“Ned and Tyler took the van. But she doesn’t have her phone, so we don’t have tracking.”
“Are you guys tracking our phones?” Marissa pushed into the kitchen. “That’s a complete violation of our personal rights.”
“That you all agreed to in your contracts,” Dana snapped. “We can’t record you if we don’t know where you are.”
I looked to the sidelines where Eileen’s manager spoke up. “She’s right.”
Marissa sputtered through an argument and I tuned out. I’d never had privacy. I wasn’t sure I even fully understood the concept. I’d been followed, photographed, and recorded since I was a child. There wasn’t an inch of our home that hadn’t been watched by security cams, and I never went anywhere that escaped paparazzi or follower cameras.
I dropped my hand and barged into the argument. “I’m not pressing charges on Emma.”
“Holy shit,” Eileen breathed, moving closer to me, her fingers ghosting over my jaw. “You’re going to have a serious bruise.”
“Hold that reaction until we get a camera on you,” Dana shrilled. “Where in jack tar village are my cameras?”
“Ned and Tyler have two, plus the guys out front waiting on the police.”
“Well, get me one,” she snapped. “I don’t care if it’s your iPhone. We need this. In fact,” she looked around. “Every crew member who wants a paycheck this week, pull out your phones and record something.”
“The cops are pulling in,” someone called from the front of the house.
“Dana, I’m not talking to the cops,” I said. “I’m not pressing charges.”
“Oh honey,” her face pinched together in mock sympathy. “Of course you are.”
She was right, but also wrong. As my attorney later explained, pressing charges wasn’t even a thing. The police did a report, took the video evidence, and referred the allegations to the district attorney’s office, who would issue charges with or without my cooperation. I did my best to help Emma, but she was still charged with assault. Not right away, but later. Initially, they couldn’t charge her because she wasn’t there.
She drove out of those gates in a red bikini and white towel, without her phone or wallet and disappeared.
“Okay, never have I ever…” Marissa paused, then looked around the table. “Ate lamb.”
We all groaned in unison, and Eileen pushed up from the table and huffed. “This is bullshit. You can’t just name a different meat every time it’s your turn.”
I took a sip of my beer and glanced toward the front door of the house. “I don’t understand why we’re filming without her here.”
“Yeah, shouldn’t we be out looking for her?” Eileen chimed in.
“She’s not a lost kitten,” Layton drawled, tipping back his eighth beer of the night. “She’s a big girl. She knows where she is.”
“And where is that?” Marissa folded her arms on the table and leaned forward. “They have people at her apartment, and she doesn’t have cash, her wallet, or her id. She can’t stay anywhere without those things.”
“Maybe she’s at a friend’s house,” Eileen offered. “Or her parents.”
“Umm… her parents are like white trash.” Marissa looked to me for verification, and I hated myself for saying that. “I think she cut ties with them after they did that Celebrity Star magazine article about her.”
“And she doesn’t have friends.” Emma’s black stylist spoke up from her spot at the table. Dana had decided that she liked the ethnic addition, plus needed the conversational source for moments like this. Emma’s disappearance, as much as Dana was screaming and stomping around… was probably great for show fodder. In fact, I had to wonder if the punch, the sprint out… was all on a script I hadn’t seen. Though, if Emma had done it by Dana’s orders, she could have gone a little easier on the punch. I tenderly touched my jawline, which was getting puffy.
“What about Bojan?” Eileen countered. “They’re photographed together all the time.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” the stylist said, and I remembered her name. Dion. “I guess he’s her one friend. But he’s in Dubai. They already checked. And his doorman hasn’t heard from him or seen Emma. His condo is at Ludwins, so…”
“Lud-what?” Layton cocked an eyebrow.
“Ludwins,” chimed Eileen. “It’s where, like, the presidents stay. It’s super high security. You need, like, a background check and fingerprints on file just to walk in the door.”
“Emma isn’t allowed there,” Dion remarked. “We always shoot her and Bojan at her place. They won’t approve her for entry when Bojan is in town, so with him out of town…” she shook her head, and her curls bounced off her shoulders. “She’s not there.”
“She has to have a friend,” Marissa countered stubbornly. “Other than Bojan.”
I watched as a camera moved closer, focusing on Dion’s face. The girl raised both eyebrows and pursed her lips. “Nah. Seriously. No other friends. Haven’t you watched her videos? You think anyone in the industry wants to be friends with someone who trashes like that?”