The Secret (Single in Seattle #1) by Kristen Proby



Prologue





~Olivia~





Ten Years Ago





* * *




“Dad, I want to go with you.”

I’m sitting on my parents’ bed, watching as my father packs his suitcase. Mom already did hers. She packs way in advance, but Dad’s always doing it at the last minute.

I think it secretly makes my mom want to pull her hair out, and that’s saying a lot since my parents still act like newlyweds, even after being married for fifteen years.

It’s kind of gross.

“We’ve been over this,” he says as he tosses a pair of jeans into his suitcase. “You and your brother and sisters are staying with Nanny and Pap.”

I roll my eyes and sigh heavily. “I’m not a baby anymore, you know. I’m fifteen and definitely old enough to go to the Oscars. What if you win? I want to be there. I want to celebrate with you.”

“And you will, after your mom and I get home. We always have a big party afterwards with the whole family.”

“It’s not the same.” I frown down at my pink Chuck Taylors. “You know, being famous isn’t that bad of a thing. It’s actually really cool, but you make it sound like it’s the end of the world. If you hate it so much, why do you still do it? It’s hypocritical and stupid.”

His head comes up. His eyes narrow on me, and I know I just took it too far.

He definitely won’t let me go now.

“I’ve worked my ass off to balance the scales of fame and family, Olivia Williams, and I’ll be damned if I listen to my teenager berate me for it because she’s throwing a little fit.”

“I shouldn’t have said that; I know. But, Dad—”

“No. You shouldn’t have said that.”

His voice is hard, and I know I’ve royally pissed him off and ruined any chance I might have had of talking him into letting me go.

Not that the chance was high to begin with, but I like to think it was better than zero.

“I’m sorry.” I reach for his hand when he moves to walk away. “I really am, Daddy. You’re kind of a nerd, but you’re also totally cool.”

“Nerd, am I?” His face softens just a little, and I know he won’t be mad at me for long. He never is.

“Have you seen the action figures in your office? None of us kids play with toys anymore.”

“I caught Keaton in there checking them out just last week.”

“He’s a nerd, too.” I smile up at him. “Dad, why do you hate it so much? Why are you so strict about protecting us from Hollywood?”

He sighs and sits next to me, leaning over to kiss my forehead.

“I hate the internet,” he mutters and rubs his hand down his face. “Because being famous isn’t all fun parties and big houses, Liv. The press is a bitch. We’ll have this talk later. But for now, if I don’t finish packing, your mother will have my hide, and I make it a point not to piss her off.”

“And yet, you always wait until the last minute to pack.”

He stops and frowns down at me. “Whose side are you on, anyway, little girl?”

I laugh and shake my head. “Whichever one keeps me out of trouble.”





“Best director is up next!” Keaton announces as Nanny hurries back into the room with fresh popcorn for us all. “He’s gonna win. He’s totally gonna win!”

“It takes forever,” Haley complains with a pout. “Why are the Oscars so long?”

“Because they have a lot of people to honor,” Pap says with a wink. “A lot of work goes into movies.”

Dad’s movie did well this year. Several from his production company were nominated, but the one he directed and produced totally cleaned up. Best actor, best actress, and best costume design, just for starters. Every time the camera pans over to him, Dad’s full of proud smiles.

Dang it, I wish I was there.

We all hold our breath as they announce the nominees. Chelsea, being the youngest at ten, clutches my hand with all her might.

“Come on, come on, come on,” she whispers.

“And the Oscar goes to…Luke Williams!”

“Yes!”

“Yay!”

“I knew it!”

As we watch Dad kiss our mom and then walk up on stage, we all clap and jump up and down with excitement.

“Hush, now. He’s speaking,” Nan says.