Sometimes you have to try a little harder for what you want.
Taylor Elgin was a child star, but keeping her career as an adult is frustrating. Now executives want to cut her part unless she garners more audience appeal. Her producer has a perfect plan. Match her character up with a fan favorite played by hot guy and terrible actor Ryan Asher. It would be easier to just quit…
Ryan had a crush Taylor when he was a kid and is thrilled to be partnered with her now. But does a guy carrying the scars of an abusive childhood deserve America’s Little Girl? And then to learn she never wanted to work with him in the first place? There’s no reason to even try…
They knew. They all knew. Ryan drove to Taylor’s. He had to clear his stuff out of her place before she got home. He wouldn’t have to see her until next week on set and they’d have to figure out how to work around her disgust for the sake of the show. At least if everybody knew, she wouldn’t be able to blackmail him.
He bundled his dirty laundry into a trash bag and tossed his toiletries on top. Then he took one last walk through of the apartment. Her bed where they had made love so often. The amethyst necklace he’d given her on the dresser beside her jewelry box. Her bathroom where she made herself so stunning. And where they had made love a couple of times. The living room. Her color coordinated Christmas tree was still up. The lights were turned on, casting a soft white glow on the room. The first season of Vikings sat beside the DVD player. He grabbed his trash bag and left the apartment.
Gale and Devi were in the living room dressed for clubbing when he yanked open the front door.
“Whoa, what happened to you?” Gale asked.
“She knows. She fucking knows.” Ryan threw the garbage bag of his belongings against the wall. His dirty laundry tumbled across the floor.
“Fuck,” Gale said. Devi retreated into the dining room.
Mick thundered down the stairs in sweats. “What happened? Did she find out? Shit. Shit!”
“How did she find out?”
“Mrs. Spencer was at the party.” Ryan couldn’t breathe. His throat clotted with grief. It wasn’t supposed to happen this soon. He should have had a few more days at least.
“Mrs. Spencer told her?” Mick demanded. “Fuck. What are we gonna do?”
The woman who had been sleeping in Ryan's bed the other day came down the stairs but stopped on the bottom step. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt with a gym bag over her shoulder.
“I don’t even know if I still have a job.” Ryan rubbed his forehead.
“Text Marty and ask him,” Gale said. “It’s not like you were an extra. You were a regular cast member.”
“Do you really think Marty is going to want Ryan on his show now?” Mick demanded.
“He was a regular cast member,” Gale repeated.
Ryan pulled out his phone. He texted Marty, “do I still have a job?” he stared at the phone, but no response came.
“What happened?” the new roommate asked.
“Taylor was talking to Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Spencer pointed at me and Taylor puked all over her.” Ryan dug his fingers into his hair.
“Taylor puked on Mrs. Spencer?” Gale said. “Awesome. Bitch deserved it.”
“Jesus. I knew she’d be disgusted, but that’s something else.” Mick shook his head.
Ryan closed his eyes. Tears leaked from under his lashes. Everything up in smoke. All day, until Taylor got sick, had been magic. They had sun and sand and waves, and she was so happy. If he had died two hours ago it would have been perfect. His phone rang. Marty.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Devi asked. She hadn’t come back into the living room, but the new girl had moved to stand beside him.
“I don’t want to talk to him.” Marty loved Taylor. She was like a daughter to him. Marty had to be beyond pissed.
“Then I’ll answer it.” The new girl held out her hand.
Ryan pressed the phone to his chest. “No. I don’t want anybody to talk to him.” His phone stopped ringing. “They know where I live. They’ll come looking for me.” His phone started ringing again.
“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not that bad,” the new girl said.
“Fuck you. What do you know about it?” His phone stopped ringing.
“We are all fucked,” Mick said. “Without Space Odyssey, we can afford this place for another month if we don't eat. I've got the one modeling gig coming. Tanya Bauer will pay, don't you think? Gale, you have a couple of cleaning jobs and I've got my PR clients."
“Don’t kid yourself,” Gale said. “Do you think anybody is going to want us in their house now? And your PR clients are gone when you can’t keep our own past under wraps.”
“I can earn two, three hundred bucks a night. I’ll just take more nights.” The new girl shrugged.
Ryan’s phone buzzed with a text. Everyone stared at it.
“What does it say?” Devi asked.
Ryan read the screen twice. “Yes, you have a job.” The phone buzzed with a second text. “Where are you?”
“Okay, you have a job. That’s good.” Mick raked his fingers through his hair.
“I have a job where I have to pretend to fall in love with Taylor over the next four months. I have to see her every day and know how disgusted she is by me.” His throat felt like it was tied in knots.
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Christa Maurice spends a lot of time lost in imagination. When not writing, she loves to travel and has spent several years living overseas. She spent four years living in Abu Dhabi where the temperature was always hot, the sunrise and sunset were pretty stable year ‘round and she could go weeks without speaking to a man who wasn’t selling her groceries. You know that happens to a woman living in what amounts to a harem situation? She spends a lot of time talking about shoes and thinking about men. Which brings us right back to being lost in imagination…