In 1928, the Wall Street broker life seems awfully sweet. Money is flowing, and thanks to Aldo's taste for entertaining, Jean-Yves meets a beautiful Swedish dancer named Eva-Marie Fachsi. Love seems grand as they tentatively nibble at the Big Apple. But Fachsi decides to leave New York anyway, aspiring to bigger things in Hollywood. Then October 1929 arrives and the stock market does a swan dive off a cliff. The gang isn't happy. They drop in, grab Aldo, and throw him out his 18th-story office window. The papers call it suicide. Luckily for Jean-Yves, the thugs don't get their hands on him and he flees with his cat in Aldo's Duesenberg. This will not be the last we see of these gangsters.
More a romantic than a crook, Jean-Yves motors West in hopes of finding Fachsi. When he arrives in L.A., he sees "Eva-Marie Fachsi" listed in the phone book, but his call doesn't go through. The number is disconnected. He stays in L.A. anyway and finds work chauffeuring at night for a producer named Charles Granyer. Granyer is filming an epic, erotic version of the 11th-century Japanese novel, The Tale of Genji. Jean-Yves drives Granyer and his friends around L.A. after dark, from one speakeasy to another. By the end of these evenings, his services are invaluable. His night vision also recommends him to work as Granyer's caddy, finding his boss's errant golf shots when night is falling and the bets are on. Recognizing talent when he sees it, Granyer even has him help with some dead-of-night saké smuggling.
One day, Granyer directs him to pick up copies of The Tale of Genji at a bookshop in L.A.'s Little Tokio and deliver them to a dozen investors and aspiring actors. Something magical happens. He meets a literate, cultured young woman named Ariane. She and her grandmother own The Dragon and The Lotus, the dark, peaceful bookshop where Granyer gets his source material. Jean-Yves is smitten. Every time he visits, he leaves loaded with books and intoxicated by the charming bookseller. He starts reading The Tale of Genji in the subdued, quiet hours before dawn. Later Ariane sells him a rare book of Japanese woodblock prints that he imagines using in the film of Genji. He and Ariane begin playfully exchanging haiku.
An elderly film pro from Shanghai named Joe runs Granyer's film lab. Jean-Yves begins working part-time in his darkroom, processing the dailies from the Genji shoot. Big Department pays a surprise visit to Granyer. Hard on this disaster, Granyer's lawyer calls to enlist Jean-Yves' help in another matter. Granyer's in custody, arrested the night before, after a young woman died at one of his parties. Jean-Yves tries to raise bail. He organizes a screening of Genji for potential buyers. After the premiere, some tough customer informs Jean-Yves that filming erotica in L.A. is off-limits. The stranger says he controls that market. He'll buy the rights to Genji on the cheap but warns him to cease and desist. The tale couldn't get more noir.