, but Alain almost did not participate in the conversations of the actors. They discussed costumes, makeup, the script of the film and uttered words he did not understand. At first they seemed to him jargon, but then he realized that these were special terms used by filmmakers.

- You weren't bored? the actress asked him on the way home.

- No, what are you! Nice evening.

How did you like Yvette? I'm not surprised she knocked over a vase of flowers. Have you noticed how she drinks?

Alain chuckled. Bridget loved to gossip about female actresses.

“You were the best, love.

- Are you serious?

- Do I look like a liar?

They got out of the taxi and went to the house of the actress. This reminded the young man of their first failed date.

- Bridget, do you remember a man waiting for you at the entrance? Did you cry at Christmas because of him?

The woman looked down and replied indignantly:

Why dig into the past? Everything is forgotten.

He became curious.

“You reproach me that you don’t know anything about me, but you yourself don’t tell anything either. It's not fair.

Bridget stopped outside the house and said:

- Alain, at one time I was very happy, and then in despair. Now I'm fine again. Life is changeable.

In addition to these words, he could not get anything from her. Outwardly cheerful and open, she carefully kept her secrets and did not allow anyone to penetrate beyond the boundaries she set.

Briali continued to visit them and invited them to parties he hosted on several occasions. Soon Alena had a strong friendship with him. He always listened to the views of the actor on various issues and attached great importance to them. Therefore, when Jean-Claude offered the young man to move in with him and start preparing for screen tests, he seriously thought about it. It was a tempting offer, but he didn't want to offend Bridget. Finally, in February, Alain ventured to speak to her on this subject:

“Darling,” he began, “I adore you, but I need to change jobs in order to achieve something in the future.

— Have you looked after yourself something new?

— Not yet, but Jean-Claude suggests that I try acting. Maybe I can make it.

- Well I do not know. Does he have a role for you?

- He promised to introduce me to the director and is ready to convince him to give me a small role. It would be more convenient for me to move in with him in order to learn a few passages for reading on auditions.

Bridget froze for a moment in surprise. She was shocked by the deceit of Briali, whom she considered her friend. He was entertained by a young waiter who caught his every word, and without hesitation, he decided to move him to his place.

Ober grabbed a copper dish from a shelf and threw it at Alain. This lightning attack took him by surprise and he barely managed to dodge.

- You are crazy?

“Ungrateful, vile traitor. You don't like my apartment? Get out wherever you want, but don't expect to come back!

She ran out of the living room and locked herself in the bedroom. In vain Alain knocked on the door and tried to talk to his girlfriend. She did not answer, and Alain got angry.

“I didn't want to leave like this, Bridget, but I'm leaving right now. I hope in time you will forgive me. Goodbye.

There was no answer from the room, and he went to pack his things. He no longer doubted the correctness of his decision. Jean-Claude beamed at the sight of Alain.

- Welcome. Your room is on the right along the corridor. I need a companion, otherwise my apartment will be completely occupied by friends. Together we will stand against them.

The actor's life was divided into two parts: during the day he worked on the set, and spent the rest of the time at endless parties. If earlier it seemed to Alain that Bridget gathers friends quite often, now he believed that she lived rather closed. Every free evening, he and Jean-Claude went to a cafe with his friends or chatted with them until midnight in the living room of the actor's apartment. He met several girls, but none of them occupied his thoughts for long. The young man adopted the habits and lifestyle of new acquaintances: he did not make a permanent girlfriend, got up late and sat down to dinner no earlier than ten in the evening. This greatly interfered with his work at the Colosseum.

"Get out of this place," Jean-Claude advised him. - Soon we will go to the festival, in Cannes, where you will meet a lot of the right people.

Alain was in no hurry to leave the restaurant. His salary made it possible not to live entirely at the expense of a friend. However, in March, he parted with the uniform shirt of the waiter and began to prepare for a trip to Cannes. He relentlessly crammed a poem by Rambaud and a monologue from Cocteau's play. Jean-Claude watched him with a smile.

- Stop clenching your teeth when you read a monologue. You should look like a romantic youth, not a ferocious bandit.

The young man almost despaired of learning how to play. He was especially frustrated by the fact that Briali effortlessly entered the role and delivered lines perfectly, showing Alain which words should be underlined.

“You just lack practice,” he said. - I remember very well how long I studied my first role. In this case, the main thing is to be patient.

The basics of acting were given to Delon with great difficulty. He tried to be convincing, but even he himself could not imagine himself a medieval knight. What was there to say about making others believe it?

The day before the flight to the Cote d'Azur, the gloomy Alain loitered from corner to corner. Jean-Claude looked at him thoughtfully, not knowing how to help his friend. It was always easy for him to learn the role and play it, invariably causing universal approval. Suddenly he clasped the sofa cushion with his hands and let out a low exclamation.

- What happened? Allen asked him. “Are you trembling with fear that Cocteau will curse me, and at the same time you?”

— I know who will explain to you how to play correctly!

- Lord, who?

— Bridget Ober. She talked a hundred times about some acting secret she owns. Why didn't I think of this before?

“We haven't seen each other for a month and I'm sure she won't want to see me for another year,” the young man said dejectedly.

- Let's see. If I were you, I wouldn't bet on it.

Briali went to the phone and dialed the number of the actress:

“Hello Madame Aubert, dear prima!” This is Jean-Claude. Please do not hang up the phone without listening to my request. We need your help. Alain, a poor boy, feels bad and dreams of reconciliation. Would you like to visit us today? He spoke in such a plaintive voice that his friend burst out laughing.

- Do you agree!? We are waiting at eight, you know the address,” Briali hung up the phone and turned to Delon, “you just need to find the right approach. Bridget needs to be moved to pity, because she had almost maternal feelings for you.

Allen chuckled doubtfully.

- Do not believe if you do not want to, but she will come.

You are just a magician. No, more like a scammer.

As promised by Jean-Claude, at exactly eight the actress rang at the door of his apartment. Entering, she carefully looked at Alain and found that he was really seriously concerned about something.

- You are not sick? she asked a former lover.

- Not. How are you?

- Fine. So what kind of help is needed?

Briali began to floridly explain that the young man had learned the monologue from the play, but could not deliver it.

Why can't he? Alain, do you have problems with your voice?

“He has no problem with his voice,” Briali answered for his friend. He can't speak with expression.

"Aren't you able to teach him yourself?"

“Yes, I repeated this damned monologue day and night. Such stupidity - I myself read as it should, but I can’t explain anything to him.

“Alain, say the first couple of sentences,” Bridget asked.

"I'll go get some wine and glasses," Jean-Claude volunteered.

He was ready to go to the store for wine, just not to listen to a boring passage from Cocteau's play. At this time, his friend diligently, as in an exam, read a monologue.

- I understand! the actress stopped him. - Try to use my trick: to relax and get into the role, I imagine that there is no one next to me, and I say all these words for myself. I'm just having fun, like I'm singing a song.

“It won’t work for me,” Alain said sadly.

“It won’t work out, okay,” Bridget waved her hand lightly. “You would think all the directors would require you to read Jean Cocteau by heart. I was personally chosen for the first role, because I looked like the heroine more than the rest. Come on, say again: “Oh lady…”

Five minutes later, Brialie, standing in the kitchen, almost trembled to hear Alain say the lines with feeling. The actor immediately burst into the living room and shouted:

- There is! It's done!

Bridget looked at him as if he were an amateur, and his friend continued with rapture to confess his love to the imaginary lady of his heart.

“You are a great woman. You told him your secret, didn't you? Tell it to me too,” Jean-Claude asked.

“You don't need to know him. Apparently, you have your own approach to the role, but you do not report it.

- I swear, no. I propose to drink wine for you, Madame Aubert. Over time, you will open acting classes and teach newcomers.

Bridget smiled smugly.

“Alain, you can be sure that you will outsmart anyone who tries to get the part of a romantic hero,” she said.

“Thank you, you are very kind. With such teachers, I will not be lost.

- Okay I have to go. Alain, give me a call tomorrow and I'll wish you well before flying to Cannes. Jean-Claude, will you walk me to a taxi?

- Of course.

The actress barely waited for the moment to talk to him alone.

- A good teacher, do not say anything. Why did you choose this monologue? He doesn't fit Alena in the slightest. He has only the appearance of a gentle young man, and the character of a real pirate. How did you not understand this?

- I'm not a fool. But, Bridget, take any producer, because he will first of all pay attention to the beautiful face of Alain, and he will pronounce the words of a knight in love at the right moment.

“You’re right,” the actress agreed after a moment’s thought. Yes, that changes things. You're very practical, Briali. Here it is, your secret.

On Sunday the friends were packing their things when it dawned on Jean-Claude:

“We forgot to rent you a tuxedo, and we're flying in tomorrow morning. What to do?

“Maybe we can find him on the spot?”

- What you! Viewings will begin at lunchtime, there will be no time to dress up. Alain, take the directory and call the studio. God forbid, lucky, and one of them will be open.

The young man called the first number, and he was immediately answered.

- You are lucky. Let's go pick out a tuxedo,” Jean-Claude said.

By evening, the suitcases were packed, and they breathed a sigh of relief. Alain did not want to endlessly discuss the whole future, but he was sure that he would be lucky. Constantly communicating with representatives of the Parisian bohemia, he set fire to the idea of ​​​​becoming an actor.

When the plane was gaining altitude, all the events that had happened to him recently seemed like a dream to him. He was very afraid to wake up and find that he was standing at the bar waiting for a glass of wine for a visitor to the Colosseum. From these thoughts he was distracted by the loud voice of Jean-Claude:

- Girls, are you flying to Cannes to relax or to the festival?

Alain turned around and saw two pretty blondes. seated across the aisle from them and Briali. Both of them were extremely attractive, but he liked the fragile girl with delicate features more.

- What is your name? his friend continued to question his companions.

“I am Marie, and my sister is Julie,” answered the thin girl. We are flying to our parents, they offered us to spend the summer by the sea.

I am Jean-Claude and my friend's name is Alain. We are actors and we can invite you to one of the screenings.

Alain pushed his neighbor with his elbow, but he ignored his sign.

“We will watch new films with pleasure,” the girls were delighted. Marie wrote down the phone number and handed it to Briali, smiling at Delon.

“Just a girl, but she’s already flirting,” Briali whispered to his friend with delight. - A real Parisian. Did you like sisters?

- Yes. But why did you say that I am an actor?

- It's true, all our friends consider you an aspiring actor, it remains only to sign a contract.

- An insignificant trifle!

- You're absolutely right.

They drank champagne all the way and arrived in Cannes very busy. A booked two-room suite was waiting for them at the hotel. First of all, they hung clothes in the closet and turned on the TV.

“We need to start changing so we can make it to the opening of the festival,” Briali said.

Alain got up lazily from the couch and removed his tuxedo from the hanger.

I'm afraid I'll look funny.

"Then what about the others?" Believe me, today in Cannes, only those who do not have such costumes are truly funny.

The opening ceremony seemed to Alain a beautiful fairy tale. He was next to the famous actors, who solemnly climbed the stairs and passed into the building.

- Satisfied? Briali asked, noticing the enthusiastic look on his friend's face.

- Yes. Thank you. You allowed me to enter a fantasy world.

"It's just the cover," his friend remarked philosophically.

Soon they, too, joined the movie stars, producers, and directors who surrounded the refreshment table. Jean-Claude greeted some of them. Fulfilling his promise to make an actor out of Delon, he introduced him to everyone he knew. He felt constrained in a tuxedo, and in a crowd of celebrities, he was completely confused. He couldn't wait for everyone to be invited to the hall to watch the first film.

The first day of the festival was busy, and friends, returning to the hotel in the evening, decided not to take part in any parties. Even Jean-Claude's bubbling energy was not enough for this. During breakfast, Alain asked:

“Didn’t you manage to get tickets for the girls yesterday?”

For which girls? The actor rolled his eyes.

Do you remember Marie and Julie? We met on the plane.

— Ah. Did you like them that much? I have their phone somewhere. If you want, I'll give it to you.

"You don't want to meet them?"

- God be with you. There are a lot of beauties here, and the girls are clearly from a good family and will behave like children. Why waste time on them?

— I'll invite Marie somewhere.

- Wow! She bewitched you. Okay, I'll try to get her a ticket for tomorrow.

Thanks, but first find her phone.

Briali played a joke on Alain, who was carried away by Marie, until the end of breakfast, and then solemnly took out a piece of paper with the girls' phone from his portmanteau.

Hold on, romantic. Probably, this rehearsed monologue had such an effect on you.

"Don't think of him," Alain shuddered.

- Let's go soon. Today there will be no greetings and buffet, but everyone will come for an afternoon viewing. Maybe you'll meet a director who's casting for his new film.

Jean-Claude was not at the afternoon viewing next to a friend. He went to the buffet to talk to Herbert, a German actor, his former co-star. Alain got the impression that his companion knows literally every participant of the festival. Alone, he watched a Jules Dassin film and got up to join Briali at the buffet. At the exit from the cinema hall, a middle-aged man in smoky glasses turned to him:

- I noticed with what interest you watched “The One Who Must Die”. Perhaps you are an actor? Let me introduce myself, my name is Harry Wilson and I represent Mr. Zeltsnick, a Hollywood producer.

- My name is Alain Delon, and so far I have not starred anywhere.

Wilson raised an eyebrow at the young man's sonorous name and showed no disappointment at being told he wasn't an actor.

— I select young actors for David Zelznick. It's okay if you're new to cinema. Do you have your photos with you?

- Yes. Only I left them at the hotel.

“Let me invite you to visit my hotel tomorrow morning,” Wilson said, handing Alain a business card. I will record our meeting on a tape recorder and give the tape along with the pictures to the producer.

“Will I have to read you an excerpt from some work?” the young man asked excitedly.

“Actually, no. I wanted to tape our conversation, but if you insist...

“No,” Delon hastened to answer. “I asked that in case the need arose to get ready tonight.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Briali walking towards him. He noticed that his friend was talking to someone and stopped nearby so as not to interfere with the conversation.

“So, see you soon,” Wilson said in parting and left the hall.

Alain stood at the door for a moment, then rushed over to Jean-Claude.

“This is an American, he is looking for actors for Hollywood,” he explained to him.

He whistled softly.

Why was I worried about you? As they say, fate will find itself. Did he offer something specific?

- No, he promised to tell tomorrow about possible roles. He invited me to his hotel, - Alain showed a card where Wilson wrote the number of his apartment.

- Wonderful. And what about English? I don't think you know him? - decided to show foresight actor. “Don't worry,” he said to his drooping friend, “the film studio will hire you a teacher, and you will quickly learn the language.

Allen did not think about the need to speak English in Hollywood. Harry Wilson spoke excellent French, and the young man did not experience the difficulties that arise when talking with foreigners during a conversation with him.

Will he want to hear an excerpt from the play tomorrow? Briali asked the next question.

- Thank God no. All is well with this though. He said that he would record our conversation on tape and pass it on to Zeltsnik.

— Great, let's go to the cafe with Herbert tonight? The Germans arrived in a big company.

- I cant. We need to prepare for tomorrow's meeting.

- What are you going to do? After all, he refused to listen to the texts you subdued.

Jean-Claude spoke in his usual light manner, but Alain knew how many times he was able to repeat lines from a new role and how diligently he read scripts. In the evening at the hotel, Briali once again called his friend to the cafe, but was resolutely refused.

- All right, stay in your room. You will be bored without entertainment. How can you spend time in Cannes like that? By the way, here's a ticket for Marie. I remembered your request, even though you stunned me with your message about the future contract.

“I wish you good fun,” Alain told him.

When Briali left, he picked up the phone and dialed Marie's number. After the second ring, they answered.

“Luca family home,” a female voice said.

"Call, please, Mademoiselle Marie," he asked.

- One minute.

After a short time, a quiet voice of a girl sounded in the receiver:

Hello, I'm listening.

Marie, good evening. This is Alain. Remember, we flew together on a plane from Paris?

— Oh, of course I remember. How are you?

- Not bad. I have a ticket for tomorrow's viewing. You want to go?

“With pleasure,” Marie's voice became much louder. — And your friend doesn't have a ticket for Julie?

- I am afraid no. Come tomorrow at two o'clock. I'll meet you at the bus stop.

- Deal. Goodbye, Alain.

Marie hung up the phone and spun around the room with joy. After a couple of minutes, she began to think about how to explain her absence to her sister so as not to offend her. In the end, she decided to tell her that Alain had simply invited her to dine together.

At this time, the young man nervously walked around the room and languished in anticipation. “Is this chance meeting going to change my whole life?” he asked himself. He didn't want to sleep, despite the fact that he was afraid of looking exhausted during tomorrow's meeting with Wilson. Stopping in front of the mirror, he looked at his reflection appraisingly: his blue eyes burned feverishly, a blush appeared on his cheeks. Satisfied with what he saw, he sat down in a chair and turned on the TV. Briali returned an hour later.

“That's how I knew you'd trade our party for an old movie. I met an amazing German actress, blonde, by the way, as you like.

“I don’t know who or what I love anymore. I have an important meeting tomorrow, and I can't sleep,” Alain said quietly.

- Nothing, this is not the last meeting. I met here Michelle Corda, the wife of director Yves Allegre. He's planning a movie shoot, and he'll probably offer you something too.

“Now I’m completely at peace.

- Come on, come on. Let's see a show or a performance by the dancers from the Moulin Rouge.

- Turn on whatever you want.

Alain watched the show until night, sipping red wine, until he felt himself starting to doze off. Then he got up from the sofa and went to his room.

Chapter 3

Alain Delon went to a meeting with Harry Wilson is not in high spirits. In the morning, the idea of ​​signing a contract with a Hollywood film company seemed crazy and impossible to him. However, outside the hotel where Wilson lived, he was filled with a sense of calm. “I still have the opportunity to go back to being a waiter,” he mused, “so why not try my luck?” When he called the American's room number to the porter, he was hardly worried.

"Mr. Wilson is waiting for you," the clerk said, and Alain went to the elevator.

Not stopping for a second at the door of the room, he knocked.

- Good morning. Come in, please,” the owner greeted him. - Would you like something to drink?

“Only mineral water,” Alain replied.

“First, I would like to state the gist of my proposal to you,” Wilson said as they sat down at the table. “Mr. Zelznick has instructed me to find some young actors to play in his films. At the end of this week I am flying to Rome, where I will give him the photographs and the film of our conversation. If he is interested, he will call you back next Monday and invite you to audition, after which it is possible to sign a contract for several years of filming. It's probably needless to say that Hollywood will open up fantastic opportunities for you to pursue a career in film.

“Thank you, Mr. Wilson,” Delon replied. “I am very flattered that you considered me a suitable candidate.

He spoke with a slight irony, and his eyes glittered mischievously. Wilson regretted not having a movie camera to record the conversation, but decided that he would convey his impressions of the young man to Zeltsnik.

- What do you do, Mr. Delon? I mean where do you work?

Alain had to start from afar. He talked about serving in the army, coming to Paris and finding a profession that would allow him to succeed in life. He accompanied his narration with gestures that added emotionality to his words. With every minute the young man liked the American more and more.

- Do you want to be famous? - he asked.

- Yes I want to. I dream of fame and to achieve it, I am ready to work day and night.

“For Hollywood, this is the normal mode,” Wilson laughed. - Thank you for the story, it is somewhat similar to the plot of the film.

“Not melodrama, I hope?”

- I do not know. It depends on what you can achieve. In my opinion, you have all the necessary data to make a career.

- You are very kind.

- Goodbye, expect a call from Italy on Monday morning, between eight and ten o'clock.

Inspired, Alain returned to the hotel to change clothes and report to Briali about the outcome of the conversation. Entering the room, the young man began to wake up his friend.

— Jean-Claude, get up, I'm already here.

- How did everything go? – without opening his eyes and without raising his head from the pillow, he asked.

“I think Wilson liked me. He was very kind.

- This is not an indicator. Americans are always kind. What did he ask?

- He was interested in how old I am, where I work.

- I hope you didn’t blurt out about the “Colosseum” right away?

No, I did everything you taught me. First he talked about the army.

— Great, you will act exclusively in films about the war and westerns.

Alain ignored Briali's friendly banter and outlined the content of the conversation with Wilson.

“In general, if on Monday, at eight in the morning, they call me from Rome, we can assume that the contract is in my pocket,” he concluded.

- You're having a great day today. This should be celebrated. Let's go to lunch in a cafe on the waterfront.

Thanks, let's go later. I invited Marie to an afternoon screening.

“You are not wasting your time,” said Briali admiringly.

Don't laugh, you got her the ticket yourself.

- It's decided. I'll invite wife Allegre and we'll have dinner together.

Leaving the hotel, the friends parted ways. Jean-Claude agreed to meet with Herbert and go with him to the screening, while Alain was waiting for Marie. She immediately noticed him and waved from the bus window. Now she seemed to Alain even more beautiful than when they met on the plane.

"It's good to see you again, Marie," he said, smiling.

- Me too. My sister doesn't know anything, but I can't imagine what a blow it would be for her. We love cinema. What films have you been in?

“Unfortunately, they will not be shown at the festival,” Delon laughed, “at least this year. Now I have the opportunity to get into Hollywood.

"Oh," Mari muttered. Her gaze expressed awe. You will meet Harry Cooper.

— I think so.

They approached the stairs and began to slowly climb it.

- Can you imagine how famous actors go along it? How I also dream of being here at the opening of the festival, ”Marie exclaimed.

“I will definitely invite you in the coming years,” her companion replied.

They went into the hall. Alain was greeted by several actors Briali introduced him to. He nodded in response, trying to make out a friend in the crowd of people, but his attempt was unsuccessful. Marie looked at those present and was not at all embarrassed by the reciprocal glances. Young people sat in armchairs and waited for the first film to be shown. In the darkness, Alain found the girl's hand and gently squeezed it. She hesitated for a few moments, then decided not to release it. Carried away by each other, they almost did not pay attention to the screen.

- Will you have lunch with me? Allen asked her in a whisper.

“With pleasure,” Marie answered just as quietly and leaned slightly towards him.

“Briali is usually always right,” Delon said to himself, “but in this girl he was wrong. She doesn't look like a schoolgirl in any way."

Going out into the street, he asked her a question:

— Are you studying somewhere?

— In college, in Paris. Boring, right?

“I have no idea, but I wouldn't want to be there, except to meet you.

"Thank you," said Marie. - Catch you up on that. All the girls will die of envy if you follow me to college. And teachers will be affected too.

“Are you learning the art of giving compliments there?”

The girl smiled sweetly and looked down.

“I was afraid you wouldn't call me,” she said. The phone had to be given to your friend.

“He saved it for me. By the way, where are you staying?

Our family has a villa outside the city. We rest on it in the summer. Would you like to come visit us tomorrow?

- No thanks. Come to town tomorrow night. We will walk along the embankment.

- Deal.

After a quick bite to eat in a cafe, they parted ways. Alain watched the girl get on the bus and went to the hotel. Viewings lost all appeal for him, for some reason he was sure that Zeltsnik would offer him to sign a contract. In the morning, Briali, by his reasoning, made him doubt this, but he remembered the parting with Wilson, the American's goodwill towards him, and stopped thinking about the possibility of failure.

Jean-Claude, are you there? he asked, opening the door of the room with a magnetic card. He liked this invention, which allows him not to worry about the key, since such cards were given to both of them.

"We're here," said the man from the living room.

Alain entered the room and saw a slender woman sitting in an armchair by the window.

“Meet Madame Michelle Cordou,” said Briali. — Madame, this is my friend, Alain Delon.

“Just Michelle, no ceremony,” she said, looking at the young man kindly and at the same time appreciatively. - Jean-Claude said that you want to try acting in films.

“Yes,” Allen replied. — This idea came up recently, but I like it very much.

- Upon my return to Paris, I will introduce you to my husband. Maybe he'll arrange your debut.

“Thank you, Michel,” Alain said quietly and did not tell her about a possible contract with Hollywood, afraid to jinx his luck.

- Well, are you hungry? Its time for dinner? Briali joined the conversation.

“You are an amazing person, Jean-Claude,” Korda smiled. You always say the right things.

“I noticed it too,” Alain said.

- Thanks friends. Trust me with the choice of dishes?

“Of course,” they replied.

The evening turned out to be cool, the wind was blowing from the sea, and they did not linger in the open cafe. The glass-enclosed restaurant nearby was full of seats, so they headed towards the hotels.

- Horror, what's going on in Cannes during the festivals - muttered shivering Michelle. “Decent people have nowhere to sit.

“Nothing, everyone will leave in a couple of days,” said Briali.

But so are we! I invite you both to join us for dinner next week. I will find out when my husband will be at home and will call you back on Monday to give the exact date. Do you agree?

- Of course. Would you like to drink some wine at the hotel bar? Jean-Claude asked Michel.

- No thanks. There are still two days left before the closing of the festival, I don’t want to catch a cold and miss them. Goodbye, see you tomorrow.

- Goodbye.

Friends went up to the room, and Alain said:

I didn't see you at the screening today. Didn't you go?

Jean-Claude hesitated and after a pause answered:

— No, I met some of my friends.

- Let me guess. A blond German woman, Herbert's girlfriend.

Have you become extremely smart? Briali said narrowing his eyes. “Nevertheless, you are right. Elsa is amazing. What about Marie?

“She turned out to be extremely nice. We meet tomorrow evening.

“Well, well, you’re wasting your time.

"I'm not sure," Allen said. She is far from being childish.

“So she just got into college.

The young man frowned. His friend had an amazing ability to correctly guess the details of people's lives. Once Alain asked how he did it, and he replied:

“Life experience is an irreplaceable thing. When you start filming, you will feel it.

The next day was boring. Celebrities began to slowly disappear from views, and Alain asked Jean-Claude:

Did they go to Paris?

- I doubt. The closing of the festival is no less interesting than the first day. Most likely, they are celebrating a meeting with old acquaintances.

No one else approached the young man with an offer to participate in the filming, but he believed that meeting with Wilson was worth three other offers.

“I'm not sure about Hollywood,” Jean-Claude was saying. - Maybe they will make you a “star”, but imagine how long you have to work to beat American actors. They know English, live in this country and know all the American rules. However, in any case, you will gain experience and earn money.

Alain thought that this prospect was much more tempting than his previous work.

In the evening, they walked with Mari along the embankment, illuminated by lanterns and multi-colored lamps of open cafes.

“I can’t imagine how I can live in America,” Alain said. - Everything is different there.

“Three years ago I visited my dad in Boston,” Marie said.

Have you flown to America? asked her companion in surprise.

- Just for a week. Dad invited me to come to practice my English. I didn't want to delay the visit because it was boring.

“I'm sure I won't be bored. Do you want to drink wine in a cafe or in my hotel?

“Not today,” the girl said, looking down.

- What, we will drink wine tomorrow?

“No.” She looked up at him with her large eyes. - Let's go to the cafe.

They sat at the table for a long time, and Alain asked Marie more about her trip. However, I did not find out anything interesting for myself. The girl recalled with horror a long flight, a hotel far from the city, where she and her father stayed, and unusual dishes of American cuisine. At the end of the conversation, she remarked with the practicality of a Parisian:

- You can get used to everything.

“You are a charming philosopher,” Alain whispered and hugged her.

He took her face in his hands and kissed her softly on the lips. The girl closed her eyes and rested her head on his shoulder.

"Maybe you'll change your mind?" he whispered.

She perfectly understood what he was asking about and shook her head negatively, causing her hair to cover Alena's face. Freed from them, he said:

- You smell like lilies of the valley yourself, like a spring flower. Tomorrow is the last day of the festival, on Friday Jean-Claude and I are flying to Paris. See you tomorrow evening?

"Yes," replied Marie, reluctantly disengaging herself from Alain's embrace. “We won’t see each other for a hundred years, because my family will return to Paris only in two weeks.

- Nothing, I'm counting the days until your arrival.

The girl laughed and replied:

- I'll call you on Monday.

Alain mentally counted the number of calls expected that day and chuckled.

Soon he put Marie on the bus and returned to the hotel. Briali sat in the room by the phone, answering the calls, and carefully writing down the information. He waved to his friend and continued talking.

— Thank you, Herbert, I think we'll come. See you tomorrow,” he said and hung up.

— Alain, fantastic success! We're invited to five parties tomorrow. I jotted down the names of the invitees and the names of the restaurants on a piece of paper. Let's choose.

“I think you just gave your consent to the Germans.

“Well, we may not stay there all evening. Let's sit with them, then we'll go to the others. It's not a problem.

“Choose for yourself,” suggested Alain, dreamily looking out the window, “you know everyone better than me.”

- What's happening? Jean-Claude asked suspiciously. “You didn’t happen to fall in love, did you?”

- No, what is it. Day and night I think about the contract,” Delon said slowly.

- It can be seen. Okay, let's go to Herbert's first, and then join Michelle Kordu's company.

- Excellent.

They went out onto the balcony and looked at the illuminated line of the shore for a long time.

“I'll start work on a new film soon,” Jean-Claude said. — I'll have to leave Paris for a while. However, I think you will fly to America even earlier.

“Nothing is known yet,” Alain replied.

- For some reason I am sure that you will be offered a contract.

The young man remained silent, but was in complete agreement with his friend. Imagining the first filming in Hollywood, he decided that everything was going well.

The final day of the festival passed in the same turmoil as the first. If at the opening the participants greeted each other and renewed their acquaintances, now everyone was saying goodbye and expressed the hope to meet soon. Some of them understood that this would only happen at the next festival. Elsa became very attached to Briali and suggested that he think about the possibility of filming in Germany.

"I don't know, my dear," he replied. - I have a rather busy schedule, but if they send me a script from Germany and promise you as a partner, I will immediately agree.

The German actress was silent for a long time, considering which director might be interested in such a project.

— Jean-Claude, are you coming to our party tonight? she finally asked. — I will introduce you to a young talented director.

“I will definitely come,” Briali said, turning away from Alain, who was smiling meaningfully.

When Elsa went to another group of actors, Delon said in an ingratiating voice:

- Mr. Briali, you will not return from Germany. The meeting with Elsa was fatal.

“Stop being ironic,” Jean-Claude said calmly. Let's see how you behave in America. Surely in a couple of months you will find yourself married to a pretty starlet.

- Never! Alan said with feeling.

- Do not promise. Finally, let's go to the hall. Winning films will be announced now.

In the hall, they noticed Michelle Korda, waving affably at them. Alain spent two days trying to find Harry Wilson on the screenings, but he was absent.

“Probably finished his work and went to Rome,” Briali suggested. “Maybe you made such an impression on him that he rushed headlong to Zeltsnik.

- And it seems to me that he is constantly interviewing other applicants, - said Alain.

- Don't get obsessed. Only three days left to wait for a call from the producer.

The memory of Marie was the young man's only counterbalance to these thoughts. The girl was very attractive. He recalled their kiss yesterday and smiled. Then he looked at the screen and forgot about everything. The action of the film, shot by a German director, completely captured him.

“Herbert plays well,” he said to Briali.

- Yes, he is a wonderful actor, but suddenly he became cold with me. I think he likes Elsa too,” he replied.

Alain waited for the evening with no less impatience than a call from Rome. When Jean-Claude suggested that he go to a party with German actors, he refused:

- I don't want something. I don't know them at all.

- Nonsense. You need to have some fun, otherwise the trip to Cannes will not be remembered.

- What are you saying! So much has happened in just a few days. I will be eternally grateful to you for taking me to the festival.

- Yeah, stop it. First get the role, because the result is valuable. I'll go to the Germans alone, then I'll come back for you, and we'll go to Michelle.

- You don't have to follow me.

Briali didn't argue, but he didn't change his mind.

“For now, happy to stay,” he said to Alain and left.

The young man glanced at his watch and began to get ready for a date with Marie. She arrived animated and, getting off the bus, immediately rushed to him.

- I missed. I don’t know how I can live without you for two weeks,” she exclaimed.

Nothing, time will fly by quickly. May I invite you to the bar?

“Yes,” she answered decisively.

Sitting on a high stool behind the bar, she gazed out at the hotel lobby and the people passing by.

- Do you live here? she asked her companion.

- Until tomorrow morning. Do you want to see the number?

- Why not? she burst out.

Marie was surprised at her answer and looked at Alain in confusion. Now she looked like a charming child with long blond hair, wide eyes and an expression of uncertainty on her face. Her attire consisted of white trousers and a thin silk blouse.

- I live on the second floor. Climb the stairs or ride the elevator?

“In the elevator,” the girl asked.

Entering the cabin, Alain pressed the button on the second floor and touched Marie's hand. She didn't even think to pull it off. Then he leaned over and kissed her quickly on the lips. Once in the room, the girl went out onto the balcony and stopped at the railing. She was nervous. Alain came up behind her and put his arm around her waist.

“You are beautiful,” he whispered to her. “I dreamed so much about today's meeting.

“Me too,” she said softly.

He turned her around and pressed her against the balcony railing. The girl threw back her head and allowed Alain to kiss her neck and face.

"Let's go to the room," he suggested, taking her hand.

She nodded and leaned forward, but her sweatshirt caught on the ledge of the railing and tore with a loud crack.

- Horrible! Marie exclaimed. - How can I go home?

“It's okay, I'll buy you something suitable,” Alain said. - There is a shop nearby.

The girl instantly forgot about the ruined blouse and settled down on the sofa in the living room. Allen sat down next to her and hugged her tightly. Then he began to slowly undo the buttons on her jacket, stroking the girl's velvety skin. She did not resist, but remained passive and did not respond to his caresses. He realized that she was inexperienced and did not hurry, so as not to frighten her.

“You are so sweet,” he said. “Today is the best day of my life because we are together.

Finally, Marie also felt a glimmer of desire and kissed him in turn. Alain put the girl on his knees and kissed her lips for a long time. Soon all their clothes were on the floor, and the young people completely surrendered to the passion that flared up in them, forgetting about everything.

They did not open their arms for a long time, Marie was the first to remember the late hour and hurried home.

“Keep your promise, love,” she pleaded. Otherwise, I won't be able to leave the room.

“I would like to have such a prisoner, but a promise is a promise,” Alain answered, rising and looking for his clothes. “First, I want a kiss.

The kiss was instantly granted to him, and the young man cheerfully headed for the door.

“Don’t open it to anyone,” he ordered Marie, “and don’t answer the phone.”

"As you say," she promised with mock resignation.

After he left, the girl decided to take a bath. After filling it, she added baduzan to the water and whipped up the foam. A second later, tying her hair in a knot, Marie plunged into the bath.

At that moment, Briali quietly opened the door of the room with a magnetic card, trying not to wake his friend if he fell asleep. Noticing the light in the bathroom, he looked in and saw the girl almost completely hidden by the foam. Despite his extreme surprise, he immediately recognized Marie and said affably:

- Good evening.

The girl screamed in fright, and Briali quickly closed the door. Turning on the light in the living room, Briali found a torn blouse and muttered with a chuckle:

- Alain, it turns out, is not a very clever lover.

Then he knocked on the bathroom door and asked:

Marie, where is our friend?

"He's gone to buy me a new blouse," she answered in a trembling voice.

Don't be afraid, I'm not going to enter. Do you want me to send you your clothes?

- Yes please.

Jean-Claude left the girl's clothes under the door and sat down in a chair. He imagined Alain's face when he returned. Of course, one could show nobility towards a couple in love and leave, but he preferred to have fun. Five minutes later, the door of the room opened, and Alain's voice said:

Marie, I'm back. Where are you?

He walked into the living room and bumped into Briali.

- What are you doing here? he asked Jean-Claude, rolling his eyes.

Decided to take a break before meeting Michelle. I thought I could get you out to a restaurant too. How wrong I was,” he declared with a theatrical roll of his eyes, “in assuming you were unhappy and ill.

He laughed.

- Where is Marie? Alain asked.

- Waiting for you in the bathroom. She's so pretty in foam. By the way, she used my favorite baduzan. I kept it for some special occasion. But has he arrived?

Alain, with a frightened face, rushed to the girl. Jean-Claude heard Marie's indignant voice, then she jumped out of the bathroom, grabbed her purse and disappeared behind the door leading to the corridor. Seeing that Alain was about to run after her, his friend advised:

- She's scared. Better call her tomorrow and explain everything. I have no doubt she will forgive you.

I shouldn't have gone to the store! the young man said in despair.

You shouldn't have torn your blouse. By the way, the little one left it for you as a souvenir.

“Jean-Claude, you are a terrible cynic!” It’s impossible to talk seriously with you,” Alain said, starting to smile at his friend’s words.

"I'm ready to be serious," he replied. Are we going to Michelle?

- I do not even know.

— A small group is gathering, mostly her husband's friends. Get to know everyone before meeting Allegre himself. This may be helpful.

A quarter of an hour later, the friends left the hotel and walked to a restaurant located on a nearby street. Michelle greeted them joyfully. From the first minutes, Alain, tormented by thoughts of a quarrel with Marie, felt a little constrained, as he was tormented by memories of a quarrel with Marie, but after an hour he had fun along with everyone else, having become infected with the animation of the other guests. In the end, he had the hope of signing a filming contract, during the festival he met many famous masters of French cinema, tomorrow he will make peace with Marie and return to Paris with the hope of continuing the beautiful fairy tale in which he suddenly found himself.

At nine in the morning, Alain dialed the number of the Luca family's villa. He was answered by the same female voice as last time. Apparently, the maid picked up the phone. He called Marie to the phone. After a rather long wait, the girl answered.

Marie, good morning. This is Alain. Please excuse yesterday's incident. My friend was supposed to stay with friends all evening, but unexpectedly returned - he was silent for a while.

The girl on the other end of the line was also silent.

“Darling, if I had known that Jean-Claude was coming, I would never have left you alone in your room. Especially in the bathroom, all in foam, like a mermaid.

Marie coughed to hide her laughter.

"I don't know what to do," she replied gravely. - You behaved irresponsibly, for this two weeks you will not see me, and maybe I will stay in Cannes longer.

Feeling that she was no longer angry, Alain breathed a sigh of relief. Briali was again right in recommending that he call the girl not in the evening, but not before the next morning.

“So I shouldn’t count on a phone call?” he asked.

- Hope, Monsieur Delon. Maybe on Monday there will be an important call for you.

Alain winced.

“Marie, please promise me that you will definitely call,” he said excitedly.

The girl was slightly surprised, but then she took his excitement personally and smiled:

- OK then. I'll call you if it's that important to you.

“You are my favorite girl. I kiss you and look forward to the call,” he shouted into the phone.

It was time to pack up. Alain hated this occupation more than anything in the world. It reminded him of constant moving and his past unsettled life.

"When I'm famous, I'll hire a hotel clerk to pack my bags," he promised Briali.

“Here is a sure chance to be left without half of your valuables,” he said.

Alena's friend approached every activity creatively, so he was never afraid of routine. For example, for each suit he had a colored case prepared: for a tuxedo - blue, a club jacket was packed in a red bag, shirts - in green. This made the young man laugh at first, but then he also decided to diversify the set of covers for clothes and got hold of a package from a Christian Dior suit somewhere.

“It’s sad to leave,” Alain said at the airport. “But we must keep moving forward.

“If everything that you were promised here comes true, you will always remember your first festival,” Briali replied.

- You're right.

Bridget must be eager to hear the latest news. Will you call her?

- Still would. The two of you cleverly made me memorize half of Cocteau's play. Moreover, Bridget hinted to me that the passage might not be useful.

- Traitor. I didn't tell you this on purpose, otherwise you wouldn't have read the play.

No, I liked her. Oh, look, Michelle is standing at that window.

The woman noticed them too.

- You can go crazy. It turns out we are on the same flight,” she exclaimed, joining them. - We could not disperse yesterday, but take a taxi in the morning and come to the airport together.

- Exactly. But we could have bored you terribly,” said Briali.

“You are the humblest man I know,” Michelle remarked. “Imagine,” she turned to Alain, “he never gets seriously angry, he doesn’t worry, in a word, he doesn’t waste emotions in vain, but constantly saves them up to throw them out in front of the camera.

- Who told you that? Jean-Claude asked with interest.

What are you going to deny?

"On the contrary, Michel, it's very subtle," he replied.

On the plane, Kordu once again promised to discuss with her husband the day that would be convenient for a joint dinner next week. Leaving the airport in Paris, Alain remembered his arrival at the Gare de Lyon just under a year ago. He had nowhere to stay, he did not have a single friend in Paris, and the city itself seemed faceless to him. Now he talked with famous actors, was his own in their company and hoped to soon try himself in the same field. For him it was a real triumph. In just one year, he very noticeably approached his goal - the conquest of the "capital of Europe".

Goodbye, Jean-Claude, Alain. I'll call, - Michelle said goodbye to her friends, getting into a taxi.

They, in turn, loaded their suitcases into the trunk of the car and headed home.

“It feels like we never left,” Alain said.

- Nothing, you will believe it when you report about the festival to every friend. I begin to realize the reality of the trip after the tenth story.

They entered Briali's apartment and, placing their suitcases in the middle of the living room, rushed to the phone. The competition was won by Alain, clutching the pipe with a death grip.

“All right, call,” Jean-Claude agreed graciously. - I'll unpack my things.

First of all, the young man called Bridget Ober.

"We're already back," he told her. — Everything was wonderful. How are you?

— I saw you on TV, Alain. They were broadcasting from the festival, and one day your face flashed on the screen.

- Fiction! he shouted. But I will surprise you even more. I was offered to sign a contract with Hollywood.

- Can't be! the actress exclaimed. - This can not be told on the phone, I want to know all the details. Come to my place for dinner tonight. One.

“Thank you, I’ll come,” Alain replied, glad that Bridget did not see his smile. This woman always bribed him with her frankness.

"Jean-Claude," he called, hanging up. - I'm done talking.

“That's very kind of you,” Briali's voice reached him. - Alain, they pulled shirts out of my suitcase!

The young man went into a friend's room and saw that the green bag with the shirts was missing.

“This is the result of your foppishness,” he declared. — Multi-colored covers! And he said that you need to be wary of hotel employees.

However, noticing the despondency of Jean-Claude, he fell silent.

“I don't know why things like this always happen to me,” Briali said. “This case is by no means the only one. When I was leaving Germany, I forgot my plane tickets in my room. I stood at the airport and did not know what to do. As a result, a representative of the film studio found me and managed to hand over the tickets on time. Maybe I left my shirts at the hotel?

“I think you put them in a suitcase.

“Well, then it’s time to go to the men’s clothing store.

Don't worry, your fans stole them!

- A small consolation. Will you go shopping with me?

- Sorry, I can not. Bridget invited me to visit her for a while.

Briali did not remind Alena about Marie. Michel Kordu was right: he kept his emotions and tried not to interfere in other people's affairs. The young man himself did not consider that he was acting dishonestly towards the girl. He had the ability to forget the events that took place in another city. Arriving in Paris, he lost contact with Marie, as if the plane took him to another dimension, and here Brigitte Aubert remained material.

On the way to her, Alain bought flowers. Rising to the second floor, he remembered how they lived together and felt a slight nostalgia for the past. The young man quickly overcame the last steps of the stairs and rang the bell at the familiar door. Bridget opened it and opened her arms:

“Welcome, dear.

He kissed her and held out the bouquet. The actress was touched and in her heart she finally forgave him for his recent flight from her apartment. They went into the living room and sat down at the table. Bridget cooked all his favorite meals. From the way she met him, Alain noticed a striking contrast between his past life with her and his appearance today. Then he was just her lover, an unknown young man, and now he had a tempting offer from a famous producer and was full of hope to succeed. Bridget greeted him as an honored guest.

— Have you already signed the contract? she asked curiously. - I heard in Hollywood they pay a lot even to those actors who do not play the main roles.

- So far I have only been interviewed by a representative of Zeltsnik. I'll get an answer next week.

- How interesting! Jean-Claude introduced you to him?

- No, the American himself approached me and asked if I was an actor. I immediately remembered the monologue from the play.

- Awesome! Who else did you meet?

Jean-Claude introduced me to a lot of different people: producers, writers and actors. On the way back, he was badly hurt: this morning he did not find some of the things in the suitcase. She is currently updating her wardrobe. Perhaps this is all the news.

“It's nice to see you here, Alain. It seems like you never left,” Bridget said, looking into his eyes.

“No, I have been absent for a long time and I want to check the decoration of one room,” he replied.

Rising from the table, Alain hugged the actress and dragged her into the bedroom, where a complete reconciliation took place between the lovers. When he was about to leave, Bridget looked at him sadly and kissed him tenderly.

“Call me, I’ll be glad to see you again,” she said in parting.

“I’ll be glad too,” Alain smiled. - See you.

“An amazing woman,” he thought as he descended the stairs, “no reproaches, no jealous questions. I need to see her more often.”

He spent the weekend terribly, wincing at every phone call and trying not to show Jean-Claude how nervous he was. For some reason, it seemed to Alain that if he did not get a call from Rome, then all his hopes would collapse: to meet Marie, to offer to participate in the Allegre film and eventually make a career in cinema. Briali did his best to distract him from his disturbing thoughts, but in the end, his friend's mood was transferred to him. As a result, they spent the entire Sunday at home, listening to music on the radio and looking at some of the new scripts sent to Jean-Claude.

At nine o'clock in the morning the phone rang. Both friends had long since woken up and were sitting in the living room. Briali nodded to Alain at the phone and pretended to be immersed in the newspaper. He picked up the phone.

- Good morning. Is that Mr. Delon? he heard a male voice belonging to Harry Wilson.

Yes, Mr Wilson, it's me.

Jean-Claude impetuously folded the newspaper, threw it on the table and, without hiding his interest, began to listen carefully to Alain's remarks.

“Of course I can fly, Mr. Wilson. Thank you for your suggestion. I'll call you tomorrow and confirm the flight.

The young man hung up and turned to Briali.

“I'm invited to Rome for an audition,” he said in an uncertain voice. - I can not believe it…

His friend woke up first.

- Victory! he shouted. “Let’s have an amazing party for this occasion!” We will invite all our friends.

We need to find Bridget. She asked me to tell her the news right away.

Jean-Claude went to get some champagne and at that moment the phone rang again. Alain had an uneasy feeling that Wilson had decided to cancel the audition. He reluctantly picked up the receiver and heard the friendly voice of Marie.

- Hello. How are you doing? she asked. - What's going on in Paris?

Marie, I'm leaving for Rome at the end of the week for a screen test. Hope you'll be in town when I get back.

- Screen test? Great! Yes, the whole family will come to Paris in ten days.

I kiss you and look forward to meeting you.

Jean-Claude appeared with a bottle and glasses.

“I’m terribly proud of you,” he confessed to Alain. - I wish that the terms of the contract exceed all your expectations.

“Oh, for me, a call to Rome is already the greatest reward.

“Look, don’t tell the producer about it, otherwise you will play for free in the first film,” Briali laughed.

- After your instructions - never!

Anxious expectation was replaced by stormy fun. They started calling friends and acquaintances. Moreover, Jean-Claude was so sincerely happy about the success of his friend that he told everyone about the contract with genuine pride.

Bridget Aubert also let out an exclamation of admiration when she learned of Wilson's invitation.

“Alain needs to do some tests in front of the camera,” she told Briali. “I just don't know how to organize it.

“No way,” he argued. Everyone in Rome knows he's not an actor. He does not need to prove his experience to anyone. He will learn everything in Hollywood, he will play like an American.

“You can’t argue with you,” the actress was a little offended.

- And do not argue. Come in the evening to the celebration in honor of Alain.

The originator of the commotion sat in his room, immersed in dreams of the prospects opening before him. During a conversation with Marie, he wanted to share his delight with her, but he could not do this because he supported the game of Briali, who introduced him to the girl as an actor.

Jean-Claude entered the room.

“About twenty people will come in the evening,” he informed Alain. - Let's get ready.

The guests arrived at about ten in the evening. Everyone who came forced Delon to tell about his acquaintance with Harry Wilson and his proposal. After two crazy months in Jean-Claude's apartment, the Cannes Film Festival and today's party, it seemed to Alain that his whole life had turned into one endless celebration. His friend knew how to arrange a holiday for any occasion, and for the sake of such an occasion he tried especially hard.

Aubert did not leave the young man all evening, and Briali made a toast:

- For the inspirer of the future star - Bridget!

Alain supported the toast, but in his heart he considered Marie Luca his talisman.

“I feel that our joint dinner is postponed indefinitely,” Michelle Korda addressed Briali and Delon. When she talked to Alain, her voice no longer sounded patronizing notes that so offended him before. He was on his way to signing a lucrative contract and could become a popular actor in the not too distant future. This began to be taken into account.

“Michel,” Briali said, “let him fly to Italy. I am staying in Paris and will be happy to come to you for dinner.

“Well, I’ll have to tie my apron and roast the whole lamb.” I know your tastes and appetite,” she laughed.

The evening was drawing to a close. Alain's head was full of advice that every guest felt obliged to give. Someone recommended that before shooting, check the angle of incidence of the light of the main spotlight, someone once got a make-up brush in the eye with a brush, and he suggested that the young man do the makeup himself. At first, Delon listened attentively to all the advice, but suddenly noticed a mocking gleam in Briali's eyes. His friend sincerely laughed at the eagerness of the guests to confuse the newcomer. Finally, he could not stand it and entered into a conversation:

- I wonder how you imagine Alain crawling between the cameras and adjusting the spotlights? There are excellent professionals who will not let him close to the equipment. During filming, there is only one important point - do not look at the camera. The rest will have to trust the director.

Alain came out to see off Bridget Aubert. For a long time they could not catch a taxi for her and, embracing, walked half the way to her house.

“Let's go to the end,” she suggested, “in every sense. You will return home in the morning.

“I'm sorry, but I need to recover after a week of waiting for a call from Wilson,” Alain said. “I’ll sleep through the night like the dead.”

“Okay,” Bridget tried to hide her disappointment. “I have no doubt that everything will turn out well for you.

Then they noticed a taxi passing by and stopped it. Once at home, the young man called Briali, but he dozed off on the sofa in the living room. Alain decided not to wake his friend, and went to his room.

He was woken up by the sound of breaking glass. Looking into the living room, he found Jean-Claude standing in the middle of the room, unsuccessfully trying to collect empty wine bottles left over from yesterday's feast. One of them shattered, and the pieces scattered across the floor. Alain rushed to Briali's aid.

- Had a great time. And I thought Ober kidnapped you and hides you at home, ”he remarked. Why did you come back yesterday?

I was tired and wanted to get a good night's sleep. I already don’t like something in the profession of an actor, ”Alain replied.

- What exactly?

- The need to wait.

“God, what a statement. Everyone is forced to wait for someone's decisions, not just actors. But how nice it is when you are invited to the role.

- You're right. Tomorrow I'll get a ticket to Rome and forget about everything except future trials.

“Just don’t remember, please, the stupid parting words of our friends. Try to be natural in front of the camera and listen carefully to Wilson and Zeltsnik.

“Jean-Claude, you are worth a thousand teachers,” Alain said.

Tom liked the compliment and smiled.

Before leaving for Italy, Delon did not talk on the phone with either Bridget or Marie. The actress did not bother him, understanding what state he was in before the first shooting, and Marie did not call again. Briali escorted him to the airport.

“For some reason it seems to me that we are flying to Cannes again,” said Alain. “It all happened too fast.

“Wow,” said Jean-Claude. — Either you do not like to wait, or you are dissatisfied with the speed of events. Don't worry, everything will be alright.

The young man went to the landing and thought that in vain he did not inform his mother about this invitation. She dreamed of his return to Bourg-la-Reine after the army. What could he expect in this wilderness? After the memories of his hometown, Alain much more wanted to conclude a contract and secure his future.

In Rome, he was met by a driver holding a sign with the words "Delon" in his hands. He took the future actor to the hotel and gave him a note from Harry Wilson indicating the time of the meeting with Zelznik the next day. There were a few hours left before dinner, and Alain decided to explore the city. He shunned the noisy crowds of tourists and did not go inside the Colosseum, but looked at it for a long time from the hill where the ruins of Nero's villa lay. Walking along the central streets, he carefully looked at the girls passing by, but soon became a little disappointed - they seemed to him too swarthy. However, some showed interest in him and were not averse to getting to know each other, but he did not understand Italian well. In the evening he called Jean-Claude from the hotel and told him about his day in Rome.

“I remember with longing our trip to Cannes,” he said to a friend. “I feel uncomfortable and bored here.

- Marvelous! Briali exclaimed. - As far as I remember during the festival, you spent all the evenings locked in your room. Who's stopping you from imagining that you're there right now?

“You consoled me,” Alain answered cheerfully. - I'll call you back tomorrow as soon as I get back from Zeltsnik.

- Deal. By the way, Marie called you. We had a nice chat with her.

"Don't you dare molest my girlfriend," Alain said. I will be in Paris very soon.

- She too. She has a pleasant voice and she has a sense of humor. Imagine, she said that I was her best friend, because I was sympathetic to her bathing in the bathroom in our room.

For a moment, Delon was distracted from thoughts about tomorrow's meeting and remembered the meeting with Marie. It seemed like several years had passed since then.

- Why are you silent? Briali asked. "You're not really jealous, are you?"

- Of course not. You can talk to her, take advantage of my absence. Goodbye.

Alain hung up and fell into a chair. “Still, it was quieter in Cannes,” he thought.

Chapter 4

In the morning, yesterday's driver was waiting in the lobby of Delon's hotel. Once in the office of David Zelznick, the young man felt that he could not utter a word and tried in vain to even out his breathing. However, the producer greeted him warmly. When Alena was escorted into his office, Zeltsnik pointed him to a chair and spoke for a while without asking any questions. Seeing that Alain had become a little more comfortable, he asked:

- I wonder how you ended up at the Cannes Film Festival? Have you recently returned from the army?

Yes, I retired less than a year ago. And I came to the festival with my friend, actor Jean-Claude Briali.

- Clear. Do you want to become an actor yourself?

- Yes. I have never filmed, but thanks to my friends I was sometimes present on the set.

"Harry will be here in five minutes and we'll go into the pavilion," said Selznik. - I'm interested in your photos, I like the way you carry yourself, but the camera will make the final verdict. The actor must be very photogenic, otherwise the cinematographer will ruin the sea of ​​film.

- Clear.

Soon Harry Wilson came into the office and greeted Alain with a smile.

“We've already talked a little,” the producer said. “Now we need to arrange trials.

“The camera is ready and the operator is waiting for us,” Wilson replied.

The three of them walked down the corridor and stopped in front of a door marked No Entry. Having quickly discussed something with his assistant, Zeltsnik opened the door and invited Alain inside. The young man tried to remember the beginning of the memorized passage from the play and was utterly horrified, as he could not reproduce a single word. The passage was completely erased from memory. Trying to overcome despair, he stopped near the man, at the direction of Zeltsnik, who was moving the camera.

“Mr. Delon, please stand near that column,” Wilson asked him.

Alain looked around and realized that he was in a large, almost empty pavilion. He approached the indicated column and turned to face the camera. Suddenly, the young man felt that he was in control of his emotions and, with unprecedented strength, wanted to become an actor. He decided that if Zelznik did not offer him a contract, he would film in France. The feeling of stiffness disappeared, and he confidently looked into the camera.

“Please answer my questions,” the producer called to him. Just don't look at the camera.

Zeltsnik understood the state of the young man, in the first passing tests, and did not ask him to read the prepared monologues and poems. He asked him questions, as in a regular interview, and Alain's answers were recorded on tape. Ten minutes later, which flew by for a young man instantly, Zeltsnik finished the interview and made a sign to Alain to come up.

Approaching, he caught the evaluating and interested look of the famous producer.

“I suggest you look at the samples together,” Zeltsnik said. - then I can immediately point out some errors.

Waiting for the operator to prepare the film for the show was the most terrible thing for Alain. At that moment, he was more than anything afraid to find out that the tests were unsuccessful. The machine chirped, and he timidly looked up at the screen. What he saw seemed unbelievable, but the film captured a handsome young man standing in a relaxed pose, confidently, and sometimes with a touch of humor, talking about his life in Paris and previous work.

Zeltsnik forgot his intention to make comments as he watched. He did not take his eyes off the screen, and when the tape ended, he turned to the young man with a satisfied smile.

“You're lucky,” he said. - You are extremely photogenic and look spectacular on the screen. Let's go back to my office and discuss the possibility of a contract.

For some time, Alain had to wait in the waiting room while Zeltsnik conferred with Wilson, then he was also invited into the office.

- I offer you a contract with a Hollywood film studio for seven years, - said the producer. - You will be acting in several films a year and will soon be able to get a major role.

“Oh, thank you,” Alain replied. — May I have a look at the contract?

“It's in English,” Wilson said. - You speak English?

- Almost no, - Delon was embarrassed.

“In that case, you need to learn the language before you fly to Hollywood,” Zelznik said. You should speak English in, say, three months. Is this a real time?

“Yes, of course,” the young man muttered.

He imagined how much effort it would take to learn the language. While working in a restaurant, he barely memorized a few phrases in English in order to communicate with tourists. Now, in three months, he had to learn to speak this language competently and understand others well. His thoughts were interrupted by Zeltsnik.

- In a couple of weeks you should give us an answer about the contract. This is my business card. Contact me or dictate a note to the secretary.

- Good. Thank you again for the invitation to Rome and the proposed contract, - Alain got up and began to say goodbye, but Wilson stopped him.

“Get a return ticket to Paris from the secretary,” he turned to Delon and added quietly:

- You made a great impression on Zeltsnik. If you're lucky, after the first film you can count on the main role.

Going out into the street, Alain smiled so joyfully and contagiously that an elderly Italian couple passing by answered him with the same radiant smile. He did not dare to dream of the payment specified in the contract. Alain refused the car offered by the film studio in order to calm down a bit during the walk, but now he did not have the patience to walk to the hotel.

Hailing a cab, he returned to his room and dialed Jean-Claude's number. He picked up the phone after the first beep and anxiously asked:

- How are you?

Alain forgot his usual restraint and shouted:

— Contract with Hollywood for seven years! Zeltsnik was delighted with my samples!

- Can't be! Jean-Claude exclaimed. Has the contract been signed yet?

- Not. First I need to learn English, and then fly to America. But the pay is fantastic!

Will you be in Paris tomorrow as planned?

- Yes. Why are you asking?

— Organize a procession in honor of your return. But, seriously speaking, have you already decided everything?

- Almost decided. True, I'm afraid of difficulties with English.

“Don't worry about it. Today I will try to find you a suitable teacher.

Jean-Claude, you are my savior, without your help I would still be working in a restaurant. Thank you very much. You know, I liked the real Colosseum.

“Alain, this is fate,” Briali said a little thoughtfully. - You worked at the Colosseum restaurant, and your first tests were in Rome, not far from this ancient arena.

- Yes, indeed, - answered Delon, intrigued. - An interesting coincidence. I can't wait to be in Paris again. I'll come and tell you everything in detail.

- Goodbye. Happy for you,” Briali said as he parted.

Alain wanted to go to a restaurant and spend at least the amount of the weekly earnings specified in the contract. But he had not signed yet, and the money he had taken with him was not enough, so he replaced the restaurant with a bar next to the hotel and celebrated his victory alone. Sitting in a bar, he was surprised to find only two girls among the visitors, and they were not alone. It occurred to him that if Marie were by his side now, he would feel absolutely happy. In her enthusiastic look, he saw not his real reflection, but the ideal image created by the girl. He flattered Alena and forced her to make efforts to get closer to him.

The next day, at the Paris airport, he noticed Briali waiting for him and went to a friend.

“Hello,” Jean-Claude said, smiling. - Outwardly, you have already become like an American.

"You too," Allen replied.

— What is it? the actor was surprised.

"With his wide smile," the young man joked, and shook his friend's hand warmly. Let's go home, you will immediately look at a copy of the contract.

“I doubt it,” Brialee muttered to himself.

Already on the stairs they heard a noise coming from Jean-Claude's apartment. In response to the call, the door swung open and an enchanting sight arose in front of the friends: tinsel and multi-colored ribbons hung everywhere, and several of their acquaintances crowded in the corridor, holding glasses in their hands.

- Welcome back! they shouted. Long live Alan!

They immediately put a glass of champagne in his hand and forced him to drink it in one gulp. Everyone was tipsy, as they began to celebrate long before the return of the hero of the occasion.

“In the morning on the set, I told you about your success, and the guys came to congratulate you,” Briali explained.

- Clear. Thank you all, - Alain said loudly, - without your mental support, I would not dare to stand in front of the camera and would not be able to adequately answer any of Zeltsnik's questions.

Everyone burst out laughing and the party continued. Of course, there was no question of examining the contract right now. Reluctantly, Alain postponed this lesson until tomorrow. Accepting congratulations and listening to praise was too great a temptation to resist.

Bridget Aubert arrived in the late afternoon and presented her lover with a large red rose.

Waking up at noon, Alain found himself alone in the apartment. Jean-Claude was on the set and, judging by the message in the note, did not expect to be released before eight in the evening. Unable to bear the loneliness, the young man dialed the number of Marie Luca's villa in Cannes. The girl's voice sounded surprised and delighted.

“I didn't expect you to call, Alain. How are you doing? Are you in Paris?

Yes, I arrived yesterday. I was offered a long-term contract, but it doesn't matter, I'll tell you later. When will you be back?

— Next Wednesday, in five days. You missed me? she asked coquettishly.

- Terrible. Being in Rome, I only thought about you and dreamed of seeing my baby as soon as possible.

"Me too," the girl purred. “There is not much time left to wait. I'll call you as soon as I get back to Paris.

“Agreed, pretty girl. Kiss.

“Jean-Claude will not be offended by me for this short conversation with Cannes,” Delon reassured himself. He took a contract out of his bag and laid it out on the table. For some reason, in Paris, these papers looked completely implausible. With difficulty, he managed to read a few sentences and wistfully thought about the need to learn English. He was interrupted by a phone call.

- Hello, Alain. This is Michelle. Jean-Claude told me yesterday about your victory and I decided to call you right in the morning and congratulate you. Well done.

Thanks, Michelle. Everything happened a little unexpectedly, but I am very pleased.

Did they offer you good terms?

- Yes, I think so. But I haven't shown the contract to Jean-Claude yet.

“Understood,” Kordu said, and after a short pause she added, “Come, both of you, to dinner next Thursday.” Eve will be at home and you will meet him.

“Yes, we will come,” Alain answered and grimaced, remembering that Marie would return on Wednesday. “In the evening I will convey your invitation to Mr. Briali.

“I'm sure Monsieur Briali won't refuse,” Michelle said playfully. “Especially when he listens to the menu.

- Wonderful. Until Friday then,” Alain said at the end of the conversation.

“Why is she so persistent in inviting us to dinner?” he thought, “She must have liked Jean-Claude. It will be necessary to hint to him about this fact.”

He spent the whole day in the apartment, only for a second jumping out to a nearby store for buns. Briali returned home at nine.

“I found you an English teacher,” he began from the doorway. - You will start working on Monday.

“Good,” said Alain, trying to hide his despondency. Nothing to do but study. You know, Michelle called and invited us to dinner next Thursday. She promised to cook your favorite dishes.

— Really? In that case, you have to go. Allegre will be?

- Yes. At least she said so.

“Very well, I need to consult him on one matter. Okay,” he changed the subject, “where’s the contract?”

Jean-Claude studied the papers for a long time and finally declared:

- Not bad for a beginner, but due to the fact that the contract is exclusive, in France they may not hear about you.

- Why?

- You are forbidden to participate in other shootings, except for those offered by the film studio. This means that you will not act with French directors. Of course, if you become a star, films with your participation will be shown here as well.

Alena was not embarrassed by such a prospect. He was confident of success and was not going to back down. He valued this contract very much, besides, he had no other offers.

Sunday he spent with Bridget, and from Monday he plunged into the study of English. Already by Wednesday, he was overcome with despair because of the complex grammar of this language and his inability to quickly master it. In addition, all day Alain thought about Marie and waited for her call, like a real romantic lover.

“Soon I will start serenading under her windows,” Alain thought with a grin, but could not distract himself from the memories of her long blond hair, graceful figure and sly look. She called in the evening and quickly said that she could not speak at the moment because her parents were nearby.

- We'll meet tomorrow? Alain asked.

- Yes. At two o'clock on Rue Rivoli near the Louvre.

- Why? It will be full of tourists. We won't find each other.

“I haven’t forgotten how you look and I recognize you,” Marie stood her ground.

- OK see you later.

He hoped to be in time for Michelle's dinner by eight o'clock. The English teacher came every other day, so Alain had free all Thursday. He had come to Rue Rivoli in advance, looked at the strolling tourists and noticed Marie approaching. The girl got tanned in Cannes and got even prettier. In a pink suit with her hair gathered in a ponytail, she looked like a schoolgirl.

“Hi, Marie,” he said, hugging and kissing her.

She snuggled up to him and looked into his eyes.

What are you trying to see? he laughed.

- Did you miss me?

"You'd better not ask about it in the middle of the street," he replied.

Marie was satisfied with this answer, and, holding hands, they went to the bus stop.

“By the way, why did you choose this place to meet?” Alain asked.

“You see, in college I was given the task of writing a report on the works of Leonardo da Vinci. I went to the Louvre to look at his paintings again.

“I am also studying,” Delon said. In three months I have to speak English.

For filming in Hollywood?

- Yes. Now every other day I study with a teacher.

- Poor thing! - she exclaimed. They got on the bus, and the girl asked:

— Where are we going?

- To me. Until I leave for America, I'll be staying with Jean-Claude, but don't worry, he's on set all day.

“He scared me the last time,” said Marie.

Remembering that story, Alain began to fear that when they opened the door to the apartment they would not find his friend sitting in an armchair in the living room. But this did not happen, Briali did not have the habit of skipping filming.

The lovers went into Alain's room, and the young man whispered to the girl:

“I missed you terribly.

Marie made him want to caress and kiss her endlessly. Unlike Nina, who aroused passion in him and Bridget Aubert, for whom he felt gratitude rather than love, Marie, with her youth and purity, attracted him with her youth and purity.

At six o'clock the girl began to go home. She slowly pulled on her pink sweater and collapsed back into bed. Alain picked her up and squeezed so tightly that she yelped.

“You’re a bully,” she laughed and began to jokingly fight back.

Allen suddenly dropped his hands.

- What happened? Marie asked in surprise.

“I'm afraid this blouse will suffer the fate of a silk blouse,” he replied.

The girl quickly took it off, and they did not let go of each other's arms for another half hour.

Finally, the clock hand crossed the six-thirty mark, and Alain realized that if he didn’t let Marie go now, he would be late for dinner with Allegra, which was extremely impolite in the first place in relation to Michelle. He walked Marie to the metro, returned home, quickly changed clothes and looked at his watch, determining whether it was too early for him to leave. They agreed to meet with Jean-Claude at Allegre, and Alain did not want to be there before a friend, since he had never met the famous director before and was afraid to be in his company without the support of Briali.

His fears turned out to be completely in vain, the couple greeted him very friendly. Michelle opened the door and led her into the living room, where her husband, Yves Allegre, was.

“My wife told me a lot about you,” he said after Michelle introduced Alain. - Did you receive an offer from Zeltsnik?

“Yes, last week,” the young man replied, looking around the room for Briali.

Jean-Claude called and asked to be excused. He will be late for half an hour,” Michelle said, following his gaze. "I'll leave you for a moment to see to dinner."

“You look great,” Allegre told Alain, “whoever advised you to become an actor, he was absolutely right.

He began to tell the young man the scenario, and after a few minutes, Alain, against his will, fell under the spell of this man. The conversation about the film continued at the table. Replicas were mainly exchanged by Allegre and Delon. That evening, Jean-Claude did not succeed in capturing the attention of the director, although he very much counted on it.

In parting, Allegre said to Alain:

- If I interested you in the idea of ​​the film, the role of Joe is yours. Having achieved fame in France, it will be much easier to conquer Hollywood.

The young man thanked the director and he and Briali left.

Did you like Eve? his friend asked as they got into the car. “He only talked to you all evening.

- Of course, I liked it. But his invitation to play an assassin in his film, Joe, I can't accept. The contract with Zeltsnik is for seven years, I will not have to take care of new roles, because the film studio will provide them. No, I will refuse Allegre's offer.

Jean-Claude did not dissuade him, and began to talk about the incident on the set.

“I would never be late for dinner,” he said, “but I got into a terrible story. The costume designer wanted to give one of the heroine's wigs a brighter shade for tomorrow's shoot and prepared a coloring composition in a jar. I was in a hurry and mistook it for a cream. I started to take off my makeup, suddenly I feel that my whole face is on fire. Thank God, this bumbling dresser ran up and explained what was the matter. I had to wait half an hour for the skin to turn pale.

“Horrible,” Allen laughed. So the wig hasn't been dyed?

- No, there was enough paint, but the film crew will not let me pass tomorrow, and the skin will begin to peel off. The make-up artist will curse me.

— That's how. I thought your cheeks turned red when you looked at Michelle.

"You are talking terrible nonsense," said Jean-Claude hastily.

- Not at all. How she prepared for this dinner and, most importantly, how many times she invited us.

The always verbose Briali remained silent and focused entirely on driving. He did not have an affair with Michelle, but he sympathized with her.

After the departure of the guests, Allegre was impressed for a long time by meeting Delon and his similarity with the image of Joe.

“Alain would be wonderful for the role,” he shared his thoughts with his wife. - Outwardly, he is cold, but at the same time unusually attractive.

Michel liked Briali, and she asked her husband:

And Jean-Claude?

- He is handsome, kind, but he does not have the mystery necessary to play the roles of romantic characters.

The young man was dizzy from the multitude of suggestions. He hadn't made up his mind about the role of Joe, although he told Jean-Claude that he was turning it down. Alain weighed the prospects of going to Hollywood and starting an acting career in France. For cooperation with Zeltsnik spoke a long contract, however, not yet signed, and large fees for filming. But he would have to leave Marie and friends, improve his English and try to outdo American actors. If he stayed in France, he would lose pay, and the future, after playing the role in the film Allegre, seemed unclear. Nevertheless, in his homeland he had more chances to make a career than in America. The mental struggle grew stronger every day, but Alain preferred not to turn to anyone for advice, and looked for a solution himself.

Falling in love with Marie Luka helped him. He remembered how the girl during their last date looked at him when he told her about future film roles. Even before filming, he found his first fan and was sure that the film with his participation would not disappoint her.

One day he and Marie were walking along the Champs Elysees.

I need to pick out a dress for my college prom. Let's go to this store for a minute.

The girl looked at the outfits, and Alain made fun of each dress, when the saleswoman came into the hall and asked:

— Can I help you with something?

The young man would not have confused this voice with any other and, turning around impetuously, came face to face with Nina. His heart beat faster out of habit, but then he felt indifferent to his former mistress. In surprise, the girl stepped back and carefully watched the expression on Alain's face. Marie did not notice anything and said:

- Where is your dressing room? I think this dress will suit me. What do you think, honey?

The young man smiled affectionately at her, and Nina escorted the girl to the fitting room.

“Good to see you, Nina,” Alain said. - How are you? Have you changed jobs?

- Not really. The owner of this store sells evening dresses that I have sewn, and occasionally I fill in for the saleswoman. You've changed a lot.

“Let’s meet tonight at the cafe on the corner and have a chat.”

- Agree.

Marie appeared in front of them in an ivory dress, and slowly walked across the carpet, imitating fashion models. Nina could hardly hide her feelings, looking at her friend Alena.

“You are beautiful with and without a dress,” the young man whispered to Marie, loud enough for Nina to hear.

Blushing slightly, she said to the saleswoman:

- I'll buy it.

When the girls stood side by side, the contrast between them was especially noticeable. Tender, blond Marie and passionate, indomitable Nina both attracted Alain, but in different ways. A strong feeling attracted him to Marie, and his ex-girlfriend woke up pleasant memories.

The saleswoman is very strange. She didn’t take her eyes off me,” the girl said to her companion, going out into the street.

She envied you. You were amazing in evening dress.

Marie did not believe him, but quickly forgot about visiting the store. They broke up not far from her house, although the girl persuaded Alain to come in and meet her parents.

“No, another time,” he replied. I have to be at the film studio in an hour.

The young man took a taxi and went to the set to Jean-Claude, as in the morning he offered to have lunch together. Entering the pavilion, Alain found Briali talking to a thin man with graying hair in wavy hair. The actor also noticed a friend and waved to him.

- Mister Cocteau, let me introduce you to Alain Delon. In the near future, he will become an actor.

Under the gaze of the famous writer, the young man lowered his eyes.

- We're going to a cafe. Will you join us, Jean? Briali asked kindly.

- I'll be happy to chat with you, - Cocteau smiled and turned to Alain, - Have you recently received a role?

- No, that is, yes. Yves Allegre invited me to his new film,” Delon said uncertainly.

Jean-Claude came to his aid:

- Tell us about the contract with Hollywood. Alain will become a star, Zeltsnik himself is ready to sign an exclusive contract with him for seven years.

Why do you want to go to America? the writer asked. - In my opinion, it is much easier to make a career in France, and not abroad.

“All our friends are of this opinion,” Briali said, “but you, without suspecting it yourself, facilitated the meeting between Alain and Zeltsnik.

Cocteau became interested, and Delon was completely embarrassed.

- My friend learned an excerpt from your play and, when meeting with a representative of a Hollywood producer, he really wanted to recite it. At first, it was difficult for Alain to convey all the feelings of the hero, but Bridget Aubert and I rehearsed with him, and now a knight, more ideal than him, cannot be found.

After listening to Briali, the writer furrowed his brows.

Why didn't you invite me? - he asked. - Who better than the author can have an idea about the character of the hero? Alain would be greatly helped by my explanations.

Jean-Claude smiled and said that he did not dare to disturb the famous writer, and Alain thought that he would not have been able to utter a word in the presence of Cocteau.

“I met an old acquaintance,” the young man said to Briali, when dinner was over, “and I will be home later today.

How can I explain this to Marie if she calls? the actor asked mockingly.

“I don’t know, but be as eloquent as in the presence of Jean Cocteau.

Through the glass, Alain saw Nina sitting at a cafe table and hurried to go inside. She did not smile at his greeting, but pointed to a chair opposite.

“You disappeared from my life six months ago,” she said. “The hostess must have told you how many times I came by and asked about you. I felt guilty and wanted to apologize, but you refused to meet me.

- Nina, after a fight with your friend, I moved to live with Bridget Aubert.

- Clear. How dare you deny the rumors about your affair?

- At the time when we were together, I did not pay attention to other women. Relations with Bridget arose later.

From his tone, the girl realized that he was not deceiving her, and she grew gloomy. Her suspicions were in vain, Alain did not cheat on her with the actress.

Are you still dating Aubert?

- Sometimes.

— And what about your new girlfriend, the blonde?

I'm crazy about Marie. It's impossible not to love her. She believes more than anyone in my success in the cinema.

- Do you act in films? Nina exclaimed.

Some of the patrons turned around and she raised a glass to her lips. Alain laughed at her astonishment and explained:

- I decided to become an actor, and I already have offers from directors.

After this statement, Nina's own successes seemed insignificant. During the six months that she and Alain did not meet, the girl signed a one-year contract with the owner of a store on the Champs Elysees, who undertook to buy five evening dresses from her a month. In addition, she fulfilled the orders of regular clients, and gradually set aside money for her own atelier.

- Will you be filming with Aubert?

- No, at first she did not support my idea to try myself on the site, and a friend helped me.

He told the girl about the Cannes Film Festival, meetings with directors and producers, the first screen tests in Rome. Nina remained silent. Now her former lover seemed unattainable to her.

“I wish you good luck,” he said in parting, not giving the girl the opportunity to invite him to her new apartment.

“I wish you happiness too,” she said as she stepped out of the taxi that Alain had caught to take her home.

She hoped that he would get out of the car, but the young man only smiled and ordered the driver to pull away. All feelings for Nina remained in the distant past.

For the next few days, Alain did not leave the apartment, painfully considering the proposal to Allegre. Two days after the joint dinner, he himself called Delon and said that the producers of the film agreed to give him the role of Joe. The amount of the fee was impressive, and Delon hesitated.

“Don't worry so much,” Jean-Claude advised his friend. - Trust your intuition. What do you want to do: go to Hollywood or shoot with Allegre?

“I know for sure what I don’t want,” Alain replied. — I am tired of English classes, and I will gladly give up vain attempts to learn to speak the language of Shakespeare.

"Then what else is there to think about?" Eve is nice to you, he will help you deal with the role of Joe. I'm ready to read the script with you too.

Alain went to the phone and asked Briali:

— Can I make a short call to America?

- Call, please.

Jean-Claude did not know why Alain needed to call Hollywood. Just a couple of minutes ago, it seemed to him that a friend would be indecisive about his future for a long time to come.

— May I ask Mr. Wilson on the phone? Allen spoke slowly in English. My name is Alain Delon.

When Harry Wilson answered, the young man said quickly, so as not to change his mind:

“Mr. Wilson, I'm sorry, but I can't sign a contract with Zelznik. Thank you for the offer, but first I want to play in the film of a French director.

He continued his conversation with the American, but Jean-Claude left the living room and did not hear the continuation of the conversation. The actor was pleased that Alain remained in Paris, since from the very beginning he believed that it was better for him to work with Allegre. An animated Delon appeared at the door and said:

“Now I have no choice but to agree to Yves.

- You did the right thing. Why don't you please your first director with this news?

The work on the film completely absorbed Alain. He rarely met with friends, even Marie felt abandoned and told her beloved about it.

“Come to the set tomorrow evening,” the young man suggested. - We'll have dinner together.

It was a pleasure for the girl to watch the filming, and she began to visit the film studio day after day. Once she was noticed there by Bridget Aubert, who came to invite Alain to spend the day off with her. The actress stood near the entrance to the pavilion and went to Delon after the shooting of the double, but Marie was ahead of her.

“My dear, how wonderfully you played,” she exclaimed, looking into his eyes.

They did not notice the presence of Bridget, and the actress walked off insulted. On Sunday, she contacted Delon by phone and made an appointment for him in a cafe. She was very late, and the young man ordered dinner for himself without waiting for her. This infuriated the actress, and she sat down at the table with her face contorted with rage.

- What happened to you? Allen asked her.

Are you still asking? Why didn't you wait for me?

"I thought you weren't coming at all," he replied calmly. You are more than half an hour late. Sorry, but I'm hungry.

The actress was served the menu, but she was so annoyed that the names of the dishes merged, and ordered something at random.

How is the shooting going? I haven't met Allegre for a long time, but after the start of work, he praised you.

Do you want to watch the shooting tomorrow?

- I already saw everything, just yesterday you were busy and did not notice me.

Alain understood the reason for her anger and smiled charmingly.

- Our relationship has never resembled the union of two unconditionally loyal people to each other.

“You humiliated me in front of the rest of the cast. Everyone knows about our romance, and you date some girl.

— Bridget, you are dear to me, but I love Marie.

The actress jumped up from her seat, almost knocking over her chair, and shouted goodbye to her lover:

- I hate you. Date whoever you want, I don't care anymore.

She almost ran across the hall and left the cafe. Alain called the waiter and asked:

Can my friend's order be cancelled?

— No, the steak is already fried.

- Okay, bring it to me. I've whetted my appetite.

An excited Briali was waiting for him at home.

What happened to Aubert? She screamed into the phone so much that I did not understand anything.

- We quarreled. Thank God we were in a cafe and not in her apartment. As soon as I announced to her that I was moving in with you, she threw a metal dish at me.

Jean-Claude laughed, and then said:

She is hot-tempered, but not vindictive. You will soon make peace.

- What for? I thought about breaking up with her. Yesterday she ran into Marie and got angry. I think it's better for me to break off all relations with Bridget. She is too restless.

- How can you say that? Briali was outraged. - She helped you, worried and asked about the start of filming your first film. Have you forgotten about it?

- You're right. I'll apologize to her and call her sometimes.

Jean-Claude looked at him reproachfully and, without saying a word, turned on the television. He was upset by Alain's behavior, but he had no doubt that he had rashly disparaged the actress.

In the evening, the young man went on a date with Marie without calling Bridget. The girl was also jealous of him.

“A dozen women are spinning around you on the court. What are they doing?

- These are decorators, make-up artists, hairdressers. Why are you so interested in this?

“They make eyes at you and look for an excuse to invite you to dinner.

- You take it wrong. Usually a man makes a date with a woman.

You are handsome and an actor too. Women will not wait for your invitation.

Alain kissed her, but Marie did not stop expressing her suspicions. At the end she asked:

"Why do you refuse to meet my parents?" Meeting with them does not oblige you to anything.

“Okay, I’m ready to meet all your relatives,” the young man surrendered.

He did not want to go to Marie's house, but he was afraid to offend her with another excuse.

Her family occupied a large apartment in a house on the Rue Saint-Honoré. The girl's father succeeded, and did not limit his daughters in pocket expenses, but neither Marie nor her sister Julie, whom Alain also met on the plane, were not spoiled. Their mother, an intelligent and friendly woman who adored guests, was engaged in their upbringing. However, the appearance of Delon did not cause her joy.

- Mom, meet me. This is Alain Delon, my friend.

The young man shook Madame Luca's hand, not daring to kiss her under the woman's stern gaze.

“Please, come in.” She led him into the living room and pointed to a chair. - What do you do?

- I try myself in cinema, I hope to become an actor.

“Mommy, Alain is filming a movie about gangsters,” Marie said enthusiastically.

Julie entered the living room and said to Alain:

- Hi. How is your friend?

Madame Luca was confused. Looking from one daughter to another, she remarked:

It's amazing we haven't met before. Both my girls know you.

“We met in the spring, during the flight from Paris to Cannes,” Alain explained. — My friend and I flew to the film festival.

This explanation reassured Madame Luca a little, but the young man did not inspire confidence in her. He was unusually attractive in appearance and had charm, so he could make any mother with adult daughters worry.

- Will you have dinner with us? the woman asked him. My husband will be home from work soon. He will be interested in talking to you about cinema.

Stay, Allen. Please, Marie turned to him.

The young man did not like the idea of ​​attending a family dinner, but he noticed Madame Luca's wariness and thought that she would take his hasty departure as an escape.

"Thank you, I'll stay for dinner," he replied.

Mr. Luka did not share his wife's fears regarding his daughter's friend and smiled affably at the young man.

“You have no idea how hard it is for me to deal with three women,” he said. I am glad that you are having dinner with us today.

“Your wife and daughters are beautiful,” Alain remarked.

Having critically examined his relatives, Mr. Luka laughed:

- I think so myself.

When Marie saw off Delon, he said:

“I liked your family very much. Thanks for a wonderful evening.

The girl was jubilant.

“I invited you a hundred times. Finally, you were willing to give in. Will you come to us again?

- If you call.

After Alena left, Madame Luca asked her husband:

- Don't you think that the actors are not too serious people?

- I have no idea about all the actors, but Delon is a nice young man. Don't worry, our daughters are all grown up and won't do anything stupid because of him.

Alain returned home in high spirits and immediately dialed Bridget Aubert's number.

“Excuse me, I was acting stupid today,” he said. “Maybe the shooting of the film affects me. You know I play a cold-blooded killer.

“Your role should not affect the attitude towards friends,” Bridget answered offendedly.

She wanted to forgive Alain, but the pride of the actress was greatly hurt by his declaration of love for another woman. Bridget regretted that she had not fenced him off from the whole world, moving him to her place. Living with her, Alain did not allow himself to talk to her like that. But now it was too late to think about it. The young man got a role in the film and, thanks to Briali, communicated with many famous actors and directors.

"Honey, is there peace between us?"

Alain grimaced, asking her forgiveness for his behavior in the cafe. In fact, he believed that he was absolutely right, but did not want an open quarrel with Bridget. And now, having uttered words of reconciliation, the young man especially wanted to hear from Bridget about the return of her favor, since he would never repeat his attempt again.

“We will remain friends, but our romance is over,” the actress replied.

This proposal, as well as possible, suited Delon. In principle, he always treated Aubert as a friend.

“Jean-Claude, Bridget and I have made up,” he told Briali.

- Wonderful. The day after tomorrow we were invited to dinner by Yves Allegre.

Alain did not hide his delight about this. He grew confident that the director was pleased with his performance.

Will dinner be at his house?

— No, because Michel flatly refuses to cook. We are not invited alone. I know for sure that there will be Jean Cocteau and Georges Baum. You haven't met Georges, but he's a fairly successful agent. In the future, he might help you get a role.

— I feel that everything will depend on the critical response to my first role. I either succeed or fail.

“Or they simply won’t notice you,” Briali added.

However, seeing the upset face of his friend, he said:

- I was kidding. You're lucky you're filming with Yves Allegre. He is a recognized master, and his name will ensure the success of the film, and, therefore, the actors.

At a dinner hosted by the director, Alain perked up. Everyone praised him: Allegre; Cocteau, who was flattered that the young actor had learned a passage from his play and, of course, Briali. Georges Baume was sitting at the table opposite Delon, and at the end of the evening they started talking.

“You did absolutely the right thing by turning down the Hollywood contract,” Bohm said. “As an agent, I admire the foresight of the one who gave you this advice.

“It was my own choice.

So your intuition deserves admiration. Do you have new proposals from directors?

- Not yet. The shooting of my first film is not finished yet.

- Some actors have a work schedule scheduled for years ahead. If I find out about any suitable role, I will mention your name to the director.

“Thank you in advance,” Alain said.

In the morning, he recounted to Briali the conversation with the agent, and he replied:

- This is good news, but I would first of all rely on the help of Yves Allegre. The director's opinion is always more weighty. When do you finish filming?

- A week later.

“Finally, you will stop waking me up at dawn,” Jean-Claude laughed, realizing from the expression on Alain’s face that he was expecting a hint of a new role.

The young man continued to meet with Marie and sometimes went to her house. Madame Luca was more friendly to him than at the first meeting, but secretly did not approve of her daughter's friendship with Alain. Once a girl came to a date all in tears.

“We will be forced to part,” she said sadly to her lover.

- But why? he wondered.

Their mutual affection grew day by day, and the actor rejected all proposals of familiar actresses and make-up artists for a meeting. Marie was right, they did not wait for the manifestations of his interest, and took the initiative in their own hands.

“You were supposed to fly to Hollywood for seven whole years,” the girl replied. “I wish you had signed that contract, because my father got a promotion, he was appointed manager of the American branch of the pharmaceutical company where he works. We're moving to Boston as a family, and I can't be separated from you.

She waited impatiently for his answer, hoping that he would ask her to marry him.

“It's very sad, but I don't see a way out of this situation,” Alain said. - When do you leave?

- In the end of the month.

Marie felt that he hesitated, and asked:

“Are you considering asking your parents for my hand?”

Alain froze in surprise, and then involuntarily smiled.

- What are you talking about? You are seventeen years old, and your family will drive me away at the first word about marrying you. You look and talk like a child.

- All the time we met, you behaved with me not at all like a child! What has changed now?

- Marie, I love you, but marriage between us is not possible. I have no money not only for an apartment, but even for a room. I am counting on a fee for the film, but so far I have received only a small part of this money.

- I agree to live anywhere, if only with you.

“Let's take a walk along the embankment and you will calm down,” Alain said, embracing the girl by the shoulders, but Marie pulled away and said hotly:

“At the first difficulty, you are ready to abandon me. I no longer believe in your love.

She rushed away and got into a taxi before Alain could catch up with her. He walked up to the house, hoping to find Jean-Claude in the apartment, but he didn't; a note left in the living room said that he would come very late, perhaps even in the morning. A strange thought flashed through the young man - to consult with his mother, but he decided that, having arrived in Bourg-la-Reine, he would not escape back. Alain went to bed early, as he was worried about the imminent separation from Marie. His shooting days were over and he woke up at noon with a headache. In the kitchen he saw Jean-Claude putting ice on his temples.

- Please get me some pieces of ice, please, - Alain asked.

Briali generously shared his supply with him and said:

I was at a party yesterday that Herbert threw. Remember, I introduced you in Cannes. He came to Paris for a couple of days with Elsa. Looks like he's won her favor. Herbert has serious intentions: he is thinking of marrying her.

— Jean-Claude, I also decided to start a family.

“A laudable intention,” he replied, squinting at his friend and suspecting that he was amused.

“Marie made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to marry me.

— Really? She is quite a baby. Judging by your stories about her family, I'm calm about your future. They will never agree to your marriage.

- Her family is moving to live in America, Marie's father was appointed branch manager there. I can't imagine my girlfriend leaving too.

- Well. In five years, having achieved recognition, you will be able to marry such a girl, but now concentrate on work. It always helps me out when I'm disappointed.

- Are you ready to start filming?

- Why do you think so?

“Elsa fell in love with Herbert,” Alain commented. Isn't that a disappointment?

Jean-Claude waved his hand and suggested:

We will feel better if we drink good wine. Let's celebrate our failures in our personal lives.

They were young and quickly forgot grief. At the end of June, Alain said goodbye to Marie, who was crying and promised to write to him and call him every day, but two weeks after her departure, the connection between them was cut off.

Chapter 5

The first film with the participation of Alain Delon "When a woman intervenes" was released in 1957. As Briali had predicted, the young actor's name was hardly mentioned in the newspaper articles about the film's premiere. Alain found only a few phrases about his attractive appearance and not a word about acting abilities.

“I'm starting to hate journalists,” said the young man at dinner to Yves Allegre.

He and the director, Jean Cocteau and Briali sat at a table in the Café de Paris, and the patrons kept turning around to gawk at the celebrities.

“We've all been through this,” Allegre said wisely. - Despite everything, your debut took place, and I can safely say that you coped with the role.

In response to the praise, Alain smiled weakly, continuing to worry about the lack of press reviews for his game.

He received a good fee for the film and after filming he said to Jean-Claude:

“Thank you for your participation and support, and also for getting me out of the Colosseum and onto the set. You will always be my best friend, but I want to rent my own apartment.

“You never embarrassed me,” Briali replied.

I know we had fun. But I want to be independent.

Briali chuckled and said:

"I'm sure you'll soon get tired of sitting alone in your little room." In any case, you can visit me at any time. Try to find an apartment with a phone, because the actor must be within reach at all times. Famous directors don't call twice.

The young man rented a tiny apartment on the top floor of the house, but by some incomprehensible accident, a telephone was connected in it. Seeing the room, Jean-Claude was indignant:

- You traded my cozy home for this chicken coop! I'm starting to think you're very ungrateful.

However, Allen was pleased. He laid out his things in the room and on the very first evening sat down near the telephone, waiting for calls, but they did not follow. Within a week, several friends contacted him, but there was not a single offer to participate in the new film. Then the aspiring actor himself called Georges Bohm.

- How are you? he kindly asked.

- Not bad. Tell me, do you have news about future roles?

George hesitated, but then answered:

- I showed your photos to several producers, but they are trying to get "stars" in their films. But don't be discouraged, I'll find something suitable for you.

After hanging up the phone, the young man thought that his film career could end after playing a single role and got scared. Before going to the Cannes Film Festival, he would not hesitate to return to work in a restaurant, but now it seemed unacceptable to him. He felt that he could succeed in cinema, become a popular actor and was ready to wait for a new chance.

Briali noticed that his friend was getting gloomier every day and said:

You are a true actor. We always look forward to the next role. Don't worry, you will get it.

- I expected that this would happen a little earlier than in a year, - Alain answered with annoyance.

- Since the end of filming "When a Woman Intervenes" has passed only a month.

The young man did not want to wait. He had a plan that he made for himself and he was not going to retreat. Alain dreamed of getting the lead role in the film and for the sake of this he agreed to use every opportunity to visit the film studio and meet the directors.

Finally, the desired bell rang. He was invited to audition by Marc Allegre's assistant. Mark was the brother of Yves Allegre.

- Thank you. Tomorrow I will come to the film studio, - Alain answered.

He immediately called Briali back with the good news.

“I know,” he replied. Guess who put in a good word for you?

Thank you, Jean-Claude.

“I didn't take part in this. Jean Cocteau helped you, he is an old friend of Marc Allegre.

The young man was shocked. It seemed to him that he could not attract the attention of the writer, since he was just starting his career, and Cocteau was familiar with many famous actors.

How can I thank him? he asked Jean-Claude.

I'll find his phone and you'll call. I suppose you shouldn't visit him without prior arrangement, although he is always happy to have guests.

Allen felt like a winner. Such an event as an invitation to shoot in a new film needed to be celebrated. He had no doubt that he would successfully pass tests with Mark Allegre. He spent the evening in a cafe, where he noticed a pretty girl sitting alone at the window. Without asking permission, he moved to her table.

- Good evening. Why are you sad? the young man turned to her.

The girl was not at all surprised by his appearance and answered:

Why bring up trouble? I thought you, on the contrary, wanted to distract me from them.

- My name is Alain, and I'm ready to help you brighten up the evening. What will you drink?

“Order me the same as you order yourself,” she said indifferently, turning to the window.

"I don't think you'll like gin," the young man muttered, but motioned for the bartender to bring another glass. - What is your name?

— Odette.

— Odette, I hope the genie will help us find a common language, otherwise your reticence is killing me. Are you always so quiet?

The girl sighed sadly and looked at him intently, as if thinking: should he tell about his misfortune? Alain understood the meaning of her look and said in a serious tone:

- I can listen, you can share with me the problems that have arisen. For some reason, it seems to me that you quarreled with your friend.

Did Dany send you? she asked indignantly. In that case, I'm leaving.

- Wait, don't get angry. I said the first thing that came to my mind. What other reasons for sadness can a beauty like you have?

His gentle voice calmed Odette and she said:

"I'm sorry for my harsh response, but I'm very upset. It seems that everyone turned against me.

— I know it. I also just broke up with my girlfriend, she and her family went to America. What happened to Dani?

He is now dating my best friend.

He doesn't deserve you. Let's go to another cafe. We'll change the scenery, and you'll be happier right away.

During the evening they went around almost all the cafes in the area. Alain made sure that their conversation was not interrupted for a second, and ensured that a spark flashed in the girl's eyes.

"You've become even more beautiful," he whispered.

They parted at eleven in the evening, agreeing to meet the next day.

That night, Alain could not sleep, because on the way home he looked at Jean-Claude. His friend had guests.

“You came on time,” Briali greeted him. “Join us and let me introduce you to this young man. His name is Jean-Paul Belmondo and it looks like you'll be playing inseparable friends in Marc Allegre's movie. You have a chance to meet in advance.

At first, Alain did not like the partner in the future film. Belmondo loudly told something funny and looked at Delon with displeasure, as he was forced to interrupt in order to get to know the young actor. Jean-Paul was not handsome, but he had a rare charm, which soon affected Alain.

Have you filmed somewhere before? Delon asked Belmondo.

The theater attracts me. I was warned in acting school that with my appearance, you should not count on the roles of hero-lovers.

- You will play bandits.

“Alain, in our joint film we will both play the roles of young gangsters,” Jean-Paul laughed. Have you passed the test yet?

- Not yet.

“I forgot to tell you,” Briali said. “Tomorrow at noon, Marc Allegre wants to meet with you and talk about the role.

“Thank you for remembering this at two in the morning,” Alain said displeasedly. “I can imagine who I will look like tomorrow morning.” I'm going to go get some sleep.

“See you tomorrow,” Belmondo said goodbye.

The director liked Alain, and Mark Allegre approved him for the role.

“There were so many people vouching for you, including my brother and Jean Cocteau, that it was interesting for me to meet you. You look great and are perfect for the role of a young delinquent.

- This is the second time I will play a gangster and I feel that such roles are my calling.

“Very glad to hear that,” the director laughed. - Today I will introduce you to another actor, your partner, so do not leave the film studio.

In the hall a young man noticed Belmondo. He waved his hand at him and shouted from afar:

Have you been approved for the role?

Alain nodded and took a few steps forward.

"Don't make noise, Marc Allegre is in this room." He pointed to the door.

"Very well," Jean-Paul replied in a hissing whisper. - Who are you waiting for?

- Your co-star.

- Consider that you have already waited. What are your plans for the evening? Maybe we can sit together at the bar?

Sorry, I can't do it today. I have an appointment.

- You're right. A real Frenchman should not spend a day without a female company. If your girlfriend has a girlfriend, keep me in mind.

This playful remark reminded Alain of Odette's unfaithful ex-lover and her friend. During a meeting with a girl, he asked:

Do you want to get revenge on Dany?

“I forgot about him,” Odette said.

The new admirer occupied all her thoughts, and not once during the whole evening did she think of Dany.

Why are you suddenly talking about him?

— I had a very interesting idea. I propose to discuss it in my apartment to maintain secrecy.

Odette took Alain's words as a ruse, but agreed to go with him. In his room they began to kiss, and the young man put aside the intention of helping Odette settle accounts with Dany.

In the morning he woke the girl with a kiss and said:

Let's get back to my idea.

She opened her eyes wide and muttered:

- You're very insistent.

Odette reached out to him and the sheet slipped from her shoulders and chest. Alain with difficulty averted his eyes from her and got up from the bed.

- The fact is that in an hour I have a meeting with an agent about a contract. Don't tempt me, otherwise I won't get any royalties for the shoot.

Making a funny face, the girl straightened the sheet and prepared to listen to her lover.

“I have a friend who will fool anyone,” he said. “Describe Lola's appearance to him and Dany will be left with nothing. My friend will take the girl from him.

"Good idea," laughed Odette. “I can’t wait to see this traitor disappointed.

- In the evening I will invite a friend to have dinner with us in a cafe, and we will draw up a plan of action. And now I have to leave.

They parted with Odette, and Alain hurried to Georges Baum, who became his agent.

“The fee is not great,” he remarked, laying out the contract in front of Alain. - You need to play the main role in the film, then the payment for your participation in films will increase significantly.

- You might think the directors offer me winning roles, but I refuse, - Alain grinned. “I would give a lot to get the role of the main character. Just when will it happen?

“It is possible that soon,” Georges narrowed his eyes slyly. “I don’t want to raise false hopes, but one producer is ready to pay for the shooting of a historical drama, and I showed him your photos. He became very interested.

- Who are you talking about? What movie? Delon asked. "It's not fair to tease me like that."

“I won’t say anything so as not to jinx it. For me, your participation in the film is also important, because I'm your agent.

Alain frowned and tried to show Georges that he was extremely angry with his refusal to tell more about the picture. However, in his soul he triumphed and felt an unusual surge of strength. Being in a great mood, he called Belmondo.

Have you changed your mind about spending the evening at the bar? he asked Jean-Paul.

- On the contrary. What happened to your girlfriend?

She will join us a little later.

- With a friend?

- Almost so.

Not understanding what his new friend meant, Belmondo chuckled.

“Name the bar and the time of the meeting,” he said.

Alain invited him to come half an hour before Odette, in order to enlist the support of Jean-Paul in the implementation of Denis's revenge plan before the appearance of his girlfriend. Having briefly told his plan, the young man asked Belmondo's opinion. He was delighted with his role in this undertaking.

- Take the girl? Wonderful. I will unleash all the eloquence I have on her. And is she pretty?

“I've never seen her, but Odette is a real beauty.

“Yes,” said Jean-Paul. “So you have to go blind.

At that moment, Odette entered the bar, and Alain introduced his friend to her. They sat in the bar for several hours, chatting and laughing. The girl was transformed, competing in wit with Belmondo. Alain whispered compliments in her ear, and the expression of pleasure did not leave her face all evening.

“Tomorrow I will start active operations to conquer Lola,” Jean-Paul said in parting. I'll report back to you in a week.

The couple in love protested, rightly believing that they deserved daily messages.

“When a master works, the rest must be patient,” Jean-Paul stopped them.

Odette could not stay with Alain for the night, as she did not find a plausible excuse to explain to her family.

“You live alone,” the girl said, “and I have to make excuses for every late return home.

“Come with me,” the young man suggested. - For you, I'll make room.

- What you! the girl exclaimed. Mom will kick me out of the house. I promise I'll stay with you for the weekend.

Glancing at her watch, the girl refused to go up to her lover, and he walked her home. Then he walked back to his house. While still on the stairs, Alain heard a phone call and hurried to unlock the door. He did not have time to answer the call, although he quickly grabbed the receiver. He cast a regretful glance at the telephone and took off his jacket. However, as soon as he approached the hanger, the bell rang again.

“Good evening, Jean-Claude,” Alain greeted his friend.

Why didn't you answer the phone for so long? I woke you up?

— No, I just got back from the bar a second ago. We met with Belmondo.

“We must not forget old friends for the sake of new ones,” Briali said in a moralizing tone. “Jean Cocteau asked about you, not to mention poor Bridget, who curses your ingratitude, but doesn't mind seeing you.

— Marc Allegre approved me for the role.

- This is not the latest news. Georges Baume hinted to me today that you will soon be offered the lead role in a film.

- Do you know any details? Alain asked him eagerly.

- Not. I wanted to ask you.

George is hiding everything. In any case, shooting with Marc Allegre is important to me now.

- Correctly. I always say that the future makes the present. Goodnight. I would be glad if you visit me at the weekend.

Jean-Claude Alain did not fulfill the request. The beloved girl occupied all his time and thoughts. Odette did not replace Marie for him, he often remembered the smile and tender look of his former lover, but he was no longer too sad because of her departure.

Two weeks later, he started filming with Marc Allegre. The young man continued to worry about how relations between Belmondo's success and Lola, Odette's friend, were developing. As if reading his thoughts from a distance, Jean-Paul called Alain five days after they met at the bar.

Alan, a terrible thing has happened. I fell in love.

"Yes, it's unpleasant," said the young man. Our plan has collapsed.

- Vice versa. I fell in love with Lola and...

Jean-Paul, say no more. Such a story is unacceptable to tell over the phone. I'm waiting for you at the same bar where Odette and I were together.

Sitting down at the table, Jean-Paul shook his head ruefully.

“I made a terrible mistake by taking part in your undertaking. Lola is a witch, the best girl in the world. At first everything went according to our plan. I ambushed Lola near the house and got to know her. Then he invited me to the cinema, and the next day I got her a free ticket to the theater, to the play where I play. Imagine, she gave me a rose! Even the actors who played the main roles were not given flowers that evening, and this girl came on stage and handed me a red rose. We meet every day and I fall in love with her more and more.

Yes, things have taken an unexpected turn. Have you seen Dani?

- Never. She didn't even mention him.

- No matter. Still, you succeeded. Congratulations!

Alain had to deal with Denis, as the rejected young man tried to make peace with Odette. Their conversation with the actor almost ended in a fight, but Alain was sure of his victory and did not back down.

“Odette still loves only me,” Dany said goodbye and left.

Did he tell the truth? his rival asked Odette.

“Of course not,” she replied with a smile. - I adore you.

Alain kissed her and offered to go to the cinema with Jean-Paul and Lola.

"I don't want to see that traitor," Odette said. “I don't care about Dany, but I'll never forgive her.

The romance between Belmondo and Lola developed rapidly. The girl was waiting for him after filming, and Jean-Paul was in a hurry to meet. Any suggestion Alain made about a joint dinner at Briali's or at a bar caused him surprise. How could he miss a meeting with his beloved girl! Delon met at the film studio with a pretty assistant director and would have completely forgotten Odette if he hadn’t run into her friend every evening.

Having received a fee for his role in the film by Marc Allegre, he bought himself a Renault car. The actor understood that he had to save money, but could not resist the desire to fulfill his old dream. In addition, he hoped to get the main role promised by Georges Baume. But his agent was ahead of Jean-Claude Briali. He called Alain and said in an exaggeratedly indignant tone:

- You passed me. Today, director Gaspar-Ouy has offered me a big but minor role in a period film. You will play the main character!

Allen thought he misheard. Such wonderful news he did not expect to hear at the moment. In the morning his car broke down, and he had no doubt that the day had not gone well. He believed in omens, but after Jean-Claude's words, he was confused.

“Do you know that for sure?” he asked hesitantly.

Georges hasn't called yet? So I was the first to bring you good news.

“If this is true, I will arrange a celebration, and I will invite you to be an honored guest.

- Do not forget about it.

As soon as Alain hung up the phone, the bell rang again. This time he was congratulated by Georges Baum.

— I don't want to get ahead of myself, but it is possible that Romy Schneider will become your partner. The producer approved you for the role, but he thinks that a newcomer like you could use a famous partner.

From this remark, Alain's joy faded. He was incredibly ambitious and exulted when he got the lead role in the film. Why did Georges immediately mention the young German star?

The meeting of the future "lovers of the century" was so crumpled and inconspicuous that no one, and least of all Alain and Romy, could imagine the development of a future passionate romance. The young actor felt overwhelmed after several nightly feasts with friends who vying with each other told him:

- How lucky you are! Just a miracle, you will shoot with a real star.

Such statements angered Alain incredibly: he played roles in two films, the audience liked him and had interesting offers from directors. He, too, felt like a star, only a rising one.

Films about Princess Sisi, which glorified Romy, seemed to him unremarkable, but rather pompous. The very same actress, he called the "German goose" because of her smooth, slow movements. Meeting the future partner in the film at the airport with flowers seemed humiliating to him, but such was the requirement of the film producer.

Romi set foot on French soil no less annoyed. Throughout the flight, her mother, Magda Schneider, gave her endless advice on how to behave with the film crew:

- Show me who you are! Romy Schneider is the only actress for whom the audience will go to see Christina. I will constantly monitor the progress of filming and check your contract again.

Romi was silent and thought melancholy, “In a couple of years I will become quite an adult and I will be able to go everywhere alone.”

Before descending from the plane, Frau Schneider rebuked her daughter for the last time:

- They meet you. Stay decent.

Romi looked with indifference at the young man standing at the ladder with a bouquet of roses, and began to slowly descend. Her mother and stepfather followed her.

- God, she came with a retinue! Well, exactly, “princess,” Delon whistled. I hope nothing happened to you on the way? he said aloud, holding out the flowers to Romy and smiling mockingly.

The actress accepted the flowers and gave him such an indignant look that Alain thought how wrong he was in assessing her temperament. He once again carefully examined the future partner in the film and found that she was rather pretty, although boring.

Romy's opinion about the young man was short and categorical: "Pretty impudent." True, he managed to cheer her up a little when, after introducing Magda Schneider to him, he kissed her hand comically obsequiously. Her mother could not find how to answer this trick.

Noticing Romy's half-smile, Alain deliberately pushed aside the relatives accompanying the girl and led her to the car, carrying all sorts of nonsense along the way:

“I would love to shoot with you. Glad to be your guide to Paris at night.

Having heard the last phrase, Frau Schneider decisively took the initiative into her own hands:

“Young man, my daughter is tired. We want to be at the hotel as soon as possible.

Romi felt a new surge of irritation, but resignedly followed her mother into the studio car. Alain headed for his car, thinking about the actress and shaking his head.

- She's hopeless.

His mood deteriorated even more when he found a ticket for illegal parking on the windshield.

What a damn day? Everything is against me. I'll go home and sleep.

In the evening, attending the gathering of the film crew, Alain noted with pleasure that, despite the fame, Romy did not behave arrogantly. The role of the star was played by her mother, talking down to the actors and meticulously examining the prepared costumes.

- How did you like your "beloved"? asked Romy Gaspard-Ui, the director.

Hearing the question, Alain found himself looking forward to the answer.

“I think we can do our part,” she said softly.

After this phrase, Alain was ready to reconsider his attitude towards the actress. There was still no hint of sympathy, but at least Romi stopped being called a “goose”. Seizing the moment when she was left alone, Alain went up to her:

— How did you like Paris?

I haven't left the hotel all day.

"In that case, how's the hotel?"

Romi chuckled.

- Let me invite you to dinner tomorrow, mind you, I don’t even dare to say the word “dinner”. Does your mother let you out of her sight even for a minute?

“Yes, of course,” the actress frowned. “I think we can have lunch together.”

- You are a magician! No, almost Joan of Arc. Do your feat, I'll be waiting for you tomorrow at the hotel at three o'clock.

Leaving, Alain ceremoniously kissed her hand and bowed to the approaching Frau Schneider.

- What were you talking about? she asked her daughter suspiciously.

Mom, can I just be alone for a second? Romi was outraged.

“You weren't alone. Clearly, this slacker was flirting with you. Don't be silly, he's still a nobody and it's still unknown who he'll become.

“Of course, only princes are my equal.

"You're rude to your mother!" Pack up, it's time to head back to the hotel.

Sighing, Romi, as usual, went after her. She did not like Magda's behavior, she noticed that the actors made fun of her mother, but the authority of that was indisputable for a well-bred daughter. In the evening, in her room, secretly from her mother, she tried on two dresses: green and pale blue. No, of course, she did not want to look elegant at all for Alain, but was simply preparing for dinner in a Parisian restaurant.

At three o'clock, having miraculously asked her mother for leave under the pretext of inspecting the nearest shops, she went downstairs. Seeing a gentleman waiting for her at the bar, Romi thought that she overdid it with the outfit. In contrast to her silk dress, Alain wore a simple dark shirt and jeans. He waved his hand to the embarrassed girl and said:

"I hope you're not going to run away?"

No, we agreed to have lunch together.

“I’ll feed you with pleasure,” Alain said, mentally adding “from a spoon.”

Taking Romy by the arm, he led her to the car, thinking about the pointlessness of this event with Romy. "I'm just wasting time with this 'schoolgirl' instead of having fun with a standing girl."

The actor was often recognized on the street, and there was no end to the women who wanted to get to know him.

- Tell us how you managed to escape from your matron? he asked Romy as he pulled out of the parking lot and wedged into the traffic.

Don't call my mother that. She is resting in her room and let me go to explore the surroundings.

In that case, I'll show you my favorite place.

- Excellent.

Judging by the time spent on the trip, Romy began to fear that she would not meet her dinner in the hour and even an hour and a half, as she had planned, since, in her opinion, a slight delay was acceptable.

What restaurant are we going to? she dared to check with her companion.

“You can only call this a restaurant with your eyes closed,” he replied with a laugh. — This is a cozy cafe in the Latin Quarter.

Hearing about the Latin Quarter, Romi panicked. Her mother and all her acquaintances, speaking of Paris, called this area terrible, almost robbery. The girl opened her mouth to offer another option, but Alain was already parking the car at the sidewalk. Noticing that Romi was looking around apprehensively, he patronizingly took her hand. She pulled away from him.

- Beauty, then I will not be able to protect you from the harassment of local slobs. You must have heard the fame of the Latin Quarter.

Romi immediately grabbed his hand, and he barely suppressed a smile. The girl was incredibly different from all his girlfriends. They felt at home anywhere, like fish in water, and this little girl clung to him in fear and clearly expected to see a fight or a shootout in the middle of the street. With her expensive dress and haunted eyes, she attracted the attention of passing couples.

“Hello, Alain,” a tall, black-haired man greeted the young man at the entrance to a small cafe. What a wonderful girl you have. Come, let's sit together.

Jean, we were just about to have lunch.

“If you introduce me to your beauty, I will treat you,” he said, embracing Alain and Romi and walking with them inside the room.

“My friend liked you very much,” the actor whispered to the girl and, seeing that she was all shrinking, lightly stroked her hand.

And Romi stopped being afraid. She gave herself entirely to chance, deciding that she was lost anyway: something terrible would happen, newsmen would immediately run in, and her reputation would perish. She tried not to think about her mother's reaction.

Why are you always silent? asked Jean Romy, pulling out a chair for her. “Perhaps you wanted to dine alone, and I interfered?” he turned to Allen.

- No, buddy, stay. The girl's name is Romi. Romy, this is Jean, a connoisseur of delicious food.

Well, you introduced me! First of all, I am a connoisseur of female beauty.

— Okay, don't talk teeth to us, Jean. How about lunch?

- It's very nice to meet you, - as in a dream, Romy held out her hand to Jean. Surprised by her manners, he awkwardly shook hands and looked inquiringly at Alain. He chuckled.

This mademoiselle is an aristocrat.

Jean was terribly amused by this statement, he decided that he was being played.

“Kid, forget about your movie for a minute,” he suggested. Let's drink some wine and order a delicious roast duck. Do you agree? he asked Romy. She nodded. The cafe setting was a dimly lit pavilion with a low ceiling and whitewashed walls with jars hung haphazardly on them. Oddly enough, this simple interior, strikingly different from the usual luxurious halls, reassured Romi. Good-natured Jean dispelled her notions that only hooligans inhabit the quarter. For the first time since meeting Alain at the hotel, she began to relax.

- I propose to drink for a charming girl! Jean toasted. Alan, you are completely undeservedly lucky.

“To you, Romy,” the actor joined in, switching to “you” and smiling at her. They drank the wine, and the hungry Romi looked at the golden-brown duck with such pleasure that Jean remarked:

“Friend, you were right when you called me a food connoisseur. Your girlfriend is also partial to her. Nice to meet a soul mate!

They sat at the table for a long time, laughing and chatting. Romi finally came to her senses, took part in the conversation and forgot about the time. Finally, Alain got up and said:

“Thank you for dinner, Jean, but we have to go. You know, shooting starts tomorrow.

- I wish you success! Romy, it's always good to see you. You will find me here at any time,” he answered, and shook the girl’s hand well in parting.

On the way back, Alain had to listen to the impressions of Romy, excited like a child who was allowed to eat a huge chocolate bar.

Jean is so nice. What does he do? she asked her companion.

He is the owner of the cafe where we had lunch.

- Wow! He ... - suddenly she fell silent, not finishing the phrase.

Alain turned his head sharply to see what had happened. Romi looked out the car window with a lost look.

"It's already seven o'clock," she whispered.

Catastrophe! Her mother must have called the police.

Do you want me to walk you to your room? Allen suggested.

The girl wanted to accept his support, but she rightly decided that then the scandal would be even stronger.

- No thanks. I'll explain to my mom why I'm late.

“See you tomorrow, Romy,” Alain dropped her off at the hotel and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

She entered the lobby and walked slowly towards the elevator, making up a plausible excuse for being late as she went. Magda Schneider loved her daughter very much, tried to protect her from all problems and worries. Showing selfishness, she wanted to control all the actions of Romi and in the end sincerely believed that she was not capable of doing anything herself. When her daughter did not return on time from a walk around Paris, Frau Schneider threw a tantrum to her husband, who was part-time manager of Romy:

Why didn't you go with her? The girl is alone in a strange city. Who can I rely on if not you?

“But, dear,” he tried to protest. “We wanted to be together.

Shut up, Hans! Magda screamed and began to cry.

After an hour of fruitless waiting, they called the studio and got Gaspard-Ui to his feet. He advised not to contact the police yet, but it was felt that he was also terribly worried. Hans Blatzheim went down to the hotel lobby and questioned the porter, but he did not remember the girl leaving. At five minutes past seven, Frau Schneider picked up the phone and called the police. It was at that moment that there was a knock on the door. Hans rushed to the door and flung it open. Pale-faced Romi stood in the doorway.

- Daughter, what happened? exclaimed Magda, seizing her by the arm. She examined her daughter, looking for signs of bruises or scratches. Finding nothing, she furrowed her brows angrily.

“Mom, I just got lost looking through shop windows. Then I got hungry and had a snack in a cafe. This delayed me.

- Ignorant girl! Do you know that I called the director and the police? Now the whole film crew, what's there, the whole of Paris will know that you spent half a day wandering around somewhere. I could take a taxi if I got lost. Did you have any money with you? raged the actress's mother, getting rid of the tension of the last hours. The stepfather looked angrily at Romi, because he had to calm Magda and endure her reproaches throughout the absence of the girl.

"I'm sorry, mommy," Romi muttered, frightened by the scene. - This will not happen again.

“Of course it won't happen again. You won't go anywhere alone again, but only with me or Hans. Yet where have you been? I don't believe I went shopping.

Romi was silent.

"Go to your room, and I'll try to stop the rumors from spreading."

The girl went into the room and thought that her mother was primarily to blame for the scandal that had arisen. If not for her calls, no one would have known about the temporary disappearance of her daughter.

"I'm twenty-one years old," she said out loud sadly. - I can decide for myself how long to walk.

Frustrated, she lay down on the bed and picked up a book. Neither mother nor stepfather entered her room until morning.

Chapter 6

Filming began the next morning. On the first day, only a few takes were filmed due to unresolved organizational issues. The director, cameramen and attendants argued and moved cameras and spotlights. The white dress of the heroine for the scene of the meeting with the beautiful military man turned out to be unprepared, although at the very beginning it was the acquaintance of the future lovers that should have been filmed. Alain was a little nervous when he appeared on the court. Seeing Frau Schneider and Romy heading towards him, he thought that the actress's mother was going to scold him for yesterday's dinner with her daughter, but he was mistaken - she only nodded coldly to him. Romi muttered "Good morning" and also walked past.

“The little one didn’t betray me,” the actor thought and smiled slyly.

Gaspard-Oui noticed this smile and guessed that Alain was involved in the disappearance of Romy, but decided not to find out the details of the incident. Having seized the moment when the director asked the operator to move and film the scene from a different position, Alain leaned over to Romy and asked:

Did you have any problems with your mother yesterday?

“Mom called the police,” she whispered.

In surprise, the actor recoiled from her, and then slammed his hand on the table and burst out laughing.

“Hush, hush,” Romi snapped him in fright, but Alena could not be appeased.

“We need to send someone to fetch the newspapers!” And I look - Gaspar is some kind of strange. Your mother is a godsend. She decided to run the film's publicity campaign herself?

After this monologue, the amused actor hopelessly lost the romantic mood necessary for the role of Christina's lover.

“There is nothing in the newspapers, everything is settled,” Romi replied, looking at her mother with a frightened look.

Magda, who was watching them, did not attach any importance to Alain's fun, but only once again thought that in France there was a mess on the set. Whether business in Germany!

Christina, Franz! - the director shouted, - get together, we repeat the take!

The team didn't help. Young people were immersed in their thoughts: Romy - about yesterday's unusual dinner, and Alain - about the green eyes of the actress and her tender look. The complete opposite of upbringing and different outlooks on life no longer repelled them from each other, but interested both of them.

Can we meet after filming? Alain argued with his partner at the end of the day.

She rolled her eyes in such silent horror that he laughed again.

- What's the fun? Gasper-Wee raged. We didn't do anything today. Okay, everyone is free, except for the dressers. Get this damn dress in order, - he pointed at the wrinkled collar on Romy's vest.

“Bye, Christina, sweet dreams to you,” Alain sang in Romy’s ear and went to two familiar actors, intending to spend the evening in a bar, in their company. The mother approached the actress and offered to return to the hotel and go to bed as soon as possible. They got into the car, and Romi imagined all the way how fun it would be for her to have dinner with Alain.

The days of filming flowed, and Romy, against her will, became infected with the mood of the French actors around her. They constantly joked, made colorful compliments to her and their free behavior was strikingly different from the serious silent Germans. Only Alain did not show any interest in her, strictly limited to a polite greeting in the morning, courtesy during filming and a dry “until tomorrow” in the evening. The young man came up with such a tactic to force Romy to take the initiative in developing their acquaintance. Alain was afraid to admit this to himself, that he became very attached to Romy. He liked her softness and politeness, and finally he found her refined and beautiful. Every morning, greeting her, he could hardly restrain himself not to invite her to spend the evening together after filming, but he was afraid of another refusal.

Ten days after the memorable joint dinner, Alain's ostentatious indifference brought results.

“I can imagine how wonderful a picnic would be here,” Romi suggested as they walked through the meadow, rehearsing the scene. The slow development of the romantic plot of the film was conducive to a leisurely conversation. — Do you often go out of town?

“No, no,” said the actor. “But it's a good idea. Can you organize a lunch for us in nature?

- I do not know.

- Tomorrow is a day off. I understand your lofty dreams: “Maxim”, “Ritz”, but I rely on the clean air of the suburbs.

Romi smiled.

“Besides, princess, I would like to see if you can at least assemble a basket of food,” continued Alain.

It was a challenge!

"I'll meet you tomorrow at noon outside the hotel, if you dare to try a snack from my basket," she said.

“Don’t hesitate, I’ll make up my mind once, just for the sake of interest,” the actor threw jokingly.

In response, Romi pushed him with her elbow, he fell into the grass and said tragically:

Gentle Christina turned out to be a fighter. My side wasn't hurt, but you broke my heart.

Young people seemed to have forgotten about everything around them. The director's shout brought them back to reality.

At ten o'clock the next morning, Romy defended her independence in front of her mother, hiding part of the truth:

— I want to go on a picnic in the country. Half of the actors are going to go, I also agreed. Alain will pick me up at twelve.

"You don't understand what you're saying," Frau Schneider replied. “These actors will arrange God knows what there, and you will find yourself in another story in France.

I'm lonely here, I don't go anywhere.

I know you're bored, but to look good in front of the camera, you need to get enough sleep. Today is the day off, let's go to the theater, all three of us, with Hans.

- Mom, I'm going to go out of town, I'm tired of living in complete isolation.

Magda got angry, but Romi didn't let her add another word. She grabbed her beautiful wicker bag, since there was no basket, and ran out of the room. The girl received extraordinary pleasure, choosing pates, bread and fruits for a picnic in the shops. At the same time, she imagined how she and Alain would put a snack on the tablecloth and sit next to each other for dinner. Remembering their first meal together, Romy wore a simple light dress and a straw hat so as not to stand out with her outfit from other vacationers. Exactly at twelve, Romy noticed Alain, who was standing not far from the entrance to the hotel, and rushed to him. The actor carefully examined it, then a bag of food and said:

“In your company, princess, I also began to feel like a prince. You are so beautiful, and even instead of a basket you have a chic Italian straw bag in your hands.

Romi was embarrassed and looked at Alain, suspecting that he was mocking her. But from his playful look and smile, she realized that he had paid her a sincere compliment, albeit in a joking manner. He drove the car and at the same time slowly studied Romy, who sat with her bag pressed to her chest and nervously tugged at the ribbons attached to it.

“She is twenty-one years old. She can't be a perfect child, Alain thought to himself. He remembered her flirtatious smiles and gestures as they filmed the next take, and was surprised that off the set she was much less confident.

The girl's thoughts were in exactly the opposite direction. She tried to understand why Alain, so liberated in life, loses all his temperament and liveliness in front of the camera. It seemed to her that on the set he even moves more slowly.

“Uh, where are we going?” she broke the silence.

“At the moment I am driving along the Chaussée d'Antin,” the actor spoke in the voice of an experienced guide. — The final point of our trip is Saint-Cloud. Maybe not very original, but we will get there quickly.

Ugh, you're not a romantic. I could at least say that this is a lovely place, only it is worthy of me.

“It doesn’t deserve you,” Alain said seriously. — I don't know of any restaurant located outside the city suitable for you. Of course, there remains the Ritz in Paris, but there we will run into your mother.

Romi froze at this confession. He flattered her so much, but she had no doubt that he was telling the truth. She glanced at the young man who was leaning over the steering wheel, but he was clearly in no mood to continue the conversation. For the first time during their acquaintance, Romi was surprised to think that she was almost in love with Alain. In a moment, with German pragmatism, she sorted out her feelings and rejected such a possibility.

“His compliment was very touching, in the film we play lovers, and, in general, Alain is very funny. I just enjoy being with him, she thought to herself.

Still, the girl looked at him suspiciously. Alain noticed her look, understood what she was thinking and smiled weakly. He was only a couple of years older, yet he read her mind easily.

“Romy, I have long wanted to ask you one question, because it will soon become very important,” he said ingratiatingly.

About filming? she asked quickly.

- No no. Regarding our trip.” He was pleased to see that her cheeks were blushing, and she did not dare to raise her eyes to him. He was silent for a while, enjoying the game and asked:

Did you buy red wine?

The bag almost fell out of Romi's hands.

- What? She looked at him like a sleepwalker who had just been awakened.

Alain burst out laughing and leaned back in his seat, continuing to watch the road carefully.

“I love red wine,” he explained. "I thought I'd see if you've saved a bottle of Burgundy for dinner."

The girl's reaction amused him even more. She finally placed her bag carefully on the back seat and reached out her hands, threatening to grab his hair.

“Calm down, or we won't get to Saint-Cloud.

- You're a bully! You tease me all the time,” Romi was upset that he managed to embarrass her so easily. Okay, now it's my turn to make a joke.

“Vengeance does not lead to good,” Alain announced in a moralizing tone and received a slight flick on the elbow.

He liked that Romi relaxed a little and did not sit, clinging to the basket, as if preparing to jump out of the car at any moment. They soon arrived at Saint-Cloud. Alain left the car in the parking lot, grabbed a bag of food in one hand, the other hugged Romy and went with her to the river. Romi's mood lifted. The sun shone brightly, golden reflections reflected in the water. Because of the rainy summer, the grass had not burned out and was the same bright green color as in the spring.

- It's wonderful here. Thanks for inviting me! Romy exclaimed.

They went away from the path and settled under a huge tree. Both did not want to eat, and the girl hid the basket in the bushes. Then they spread a blanket on the grass and sat down on it. For the first time Alain felt a little confused. If any of his girlfriends or aspiring actresses were with him, he would not doubt for a minute what was expected of him. But with Romy, the option of love in the open air seemed to him, to put it mildly, inappropriate.

— You know, honey, after a couple of weeks of filming, the reality and the plot of the film completely mixed up in my head. I want to pronounce the words of Franz and address them to you, that is, Christine.

Romi, who was fanning her hat because of the unbearable stuffiness, laughed.

— Franz, can I swim here? The day is very hot,” she asked, instantly turning into a carefree Christina.

- Of course.

“I’m going to change behind those bushes, don’t you dare peek.”

What are you, princess!

Romy decided that now was the right moment to carry out her threat and avenge Delon's banter. She quickly took off her dress, wrapped her clothes around the bush, and hung her hat on top.

It seemed that she hesitated. Quietly entering the water, she hid in the shade of a tree and waited. After a couple of minutes, he could not stand it and began to call her. Thinking that she was embarrassed to go out to him in a bathing suit, the actor addressed Franz's gentle monologue from the film to her. Romi laughed out loud and slapped her palm on the water.

"We're quits," she shouted triumphantly.

Alain immediately jumped into the water and unleashed a cascade of spray on it. Bathing had a beneficial effect on their appetite and young people, without fiddling with the tablecloth, shook snacks out of the bag and began to eat.

Half an hour later, exhausted by a hearty meal, they settled down to rest by a thick tree trunk.

"I appreciate the fine wine," Alain said, bringing Romy's thoughts back to the conversation in the car when she thought he was asking about something more intimate. He slowly bowed his head and kissed her lightly on the lips. The girl didn't move away, but she didn't answer him either. Then, touching her cheek with his hand, he raised his friend's head and pressed his lips to hers with a long and imperious kiss. During these moments, Romy's impression of her companion completely changed and childishly cute plans to spend the day sitting with Alain on the grass, having dinner and chatting, were broken. She realized how much she was attracted to him, and how comfortable she was in his arms.

“You are a miracle, my queen,” he whispered, drawing the girl to him. He rested her head in his lap, then gently ran his fingertips down her neck and brushed the wet locks from her face.

"I'm going to change," she announced after a few minutes. Alain did not stop her, although he wanted to join her and touch her cool body.

Don't scare her, he thought. The actor had no doubt that Romi would agree to meet him again.

Dressing hastily, she appeared in the clearing, relieved that he had not followed her.

“Time to go back,” said Alain, and handed her a small bouquet of wild flowers, collected during her absence. She took the flowers and looked up at him with shining eyes.

"Thank you," she muttered.

All the way from Saint-Cloud to Paris, she clutched the bouquet to her, as before - the bag. They said goodbye at the entrance to the hotel, and Romi rushed to the elevator.

"Mademoiselle," the young receptionist called out to her. - Take the key, please.

The girl realized that her mother and stepfather had gone somewhere, perhaps to the theater, as expected. She went up to her room, tossed her bag into a chair, and busied herself with the bouquet. Putting the flowers in the water, she combed her hair and looked at the telephone in the hope that Alain would call her. She wanted to hear his voice.

At this time, Alain was climbing the stairs to his small apartment. Friends suggested that he rent a larger apartment for two, but lately he preferred loneliness. In addition, in a small apartment there was an additional advantage - no one offered to meet with him. Despite the fact that he loved the company, he did not want to hold parties in his apartment. He had fun with others, and at any moment he could disappear with a girl he liked.

After some thought, Alain decided that today was the perfect evening for such an event. Picking up the phone, he dialed Briali's number. He, fortunately, was at home.

Jean-Claude, hi. Are you planning to go out somewhere tonight? Alain asked.

- Where did you hang out? I've been calling you all day. Next to me are two beautiful girls, swarthy, black-haired. Let's take them to the Café de Paris.

— Jean, I dream of a blonde with green eyes.

- Wow! Then call little Romi.

The actor paused, wondering if he should boast about a picnic in the countryside in the company of a girl.

"No, mate," he finally answered. “You know about Madame Schneider. If I dared to take such a step, she would kill me tomorrow on the set.

Briali laughed and said:

“Then don’t be naughty and be at my place in half an hour.” The girls are really amazing.

- Already coming.

Alain hung up and thought of Romy. He felt tenderness towards the girl when Jean-Claude said her name. He stood by the phone, but was afraid to call Romy because of her mother and stepfather, who were next to her. Quickly changing his shirt and grabbing his jacket, he left the apartment to go to Jean-Claude's.

When Alain drove up to his house, he was already standing in the street with two tall, defiantly dressed girls, who turned out to be mulattos.

“Mr. Briali,” Alain said to his friend, taking him aside, “you are kidding me!” You can't turn them into blondes in a hundred years!

“Know how to enjoy the contrast, my friend,” Jean-Claude answered with a laugh. - Let's go to. Giselle and Isabelle were waiting.

They got into a taxi and went to a cafe. In the evening it was always crowded, but there was a table for them. Crossing the hall arm in arm with Giselle, Alain caught on himself someone's attentive and unkind look. He turned around and recognized ... Frau Schneider and her husband, sitting at a side table. He looked for Romi, but she was not there.

“Good evening, madam, Herr Blatzheim,” he muttered.

Magda Schneider nodded arrogantly and turned away, gazing murderously at the actor's companion. They moved on to their table, where Isabelle and Jean-Claude were already seated. The latter looked out for the lagging couple.

— Where did you disappear to? - he asked.

“Oh, you have no idea who we are facing,” said Alain, making a terrible face.

- Let me guess. With Gaspard-Ui and a young extra.

- No, it's worse. With the Schneider-Blatzheim couple.

- Are you kidding! Is Romi here?

- It seems not.

Who is Romi? Giselle voiced, feigning jealousy.

This is Alena's fiancee.

— Jean-Claude!

- I'm sorry, I forgot. She is his only love in the movie.

Alain faked a smile, but his mood for fun was gone. He tried to maintain a general conversation, but was constantly distracted by his own thoughts. Not doubting that Madame Schneider would describe to his daughter in colors his appearance at the Café de Paris, he became angry with Jean-Claude: he always needs to show off in front of the girls, as he had not yet thought of inviting them to the Ritz.

“Darling, wake up,” Giselle brought him back to reality.

“Yes, buddy, take care of your companion. She is thirsty.” Briali smiled.

The girl coquettishly handed him a glass, at the same time touching his leg under the table. He moved away and felt annoyed at the licentious neighbor. All evening he was stiff, hardly answering Jean-Claude's jokes. Leaving the restaurant, the young people hailed a taxi, and Alain quickly took the front seat. Near Briali's house, everyone got out of the car. The young man ceremoniously kissed the hands of the girls, wished them and Jean-Claude good night, and left. His friend was speechless and did not try to stop him.

- Is he in trouble? Giselle asked Briali with annoyance in her voice.

- I do not understand what's the matter. Okay, - he switched to his companions, - let's go to my place, let's finish what we started.

Magda Schneider refused dessert. She was impatient to return to the hotel as soon as possible and tell Romy about the meeting with Delon. Her intuition told her that her daughter was interested in her partner in the film, and Frau Schneider was afraid of losing control over her.

- Daughter, how did you go out of town? she asked first when she entered the room.

“It was a lot of fun,” Romi replied.

Mother noticed a bunch of wildflowers in a crystal vase and said:

- After the performance, Hans and I went to have dinner at the Café de Paris. Guess who we met there?

Romi felt an unpleasant chill and anxiously awaited the continuation of her mother's story.

— We ran into Delon. He was dragging a half-dressed black woman across the hall. Imagine, in such a decent place!

Romy wanted to cry, but she restrained herself. How dare he! And she, like a fool, did not leave the phone all evening.

- Mom, you were absolutely right in inviting me to the theater. Next weekend I will definitely join you and Hans,” she said and went to her room.

Blazheim looked after her and turned his inquiring gaze to Magda. He noticed that the girl was upset, but did not understand the reason for her sadness. The wife did not intend to explain anything to him and went into the bedroom, leaving him in the living room completely alone and in the dark.

Romi went to bed and thought once more of her picnic with Alain in Saint-Cloud. After her mother's words, she wanted to quit filming and return to Germany, but most of all she was worried about tomorrow. How will he look her in the eyes?

Alain looked neither embarrassed nor guilty as he approached her to greet her. From her appearance, he realized that Frau Schneider had described their yesterday's meeting to glory and painted his companion, but he restrained his anger and politely greeted Romy's mother. During a break, he approached the girl and said:

“I met your mother and stepfather in a cafe yesterday.

Romi looked at him as if he were a mortal enemy and whispered:

“Don't you dare talk to me. Only in front of the camera can you turn to me and say your lines.

— Romy, it was a regular party. Jean-Claude invited me to join his company. We had dinner and I went home alone.

"Don't think of me as a complete fool. I…

The situation was saved by Briali, who went up to Alain and shouted to almost the entire site:

“You hero-lover!” The girls didn't understand your disappearance yesterday.

It seemed to Alain that everyone present stopped talking and listened carefully to the words of Jean-Claude. The young man blushed.

“Stop making noise,” he asked his friend.

“No, explain your behavior,” he continued. In the film, he played a cheerful young military man and this morning he fully entered the role. “Imagine,” he turned to Romi, “this guy ran away yesterday and left me with two beauties.

It seemed to the girl that a stone had fallen from her soul. She smiled so wonderfully that Alain forgave his friend for stupid cries.

“You see, I was telling the truth,” he remarked, and went off to talk to Jean-Claude.

She rushed after him.

“Alain, let me invite you to dinner,” she said, not embarrassed by Briali's presence.

“I don't feel like meeting your mother in the café anymore,” he said. Jean-Claude raised an eyebrow and stared at them in amazement, not finding the strength to move away.

“We’ll be together, I’ll tell my mother right now that I’ll be late in the evening,” Romy whispered in Alain’s ear, noticing the increased interest of his friend.

“In that case, I’ll gladly keep you company.”

The actress went to her mother, and Jean-Claude said, puzzled:

“Providence descended on me yesterday.

After telling her daughter about the planned dinner with Alain, Frau Schneider realized how her fears were not false. The boy was very dangerous! At the moment he was gossiping with his friend and looked at her mockingly. Magda pondered what measures to take against her daughter's passion and mentally declared war on Delon.

Filming that day was especially tiring because of the heat. Everyone was tired, but Alain and Romy were young and liked each other. They didn't move to dinner.

- What shall we order? Romy asked as they sat down at a table in a cafe on the Rue Saint-Honoré. She found this place in a guide to Paris for foreigners. For Alain, the decor was too pretentious and the waiters pompous. Nevertheless, he listened with a smile as the garçon praised the meat in the pot and the quail on the spit. After working as a waiter for almost a year, he perfectly learned all these tricks.

“Romi, order what you like,” he advised his companion. - After all, it was you who invited me, so the choice is to your taste.

He was so sweet and helpful that he completely charmed the girl. Delon took only the first steps in the cinema, so he did not look particularly convincing on the screen, but in relations with women he had enough experience to manage the development of their relationship with Romy outside the set.

“You are very beautiful,” Alain told her quietly and squeezed her hand. “Just think, I almost refused to meet you at the airport. Now I miss you all the time.

“I didn’t particularly like you either at first,” she said with a sneer, but noticing that Alain took her words painfully, she immediately corrected herself. “I was impressed by your appearance, but I will never forget your ironic greeting.

— I confess, I was not quite right.

— Oh, what do I hear!

At that moment, the dishes ordered by Romy were brought, but the actor continued to hold her hand, looking intently into her eyes.

I even lost my appetite.

In response, Romi, withdrawing her hand, remarked judiciously:

“Everything will get cold, and you will not enjoy my efforts to choose delicacies for us.

- It would be at least impolite - Alain pounced on the treat.

"Let's drive around Paris," he suggested at the end of dinner. — Do you remember, I promised to show you the night city?

“With pleasure,” Romi replied, secretly glancing at her watch. It was already nine in the evening, but she hoped that in an hour Alain would give her a lift to the hotel.

They began their inspection from the Rue Saint-Honoré, then turned onto the Rue de Colosseum and drove out onto the Champs-Elysées. To the disappointment of the girl, her companion turned out to be a useless guide: he raced at high speed and casually pointed with his hand at the sights flashing through the window. Finally they were on a dark street, and Alain stopped the car near a low house.

- I live here. Will you come in for a minute? - he asked.

Romi seemed to be rooted to the seat and was afraid to move. Noticing this, he gently took her hands and gently kissed her on the cheek.

“Today is your day, princess. We will only do what you want.

The girl perked up and got out of the car. Alain saw that she was still hesitating, not daring to enter the entrance. He quickly scooped her up in his arms and walked with her up the steps to the front door. Romi wanted to scream out of surprise, but he beat her to it.

“Poor neighbors,” he remarked. “Their morals will be irreparably damaged.

She chuckled. At the same moment, Alain pulled her to her feet and directed her to the side stairs.

“Third floor,” he prompted.

They climbed up three flights and found themselves in front of a wooden door. The owner in complete darkness deftly groped and unlocked the lock, and then invited Romi inside.

“I need to go to the hotel, it’s already late,” she tried to explain, but Alain hugged her and began to kiss her passionately.

From the surging feelings, she almost fell and leaned against the wall. Then he picked her up again and carried her into the bedroom. There he sat her down on the bed and knelt down to help her take off her shoes, stroking her slender legs as he did so.

- Alain, I ... - Romy spoke again. He froze and quickly asked:

"You mean you've never had a lover?"

- No, I'm not talking about that.

“Do you mean that Frau Schneider didn’t follow you well?” the actor asked menacingly, portraying the deceived husband in an unusually believable way.

“But I…” the girl muttered. Alain burst out laughing and grabbed her, not allowing her to speak or think anymore.

Romi was good with him. He behaved passionately, then affectionately teased her. His temperament and enthusiasm conquered the girl.

“Baby,” Alain called as they lay on the bed, huddled tightly against each other. - Do you think there was something similar between our heroes?

"No, I'm sure it wasn't," she laughed and patted his arm. Franz and Christina are too respectable.

In short, boring.

- No, romantic - she tried to argue, but Alain silenced her, kissing her hard.

- Because?

“Boring,” Romi said readily. She did not want to leave his apartment, but when he invited her to stay, she shook her head:

- I can not. I can not today.

“Your second answer gives the unfortunate young man a tiny bit of hope.

- Are you unhappy? she asked sadly.

- What you! Now I won't sleep all night. Poor Franz will get it tomorrow.

The lovers decided not to turn on the light and in the dark they searched for their clothes, constantly bumping into each other and kissing. Alain dropped the girl off at the hotel around midnight. They regretfully unclenched their arms and parted until morning. Magda Schneider was waiting for her daughter in the living room.

- Where have you been for so long? she asked sternly.

“Mom, there are neighbors around,” Romi answered. Don't cry, I'm tired and really want to sleep.

It's strange that you're back at all. We'll talk tomorrow, now go to your room.

“Good night,” the girl said, and hid behind the door, glad that her mother did not make a scandal because of her late return.

Frau Schneider could not sleep for a long time. She rightly suspected that her daughter had an affair with Delon. With each answer from Romy, she almost physically felt that she was losing her, and this was unacceptable.

During the filming, Romy's eyes shone, Alain smiled conspiratorially, and although they never retired to chat, everyone around them understood that something had happened between them. Gaspar-Ui remarked:

They are an amazingly beautiful couple. How could they not fall in love with each other?

The Le Figaro correspondent was the only member of the press on the set that day. He was perceptive enough to write a long article based on his observations, which was placed in the next issue of the newspaper. Messages about the beginning of the novel Alain and Romy were also reprinted by other newspapers, as readers liked this topic. They were pleased to learn that the young actors playing the roles of lovers in a romantic film found love in real life.

A day after the date in Alain's apartment, they agreed to go to the theater together. A couple of hours before the start of the performance, when the actor was cleaning up the apartment, Briali called him.

“Hi,” he said. - What are you doing?

Jean-Claude, if you want to invite me to the party, you're late. Today we agreed to meet with Romy.

- It's a pity. I have an amazing acting teacher visiting me right now. Thought I'd introduce you. By the way, there is a chance that the studio will pay for your classes.

- Are you serious? Allen perked up.

Romy was a wonderful girl, but he had to develop his acting skills to become famous. In the soul of the actor, love and ambition did not fight for a long time. — Buddy, I'll call my girlfriend and reschedule the meeting.

- Well done! Come, don't delay.

Having hung up the phone, he immediately left the things scattered throughout the apartment alone and tried to get through to Romi.

“No one picks up the phone,” the hotel receptionist told him.

- Are you sure?

- Yes. I just saw the key to their apartment on the shelf.

In that case, I'll leave her a note. Just please see to it that it is handed over personally to Mademoiselle Schneider.

The actor quickly dictated a message in which he said that he was very sorry, but he could not meet her tonight and asked for permission to beg her forgiveness tomorrow. After that, he once again asked the porter to hand over the note only to the girl herself and left for Briali. The hotel clerk placed a note next to her room key.

Romy was having lunch with her mother at a cafe in Monceau Park. Magda Schneider gently explained to her daughter why Alain could not be her worthy companion:

He is completely uneducated. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't even finish high school. Of course, he is handsome, charming, but he does not have a deep feeling for you.

“Mom, how do you know? Romi interrupted her irritably.

- I am present on the set and sometimes I follow him. He seems madly in love, but it's superficial. Rather, he is flattered by all this newspaper hype around your "novel of the century."

- I really love him.

- Badly. You will understand how he treats you and you will suffer.

Let's stop talking about this. Alain is trying to make a career, he will achieve fame.

- It will, I have no doubt. In the meantime, you help him look passable as Franz, pay his bills, and let him exploit your fame. Okay, let's talk about something else, I feel like you can't hear me.

Romy ate quickly and looked impatiently at her watch in anticipation of a meeting with Alain. She and her mother returned to the hotel, but on the street just before the entrance, the girl was distracted by a fan who politely asked for an autograph. She smiled and took the notepad and pen from his hands. Magda went to the counter to pick up the key, as her husband promised not to return late from a business meeting. The porter handed her the key, but didn't hand over the note.

- What is this paper? Frau Schneider asked. - Give it here.

“This is a message for Mademoiselle Schneider.

- What? I am her mother and I want to take the note,” Magda raised her voice.

The clerk did not continue the argument, as their altercation began to attract the attention of other hotel guests. Quickly skimming through Delon's message, the woman stuffed it into her purse and approached her daughter, who had just appeared in the hall.

- Mom, Alain will arrive soon. I'll change and go downstairs.

"Good," Frau Schneider replied coldly.

When Romi, in a black evening dress, came out of her room into the living room, her mother stopped her:

- You look amazing. Today's fan who approached you was far from the only man admiring you. Wait for your ignoramus here in love, otherwise half the hotel will come running to look at you.

The girl smiled at her mother's praise and decided that this was a reasonable offer. She sat down in the armchair next to the phone and began flipping through the magazine. Ten minutes passed from the appointed time of the meeting, and there was still no call from Alain. Romi got worried and went down to the hotel lobby, but did not find the young man there. The porter who had written down his message had changed, and no one could tell her about the note. She waited downstairs for fifteen minutes and returned to her room, frustrated.

- What happened? He did not come? her mother asked solicitously.

No, something must have happened.

“Maybe he took the girl to the Café de Paris again,” Magda couldn't help but make a sharp remark.

- Mom, stop it! He didn't call?

No, no one called. Even Hans disappeared somewhere.

Romi followed her mother, and when you left the room, she rushed to the phone. Five times she dialed Alain's number, but he did not answer. The girl was deeply hurt. After sitting another twenty minutes in the living room, she left and locked herself in her room.

Magda Schneider celebrated her victory. She knew that her daughter was taking grievances hard and would not soon agree to reconcile with Delon. "Maybe she'll never forgive him at all," she thought with satisfaction. She tore up the actor's note and threw it away while her daughter was waiting for him in the hotel lobby.

The next morning, Alain went to Romi to say hello and received no answer to his greeting.

- Baby, are you offended? I'm sorry, I really couldn't come yesterday.

Romi turned away and said nothing again. Alain decided that these were the whims of a spoiled girl and did not add anything else. In the end, he left a note. The actor considered the reason for his absence to be respectful, because he tried to improve his professional level, to become equal to her.

Romy played badly that day and seemed tired. With Alain, she defiantly spoke only on the set. The director cursed the love of young actors when he realized that he had lost a whole day because of their quarrel, and journalists devoted columns to their quarrel in the gossip section.

At lunch, Delon approached his friend Jean-Claude Briali and complained about Romy's behavior.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have canceled the meeting yesterday. You know, after all, our relationship began recently, and she so dreamed of going to the theater, ”he concluded.

- Yeah, stop it. Think you've rescheduled the meeting for a day. If she loves you, she will understand,” Jean-Claude said, looking sympathetically at his upset friend.

“Look at Madame Schneider, she thinks she won. No, I won’t leave it like that, - Alain quickly crossed the platform and approached Romy.

“I love you,” he said loudly. - If you do not want, you can not talk to me, but then I will send you notes every day, like yesterday.

The girl was deafened by the words of the actor, and against her will she asked again:

- What note?

- You didn't get my message? I could not find you in the room and dictated to the receptionist that I would like to reschedule our meeting.

“They didn’t give me anything,” Romi muttered and looked at her mother.

She kept silent. The young people simultaneously realized what fate befell the note, and the actress blushed.

“The porter must have lost it. I was angry because I was waiting for you all evening in vain.

- I'm sorry. Let's go to the theater tonight.

- With pleasure.

Alain smiled mockingly, looking at Frau Schneider and deliberately slowly hugged Romy. Young people got tickets to the last row of the stalls at the Opera. After the performance, they bought various snacks and went to Alain's apartment.

“I want to be famous,” he said to Romy as they lay exhausted in bed. I will have a big house and my own film studio. In all films, I would shoot only you and me.

She tenderly kissed him, realizing that this was the highest praise of a lover. As an inexperienced actor, Alain showed extraordinary intuition in understanding the role and assessing the abilities of people, as well as perseverance in striving to secure his future. While other actors were spending small fees in a matter of months, he was saving money in a bank account. With his attractive appearance and confident behavior, he won over directors and producers, who in the future could offer him roles in films. The effect of his beauty on women has already begun to be legendary. Absolutely everyone liked him - from teenage girls pestering him on the streets to older ladies admiring the actor's brilliant blue eyes. Gradually, he walked towards his goal, overcoming many small obstacles on the way to the top.

"Will you stay with me today?" asked Alain Romy.

“Probably yes,” she replied.

Now the actress did not talk to her mother, as in the morning with her beloved.

“You are a very harsh girl,” Alain commented on her behavior. - You make a decision right away and do not give people the opportunity to justify themselves. You need to be more relaxed about small incidents. If I had not come and warned about the cancellation of the meeting? Would you break our relationship?

"No, I couldn't," Romi purred, settling herself comfortably on his arm. - I love you too much. But there are some rules.

“That's the point, my maximalist. There are a couple of laws in life, but there are no rules.

Romi fell silent, considering the meaning of his words and dozed off. In the morning, Alain woke her up with a kiss. When she stretched and pushed herself up against the pillow, he placed a muffin in her hand and held out a cup of steaming coffee.

“Oh my God, it's not even the Ritz,” the shocked actress whispered. - It is a paradise.

“And you are my angel, dear. Drink your coffee or we'll be late for the shoot.

“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Romi buried herself in the pillow, but Alain put the cup on the table and pulled the kicking girl out of bed.

- Get up, sleepyhead. I can't wait to wait for the evening and return with you to our nest.

Even more, the actor was eager to look into the face of Magda Schneider, whom he hated with all his heart. The day passed in hard work, now the actors were especially pleased to be in the frame together, they did not want to unclench their arms and take their eyes off each other.

“God, if only I knew!” Gaspar-Ui lamented. — They play on such a rise. I had to shoot all the love scenes in the end.

Alain, who so far could only truly portray his own feelings, actually looked much better than at the beginning of work on the picture. Last but not least, his good performance was the merit of the acting teacher recommended by Briali.

Two weeks remained before the end of filming, when Romy entered the living room with her mother and stepfather and announced that she was staying in Paris with Alain. Out of surprise, Frau Schneider managed to ask only one question:

— For how long?

“I will stay with him forever.

- Daughter, what about your career? Glory? Don't throw all your work at the boy's feet. He will be the first to decide that you are just a fool.

Mom, I don't care what you think. I will not part with Alain, even if they promise me mountains of gold.

“Romy,” Hans Blatzheim joined in the conversation. — You have obligations to the producers. We discussed several new projects with them. Do you plan to continue filming?

“Yes,” Magda shouted hysterically. — How are you going to earn money? You can not rely on your lover in this matter.

- I will work. Alain and I will become popular together.

“You will completely ruin your reputation by staying with him. You are not married, and your image of a beautiful innocent girl will crumble to dust, Frau Schneider said.

“I won’t be able to maintain that image forever. In a couple of years it will be funny. I grew up and have the right to fall in love.

Magda was scared. The daughter no longer obeyed her and did not listen to her fair arguments. However, the worst thing was parting with her. Frau Schneider decided not to argue with her daughter anymore and went into the bedroom, where she immediately grabbed the telephone receiver and began calling all her friends and asking for their advice.

The lovers found a cozy small apartment, since Alain was too crowded. They decided to split the payment in half. From happiness, Romi did not feel her legs under her, she soared and saw in front of her only a smiling, attentive Delon. They became inseparable. Alain stopped attending bachelor parties, preferring the company of his beloved. He liked to give her small gifts and demand immediate gratitude for them in the form of a kiss. Newspapers were full of their photographs, and the gallant French sincerely rejoiced at their happiness.

One evening they were sitting on the banks of the Seine, embracing and looking at the water. Suddenly, an old gypsy woman appeared in front of them and offered to tell fortunes. Laughing, Romi held out her hand to the old woman while Alain took change out of his pocket.

"You will marry," muttered the fortune-teller. - More than once.

Alain frowned.

“Honey, we’ll probably get divorced and get married again,” the girl reassured him.

“No, you are not married and never will be married,” the gypsy said confidently.

Romi withdrew her hand, as if burned.

“Take the money and get out,” Alain roughly pushed the old woman away. She left. Do you believe stupid stories? he asked with annoyance at the girl who was ready to cry.

She was silent, and he hugged her tightly, comforting her.

- Do you want to go to the Mayor right now? he said in a burst of tenderness. "Don't hesitate, I will marry you."

Alain seemed so real and close that Romy forgot the unpleasant prediction.

“I’m glad of your proposal, but let’s first announce our engagement.”

“Sometimes your practicality kills the romantic impulses of my soul. But it’s decided, I’ll give you a ring anyway, ”the actor answered, pleased that his beloved had ceased to be sad.

Chapter 7

The last days of filming "Christine" took place in Vienna. After leaving Paris, Magda Schneider felt that she could calmly consider a plan to save her daughter. She was determined to defend Romy's career, which, in her opinion, would instantly collapse after she moved to France. On the very first evening, she started a serious conversation with her husband:

- Hans, you have signed contracts for future shootings of Romy. Hurry up the director. In the end, tell the producer that you are ready to reduce her fee, if only the shooting began earlier. If she does not see Delon for a couple of months, she will quickly forget him.

"I'll see how it can be arranged," Blatzheim replied. - But are you sure that Romy will not refuse to participate in filming in Germany?

We won't let her. Then she is not a child and knows what threatens to refuse the contract. Do it, Hans, or we will lose my daughter.

Rolf Thiele, the director of the next film, which was to star Romy Schneider along with her mother, immediately agreed to help Blazheim and pushed the start date closer. He called the young actress to discuss the script with her and spoke so confidently that she did not even dare to hint to him about a possible refusal to participate in the film. Romi was confused. She adored Alain, could not part with him now, but the termination of the contract threatened with great losses and would ruin her reputation in the world of cinema.

- What should I do? she asked her lover. “I want to return to our cozy boarding house and be close to you. But I have obligations...

Alena was very hurt by her hesitation. Sometimes it seemed to him that she was betraying their love by agreeing to return to Germany. His confrontation with Magda Schneider reached its climax. They barely spoke as they met on set and at the hotel. Romy was worried about this, because her mother and Alain were the dearest people for her.

“I don’t think we should announce our engagement,” the young man said on the last day of filming. You are going home to Cologne. Why do all this nonsense?

How can you say that, Alan? I love you,” Romi answered with tears. - Filming in Germany will take only a couple of months, and I will immediately fly to Paris.

“If your mother will let you, which I doubt.”

After these words of her lover, the girl turned and left without adding anything else. She thought that selfishness woke up in Alena. If he was forced to leave for the shooting, she would understand this.

Alain also went to the exit of the pavilion and ran into the door with Magda Schneider, who looked haughtily at him and said:

— I'm glad you're flying to Paris tomorrow. Don't expect to take my daughter with you. Contracts for her participation in films are signed for years in advance, and I will personally make sure that not a single scene with Romy is filmed in Paris.

He did not answer and went out into the street, but it is unlikely that at that moment Magda could have found a person who hated her more than Delon. Looking after him, Frau Schneider was triumphant - her daughter was staying with her.

A gloomy Alain was sitting in the hotel bar when Briali sat down at his table. In this situation, he was the only person Alain wanted to see. Jean-Claude did not pry anything, but started talking about the future premiere of the film.

- I wonder how they will represent "Christina" in Paris. They can gather all the performers in advance and arrange several interviews. You and Romy will be asked the most questions.

Romy won't come. Magda Schneider will ban her for a week in a room so as not to let her into Paris,” Delon said sharply.

- Why? asked Jean-Claude, startled. - After all, you have already looked after the apartment. She decided to stay.

- In fact of the matter. She changed her mind. She starts shooting next. Her mother informed me that she would not allow her daughter to come to Paris in the coming years.

- Can't be. What does Romi think?

She's going back to Cologne and that's enough. Let's order something to drink.

- Of course. You are reading my mind.

The next morning, the French film crew flew to Paris. In the evening, during the farewell dinner, Romi made several attempts to talk to Alain, but he avoided her. Jean-Claude, who in Paris always reconciled them during petty quarrels, this time preferred not to intervene. The girl fell into despair, but finally her patience snapped when Magda turned to her with the words:

- In the future film, you will have the best and most reliable partner - your mother.

- Mom, why are you constantly interfering in our relationship with Alain? You do everything to ruin them. I never reminded you of the note stolen from the hotel, but there are limits!?

“In order to help my child, I will do anything,” Frau Schneider answered her in a tone. Then she instantly calmed down.

“You will understand that when you have children.

Magda could not be persuaded, Romi sighed and moved away from her. What's the point of arguing with your mother?

In the morning, the girl accompanied her beloved to the airport. All the other Frenchmen stood aside so as not to interfere with their goodbyes. Both were pale. Alain threw off his superficial coldness and whispered:

Come to Paris whenever you want. We will live together.

Tears welled up in Romy's eyes. She waited until Alain was landing, waved her hand to him and wept bitterly, no longer hiding from anyone. Passengers sitting in the waiting room looked with surprise at the beautiful girl, who at first wept, looking out the window at the take-off plane, and then rushed to the ticket office. Neither mother nor stepfather was at the airport and no one stopped her when she issued a ticket for the Vienna-Paris flight. She carefully hid it in her purse and imagined how she would surprise her beloved tomorrow with her appearance. Her tears have dried up.

Back at the hotel, she knocked on her mother's room.

“Daughter, come in,” she said affectionately. Have you already packed your things?

“Yes, Mom,” Romi answered, looking into her eyes. - My suitcases are packed, but I'm not flying to Cologne, but to Paris.

Magda could not survive such a complete and most important lightning-fast collapse of her hopes. She sank into a chair.

Did he talk you into it at the last minute? What did he say?

I love him too much to let us break up. And Alain almost reconciled with him. At the airport, he kissed me as if he was saying goodbye forever - the girl almost cried from excitement. We will meet with him tomorrow.

- Yes, and so you will meet at the premiere of "Christina". Why are you in a hurry? her mother tried to reason with. - Maybe in your heart you don’t believe that he is going to wait for you for several months?

"I don't want to talk about it anymore," Romi said firmly and left the room.

Magda Schneider barely restrained herself from following her husband down to the bar. Half an hour later he returned and was frightened when he saw her distorted face.

"The boy won," she muttered. Romy is flying to Paris tomorrow.

“Impossible,” Blatzheim said.

This was the last straw that overflowed the cup of his patience. He agreed to accompany his wife and her daughter to France, wanting to unwind, but the journey turned into a nightmare. Throughout the filming, he listened to Magda's complaints about her daughter's behavior, consoled his wife and smoothed out her quarrels with Romi. But this was not enough. Now the participation of the actress in the filming was in jeopardy.

"What do you mean she's flying to Paris!" he shouted at his wife. Does the signed contract mean anything to her? How do you imagine talking to Thiele after he pushed back the shooting date at our request? He will not have time to find a replacement for Romy.

Why are you telling me this? exclaimed Magda. “Go explain this to your daughter.

Blazheim tried to calm down a little and went to Romy's room for negotiations. At his knock, the girl opened the door and invited him in.

"Your mother told me about tomorrow's trip," he began. - Do you think it's normal to cancel the shooting at the last moment and let everyone down? Answer!

- I do not refuse filming, but now I need to fly to Paris. I'll be back in Germany in time for filming.

Hearing a reasonable answer, Hans stopped being angry. However, he had another question:

— And how are you going to dispose of the fee?

You will remain my manager. Are you willing to continue with my investment? When Blazheim nodded in the affirmative, she added, “I need money in France.”

- I am ready to transfer small amounts to your account every month.

“Agreed,” Romi was delighted. I will call you and my mother tomorrow and leave my new phone.

The stepfather made no attempt to dissuade her from the trip, believing that if Magda failed to do this, then he also had nothing to count on. In addition, he approved, as far as possible, Romy's plans and hoped that she would fulfill her obligations to director Wolf Thiele.

Landing in Paris, Alain refused Briali's offer to spend the evening with him, and returned to his apartment. It looked empty and abandoned without Romy. He wanted to run away from her, as he once fled from a room in the Rue Barbet after the departure of Lucien Lejeune. In order not to feel lonely and not to evoke memories, he must be moved to another place. Of course, not in a boarding house on the Seine embankment, Romy liked. “Tomorrow the first thing I will do is give up that room,” he decided, but the thought did not bring relief. He reached for the phone to call Vienna, but at the last moment hung up - if their relationship is over, why humiliate yourself and pursue the girl. Although tired after the flight, he could not sleep for a long time, making chaotic plans for the future.

Romy didn't have to fight her mother anymore. She accepted the fact of her return to Paris as inevitable, and besides, her husband consoled her a little by retelling his conversation with his daughter. “Alain is too ill-mannered, he does not belong to the people of our circle. Romy will run away from him in a week,” cherished the dream of Frau Schneider. In the meantime, reluctantly, she reluctantly escorted her daughter to the airport and ordered that she give her phone number that same day.

- OK, Mom. I love you very much. Goodbye, - answered smiling Romi and went to the landing. She repeated Alain's yesterday's path and constantly thought about him.

At the Paris airport, she took a taxi and told the driver the address of her beloved's apartment. The city met her with the gentle September sun. This lifted the mood of the girl, who already felt infinitely happy. Entering the entrance of a familiar house, she remembered her first date with her beloved and smiled.

- Who's there? Alain asked unkindly in response to her knock.

He flung open the door and froze on the threshold, not believing his eyes. Romi threw herself on his neck and shouted joyfully:

- Surprise!

"No, it's a hallucination of a hopelessly in love," he muttered, kissing her. — How did you end up here?

- Arrived on the next flight after yours.

"But why didn't you warn me?" I thought it was over between us.

“The decision came suddenly,” the girl was embarrassed.

They did not say another word, not letting go of each other's arms until the evening. At eight they were awakened by the ringing telephone. Briali was on the wire.

Alan, how are you? he asked. Don't sit at home again, come to me.

“Good,” Delon replied in a sad voice. - I'll be there in an hour.

He hung up and offered:

- Darling, let's play my best friend.

“Of course,” Romi agreed.

Alain rang the doorbell to Jean-Claude's apartment and lingered a bit before entering.

“I am not alone,” he explained to the owner in a loud whisper.

“I invite your friend too,” said Briali, looking at Alain with regret.

He stepped over the threshold and pulled Romi, who was hiding on the stairs, by the hand. Briali was as startled by her appearance as his friend had been that morning.

"So you weren't going to break up?" You lied to me? He lashed out at Alain.

- Well no. Can you imagine, a nasty girl planned to arrange a surprise for me, - he explained, fighting off the girl who jokingly swung at him.

“Your novel cannot be compared with the film “Christina” in terms of the complexity of the plot,” Briali noted. - tell this to reporters and your rating will rise to unattainable heights.

“No,” Allen replied. - It's too personal.

Romi agreed with him.

Those few weeks that she and Alain lived in a boarding house before her departure for shooting in Germany were carefree and filled with love and joy. In the evenings they did not leave the room, preferring to spend time alone. Occasionally, friends came to visit them, but they did not stay for a long time visiting a couple in love, as they felt that they simply ceased to be noticed. Alain and Romy exchanged glances every minute, kissed and exchanged phrases, the meaning of which was clear only to them alone. Once, Georges Baum was seriously offended by a friend when he tried to talk to him about an interesting scenario, and he interrupted him in mid-sentence:

“Right now I'm only interested in my baby Romi.

“You will lose a good offer,” Georges warned him.

“Stop preaching to me. We can talk about this film later.

Alain turned to Romy and called her. The girl immediately rushed to him, and Georges had only to leave. He complained to his acquaintances that the young actor did not part with his beloved and forgot about his career. However, Bohm was wrong. Love for Romy did not prevent Alain from studying new proposals and viewing scripts for new films. He only pretended that he was not interested in future filming. The reason for this was the expectation of the release of the film "Christina". The actor had no doubt that the screening would be successful, and the directors would significantly increase his fees for participation in the following films. The affair with Schneider was also good for his image, although he himself tried not to think about it. He liked the girl, and if her mother had not called every day and asked her daughter for details of their life together, he would have considered himself the happiest lover on earth. Neither he

- Darling, what's wrong with you? he asked, placing a bag of snacks on the table and hugging her.

“The day after tomorrow I am flying to Germany, we will part for a month and a half,” she answered through tears. Will you remember me?

“God, I love you. Of course I will think of you, call and wait for your return.

"I can't live without you," the girl muttered, resting her head on his shoulder.

Now she regretted that she had not shown firmness and refused to participate in the film. Then she thought that her mother would never have let her do this and sighed. Each independent act was given to her with difficulty.

“How I don’t want to leave,” she repeated for the hundredth time, irritating Alain.

He was tired of the constant doubts and complaints of the girl. Unlike her, he made decisions quickly, weighing all the consequences in advance.

He got up from the couch where he was sitting next to Romy and walked over to the table.

“I brought your favorite pâté,” he said. “I'm sure a delicious lunch is a wonderful consolation.

The girl lost her appetite, but she wanted to be closer to her lover and she began to sort out the products. Allen made plans for the future.

“You will come in December, for the premiere of Christina,” he said. “Unfortunately, you will be accompanied by your mother, and we will not be able to see each other often.

“I will not come to the premiere of the film, but to you,” Romi answered firmly. - From the airport I will immediately come to our apartment.

“Frau Schneider will destroy me.

"Don't be afraid," she smiled. - When mom understands how much we love each other, she will change her attitude towards you.

Alain nodded, but suspected that Magda Schneider, in the month and a half of her daughter's stay in Germany, would make every effort to prevent her from returning to Paris.

The girl flew away. Parting at the airport was no less sad than parting in Vienna. After her departure, Alena's life again became the same as before meeting with Romy. He often went to visit Briali and sat with friends at the Café de Paris until night, discussing films that had been released in recent weeks.

“Alain, Giselle asked about you,” Jean-Claude told him when the young man stopped by on his way to the film studio.

- Who is it? he asked.

“One swarthy girl that you intended to dye blonde.

“Ah, I remembered,” Alain chuckled. “It's nice that despite the disappointment that has befallen her, she continues to think of me.

“Would you like to go out with the four of us tonight?” You need to unwind a little.

Delon thought for a couple of seconds, and then answered:

- Of course, let's go. My future mother-in-law is busy filming and will hunt us down.

Jean-Claude burst out laughing as he remembered his unexpected meeting with Magda Schneider at the Café de Paris.

I'll meet you at eight tonight. I'll call the girls now," he said.

Dinner in the company of Giselle and Isabelle was fun. When a taxi stopped near Alain's house late in the evening, he got out of the car and offered his hand to Giselle:

Come out, we've arrived.

The girl quickly fluttered out onto the sidewalk. Jean-Claude and Isabelle looked at each other slyly, and the actor told the driver to move off.

Alain tried to discreetly lead the girl to his room, but, as luck would have it, they met a neighbor who liked to chat with Romi and sometimes helped her cook dinner.

"Good evening, Monsieur Petit," the young man greeted him.

“Good evening,” he replied, looking reproachfully at Alain.

“As soon as Frau Schneider escaped the surveillance, the role of spies began to be played by good neighbors,” thought the actor.

“Come in, beauty,” he said to Giselle, unlocking the room.

The girl went into the room and began to examine with interest the bottles of perfume left by Romi on the chest of drawers.

“Does this belong to your fiancee that Jean-Claude was talking about?” she asked, sniffing the perfume.

- Do not touch! Alain stopped her, taking her by the hand. “Better come here,” he said.

Coming close to her, he put his hands on her thin waist. She raised herself on her tiptoes to touch his lips. Although the sight of the other woman's belongings upset her, she did not change her mind about spending the night with a handsome actor.

In the morning the young man woke up and found Giselle curled up in a ball next to him in bed. He felt annoyed, he felt offended that he betrayed Romy so easily.

“Get up,” he shook the girl. - It's time for you to leave.

She opened her eyes and reached out to him, but he silently got out of bed and went into the shower. When he returned, Giselle was not in the room. He felt relieved and rejoiced at her complaisance. Then Alain called Briali.

"Jean-Claude, you threw a great party yesterday," he said gloomily.

- I'm glad you liked it. Do you still have Giselle?

- No, she left. But now all the neighbors are aware of how I spend time in the absence of Romy.

“What are you having an orgy with Giselle in your room?” Did the neighbors have to call the police? In this case, the secret desire of a dark-skinned girl to read about herself in the newspapers will come true.

“A terrible assumption,” Alain answered cheerfully. Thank God it didn't come to that. At the door, we ran into Romy's admirer from the apartment opposite.

“You have no luck with Giselle. There are incidents all the time. Let's change. Tonight I give you permission to invite Isabelle.

Jean-Claude, forget your jokes. Once I stumbled, but henceforth not a single woman will divert my thoughts from my beloved friend.

His friend snorted and asked:

Seriously, what are your plans for tonight?

“I don’t mind getting out somewhere, but without yesterday’s dark-skinned girls.

— Excellent, I will agree with Georges, and we will meet in a cafe. It's time to reconcile you, he is still angry because of your refusal to read the script.

- Deal.

Alain walked across the room and went to the chest of drawers. Romy's perfume caught his attention and he ran his finger over the bubbles. Then he glanced at his watch and picked up the receiver and dialed her number. He did not know German and for a long time explained to the receptionist that he wanted to talk to his fiancee Romy Schneider. Finally he was connected to her room. The girl recently woke up and spun in front of the mirror, applying makeup to her face. Her mother sat in a chair and watched her. Romi did not expect a call from Alain, so she did not protest when Magda picked up the phone. She recognized Delon's voice and said in German:

- You are mistaken.

— Who is it, mother? Romi asked without taking her eyes off the mirror.

— Another fan. I'll contact the receptionist now and ask you not to connect you with anyone.

- Mom, but Alain can call.

- I doubt. He would rather you call him.

Romi shook her head in displeasure and went to look for a comb, and Magda spoke to the receptionist and told him not to connect her daughter with anyone else.

The young man also recognized the voice of Romy's mother and changed his mind about calling the bride back. However, Frau Schneider's opposition to the development of their relationship only increased his affection for the girl. He often imagined her return, and how after the premiere of "Christina" they would announce their engagement. Having dressed, he went to a jewelry store to choose an engagement ring for his girlfriend.

At the end of December, he met Romy at the airport. She noticed Alain among those waiting and ran to meet him. The lovers kissed for a long time, enjoying the long-awaited reunion.

“Daughter, we need to follow the delivery of our luggage,” Magda Schneider announced to her daughter.

Alain turned to the porter standing nearby.

— Where are your suitcases? he asked the girl.

She pointed to two identical bags. The young man walked up to the cart, casually parted the rest of the suitcases and picked up Romy's luggage.

"Let's go," he told her. — I parked the car near the exit of the building.

- Put things back! Magda screamed. - My daughter will live in a hotel, in a room rented by a film studio!

Allen looked at her questioningly. She made an effort and said:

— I'm sorry, Mom, but I have an apartment in Paris. I don't need a hotel room.

She and Allen joined hands and headed for the exit. Magda regretted that Hans Blatzheim did not accompany her and her daughter. She was sure that her husband would not allow the boy to take her daughter to a miserable boarding school.

Romi was happy not to find any changes in her “nest” with Alain. Throughout her stay in Germany, not an hour passed without her remembering her beloved.

“I brought you a present,” she said, opening her bag.

“You yourself are the best gift,” Alain answered, going up to her and touching her shoulder.

The girl instantly forgot about the bag and turned to him. They squeezed each other in their arms and began to rapidly free themselves from the clothes that interfered with them.

The girl met her mother just before the premiere of the film.

“I wish you good luck,” she said coldly to her in the auditorium, sinking into a nearby chair.

Thanks to the participation of young actors in the film, between whom passionate love flared up on the set, described in detail by newspapermen, the audience willingly watched the film. However, the opinion of critics was unanimous and categorical: the picture was a complete failure.

Romy was upset, Jean-Claude took the news philosophically, but for Alain it was a terrible blow. He was so hoping to get good reviews after playing his first leading role, so eager to gain credibility as a young, promising actor, that the collapse of plans almost destroyed him.

“All my hopes are dashed,” he said to Romy. “I'm haunted by the sad thought that your mother was right about my failure. Apparently, I need to give up trying to become an actor.

The girl consoled him as best she could. She herself was worried not so much because of the failure of the picture, but about the unflattering publications in the German press about her affair with Delon. Just as her mother had predicted, her image of a nice girl was shattered. The authors of the articles called her "a traitor who fled to France."

The New Year would have passed quite sadly if Briali had not organized a masquerade for the holiday, a little distracting Alain and Romy from troubles.

In January, just before the girl returned to Germany to shoot the next film, a reporter approached the lovers and asked Alain a question about his future plans.

“I'm going to go to the post office and arrange with the old boss about going to work,” the actor replied.

Then he smiled playfully and added:

- True, one director is ready to give me one last chance to prove to everyone that I am able to play well.

The next film in which he starred under the direction of director Michel Boisron was a success and the bitter residue left by him after the failure with Christina slowly began to disappear. Romy was supposed to play in three joint French-German films in a row. After finishing work on the first picture, she started a conversation with Alain about the engagement.

“I really want to be your real bride,” she said.

Her lover didn't mind. The young man took a box out of the chest of drawers, took out a ring from it and put it on the girl's finger with the words:

- I love you. We'll always be together.

Romi twisted the ring and asked:

"Let's have a little party about our engagement."

An hour later, she called her mother and announced her engagement to Alain. She was extremely dissatisfied, but restrainedly congratulated her daughter and said:

Come both of you to Germany. We will make a statement to the press, otherwise you ruined your reputation in your homeland with your stupid novel.

"I'll talk to Alain," Romi promised and hung up.

The actor in love with her could not refuse her, and a week later the couple flew to Cologne.

Magda Schneider made a whole performance out of her daughter's engagement. She called correspondents, organized the filming of this event and appeared in the hall in a luxurious outfit, throwing a fox palatin over her shoulders.

Alain got angry and took out his discontent on Romy, who was also confused by the scope with which her engagement was celebrated.

“It's not my fault. How could I have known that my mother would arrange such a thing? she replied to the furious groom. - She told me that everything would go quietly in a family way.

- Like a family? Alain was outraged. - I fell for her bait and now I have to play an idiot in front of the camera. I'm glad I at least thought to bring my tuxedo.

Through the efforts of Magda Schneider, the mood of the lovers was spoiled and the memorable event turned into a painful duty to pose for the camera and give numerous interviews to journalists. Alain and Romy returned to France in a quarrel, but soon reconciled, accepting the congratulations of friends and acquaintances who threw a party in honor of the young couple.

Is the wedding coming soon? Belmondo asked, pulling Alain aside.

- Not earlier than in a year. I can't stand two such significant events in a row. I'm afraid the celebration on the occasion of the wedding will exceed all conceivable boundaries.

What does Romi think?

“She is too accustomed to relying on her mother for everything. If she insists on a noisy ceremony, she will agree.

In one thing, Alain was right: Romy could not do without a person guiding her actions. In the absence of a mother nearby, she entrusted this duty to her lover. After reading scripts and talking to directors, she was always interested in his opinion. At first the young man was flattered. Romy was a star, received lucrative offers to participate in the filming and asked his advice. But over time, her indecision began to bother him. She did not know how to defend her opinion when they argued about scenarios, she thought about some decision for a long time, and at the last moment she could change it. But she was firmly convinced that the bride and groom should be faithful to each other, even if they were often forced to part. More than once, on the basis of the divergence of their views, quarrels broke out between Alain and Romy.

During the next visit of Romy to Paris, he and Alain and two familiar actors were sitting in a cafe. The weather was terrible, with torrential rain pouring down in the morning, which made dinner in a warm room seem more attractive than usual. Suddenly, two girls who knew one of the actors approached the table at which their company was sitting.

“Join us,” he invited.

However, due to bad weather, there were plenty of visitors to the cafe and a chair was found for only one of them.

“It’s okay,” Alain told her jokingly, “you can sit on someone’s lap.”

"I'd love to take your knees," she replied.

Noticing the anger in the eyes of his girlfriend, Alain asked:

So what's the delay then?

The girl looked at Romi and quickly knelt down to Delon. He hugged her and said:

I can give you my glass too. Do you love red wine?

She nodded.

Romi could no longer contain her indignation at the antics of her lover and jumped to her feet:

- I want to go home. Let's get a taxi, Alain.

But he was not going to finish dinner so soon.

"I'm staying," he replied.

“Okay, then I’ll leave alone,” Romi said sharply and left the hall.

Everyone sitting at the table was confused, but Alain did not raise an eyebrow.

“You see,” he turned to the girl sitting on his lap, “and a place has been vacated for you. Grab it soon.

She moved to Romy's chair, but the feeling of embarrassment caused by the actor's behavior persisted until the end of the evening.

When Alain returned home, Romi greeted him coldly.

“I didn’t expect you to show up home today,” she said in an offended tone. What happened to your new friend?

A dangerous glint flashed in the young man's eyes.

- Do you want me to leave?

“After your behavior in the cafe, I don’t want to have anything to do with you,” she said furiously. "How dare you do this to me?"

“But, my dear, it was just a joke. True, the longer I looked at this girl, the more charming she seemed to me.

"I don't want to see you again!"

— That's how. Why don't you go back under your mother's wing, princess?

Romi turned pale, then grabbed the suitcase, but her hands were trembling so much that she could not put things into it. Throwing it aside, she ran out of the room and slammed the door loudly.

After a few minutes, Alain repented of his act and went to look for her. He himself could not understand why he offended Romy. On the stairs, the young man ran into a neighbor, Mr. Petit.

“The girl is standing there alone, in the rain,” he said in confusion. I tried to persuade her to come to me, but she refused.

Jumping over two steps, Alain went downstairs and saw Romi standing in the middle of the street. She was soaked all over, but she didn't move, as if she didn't feel the cold. There was a blank look on her face.

- You are crazy! he shouted. - Go home!

He took her hand, but the girl did not turn to him, continuing to stand in the rain. Cursing himself, Alain picked her up in his arms and carried her into the entrance. Climbing upstairs, he kicked open the door and laid Romi on the bed. She was shivering.

"You can't have a show like this because of a stupid quarrel," he said.

The girl did not answer. Alain touched her forehead and was frightened: she had a high temperature. Rummaging through the first aid kit, he did not find any medicine and turned to Petya for help.

- Romi has a fever. Do you have any medications?

“What a misfortune,” said the old man. — I'll call my friend Professor Millet. He is an excellent doctor.

After examining the girl, the professor announced that the fever was caused by a strong nervous shock.

She will sleep well and wake up healthy tomorrow.

He turned out to be right. Romi did not catch a cold and did not get pneumonia, but throughout the next week she walked gloomy and could not forgive Alain. In vain he apologized many times and gave her flowers. The girl was ready to return to Cologne, but her feeling for Delon was too strong to forget him.

They reconciled, but this incident greatly changed their relationship. Alain now disappeared until late at a party, not considering it necessary to tell Romy about where he was. The girl often cried, it cost her great effort not to mention the behavior of her lover in conversations with her mother. However, she learned everything from the newspapers.

“Daughter, you don’t need to lie that you and Alain are all right,” said Magda. — I don't believe the tabloid newspapers, but when each of them considered it their duty to publish articles about the problems of the "lovers of the century", I became alert. Where is your fiancé now?

“He went to visit,” Romi answered sadly, but immediately caught herself, “We were supposed to go together, I just changed my mind.”

“So he preferred to go alone instead of staying with you.

Mom, please don't interfere with our lives. If we have disagreements, I can deal with them myself.

You will regret agreeing to live with him. What am I saying, you're already sorry!

Magda Schneider had a hope to return her daughter, and she began to call her every day. At the same time, she forced her husband to find lucrative contracts for her daughter that would keep her in Germany for a long time.

Romy signed two contracts for shooting in historical films, similar to films about Princess Sissi.

Why do you want to go back to the boring image of a beautiful doll? Allen asked her.

- I want to be independent. The roles in these films are my own choice. I'm sorry if that doesn't work for you," Romi said.

They said a cold goodbye, and she flew off to Cologne.

The separation proved to be a difficult test for both. Although Magda Schneider met her daughter with open arms and invited her friends over every day, Romi missed her. She met several young people, but none of them interested her. The girl yearned for Alain. And at this time he led the life of a recluse, occasionally visiting friends and rejecting most invitations to all kinds of celebrations and parties.

Finally he called the girl.

- Darling, I can't live without you. Forgive me, I behaved inexcusably. Probably every man at some point becomes a fool, but for me this period is over.

- Truth? the girl asked hopefully. "So you're bored too?"

- Highly. If you don't come to Paris soon, I'll fly to you in Cologne.

Romi beamed, her mother had not seen her so joyful for a long time.

Did they tell you something nice? she asked with a smile.

- Yes. I have just heard the most beautiful news: Alain loves me.

- Did he call?

Mom, he loves me. I am returning to Paris next week.

For the first time in her life, Magda Schneider lost heart and did not know what to object to her daughter. She spent almost a year trying to get Romy to leave Alain. Moreover, the actor himself with his behavior only helped her in this. But everything turned out to be in vain - Romi still loved him and continued to forgive all the insults inflicted on him.

“I will repeat what I have already told you a hundred times,” said Magda, “you and him are completely different. A year or two will pass, and you will part, and you will suffer. He will hurt you.

Mom, I don't care what happens next. I think about him every minute and feel happy only next to him.

Magda was confused. “How did Delon manage to bewitch my daughter like that?” she thought.

Romy was back in Paris.

- Honey, the flight attendants began to recognize me. Soon the Lufthansa airline will give me a prize as its most faithful passenger,” she said to Alain, meeting him at the airport.

“I can't wait for you to stay in Paris forever.

- Now it is impossible. A month later, new shooting begins. I am a slave to the film industry.

And I am your slave. What does my lady want?

- I want to be at home.

“The carriage has been served, Your Highness.

They joined hands and went to Alain's car. The residents of the boarding house came out to greet the returned girl.

“Thank you,” she replied. “I missed all of you so much.

Ordinary people lived in this boarding house. Magda Schneider would have considered socializing with them below her dignity, but Romi loved them. The neighbors became almost full members of the family: Alain shared with them the good news about participating in the filming of new films and asked for help; Romy, in the person of Mr. Petit, found a wise adviser and told him about the minor troubles that happened between her and her lover.

Alain signed a second contract to shoot with Michel Boisron. He nevertheless read the script, brought to him for the second time by Georges Baume, and became interested in the plot of the picture.

- The military theme is not the most advantageous topic to emphasize your external data, - the director told him confidentially, - but it is dangerous, although pleasant, to secure the image of a hero-lover.

Delon was outraged:

- Dear master, I do not rely solely on my appearance, I agree to completely forget about it. I want to become a serious actor, able to play characters with a deep character.

“It's commendable to try to be a good actor, but don't forget your beauty. That would be stupid,” Boisron replied. - A pleasant face is a considerable trump card for an actor.

In the evening, Alain recounted this conversation to Romy and asked:

Do you think that beauty is important for an actor?

The girl laughed and didn't answer. Both of them were young and attractive, it was not for nothing that journalists dubbed them “the lovers of the century”, as the most beautiful couple.

The month of Romy's stay in Paris passed unnoticed. All this time, Alain was unfailingly kind and attentive to her. The girl fell in love with him even more, but it was time to leave.

“Promise me that you will fly to Germany as soon as possible,” the girl told him.

I will definitely visit you and call you often.

In Cologne, her mother was waiting for her, who had a new plan to save her daughter from Delon. Knowing about his incredible jealousy, she relied on Romy's acquaintance with her film partner, actor Curd Jurgens.

On the first day of filming, she invited reporters who took pictures of the actors as they discussed an important scene in the film. Romi smiled slyly and leaned slightly towards Kurd, and he looked straight into the girl's eyes. This shot exceeded all expectations of Magda Schneider. She called one correspondent aside and said to him:

- My daughter is ready to forget Alain Delon. Yesterday she confessed to me that she had met a wonderful man. I think you can guess who she was talking about.

The journalist felt a sensation and wrote an article dedicated to the new lover Romy Schneider. The material was placed in the next issue of the newspaper, which was instantly sold out. This article has been reprinted by other publications. The girl was so absorbed in the process of filming that she did not look through the press, and her mother, if possible, hid newspapers from her. Soon the sensational news of Romy's new novel reached France. Alain felt insulted. The first thing that caught his eye was a photograph of his lover smiling at some German actor, then he read an article that destroyed his last doubts. "Traitor!" he thought, crumpling up the newspaper. In the evening he met Jean-Paul Belmondo in a bar, who looked sympathetically at his friend.

“Actresses are changeable,” he said. - Romy is very popular in Germany, probably this type gave her a couple of compliments, like that he was happy to play with her in the same film and so on. In general, he played on her vanity, and she got hooked.

“No, Romi is not that stupid,” Alain replied. — This article is an ordinary newspaper “duck”. They are ready to do anything to increase circulation.

Belmondo remained silent, but did not change his mind, and Alain felt it. At home, he quickly packed his things, went to the airport and bought a ticket for the next flight to Cologne. “I'll find out what's going on there,” he mused during the flight. At the airport, Delon caught a taxi and went to the film studio, where Romy was filming. The girl noticed him during a break and rushed towards him.

“Darling, I didn’t imagine that you would appear so soon and so unexpectedly.

Am I out of time? - Alain asked, looking at the scenery and trying to find Kurd Jurgens behind them.

- What are you saying? How long have you been here?

- I do not know. Where is your co-star hiding?

— Kurd? do you know each other? Romi was surprised.

"Don't pretend to be a stupid child," Alain exploded. - Have you read the papers? Thanks to you, all the French laugh at me, and the Germans to boot.

He took a newspaper out of his bag and thrust it into the girl's hands. She was smitten. She regretted that she did not follow the publications, but decided that she would not make excuses to Alain.

“There are nonsense written here,” she said sadly. “But I know you cheated on me for real. That's why you believed what is written here.

“So you don’t consider it necessary to explain the origin of this article and photograph?” Maybe you're doing this on purpose to make me jealous?

“Alain, don’t make a scandal,” Romi said quickly, noticing that the actors on the set were listening to Delon’s indignant voice.

He turned and walked towards the exit of the pavilion. The girl ran after him, holding the krenolin with her hands.

- Wait, where are you? I love you, she called out.

Allen stopped abruptly and turned to her. From surprise, the girl stumbled upon him and would have fallen if he had not picked her up in his arms. Magda Schneider, who returned from dinner, found them in this position.

The actor stayed in Cologne for two days. Romy begged the director for the weekend, and she and Alain walked around the city, went to churches and fed pigeons in the central square.

“After filming is over, I will come to Paris for good,” Romy promised. “I will do everything to never part with you again.

Chapter 8

In February 1960, Romy finally moved to Paris to her lover. She fulfilled all obligations under previous contracts, and refused to shoot the fourth series of the film about Princess Sissi.

“I'm tired of pretending to be a toy girl,” she told her mother before leaving. - I want to get a real role, to play a girl with a deep character, not a beautiful doll.

“I recognize Alain’s words,” Magda Schneider replied. "If I didn't know him enough to know he was just a fool, I would think he was jealous of your success."

“Mom, you can’t possibly think so. Alain loves me and wants to help.

How can he help you? Magda exploded. - He destroys your image, your life! Forces to huddle in a beggarly apartment and refuse profitable offers. Where did you meet him? On the set of a costume film, in which he did not disdain to play the main role.

Romy felt that her mother was right in some ways, but the girl aspired to her beloved with all her heart and hoped that she would receive offers from well-known directors in France no less profitable than in Germany.

At the airport she was met by a smiling Alain and all the way talking about the new role offered to him by Visconti.

- He invites you to shoot in Italy? Offered the lead role in your film? Romi asked fascinated.

Why are you so surprised? Alain asked indignantly.

- The offer is wonderful, but you will fly to Rome. I don't have signed contracts for the near future yet. Will you take me with you?

“Well, if that’s the only thing, then consider that the ticket is in your pocket.

Romi leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, and Alain hugged her with one arm, waiting at the intersection for a green traffic light.

- How did your mother take the news of your refusal to shoot in the film about Sissy? he asked his friend.

- I was terribly worried. Blazheim decided to buy me a chain of restaurants in Cyprus, now this money would be very useful to him.

— Wow, my baby is buying real estate! Alain exclaimed. When will we go to Greece to check the quality of the dishes?

- Along with the contract for a film about Sissy, I am ready to give up restaurants.

- But why? Allen was surprised.

The idea that Romy would become the owner of restaurants seemed unusual to him.

Do you remember our first date at my friend Jean's café? He saw a kindred spirit in you even then. You can meet him again to exchange experiences.

The girl leaned back in her seat and smiled.

“That dinner was a hundred years ago, and you remember what we talked about then. How I love you, Allen!

He pulled away from the road and turned his head towards her.

"I can't say the same about myself," he admitted.

Romy felt her heart stop beating. Holding her breath, she waited for Alain's next words.

“You made me completely lose my head,” he continued in the same serious tone, “made me obsessed.

- Oh, you ... - Romi lightly hit him on the shoulder and said, -

For some reason, at the first moment, I always believe you.

He laughed smugly.

- Baby, I can never say, looking into your eyes: “I don’t love anymore”, and I can’t do it on the phone either.

"You don't need to think about it," the girl interrupted him, frightened. - I came to Paris to live with you, and you say such things when you meet.

“Sorry, actually something stupid came to mind. I will never recover from the joy that you will not return to Germany in the near future.

- It is possible that I will never return there again, - said Romi, twisting the ring on her ring finger.

Alain grinned and stopped the car on the embankment near their house.

How I missed our tiny room! Romy screamed.

A tenant from a neighboring apartment came out of the entrance to meet them.

“Hello, Mr. Petit,” the girl greeted him fervently. - How are you?

"Good," replied the old man. - How long has it been coming, beauty?

“Forever,” Romi said without hesitation.

Mr. Petit looked after the couple going up the stairs and for some reason remembered their noisy quarrel, when the girl, in tears, without a raincoat, ran out into the rain.

"Nothing, they're still young," he muttered. - Learn to get along.

The first weeks after the separation, as usual, passed peacefully with Alain and Romy. They woke up no earlier than noon and spoiled each other with delicious dishes brought from neighboring cafes. Always collected and active, Alain cheated on himself and rarely accepted invitations from friends, even if it was planned to read the script for a new film in which one of them got a role. Briali visited the lovers in their hideout and rebuked them.

- You dropped everything. You can't lead such a relaxed lifestyle. You have to fight for your existence,” Jean-Claude said.

But in this case, he was cunning, as he was well acquainted with the state of the actor, who was waiting for the start of filming. Having heard in January about the invitation of Visconti, Briali immediately told Alain that he had an exceptional happiness - to star in the film of the famous director. Delon flew to Rome at the beginning of the summer, and before that time he was going to play the role of Philip Greenleaf in the psychological detective story In the Bright Sun.

— What are your plans? Romy asked Briali a question.

He better not ask. The girl's mood immediately deteriorated, since not a single French director offered her at least some interesting role.

“I don’t want to think about filming yet,” she replied in a flippant tone. - I prefer not to part with Alain for a minute.

“I invite you both to the cafe,” Jean-Claude quickly changed the subject. “Let's take a walk to Rue Saint-Honoré and have dinner like aristocrats.

“Thank you, Jean-Claude, but I don’t want to go outside, it’s damp there,” Romy refused his invitation.

“And I’ll be happy to keep you company,” Alain replied to the terrible displeasure of the girl.

She thought that he would not go to the cafe either, and they would buy snacks from a Japanese restaurant. She did not want to stay at home alone, but she was afraid to change her mind and seem like an obsessive woman chasing her lover. Briali read her thoughts and asked:

"Maybe you'll change your mind, sweetie?"

The girl hesitated for a second, but then shook her head.

Thanks, but no. Maybe another time.

The friends left and she sat down by the window. Puddles glittered on the pavement, clouds covered the sky, and everything around her seemed gray and bleak.

Sitting at a table in a cafe, Delon and Briali made an order, and Jean-Claude asked:

- Does Romy really not have a single offer to participate in the filming?

Alain took a deep breath.

Her mother and stepfather constantly call her. Every week they spend hours retelling German scenarios to her, and then I have to listen to them. Jean-Claude, all these pictures are like two drops of water, like films about Sissi. Of course, I dissuade her from participating in such shootings.

- On the one hand, you are right, but the actress must act. And Romy is a born actress.

But not in these fairy tales!

“You need to visit me more often. She will personally meet many directors, and they will only want to shoot her.

“You are a wonderful friend,” said Alain, narrowing his eyes. “Thank you for the touching care of my mistress.

Jean-Claude realized that his friend did not like his interference in their relationship with Schneider and changed the subject of the conversation:

Have you received the final script for Into the Bright Sun yet?

Alain could talk about his future shootings for as long as he liked. He smiled, and he and Briali plunged into a discussion of the character of Philip Greenleaf, the character Delon had been cast by the film's director.

They sat for a long time in a cozy cafe, as it began to rain again outside and quickly darkened. Finally, Allen said:

“We need to go home, otherwise Romi will get bored.

“Of course,” Brialee said, taking the bill from the waiter, “she shouldn’t have refused to keep us company.

“She is sweet, affectionate, like a kitten,” Delon remarked, “but if something comes into her head, she will never yield.

They left the cafe and hailed a taxi. Because

Alain's apartment was nearby, and Jean-Claude dropped him off at the boarding house, while he went to his place. Entering the room, Delon saw Romy in an armchair by the window.

When he opened the door, she did not turn her head, but continued to look at the dark embankment.

- How are you? - he asked.

“Tell me, how did you spend your time?” I hope you didn’t feel sad while having dinner in a chic cafe? - the girl's voice trembled from the coma that had risen in her throat.

- Now stop it! As far as I remember, Jean-Claude invited you to join us more than once, but you chose to stay at home. There is nothing to blame me for this now.

“You could stay with me.

— Romi, why should I sit at home and listen to your complaints? Look who you've become. You buried yourself in this apartment. How do you expect to get a role if you don't go anywhere and don't meet directors?

- The French do not want to shoot me, and you made me refuse all the offers that came from Germany.

“You were interested in my opinion, I expressed it,” the sight of Romy crying began to irritate Alain. “After all, princess, you are capable of making at least some decisions on your own.

The girl fell on the bed and burst into tears. She spent the whole evening alone and waited for the return of her beloved, so that he would cheer her up, and he would disown her. Alain sat down beside her and stroked the girl's head. She cried even louder. Then he embraced her and began to kiss her wet face.

“Well, calm down, baby. I love you. You will be filming, but for now we can be together all the time. If you become stubborn again and refuse to go to a visit or a cafe, I will take you in my arms and carry you there against your will.

- I haven't eaten anything today. I have a headache and I didn't go out for dinner," Romi muttered.

“God, what do you want to eat?” Pizza, bun, sandwich? I'll buy you, - Alain grabbed his cloak and headed for the door.

“Anything,” the girl replied.

When he left, Romi thought that Alain was absolutely right. She will be removed, but a little later. She fought for a long time for the right to move to him in Paris. And now, when they lived together, she wanted to have everything at once: both her lover and interesting roles in the cinema. “I will dedicate myself to my beloved Alain,” she decided. A few minutes later he brought a whole bag of various food and a bottle of wine.

“I won’t let my girlfriend die of starvation,” he said and laid out the food on the table.

He spread the pâté on a huge slice of fresh bread and handed it to Romi.

“Appetizing,” she whispered, smiling.

The world has been restored. Having decided not to rush into filming, Romy calmed down and focused on studying the scripts for Alain's future films. Her lover was true to his word and not once in the next two weeks did he leave the girl at home alone. Soon the shooting of the picture “In the bright sun” began. The girl accompanied Delon, and met the film director Rene Clement. At first, he did not believe that the famous Schneider was present on the site. Not wanting to miss the chance to work with the German actress, he offered her a tiny role in the episode.

“You will appear in the frame together with Alain,” he said. And say a few words.

Romy has been destroyed. This role was not even a minor one, but was equated with a scene in the crowd. But, despite the offense, she agreed to perform it, although the next day she regretted it. It seemed to her that she had dropped her prestige in the eyes of her lover, but Alain was too busy with his role to think about the unflattering situation for Romy. The young man himself found himself in a difficult position, since on the eve of the start of work on the film, there were changes in the composition of the performers. Two days before filming, he received the final draft of the film's script and was horrified by it. His role was reduced to the limit, and the character's character was simplified to primitivism. Without consulting either with Romy or with friends, Delon called the film studio and refused to act. Within ten minutes, this news reached the director of the picture, and Clement, panting with rage demanded an explanation from the actor. They met at the studio and Alain told him his point of view.

- From the script, Philip Glynleaf is a rich idiot. You cut out almost all of his dialogue with the bride, and the role, which promised to reveal the contradictory character of the hero, became stereotyped and naive. I understood Philip, but now this rich man disgusts me.

— What are you looking for? Trying to disrupt filming? cried Clement. - No one will rewrite the script to make your role in the film longer.

- I'm not asking you to increase the fee, but imagine that you were offered to shoot a psychological detective story, and in fact it turned out to be a cheap action movie. Tom Ripley I'm ready to play for free, because he is a real, living hero.

- Now I will take you at your word and make Ripley play without any fee.

Alain got up from the table and delivered Tom's monologue from the first scene of the movie. His voice, thoughtful gestures matched the image of the protagonist so exactly that the director actually hesitated whether to give Delon this role.

Their conversation lasted two hours. Alain felt that he was interested in Clement and told him his vision of Ripley's image. In this, Briali's opinion about the main character of the picture was of great help to him.

The director promised Delon to talk with the producer and the management of the film studio and contact the actor in the evening. For himself, he had already decided that Alain was the perfect performer for the role of Ripley. Unexpectedly easily, Clement managed to convince the producer of this. So the day before the start of filming, Alain received the main role in the film.

Romi congratulated him, doing her best not to envy her lover's luck.

While working on the film, the actor became close friends with Maurice Ronet, the new performer of the role of Philip Greenleaf. Often they left the set together and the two of them went to a bar to discuss the scenes of the film planned for the next day at a leisurely pace. On one of these evenings, two young girls approached the actors and asked for an autograph.

“Let's have dinner together,” Ronet suggested cheerfully, who was bored with hard work and wanted to have fun.

Alena didn't mind either. In the last month, Romy hid from him her feelings about the lack of offers to act, but it seemed to the young man that a reproachful look was pursuing him. The girls were delighted at the prospect of getting to know the actors better and joked and flirted sweetly all evening. At the end of dinner, the four of them left the bar.

"Lison, let me invite you to my bachelor's quarters," said Maurice, addressing his companion.

The girl lowered her eyes and slightly nodded her head in agreement.

“Alain, you are not going to break up our company and deprive us of the company of the lovely Clo? Maurice asked his friend.

Suddenly Rone remembered that his friend had arrived with Romy. However, despite the large number of drunk bottles of wine, Maurice has not lost the ability to quickly find a way out of any situation.

The room next to mine is empty. Take it off for the night,” he suggested to Delon.

Alain looked at the young girl standing next to him and decided to take the advice of a friend. Romy was not his wife, and he did not have to report to her about his short hobbies.

Clo, do you agree? he asked the girl.

- Can anyone refuse you, Alain? she whispered back and took his arm.

Great, the fun continues! Ronet shouted and went to the hotel where the film crew was placed.

Alain feared a scandal and tried to reason with him:

Don't make noise or you'll wake up all the guests.

He took the key to the vacant room from the receptionist and went in with Clough. Before closing the door, he once again asked Maurice to be quiet.

- Yes, I understand. You know you can count on me,” he thundered to the entire floor.

Alain grimaced and disappeared into the room. It must have been the fatigue of filming, but a night spent with a random admirer did not give him any pleasure. He did not feel guilty towards Romy, but still, unlocking the door of their room in the morning, he felt awkward. His girlfriend was asleep. He went into the bathroom quietly, trying not to wake Romi, but the door, as if on purpose, creaked loudly.

“Alain,” the girl called, opening her eyes.

"I'm here, honey," he called from the bathroom, lathering his cheeks with shaving cream.

I didn't wait for you yesterday. Are you back late?

- Yes. Maurice and I sat in a cafe.

Noticing Delon on the site, Rone hurried to him.

How is Clo? Didn't disappoint? I'm meeting my Lisette again today.

— Maurice, be a friend, forget about last night. Fortunately, Romi fell asleep and did not know anything.

- Clear. These are the difficulties of a betrothed man. So you won't support our company today?

“Of course not,” Alain waved angrily.

It seemed to him that yesterday's incident was over, but he was wrong. In the evening, the actor arrived at the hotel with Romy and went to the elevator when a young receptionist called him:

- Mr. Delon, you did not return the key to the room. Do you want to keep it until tomorrow?

At first, the girl thought that the porter had simply made a mistake. After all, the film studio rented rooms for the actors for a week. Then she noticed how Alain hurriedly put his hand in his pocket to find the key, and understood everything. While he was giving the key to the receptionist, the girl took the elevator alone to their room. She wanted to scatter the traitor's belongings on the floor and stomp them with her feet. In a mad rage, she pushed a massive ashtray to the floor. Not having the strength to listen to her lover's explanations, she ran out of the room, slamming the door. The elevator was busy, apparently, Alain climbed it. Then she went down the stairs into the hall, and rushed past the completely frightened receptionist, whom Delon made a scandal about unprofessional behavior a minute ago and threatened to complain to the owner of the hotel.

Romi rushed out of the hotel, not responding to the greetings of familiar actors chatting near the entrance, and caught a taxi.

“Take me to any bar,” she told the driver.

He stopped near a two-story house with a bright sign and light bulbs at the entrance. The girl paid him and went to the bar. Little by little, her act began to seem stupid to her, but she did not want to back down. Seated at a table, she ordered a glass of wine and tried to think about her next steps. Alain had humiliated her, just as he had a year ago when she caught him in a restaurant with another woman. He explained this by the fact that Romy comes to Paris for a short time and disappears for months on the set. She refused lucrative offers so as not to part with her beloved. Why did she make such a sacrifice? This morning she received a call from her mother, who had read in the papers about her cameo role in the film.

“If this is the deep role that your lover promised you in a French film, then you are completely crazy,” Magda Schneider said to her daughter. “You've already wasted months staying in Paris. When you get tired of idleness, call me. Hans recently spoke to a director who is interested in your participation in his new historical film. The fee is excellent. So think!

At first, Romi did not take her mother's proposal seriously, but now it seemed tempting. What's the point of not being separated from Alain, if he still finds the opportunity to cheat on her.

The girl looked around doomedly and noticed two men at the next table, who did not take their eyes off her. She felt an unpleasant chill in her chest and thought it best to leave the bar as soon as possible. With a gesture, she called the waiter and asked for the bill, but before the waiter had time to move away from the table, the two sat down beside her.

- Do you miss being alone, honey? one of them asked her.

"No, I'm leaving already," she replied, trying to hide her fear.

- Tell us your name.

Romi quickly got up, but the men were not going to let her go so easily and moved after her. At that moment, as if by magic, Delon and Ronet, who were looking for her, appeared at the door of the bar. Feeling an inexpressible relief, she hid in Alain's arms. They left the bar and walked towards the hotel. Neither of them spoke a word. Even Maurice, who had caught up with them, left his usual bravado and carefully asked Romy:

- Are you okay?

"Quite," the girl replied with a faint smile.

Alain hugged her even tighter and did not let go until the door of the room.

A dangerous adventure made Romi forget about the misdeed of his beloved. They reconciled again, but her faith in Alain's loyalty was undermined. She realized that living with him, she would have to come to terms with his betrayals. Her idea of ​​​​an ideal marriage with him crumbled to dust, but love and passion for this man did not even allow her to think about a possible break.

In the morning, she called her mother back and categorically rejected the proposed contract. She hid her disappointment and said:

- You still have to come to Germany and sign an agreement to buy restaurants in Cyprus. Hans received all the documents and gave them to his lawyer.

— I doubt whether it is worth buying these restaurants at all. Who will constantly fly to Cyprus and control their work? Romi asked. Is it Hans?

“We'll hire a manager,” Magda replied. Why did you suddenly change your mind? Is Allen against it?

The girl tried not to notice the anger in her mother's voice and said:

- No, on the contrary. He loves this idea.

“If he had money, he would not refuse to buy it,” Frau Schneider summed up venomously.

- Mom, he is now filming a lot and is becoming very popular.

- He's taking off. And how are you? If you miss the right moment, you can generally be left without roles.

After these words, Romi felt completely uncomfortable.

The shooting of "In the Bright Sun" was completed, and he and Alain returned to Paris. The actor raved day and night about his future work with Visconti and read the script of the film. A day later, he visited the gym to get the necessary physical form for a new role, and in the evenings he and Romy went to a cafe and met with friends. Alain behaved as if the company of his girlfriend bothered him, and he was afraid to even spend one evening alone with her. “Of course,” the girl said to herself, “I have become a burden for him, constantly complaining that there are no roles. He forgot how upset he was after the failure with Christina, and how I consoled him.

After starting work with Visconti, the estrangement between lovers disappeared. Alain introduced her to an Italian director, never left without her on the set and again sought advice on the image of his character.

At first, Luchino Visconti treated the girl with some prejudice. He only saw her in Sissi films and didn't imagine her playing serious roles. One day at dinner, he asked Romi:

Why did you leave Germany?

“I love Alain, I want to be with him,” the girl smiled fervently. “And I also hope to get a role that is at least a little different from the role of the princess.

Visconti smiled back and said to Alain:

- Your friend is adorable. You're lucky.

The praise of the great master in the address of Romy flattered the actor.