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Book Spotlight: After The Break by Andrea Joan









Blurb: Ten years I trained to be the best boxer there is. I had fighters blood pumping through my veins and I was a lethal opponent. One to be feared. Twelve years I spent with my first love, we were childhood sweethearts and I was ready to make her my wife. My brother would have been my best man, his wife would have been her maid of honor. 11 minutes 13 seconds. That was all the time it took to rip my fucking world apart. I. Am. Broken. And not the kind of broken that can be fucking fixed. Ever. I will always be imprisoned in a darkness I can never fully escape from. Infected with a disease that can never be cured. Rage. Every fucking day I struggle to survive... I've not felt alive until now. Until her. Skylar fucking Barrett. She is an actress, a millionaire, every man’s wet dream. On the surface she has everything; wants for nothing. But I see what lies beneath her facade. She walks a fine line between the dark and the light. She’s a sinner and a savior. And she has chosen me. She needs my protection and I. Need. Her. I know I can protect her. I know I can destroy her. She is my redemption. My destruction. But she is mine. Even if it ruins us both. 



 Read the first chapter here! 

 PROLOGUE LIAM Seattle: One Year Ago Drug of choice; railing lines of coke seems to be on the menu tonight. But I’m not particular I’ll shove anything up my nose, down my throat, or into my lungs. Snort, smoke, or swallow. It doesn’t matter as long as it gets me so fucking high I can’t remember who I am. ​Booze of Choice; Jameson. Every. Fucking. Night. Girl of choice; obviously she has a name, but at the moment I can’t fucking remember. I’m sure she told me before we stumbled back to my shitty apartment. I can probably blame this memory loss on the coke, or the booze, or the fact that this chicks’ mouth is wrapped so tight around my cock that she is literally sucking the memory out of me, but the truth of it is I have barely listened to a fucking word she has said. I don’t care to remember so I can’t listen. Blondie probably told me her whole life story when I was serving her drinks tonight, right before she pulled me into the bar’s bathroom and let me snort lines off her tits while she shoved my hand up her practically non-existent skirt, but every time she spoke I shut my brain off because I. Don’t. Want. To. Remember. That’s the curse of having an eidetic memory. I can’t forget anything I hear or see or smell or even fucking taste. Every event, every experience, every single snapshot of my life will burrow its way unrelentingly into my brain like a fucking diseased tick. People think that having a photographic memory is some kind of gift, like a goddamn superpower. Shit, there was a time I believed that. School was a cake walk. Anything I read in a textbook or learned during a lecture was easily categorized and referenced in my mind for future use. I could tell you the tie’s my Freshman History teacher wore every day of the two-week period he taught the class on the Fall of the Roman Empire. That was almost ten years ago. I can even recollect wall to ceiling to floor what my first girlfriends’ bedroom looked like right down to the prayers on all those creepy fucking Precious Moments posters she had plastered over her walls. I was thirteen. But here is the problem with having every second of my life seared into my memory like a brand. I don’t get to pick and choose what is remembered. When something horrible happens to me, something so dark and depraved and painful it would rival my worst nightmare, I will be condemned to remember. Every. Fucking. Detail. In high def. I hear the screaming and the begging, feel the pain of a blade slicing my skin over and over, smell the fear and taste that coppery flavor of blood as real as if it was happening in the present. The memory brutally rapes my mind until there is nothing of substance left and the only escape from the constant punishment of it comes in the form of a powder or a pill or a bottle. Or pussy. Pussy seems to help drown out the ghosts that haunt me. Temporarily anyway. Which is why I stumbled the two blocks from the bar to my apartment with blondie on my arm. She was more than ready to fuck, she’s hot in that fake porn star kind of way, and most importantly she came with snowy white party favors. “Fuck you’re good at that, honey,” I groan, my large hand grabbing the back of her slender neck pushing my dick deeper down her seemingly endless throat. Bringing the bottle of Jameson to my mouth I take a pull that would put Tommy Lee to shame. The burn hits me quick. I relish the feeling of my eyes rolling back into my head as the effects of the alcohol and coke, mixed with the sensation of a warm tongue licking my cock and taking me deep again cause me to fall back on the mattress, the box springs singing that familiar tune of carnal abuse as I hit it hard. “You like that, Liam? God you’re seriously big,” she purrs while her hand takes over where her mouth left off, pumping me up and down. That should be a huge fucking turn on, but my name on her cigarette laced voice almost causes me to lose my erection, especially when I open my eyes again and find fake violet ones staring back at me, begging for my approval. Approval she will be waiting a long ass time for because the disgust I have for myself in this moment has been reallocated to this chick. Everything about her is phony; colored contacts, cheap blonde extensions attached to her head, and definitely fake tits. Even the scent of her is a fucking turn off; some kind of overly sweet flower smell, but it replaces the odor of death and blood that habitually surrounds me so I acquiesce. ​ Fuck! Why did I have to open my eyes? Maybe if I get drunk enough and high enough this will never even be a memory. “Don’t talk honey. Just suck.” “Mmmm, I love when you call me honey,” she moans, creeping her fingers slowly toward the hem of my shirt, her other hand fisting my dick hard just like I need. The harder she sucks me off, the harder she works her hand up and down my shaft, the easier it is to push the memory of that night further and further away. So I need her to stop fucking talking. ​ Chuckling, I take her hand off my shirt. “You shouldn’t. I only call you honey because I can’t remember your name. Now stop talking and suck me off. Or you can leave. I don’t really give a shit.” ​Her faux violet eyes shoot up at me clearly in shock that I would say something so offensive. But I know she won’t leave. I clocked her as an insecure bar slut the minute I served her a cosmopolitan and she adjusted her already low cut shirt further down to give me a better view of her tits while constantly brushing her hands over the tats on my arm. “You’re an asshole,” she spits out but stays conveniently on her knees in front of me. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, or anything I would argue with. But what the hell did she expect? A few winks in her direction, some shared shots of tequila-which I’m not technically supposed to drink while working- and the mention that I was once an amateur boxer had her panting and guiding my hand under her skirt in the bar bathroom before she even gave her name. A name I now can’t fucking remember for the life of me. Tammy…Taryn…Trisha? Something with a T. Or maybe a P. Nope. Not coming to me. Goddamn this coke is good. My face is numb, my fucking mind is numb. I need to get the name and number of her dealer before I shove her ass out the door. “I know I am. But maybe you can help save me. Turn me good again, honey,” I say with a cocky smile. I know the effect I have on women without even trying and that little ray of hope should do the trick of getting her gifted little mouth back on my dick. Christ, I am an asshole. Blondie smiles big and works her hands back toward my shirt. My entire body tenses at the realization that she is trying to take it off. “Stop.” I snatch her wrist with the hand not attached to my whiskey. “What? I just wanna see what you’re working with under there. I know fighters have cut bodies. It would make me much more eager to suck you off. I may even be willing to swallow,” T or P something teases, licking her lips slowly. Fuck it. What do I care what this chick thinks? Two scenarios could play out. She will either excuse herself as she runs out the door, which is fine by me, or ignore what she sees and continue blowing me. I’m sure my cock would agree that the latter scenario is more favorable. Normally I try to avoid taking my clothes off altogether, but I know she is not going to let up, and frankly I’m too fucked up right now to put up much of a fight. And I need this. I fucking need to get off. I crave the silence in my head, a break from hearing her call out for me to help her. To save her. A brief reprieve from seeing and hearing my brother’s last fucking breath. “Go for it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I take another swig of Jameson before lying back on the bed. The ceiling above spins in an endless circular maze, speckles of silver and black dots swirling round and round. The feel of my shirt gliding up my abs should excite me, but only causes panic. “Holy shit.” I feel her breath whisper against my skin before my shirt even reaches my pecs. “Maybe you would be more comfortable if you kept the shirt on.” What she really means is that she would be more comfortable if I kept the shirt on. I’m lucky my pretty face was spared from any lasting damage or I may have never gotten laid again. T or P something doesn’t bother to ask what happened or feign sympathy as she kneels back down on her knees and takes me deep into her mouth again. “Shit,” I curse under my breath, as her tongue glides up and swirls around the tip of my cock. It’s almost time for another hit of blow. This chick does have talent, definitely not an amateur when it comes to sucking dick. The feint afterthought that I should have wrapped it up before letting her mouth touch my cock flashes through my inebriated brain. But where was the fun in that? Truth be told I deserve some kind of STD, something that could permanently fuck up my future, but it won’t happen. I’m goddamn invincible and no matter how much I test my luck it will never fail me, despite how often I pray it will; begging for punishment like a drowning man searching for air. My hand lazily finds its way to her head as she takes me deeper and deeper into oblivion. I’m so loaded at this point that I barely remember my own name, so P or T something shouldn’t feel bad. I don’t bother to warn her that I’m about to come. I know she will take whatever I have to offer, just like all the ones before her. With a grunt I jet semen down her throat, pulling her hair slightly, causing her to moan in appreciation and sending a nice little vibration around my dick. Now the welcoming silence descends, my memories wiped clean. Nothing but nothingness. “Damn, honey, that was something.” ​I sit up on the bed and tuck myself back into my pants, still managing to hold on to my whiskey like a goddamn pro. “Mmm-hmmm,” she hums. “Now it’s my turn. By the way, my name is Samantha,” she informs, wiping her mouth seductively with her fingers. Samantha. I was way off. “Whatever, honey.” And I also don’t give a shit. ​ She straddles me in one movement and kisses me sloppily while rocking her hips into my lap before I even have time to zip up my pants. Amazing. I treat her like shit and she is still down to screw my brains out. Blondie tastes like tequila and tobacco and shame, but I’m an emotional masochist and all that is wrong with her and this situation only makes my cock hard and ready for round two. “Give me a second.” Taking a final pull of Jameson I throw the now empty bottle onto the floor where it clanks against the many others playing the songs of my failure and ever progressing self-destruction. I reach into my pocket and pull my wallet free snatching a condom out of one of the folds. As daring as I was with the blow job there is no fucking way I’m sticking my dick in this girl without protection. Shit the last thing I need is a mini-me running around. ​Grabbing her hips, I flip her easily around onto my bed, making sure to press her head into the mattress. No need to see her face. She giggles like a little school girl and I try not to feel repulsed. Whoever told women that sounding like a little girl was sexy should have his fucking head examined. I need to get this over with already. Pulling my pants down for the second time tonight, I rip the condom wrapper with my teeth and sheath myself. “You ready for me?” I rasp into her ear, dragging a hand toward the back of her inner thigh and up under her skirt to her center. ​I slide a finger into her and she moans. Damn she is dripping wet, more than ready. Her ass begins to grind upward into my hand and her moans become more frantic. She does have a fucking amazing ass I will give her that. ​The tip of my dick is hovering right at her entrance when without warning flashes of that night play through my mind like a horror movie. Her angelic face ghosts through my closed eyes. Torturing me. Tempting me. Killing me. I shake my head as if that will somehow erase the memory, like my brain is a goddamn Etch-A-Sketch. Forget. Push past it. Push into her. You will feel release. Become numb. Before I slam into her, I hear the muffled ringing of my phone from the pocket of my jeans on the floor. “Fuck.” I was so fucking close. Snatching my pants off the floor, I clumsily try to pull my phone out of my pocket. “Ignore it, baby. It’s like two in the morning. Just fuck me already. I’m ready.” “Don’t call me baby,” I snarl. I know how harsh I sound, but where the hell does this chick get off thinking she can call me baby? Only one girl had that right, and she’s dead now. The caller ID on my phone reads Shayla and I slide a finger across the screen as fast as I can manage. “Shayla? What’s up? You okay?” Trying to hide the panic in my voice is nearly impossible because my sixteen-year-old sister calling at two in the morning can mean nothing good. I discard the condom, because I don’t want to talk to my sister with a fucking condom wrapped around my dick, and pull my pants back up over my hips. “Liam.” A faint sniffle shudders through the phone and burns into my ear. She’s obviously been crying, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. “Who the hell is Shayla?” She flips dramatically around and shoots an icy glare my way as if she has some claim to me. ​I thought my not bothering to remember her name would have been the first hint I don’t give a shit about her, but apparently that wasn’t clear enough. And I do not fucking like the way she spits out my sister’s name as if it was poison. I cover the speaker of the phone with my hand and walk the short distance from my bed to my bathroom. “My baby sister. Now shut the fuck up.” Slamming the bathroom door shut I have to lean against the counter to steady my drunk ass, the iridescent lights quickly creating a migraine in my intoxicated brain. Focus, asshole. “You okay? What’s wrong?” The relentless thumping in my chest is warning me that I need to calm the hell down before my heart explodes. I press the Harley keys from my pocket hard into my hand in an attempt to focus my rabid energy. That and because I want to be ready to haul my ass home in order to beat the shit out of anyone that is messing with my sister. I may be too fucked up to drive but the blind rage I’ve quickly been accustomed to since that night is scorching through my veins. Sobering. Me. Right the fuck up. “I’m fine, Liam. It’s dad. He-he can’t do it anymore.” She sniffs into the phone again. That sound breaks me. My sister is the only one that I allow to evoke some semblance of a real emotion in me anymore; if it were anyone else I would push those emotions someplace deep where they can’t affect me. “What? What do you mean, Shay?” “It’s the cancer. I know he told you he was doing fine and was in remission and he didn’t need any help with the bar, but he was lying. The chemo treatments are wearing on him. He’s lost so much weight and he is tired all the time. I’m trying to help, but with school I just don’t have the time to be there as much. And Dory quit so he doesn’t have a manager to help him anymore. He’s at the bar all the time. He’s killing himself. I don’t know what to do. I know he doesn’t want you to know, but I’m not sure why. I’m scared, Liam. I just don’t…I don’t…” She trails off through a faded sob. ​How could my dad keep this from me? If he hadn’t assured me his cancer was in remission I would have been home months ago to fucking help. Maybe he doesn’t believe I can help. Fuck, he’d be right. I’m in no position to help anyone and he can probably sense it. I have an aura about me that screams failure to anyone within a universally wide radius. Damn, maybe he doesn’t even want me around. I would be a constant fucking reminder of the night he lost his first-born son while me, his other son, did nothing to help. ​ But I know that’s not the case. No one person; not my mother, my father, my sister, fucking no one blames me for what happened. And that makes it so much worse. I would rather their anger and blame than their fucking pity. I don’t deserve to be pitied, or forgiven. “Shhh, Shay, it’s okay. You’re sixteen, you shouldn’t know what to do,” I tell her running my hand over my face as I sink onto the bathroom floor. “I’m coming back. I’ll hop on the first ferry home tomorrow. Don’t worry.” “Promise?” The question came out in a whimper causing me to slam my fist on the linoleum floor. I can’t fail her too. Not her. No fucking way. How could I be snorting, fucking, and drinking while my baby sister isn’t sleeping because she’s too busy taking care of her family? Our family. Fuck, I’m such a worthless piece of shit. She sounds so tired, so worn out. How could I have missed this? Just another thing I refuse to acknowledge because I’m so wrapped up in my own bullshit. Self-loathing can keep a person busy. “I promise, Shay. Try and get some sleep. You hear me?” “Okay, big brother. I’m really sorry.” “What?” Jesus. “Don’t be sorry Shayla. This isn’t your fault. Listen go get some sleep. I’ll be back on the island first thing tomorrow.” “Okay.” “I’m serious, Shayla. Sleep, you got me?” I command because I want to be very fucking sure she listens. “Yeah, I got you.” “Good girl. Goodnight, Shay.” “Night. Love you, Liam.” “Me too.” ​I slide my finger across the screen to end the call while I try my best not to fucking crush the phone in my hand. I don’t even realize I am banging my head on the bathroom wall until I hit it a little too hard. But the pain helps. It centers me, it focuses me and with each hit I can feel the anger start to fade away. “Liam what’s going on in there? Are you coming back out here or what? I cut a few lines in case you need a little pick me up, baby.” Shit. I fucking forgot about what’s her name. And did she just call me baby again? “I told you not to call me baby. Do you have a hard time understanding fucking English? You need to get your shit and leave. Something’s come up.” ​I don’t bother leaving the bathroom; I don’t need to deal with her drama. I just want her out of my fucking apartment. I’m sure the gentlemanly thing to do is offer to call her a cab and give her money for the ride home, but I’m not a gentleman, she is definitely not a fucking lady and I am confident she is a pro at the Walk of Shame so she knows how this works. “Are you fucking serious?!” She shrieks as she bangs on the bathroom door. Guess that little girl voice has disappeared. ​ I don’t bother to respond, I would just be flaming the fire of her inner drama queen and I have neither the time nor the patience for that bullshit. I hear her mumbling something about me being a one pump chump, blah blah blah, can’t get it up and some other nonsense I couldn’t give two shits about. Then the front door finally closes with a bang and I work myself up off the bathroom floor. I turn around and do the one thing I haven’t done in fucking months. I look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. The person staring back at me is a pathetic excuse for a brother, for a son, for a human being. My pupils are the size of pin needles, probably because of the massive amounts of coke I’ve inhaled tonight. I haven’t shaved in weeks and my skin is gray. Not pale. Fucking Gray. I guess that’s what happens when your main food group consists of whiskey and ramen. Not mixed together. That’s fucking disgusting. I wonder if this is what Shay looks like right now. I haven’t seen her beautiful face in months so I wouldn’t know. But I know if she looks as bad as me it’s because she has worn herself down by doing something admirable, something to be proud of. Like taking care of her family when they need it most. Something I should be doing. I need to do. ​I have a fucking chance here. A chance to redeem myself. I’m in a hell of my own making and this is my opportunity to get out. I don’t know if redemption can be found in hell, but I know it’s time to find out. I take one final look at myself in the mirror before I pull my arm up, make a fist, and smash it to fucking pieces. It’s time to go home. CHAPTER 1 SKYLAR “Skylar Joy Barrett and her movie crew are set to wrap their last day of filming today after turning our quiet little island upsidedown during the most exciting two-month summer we have seen in a while.” Leaning on the wall near the bathroom entry in my small room, I watch as a middle-aged female reporter with pancake makeup stands on a sidewalk which, if I’m not mistaken, appears to be right in front of The Lighthouse Inn, the inn where I’m staying. Fantastic. My shoulders begin to tense and my breathing becomes shallow because I have some semblance of what is coming. They never talk about me as if I’m a person just like them, but more like an object. “There have been many sightings of the very troubled twenty-two-year-old starlet, and the general consensus seems to be one of approval. Let’s talk to Jessica who says she met Skylar last week at O’Connor’s, Orcas Island’s favorite bar. Jessica,what was Skylar like when you met her? Did you get to talk to her?” ​And here we go. Not only have I never been to O’Connor’s, I’ve never even heard of it. So I can’t wait to see what Jessica has to say about this obviously clandestine meeting. Right on cue, the camera pans over to a young brunette woman, probably in her early twenties, surprisingly quite beautiful, and who I can only assume is Jessica. “I met her and talked to her! Skylar was over drinking and playing pool, and me and my friends just like walked up and said hello and like asked her if she was having fun on the island filming and everything. She said she loved it here and wishedshe could stay here.” I roll my eyes and give a slight shake of my head, a one-two move I have mastered in my years of watching these same types of news interviews about people that have “met me.” It’s always the same formula these people use, too. Just like Jessica, the ones before her always see me in a very public place and always have “friends” with them as a way to convince the people watching that this indeed happened, because how could someone be lying if their friends were there too? “And what did Skylar look like, Jessica? Is she just as beautiful in person?” “Oh yeah, totally. I mean she seemed shorter in real life and maybe skinnier than I thought she was, but they say the camera adds ten pounds. And she wasn’t wearing any makeup or anything, so she looked a bit different than she does in the movies. Plainer, I guess. She was still pretty, just, I guess, not as pretty as you would imagine. But she was super cool. She was just like me. I mean, we got along so well…” ​I do love a good old fashioned backhanded compliment. Females are trained to give them from birth as if they are a second language. But at least Jessica got one thing right; I have played pool before. ​Well, I’ve officially had enough. I turn the television to a channel playing some Law and Order reruns and decide it’s time for that shower I was so looking forward to. As I turn to walk into the bathroom, my phone rings with that damn annoying nostalgic ringtone that makes me want to throw it onto the beach. I really need to change it. ​I run over to the bed and lift up my pillow where I know the phone is hiding. Damn it all to hell. The caller ID spells out the last name I’d ever want to see, but probably the first I should expect. Carl. “Hello, Carl,” I say. The eye roll that went with that greeting is one for the record books. “What’s up?” I lie back on the bed, hoping…no…praying to whatever god or spirit or entity or designer I decide to believe in today that this call will be quick and painless. But I already know that this is a futile measure, because nothing with my father is quick, and very rarely is it ever painless. Emotionally or physically, he always finds a way to hurt me. “I need to know what time you’ll be back today so I can set up a meeting with Steve Goodwin,” my father demands. My father always demands, and as long as I’ve known him I’ve never heard the inflection of his voice rise to the tune of a question. “Good morning to you too, Carl.” I refer to him by his first name whenever he decides to behave more like my manager than my father, which is ninety-eight percent of the time. My only advice to any young actor coming up in this business would be: don’t hire your parent as your manager. My father jumped on that gravy train when I was too young to have a say, and now I don’t have the heart—hearts not the right word—nerve? No, balls. Balls works better. I don’t have the balls to fire him. “Good Morning, Skylar,” he says sarcastically. “Now what time will you be back today?” “I’ve told you ten times already that I’m not coming home today. The wrap party for the film is tonight, and it won’t look good if I bail. I don’t need the cast and crew thinking I think I’m too good, or too big of a star to show up.” ​I’ve gone over this with him before, and yet the reason he still refuses to acknowledge me is because he believes I am too big of a star to show up. “Skylar, you are too big of a name to even be in this movie.” ​I knew it. “And I know I’ve told you ten times that you need to meet with Steve immediately. He is your attorney, Skylar, and he seems to think this issue with Jeff Roberts is a bigger deal than you do. It’s an issue that is not going to go away. Stop being a stubborn selfish little bitch about the whole thing. This will affect us both.” ​Emotional pain, check. “You know what, Carl, why don’t you just let me have today before I deal with the reality of this? Set up the meeting with Steve for later in the week when it fits into my schedule.” ​I lay that tone on as thick and serious as I can manage and push off the bed. I start pacing back and forth in front of the television. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for my father to talk to me this way, and as much as it wounds me, I continue to allow him to degrade me. I am deserving of his wrath, after all. I took his wife from him. But slowly I’m becoming more and more immune to his attempts at control. “And when you call Steve, make sure to ask him if those fucking confidentiality agreements he is so fond of having people sign are worth a goddamn thing.” ​There’s a long silence on the other end of the phone, and I assume Carl is throwing a silent temper tantrum, one that will end with a hole in a wall that slightly resembles his fist. “Carl, are you going to handle this or do I have to?” “Skylar.” Cue the condescending tone. “I really don’t think you should put this off any longer. Jeff will start leaking stories about you to the press, and as he was your former bodyguard, he will carry some clout.” ​I can tell Carl is attempting to say this as slowly as possible, trying to mask the anger that is beginning to fester inside him. As an actress, I’ve been taught to become adept at listening and reading people in order to emulate the proper reaction in a scene, and I know it’s killing him that he’s not near enough to physically scare me. “Set up the meeting for later in the week. Don’t call me about this again unless you are giving me the new meeting time.” ​With a sigh of relief, I hang up the phone before Carl can get another word in. It’s easy for me to act brave when talking to him right now because he’s three states away. ​I drop down onto the bed, and I swear the pillow-top mattress is a magnet pulling my receptive body down. The after effects of an Ambien induced sleep take a little while to wear off, so if I’m not careful I might just get lulled into sleep once again. I don’t take it often; in fact I typically try and stay away from it just for this reason. It helps me sleep, but it can make me feel hungover as hell the next morning. It probably doesn’t help that I took my Ambien with a Xanax kicker and a shot of tequila. I’m not an addict or anything, and I almost never mix and match my coping mechanisms. I just need a little assistance every now and then when I can’t seem to get my brain to shut off, and the doctors in L.A. are all too ready to provide it to “patients” like me. An autographed picture or DVD for the doctor’s kid can get me a lifetime prescription pad from Hollywood’s most elite physicians. I run my hands through my hair and release a deep sigh. My anxiety level is at an eight, making its way to a hard ten. Thinking about that pathological liar Jeff makes me sick to my stomach, as in I wish I could literally vomit the fragments of his name and the memory it brings until no remnants are left behind. Hired by Carl as a bodyguard to protect me from aggressive paparazzi, stalkers, and the general creepy super fan, it is simply ironic that he ended up being a man I need protection from. ​It just goes to show, you can’t trust anyone when you’re a celebrity. Right now though, I don’t want to think about any of this. I want to enjoy the last day I have on this island—an island that holds an aura of peace and happiness, a type of contentment I’ve never experienced and know I will lose when I get back home. I walk to the Keurig machine and insert a pod. I need some damn coffee. As I wait, I take a minute to appreciate my small room, giving it one last look. Maybe small is not the right word; quaint is probably a more apt description. I’m used to larger, more glamorous hotel rooms when shooting on location. Normally I’d be staying in a5,000-square foot mansion equipped with an indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, media viewing room, and a coke dealer on speed dial, just for good measure, not that I ever touch the stuff. Coke is too cliché for me. My brain already runs at hypersonic speedwith a thousand different thoughts bouncing around at the same time, and that’s without a chemical boost. ​My newest film doesn’t have the budget as the ones I’ve done previously. This is a smaller independent film, and the budget has been mostly used for production costs with nothing left over for the luxuries I usually command, or for that matter the paycheck. I’m certain I’m actually paying to work on this film, and that’s okay with me. The script is brilliant and it’s not some shitty remake of a once great film, or another sequel to a generically done first film. Career killer, maybe, but at this point I don’t care. It’s something different. And I need something to change. Besides, I made enough money playing Mandy Mayhem as a child that I never have to earn another dollar again. Who knew playing a kid detective that ran around an elementary school solving all kinds of mysteries in a number of serial movies could set someone up for life? It was like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen meets Nancy Drew, minus an Olsen. And as ridiculous as those movies are, I can’t complain. Mandy Mayhem bought me my first house at seventeen and continues to add more than seven figures to my bank account with royalties and merchandising. Mandy Mayhem made me a multi-millionaire more than a few times over. ​The sound of the ocean tide grows louder as I approach the French doors. I love that sound; there is something so soothingly forceful about it. More than that, I love the way it smells—the beach and the sand. When I open the doors, coffee in hand, and step out onto the small balcony, the early morning breeze brings in the sea air and it washes over me. ​My gaze immediately scans the horizon and stops on a small weathered, seemingly abandoned, but apparently occupied house because there is an equally dilapidated Jeep parked next to it, right on the beach. Whenever I see a house that catches my attention I always imagine what the family that lives there is like. The sound of my phone beeping interrupts my daydreaming, and I know that time suck of a device is interrupting what will probably be the last moment of introspective silence I’ll have today. Noah’s name flashes on the screen, my hair and makeup guru, and also one of only two friends that I have. I never go anywhere or film anything without him. I even have a clause in my contract that states he is to be involved in every movie I am in. Noah is the only one I trust to make me look like the star I am supposed to be, and the only person I just flat out trust, as much as I can anyway. Noah: Hey there, Morningstar. Just a little FYI, the wrap party is tonight at eight. I know it’s early but I guess this island has a 1am curfew. Weird I know. I’ll come over and we can get beautiful together. We need to get us some island boys tonight and end this trip with a bang…pun intended. ;) ​Despite the less than stellar morning I’ve had, I can’t help but smile looking at his text. Especially when he called me Morningstar. The origin of that obscure little nickname comes from when he tried texting me Good Morning once and for some ungodly reason his phone auto corrected it to Morningstar. He sent the text before he noticed and we were both unreasonably hysterical about it for hours. I have been Morningstar ever since. Noah always makes me laugh, and he seems to have a sixth sense for when I need a good one. Me: I’m all for getting ready together, my love, but the island boys are all yours. Where are we meeting? Noah: Booooo, you whore! You’re no fun. Anywho, we’ll be meeting at a place called O’Connor’s. Don’t you just love little bars with Irish names? So deliciously cliché. ​O’Connor’s. Of course. An incredulous laugh escapes my lips. Maybe I was wrong about Jessica. Maybe she’s actually some type of clairvoyant who can see into my serendipitous future. Me: Okay, sounds fun. Come over at seven and we’ll get ready. Love ya! 




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