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Authors: Kiki Leach

Miss Independent

BOOK: Miss Independent
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Copyright © 2015 Kiki Leach

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author.

 

First Edition: February 2015

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

 

Various Spanish translations:

Cerdo machista ~ chauvinistic pig

Babuinos ~ baboons

Desagradable ~ unpleasant, disagreeable

Dios Mio ~ my gosh/my God

Me hiciste creer en una mentira ~ I did believe in a lie

Amor puro ~ pure love

Estupido ~ stupid

Vete ~ go away

Acabado ~ finished

Nunca mas ~ never more

Perra critica ~ judgmental bitch

Amiga ~ friend

Hueles ~ you smell

Puta ~ whore

Mordaza ~ gag

Prueba ~ proof

Culo ~ ass

Superarlo ~ get over it

Nada ~ nothing

La cabeza ~ your head

Dios en el cielo ~ God in heaven

 

 

 

 

What happens when you learn the love of your life is marrying someone else? What happens when that someone else is your former best friend?

Twenty-three year old Vanessa Rae Brown has it all – exceptional beauty, smarts, and an envious career as the Editor-In-Chief of the popular Attitude Magazine, founded by her famous mother. The only thing she doesn’t have is what she’s always wanted, a life with the handsome Nathaniel Taylor.

Unfortunately, Nathaniel decided that a life with Vanessa’s former best friend might be better suited for him. Not because he wanted it, but because he didn’t have much of a choice when Vanessa dumped him in their senior year after she caught him having sex in the locker room showers with his now fiancée, Sheila Harris.

Five years have passed since Vanessa has laid eyes on either one of them. Now with their high school reunion just around the corner, it’ll be impossible to continue avoiding not only their impending wedding, but Vanessa’s lingering feelings for her ex., and immense hatred for her former best friend.

 

 

 

Part One

Vanessa sat back in her chair, tapping her freshly manicured fingertips against the leather covered arm, and staring at the world down below. She dropped her flowing black curls over the head of the chair and sighed in frustration. It was only 10am, and already she had been royally pissed off since arriving to her office just a few hours before.

Sitting high at nearly one-thousand feet in the air in her neatly furnished office should’ve made her feel as if she could own every single person traipsing back and forth across those gritty Manhattan sidewalks beneath her, racing home, to school, work, a mid-day family function. Except she didn’t feel like she owned anything, and especially not anyone in that very moment, not even herself.

              It was a fittingly gloomy Tuesday morning in the last week of May when she had received the most unwelcome piece of mail handed to her by the clerk at the front desk. When she saw where it was sent from, she immediately got a bad vibe. Fearing that the envelope might be laced with some kind of poison meant to kill her on sight, she opened it with a metal fork from her breakfast and the sharpest letter opener from her desk. At approximately 7:50am, she pulled a card from the envelope and realized it wasn’t poison, but it may as well have been given the circumstances. In fact, poison may have been sweeter to the taste. As she held the card in her hand, she read the words “cordially invited” and “plus one” in dainty cursive letters, to the wedding ceremony of Nathaniel Taylor and Sheila Harris. It was to take place six months from now. After gasping for air and then gagging, she immediately tossed the invitation into the trash and turned toward the window, where she had been staring in stone cold silence ever since.

Oftentimes, weddings are what bring people together. Happy occasions for not only the impending bride, groom, and their families, but their friends as well. Aside from the eating, there’s drinking, dancing, mingling between sexes, and learning more about what makes the now married couple so perfect (or, not so perfect) for one another. Vanessa was convinced it was the latter when it came to Nathan and Sheila. Just the sound of their names together with “marriage” in the same sentence made her want to vomit last night’s lasagna. The impending bride and groom were the last two people on earth she had ever expected, let alone wanted to hear from again. She wasn’t looking forward to the mingling. Or dancing. Or drinking around people she had erased from her life the moment high school was over. It’s the exact same reason she ditched the idea of going to her five year reunion, which was only a few weeks away.

As the taps got louder on the arm of her chair, her assistant, Samantha, hesitantly entered and cleared her throat.

“Ms. Brown,” she started. “You have a call on line one from your mother.”

Vanessa turned around and glanced at Samantha’s mousy demeanor. Brown hair and eyes, with clothes only a child could get away with wearing in the daylight and skin so bright she looked as if she might glow in the dark or get lost in a snowstorm. But this was the third assistant she had been given within the last two weeks (each one turned out to be more incompetent than the last) and she was determined to make it work, if only to prove to her mother and herself that she wasn’t the biggest bitch in the magazine industry. Or crazy. Those titles were already taken, one of which, was by her mother.

Vanessa was just particular about everything, from the way she liked her coffee, with cream and sugar, to the way she liked her men, faithful.

“Can you just tell her I’ll call her back?” asked Vanessa. She spun around in her chair and leaned back, folding her arms. “I’m just not in the mood to deal with her today.”

“What if she calls again before you do?”

“Tell her I’m dead and see how she reacts to that.”

Samantha stood frozen, eyes wide, lips pursed. “Are you… serious?” she asked in a high-pitched tone.

Vanessa turned back around and cocked her head, astonished. “Yes,” she replied.

Her assistant gulped.

Vanessa sighed, exasperated. “No. I’m not serious. I just need some time. If she calls back, tell her I’m in meetings all day and won’t be able to speak to her again until tonight. She’s out of the country so it won’t make a difference anyway. Just, oblige. And we’ll be fine.”

“Ok.” She left the room without a single whimper and dropped down in her chair behind a desk that sat just a few feet from Vanessa’s spacious office.

Her walls were made of glass so that she could see everyone from one side of the room to the other as soon as they came in and as soon as they left the building. As Editor-in-Chief of the wildly popular
Attitude
magazine, she had to make sure that she knew what was happening as soon as it happened, whether it was inside of her office or outside of it. The only downside was that if she was having a truly terrible day, a day just like this, everyone knew it almost immediately. There was no hiding her face or excusing herself. Her employees had no privacy, therefore, she didn’t either.

As the hours passed, Vanessa hadn’t managed to get a single thing done. She didn’t return very important phone calls to her publishers, she hadn’t approved bylines from her staff or rescheduled the monthly meetings with local photographers. All she could manage to do was sit and think. Think about Nathan and Sheila and how their impending wedding, even from miles away and an ocean between them in Sacramento, had managed to affect her emotions all these years later.

Maybe it’s me
, she thought.
Maybe I’m just crazy and I should’ve been over this years ago
.

But how do you ever get over the image of finding your best friend having sex with your boyfriend just a week before your high school graduation? It’s an image Vanessa has tried to erase from her mind for the last five years, but could never quite manage to completely scrub from memory.

When you’re eighteen, you have the entire world sitting almost perfectly at your toes. You can be anyone, go anywhere, and do anything you ever wanted (at least in some countries). All Vanessa ever wanted was to get married, to Nathan. To have his children and live in a townhouse on the Upper East Side. He was going to be a successful attorney while she stayed home with the children and stressed over the upcoming holidays and joint family reunions while simultaneously scrolling DIY sites and saving various pages of instructions on how to assemble an expensive coffee table from IKEA. She never wanted to be her mother, a workaholic whose entire life became more about business and her self-started magazine, and less about Vanessa and her older sister, Felicia. She never wanted this life as a mini mogul rivaling the likes of Anna Wintour. That’s not to say she wasn’t proud of her successes since coveting a desired position that she now holds dear; successes such as being the number one selling fashion magazine in the country, of either gender or nationality for the last five years, which led to her gracing not only the cover of her own magazine, but
Vogue
and
Vanity Fair
simultaneously.

But it was never what she wanted. Fame and fortune can never replace a family, is what she always told her mother. But this was the hand she was dealt after realizing that becoming a wife and mother wasn’t in her cards. She never wanted anything serious if it was going to lead to yet another disastrous ending, with more heartache for her and less to none for him. To the hand she has, she’s managed to play very well, winning the house every single time and managing to surprise herself from time to time, as well as her overbearing mother.

              “Ready for lunch?”

              Vanessa looked up from the mess of notes sprawled across her desk to see her best friend Nikki strolling into her office, her dark hair bouncing off her shoulders. She plopped down in a chair and lowered a box of food onto the desk.

              Her assistant frantically ran into the room, fixing her glasses in a panic as they slipped down to her nose. “I am so sorry Ms. Brown!” she squeaked. “I didn’t see her. I was on the phone with your mother again. She’s being persistent.”

              “Its fine,” said Vanessa, waving her hand. “Nikki’s a friend and just tell my mother that I’ve managed to drop dead in the meantime.”

              Samantha made a face and nodded before returning to her desk.

              “And another one bites the dust, I see,” Nikki replied, laying back and crossing her half-bare legs. She was wearing grey leggings and a fitted tank, along with that often worn grey jacket and matching Nike tennis shoes, which meant she had either come back from an audition, or a free exercise class in the park.

              “Well, I’ve yet to toss a book at anyone’s head. I’m not my mother.”

              “Yet.” Nikki sniffed.

              She smirked. “This one’s okay so far. She dresses poorly, but we can fix that. Just as long as she doesn’t hang around
you
too much longer.” Vanessa reached for her box of food and her eyes brightened with excitement once she lifted the lid. “Sushi!” She grabbed her sauce and a pair of chopsticks. “How did you guess I’d be in the mood for this today?”

              “I saw the invitation and assumed you needed a little pick me up.”

Vanessa paused and exhaled angrily. “Oh.”

“And since you don’t day drink anymore, I thought this was the next best thing.”

She shoved the food away and sat back. “Actually, I don’t think I’m so hungry for this anymore. I think I’d much rather sit here and lose weight in sulking. I hear it burns fat, calories… Or maybe a bottle of patron would work just the same. My mother might still have that celebratory bottle from last year in her desk next to the vodka.”

              “That food cost me most of this month’s rent. In case you’ve forgotten, the whole barista thing only pays so much by the hour. Acting classes take half and you scarf the rest for bills and such. So eat it or I’m taking it home and feeding it to the dog.”

              She scoffed. “We don’t have a dog.”

              “I’ll find one, claim it, and give it the entire box.” Nikki shoved the food back in Vanessa’s direction. “Eat.”

              She gradually picked up the chopsticks and began lightly stabbing pieces of tuna and crab.

              “I am not going to that thing. I am not going… I wouldn’t even if Alexis offered to quadruple my salary to attend for publicity purposes. I’d be forced to write a story about those ‘love-birds’ and it would be my luck that the issue would sell out like hotcakes. I don’t need that. I don’t give a single damn that Sheila is the daughter of a former state senator --”

BOOK: Miss Independent
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