Authors: Traci Hohenstein
Copyright © 2014 Traci Hohenstein
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
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.
Publisher: Traci Hohenstein
Cover design by Pam Kennedy
Editing by Janet Fix
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
For Nikki Campbell
Thank you for all the years of friendship and laughter
Trista Carmichael carefully applied her lipstick and gave one last look in the rearview mirror before getting out of her gleaming, white Mercedes coup. Today was an important day. She was meeting a network executive about her contract renewal on the hit TV show,
You Only Live Once
. Trista was the star of the popular nighttime comedy show, which was about a girl who has a near death experience. Her character, Molly McBride, realizes, after coming back from the brink of death, that life is too short, and she sets out to complete a bucket list. The show was in its third season, and Trista had already won numerous awards for her role in the series.
Trista turned her keys over to the valet and waltzed into the Polo Lounge. Being a major star in a hit TV show definitely had its perks. The maître’ de recognized her as soon as she walked in, and she was ushered straight to a table where Gil Salmon was waiting. As usual, the table was located in a prime area of the posh restaurant. Several male patrons discreetly watched as Trista sashayed through the crowded establishment.
“Trista, you look lovely today,” Gil greeted her.
Trista had taken special care to look her best for this luncheon. She’d bought a new Dolce & Gabana dress the day before. It was a beautiful, white A-line dress that showed off her perfect California tan. She’d also spent the morning getting her hair and makeup professionally done. Her long, blonde hair cascaded down the small of her back in beautiful waves, and her makeup had been applied with the precision that only a trained makeup artist could pull off. Trista was known for her “natural beauty,” which really took the right bronzer, fiber mascara, and tinted lip balm to achieve. Trista knew by all the subtle stares that she looked like a million bucks today.
“Thanks, Gil,” Trista said, planting a light peck on his cheek. She took the seat across the table from him. The waiter magically appeared to take her drink order and promptly left.
“How’s everything going with you?” he asked. “Any special plans this weekend?” Gil was in his late forties. He had thinning, red hair, which he tried desperately to cover up with hair transplants, and a chubby face complete with wire spectacles. Trista knew Gil was also on his second wife, having dumped his starter wife when he got a promotion at the studio.
You Only Live Once
was on hiatus for the next few weeks. Most of the crew on the show took this time to go on vacations or just relax until the show started filming again. However, Trista never stopped working. She usually had some type of work lined up, like commercials, voice-over work, or special appearances. Trista was fearful that if she stopped working, or even took a break, all her work would dry up, and then she would have to move back home. The thought of being a “has-been” terrified her.
“Everything is wonderful. I’m taking a girl’s trip with Quinn to a spa in Arizona this weekend. After that, I have the photo shoot for Vogue. I’m up for a voice in the new Disney movie too.” Trista noticed Gil’s raised eyebrow and quickly added, “Although it won’t interfere with our show.”
Gil took a sip of his water. He stared at Trista for a few uncomfortable seconds. The look made her stomach lurch. “I think some time off would do you some good. You’ve worked very hard for this network, and the show has gotten some fantastic ratings over the years. I know we don’t tell you as often as we should, but we really appreciate your dedication.” Gil paused as the waiter brought over a basket of breadsticks and Trista’s iced tea. He told the waiter to hold on a few more minutes before taking their lunch order.
Trista felt dizzy with excitement.
Here it comes
. He was going to offer her a new contract. She wondered how much money he was going to throw at her. Right now, she was the highest-paid actress on the show. She made a hundred grand an episode. That was over a million-dollar payday. Per season. Her co-stars made less than half of what she did, and she knew there was a little resentment because of that. However, she was the big star of the show, and in her mind, that justified the higher salary.
“…that’s why it is difficult for me to tell you this.” Gil paused, clearing his throat. “We’ve decided not to renew your contract.”
Trista’s smile disappeared from her face. She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. “What? I don’t think I heard you right.”
Gil reached over to touch her hand. “This wasn’t an easy decision, but the network thinks we need to shake some things up a bit next season. Our ratings are still good, but we’re competing against some excellent shows this fall. We’ve decided to take the show in a new direction.”
“But what about my character? You can’t do this! I’m the star of the show. The glue that holds everything together!” Trista tried to keep the desperation out of her voice. She looked around to see if anyone was staring at her.
“Your character will be killed off,” Gil said matter-of-factly.
Trista stared at him in disbelief. “How?”
“Molly dies while skydiving in Europe.”
Trista tried to digest everything he was telling her, but it didn’t make sense. How could they keep the show going without the main character?
“You can’t do this,” she repeated. “Molly is the center of show!” Trista felt like she was going to puke. “
the show. You can’t go on with
You Only Live Once
Gil waved off the waiter, who was heading in their direction. The waiter saw the commotion and whirled around, away from their table. “You’re causing a scene, Trista. Calm down.”
“How can I calm down? You’re telling me that I’m out of a job? A job that I’ve had for over three years? I don’t understand how a successful TV show can go on without their star?” Trista tried hard to stem the tears that were threatening to flow down her perfectly made-up face. Dabbing her eyes with a napkin, she snuck a quick peek around the restaurant again to see if anyone had noticed her meltdown. They had. Everyone was definitely staring now.
“I’m sorry, doll. But the decision is final.” Gil pulled out a wad of cash and put it on the table. “I’m afraid that I have another meeting, but please stay and order lunch. It’s on me. Good luck with the Disney thing.”
Trista watched as Gil sauntered out of the restaurant, pausing at a couple of tables to say hello to other diners. She couldn’t believe it. The last three years of her life, she had given all she had to the show, and now she was being fired. What was she going to do now?
Trista decided not to wait until evening to tell Blake about her dismissal from the show. She knew the news would spread like wildfire throughout Hollywood, and she wanted to be the one to tell her fiancé. He was going to be very pissed when he found out that Gil Salmon had fired her. But he would know exactly what to do. Blake Simmons was not only her fiancé but her agent as well. He was THE agent to the stars in Hollywood. Blake represented some of the biggest names in TV and movies. He was also handsome, charming, and well connected. If anyone could get Trista another big role, Blake could.
Before she could go to his office, she needed to freshen up. Her makeup from this morning was now ruined, and she wanted to change into something more comfortable. They had been living together for over six months and had recently become engaged. Blake wanted them to move from her condo into something bigger. So Trista put her condo in West Hollywood on the market, and they had been looking at houses closer to the studio. Now that Trista had been fired, she supposed they would put the house-hunting on hold for a while. No sense in buying anything until she figured out what to do next. With her popularity on the show, she was certain she would land another spot on a TV series fairly quickly. Or maybe Blake could talk to Gil and work something out.
Trista pulled into the parking garage and noticed a green BMW parked in her space. It looked like her real estate agent’s car. Blake’s black Range Rover was parked in his spot as well. She must have forgotten that the condo was being shown this afternoon. It was just as well. She could now tell the agent face to face that she should take the condo off the market.
She entered the elevator and punched in the special code that took her directly to the penthouse level. As soon as she got off the elevator, she noticed the front door was ajar. A pair of bright-red heels was left in the foyer. Trista put her purse down on the console table and walked to the living room. It was empty. “Hello?” she called out.
The real estate agent must be showing the unit to a prospective buyer
. She wondered if Blake was with them.
She checked the guest bedroom and the kitchen. Both were empty. She opened the door to the master bedroom. Also empty. That’s when she heard a sound coming from the balcony. Her condo had great views of Hollywood and the San Gabriel mountains. It was a major selling point and the real estate agent liked to take clients outside on the spacious balcony to show them the sights. When she’d first listed the condo, the real estate agent also recommended that Trista spend some money making the balcony more inviting. Taking her advice, Trista had recently installed a new hot tub, bought new patio furniture, and added a lot of potted plants. She eased the sliding glass door open, but a large potted palm blocked her view of the hot tub. However, Trista could clearly see clothing scattered about the steps leading to the Jacuzzi.
Her stomach tightened, and she felt sick…again. The voices were a little clearer as she got closer to the Jacuzzi. Trista rounded the corner to see the backside of her real estate agent on top of her boyfriend. She was riding him like a Shetland pony at a kid’s birthday party.
“Blake?” Trista called out as she stood on the top stair of the Jacuzzi, where she had a full view of the sexual act going on.
Blake had his face planted firmly in the large breasts of the real estate agent. He looked up at the sound of Trista’s voice, pushing the real estate agent off of him and standing up. Droplets of water cascaded down his nude body and off his huge erect penis. “Trista! What are you doing home? I thought…I thought…you’re supposed to be having lunch with Gil.”
“It didn’t go so well,” Trista couldn’t think of anything else to say. For the second time today she was caught off guard. Stunned.
The real estate agent, a petite Asian woman named Cherie, stepped out of the tub. She grabbed a towel from the edge of the Jacuzzi to cover her oversized, fake boobs, picked up her discarded dress, and hastily made her way inside the condo without saying a word.
“Jesus, Trista. I’m sorry.” Blake stood there in all his naked glory. Trista reached over and threw him the other towel that had fallen from a nearby chair. She wasn’t sure if he was apologizing for fucking around or for the lousy lunch she had. “What happened at lunch?”
Trista felt numb all over. She couldn’t think straight. Her voice sounded robotic. She answered, “Gil said they were moving the show in a different direction…”
Blake wrapped the towel around his waist and walked over to her. As he tried to put his arms around her Trista pushed him away.
She finally came to her senses. “What the hell, Blake? How long has this been going on?”
“This was the first time. I swear, Trista. Cherie just came over to show the condo, and the customer cancelled at the last minute.” Blake ran a hand through his wet, sandy-blond hair. “One thing led to another…Hell, I don’t know. It just happened.”
“You want me to believe this has only happened once?” Trista asked, incredulous. It was like the fog had been lifted from her mind. She
in her heart that this wasn’t his first time. How could she be so blind for so long? She didn’t even wait for him to give an answer. “Get out!”
“What? Trista, this is nothing. I swear. I love you, babe.”
“Get out!” she repeated, pointing to the sliding glass doors. “NOW! I don’t want to ever see you again.”
“Trista, let’s talk about this. You just got fired. You need me. You can’t…”
“Wait a minute. I never said I got fired. I only said the meeting didn’t go well. How did you know?”
Blake surprised her by laughing.
“What’s so fucking funny?” she asked, the sick feeling in her stomach growing larger by the second.
“I knew about this.”
“What are you talking about?” Trista looked confused.
“Gil called me last night and told me they weren’t going to renew your contract.”
Trista gritted her teeth. She felt hot all over as her blood pressure shot up. Her face was on fire. “You knew I was getting fired and you didn’t tell me?”
“Gil asked me not too.” Blake threw the towel down and walked inside, leaving a trail of wet footprints on the Brazilian cherry hardwood floor. Trista followed him as he started to put on his clothes. “Face it, Trista. You’ve gotten stale. The viewers have noticed, the producers have noticed—hell, your whole crew knows it. The only person who hasn’t noticed is you. You think you’re the only reason why the show is doing so good?” Hastily, he tucked in his striped Oxford shirt and slipped on his shoes, not bothering to wait for her response. “The thing is you’re the one who is bringing the show down. Gil wanted to let you go last season, but
convinced him to give you another season. You should be fucking thanking
Trista sank down on the bed. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Not only had Blake cheated on her, but he had betrayed her as well. She had endured enough for one day. Standing up, she smacked him across the face, leaving an angry, red imprint on his cheek. “You’re an asshole. WE. ARE. DONE. Get the fuck out and don’t bother coming back. I’ll send your things to the office!”
He rubbed his cheek. “You’ll regret this.” Blake picked up his wallet and keys from the nightstand and walked to the door. “You can’t make it in this town without me. You’ll be blackballed from every production company in Hollywood!”
Trista fell to the floor and burst into tears as the front door slammed.