I jumped on the first flight to San Myshuno. I didn’t think I’d stopped crying that whole time. Even the flight attendants brought me kleenexes and gave me pitiying looks. I looked like a blotchy, red faced, snot filled mess. Yeah. So embarrassing.
A part of me kept saying I needed to stop, talk to Charlie, and make up. I mean…why was I running?
But then I’d hear him forcing me to ditch whomever he felt jealous about and I just got angry all over again. He wasn’t going to control me. I wouldn’t stand for that. And over the past six months, I realized Charlie was a control freak and a perfectionist.
That was why he loved ballet dancing, fine dining, and classical music. To him, those represented perfection–nothing out of place. It made him calm when everything hummed in soothing, comforting tones. He was my total opposite. I’d known that from almost the first time I’d met him, but…I just couldn’t help myself. I fell in love. And opposites attract. Right?
I mean, his strength and softer attitude calmed me down. He was good for me. The Ying to my Yang…but…I guessed it was too much for me.
Oh…I ached to see him. It was like a huge cloud hovered over me. Was I making the biggest mistake of my life? I didn’t know. I just needed time away from him to think.
I heard a tap on my door and my pulse quickened. Was it Charlie? I knew if I saw him, I’d cave. I wasn’t in the right emotional state to do anything rational.
Luckily, it was James.
I didn’t want to see him either. Behind all of it, I kind of blamed him for making Charlie jealous even though I knew that wasn’t right. It wasn’t James’ fault.
I only nodded at him, looking away.
“I…uh…wanted to tell you that you can stay. I’m getting a place to myself, so…I won’t be in the way anymore.”
I shook my head. James was so thoughtful. See? Charlie didn’t have anything to worry about. James was just my friend. Ugh. I wanted to shout at him again. But it wouldn’t help. No matter what I did, he’d only view James as a rival. “That’s okay, James, but I’ve got to get out of here. Thanks though.”
I said goodbye and left, rushing away before I changed my mind. Dad wanted me to stay with him for a while. I needed to go home.
When I saw my dad, all my bravery shattered, and I crumpled into his arms. Dads were the best when you felt the worst.
I took some time off from work and decided to get a little bonding in with my bro. Too bad the little urchin was such a demon. Always getting into trouble. I had to watch him 24-7.
Oh. My. GOD! And he was about to eat his slimy, dirty BOOGERS!
“You better not, Bray,” I yelled, cringing.
As if to spite me, he plopped that bad boy in his mouth.
I scooped him up. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”
I felt like all those germs caked on his body went creeping up my hands just touching the toddling bucket of bacteria. I shuddered. So much for bro bonding.
“I think it’s time to see Daddy.” Dad could deal with him. Not me!
It didn’t go any better at Mom’s place. So I tried really hard to be a sweet loving sibling to my baby sister, Rylie.
“Aww…see that, Lexie? She adores you already,” Mom lied.
But Rylie wasn’t fooling me. We were going to have to really watch this kid when she grew up. The girl was wicked smart. She already knew at this tiny age I was bad with kids. I even tried to kiss her, and she made a face like “Help! Get me away from her!”
You gotta like that sass. I fell in love with her right away.
Then I gave her back to Mom.
Things settled down a bit and I felt a little better about things. Or so I thought. Dad brought home a few magazines to show me. He thought I should be prepared.
Can anyone say I SOOOOO hate the press? Because I do.
The covers were bad enough. But the articles made me sound like some sinister, gold digging whore whose sole purpose was to win the hearts of as many Heartthrobs as I could and cut them off without reason. (A power play on my part. Something all Throbbers will never forgive me for.) Thank GOD I had an FBI agent as a father. He used undercover agents to ferry me to and from work.
But the worst of it wasn’t over.
Noah came to my desk with a worried face.
“What’s wrong, Noah? Do you need some help?”
“Boss wants to see you.”
Uh oh. There were only two things Cruella DeVil ever summoned people to her office for. She was either going to promote you or fire you. Noah had the guilty look of a person who knew too much. And it certainly wasn’t good.
“Shit,” I whispered, swallowing.
I’d never been to the woman’s office. Never wanted to make a visit even for a promotion. If I wasn’t so petrified, I would have said I liked decor and commented about the artwork. I also would have noticed there was an abundance of women crying in the paintings. I should have taken that as a dubious omen. But I was clueless.
As I entered, my boss acted as if I wasn’t there. I stood awkwardly for at least five excruciating minutes, trying to give her space.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and cleared my throat. “Er…you wanted to see me?”
She nodded and motioned me to sit. Then she went into a diatribe about how she’s worked so hard to bring Chicken Tooth Animation up where it is today and how she started in the animation biz as nothing but an unpaid intern without a nickel to her name. She blabbed so much about her professional life that I wondered what exactly she wanted to see me for. Then she ended with, “…and so, Alexis, we, as in the board of directors and I, feel it’s in the best interest of everyone at Chicken Tooth Animation to allow you to fly like I did.”
My brain was having a hard time taking in everything. I was so confused. Was she promoting me or firing me? It could have gone either way with that vague sentence. “Huh?” was all I could muster.
“In other words, we think it’s best if you left our small potatoes operation and used your talents elsewhere. We have no doubt you’ll do well and we’ll give you a hearty recommendation.”
She was firing me. Damn. I didn’t even ask for a better explanation because deep in my gut, I knew. All the turmoil of my very public private life had filtered in and now that I was a blight on everyone’s radar, even my little animation studio wanted nothing to do with me.
I tried to get hired elsewhere, but no one wanted me. I couldn’t blame them. Chicken Tooth Animation had to up their security when those damned rags hit. And to be associated with me meant trouble.
But there was one place where my troubles were actually a bonus. In fact, when I asked my agent for more work, he was almost salivating. Seemed my association as Charlie’s ex gave me “star” power. Even if it was bad press, I was a known quantity.
And so…as much as I hated it, I took up modeling full time.
As the weeks turned into months, a sort of resentment I’d fostered toward Charlie turned into something else. I was no longer that timid weak little geek who’d escaped from the tiniest hint of stress.
I was Alexis Bianca Day.
Ready to take on the world (and a mountain of Throbbers if I had to).
Bring it, bitches.