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Authors: Janelle Taylor

Haunting Olivia

BOOK: Haunting Olivia
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Also by Janelle Taylor

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Not Without You

Night Moves

In Too Deep





Kensington Publishing Corp.

Chapter 1

The moment Olivia Sedgwick entered the playground, the dream boy and girl flitted through her mind as they always did, the girl’s light blond hair bouncing on her thin shoulders as she skipped.

The boy, holding a frog, gently cupped it in his hands as he held it out to Olivia before both children faded away.

Visits to the playground always brought the children to mind, their images as real as they were in her dreams, which were more frequent now.

Olivia sat down on a bench near the wrought-iron bars separating the playground from the busy city street, her lunch, a salad in a plastic container, on her lap. Her appetite was gone.

The last time she’d come to this playground, just two days ago, the dream boy, three or four years old, had been marveling over a daddy longlegs making its way up his little arm. The girl, the same age, in a yellow tutu, twirled along a meadow filled with wildflowers, despite it being January in New York City.

Like now, the images were fleeting, a moment, 6

Janelle Taylor

maybe two. But they were as vivid as a photograph.

Sometimes the boy and girl were very young—but never infants—and sometimes they were older. Like thirteen.

“What you’re doing is illegal, you know.”

Olivia turned at the unexpected voice of her coworker, Camilla Capshaw.
magazine’s assistant beauty editor, one of her only friends at the office, waited for a group of moms pushing strollers to pass, then sat down next to Olivia, pulling her own salad from a bag onto her lap.

“Sitting on a bench is illegal?” Olivia asked.

“Entering a playground when you’re not accompanied by a kid is illegal,” Camilla explained, tossing her shiny, straight dark hair behind her shoulder.

Olivia glanced at her. “Really? We could be arrested for just sitting here?”

Camilla nodded and speared a cucumber. “Don’t you remember reading about that woman who got a ticket last year for doing the same thing?”

Olivia shook her head and swiped a cherry tomato from Camilla’s salad, her appetite returning. Camilla’s presence always made Olivia feel better. “No, but I guess I understand the reason-ing behind it. Especially in a city like New York.”

“Why would you spend your precious lunch minute watching a bunch of tiny screaming lunatics, anyway?” Camilla asked. “We work with enough screaming lunatics.” She sipped from her water bottle. “I’ve seen you sitting here many times.

How can you stand the noise?”

Olivia made a show of glancing at her watch. “We’d better get back to the office. Our lunch minute is up.”

Camilla raised an eyebrow. “One day you’re HAUNTING OLIV IA


going to tell me all your secrets, Ms. Private. But you’re right: if we’re a second late for Bitch Face’s two o’clock staff meeting, she’ll probably fire us.”

Their boss was definitely a nightmare to work for, but at least she’d saved Olivia from having to answer Camilla’s question.

“Motherhood ruins your life,” Camilla whispered into Olivia’s ear. “Case in point—your boss.”

Olivia followed Camilla’s upped chin at her supervisor, Vivian Carl, senior features editor of
magazine. Vivian, sitting at the far end—the executive end—of the conference room table, was nine months pregnant, due three days ago, and looked very uncomfortable, both physically and otherwise.

“Vivian, we’ve reassigned your celebrity interviews for the upcoming months,” the editor in chief, Desdemona Fine, announced, without looking at Vivian.

“Olivia will now interview Nicole Kidman for our June issue and take over your feature article on the best spas in the country.”

Vivian sent Olivia a withering glance, then turned to the editor in chief. “I’m sure I can handle all my work. I’m planning only a three-day maternity leave, and—”

“Moving on to personnel matters,” Desdemona interrupted, pushing her poker-straight blond hair behind her shoulder. “As representatives of
magazine, one of the most influential and popular beauty and fashion journals in the country, I expect you to dress
. For example”—she slid her cold gray gaze on an editorial assistant—“Uggs are out. And
Uggs were never
.” Additionally, we 8

Janelle Taylor

magazine do not support the counterfeiting of designer goods.” The editorial assistant turned red and slid lower in her chair. “If you are unsure about the image you are projecting as a
staffer, please see our fashion director or one of our stylists.”

Olivia glanced at
’s fashion director, whose cropped blazer was made entirely of sparkling black feathers. Olivia tried not to stare at her hat, a bizarre silver cone that reminded her of an art project for preschoolers.

“Bitch Face chewed me out over the length of my skirt yesterday,” Camilla whispered to Olivia as the editor in chief droned on. “An inch higher would completely change your look,” Camilla mimicked.

“‘You really should invest in a full-length mirror, dear.’ I hate her guts.”

Olivia shot her friend a commiserating smile. “I love the way you dress,” she whispered back, taking in Camilla’s thrift-store glamour ensemble. The editor in chief often commented that vintage and

“send to Goodwill” were not synonymous.

Olivia had worked at
for five years and had never been taken to task by the editor in chief.

Because you have a great sense of style,
Camilla had once said.
That’s all Bitch Face really cares about. And
because you have the bucks to buy great clothes. And
because you’re a Sedgwick. You can do no wrong.

First of all, Olivia wouldn’t say she had a great sense of style. She was attracted to understated, clas-sic clothes in pale, muted shades or black. She hated to stand out. And she didn’t have big bucks. As the associate features editor of
Olivia could barely afford the rent on her Manhattan apartment.

It was the
that gave the impression of HAUNTING OLIV IA


money and glamour and grandeur. Olivia’s father, William Sedgwick, who’d passed away only one month ago, had been a regular on
magazine’s Wealthiest in America list.

In fact, magazines and newspapers provided Olivia with most of her information about her father; the rest came from gossip—which might or might not be true—from her mother.

Olivia hadn’t even known that her own father had been dying of cancer.

If he hadn’t named Olivia in his will, she had no doubt she would have found out about his death from the
New York Times
obituary section. As it was, she’d learned of his death from his lawyer.

Olivia forced herself to focus on the editor in chief, who was sitting at the head of the long, pol-ished table, still cutting staffers down with a word or even just a glance.

“You’re not related to
Sedgwicks, are you?” the editor in chief had asked five years ago at Olivia’s interview—her fifth and final for the magazine.

Olivia had wanted to correct. But she’d rightly sensed you didn’t correct Desdemona Fine, whose real name—according to office gossip—was Mona Fingerman. There was no family of Sedgwicks, past or present. There was William,
Sedgwick. And his three daughters, each born of a different mother, none of whom were society page material or remotely well-off, let alone living in luxury.

Olivia’s mother berated Olivia on a daily basis for not living up to her name.
You’re a Sedgwick! If I had the
name, I’d milk it for all it’s worth. And it’s worth millions.

Olivia’s mother had never married William Sedgwick. She’d famously sued him for millions in child 10

Janelle Taylor

support and had been awarded a very comfortable settlement. Of Olivia’s half sisters, only Ivy was a “legitimate” child, only Ivy’s mother had been married to William. Briefly of course. According to legend, Dana Sedgwick had gotten a young William dead drunk during a trip to a luxury casino in Las Vegas and sweet-talked him into marrying her at a drive-through wedding chapel. He had the marriage an-nulled within the week. When anyone asked Dana how long she’d been married to William, she often said they’d had many good years together.

Olivia’s mother had had a fling with William.

She’d been his flavor of the month twenty-nine years ago, and when Candace Hearn told him she was pregnant with his child, he ended the relationship. She won her settlement and had tried to foist Olivia on her father since the day she was born.

William had never been interested. Fatherhood wasn’t among his interests or priorities.

Except for the summer she turned sixteen. A summer she never allowed herself to think about.

“Those staffers on the associate level would do well to emulate Olivia Sedgwick’s style,” Desdemona said, smiling at Olivia.

Olivia felt her cheeks burn. She also felt the eyes of her coworkers and her immediate supervisor, Vivian, narrow on her. Thanks to being Desdemona’s pet, most of Olivia’s coworkers hated her. Those who took the time to get to know her, like Camilla had, realized that Olivia wasn’t the affected snob they thought she was.

“I can handle the Nicole Kidman interview,” Vivian said to Desdemona. “It’s the cover story, so—”

Desdemona held up a hand. “So
will handle HAUNTING OLIV IA


it for you. Do you really think you can represent
magazine with leaky tits and baby spit-up on your blouse?”

Vivian burst into tears. Hormonal, I-can’t-take-another-minute-of-you tears.

Olivia closed her eyes and shook her head. This was so unfair. Desdemona was so unfair. But instead of threatening the editor in chief with a discrimina-tion suit, Vivian simply sobbed, then ran out of the room. No one would ever back her up anyway. Desdemona was too powerful.

“Waddling doesn’t become anyone,” Desdemona said under her breath with a tsk-tsk tone, then returned her attention to the meeting minutes.

And Olivia thought Desdemona couldn’t possibly get any more vicious.

“Do yourself a very big favor,” Camilla whispered to Olivia. “Never get pregnant.”

Too late,
Olivia thought. Not that she was pregnant right now. But she had been once. A long time ago.

As Olivia settled herself in bed with an article to edit (how many pieces on Botox was
going to run?), a boy’s face flitted into her mind, a good-looking face with intelligent, kind hazel eyes. This was not the dream boy, though once upon a time he had been Olivia’s dream man. Not that Zachary Archer at sixteen had been a man, of course.

Olivia could still see the way Zach’s sandy brown hair fell over his forehead. She could still see him so clearly.

It had been so long since that summer—since that 12

Janelle Taylor

lonely fall and winter and heartbreaking spring—

that thinking of Zach and what she’d gone through had lost its power to send her to her knees. She had no idea how she’d managed to get through that time and then immediately afterward, college, as though she’d graduated from a regular high school like every other incoming freshman. Her mother had used the Sedgwick name and legacy to get her into her father’s alma mater. Olivia would be walking across campus, forcing herself not to think of Zach, but his face would appear before her mind’s eye and the pain would whoosh the air of her lungs.

She’d spent her college years either studying or cr ying, which didn’t allow for friends. And then after college she’d come home to New York City, where she’d grown up just off Park Avenue in a small apartment her mother had managed to buy with her settlement from William. Her mother had a contact at
and Olivia, still numb, had come back to life just a little. Working for a fashion magazine like
had always been her dream.

BOOK: Haunting Olivia
7.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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