This short story comes after the end of Hollywood Dirt. If you haven't read Hollywood Dirt, please avoid reading this. If you HAVE read Hollywood Dirt, I hope you enjoy this additional 25 pages of content. I called it SOLE. It was originally published in the For the First Time anthology.
I’ve had a lot of firsts in the last three years. Today is a new one. First time throwing a three-year-old Birthday party, Hollywood Style. Too bad my sexier-than-sin husband is absolutely no help. And Cocky is in the pool. And Ben is having a panic attack. And Justin is feeding my child sugar at every opportunity.
This is past the dirt, and more than just Hollywood. This is our life as Sole.
The last few years have brought a lot of firsts for me. First time looking into a camera and saying a line. First time kissing a man I hated. First time falling in love with a man I hated. First time leaving my hometown. First time at Cannes. First time house-hunting. First time . . . well. If I list them all here you’ll fall asleep from the boredom. I’ll skip to today. First time I kill my husband.
Easy there. I can feel you getting all stiff in your seat. You don’t need to point out that I’m married to the Sexiest Man in America, according to People Magazine. Or that my husband and I are “just made for each other” according to Mama. Or that the man takes my breath away by just smiling at me and makes my skin heat with need by frowning. I know all of that. But the man . . . oh, I want to kill him right now.
“Cole Masten, you’ve got three minutes to get that damn bird out of our pool!” I stand on the pool deck, the pavers warm beneath my bare feet, and yell loud enough that a gardener pokes his head up and over a bush.
Cole ignores me, pushing out of the water and perching on the edge of the pool, watching proudly as Cocky swims in a half circle. Swims. I lived in the country over two decades, and I have never seen a chicken swim, not once my entire life. The first time Cole put him in the pool, I bolted out of my chair and was across half the yard, diving in fully clothed only to find out the damn bird paddled around like a duck.
“Cole.” I growl his name and he lifts his head, resting his palms on the edge of the pool and squinting up at me. Shirtless and squinting. I feel my heartbeat increase despite myself.
“Summer,” he counters.
“You got fifteen kids who are gonna be here before we know it, and I’m not having them swimming around in chicken poo water.”
“Fifteen? Who invites fifteen kids to a three-year-old’s party?”
“Get. Him. Out.”
“Shh . . .” he gently lifts Cocky out of the water and holds him to his chest. “You’re hurting his feelings.”
I’m telling you, I am going to kill him. I watch Cocky lift his tail and know, my lips not moving fast enough, what is about to happen. “Cole!” I shout, pointing my hand, and he lifts Cocky away from him in just enough time to see him ruin our spotless pool.
I stare at the water, a long white stream of poo reacting with our chlorine, misting through the water, leaving a trail of bacteria that can’t be Chloroxed clean. I don’t take my eyes off it. I can’t, because I know what would happen if I do. The abs in my peripheral vision shake, and I can’t help myself, my eyes darting to Cole, who still holds the rooster out, his abs taunt as he laughs. “Come on . . . Summer,” he says, Cocky tilting his head at me as if confused. “The timing’s funny.”
“It’s not funny,” I insist, feeling the edges of my mouth betraying me, and I scrunch up my forehead, insistent that I retain my anger in this situation. “It’s infuriating! Do you know how . . .” oh God, I am going to laugh, “how much bacteria is in that—?” The giggle comes out, Cole’s own laugh pushing it to the surface, and I clamp a hand to my mouth, trying to keep it in, trying to muster enough indignation to give the man a proper dressing down, one he’ll remember, one vehement enough that he’ll stop giving the damn chicken swimming time. I step back when I see him heft himself out of the pool and to his feet, setting Cocky on the ground and striding toward me, his grin wide, his eyes on me.
“Nooo,” I warn, my giggles drying up as soon as I see his intention, my hands out in guard, a useless defense as he wraps his arms around me, squeezing me tight, his wet body ruining my Vera Wang shift dress, one that had been flown in from Vera herself specifically for this party, for the photo shoot that would accompany it, a mountain of ridiculousness over a birthday that should be celebrated with cupcakes, balloons, and some new binkies.
“Ooh . . .” I breathe. “Jasmine is going to kill you.” Jasmine, the publicist, the one who handpicked this ruined dress, the woman who is due any minute and who has absolute fits over things like wilted tulips and me getting my hair done at SuperCuts.
“She can kill me,” he says, squeezing me tighter, his embrace lifting me off the pool deck. “It’s worth it.”
“For Cocky’s swim?” I sputter, pushing off his chest.
“No,” he says, and then I am over his shoulder, the leather dress riding up my thighs, my struggle slippery against his wet skin, and he reaches up and smacks me on the butt, hard enough that I squeak. “Stop struggling,” he orders, jogging up the back steps, and I have to stop, if only to hold on.
He lays me on our bed, following me closely, my escape impossible as he is suddenly on top of me, wet thighs between my dry one, his bathing suit cold against my panties, and he smiles down at me as he lowers his mouth to mine. “Haven’t I told you what your giggle does to me?”
“We don’t have time for this,” I gasp out the words even as my legs wrap around his waist, his mouth cutting off my protest, his kiss taking its time, soft brushes of lips then deep tastes, one of his hands gently working through my hair and lifting my head to his kiss.
“We always have time for this,” he whispers, and then I feel him, the hard heat a strong contrast against the wet suit, and I reach down, helping him, pushing his swim trunks down to his thighs.
“Leave on the dress,“ I lift my hips and work the supple leather up to my waist. I pull my panties, a pale blue lace pair, to the side and watch him, his length bobbing . . . so close I can already feel it.
“I’ll destroy those,” he says. “Take them off. I’m not in a restrained sort of mood.”
I can’t, can’t wait another second, not when he is already right there, so hard he is shiny, so ready I can already see a drop of precum at his tip. “Just do it,” I beg. “Screw the panties.”
When he thrusts forward, I close my eyes, a groan coming out. There is nothing like the feeling of him in me. The perfect wet fit of our bodies, the angle he knows that I love, the twitch of him inside me as he tries to control himself. The first few strokes he normally stops short, conscious of me, wanting to give me a chance to adjust to his size first. This isn’t one of those times. This is full Cole from the start, and I am ready for it, greedy for it, opening my eyes and celebrating the view in the afternoon bedroom light, gentle sunlight giving me all of him in high definition. His hand grips the bed next to my head, the bite of his grip showing me his level of control. His chest flexes, abs are tight, his jaw set as his eyes burn down the length of my body, watching everything about my face, reading my signs easily. How much I can take, how fast I want it, the angle and depth that makes me arch against him. The panties only add to my pleasure, the bunch of fabric tight against my clit, the friction of every stroke giving me a brush of extra stimulation.
It isn’t clean, it is messy and quick and uncontrolled. I feel his teeth, hear his grunt of effort, the slick slap of our movement, the yelp of my beg and oh . . . I beg. I beg for more, for harder, for softer . . . my begs make no sense, yet he understands them all and when he comes, his voice breaks, his thrust deepens, his thighs shake.
I can’t move, I lie against his chest, my dress still bunched around my waist, and think about everything that needs to be done, precious minutes slipping away, but I stay in place. Appreciate the move of him underneath me, each breath a gentle heave of muscles, his fingers slow and languid up my back and into my hair, curling around the strands there.
“I’m sorry about the pool.” His chest vibrates with the words.
“You should be.” I turn my head, propping my chin against him and looking up at his face. “Ben is going to kill you.” I whisper the words dramatically and widen my eyes.
He laughs off the threat, his grin dropping when our bedroom doors shake, a barrage of knocks pounding against the surface.
“Summer Masten!” a shrill voice calls out, panic on the fringes of its vowels. “Summer Masten, you get your Vera Wang clad butt out here right now!”
I try to burrow under the covers but Cole pushes me off. We fight silently, my yanks at the blanket useless against him, and he laughs softly despite himself. The pounding on the doors stop.
“Cole?” Ben’s voice carries clearly through the crack, and I picture his lips, puckered and pressed between the double doors.
“He’s in here!” I call loudly, ducking from a pillow thrown, Cole’s accuracy dead-on. “And it’s his fault the pool got dirty!”
Utter silence from the other side and I pause, a return pillow lifted, ready to be thrown back in my husband’s direction.
“The pool?” Ben finally asks, his voice a few octaves higher than normal. “What’s wrong with the pool?”
I throw the pillow at Cole, my full-force heave landing with a disappointing bounce, and he shakes his head at me with a smirk, snagging it off the floor as I fling one of the bedroom doors open, Ben stumbling into the room, his hands automatically moving to tug his summer suit into place, his appearance impeccable, the only thing out of place his flushed face.
He turns to Cole, his face hitting a new shade of red at the sight of my husband. The pillow strategically held over his crotch, Cole’s gorgeous body on full display, as he stands stark naked in the middle of our bedroom.
Cole shrugs. “Cocky got in it. He had an accident.”
Ben’s blush turns ashen. “In the pool?”
“Mooommmmmy!” A blond streak breaks through the open door, and I catch her in mid-leap, swinging her onto my hip with a smile.
“Hey, pumpkin.” I nuzzle her neck. “How was shopping?”
“Amaaaazing!” She throws open her arms in an exaggerated fashion. “Uncle Jay is getting me a pony!”
I gasp, widening my eyes theatrically. “No, he is not.”
“No, he is not.” Justin chimes in from the doorway, dropping a shopping bag on the floor and sagging against the frame. He glances in Cole’s direction, nodding in greeting, not blinking an eye at the scene. “We negotiated and agreed on ice cream instead. She conveniently forgot that as soon as she finished.”
“In the pool?” Ben repeats, waving his arms for attention. “Cocky went to the bathroom in the pool?”
“Can I get dressed?” Cole asks.
“No,” Ben and I say in unison, and Justin rolls his eyes, holding out his hands for my daughter, the terrible negotiator.
“Grace, let’s go down to the kitchen.”
I hold her tight and glare at him. “Easy there. Shopping, ponies, and ice cream? No wonder she loves you.” I shift her higher on my hip and walk to the door, snagging Ben’s arm and pulling him after me. “Ben, let’s get you a drink and regroup.”
Herding the men out the door, I give Cole one last look, catching the moment, right before the door shut, when he winks at me and drops the pillow.
God. I want him again already.
A vein I’ve never noticed before throbs on the right side of Ben’s forehead. I watch it and try not to smile. It is hard because the man is seriously freaking out all over Grace’s party—an event that should be fun. But Ben had opened an event-planning business, and he’d convinced me that Grace’s birthday would be the *cue sparkly fingers* perfect showcase of his talents.
He glances at his watch and huffs out a breath. “One hour. I have one hour. How long ago did this happen?”
I twist my mouth and try to calculate how long Cole and I had been in the bedroom. “Maybe . . . forty-five minutes ago?”
“Forty-five minutes before I got here?”
“Yeah.” I grab an apple and turn on the sink, washing it off.
“Why didn’t you call me the minute it happened? In forty-five minutes I could have figured something out!” He scrunches up his face and rubs a shaky hand across his forehead.
I evade the question. I should have called him instead of letting Cole carry me inside. It would have been much less fun but much more responsible. “Everything else is set.” I wave at our surroundings, dozens of white-coated chefs hard at work preparing enough hoity-toity finger food to feed an army. “So the kids can’t swim.” I gesture outside. “They can play on the jungle gym or with the rabbits or in her room.”
“It’s a mermaid-themed party.” He looks at me as if I am brain-dead. “Mermaid. Water.”
“So get a Slip’N Slide.” I shrug. “Sprinklers.” I steal a knife from the closest chef and get to work on the apple.
“A Slip’N Slide.” There is a hint of hope in his voice. “I like it. A little white trash but—”
“White trash?” I hold the knife toward him. “Watch what you say. I’ve soaked next to you in a Walmart kiddie pool, Bennington.”
He actually smiles, his perfect white teeth bright, his hands held up in surrender. “My apologies, Mrs. Masten.” He takes another glance at his watch and pulls out his phone. “May I borrow one of your security to run out and buy one?”
“Buy a Slip’N Slide?” I pop an apple slice into my mouth before sliding the rest into a bowl for Grace. “We’ve got three.”
He looks up from his phone. “Seriously?”
“Well yes,” I say with a straight face. “Anything white trash we stock up on.”
Grace giggles beside me. “Yeah, Bennington,” she says with self-importance. “Oh! Did you know today is my birthday?”
He scowls at her. “Did you know today is the most important day of my professional career?”
“And my birthday!” she chirps, bouncing in place, her blond curls lifting in concert with my expertly cut apples. I eye the bowl in her hand.
“Did you know that Vanity Fair is going to be here with cameras and will probably interview me?” He crouches down until they are eye level.
“And my birthday,” she says excitedly, jumping higher, and I snag the bowl from her before the apples go flying.
“And I think Uncle J gave you soda,” I chime in, narrowing my eyes in Justin’s direction, who raises his hands in innocence.
“Presents!” Grace says for no clear reason whatsoever, delighted to be the center of attention.
“Career-suicide!” Ben mimics and I laugh, helping him to his feet and wrapping my arms around his waist.
“It will be fine,” I promise him.
“Vanity Fair and Slip’N Slides?” he groans. “The article will crucify me.”
“Blame it all on your hillbilly client,” I offer. “I can change into cut-off shorts if that’ll help distract them.”
“Yes.” Cole enters the kitchen and scoops Grace up, her shriek of joy hitting a special place in my heart. A place I didn’t know, before her, even existed. “Please put on something other than that dress.” He walks over and wraps an arm around my waist, stealing me from Ben. “You look like some snobby trophy wife in that thing.”
“Really?” I make a face and worm out of his grip. “You didn’t seem to mind it . . . oh . . . forty-five minutes ago.”
“Hey,” he shrugs, plucking an apple slice from Grace’s bowl and popping it into his mouth with a cocky grin. “I tried my best to ruin it.”
“That’s why you didn’t call me?” Ben sputters, his cute little brain putting two and two together. “Because of . . . ” His hands wave toward the two of us.
I clamp my hands over her little ears, glaring at him in warning. “Happy time,” I supply. “And yes. You can yell at Cole for that.”
“You guys could have a reality show, you know that, right?” Justin grabs a beer from the fridge and navigates around a cook, escaping back to our side of the kitchen. “Seriously. America would eat this shit up.” He winces at the curse and mouths an apology to me.
“Summer?” I turn at my name, seeing our house manager, Fran. A house manager. Never in my entire life did I think I would need someone to “manage” the place I lived. Especially when I’m not working, have nothing to do all day long but bounce babies on my lap and cook. Except . . . there always seems to be something to do. Grace is a full-time, needs-attention-constantly whirlwind of adorable destruction. We have four hens for Cocky (he is a horny bastard), twelve chicks (at the moment), three bunnies, one goat, and a dog who . . . I tilt my head and try to remember the last time I saw Quincy. Cole had found the big Lab rail thin and skittish on the side of the highway a week after we moved to LA. Now he is a hundred pounds of healthy, chew-anything-expensive, marks-his-territory, chases-the-chickens, drives-me-crazy Lab. I love him and curse him, typically at the same time.
The pets are just one part of my day. Cooking three meals a day was easy for Mama and me. Now, our dinners are normally ten or fifteen heads deep, the staff is always invited, plus Ben and Justin, and any cast members who have followed Cole home from the set. It was an adjustment, going from cooking one pie to three, a pot of chicken and rice suddenly inadequate. But our kitchen makes it all easy. I have three ovens for God’s sake! SIX burners! I swear, I think I had a mini orgasm when I saw it for the first time. I definitely had one our first night in, boxes all around, the moving crew dismissed by Cole mid-unpack.
I wiped a hand over my forehead and yanked at the window, expecting a fight, the glass sliding easily, the cool California air breezing in, bringing with it the scent of jasmine. So different from our camellias and pollen, no humidity or mosquitos, the dusk sky absent of a single frog call or cricket’s chirp. I inhaled the air and had a moment of homesickness.
“Everything okay?” I felt Cole against my back, his arms wrapping around my waist, his lips gentle in their press against my neck.
I nodded. “It’s just . . . different.”
He pulled me away from the sink, turning me toward him, his eyes on me, concern shown in the pinch of his brow.
“Stop.” I pushed onto my tiptoes and kissed his mouth. “Stop worrying. I’m fine.”
“You like the house?”
I laughed, glancing around the kitchen, counters everywhere, the island behind him big enough for ten to sit at, commercial grade appliances everywhere, a fridge that I would never be able to fill. So different from the white Maytag that you had to lift up on when you closed the door, the temperature regulator faulty, our butter always soft, things in the back half-frozen. Our chipped counter that always had a line of ants, no matter how clean it was kept, or how much spray was used. And this was just the kitchen. I glanced back, down a wide and open hall, and thought of the bedrooms, the huge vaulted ceilings, windows as big as doors, showers with steam and body jets and ocean views.
“Yes, I like the house.” I grinned, and he moved closer, his hands sliding up my stomach, over my breasts and undoing the top button on my flannel shirt.
I said nothing; I let him work. I let out a long sigh of pent-up stress and relaxed under his hands. He undid every button on the front of my shirt then slid the material open, pushing it off my shoulders and down my arms. Then my jeans, his fingers slow and unhurried on the buttons, then the zipper, and I assisted him, stepping from the legs as he crouched before me, then stood back up.
“I love you so much,” he whispered, looking down at me, his fingers soft against my bare skin, ghosting over my curves, his gaze following his touch, and I closed my eyes when he lowered his mouth to my neck.
Cardboard boxes that night got pushed to the side. He laid me back on that island and did sinful things to my body. Wouldn’t let me touch him the entire time. Not until every line of stress was removed and every muscle had relaxed. When my body was liquid, he carried me down to our room. Pulled me up into our new bed and under the covers. And there, he finally undressed. Took me to a final orgasm with his cock, his arms wrapped around me, his breath hard against our kiss, his body shaking when he came.
I think Grace was conceived that night. Our first night in this house. I run my fingers over the granite counter. Realize our corner of the kitchen has gone quiet. I look up and realize that I haven’t responded to Fran.
“Yes?” I say, a little belatedly. Cole raises his eyebrows at me, and I stick my tongue out at him.
“Vanity Fair just passed through the security gate, and Jasmine is waiting for you in the sitting room.”
Ben lets out a yelp of alarm, his watch making another stressful appearance.
“Thanks,” I say to Fran. “Can you get a few of the guys to help Ben with the Slip’N Slides? They’re in the pool house. And please keep everyone out of the pool.”
“The pool,” Grace cheers. She somehow seems to forget that we have a pool, the mere mention of it often a cause for celebration. Cole frowns, shifting her on his hip and I smile at him. Poor guy. He’ll have to keep her out of it all day long. I almost feel sorry for him.
I kiss Grace on the cheek, then Cole. “I’m gonna go meet with Jasmine. Get my daily lecture. She’ll be coming to you next so you should probably change . . .” I glance down at him, noting his outfit. Grey pants, a white sweater, the sleeves pushed up, his hair rough and perfect, skin glowing. Absolutely no sign that he’s spent the last hour swimming and screwing, he looks like he has stepped right out of a photo shoot. “Never mind,” I snap, irritated at his ease.
I try to pull my dress into place, to fluff my hair into some order but I know, before I even turn the corner, what Jasmine’s reaction will be. And she doesn’t disappoint me at all.
“Holy Mother of Bengay, what happened?” Jasmine Auckers, a church-going mother of three, Cole’s replacement for Casey—who we determined to be Team Ex-Wife—stands from a chair with a start, her clipboard falling to her side, her eyes on my dress.
“Cole got it wet.” I have learned from experience to blame Cole for everything. Regardless of whether or not he actually is guilty, no one seems to yell at him. Passing off blame to him has made my life significantly easier. In this rare situation, conveniently, he actually is guilty.
“Wet . . .” Jasmine says slowly, “and wrinkled?”
“Also Cole,” I assure her. One perfect brow rises skeptically, and she walks around me slowly, her eyes falling to my feet. Outside, there is the sound of car doors and she glances out the window, her stance more urgent when she turns back to me. “Where are your shoes?”
“Umm . . . in my closet.”
“Go get them. And brush your hair. Jesus, didn’t someone show up to do your makeup?”
I let out a deep enough breath that she stops, holding up her hands in surrender. “I’m sorry. Where do you want to do the interview?”
“The interview’s with Ben,” I remind her.
“Well . . . yes. But they would love to get just a few questions—”
“No.” I smile politely. “Ben’s running around right now. If you get them set up in the sunroom, I’ll have him meet them there.”
“If you could just give them a few minutes—”
I give her a strong enough look to shut her up. We’d been through this with her enough times. When Cole fired Casey, when we set out to find a new publicist, I was clear that I wanted one for two reasons: to keep the press at bay and to correctly manage the unavoidable moments of exposure. And there are plenty of moments of exposure. Any time we step out of this estate’s gates, we are targets: paparazzi hidden in bushes, in stores, waiting by our cars. But it isn’t paparazzi that is really the problem. It is the fans. Every single person out there has a cell phone, camera app easily accessible, every minute of our life captured, tweeted, shared. I don’t know how Cole does it, how he did it for so long. It is hard for me, will always be hard for me. Which is why Jasmine is important. Because one dirty look I give to an aggressive fan . . . one wrong thing said to the wrong person . . . and Summer + Cole will turn from Sole to Slum or Cummer or whatever other crappy combination America jumps onto.
Right now, we are America’s darlings. While I’m not crazy about the attention, at least it’s love that pours through the air. For a girl that spent a long time being hated . . . it’s a nice change.
“Summer! Summer!” I turned automatically at the name, my media training failing in my first two steps onto the red carpet. Cole’s hand tightened, and he pulled me forward, my eyes wincing against the flashing, so many bright bulbs, complete overkill when paired with the chorus of lights that beamed down at us from above.
My first red carpet. In Japan of all places. My first international flight, one where my seat became a full bed, and we each had personal flight attendants that were almost annoying in their attentiveness. Our first Japanese morning was spent in back-to-back spa treatments, the afternoon seated at a table before thousands of frantic fans, our answers to their questions barely heard over the resulting screams. I didn’t understand the hero worship. Grown women shrieking when Cole did something as simple as smile. People crying! I saw one woman faint, her body slumping down, the crowd swallowing her up and surging forward, an oblivious monster of energy. I had pushed forward, into the bodies, reaching for her, had grabbed the pale skin of her wrist before security pulled me back. But it was worth the effort. Someone saw, someone yelled, and a few black suits swarmed in after her. It had been so strange, so different than anything in Quincy. So against our culture of reserved and quiet. The last time I saw someone that excited in Quincy was when that adult store tried to open in town and all the originals got their floral panties in a twist.
Cole got me through that first red carpet. Helped me remember when to stop, where to look when I smiled. His eyes were on me the entire time, a knowing upturn to one edge of his mouth. He kissed me frequently, soft brushes right behind my ear, or on my temple, his hand continually pulling, pulling, pulling me to him. It was reassuring, having him right there as we moved through the giant double doors and into the grand theater, into our suite of seats. I gripped his hand so hard he winced.
“What if they hate it?” I’d whispered in his ear, terrified at the prospect of seeing my face on screen, hearing my voice—god I hate my voice—and . . . the worst . . . our sex scene. How painful would that be to watch? Seeing his hand on my body, hearing my gasp amplified through these giant speakers . . . I’d seen the scene before, this wouldn’t be the first, but that almost made it worse. Because I knew it was hot. Super hot. Way too hot for Mama to ever see. Way too hot for all of these strangers, dressed in their Sunday best, to sit through.
“They won’t hate it.” Cole had responded.
And he’d been right. They had been hooked with the very first scene. Had laughed with Royce, rooted for Ida . . . and shifted uncomfortably in their seat right alongside me during the smoking hot sex. And let me just stop for one red-hot minute and tell you that I looked good on that screen. I don’t know how they did it, the editing budget must have been ridiculous, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was ready to turn lesbian for myself while watching that scene. And if they used any of that Florida State hoochie’s body parts, I couldn’t tell it.
After Japan, Australia had been easier, London a piece of cake. By the time we made it back to America, I wasn’t the same Summer Jenkins who had left. I was confident. Sparkly. A proper movie star.
Now, I crouch in bare feet on the plush white carpet of our closet, reaching down for the box from the stylist, the leather and gold stilettos sent over with the dress. I work them onto my feet and glance in the giant mirror. Run a few fingers through my hair. Step closer and examine my makeup. Smudged in places from my romp with Cole, my lipstick gone entirely. I lay a hand on the mirror’s surface.
“Look at me, Summer,” Cole’s words broke from his throat, his fingers digging into my hips as he held me to him. I lifted my head, looked into the mirror, our eyes catching. I looked crazy, my eyes wild, hair everywhere, my jeans around my ankles, shirt half off. “Tell me you love me.”
I pressed my fingers into the mirror’s glass, pushing back against him, the hard length of him bumping against me, right there but not where I needed it. “I love you,” I gasped. “Please.”
“You are my wife.” He ground his hips against me and I whimpered, my need so strong, the look in his eyes so feral, so desperate that I almost begged. “You are my everything. Do you know that, Summer?” I watched him in the mirror as he reached down, adjusting himself, the head of him finally at the entrance where I wanted it. “Tell me you know that.”
“I know that,” I whispered, staring at him. “I’m yours forever.”
When he pushed inside, one hard slow push that broke apart my thought process and scattered all reason and sanity to the winds, everything in my vision went black.
I push off of the mirror, taking a step back and looking at my reflection. What was it that Cole had said? That the dress made me look like a snobby trophy wife? He was right. This woman, staring back at me, she doesn’t look like me. There is a reason that ninety percent of this closet is casual. I will never be this, the prim and proper, perfectly put together movie star’s wife. I don’t want to be it.
“What are you thinking?” Cole’s voice makes my head lift and I turn to him, stepping forward and wrapping my arms around his waist.
“I’m thinking that I hate myself for agreeing to this.”
“No, you don’t.” He looks down at me, shaking his head.
“I don’t?” I raise an eyebrow.
He steps away, my arms suddenly empty and pulls aside the curtain, nodding to the backyard. “Look.”
I step next to him, leaning back against his chest, and look out the window, at our backyard.
The pool, our beautiful turquoise bucket of temptation, is being guarded by Justin, who seems to be in very tense negotiations with a stern toddler with swimmies on. There is a streak of sparkly pink, and I follow it, Grace tearing across the lawn and nosediving onto the Slip’N Slide. Someone, probably Ben, has put all three head to toe, creating one long downhill experience, and I laugh as she spins on the wide plastic, her grin visible even from where I stand. Quincy has been found, his furry body chasing a hoard of boys, water balloons in hand, the entire painting is showcased by hundreds of bubbles. I laugh, covering my mouth. “Oh my God, Ben found the bubble machine.”
“We need you out there,” Cole says. “You. Not . . . this.”
“Meaning . . .?” I turn to him, holding the dress to my chest before it falls off.
“Throw on a bathing suit and come save me from a hoard of children who don’t understand why they can’t get in the pool.” He leaves me by the window and walks to the closet, pulling open a drawer. “Please,” he adds, lifting out a faded-red one-piece bathing suit.
I laugh. “You want me to wear that? Jasmine will have a heart attack.”
He shrugs. “I have very fond memories of this suit. Jasmine can get over it.”
“Hmm . . .” I say, letting the dress fall to the floor and lifting a foot, pulling off one heel, then the other. “I think I remember that bathing suit. I don’t think I liked you very much while wearing it.”
“Really?” Cole scowls, the frown curling into a cocky smile. “Because if I recall, I liked you very much in it.”
“Yeah?” I smile up at him and take the suit.
“Yeah,” he says softly, cupping my head in his hands and pulling me to his mouth.
And there, in our bedroom, a world of disastrous fun right outside the window, we share a true Hollywood kiss.
This short story was an extended Happy-Ever-After for Summer and Cole, two characters from the full-length New York Times Bestseller Hollywood Dirt. If you’d like to read the full story that prefaced this, please go to www.MeetColeMasten.com to find out more about their story.