PRESENTS. . .
Public spectacles, private breakdowns, and terrible choices. How can a beloved Hollywood star feel so unloved?
Twenty-four year old Adra Willows grew up in the spotlight, but navigating the shark infested waters of show business doesn’t get easier with age. Constantly comparing herself to others, Adra has experienced mild success but nothing like the achievement of one of her best friends.
With her manager giving her questionable advice and her relationship with a leading comedic actor on the rocks, Adra finds herself at the crossroads of Virtue and Vice. She can either continue along the path of taking roles that showcase her body instead of her acting skills or she can forge ahead of her competition, ignore the wishes of her manager, and make her own decisions.
The red carpet of life is lined with virtue and vice, but which side will the actress choose to walk along?
“So what are we doing here? Hopefully you don’t think filming on our day off would be the key to my heart.” I don’t know why I say it like that. Peter’s not trying to get my heart. He’s got Shyla’s. He’s just being a friend, and I don’t think I could handle him as anything more. No, I could. What I couldn’t handle is losing him, and at this rate, I’d probably lose him.
“I’ve always known the key to your heart is something that has nothing to do with filming and Hollywood stuff.”
A little knot in my stomach forms, and I press my free hand against it as we walk around a small building. If I was truly a brave and independent woman, I would squeeze his hand and tell him that I love him. I would tell him that there is but one key to my heart, and he already has it. He always has. Only, it takes more than a key to get to my heart. It’s not just locked. There are purposefully placed walls and barbed wire surrounding it, and even a worthy person who can crack through anything would find it difficult to get in there to even use the key.
“I love you,” I whisper. Peter stops. His eyes are narrow and his lips are still. His silence makes the knot in my belly grow bigger. Shit. “I mean, you’re a great friend, Peter. I’m glad we could hang out today.” I paste on a practiced grin and roll my eyes. “Even if I don’t know what the hell we’re doing.”
The serious look on Peter’s face hasn’t faded. I look away. “Adra,” he says in the softest voice I’ve ever heard come from him.
I’m not an independent woman. Who the hell am I kidding? I’m a scared little kid, and I don’t think I can handle his rejection. I mean, he won’t make fun of the fact that I just said I loved him, but he’ll take it seriously, and then he’ll tell me about how he’s with someone else and how we can’t ruin our friendship by taking it in a romantic direction. Or he’ll tell me that while I’m his friend, I’m just not the right type of person to be his girlfriend. I can’t deal with that, so I tug on his hand. “Come on, let’s go.”
He resists at first, but then lets me pull him into a steady pace.
“Where are we going?” I laugh, and then let him take the lead. This all feels unnatural. I hate my fake laugh, and I’m sure Peter can tell.
“Right here.” He raises both of our hands to point to an administrative building. A golf cart is parked out front, but I already know he’s not pointing at that. He’s pointing to the bike with a basket on the back.
“Seriously?” I ask.
I walk to the bike and can hear him follow. “There’s only one.”
He places a hand on the handlebars and one on the seat. “I’ll be careful with you. I promise.”
N.K. Smith is the author of several books including the young adult sensations The Old Wounds series and My Only. Interested in a variety of genres and styles, she also penned Hollywood Lies and Ghosts of Our Pasts. She lives in the Midwest.
Connect with N.K. Smith on:
Old Wounds Compilation Series
Weight of the World
Where All Things Will Grow