“I loved being famous. It was all so great, right up into the point where it wasn’t.”
“Of course, I wanted to be famous. Everyone, whether they will admit it or not, wants people to know who they are. Even if they hate who you are. It just the act of being seen. Followed. It gives a life validity. It gives me purpose.”
“I sort of fell into this. The fans, the camera crews… it’s like I woke up one day and they were all here. Eighty million people, staring at me. Expecting something from me. I’m still figuring out what to give them. Because Cash Mitchell… he’s just a normal guy. But hey—maybe that’s what they relate to.”
* * *
Ugh. A normal guy? Are you kidding me? Cash Mitchell is Jocelyn Mitchell’s golden son. His baby pictures were sold to People Magazine. He wasn’t normal—had never been normal. And he knew it. That whole, tilt his head to the side and grin bashfully at the camera bit—it’s a bit. Just like all of it. Just like the shorts I wore today, which were chosen because I was guaranteed a repost by Hollister if I tagged them in a post. Just like the fact that when I walked out of this restaurant, some guy that Edwin paid was going to scream at me for wearing fur and throw his coffee at me, while the paps, who were tipped off to be here, captured it all. It was all bits—only Cash Mitchell was better at it because he was born and bred for this crap. Literally. I bet you a hundred bucks his mother got pregnant strictly for the page six mentions and the photo ops.
God, I loved his mother. Do you remember Beverly Hills? I watched that show every single day after school. Jocelyn Mitchell played Adel Berkshire, and she was so glamorous and gorgeous. She could say anything—anything, and it just reeked of class. And that—that beautiful Emmy-winning actress—was his mom. So no, Cash Mitchell had absolutely no idea of what it’s like to be normal. He was just good, really really good, at pretending he did.
“What do you think of Cash Mitchell?” The House of Fame producer leaned forward, her hands clasped together underneath her chin and examined me as if I was an art exhibit.
“I’d screw him on a slow day at Burning Man.” I delivered the line dryly, and a titter of laughter floated through the room. There were too many people in here, their chairs crowded in a row behind the camera like front seats to a Fashion Week show. I was perched in a director’s chair before them, a vintage Fendi bag hanging off the arm, one leg crossed over the other in leather leggings and an off-the-shoulder T-shirt that was frayed along the sleeve. My team had agonized over the outfit, my shoes swapped four times during the drive here, and I bobbed the toe of the metallic red Converses and hoped they’d chosen wisely.
Effortless trendsetting. That was the goal, and photos of my entrance into the studio had already been captured by paps and posted on the internet before I’d opened my mouth and answered their first question.
“Have you ever?” She gave me a calculated smirk. “Had sex with Cash?”
“At Burning Man?” I smiled. “No.”
“You know of the Casma rumor, right? That you guys just pretend to hate each other but secretly date?” A stick-thin woman with purple hair pointed her pen at me. “Any truth to that?”
“No.” I smiled again. “I actually do hate him.”
“But if we wanted you to—you could pretend to like him, right?”
“Of course she could,” Michelle snapped from her position beside me. “Emma’s an actress.”
I fought the urge not to roll my eyes at that one. While my first manager had solidly understood the social media influencer role I was capable of— Michelle had the sweet but misguided opinion that I had talent, which was probably why I’d hired her. It was nice to have someone believe in you, even if you knew they were wrong. And hey—who knew. Maybe my film career could have legs.
“Why would I pretend to like him?” I ran a hand through my hair, tousling the newly dirty blonde strands. Bleach blonde, Dion had decided, was so last year.
The man’s eyes darted excitedly between Michelle and I. “We thought that a major storyline of this season would be a relationship between you and Cash.”
This, of course, had already been discussed by my team. They hated the idea. I loved it. “Have you run this idea by Cash?”
“Well, yes.” A mohawk with a red clipboard spoke up. “Cash is open to the idea provided that—and this is a direct quote from him and not me—“she plays nice”.” He glanced up from the pad. “Is that possible?”