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Authors: Beck Anderson

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Trouble Me

BOOK: Trouble Me
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Trouble Me
Number II of
Fix You
Beck Anderson
Omnific Publishing (2015)
Tags:
Romance, Contemporary
Romancettt Contemporaryttt

In
Fix You
, movie star Andrew Pettigrew (Andy to his fans, Andrew to his friends) somehow found the level-headed love he was looking for in young widow and "regular girl" Kelly Reynolds. Now, as they work to mesh their growing relationship with his gold-statue ambitions, things go a bit sideways, in true Hollywood fashion.

Though they're still wonderfully in love, it's challenge enough for Andrew and Kelly to decipher what it means to be a family-and a growing family at that-between takes on set. But Andrew also brings history with a temperamental co-star, assorted paparazzi, and someone out there who has serious, perhaps obsessive, issues with him into the mix. Suddenly the Reynolds-Pettigrew clan must fight not just to stay together, but to stay safe.

Kelly and Andrew struggle to stay sane within their whirlwind life. It's a life that's equal parts amazing and amusing, less glamorous than you might expect, and spiked with very real fears no amount of stardom can overcome.

Will Andrew and Kelly be torn apart, or will they help each other stay strong at their broken places?

Cover
Title Page

Trouble Me


Beck Anderson


Omnific Publishing

Los Angeles

Copyright Information

Trouble Me, Copyright © 2015 by Beck Anderson

All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.


Omnific Publishing

1901 Avenue of the Stars, 2nd Floor

Los Angeles, California 90067

www.omnificpublishing.com


First Omnific eBook edition, May 2015

First Omnific trade paperback edition, May 2015


The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.


Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


Anderson, Beck.

Trouble Me / Beck Anderson – 1st ed

ISBN: 978-1-623421-21-9

1. Contemporary Romance—Fiction. 2. Movie Industry—Fiction. 3. Blended Family—Fiction. 4. Idaho—Fiction. I. Title


Cover Design by Micha Stone and Amy Brokaw
Interior Book Design by Coreen Montagna

Dedication

To any woman who’s ever asked,
“Does this make me look fat?”—Stop.
You’re beautiful.

1: On the Road Again

I L
OVE
R
OAD
T
RIP
S
. I love driving. I never get to drive.

Here’s a secret: movie stars miss driving cars. In the heat of the spotlight, my brain has apparently turned to soft scrambled eggs, and I can’t be trusted to drive a car.

Okay, that’s not fair. I’ve been working so much (too much, Kelly would tell you) that I’m always in the middle of a press tour or on set.

Tucker Caldwell, my trusty bodyguard, drives when we work.

We work a lot.

“Are you awake? You have to be awake to drive in Oregon. They give huge tickets. Trust me.” Kelly Reynolds, the best thing that ever happened to me, looks at me from the passenger seat. She’s tipped her sunglasses down her nose to give me a field fatigue test and now eyes me suspiciously.

She has her feet up on the dashboard. I resist the urge to tell her to put them down. If I careened off the road and the airbag deployed, it’d be a bad deal for those toned legs of hers. She thinks she’s the worrier, but I’ve read too many horrible true-story scripts—I’m the worrier. She doesn’t even know the half of it.

I get a little lost looking at the curve of her calf, the way the tendons lead up to the knee, then the thigh leads…

“I was kidding, but, Andrew? Are you in there? Really, we can pull over, and I can drive awhile. There’s no shame. I know you’re all ‘Andy Pettigrew, invincible bad ass,’ but I like awake bad asses behind the wheel. You’re allowed to rest.”

I shake myself out of it. “I’m fine. I was just thinking about how much I like to drive.”

I cast a glance in the rearview mirror and check on Hunter and Beau, Kelly’s boys. Hunter is asleep and probably getting taller even as I watch. He’s thirteen now—I remember being that age, the growth spurt days. My hips ached for a whole year from growing pains. I couldn’t sleep or eat enough to feel satisfied.

Beau, the younger of Kelly’s boys by two years, has his headphones on and stares out the window, head tilted up, bobbing ever so slightly. I look back at the road and then to the side and realize he’s following the sway and slope of the power lines. They swim in a lazy pattern between the poles when we’re driving this fast.

I turn back to the road but keep my head facing a tiny bit away from Kelly. I can’t help it; I get a little choked up. The whole “I am king of all I survey” thing? Well, I survey, and I feel full to bursting. I have a family. A beautiful family. I have this girl, this glorious woman to the right of me now, who let me into her life when I probably least deserved it. The last year and a half (plus a month, but, you know, it’s close) have been richer than I ever could’ve hoped.

Driving ten hours across the desert with these people, it gets me misty. I don’t care if my ass is sore; I don’t care if Kelly packed more than Lewis and Clark probably did—and they traveled this route plus the whole trail from St. Louis.

I don’t care. I have a family. I love them.

I don’t know how this could get any better than it is right now.

All right. If it wasn’t a mini-van I was driving, it might be a hair better. But other than that, it is the Griswold family vacation and
Full House
all rolled up into one. Without Mary-Kate and Ashley.

The abundance almost makes me scared.

I’ve never had so much to lose before.

2: Sea of Love

W
E’VE
R
EACHED
O
UR
D
ESTINATION
. The surf pounds into white spray, and the sea tosses restlessly, but I feel peaceful. I feel whole here on the Oregon Coast, a place that makes me happy, surrounded by my family. All my boys: Andrew, Hunter, and Beau. I love the way that sounds, all those names mashed into one sentence. My man and my sons together.

I’m in the midst of a run on the beach. I can feel sand against my ankles, the wind blasting up from the south. The big storms come in that way, up from Northern California. It’s not a problem, the wind, unless I turn my head to look at something. Then I taste salt and feel grit in my teeth.

But I’ve taken a cue from Andrew and worn sunglasses today, even though the stormy conditions don’t call for it. They save my eyes from the sand.

The Oregon coast is cold, the water’s brutally icy, and the weather is often gray and windy—even now, in late June. If you turn your back to the surf, you’re likely to have your neck snapped or be dragged out to sea. I make it sound terrific. The Oregon Tourism Board thanks me. This isn’t some gentle breeze, warm water, sandy spit, wussy kind of Atlantic beach. Here the ocean demands respect. It’s a fighting kind of beauty.

Though running is my respite, it’s a slog today. The sand, even down by the water’s edge, feels softer than usual, and my sneakers sink more than they should. I probably won’t get far. But I want to make sure I get to Silver Point. I want to check out that house again.

I do this all the time—I’m pretty sure ever since I was a kid. Whenever I go on walks or runs, I stake out the neighborhood, figure out which house I’d claim as mine. It passes the time. It’s fun to daydream about what the house looks like on the inside.

We’ve been coming to this part of the coast since before my husband, Peter, died. It’s the Reynolds family spot. Haystack Rock and Ecola Beach with Manzanita to the south: these are the places we visit as pilgrimage to the ocean from the desert of Idaho.

When we packed up this time, the thermometer at the house in Boise was creeping up on ninety-nine. It’s been a few weeks since school let out, and the weather is already settling in for a long, hot Idaho summer. So we find refuge in rain and cool green forests that meet the ocean.

Here, on the beach south of the house we’ve rented for the week, huge rocks climb out of the sea. Silver Point has one lone stone monument that rises from the ocean, but the mainland also is solid rock there. At high tide, the Point is impassable. And the beach on the other side is stopped by another large rock field to the south of it, so if I am ever to go to that side of the Point, I always check the tide tables. I get a bit cautious. There’s something terrifying to think of the sea crawling up as the tide changes, and I would be stuck on the rocks, and probably swept out to sea. That’s being overly dramatic, because the tide doesn’t come up in one fell swoop, but if for some reason a person wasn’t paying attention to the sea’s rumbling march, it wouldn’t be a good place to get stuck.

But I’m running on the “safe” side of the Point, and the headland climbs stonily out of the sea. It’s a dark, wet, solid face of rock as I approach, but the house I lust after perches above it.

When I’m close enough to find it, it has a new For Sale sign on its deck. A prominent sign, plastered on the house I chose a long time ago, on a run much like this one.
My dream house on the coast has a For Sale sign on it!

This has happened before, from time to time, with a house I’ve taken a shine to, in some neighborhood where I like to run. But in the past, the only allure a For Sale sign has added is the possibility of a walk through and glimpse of the inside on an open house day.

Here’s what’s different: The guy I happen to be dating—that nice one waiting for me with the kids back at the house we are renting this week? He could snap this house up if I asked. We haven’t gotten so crass as to talk directly about his net worth, but I’m not an idiot. I know he is very good at what he does, and after winning the award he did this past January, he could ask for the price of this house as payment for a few weeks’ worth of work on a movie. It’s a little dazzling to think about his stardom.

This is a weird quandary. I’d love to show Andrew this house, but just to share it with him. It’s like when Tessa, my best friend in Boise, brings me yet another fluffy magazine to leaf through. I like to show her dresses that are cute. It’s a bonding thing. I don’t expect her to go out and buy them for me.

But guys—all guys—have a weird need to show off from time to time, especially when it comes to proving how worthy and competent they are at providing. Though I’d love to have Andrew join my ogling and speculating, it’s pretty clear that this house will have to stay my little secret.

This is evolution, I tell you. Some things, people are compelled to do. I had a moment where I was poised to out-earn my late husband, Peter, when he was teaching at the university because he had to take several furlough days. It cut him to the core. He even thought about picking up another teaching job on the side.

It’s not sexism. It’s the drive to take care of your own.

Andrew is new to the game, but he’s not immune. I had to impose a Lego moratorium on Hunter and Beau a few months ago. I forbade Andrew to buy any more Legos before we were buried in them. But he liked that he could take care of what the boys wanted.

I have money of my own, but it’s pretty ridiculous to even have a money discussion with Andrew. It’s important to me that I still have my little nest egg. I don’t like complete dependence. It makes me uneasy. And I think Andrew understands that.

Oh, but a gorgeous house like this…It’d be a grand gesture, and I think he would love to snatch this up, slap a shiny bow on it, and gift it to me.

Nonetheless, the second I start asking Andrew for things, material things, I’m afraid we’ll have turned our relationship into something really cheap and really nasty, bordering on payment for services rendered. And what we have is way too precious and special to cheapen it like that.

Still, I take a break from running to stalk the house.

The roof is peaked above an A-frame with three stories of large plate-glass windows. The weathered gray roof echoes the deck that stretches across the front of the house and wraps around it on both sides. Like a lot of the houses here, there are tempered glass panels enclosing the deck, breaking the relentless wind. There’s a two-sided fireplace, with Adirondack chairs surrounding it on the deck. I imagine the interior side of the fireplace has a big slate hearth and overstuffed pillows on a plush rug with a distressed leather sofa and lived-in, beaten-up side chairs. All very Ralph Lauren: tired and worn but incredibly expensive, the preppy thing goes to the beach. Nothing ostentatious. Lots of weathered gray, sun-washed blues, stormy grays, driftwood whites.

I don’t know how long I’ve been standing, gawking at the house, when someone grabs me by the waist.

“Gah!” I jump out of my skin. “Damn it, Andrew!”

He howls with laughter, picks me up, and spins me in a circle. “Hey! What are you daydreaming about? I could have been a grizzly bear sneaking up on you.” He throws an arm around me and kisses me.

“No grizzly bears on this beach. Did you follow me down here? It’s kind of a trek.” I know I haven’t been running very fast lately, but I didn’t see him tailing me.

“Naw. I took the car down to get a cup of coffee at Sleepy Monk. I needed high-octane something this morning. This gray is harder core than LA’s marine layer.”

I look for the coffee cup. “Where is it?”

“Oh, I downed it already. There’s a tea for you in the car if you want a ride back.” He dances around a little. “I parked at the beach access a block up from here.”

“Are you cold, LA baby?” I can’t help but tease him. He and his fellow Angelenos operate with this weird expectation that all other places in the world have the perma-weather that they do: sixty degrees, no matter what time of year. Suspended animation of the jet stream or something.

The first day we were here, he wore his hoodie and got absolutely soaked to the bone. Today he’s still got his hoodie on (I swear it’s his security blanket, his “wubbie”), but he’s added the Merrell shell I bought him in Portland and insisted he pack.

“Come on, I’m wet and cold, and you’ve been running, so I can suck all the body heat off of you when we get back.” He smiles at the thought.

“It’s just as well. I might as well be running in oatmeal. I think I got passed by a sea tortoise.”

“I’ll make you some brunch. I cooked bacon for the boys already.” He turns me around on the sand and points me toward the beach approach. He casts a casual look at the promontory above us before we trot to the car. “Nice house.”

We hustle to the car. Andrew cranks the heater.

“This is silly,” I tell him. “You basically drove down the block to get me. I could’ve run back, you know. I need to redeem myself for weeks of crappy runs.”

“I missed you. Time to come home, pet.” He grins at me.

“Stop. I’ll blush.” I love it when he flirts.

“I hope so. There’s a nice color to your cheeks right now, though. Nothing like a little sand blasting to give you a rosy glow.” He turns on the wipers. “Everyone’s allowed an off week or two. Maybe you should cross train or something. Yoga, maybe.”

I sigh. “Maybe this is me getting old.”

He shakes his head. “Oh lord, here we go. I will now say my required line: ‘You’re not old, you silly gorgeous young thing you.’”

“That sounds mean.” I needle him a little.

“You sound ridiculous. You’re thirty-seven. That’s young, and I’m tired of the ‘old’ thing. It’s a little insulting. You’re insulting my hot girlfriend.” He pulls a cup from the console. “Now drink your tea.”

I take it, trying to pull the warmth of the tea into my damp and stiff fingers. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. And change the subject.”

“What are the boys doing?” We pull into the driveway. The rain comes down harder. Looks like it’s an inside day.

“Hunter was watching TV and eating a gigantic bowl of cereal. Beau was on your computer. I think he had nuclear launch codes or something.”

“Ha ha.” This is part of the beach routine. Hunter and Beau laze in bed until mid-morning. Beau hasn’t declared a no-pants day yet, but I suspect one of these rainy mornings, he’ll decide to spend the whole day watching TV and eating cereal out of the box in the loft of the house we’ve rented. It’s not a vacation until someone stays in PJs from sunup to sundown.

I get out of the car and make a break for the house.

Andrew follows me inside, and it hits me right away. The smell of bacon. I gag. My stomach turns over; I swallow hard.

“Mom?” Concern washes over Hunter’s face for the two seconds I see it before I run for the bathroom to puke my guts out.

The cold bathroom tile floor feels so good under my hands. It’s actually a relief to throw up.

There’s a knock at the door. Andrew’s voice filters through. “You okay?”

“Come in here.” The moment of relief has passed. Something is wrong, and I start to run through what it might possibly be.

Andrew comes in, a blanket in hand. He kneels and wraps me up. “What’s wrong? Flu?”

“No. I don’t think it’s that. I can think of two things. One is remote and horrible, and the other is less remote but kind of shocking.” I let him help me stand up.

“Which one do I want to hear?” He looks at me in the mirror. I try to avoid looking at the greenish sweaty face reflected back at me. His face is all clean lines and beautiful worry. When I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, even when I’m not vomitous, I am a sideshow mirror of weird postures and grimaces. I don’t think Mr. Movie Star has an awkward pose. I’ve yet to see it, and I’ve been staring at him a lot over the last nineteen months. (Who’s counting? Oh, that’s right. I am.)

“The first one can’t be true. It’d be that I have cancer, like Peter did. Nausea can be caused by tumors.”

“Well, that idea is shit, so let me hear the second one.” Andrew is deadly serious now.

“I’m pregnant.” I gulp—I hear myself do it.

“Really?” He smiles.

“My runs suck, I’m tired as all get out, and smells make me hurl.” The idea starts to sink down from my brain into my body, and I feel tears begin to climb up to my eyes.

“But we always use protection.” His voice sounds lighter, higher.

“There’s always that percentage. Read the directions, the pamphlets, there’s always the possibility. I thought my period was late because it was getting less predictable—you know, because I’m getting older. Maybe not.” The more I talk, the sadder I feel.

“How late?”

I think. It’s been a while since I’ve had to keep track of this kind of stuff. “I guess beginning of May.”

He smiles. “June got away from you, huh?”

“I just never…” I trail off.

Hunter and Beau will freak. A baby. My life will be turned upside down for the next four years. And the boys have been so wonderful, such little men. So much fun to relate to.

Andrew looks at me. “Why are you crying? Isn’t this a good thing?”

I shrug. “I don’t know.” I can’t say anything. I can’t.

He looks hurt. “Don’t you want a baby with me?”

“We’re not married. I’m almost thirty-eight. I’ve been done for a while with being huge and babies and diapers and tantrums and no sleep. I made it through that stage seven years ago. Seven, Andrew! The boys are eleven and thirteen. Hunter’ll be fourteen in September. To go back to it now…the thought is just exhausting.” I pull the blanket around myself and check to make sure the bathroom door is shut tight. I don’t want either son to overhear this conversation.

Andrew is quiet for a minute. “We should make sure. We’re talking about something we don’t even know yet. We’re talking about nothing, as far as we know.”

“It could be a bug. A virus,” I say, but I know it’s not. The second the idea formed in my brain, every part of me had that shocking realization. When someone describes how an idea “dawns” on you, this is what she’s talking about. The sun rises, and it only sets in one direction. Not the other way, not ever.

BOOK: Trouble Me
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