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LOVE ‘EM

By:Kelley Harvey

LOVE ‘EM


Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em

Duet

Kelley Harvey



ONE





My brand new shoes bite into the back of my heels and squish my toes. I fill a paper cup with water and set it aside without ingesting so much as a sip.

Shayna takes my elbow as I pass by for the fifteenth time. “For Christ’s sake, sit down. I wasn’t nervous until you started pacing.”

I press my finger to the twitch at the corner of my left eye. “This is going to be a disaster. I know it.”

“It’ll be fine. Relax.” My best friend for the last three years fluffs my corkscrew curls around my shoulders and grasps my upper arms. “A live studio audience will be good. I promise. You’ll be so happy you did this.”

“Somehow I doubt it. Why couldn’t you have kept your mouth shut when Sam called?” Blah blah blah, that’s what she did. Info dump right into my agent’s ear, and that was the cannonball on the catapult that shot me straight to the gates of Hell.

Shayna was the first to be invited on the show, and after she talked to Sam, I got a call too.

Shay whirls me around to face a blank wall. She holds her hand up as if she’s painting a scene. “Picture this: You’ll sell a million books, and then you can take me to Cancun. We’ll sip fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas, delivered to us on golden trays by hot cabana boys who don’t speak our language. We’ll say the rudest things and smile and still get laid at the end of the day.”

A smile pulls up the corner of my mouth even as I rub the ache between my eyebrows. “If you say so. Let’s just hope Jackson Tremaine is feeling charitable tonight.”

She sticks her tongue out. “Jackson Tremaine can go fuck himself.”

I straighten her platinum blonde, not-quite-human-hair wig and tip her bug-eye sunglasses down enough to stare into her baby blues. “You think all men should go fuck themselves. You know, most of them want the same things we want. To be loved. To be respected. You just have to give them a chance.”

“Every year, I offer about a hundred of them a ‘chance’. All but three have failed, and those already belonged to other women.” Shay quirks her auburn eyebrow. Good thing the shades hide the dead giveaway that she isn’t really a blonde bombshell.

A sad sigh escapes before I can catch it. “I’m so sorry, sweetie, but maybe you need to consider another career path?”

Even though her eyes are hidden again, it’s as though I hear them rolling.

“Thanks for the advice, but I make an excellent living in my current line of work. As much as I love you, Ronnie, you and I have two different philosophies when it comes to men. I’m good with that.”

A petite woman pops into the room. “Ladies, he’s going to bring you out one at a time, starting with you, Ronnie. In five.”

My stomach grabs hold of my esophagus and trembles as the second hand ticks away the moments. My first live appearance on television is tying me into knots.

Appearing on the Up Late with Jackson Tremaine show should be a boon, but it’s probably going to blow up in my face. Like a big fat dirty bomb. Lights out.

My instinct says that he’s a shark and I’m a guppy. He’s going to chew me up and spit me out. That’s if I’m lucky, and he doesn’t swallow me whole.

No. I won’t let him. He’s a man, like all the other men I’ve studied since I was twelve and Dad skipped out on my overbearing, never-to-be-pleased mother. If she’d have shown him some love and compassion, he’d have stayed. I’m sure of it.

I have to remember that about Jackson. Underneath his Armani suits and Rolex watches, he wants the same things as everyone else—respect and love. That’s all. Show him some respect, and he’ll return the favor. And, after tonight, I can move on and watch my book sales skyrocket as I ring in the new year, and my bank account will follow suit.

Shayna stands in front of the full length mirror in the corner and applies a fresh coat of the blood-red lipstick she purchased specifically for tonight. “Can you tell that it’s me?”

I rub my finger along my bottom lip. “Well, I can tell it’s you, but I’d know you with a bag on your head. That sassy sway of your hips and the way you talk with your hands would give it away. But, I think you’re all right. Most people don’t pay that close of attention. I’m certain your secret’s safe.”

“I only want to ensure my potential clients can be assured that their unsuspecting, cheating bastards won’t know what’s coming when I make my move.”

I shake my head. “One of these days, Shay—”

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