"Eh, I chose this job, guess I gotta live with the consequences. Oh, you'll be happy to know that
Liz is dragging me to Crustacean tonight - she was feeling like a photo op, and somehow talked
me into joining her."
"It won't kill you to get a little press, especially with Liz," she said in a scolding tone. "You
might get some questions tonight about the Seer photo…try not to be belligerent, okay? Just
smile and say nothing, and if they want a quote, they can call me."
"Ugh." I hadn't thought of that. I contemplated canceling, but the wrath of Liz was much worse
than a few nosy photogs or reporters. "I'll do my best. Liz says I need to work on my charm
"Liz is right. Now have fun, and wear something with cleavage."
She laughed as she hung up and I closed my phone absently, thinking about the appointments I'd
need to rearrange next week, calling Perry to get him to talk with James for me, and of course
Robyn, who was now a constant presence in my thoughts.
My panic earlier had been completely for her benefit, and in reaction to any consequences
exposure would have had on our relatively shaky relationship. The thought of any other
consequences - my family, career, friends - hadn't even crossed my mind, but I thought of them
Mom and Larry would be confused but generally supportive, Grandma might be a little
scandalized, Perry would think it was cool, and Sebastian would call me a filthy, whoring,
sinner. Nothing new there.
I had another two years on my contract with 9P - there were, of course, ways to get rid of me if
they wanted, but considering the new direction my part was taking anyway, I doubted it would
be an issue. After 9P, or picking up anything substantial on hiatus? Well, that was an unknown.
There were plenty of gay actors in the biz, but not so many out ones. So future fallout to my
career had yet to be seen.
And finally, friends. Old college friends might be a bit thrown; Toby, who I still loved dearly as
a friend and kept in touch with, would probably come up with some statistical model that would
have predicted this happening, and my friends here in LA? Some raised eyebrows, backroom
gossip…but general acceptance.
There would be other consequences, certainly, but those were my main concerns. Was this worth
a possible risk to my career, and a loss of a few friends? Was Robyn worth it?
I thought of how it felt, just be in her presence. How her smile warmed me, how her skin felt,
soft under my hands…
That, and whole lot more.
I started Twila up and headed for home, smiling.
A knock sounded at my door and I walked down the hall to the front door, fastening a dangly,
silver earring as I went. The sturdy form of Liz's driver Walter was visible through the glass
block window, and I pulled open the door, still fastening the other earring.
"Good evening, Miss Harris. You look lovely." He smiled slightly and crossed his hands behind
his back. He wore a black suit with a black shirt underneath, and a deep purple tie that
shimmered in the light.
I grinned. "Thank you, Walter. Great tie. I'll just be a minute."
He nodded. "Of course."
I ducked into the bedroom for a final check of my outfit; dark brown slacks with a flared leg, low
heels, and a brown and white geometric print sleeveless blouse that showed plenty of back, and
had a neckline that fulfilled Connie's joking request for cleavage. On the way back to the front
door I snagged a small brown purse from the hallway table, checked it for keys, cell phone and
wallet, and slid the thin strap over my shoulder.
Walter nodded and stepped back as I closed and locked the door and I followed him to the black
limousine idling in the drive.
Liz was already sipping on a glass of white wine when I slid into the cooled interior of the car
and she handed me a tumbler with a few ice cubes and a whole lot of scotch as soon as I sat
down. She wore a simple, sky blue cocktail dress that matched her eyes, and her hair was swept
back in an artfully mussed coiffure that reminded me vaguely of an exotic bird.
"Hi." She touched her glass to mine. "Cheers."
"Hi." I raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Not that I'm complaining - you know I won't turn down
good scotch - but are we celebrating something?"
She picked up something on the seat beside her and handed it to me. "Your first truly scandalous
front page, Sugar. I'm so proud. Why didn't you tell me you had a new beau?"
I looked at the item in my hand. Three grainy but recognizable black and white newspaper
pictures detailing the moments just before, during, and after James laid the kiss on me. James'
back was to the photographer and it was hard to recognize him unless you knew him by the back
of his blond head, but each shot showed my face clearly. The first picture showed me smiling at
him, the second, the actual kiss, and the third showed our faces still close together, with my
hands on his shoulders as I pushed him away, but looked as though I was pulling him closer. The
clippings were neatly trimmed and laminated, along with the headline "Was she really
camping?" and the caption, "Caidence Harris finds more than wildlife on her infamous camping
"Oh, god," I groaned.
Liz smiled delightedly. "Paula insisted we laminate it. I think it's a nice touch. She sends her
I scowled at her and threw the pictures onto the seat in disgust. "How sweet," I said sarcastically.
I pointed to the pictures. "That was taken at your house, you know. Maybe you better talk to your
neighbors about who they let on the beach."
Her smile faded, and she grabbed the lamination, studying it carefully. "Well, fuck. I'll have to
talk to Melaine about that. I didn't pay close to four million dollars for a house that just anyone
can snap pictures of whenever they want."
Four million? Sheesh. That ended any thoughts I had about buying in that area.
"So if this is my house…" She looked at the photo again, frowning and then with dawning
realization. "Oh, Caid…" She looked at me in disbelief. "James? You're doing James?" She sat
back and laughed, shaking her head. "I wouldn't have guessed that one."
"I am NOT doing James." I snatched the lamination from her hand. "We were out on the deck,
watching the sunset, and suddenly he's kissing me. Goddamn little hormonal twerp."
She laughed harder, and I glared at her. "Liz, it's not funny."
"Oh, I disagree. It's hilarious. The boy barely spoke, yet somehow he worked up the nerve to kiss
you. It's…priceless. Oh, I would have loved to have seen your face." That sent her off into more
peals of laughter.
I frowned and tossed the lamination down, crossing my arms and sipping my drink broodily until
Liz calmed herself.
"Oh…god that was good." She magically pulled out a tissue from some dark recess of the car's
interior and dabbed at her eyes.
"Glad to be of entertainment value to you, Liz," I said with irritation.
She giggled and patted my leg. "And you're so damn cute when you get all torqued."
I grunted and sipped my drink while Liz repaired the damage her laughing fit had done to her
makeup. After a few minutes, she started giggling again.
"Liz…" I said warningly.
"I'm sorry, Caid, it's just so…not like you. To get caught kissing some kid. Although, you know
there's a lot to be said about dating younger men. I'm somewhat of an expert at it, myself, so I
know what I'm talking about."
I smiled slightly. "That's what Connie said. Not about you, but about younger men. Said she'd be
tickled pink if I brought one home some day, because it's good press."
"Well, Connie is right." She drained the rest of her wine in one gulp and smiled knowingly. "And
there several other benefits that I can mention…"
I raised a hand. "Spare me the details, oh experienced one. I'll leave the young studs to you."
"Okay, Sugar." She patted my leg again. "We'll find you someone a little older to play with. You
know," she mentioned casually, "Anthony asked about you the other day."
I gave her a look. "Anthony is a cokehead, Liz. And he can't seem to talk about anything but
partying and sports cars."
"But you slept with him, didn't you?"
"Jesus…" I wondered how many other people had heard that. Remembering Anthony's big
mouth, I was guessing quite a few. "A cokehead with a big damn mouth. Not a mistake I plan on
She took in my angry posture and nodded slowly. "Okaaay…that's a big N-O on setting you up
with Anthony again, I guess. What about Patrick…or Cameron?"
"Liz, I don't need you to set me up with anyone."
"Caid, your little tussle with James aside, I bet you haven't even been kissed, much less done
anything else, in ages."
I was swamped with memories of soft, demanding lips, warm hands on my skin, and the feel of
her inside me… I blinked and drew in a slow, steadying breath, unable to stop my smile.
"You're blushing! And smiling! Caidence Harris, what are you not telling me? Tell me who he is,
this instant!" Liz demanded.
I looked over at her and said mildly, "No."
That stopped her and she straightened in surprise. "No? Did you just tell me no?"
"Wha…" She frowned in confusion, and then her face took on a calculated look. "But that means
there's something to tell me, right? You are seeing someone?"
"Maybe." I smiled at the frustrated noise she made, and finished my drink. "We're here."
She glared at me. "We are not done with this conversation."
"Yes, we are," I shot back, stepping out of car as soon as Walter opened the door.
I glanced around, swearing under my breath when a chunky, balding man leaning against the
railing outside the restaurant look over at me in interest and slowly lower his newspaper. When
Liz stepped out of the car, he straightened and dropped the newspaper completely, grabbing up
the camera around his neck.
"Smile, Sugar," Liz said softly, flashing a dazzling smile at the man who was snapping shots
frantically. "It's why we're here. And we are so not done talking about this."
I forced a smile and followed Liz past the photographer and into the restaurant.
Inside we walked atop a glassed over stream filled with koi, crossed a tiny wooden bridge and
past a huge, floor to ceiling aquarium and a gurgling waterfall. The Maitre d' greeted us both
effusively by name and seated us almost immediately at a small table in the spacious main dining
room, which boasted marble floors, skylights and a grove of what looked like bamboo.
The curious, excited stares we received as we crossed the room and sat down made me nervous,
and once the waiter had left with our drink order - more wine for Liz, and sparkling water for
me, since I'd knocked back at least a double in the car in about fifteen minutes - I grumbled that
we should have sat upstairs in the private dining room.
"Caid," she said with an exasperated sigh, "This is why we came here. I certainly didn't do it for
the food - you know I don't like seafood."
"So you're going to spend fifty bucks for a plate of fish that you don't want, just to get some new
"It's not like I can't afford it. If it makes you feel better, I'll buy your dinner, too." She opened her
menu and began studying it.
"Damn straight you're buying my dinner - this was your damn idea." I looked around nervously.
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