Shacking Up Page 2

“Your father’s new medical laboratory has made some groundbreaking discoveries, hasn’t it?” She sounds like she disapproves. Maybe her husband has discovered the wonders of the artificial, never-ending hard-on and her dried out vagina is angry with me.

My father’s team created the newest erectile dysfunction medication. It’s a real porn-star legacy. I nod and smile, even though my father had absolutely nothing to do with the actual development of the medication. He just struts around making people think he did.

“Ruby is just on her way out. I’ll be along in a moment and then we can take some pictures.”

“Of course, of course.” Gwendolyn waves us off as Amie takes my arm and guides me away. Gwendolyn is already striking up a conversation with someone else.

“I’m sorry about the stole comment,” I mutter as we cross the room.

“It’s fine. She’s drunk, so she probably won’t remember anyway.”

She seems like a real piece of work. It also explains a lot about Armstrong. I’m still trying to figure out his allure. He seems to walk around with an entire jar of pickles rammed up his ass at all times. I’m also wary about how fast things have moved. They’ve only been together for a few months, but Amie seems convinced they’re a match made in heaven. I guess the scandalous option of divorce down the line is there if necessary.

Not that I’m predicting divorce or anything.

I’m just rather familiar with the way these men trade in wives like cars when the model gets a dent—or the Botox stops erasing the wrinkles. My own father is on wife number three. His current wife is all of twenty-eight. She used to be his secretary—so cliché.

Amie fingers my hair when we reach the door to the ballroom. I used a curling iron to no avail, it’s already straightened itself out for me. Amie has this incredible wavy, sandy blond hair, the opposite of mine in color and body. “Should I give you a wake-up call in the morning? Just to make sure you don’t sleep through your alarm?”

“You don’t have to do that. You’ll be exhausted tomorrow morning after this. You should sleep in for once.”

“I have to work tomorrow. I’ll be up early.”

I don’t really understand why anyone would plan an engagement party on a Monday night, but apparently Armstrong’s mother was highly influential. Even if it had been on a weekend, there’s a good chance Amie would be up early anyway. It doesn’t matter what time she goes to bed at, her internal alarm is set for 5:45 a.m.

“Sounds good. Maybe you can come by my place for lunch or something later?” I’m sure I can manage to scrounge up enough money to buy the necessary items to make sandwiches.

She makes her scrunchy no-no face. “I’m having lunch with Armstrong’s mother to discuss wedding plans.”

I mirror her displeased expression. “Have fun with that.”

“We can do dinner later in the week. My treat.”

“You don’t have to buy.” In all honesty, I can’t afford to go out for dinner with Amie unless we do the dollar menu at the burger place down the street from my apartment, but my pride won’t let me admit that. Sadly, Amie swears that place gave her food poisoning, so she refuses to entertain eating there. Being in between jobs sucks.

“I’ll take you out to celebrate your audition.”

“If you insist.” I would love to eat something that isn’t from a cellophane package.

“I do.” She smiles, as if it’s not a big deal. I’m already reviewing the menus at various restaurants and picking the most reasonable, filling dinner options.

Amie’s unaware of how dire my financial situation currently is. I honestly didn’t realize how bad it was until I checked my account yesterday. The one my father doesn’t know about. The one that’s very close to zero. Until three weeks ago, I had a steady paycheck and a role in a successful production that had been running for five months. I’d known something was up when the last two paychecks were late, and then bounced entirely. The production company had gone bankrupt, and I suddenly found myself with no income.

To make matters even worse, less than a week later, my agent decided to take early retirement with no warning. She dumped her entire client list, leaving us all scrambling for representation. So far I’m not having much luck securing a new agent, or a new role.

I need this role, otherwise I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get a part-time gig making overpriced coffee for the over-pampered dicks in this room. Which I’m not opposed to. It just sucks, given that I graduated with a Triple-Threat Award from Randolph almost two years ago. I naively assumed my ability to sing, dance, and act would mean an automatic ticket to Broadway. Boy was I ever wrong about that. So far, I’ve managed two small parts in Off-Off Broadway productions. Hopefully tomorrow pans out and I’m back on the payroll. I don’t really want to entertain the alternatives, so I’m thinking positive and hoping for the best.

I give her a hug, drain my martini, set the glass on the table, and tell her to have fun . . . As much as she can, considering the crowd she’s managing. The massive chandeliers hanging from the ceiling have been dimmed, so the lighting isn’t great. Or maybe it’s the effects of the martini impacting the clarity of my vision.

I’ve never been a big drinker. In college when my friends were chugging beer and doing keg stands at frat parties, I’d be the girl nursing the same red plastic cup all night. It didn’t help that all they usually had was beer, which I’ve never developed a taste for. So even though I’ve been sipping the same martini since I arrived, downing the back half of it hits me like I’ve chugged an entire bottle of vodka straight without eating . . . For at least two days. The feeling won’t last long, but it’s discombobulating regardless.

I step through the doors and decide before I jump on the subway I should use one of the nice, swanky bathrooms. I’m not sure my bladder will be able to make the trip home and the walk to my apartment. Only a few people mill around in the open foyer, talking on cell phones. I spot the restroom sign and head in that direction, attempting to maintain poise.

The lighting in this hall is even worse, with only a few accent lamps illuminating the way. It’s kind of creepy. The actual bathroom is lovely, with a couch in the corner and a primping mirror. Some woman with ridiculously high heels, abnormally long legs, and a super short, tight dress is currently taking up residence in front of the mirror with half her purse contents strewn over the counter. She’s also talking on her phone, speaker style. She might be on video chat, actually, based on the way she has her phone propped up.

She pauses for a moment, her gaze shifting to me for a quick glance. I don’t even have half a second to form a polite, potentially fake smile before she pulls a face as if she’s smelling garbage and looks away.

I push through the first door to find a plugged toilet. Holding back a gag I move on to the next one and find it’s clean. Once I’m locked safely in my stall, the modelesque bitchy chick resumes her conversation, as if closing the door somehow makes it impossible for me to hear what she says.

I drape my shawl over the hook, along with my purse, and hike up my skirt, tucking it into the front of my dress to prevent it from getting wet and pull a hover squat. I don’t care how nice these bathrooms are, I don’t want my skin touching the seat if I can avoid it.

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