I paused in the hall, halted by a text from Bojan. It was a pic of him, sitting on the edge of a pool, his arms around some bikini bimbo.
Bojan: Ditch that show and come to Dubai. I heard you already punched Cash, so your work there is done.
I grinned. Nice to know the press had gone worldwide. MTV’s publicity department had been working overtime, and House of Fame was on every gossip site and tabloid, every day. My numbers were growing and Edwin predicted I’d hit fifty million followers by the time the first episode aired, three months from now.
Emma: Can’t leave now. And you better warm to Cash, because he
I paused, unsure if I wanted to send my good news via text. I deleted the line, and started fresh.
Emma: Can’t leave now, but as soon as you get back home, I’ve got lots to share. Behave!
I waited on his response and it came quickly.
Bojan: I never behave. Don’t let him break your heart. I can’t kick his ass from here.
I locked my phone and worked it into my back pocket, smiling. He was the only person on earth who knew my complicated emotions toward Cash and would probably be the only one unsurprised at the news of our dating. Whispers had already hit the internet and magazine covers, but weren’t going to officially announce it until the show wrapped. For all of Bo’s griping about Cash, he’d be supportive. And honestly, they’d probably hit it off.
I entered the living room and halted, two steps into the palatial room. Thoughts of Bojan and Cash faded because there, framed by the giant windows that overlooked the palm trees and pool, sat my parents.
* * *
Everyone knew how my parents felt about me. A month after I fired Vidal, they aired it all in a six-page long article that hit the centerfold in Celebrity Star magazine. Michelle got a copy of the contract, one that gave my parents three hundred thousand dollars in exchange for their tell-all tales of my childhood, adolescence, and rise to fame. My parents hadn’t been privy or aware of that rise, but it hadn’t stopped them from filling up the newsprint with hack jobs from various news sources.
Celebrity Star hadn’t done much to verify their stories, and I immediately filed a defamation suit against both them and the magazine. That was when I knew I’d lost myself to Hollywood. When I sued my parents, took money out of their pockets, then tweeted about it with a trendable hashtag. In my defense, I only took half of the money they earned from the article. Celebrity Star paid me ten times that, though they still came out ahead because that issue was the top seller of the year. People loved stories of my white trash beginnings, coupled with the most embarrassing moments of my life. When I was sixteen, I forgot a tampon inside me, and it rotted for four days. I couldn’t figure out what the smell was and where it was coming from. My mom was the one who figured out the issue and rushed me to a hospital to check for toxic shock syndrome. That retelling, which included a graphic description of how the tampon smelled and looked, took up five lengthy paragraphs and wasn’t even the worse of it.
The worse was the venom in between the lines. I had, for much of my life, suspected that my parents were indifferent to me. But it was apparent from the interview exactly how much they hated me. Bitch was one word my mother used. “She was a deceitful bitch even before the money.” That’s an exact quote right there. I cut out that line and taped it to my bathroom mirror, just so I could read it each morning of the litigation and remind myself why I needed to sue.
I’m not deceitful. I’m a lot of things. Selfish. Insecure. Opportunistic. Untrusting. But I don’t lie—not any more than anyone else does. And I can be bitchy at times, but I feel like deep inside, I’m a nice person. A good person. A mother is supposed to see those hidden parts of you, even if no one else does.
I entered the living room and tried not to stare at my mother’s hair. She had dyed it red, and it looked horrible, like a blood orange mop on top of her head, the ends curling in front of her ears like horns. I looked away from them and to my dad, who flapped one side of his brown sport jacket as if he was trying to pull it free from his butt.
The camera guy to my left moved closer, his shoes creaking as he crouched down to presumably zoom in on my face. Did I look shocked? I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from reacting. “Mom. Dad. What a surprise.”