Authors: S. Briones Lim
On the Outside
S. Briones Lim
On the Outside
Copyright © 2015 by S. Briones Lim.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: November 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To all the surfers out there—
hope you catch the perfect wave.
Table of Contents
“I don’t know…my nose looks a little too big in that photo.” I reached up and pressed my honker down, flattening it as much as I could. For some reason the picture on the billboard magnified my already noticeable flaw. “Why’d they have to use that one?”
Robert, my manager and newest confidante, rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Talk to the network, not to me.”
He spun on his heel and began working his way through the busy New York City crowd. I’ve always hated Times Square, but I especially loathed it around summer time. Amidst the suffocating humidity and influx of tourists I felt like a single ant amongst its army. I also felt as if I was being burned to death by a huge magnifying glass.
“Wait up!” I ran after him, making sure to yank down my sunglasses before anyone could spot me. It wasn’t as if the paparazzi followed my every move—yet—but I couldn’t be too careful. My sitcom,
Joy In and Joy Out
, was into its sixth episode and garnering a pretty big following. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was gracing the covers of
on a, well, weekly basis.
I couldn’t wait.
“Why are you in such a hurry?”
Robert ignored me and weaved through a group of tourists. He basically bulldozed a poor woman and her child in his quest to reach our driver on 48
“What the hell?” I gasped, reaching out to help the five-year-old to her feet. “What’s your problem?”
“We don’t have time for this!” he shouted back to me as he quickened his pace.
“Don’t have time to be a decent human being?” I snapped. I jogged to catch up with him and was startled when he spun around and wagged an accusatory finger at me. I scowled. “Robert, what is your problem? Aren’t you supposed to be catering to my every whim or something? Remember, you are getting ten percent of everything I make, so you should be nice to me.”
I let out a stale laugh, but was completely silenced when I noticed how flushed Robert’s face was becoming. It looked almost burned and painful to the touch.
“Robert? Robbie…Rob…what’s wrong?” I joked, though I assumed that whatever was bothering him shouldn’t be joked about.
” He threw his hands up in the air.
“Um, melodramatic much? Thought I was the actor,” I said with a snort.
“You don’t have any right to make fun of me right now. I have to put out a fire because of you!” he growled.
We reached a shiny black SUV at the end of the block and immediately climbed in. As I gripped the edge of the door, I frowned. “Is this the same car from earlier? I could have sworn it wasn’t this shiny. Did he get it washed while we were at—?”
“Harper, enough about the car! Do you realize how bad this makes you look?” He reached over and slammed the car door behind me.
Startled, I jumped a bit in my seat and frowned. “What are you talking about? How bad what makes me look?”
With a shake of his head, he flipped his phone around and showed me the screen. “This! Why didn’t you tell me you were screwing around with the CEO of the network? Do you know how bad it looks for you? His wife is one of the most loved women of daytime TV
a huge philanthropist. You are basically wearing the Scarlet Letter for breaking up this marriage!”
My eyes widened as I took in the picture ironically taken by the paparazzi of me leaving the building where Louis Bennington’s penthouse was located on the Upper East Side. I was shown gripping a tumbler of coffee and hailing a cab. Louis, in all his silver fox glory, stood beside me. Decked in jeans and a t-shirt, he was dressed more casually than usual when seen in public, whereas I was wearing the dress I had gone partying in the night before. It was quite easy to see why somebody would misconstrue the photo as a telltale sign of cheating.
A lump began to form in the back of my throat. I shook my head in a hurry and squeaked, “I swear this is not what it looks like.”
“Really?” Robert pulled back his phone and began to scroll through the article. “Harper Montgomery, twenty-nine years old, is seen leaving the apartment of billionaire Louis Bennington after a night of debauchery. His wife, Susan Bennington, was conveniently out of the country doing charity work in the Philippines.” He lifted his phone and shook it in front of my face. “Really?
“I swear it wasn’t like that!” I protested.
“So you didn’t sleep over at his apartment after drinking with Sarah and Caitlyn?” he asked, speaking of my costars on
“I-I mean, I did, but they slept over too,” I stammered.
He froze. “If this is some ménage à trois, quadruple fuck, you better tell me now.”
My mouth dropped open. “Are you serious?”
“I’m as serious as you can ever be. This is a big deal, Harper. Right now your public image—one we manufactured, by the way—is the cute girl next door. This scandal can either make you or break you.”
“But I thought any publicity is good publicity,” I commented in a meek voice.
“It depends how the public perceives it.” He rubbed his eyes and groaned. “Now just tell me the truth so I can figure out how to spin this.”
I was pretty sure my cheeks matched the color of my hair, bright red and blinding. I pressed my fingers against my face and shivered, though it was far from being cold. “The girls and I partied. We drank a little and got a bit tipsy. Louis happened to be at the same bar, and when he saw how trashed we were, he had his bodyguard drive us back to his place so we could all sober up. Said it was bad for business and for our safety if he let us go out into world in the state we were in. We all must have fallen asleep, but I woke up the latest—”
“Because the other girls are veterans and know better than to leave when the paparazzi are awake!”
I flinched. All this time I anticipated the moment when the paparazzi would follow my every move; almost craving it. Sure many celebrities hated it, but the messed up part of my mind always believed it was a sign that I had finally made it—that I had finally become someone worth following around. Now that it finally happened I realized what Brad and Angelina were always complaining about.
“What am I going to do? I can’t have people thinking I’m some home wrecker. My parents…” The blood instantly drained from my face. My parents were super conservative and would kill me if they even for a moment thought that I had screwed a marriage—literally. They almost had a heart attack when I told them that I’d be moving to New York after college and this would most certainly break them.
I shook my head quickly. “I have to call my mom.”
“No?” My mouth dropped open incredulously.
Robert ran his hands through his hair—or lack of it—which was pasted in oily clumps against his forehead. “We have to work on releasing a statement. I have to talk to Monique.”
“We have to get Monique into this?” I whined. I instantly pictured my no-nonsense publicist yelling in my face. We had a pretty hard time getting along during my “How to Do a Press Junket” training. Apparently, my naturally raspy voice could be misinterpreted as a smoking ad in some states. Monique in all her fierceness was not having it. “No, no, no. I don’t want to bring her into this.”
In a freakishly calm voice, Robert snapped me back to reality. “Judging by that photo you love coffee, don’t you?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
The coldness on his face returned as he glared at me. “I hope you drank a lot of it, because you’ll need it for the damage control we have to do.”
What damage control? In just three short weeks the life that I thought I was building had come crashing down. Wait, it did not just crash down, it blew up in my face and dripped onto my new Louboutins until the shoes were nothing but cesspools at my feet.
I couldn’t even walk anywhere without people hounding me. To make matters worse, it wasn’t just the paparazzi—I was really growing sick of their shit, by the way—it was also the local and national news outlets, radio hosts, even other actors! There was no place I could show my face without being nagged and harassed.
That wasn’t the worst part.
Louis—or Mr. Bennington, as he now insisted I call him—wouldn’t even look me in the eye. I was lucky that his wife was really understanding about the whole situation, but even her public statements did nothing but spotlight her as a martyr and make everyone hate Mr. Bennington even more. For some reason, the media really played on the Billionaire Playboy and Poor Wife angle a little too much. Needless to say it made coming to work extremely difficult.
“Hey Mistress of the Night,” Coby Evans, leading man of the sitcom and self-absorbed asshole to the fullest, called out to me as I entered the studios. As usual he was looking rather handsome that day in his own unique, annoying way. He had the kind of face that made women aged thirteen through eighty-five salivate in his wake. Well, almost every woman. Amidst his grey eyes and chiseled features I saw him for what he truly was—a self-entitled douchebag.
“Don’t you have some slut to entertain?” I shot back, stomping my way past him. It was Read Through day and I was already running three minutes late, which reminded me… “Shouldn’t you be in the room?”
“I was…and I am.” He shrugged.
I scowled. “Are you speaking gibberish again?”
Looking like the stupid toothpaste commercial he was in, Coby’s smile widened, causing his bleached teeth to sparkle. The corners of his eyes crinkled in absolute amusement. “Let’s just say I already read the script and I really wanted to see your reaction firsthand. I wanted to catch it from beginning to end. On that note…” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. Swiping against the screen, he lifted it in front of his face and snickered. “Say hello to the camera. We all know how much it loves you.”
Rolling my eyes, I pushed the door to the studio’s conference room open and stopped in my tracks. The whole cast froze and turned their heads toward me in unison. I eyed each person cautiously—people who were slowly becoming my friends—and couldn’t figure out why they were all staring at me with…
Sarah was the first one to move. Her blonde hair flew up as she jumped from her rolling chair and ran straight at me, throwing her arms around me. The petite actress pressed her face against my breasts and murmured, “I’m so sorry.”
My heart was beating quickly, threatening to jump out of my body. I’m sure Sarah felt it too because she abruptly dropped her hold on me.
I gulped. “Sorry for what?”
Coby reached out and grabbed the nearest script. Methodically, he lifted his hand and slowly flipped through the crisp pages. After skimming for a bit, his eyes lit up in an “Aha” sort of moment.
“Read this.” He tapped his fingertip once on a page and shoved the script toward me. It was a new edit to the “Top Secret” script that the cast wasn’t allowed to see until Table Read. Curious as to how Coby already scanned the whole thing—let alone knew how to read it—I grabbed the booklet.
“This better be good,” I muttered, stiffening as I felt everyone’s eyes glued on me.
“Oh, it certainly is,” Coby cooed, never dropping his phone.
My eyes flew across the page once, twice, three times. Each time I read it I became more confused than I had been before.
“No, this can’t be right,” I whispered, feeling my heart drop. The script suddenly felt like a lead weight in my hands. Trembling, I gazed up and swallowed the pool of spit collecting inside my mouth. “This is fake, right? Just a stupid prank Coby thought of?” My eyes immediately flashed toward Coby, narrowing into tiny slits. “If this is some kind of sick joke—”
My voice cracked and I winced at how pathetic I sounded.
Coby continued filming my every move and placed his free hand across his sculpted pecs. “My, my. I’m hurt. Really hurt. How can you even think I’d do something like this to a friend?”
“Friend in the loosest form of the word,” Tyson Finn muttered from behind me. With a shake of his head, he pushed through the crowd and walked toward me. For a six-foot, four-inch man he moved quite gracefully. He once said in an interview that he had taken ballet to help him with football when he was younger. It was quite apparent in how he basically glided across the small conference room.
I peered up at him and felt my lips trembling. “T-they killed me off? They can do that? It’s…it’s a sitcom. It’s supposed to be comedic.”
Tyson’s thick eyebrows furrowed together. His big brown eyes gazed down at me almost profoundly. “Maybe it’s a good thing.”
“A good thing?” I squeaked. “How can losing my job be a good thing?” I shoved the script toward his chest and bit back a sob. “They didn’t even give me the opportunity to come back for guest spots. They
me off. They flat out murdered me!”
“Actually, you weren’t murdered. According to the script you died in a freak accident.” Coby’s lips curled into a lopsided smile.
“Shut the fuck up, Coby,” Caitlyn Harris snapped. “Just remember, nobody here likes you, you prick.”
“I really don’t care. You’re forgetting this sitcom was written for
I’m the reason all of you are employed and you should be on your knees thanking me.” His snarky face pointed in my direction. “Well, some of you, anyway—but hey, Harps, I’m all for you being on your knees, if you know what I mean.”
Caitlyn rolled her eyes and reached out to take my hands into hers. “Don’t listen to him. It’ll be okay, Harper.”
“Easy for you to say. You still have a job.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt horrible. I knew my friend was just trying to help me out.
Fortunately, she was more understanding than I could ever be. She bowed her head and took a step back, giving me air. “Well, I’m here if you ever need anything.”
“So she can tarnish your name too?” Coby snorted. “The studios did all of us a favor. If they hadn’t shoved Harper off we’d be cancelled by the end of the season! She’s a walking time bomb.” He peered at me from the corner of his eyes and smirked. “No one will want to touch her with a ten foot pole. You’ve seen the tabloids. Apparently Harper is a bitch to work with and she’ll steal your husband too—”
“Shut the fuck up!” I screamed, launching myself at the asshole. Had Tyson not caught me mid-air, Coby and I would probably be in a tangled mess on the floor.
Coby may have had the biggest mouth in the world, but he was a straight-up pussy. He jumped back, panting in fear. “Watch it, bitch. I’ll sue your ass for everything you own if you mess up my—”
“Your ugly mug?” Tyson snarled. He placed me back down on the ground but did not loosen his grip on my waist. “Honestly, you’d deserve it if Harper scratched your face off, but—”
“But you know she’d be in a heap of trouble if you let her land one hand on this.” He pointed to his cheek and shook his head. “Ty, why don’t you stop defending that cheat?”
“You know that was just a rumor,” Caitlyn snapped tiredly.
“It doesn’t matter does it? The whole public thinks it’s true. At least Louis was smart enough to cut his losses.”
I bit my lip and shook my head. “I don’t even fucking care.”
Tyson gazed down at me and frowned. “Harper—”
“No,” I interrupted. “I don’t give a damn anymore about this show, about the network, and about this pansy.” I pointed toward Coby. “If they want to kill me off, then fine. I’m walking out right now.”
Sarah’s mouth dropped open. “Harper, you’re in the first half of the episode. You can’t just leave.”
“Try me. They can rewrite the fucking script.” I turned to grab my purse, but Tyson immediately stood in my way. “Move.”
He crossed his burly arms over his chest. “Though I completely agree with you, I can’t let you leave.”
I arched an eyebrow. “And why not?”
“You’re still under contract.” He sighed and bowed his head. “You have to do it, Harps, unless you want to get sued.”
I shut my eyes tightly and groaned. He was right, of course. I had no fucking choice but to continue working a bit longer for people that didn’t want me.