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Shake It Loose and Let It Fall

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As a rule, Janice didn’t wear her hair down in public. She was known for her elaborate up-do’s, which went from a simple chignon to something that resembled basket weaving, and which she did herself. Between the hair, her professional wardrobe of tailored dresses topped with jackets, and her willingness to tell even the most powerful studio chief when she was displeased, Jan gained a reputation as an icy blonde of the classic Hitchcock type. She was smart enough to use that to her advantage in negotiations, but her friends and longtime clients knew that in her off hours, she was anything but cold.

At the moment, in fact, she was warm enough to need a swim. Christine and Janice had gone down to their lake house early, giving themselves a little time alone before their guests arrived for the holiday weekend. Jan shed her clothes the instant the groceries were in the fridge, but Chris hung back in the house, opening windows and putting a few things away. She came down to the water a bit later with a cocktail for each of them, intending to jump right in, but as she walked out onto the dock she stopped short.

At home in Los Angeles, whether swimming in a pool or the ocean, Jan kept her hair in a swim cap. That luscious yellow was natural, so she protected it from salt, sun and chlorine. At the beach she generally wore a hat and sat under an umbrella. But at the lake she was more relaxed, and let her hair down. It wasn’t that long, coming to the middle of her back, but there was a lot of it.

Now, as she floated on her back in the lake, it fanned out all around her, a curtain of yellow in the blue water. Despite being in a bikini rather than flowing white robes, she looked like one of those doomed Tennyson heroines—or really, like Anne Shirley pretending to be one, before sinking and being rescued by her Gilbert. (That was the trouble with being a bookish child who later found her way to Hollywood—Chris’s references started in literature but the pictures in her mind’s eye were from television more often than not.)

Chris set down the two highball glasses—a G&T for her, a Collins for Jan—and sat on the edge of the dock.

“What are you waiting for?” asked Jan, her eyes still closed. “The water’s warm.”

“Just enjoying the view,” she replied.

Jan opened one eye. “Get in before I come over there and pull you in.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Chris dove in, and the water was quite warm for late May but a bit of a shock to her body, which was still hot from the drive.

When Chris surfaced, Jan was treading water near the dock. Her hair, a little darker now that it was wet, clung to her neck and shoulders, but still glowed golden in the sunshine. She looked damn good to Chris, who swam over to join her.

“I brought you a drink,” Chris said, nodding to the dock.

“Ooh, full-service girlfriend. Thank you.” Jan hopped back up onto the dock, and Chris followed her. She held up her drink. “Here’s to long holiday weekends,” she said.

“And letting our hair down,” Chris added. They clinked glasses and drank.

“That always gets to you, doesn’t it?” she said, smiling.

Chris raised an eyebrow. “Manipulative,” she said.

“I’m a Hollywood agent,” Jan replied with a shrug. “And you’re one too, by the way.”

“Oh, that’s right,” she said, and leaned in for a kiss.