“It’s all lies.” I scowl at my manager of more than twenty years as I sit across from the older man in my office. He looks tired. Frustrated.
And I can’t blame him. I feel the same way.
“Listen, Zane. This isn’t the first time in the past couple of years that you’ve had a scandal. I know being a celebrity is synonymous with—”
“Hell on Earth?” I finish for him, narrowing my eyes. I know what he’s about to suggest, and it makes me damn angry.
“Maybe,” he says with a nod. “But you’re a good actor. And before now, the tabloid scandals blew over quickly. No big deal.”
“Not this one.”
He blows out a breath. “I think it might be a good idea to lie low for a while.”
“That’ll just tell the world that I’m guilty. And I’m not.”
“Go on vacation, Zane. Take a few months off. Get the hell out of Los Angeles. You need it. I’ll handle things here.”
“I don’t like the thought of tucking my tail and running, Hugh.”
“You’re not. We can make an official statement if you’d like.”
I scrub my hand down my face. “Probably won’t matter, but yeah. Let’s do that. I’ll go up to Seattle and hang with Rina for a couple of days.”
“Months,” Hugh says. “You’ll go for months. You’re exhausted. You’re overworked. And you’ve been in the news too much lately.”
“Okay. Fine. I’m gone. I don’t have to be on set for seven months. I’ll take six of those to let this all blow over. Make it fucking blow over, Hugh.”
“That’s my job.” The other man nods then stands and leaves the office.
I take a moment to gaze around the space at the trophies and plaques. The photos. The glamorous life of an Oscar-winning actor.
Lonely. Superficial. Fake.
That’s what this is. I’ve known it for years. But it’s my life.
One that doesn’t fulfill me at all.
Maybe six months away will be good for me.
I grab my cell and call my best friend, Sabrina Harrison Demarco. I haven’t seen her since the holidays, which was more than eight months ago.
“Shit, time flies,” I mutter as I listen to the ring in my ear.
“Hey,” Rina says. “Whatcha doing?”
“I’m about to start making some arrangements. Looks like I’m coming to stay in Seattle for a while.”
“Oh. Really? I can get the guest room ready. Ben’s at the gym, but I’ll let him know.”
“I don’t think you want me in your guest room for six months.”
A long, heavy pause follows.
“What’s going on, Zane?”
“I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.”
I’m so glad that I drove into Seattle first thing this morning and not late last night.
I made it as far as Portland yesterday. I thought about pushing through those last few hours to get into Seattle by around ten in the evening, but I didn’t like the idea of finding my new rental in the dark.
Now, in the warm glow of the mid-morning sunshine, I’m so glad I decided to wait because the city is beautiful.
I open the lid of the pink box on the passenger seat and scowl when I see that I only have three donuts left.
Three out of a dozen.
“I guess there’s a reason I have thighs the size of Colorado,” I mutter and take a bite of a maple bar. “No regrets.”
According to the GPS, I have three miles to go until I make it to my new condo. I like the tall buildings that rise against the clear blue sky. The hustle and bustle of traffic.
And when I turn onto the street where I’ll be living, I grin.
So much green!
I’ve lived in Arizona my whole life. In heat. Brown and heat. Scoring this new teaching job in the Pacific Northwest is a dream come true.
I’m even excited for the rainy season.
I shimmy in my seat and narrow my eyes as I scan the building.
“Two-oh-three A,” I mutter quietly and then clap when I see the numbers on my new building. “There you are.”
The person I’m leasing from said there’s even a water view from the master bedroom. I can’t wait to sit with my coffee in the morning and enjoy it.
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