Over breakfast—an egg-white omelet with organic cheese and a grilled chicken breast—Beth blew out my hair as the team assembled, my front door opening with casual irregularity as each of my team wandered in, sunglasses hiding hungover eyes, requisite coffees clutched in perfectly manicured hands, the slap of ballet flats and suede boots moving down the entry hall and around the corner into the kitchen.
Dion settled into the closest stool and eyed my breakfast with contempt. “Looks like shit, girl.”
“Takes like shit, girl,” I mimicked back, then shoved another mouthful in, chewing the food slowly, my eyes back on my device. Three-point-two million views on the dog-washing video. “We should have gone with a bigger dog,” I said. “Something messier.” I thought of Cash’s wart-covered dogs, which could be Instagram famous with the right haircut and outfits.
“I told you. We went with it because pit bulls have the highest propensity to go viral,” Edwin pushed up his sunglasses with one blue painted nail, then pulled the plate away from me. “You done?”
I let it go without comment, then sighed as he set a Dunkin Donut box in front of me. “We already did a donut post this month.”
“Yeah, well. We’re in crisis mode, so we need something fun to make people forget everything you’ve done. Plus, this’ll put Dunkin on our side in next week’s negotiations.” He carefully withdrew a turquoise and pink donut, the sprinkles arranged into a ‘don’t worry eat donuts’ message around the edge.
It was cute. The colors would play well. Edwin tilted the donut up and peered at me critically. “Let’s touch up her make-up. And put a different pajama top on her. Something solid.”
“You got it,” Dion stood and headed for my closet.
They stripped me in the middle of the kitchen, my Blink 182 T-shirt swapped for a bright yellow camisole that played off my fake tan and matched well with the donut. We decide to leave Beth in the shot, my hair comically stretched out with her round brush as I prepared to bite into the donut while Dion’s hand—a quickie polish change adding red fingernails to her mix—tried to pull it away. Both Beth and Dion’s face were hidden from the shot, and I was 15% degrees off-center as the donut got the prime real estate, the tilt-shift focus bringing it forefront. We shot two hundred stills before Edwin was satisfied.
“Someone drown me in vomit.” My front door slammed open with the sort of overkill that always preceded Michelle. “Did you see the headlines? Why can’t I get this coverage when I want it?”
“Because people hate you?” Edwin supplied.
“Maybe,” she conceded. “But that was rhetorical, screw you very much.”
“Please tell me they’re going to get bored of me soon.” I put the donut back in the box and moved to the sink to wash my hands.
“I don’t know.” She scrolled through her phone. “God, I’d be happy if I could get them to drop the word white trash. I mean, look at you.” She gestured at me. “What about you is white trash?”
“She grew up in a trailer,” Dion remarked.
“You can’t tell that from looking at her,” Michelle snapped. “Have you heard from Cash?” She stared at me, one eyebrow cocked.
“No, and he’s blocked me… so.” I picked up the hand towel and shrugged.
“No shit. There’s an article about that too. I have a call into his publicist. At least for public perception, he needs to drop the block on your accounts and pretend to play nice. This is only prolonging the bleeding, and his brand isn’t built on drama.” She placed her purse on the counter and dropped her keys in it. “Now. I gave you a week, but we have to do something. I want a major interview—whichever magazine you want. They’re all lining up, wanting to talk to you. I’m talking People, Vanity Fair, In Style—you pick. We can put you on record and have you squash all of this ridiculous nonsense. Lead with Wesley, then your parents, and wrap with Cash.”
I shook my head, and she all but jolted at the action.
“Wha—What is that? What are you saying no to?”
“I’m not talking about Wesley or Cash on the record.”
“Uh, yeah you are.”
“No.” I hung the hand towel back over the handle of the stove. “I can’t use this for press. If I do, he’ll never take me back.”
There was a long moment of silence where everyone stared at me.
“Ummm….?” Dion snapped her gum. “I hate to break this to you, but he ain’t taking you back.”
“Yeah.” Edwin sighed. “Sunk boat, babe.”
“I know I’m new here—” Beth raised her hand like she was asking a question. “Didn’t you like, sleep with his disabled brother?”
“Oh my God,” Michelle sighed. “How stupid are you? Seriously? Did you really just open your mouth in this house and ask that question?”