Authors: Zelda Reed
First Original Edition, October 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Zelda Reed
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written consent from the author.
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I'd been punched in the face before, during a school yard fight turned violent over a handful candy and a freckled face boy. I remember the dull ache that spread from my mouth to my jaw and the iron taste of blood after my teeth sunk down on my tongue. Jennifer didn't hit hard, her nails scraped across my cheek, ring covered knuckles smashing against my jaw but it was a weak hit. Clumsy. A punch from someone who'd never thrown one before.
Jennifer was staring at me with a self-satisfied grin, her fist raised and clenched.
You want some more?
A part of me wanted to stand up straight, shoulders back, jaw tight as I said, “Yeah bitch, bring it on”, but I wasn't that kind if girl. I was afraid of what she might do next.
I was turned to the side, shoulders hunched towards the railing when Evie screamed. Sharp and loud it bounced against the dark walls, traveling up the stairs and towards the left wing, waking up Bonnie, Chace, and Tyler. The three of them appeared on the second floor landing in various states of undress (Bonnie in a red silk robe, Tyler in his boxers, Chace in a T-shirt and briefs) the corners of their mouths turned down in fear as they surveyed the scene.
Bonnie was the first to rush down the steps, her eyes falling on Jennifer. She tightened her robe, smacking on a smile as she said, “Jennifer, honey, when did you get in?”
Jennifer threw her a look. “This morning,” she said, words cutting against her teeth as she turned her attention to Chace.
His mouth was set in a serious line as he made his way down the steps, both arms hanging stiffly by his sides. His eyes were trained on Jennifer's, narrow, dark, and cold.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he asked, landing next to me.
My shoulder brushed against his arm.
Jennifer stiffened. “You must be joking.”
“Is anyone laughing?” Chace said.
A humorless smirk spread across Jennifer's mouth.
Chace turned to me. “What happened?” His fingers raised to touch my jaw. I shied away.
“Your face is red,” Tyler said, making his way down the stairs.
Jennifer was drilling holes in the side of my face.
Tell them what happened, I fucking dare you
“Nothing,” I said.
Evie spit out a noise of disbelief. “She hit her,” she said, arms thrown across her chest. “Jennifer punched her in the jaw.”
Bonnie's eyes grew wide, head whipping in Jennifer's direction. “How did that happened?”
Chace threw me a look. “She hit you?”
Jennifer rolled her eyes. “Yes I hit her,” she said, throwing her arms in the air. “I don't know why this little bitch won't admit it.”
A bright shade of red covered the back of Chace’s neck, his eyes narrowing in on Jennifer.
It didn't hurt,” I said, maneuvering in front of him, roping his gaze back to me.
Jennifer lunged forward. “You want it to fucking hurt?”
Tyler flew from the stairs, slippers sliding across the floor as he grabbed Jennifer's arms and pulled her away from me. I shrunk away from her, arms covering my face. I leaned towards Chace who didn't move an inch.
“Get the fuck off of me,” Jennifer said, violently jerking out of Tyler’s arms.
“Calm down,” he said, stepping between us.
Jennifer spit out a laugh. “Calm down? You want me to calm down? I just found out my ex-boyfriend - the father of my fucking child - has been cheating on me with
“Get out,” Chace said, his voice darker than I'd ever heard.
Jennifer set her jaw. “I'm not going anywhere.”
Chace’s feet landed on the first floor with a thud. I grabbed his arm but he effortlessly shrugged me off, fists clenched at his sides as he stepped closer to Jennifer.
“I hate repeating myself but you're not getting the point.” The tips of his feet scratched against the back of Tyler’s slippers, his brother standing between the two of them. “Get. The. Fuck. Out.”
“Chace,” Bonnie said, her voice small. “Maybe we should sit down and talk about this.”
Chace refused to acknowledge his mother, his gaze fixed over Tyler's shoulder, on Jennifer's narrow gaze.
“I'm carrying your baby,” she said.
“Apparently pregnancy has rendered you deaf.”
Jennifer threw Bonnie a look. “You're gonna let him do this?”
Bonnie tightened her robe. “Chace,” she said, stepping forward, fingers hovering over her son’s shoulder.
“Last time,” Chace said. “Get out or I'm calling the cops.”
The corner of Jennifer's mouth turned down. She whipped her blonde hair over her shoulder. “I knew you were an asshole from the moment I met you --”
“Out,” Chace said.
“-- but I never pegged you for a cheater.”
Chace straightened his shoulders. “I never cheated on you.”
Jennifer spit out another laugh, this one loud and violent. “I'm not having this discussion in front of your family.” She glared at me. “And that.”
Chace stepped around Tyler. Jennifer's shoulders locked up in fear as he whipped past her.
“We're not having this discussion at all,” he said, motioning towards the front door.
A sinister smirk spread across her mouth. She walked to the door, turning on her heels until her mouth was inches away from Chace’s lips. He didn't budge.
“You're an idiot,” she said.
Jennifer flung open the front door. From either side a swarm of photographers appeared, flashes relentlessly clicking, bathing us in bright white light.
The photographers shouted, “Jennifer, why are you crying? Jennifer, what happened?”
With wide eyes Bonnie gripped the front of her robe, dashing towards the kitchen, away from the door. Evie stuck out her head as Jennifer threw a look over her shoulder. Her black mascara was dripping down her cheeks, her bottom lip trembling.
“You’re making a huge mistake,” she said, in her camera-ready voice. “I won’t raise this baby alone.”
Jennifer slowly stepped into the crowd of paparazzi, her head down as she reached into her purse and pulled out a pair of sunglasses.
“What is she talking about?” the photographers said. “Chace, are you refusing to take care of your baby? Chace, have you been cheating on your girlfriend?”
The cameramen advanced, the flash burning into the foyer of the Evans’s state.
“Someone close the damn door!” Bonnie shouted.
Evie glanced between Chace and me, jaw and lips tight before she rushed out of the foyer and slammed the door behind her.
Evelyn, what can you tell us about your brother’s new girlfriend? Evelyn, is your brother really the cheating monster everyone thinks he is?
Tyler quickly drew the blinds. Bonnie watched him move from left to right, her fingers trembling around her clasped robe.
Chace stood in the center of the foyer, his shoulders set in a perfect line. “That fucking bitch,” he said.
,” said Bonnie.
He whipped around to face her, fists tight at his side. He wanted to go after her, to grab Jennifer’s shoulders and shake her for calling the paparazzi to his parent’s estate. But Chace wouldn’t leave the house, not with all of them swarmed outside, collecting a handsome paycheck for a photograph of his misery.
He made his way over to me, frozen on the second step.
“Are you alright?” he said, inspecting the light bruise forming along my cheek.
“I'm fine,” I said, flexing my jaw. “I just need a little ice.”
“We should call Jonah,” Tyler said.
“He already knows,” Chace said, catching my fingers with his own.
I melted into his touch. My fingers wrapped around his, our hands swinging lightly in the air.
“I’ll call,” Bonnie said, fingers flexing around her robe. “Just to make sure.”
Chace pulled me off the steps. I landed in the foyer before we moved towards the kitchen. His thumb was caressing my hand as Bonnie walked closer to Tyler. Her youngest son threw his arm around her shoulders.
“A grandmother,” she said, burying her face into his shoulder. “I’m going to be a grandmother again.”
Jennifer was pregnant. It could no longer be ignored or debated, a what-if hanging over our heads. She’d crashed into the Evans’s estate with her finite news, shattering all the will power I had left.
It was time to stop playing pretend and step back into the real world, leading Chace out the dark, bracing myself for the inevitable fallout. He would kick me out much like he did Jennifer, leaving “the help” to pack my bags and ship them to the city.
I stayed with Chace for an hour, the curtains drawn, blocking out the sun. He paced the carpet, tugging at his hair, wide eyes thrown towards the window whenever a camera clicked.
“We have to get out of here,” he said, throwing me a desperate look.
“Where are we going to go?”
Chace’s face fell. We couldn’t go back to the city. The sidewalk outside of his apartment was most likely swarmed with paparazzi, along with his office.
“I can’t go out there,” he said, plopping next to me on the bed, elbows on his knees and his face in his hands.
I touched his shoulder. “Jonah’s going to fix everything.”
Chace laughed. “He isn’t a miracle worker.”
In my room I curled beneath the covers, my shoulders trembling beneath the weight of what my life had become.
I’d packaged myself perfectly: the younger, eager mistress to the older, successful girlfriend. Even though it wasn’t true, the media was no doubt latching onto it, journalists hounding the other writers and assistants at Chace’s office, prying them open with invasive questions,
just who is Alice Posner?
I was nothing but a liar. A pathetic girl who felt something for her boss and instead of waiting around for him, I fabricated a relationship.
Downstairs Bonnie anxiously paced the kitchen floor, an unlit cigarette hanging between her fingers. The blinds were drawn, a grey darkness hovering over the traditional cabinets and stainless steel appliances. Three small yellow lights hung above the island, tiny spotlights hovering over Bonnie’s head.
“Is Evie back yet?” I asked.
Bonnie dropped her cigarette. “Shit.” She picked it up. “I didn’t…How long have you been standing there?”
“Not long.” I took a seat at the island. “Is Evie back yet?”
Bonnie shook her head. “No and I’ve got a feeling she won’t be back for a while.” She was dressed now, in a yellow tracksuit all rich older women seemed to own. “The doctor called. He said he would rather not wade through the paparazzi.”
“Does he have a choice?”
“You don’t know Doctor Samuel. He’s high profile. Celebrity clientele. A twenty-first century Dr. Feelgood. He tries to stay out of the limelight as much as possible,” she said, sticking the nail of her thumb between her teeth. “And I can’t blame him.”
She bit down, her nail cracking beneath the pressure of her teeth. She sprinkled it on the floor before sticking her cigarette in her mouth and pulling it out. Restless, Bonnie dropped it on the counter, the thin white stick rolling towards me as she stuffed her hands in her hair.