Fighting Over Me – Episode 1: Round 1

Ebook by S. Cane: Fighting over me - Round one

ME-OWW

LA’s hottest nightclub got a little hotter last night when Marta Mathis and AJ Babineaux took their frenemy feud to the next level. Marta, star of the hit new show High-Wire, showed up at 9:32 to catch the set by that positively smoking band The Quislings, but she’d only been there half an hour when AJ, who plays that naughty Vix on the same show, showed up. For a moment, it seemed like they’d play nice, but then Marta and AJ went to use the ladies’ room at the same time. No little birdies to tell us what they talked about, unfortunately, but ten minutes later, Marta was out the door and off for parts unknown. As for AJ, we hear she went backstage to meet the band and showed off a delish outfit at their after party. Twenty-four hours later, they’re both back on set at the Paramount lot, all smiles as they film another episode of High-Wire, but you’ve got to wonder if these two are really the BFFs their social media makes them look like or if they’ve decided that only one of them can be top dog of the coolest show on television!

Excepted from The Nicotine Diaries, online blog, 2019.

***

It was the dry season in Hollywood—no pilots being made, the big productions all already cast. I was still what you might call a struggling actor, but I’d booked enough commercial roles and bit parts in the past month that I didn’t feel the need to hustle for scraps when less than nothing was available. So I took advantage of a Groupon deal and found myself in a sunny resort on the California beach, San Quinby.

Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. The beaches were crowded, so I made do—lying by the pool, working on my tan, and enjoying the fresh air, the clear skies, and the warm sun.

I was half-asleep when a shadow fell across my face, waking me. I sat up, certain someone was trying to attract my attention, and was so befuddled I felt a momentary spring of panic at being unclothed. I was wearing, at the moment, a loose pair of swim trunks and some tanning oil. They were baggy on me; it’d be a few years since I’d gone swimming and I’d lost some weight in the interval. I didn’t like to think about how much of that was fat and how much of it was muscle.

Still, they were enough to preserve my modesty, which I realized as I took off my sunglasses and saw who was providing the shade.

“Oh my God… Marta? Marta Mathis?”

“Damon McCallister!” she replied happily, taking off her own sunglasses.

Marta looked great. The last time I’d seen her had been a year ago. We’d been doing a chemistry read together, one of those parts that came so close you could taste it. We’d hit it off, but the producers decided to go another way for their project. Still, we got along so well that we set a date to get drinks later that week. Then Marta had managed to score another role. She’d begged off, asking for a rain check, which I graciously gave, and the whole thing just never rematerialized. I hadn’t pursued it, not wanting to seem desperate.

Seeing Marta in a bikini, I was not at all sure of my decision making. She was twisting on her heels, showing herself off a little—her dark one-piece swimsuit went well with her black hair. It was also low-cut on her chest and angled high on her buttocks, showing off the roundness of her curves to almost the dead center of her back. The front of the suit filled out rather nicely as well.

But more than her body, Marta had a poise and exotic sultriness that gave her cheerfulness a dark sheen. I recalled that in the roles we’d read for, she’d been some sort of cute goth girl, and even without a pro make-up team for the audition, she’ll pulled the role off very well. It was no wonder she’d eventually landed the lead role in that High-Wire show.

“What are you doing here?” I asked her. “I had it on very good authority that this place was a dive.”

“Oh, I’m slumming. The show–” (Like most Hollywood actresses, Marta assumed everyone she met had intimate knowledge of what her projects were and how they were doing. She was right, in this case, but still–) “Is doing some dumb arc all about the boys and I’m fucking kidnapped or whatever. Plus, we’re on hiatus, so I can either do a bunch of bullshit photo ops or take a break.”

She perched herself on the lowest part of my lounge chair. I’d drawn up my legs when I sat up to greet her, unintentionally making room for her. I can’t say I minded sharing a seat with her, though I could think of better seating arrangements.

“Still, it’s hard to believe this is the best you can afford,” I said, indicating the rather pallid poolside. It wasn’t exactly tacky, but if anyone looked like she belonged in an Olympic sized swimming pool with ivory tiles and water clearer than a dove’s tears…

She shrugged haplessly. The tightly clinging swimsuit made it a very interesting motion—she’d been in the water recently. Hated to have missed that… “Waste not, want not. A vacay’s a vacay. Besides, it’s not like the network pays us ER money, OK?”

“A-OK,” I replied. “So how’ve you been?”

She reached out to punch my shoulder. “Wondering why you never called, numbnuts.”

“I sent a text,” I said defensively, flustered by the question. I’d just been thinking the same thing myself.

“One text? Three or four at least, to let me know you’re serious. Don’t you know anything about dating?”

“Well, I know a little about stalking. I think they just passed a law against it.”

“What—I’m not worth going to jail for?” The chaise lounge next to me opened up, a man pulling on his shirt and picking up his beach bag before leaving. Marta slid into the seat like a baseball player stealing home. “Say, it’s been a while, but you mind if I vent to you a littl…

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