Briony opened the door and almost immediately shut it again but the man on the doorstep was too quick. His foot jammed against the post.
“Briony, please!” his face appeared, scrunched up, in the gap. “I’ve come a long way.”
That voice – that Californian accent recognised the world over – at one time would have given Briony a shiver down her spine. But now it was the last thing she wanted to hear.
“Go away, Joe,” she told him. “I’m busy.”
“Can’t I come in?” he pleaded. “Your neighbours are staring at me.”
“Let them,” Briony folded her arms. “You should be used to being looked at, Mr Movie Star.”
“That’s different. I’m not there when the audiences see my work. Listen: I just want a minute of your time. Please, let me come in.”
Briony’s mobile vibrated. A text message from Sally over the road. “Do you know Joe Starr is on your doorstep?”
“Yeah, sad face,” Briony sent back. She was startled when the phone rang and she almost dropped it. “Hello?”
“It’s me – don’t hang up!” The famous actor was calling her from the doorstep. Millions all over the world would kill for a call from him.
“Piss off, Joe!” Briony hung up but she could still hear him from the front step.
“You used to love my calls,” he wheedled, “Our little midnight chats. We had something special.”
“Let it go, Joe.”
“And our Skype calls – they were pretty hot. No one turns me on like you, babe. I think it’s because you really get me, you know? You talked to me like I was a real person – which I am, of course I am. And I don’t get that from anyone. Everyone just wants the movie star, the good looks, the glamour. But you, you talked to me like I was the boy next door. And you listened – I’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to shrinks who don’t listen as well as you. Please, Briony, let me in. Oh, wait.”
She heard him agreeing to pose for photographs with various people in the street. The excited chatter of her neighbours was growing. Soon there was quite a commotion.
Briony managed to close her front door and slide home the bolts and attach the security chain. She looked at her signed, framed photographs of Joe Starr on the mantelpiece.
Oh Joe, she sighed. Why did you have to be real?
How she wished she’d never followed him on Twitter!