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CHAPTER ONE – CLIFF’S EDGE, SILVER LAKE
CHAPTER TWO – ONE WEEK EARLIER
CHAPTER THREE – BACK AT CLIFF’S EDGE
Any Girl in Hollywood
by Tamara T. White
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events or locals is purely coincidental.
Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited. The author greatly appreciates you taking the time to read her work. Please consider leaving a review wherever you bought the book, or telling your friends about it to help
spread the word.
Thank you for your support.
Thank you Harry, Summer, Helen and Mom for encouraging me to keep writing even when it was hard.
To all the girls in Hollywood and everywhere else – love yourself fiercely and never stop nurturing your dreams.
You are magic.
I dedicate this to you. xo, Tamara
Cliff’s Edge, Silver Lake
“Would you like anything to drink while you wait?” asks the bartender. He’s handsome in a hipster way, with tortoise-framed glasses and a dark beard.
“Sure. What’s your name?” Kimber twists the end of her black hair with an index finger and leans over the bar to give him a peek of her lace bra. Not that she’s interested in him, but he might give her a free cocktail. It makes her feel exciting and maybe even a little dangerous.
“Nice to meet you, Mark. I’m Kimber.” She pushes her right hand towards him, grateful she had her nails done over the weekend. “What do you recommend?”
“We have a really nice Pinot that I like. And also the Malbec from Argentina. That’s probably my favorite.” He smiles with perfect teeth.
Another one come to Los Angeles to be an actor. She can smell his type from a mile away. Generally, they reek of desperation and arrogance—a sad combination.
“Okay, I’ll have the Malbec then.”
He winks his approval, then swaggers to the far end of the bar and grabs a wine glass from the shelf just above his head.
“You from LA?” he says, twirling the glass between two fingers. It’s only the two of them at the inside bar of Cliff’s Edge, and it provides him with permission to drop the usual formalities of service.
Kimber resists the urge to roll her eyes. It’s the first night of a weeklong celebration of her best friend Lissette’s twenty-eighth birthday, and this is the only event and location that will be intimate enough for their group of friends to catch up. She doesn’t have time for a show off barkeep.
“Yeah, live in K-town,” she says, annoyed that he’s so bold with her yet enjoying it at the same time. Maybe going out with him wouldn’t be that bad. She stops herself. He’s a bartender—and even worse, a struggling actor.
“What do you do?” He grabs a bottle of wine, pops the cork off festively, and pours some into the chalice. Small candles on each table gleam like fireflies against the evening darkness.
A shock of pride flows through her. “I’m a publicist.”
His eyebrows arch in surprise. “Wow.”
“Yeah,” she says inspecting him from the bar stool’s perch.
“Let me know if you need anything else,” he says before leaving her to herself.
She takes a sip of her wine and sits uncomfortably for a moment before pulling out her iPhone to check for messages. To her disappointment, there are none. She detests being alone—it’s so awkward—and relief washes over her as Lissette walks in. Lissette’s wearing an off-the-shoulder olive green dress and bronze stilettos, and her hair is in her trademark high ponytail.
“Hey, girl,” she says, rising to greet her friend and holding out a tall silver gift bag. “Happy birthday!”
“Thank you so much. You didn’t have to.”
“What else could I have gotten for the party queen?” Shopping for Lissette is overwhelming, and Kimber hopes the bottle of Moët the clerk suggested will be enough. It’s not that Lissette is picky, but as one of Hollywood’s top nightclub promotors, she’s always getting free stuff, especially from the spirits companies. Damn. She should have remembered that and gotten her perfume or something else.
“Happy birthday!” calls another voice. A tall, latte-colored woman and her fair-complected companion rush toward the bar. Good, Mara and Farrah are here. The two inseparable cousins keep every party lit.
“Oh my god, you look amazing, Lissette,” Farrah says sweetly as she hands over a beautifully wrapped gift.
“Yeah, boo,” adds Mara. She kisses Lissette on the cheek. “You trying to get that birthday sex tonight?”
Lissette’s eyes roll to cloak her embarrassment. Even though she works in nightclubs, she’s a traditional Catholic Latina at heart and Mara’s bluntness constantly mortifies her although she’d never admit it.
“Mark, can we get a round of Malbec for my friends?” Kimber calls, leaning over the bar.
Farrah turns to Kimber. “So did you end up going out with Christian Ward?”
Ugh, she’d almost forgotten. Kimber scrunches her face. She is being dramatic, but this deserves their attention. Not to overshadow Lissette, of course, but because this whole thing just happened.
“That bad?” says Lissette.
“Don’t tell us—it’s like this big.” Mara holds her thumb and index finger an inch apart.
“You’re so nasty, Mara,” Kimber says.
No, that wasn’t it, but the truth is she doesn’t know what to think. It’s like every time she almost gets what she wants—well, it just gets ruined.
“Tell us what happened already,” Farrah says.
Kimber looks from face to face around her. “Okay, but you’re all going to want a drink for this one.”
Maybe, just maybe, she is doing this to herself. Oh god, could this be self-sabotage? She brings the glass of wine to her lips and takes a gulp to calm herself, then launches into her story.
One Week Earlier
“He’s going to pick you up here, Kimber?” Clover took a sip of Charles Shaw wine and readjusted her catlike body against the frame of the bathroom door.
“Yeah, why?” I leaned forward to apply another layer of mascara.
She looked around the apartment skeptically. “No, it’s fine.”
“Why do you say it like that?” Clover was making me anxious, and I absolutely hate feeling out of control. I felt the sudden urge to get out of the cramped restroom.
“Isn’t he that guy on the talk show?” she countered.
“Yeah, Christian Ward, like from The Christian Ward Show.”
“You totally should have met him there. Our place is shit.”
“I’ll just run down.” I hoped this would shut her up. It’s not like I didn’t try to keep him from coming here. I even said I would meet him at the party, but he insisted on picking me up.
“God, the outside of the building is even worse.” She sighed with frustration. “So what’s he like?”
“Christian? He’s cool, I guess. I don’t really know him. We met a few times. Like at parties, once when I was with Cecilia and then today, I was on the Paramount lot—I think I told you, my hairdresser moved his shop there, which is weird—but anyway, I ran into Christian in the elevator. And he remembered my name, sort of, and then he asked if I want to go to this party with him tonight. So I said yeah.”
She gave a little squeal. “You’re so lucky. He’s so hot.”
“I mean, he’s cute. He sort of looks like a puppy to me.” The thing is, I was just as excited as Clover—no, I was more excited, but I was trying to be cool about it. Truthfully, this was the first time I’d actually gone out with a real celebrity. I had dinner once with one of the black dudes who made it to the final round of Survivor, but I really didn’t count reality stars as celebrities. No, they didn’t count at all.
My phone buzzed against the bathroom counter. It was a text from Christian: “Wear something hot. It’s a special party in the Hills.”
My eyelids flash open. “Whoa, look what he just sent me.”
“A special party? I wonder if it’s a costume party or something,” she said.
“He would’ve told me to wear a costume. Who knows what types of things these celebrities get invited to? Here”—I shoved my phone into her hands, not caring that I might be coming off as slightly thirsty—“take a picture of me so I can send it to him.”
I turned to the side, sucked my stomach in, and pushed my chest towards the camera. This would make a cute pic: I was wearing a tight black dress with cutouts at the waist over thigh-high, lace-up boots.
She tapped the screen several times. “Okay, that looks good. I took a few so you can pick the best one.”
I chose one that made my curves look amazing and pressed Send.
A moment later, I received a text back: “You’re perfect. Be there in 10.”
“Look what he texted.” I pushed the phone towards Clover with my left hand and waited for her to give me a high five with the right.
“You’re perfect? He’s totally into you!” she said with a cackle.
I rolled my eyes, but inside, I was exploding with excitement. Christian Ward said I was perfect. I couldn’t wait to tell my girlfriends about it.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey.” I had to almost curl into the fetal position to climb into his car, but I didn’t mind at all. The car was new, red, and shiny, and contrasted sharply with the line of beat-up blue-and-black trash cans standing rudely next to it in the street.
“You look nice. I could have come up—my mother did teach me manners.” Even though he hadn’t gotten out of his Aston Martin to open the door, it didn’t bother me. Actually, I was thankful, because he would have gotten a big whiff of sewer. Don’t ask me why it smelled. It just did sometimes. And that day was one of them.
“It’s okay. My roommate is sick, anyway,” I said. “So we’re going to a party in the Hills?”
I was ready to get there. I double-checked my phone battery, because if this party was anything like I thought it would be, my Snapchat was gonna be lit.
“Yeah, is that cool?”
“Sure, sounds good.”
“I don’t know if it’s your type of thing, but guess we’ll see.” He stared at me for a moment too long, as if he were unsure about something. “You have nice eyebrows.”
“Thanks.” I changed the subject, because I didn’t know what else to say. “Do you have the SoundCloud app?”
He pulled away from the curb. The car was zippy and low to the ground. It reminded me of riding a roller coaster. “SoundCloud? Nope. I’ve got Spotify and satellite radio.”
“All right, let’s get some music going. Do you know Kid Ink?”
“Come on, do I look that old?” He laughed at his own joke. “Never heard of them.”
He had one hand on the wheel. It was a nice hand. Well-manicured. An expensive, earthy fragrance clung to him. His hair was cut perfectly, his eyebrows well shaped. I imagined the entire team of stylists that must work on him daily. That’s probably why he noticed things like the shape of my eyebrows; it was almost like his job to see those sorts of things.
“Here,” he said, passing me his phone. “Put whatever you want on.”
Nervously, I pressed the browse button on Spotify. I seemed to have forgotten all the cool bands.
We turned on Sixth Street and headed west. The sports car growled around us as Christian hit the gas pedal. Then Michael Kiwanuka blasted through the speakers—old and soulful, so I figured it was a good choice. Christian hit a button and the windows came down, and we weaved in and out of traffic, past the Wilshire Golf Course, up Highland, and west on Sunset Boulevard, the wind whipping through my hair.
A quarter mile from the party, a line of cars had come to a standstill on Sunset Plaza Drive. There were no streetlights. To my right was the hillside and to my left was a spectacular view of the city. Millions of blue, yellow, and white lights shone back at us.
Christian was chill as we inched towards the valet stand. I was surprised by his smooth demeanor. Maybe he was nervous too, but one on one, he seemed much different from the high-energy persona he displayed on television every night.
“Cigarette?” He offered a pack of American Spirits.
“No, thanks.” I only smoked when I was drunk or when my anxiety was out of control.
When we got to the valet stand, they opened our doors and Christian popped out quickly. He walked a few yards up the hill and waited for me as I struggled in four-inch heels on the incline and pockmarked road.
Then it started. People began to recognize him. And in front of my eyes, he transformed.
“Christian,” shouted a man from the darkness.
A woman walked past with her date. “Hey, Christian.”
“Good to see you, Molly,” he said in his high-octane talk show voice.
I caught up only to have him continue to walk two steps in front of me. I followed behind him bubbleheaded and we entered the ten-foot gates of the estate, walked up the circular driveway, and passed the men working security at the door of the mansion. Every few steps, Christian smiled, pointed at someone, slapped them on the back, and told them how great they looked.
And then there was me, following behind like a shadow with a permanent, stupid grin on my face. But I wasn’t upset. Why should I be? I was at a party in the Hollywood Hills with Christian Ward. Who cared if he hadn’t opened my door or lent a supportive arm as I struggled in my heels? Most girls in LA would have killed to be in my place. Hell, I would have killed to be in my place.
The house was uplit with purple and blue lights and staged with white furniture. We walked through the house to the deck, where an infinity pool overlooked another angle of the city.
“Beautiful, right?” He continued without giving me a chance to respond. “My house is right over there.” He pointed across the canyon. “Want a drink?”
“Sure, gin and tonic.”
“Really?” His eyes twinkled in the moonlight.
I shrugged and pulled out my iPhone to take a video of the view. “My grandmother got me into it.”
His lips parted, and he broke into a big smile. “Gotcha.”
“Oh my god, Christian, I didn’t know you were going to be here!” A tall white woman with bleach-blond hair engulfed him, wrapping her long arms around his shoulders.
“Wow—Justine!” His eyebrows wrinkled quickly, and then he was smiling widely.
“Right.” Her drink sloshed onto his shirt as she talked. “And guess who else is here?”
“Um, I don’t know. But this is Kimber. My date.”
She turned and gave me a hug. “Oh, I didn’t even see you.” Her hair tickled the bridge of my nose. “I’m Justine.”
“Nice to meet you.”
But it wasn’t nice. In fact, I was pissed that she was interrupting us. Was this his ex-girlfriend? She was big and loud and annoying, and her dress was tacky. I didn’t like her one bit.
She turned back to Christian. “It’s my brother! Jonathan is here, too.”
“Oh,” he said. I couldn’t quite read the look on his face, but it wasn’t happiness. “Well, me and Kimber just got here, so we’re going to grab—”
“Nonsense. Come on, let’s go find him.” She grabbed Christian’s arm and dragged him after her.
He turned and shrugged helplessly as he followed behind his captor. I followed, fuming on the inside but with a smile fixed on my face.
“Wow, Christian Ward,” called a handsome black man as we passed a white sofa near the dance floor. He wore tan Gucci loafers and a pink knit sweater draped over his shoulders.
“Jonathan. How have you been, buddy?” Christian reached to shake his hand. “This is my date, Kimber.” He nudged me forward with a hand on the small of my back.
“Hi.” I looked back and forth between Jonathan and Justine, unsure whether I was more surprised that Jonathan was black or that he was obviously gay. Probably both. Yes, definitely both.
“Same dad, different moms,” Justine said with a shrug.
I smiled politely. “Wasn’t going to ask.”
That part was true. Because I didn’t care. Not two fucks given about either one of them. What I was worried about was missing the party because we were standing there chit-chatting with them.
For a moment, we stood in an awkward circle.
Then Justine said, “Remember when you guys came to India to visit me and your passports got stolen?” She laughed, then looked at me. “I took a year-long contract there doing interior design work, and I was dying of loneliness and they came to visit me for two weeks. It was like throwing a life jacket to a drowning man.”
“And I got so sick after eating the butter curry at the airport,” Jonathan said.
“It was the airport,” Christian said. “You’d think the food would be safe there.”
“Then you took us to that crazy market,” Jonathan said. “What was it called?”
“Chandni Chowk,” Christian said before Justine could chime in.
She put her hand on Christian’s arm. “What about when the monkey broke into our house in Goa?”
The three of them doubled over with laughter. I shifted angrily, wondering how to stop those two hyenas from hijacking my evening with Christian.
“We’re sorry, Kimber,” Christian said. “We don’t mean to bore you with our old stories. We all moved here from Connecticut about fifteen years ago. We’ve had a lot of crazy times together.”
“It sounds like it. I can leave you three to it. I’ll go check out the music outside.” I didn’t mean a word of it and hoped the tone of my voice showed it.
“No, don’t let us spoil your date. It was great meeting you.” Jonathan leaned in to give me a hug. He seemed nice enough.
I complimented myself on my class and generosity as we walked away. Instead of slapping Justine, which is what I really would like to have done, I found something nice to say about her to Christian instead. “They seem really sweet.”
He ignored me and pointed up. “Look.”
We were in the living room, and the ceilings were at least twenty feet high. A beautiful woman wearing a Swarovski crystal leotard and holding a burning torch walked gracefully across a tightrope across the center of the expansive room. She paused in the middle, and one man joined her from each side. They both slowly lowered to one knee, and she used them as a staircase to ascend to their shoulders. Slowly, they made their way to their platform, where she nimbly leaped to safety. The other performers followed her, and together, they took a bow, the torch still burning boldly in her hand.
“That’s amazing!” I cheered as wildly as the rest of the guests before remembering to clap my hands daintily and remain ladylike in front of Christian. Men liked that type of thing.
“I should have them on the show,” he said.
Might as well use his fame to our advantage, I figured. “Can we meet them?”
“Sure, why not?” He peered through the crowd. “They’ve bound to have set up a green room around here somewhere.”
He grabbed my hand and pulled me into the hot, sweaty crowd. His hand felt soft yet powerful against mine, and I smiled. Christian Ward. Such a catch.
We made our way across the room and down a dim hallway. Christian opened a door to a room where three stylish women and two men sat. One of the men held a black American Express card and was chopping a mound of white powder into several finger-sized lines.
“You fucking mind—”
“Hey—sorry, man.” Christian pulled the door shut.
As it closed, one of the woman said, “Was that Christian Ward?”
We turned and looked at each other and burst out laughing, then headed down the hall to another room. He knocked gently, and when he didn’t hear a response, he cracked it open and peeked in.
He shut the door again quickly. “Jesus.”
My curiosity got the better of me, so I cracked the door open. The back of a head covered with bright red hair bobbed between the legs of a short round man leaning against the far wall.
“Oh!” I shut the door even faster than Christian had. Yuck. That image would never leave my mind.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me farther down the hallway. A line of people crowded against the wall. Must be the bathroom queue. He led me up a spiral staircase and through another sitting room where fashionable people had congregated, drinking and smoking cigarettes.
“Here they are,” Christian said, striding boldly forward. “I’m Christian Ward, and this is Kimber.”
“Hello,” said the woman in the Swarovski crystal leotard. She had a lilting accent and wore bright red lipstick. “I’m Sabine. Together, we’re called Cirque Frères et Sœur.”
“I’m Hugo and this is Louis,” said one of the men.
“That was just fabulous,” Christian said. “Where’d you learn to do that?”
“Our parents were circus performers in France,” said Louis.
“If you’re going to be in Los Angeles for a while, I’d love to chat more with you about coming onto my show to perform.”
“Delighted. Our card?” Sabine reached into a small clutch covered with crystals. It was clear that she ran their business.
“Great. My producers will give you a call.” He looked the card over and tucked it into his shirt pocket. “There’s just one more thing. Could Kimber take a photo with you?”
“Yes, of course,” said Louis. He held out hands to both his siblings, and I crowded into the middle of the group near Sabine. She smelled of gardenias.
Christian pulled out his phone and snapped a photo.
“Here, take one with mine too.” I couldn’t wait to send the image out to cyberspace and watch my followers go crazy. Of course, I wouldn’t come right out and say I was on a date with Christian Ward. That would be tacky. The caption would be something witty, like: “Tonight’s Show #DateNight”
Yeah. That was perfect.
Still buzzing with excitement, I slipped into the restroom back down the hall.
Justine pounced on me. “Oh my god, Kimber!”
Damn. Of all people, how had I ended up in here with her?
“Hey.” I pointed to a door. “Is that the toilet?”
We were standing in a large room with double sinks and a large vanity mirror that Justine was using to apply her lipstick.
“Yeah, someone’s in there. I’m waiting, myself.”
“Got it,” I said. I fidgeted and willed the other person to finish quickly so I could escape.
“So what do you do?” she asked innocently.
“I’m a publicist for an entertainment and tech firm.” My tone was short, and I was careful not to encourage additional conversation.
“Would I know any of your clients?”
“The singer Jai Lee.”
“I just saw him on a talk show. He’s adorable.”
Despite my best efforts, I smiled. I couldn’t be completely rude, after all. And it’s not as if Justine was being mean to me. She was just, well . . . It wasn’t her fault she was annoying.
“Yes, we just booked him for that,” I said.
We stood for a few moments in silence before I decided to be a bit nicer. I might even find out something useful.
“So how long did you and Christian date?” I asked nonchalantly.
She spit the piece of ice she was sucking on back into the tumbler she was holding. “Me and Christian? Oh, yuck.”
I stared at her, confused. A second of elation that they never dated. “I thought—”
“Christian and Jonathan dated in college. For years.”
“Your, your brother? Jonathan?” My gaze dropped to the floor. What ugly carpet in such a nice house.
“Personally, I think they still have a thing for each other, but John says he can’t deal with Christian’s confusion.”
I nodded my head like an idiot.
“That’s what Jonathan calls it. He doesn’t believe people can be bisexual—at least, he doesn’t believe Christian is. Personally, I think it’s possible. I love men—I mean, love men. Still, a little romp with a beautiful woman . . .Well, I’m not against that.” She stopped grinning when she noticed the look on my face. “You didn’t know?”
“About Christian? We just met.”
“He’s a good guy.” She took another sip of her never-ending drink. She was obviously buzzed, and I wondered if she would regret outing Christian tomorrow. I wondered if what she’d said was even true.
“The wait is a little long here,” I said politely, unable to meet her gaze. “Going to head downstairs.”
I scurried out the door and headed to find the nearest bar.
A couple of hours and several drinks later, Christian slid his hand around my waist. “Are you ready to get out of here?”
“Yeah, let’s go.” The heavy feeling in my stomach was still there. No matter how many gin and tonics I had, it just wouldn’t go away.
The entire drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what Justine had told me in the ladies’ room. On one hand, I’d had an amazing time with Christian. I mean, the house, the party, the connections I could make in that world—amazing. Logically, the benefits of dating him far outweighed the drawbacks. So what, maybe he was gay. Was that even that big of a deal anymore?
“Everything okay?” he asked.
My silence must have been obvious. “Just a little tired.”
He nodded and turned the music up louder. When we got to my apartment, he pulled up to the curb and turned the engine off.
“Thanks for coming out with me tonight, Kimber.” He leaned over to give me a hug, and I wrapped my arms around him. It felt nice. If he was really gay, we wouldn’t have had this amazing chemistry. Justine could have been lying.
His lips crashed into mine. No, crashed wasn’t the right word. He had surprised me, but there was nothing forceful about the stroke of his mouth against mine. His tongue traveled across my lips gently, then moved to explore my mouth in slow strokes that made me dizzy. I buried my nose in his neck to inhale his cologne. He smelled of vanilla and musk. And prosperity.
His hands moved from my back to my hair. He pressed his body against mine, sandwiching me between him and the window. One hand drifted down to my thigh.
And that’s when I pulled back.
“What’s wrong?” he whispered, kissing a route from the corner of my mouth down my neck.
“Justine . . .”
The name shocked me even as it crossed my lips. Stupid. Why had I mentioned her? It was becoming more and more obvious by the second that he was definitely into me.
He leaned back and looked at me. “Justine . . . ?”
The look on his face told me that I should have stayed quiet.
“She said—” I stopped to consider how to word it. Damn. Why was I still talking? “She said Jonathan was your college boyfriend.”
He was quiet for a long time.
“Why would she tell you that?” he finally said, in a very different voice than the sensual whisper he just been using. “When did she tell you that?”
“Tonight, in the bathroom.” I pulled back and tugged at the hem of my dress. Ugh. I was such an idiot. Really, I had to learn to shut up.
“She’s such a drama queen.”
I propped my elbow against the window and looked back at him. “Is it true?”
“Is what true?”
It seemed as if he were daring me to continue. “Did you and Jonathan date?”
“Yeah, we did. What’s that have to do with anything?”
Shut up, Kimber. Shut up. “So you’re gay?”
“No, I’m not a fag,” he said in a carefully controlled voice.
“Don’t say that word.” I pressed my lips tightly together and avoided his eyes, staring out the window. A stray cat darted across the street.
“Well, whatever you want to call it, I’m not it—which, by the way, is why we broke up. He always wanted me to label myself, and I won’t do it.” He narrowed his eyes.
“Christian, if you dated Jonathan, you’re at least bisexual.” My fingers fidgeted uncontrollably. I ran my index finger back and forth against the acrylic tip of my thumbnails.
He ran his hands through his hair. “I have a family show, okay? I’m not gay. People in the south—where I have amazing ratings, by the way—they don’t do gay. Okay, Kimber?”
I sighed. Why had I been so excited about going out with him in the first place? I gave a half-hearted shrug. “All right. Well, thanks for tonight.” I reached for the door handle.
He grabbed my arm. “Wait. We had fun tonight.” He smiled and bumped his shoulder against mine good-naturedly, willing me to forget our conversation. “I like you. Let’s do this again soon.”
Back at Cliff’s Edge
“So why’d you make out with him, anyway?” Mara lights another cigarette. “I mean, you knew before you left the party that he was too freaky for you.”
“I’m with Mara on this one.” Lissette takes a sip of her wine.
“Oh, come on,” Kimber says. “You two are acting like you wouldn’t have done the same thing. It was Christian Ward. He’s total A-list. You both would have done the same.”
She takes a sip of her wine, but she wonders too. What she really can’t figure out is why she brought up Christian’s secret in the first place.
Mara shakes her head. “Nope. Not me. But I wouldn’t have gone out with the douchebag in the first place.”
“You don’t even like guys, Mara. Farrah, back me up on this one.”
“Half the guys in LA are gay anyway, so I would have gone for it,” Farrah says. “He’s cute.”
“Exactly my point.” But the situation still bothers her. Is it some moral thing? She pushes the idea away. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. It’s not that at all.
“Okay, if it’s not a big deal, then why’d you bring it up with him anyway?” Mara asks.
Mara the contrarian. Kimber taps her foot and raises her eyebrows at her friend. Before she can reply, her phone begins to ring, vibrating rudely in the clutch beside her leg.
For a moment, she almost ignores it before she remembers the talk Cecilia gave her before she got promoted. “You’ll be on call now, Kimber,” she’d said. “When you have a client like Jai Lee, you need to always be available. That’s part of the job.”
She snatches the phone from her clutch. Two missed calls. One from Ace Sloan, Jai Lee’s manager, and one from Cecilia.
“Work,” she says, thankful to excuse herself from the table.
Cecilia picks up on the first ring. “Kimber. Meet me at the office in thirty minutes.”
“He really fucked up this time. Something about a girl in a nightclub.” Cecilia’s voice is strained. “All I know is Ace Sloan called and said the LAPD is interviewing Jai Lee at the studio right now. He wants us to meet the lawyer there and put together a statement and strategy to get ahead of this thing. I’ll pick you up from the office, and we can drive together.”
The reality of what could have happened—and the possibilities it could hold for her—begin to form in her head as she walks slowly back to the table.
“Hey, loves.” Her tone is convincingly regretful. “I’m super sorry, but I have to run. Something happened at work that I have to deal with.”
“You have to go?” Farrah gapes, then stands to give her a hug.
But inside, she is pleased. Ecstatic, even. It’s her first communications crisis. Whatever Jai Lee did, the story will be huge. A couple of weeks ago, he released an album, and it’s been at the top of the charts since. His legal troubles will definitely make the national news, maybe even international news.
And she’ll be in the vortex of the storm. Bad for him. So good for her career.
“Before you leave, we still want to know,” Lissette says. “If you knew he was gay, why’d you make out with Christian?”
“Come on, you all know the answer.” She smiles, and they wait for her to continue. “For the story. Same as any girl in Hollywood.”
They erupt into playful protest, and she waits a beat. “But that’s not the right question.”
“What do you mean?” Farrah asks.
The other two girls tilt their heads in confusion.
“You didn’t ask me why I stopped him.”
“Why did you?” Mara asks.
“Because even I have limits.”
She knows it’s not exactly true. It wasn’t some moral compass that stopped her. The thing is that with Christian—well, she’d always have to be the audience. And he’d always be the star. Not that a configuration like that was always bad. But it had to be worth it.
She says goodbye a final time and walks into the night, her heels clicking sharply against the tiled floor. Her friend’s voices echo behind her even as she waits for her car at the valet stand, waiting to drive herself straight into a real crisis.
She takes a deep breath. It’s spring in Los Angeles, and it smells of Hollywood and glamour—and if she’s lucky, maybe even a little danger. The good kind, of course.
FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS WITH KIMBER, LISSETTE, MARA, AND FARRAH NEXT!
If you liked Any Girl in Hollywood, you’ll LOVE the full-length novel, Girl So Hollywood.
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THANK YOU FOR READING!
Tamara T. White
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara T. White is the author of the short story, “Any Girl in Hollywood” and the full-length novel “Girl So Hollywood.” Originally from Northern California, she has lived in Los Angeles long enough to really have seen it all. Maybe it’s the year-round summer, palm trees or ceaseless traffic on the 405, but there’s something to the city that makes the saying “Only in LA” ring true. Tamara enjoys putting those scenarios on the page and hopes readers will have as much fun taking in the craziness as she does writing it.
After more than a decade of hard time in the heart of the city, she convinced her New Yorker fiancé that the west side is the best side and they moved to the beach. She loves sunshine, coffee, flip-flops and the bragging rights that come with being a third-generation Californian. You can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org