As a thin line of orange breaks across the horizon camera flashes reflect off the surface of the cavalcade of all wheel drive vehicles exiting through the gates of Diamond Court, the private community that guaranteed breathing space for the rich and infamous. Lily la Croix observed them through tinted glass, bleary eyes and the steam rising from her cup of coffee.
Running a jaundiced eye over my crazy schedule I took a measured sip of coffee. Vibrations emanating from my phone. Pressing a key with a manicured nail, ‘Good morning.’ ‘Is it?’ My brother sounded as if he hadn’t turned his coffee machine on yet, ‘How crazy is your schedule today?’ ‘Freaks and geeks on display brother mine.’ His laughter echoed down the line. I blew hair out of my face with a puff of breath, ‘This is crazy Nick. How am I meant to get behind promoting a book I’m not even finished with yet?’ I shot him my schedule for the next few days with a tap of my finger on the screen. His muffled swearing answered my questions for me.
‘Who gave the go ahead for half of this stuff?’ He asked rhetorically before adding, ‘4 hours of sleep a night just isn’t realistic. You may be the Lily la Croix but they tend to forget you’re only nineteen not a side show pony turning tricks to make them money.’ ‘What do I do Nick? I’m locked into the contract with almost no wiggle room until the end of this book. The parents refuse to get the lawyers to look over it again even if I pay for it.’ A solitary tear rolled down my cheek. Ducking my head so I didn’t display my emotions to my driver discreetly wiping it away while taking another sip of coffee. ‘Stop crying. I’ve got the morning free. Let me see what can be arranged. You’ve still got Oliver Green breathing down your neck correct?’ His calm voice soothed my jangled nerves. Coffee wasn’t the best thing for me to drink.
‘Yes.’ Somehow he knew my entire daily schedule before I did. Used to being constantly on display, I found his tactics for getting photos incredibly invasive. ‘I need to disappear to get this book done. There should almost be enough interviews recorded to keep the interest flowing. Tell them I don’t want to write any more if something isn’t done.’ Uttering the words lightens my soul. I’d been hiding my true feelings for a very long time. The car slows at a red light. ‘I’ll get you the space you need to breathe for a while.’ He promises and adds, ‘I’ll call when I’ve got news.’ ‘Okay.’ Hanging up the call I finish my drink and prepare for my first interview of the day.
The soft sounds of my writing play list floated softly through my apartment. The change of song disturbed my flow of words. Pulling me away from the train of thought I had been following as my mood swung. I had another thousand words to produce before my afternoon appointment with my editorial team. The monsters in my head were becoming all too real. Something had to give. I needed help for the first time in six years. I couldn’t make my characters ‘speak’ to me. They didn’t want the ride to end anymore then I did. Lilac Cove had been my entire life for the last six years.
Giving up going to school had been easy. Balancing writing and independent school had been hard. I didn’t have close friends. I didn’t have any school clubs I was involved in. Boys hadn’t even been on my radar. I dreamed and I wrote. Because of my age I had allowed my parents to convince me to write under a pseudonym. Now I had to embody the pseudonym to the point where even my family forgot that I legally had another name. Staring at the blinking cursor on my monitor I saved my work knowing it would be impossible to slip back into the flow. Maybe this work was meant to be beautifully unfinished.
Two hours later…
‘You’re short by a chapter.’ Flinching internally at the tone in Julie’s voice I wait silently for the rant I know is going to follow her opening statement. ‘I…’ Her words die in her throat when Nick cuts in smoothly, ‘Lily is short by a chapter because she has been doing the interview show circuit for the last two weeks. She is up at 3.30 am 5 days a week and most nights doesn’t get to bed until after midnight. Now might be a good time to discuss how you plan for her to finish the series?’ Hiding my smile, I watch Julie turn red then white then blush a delicate shade of pink. Taking the opportunity to keep talking Nick continues, ‘Look at her. Really look at her. She has been writing this series for six years. Churning out a book a year. Neglecting to eat, sleep and have an actual life. Her sacrifices..’
’Her sacrifices are what has made her name so big in such a short space of time.’Julie bristles back. Her ice queen composure locked back into place. ‘Yes it has made her a name for herself. So it stands to reason that even big names need to hide from the world to balance out the craziness.’ Nick argues back not raising his voice before pointing out, ‘I actually have a solution if you’d care to hear it. If you don’t then I can pull out the contract and this meeting can get less friendly.’
‘I’ll hear you out before we make the final decision.’ She spits the words at him like darts looking to find a weakness in her enemy’s armor. ‘You’ll hear him out and we’ll make the final decision together.’ I remind her of her place politely, ‘Nick is here because I asked him for help.’ She huffs silently before turning her attention to my brother. I just hope that she doesn’t lose concentration this time. My very single brother does not need to be dating someone with her attitude. ‘Lily will go undercover at my old college. They’re actually looking for someone to run a basic writing course in conjunction with the arts degrees for those who need to catch up. She’d be a student teacher.’
‘What would I be studying?’ He’s put more than a little thought into this. I can teach basic writing 101 in my sleep. ‘You my dear sister will be studying life around you. Experiencing things you missed out on in high school. Your cover story is that you’re an English major with a minor in Archaeology. You would have to show up to those classes once in a while to make the cover story work.’ A grin spreads across my face. A real smile for the first time in months.