Free Spirit

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Chapter 21

Alexis

The downside of living above the bakery was the racket and the smells. Miles needed to put better insulation in the ceiling so I could get a decent sleep. They were usually down there by six every morning, banging around and laughing.

I reached for my phone on the nightstand.

Twelve-thirty!

Good thing it was my day off.

“Alexis!” Hannah called out. “Are you up?”

“I am now,” I grumbled, hauling my ass out of bed.

“It’s past noon, Lex,” she lectured, appearing in my bedroom doorway with a coffee cup.

“Just because you have a key, doesn’t mean you get to use it whenever you want to.”

“I’m concerned about you,” she said, holding out the cup.

“If you care about me at all, you’ll get that out of here.”

“You don’t want coffee?”

“Not today.”

“Why?”

“The smell is making me nauseous.”

“Are you sick?”

“No! I just don’t want any fucking coffee!”

“You love our coffee.”

“Hannah! Please!”

“What?”

I grabbed the coffee cup from her hand, pushing past her and marching into the kitchen where I poured it down the drain.

She folded her arms over her chest. “Was that really necessary?”

“Yes!”

“We’re worried about you, Lex,” she said softly.

“I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not,” she sighed. “You’ve been holed up in this apartment for a month. That’s not you.”

“I go to work, Hannah.”

“Have you heard from Paddy?”

“No.”

“Not at all?”

“Not once.”

“Oh Lex,” she said, pulling me in for a hug.

“I talked to Daisy a couple times. She said they’re really busy right now. Paddy is working seven days a week.”

“Do you think she knows what happened in Alaska?”

“I’m sure she does. Paddy tells her everything.”

“What time is your interview?”

“Six o’clock.”

“Are you nervous?”

“Well yeah,” I scoffed, rolling my eyes. I was in no mood for my sister’s penchant for overstating the obvious. “It’s only my entire future at stake.”

“It’s one job, Lex. If you don’t get it, it doesn’t mean you won’t have another opportunity.”

“I really want this job, Hannah.”

“I know you do. And you’re gonna do great.”

“I hope so.”

“Where is the interview?”

“The Pacific Aristocrat.”

“Fancy.”

“Yes, it is.”

“How are you getting there?”

“Your car?”

“I guess so,” she sighed.

“I’ll be careful, Hannah.”




My stomach was growling up a storm, clearly unhappy with the lack of food in it. But I was too nervous to eat before I left Horseshoe Bay.

I pulled up in front of the towering glass monolith, my empty belly doing a series of cartwheels when I handed the valet the key and headed inside.

“Fuckety fuck,” I muttered to myself.

The lobby was all glass and marble, with fancy fountains and rich people coming and going. I was usually a very confident person. Meeting new people didn’t make me nervous. I had an outgoing personality that served me well in job interviews. But I was off my game that day.

I found the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Chester Leemington. The waiter led me to a table by the window, where the famous man was waiting. He stood up when I appeared, smiling kindly while the waiter pulled out my chair.

“It’s wonderful to see you again, Alexis,” he said before sitting back down.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity, Mr. Leemington.”

“Please. Call me Chester.”

I took a small sip of the wine, my belly protesting angrily. But I didn’t have much choice. I was at a business dinner.

“How have you been, Alexis?”

“Very well, thanks. And you?”

“I’ve been well. I enjoyed my trip to Alaska. I wish I could’ve stayed for the entire week, but I had to be back in LA.”

“I’m sure Miles appreciated you coming all that way for his wedding.”

“Miles and I go way back. I wouldn’t have missed his wedding.”

“How do you guys know each other?”

He chuckled. “It’s a long story, my dear. Another time, perhaps.”

The waiter returned with two bowls of soup. I guess I didn’t get to see the menu. “Swallow’s Nest Soup,” he announced.

I stared into the bowl he placed in front of me. It looked like some sort of chicken soup. Or what I hoped was chicken. There were some mushrooms floating around, and a few little spotted eggs still in their shells.

“Why is it called Swallow’s Nest?” I asked after the waiter left.

“It’s actually made from a swallow’s nest,” Chester explained with an amused grin.

“Yeah right,” I laughed, forgetting for a moment where I was and who I was with.

“I’m not pulling your leg, my dear. It’s a Chinese delicacy.”

I pulled out my phone and googled Swallow’s Nest Soup.

Yeah. It was real.

Eating a bird’s nest was not going to improve the growing unrest in my gut.

Three thousand dollars a kilogram!

I managed to swallow a few bites, surprised to find it tasted decent. And it was having a settling effect on my stomach.

“So, Alexis,” Chester said between bites. “Are you still interested in working on my movie set?”

“Absolutely.”

“Production is slated to commence mid-March of next year. You would need to be available for at least four months. I expect filming will last well into the summer months.”

“And you’re filming here in Vancouver?”

“For the most part. We will have a few location shoots. One involves shooting on a deserted island and a boat. That will probably last a week, and the accommodations will be primitive at best.”

“That sounds exciting.”

“The days will be long. This is not a nine-to-five job. There will be times when you will be required to be on set for twelve to fifteen hours.”

The waiter returned to collect our soup bowls, replacing them with something fishy.

Literally.

“Black Beluga Sturgeon Caviar,” he announced.

Oh no.

I watched Chester scoop some of the disgusting fish eggs onto the back of his hand before bringing it up to his mouth.

Was that how you were supposed to eat caviar?

“Do you like caviar?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” I admitted. “I’ve never had it before.”

“You have to try it, my dear.”

Have you ever done something, and you knew it wasn’t going to end well while you were doing it, but you didn't stop yourself?

That’s what happened with the caviar.

My stomach was on shaky ground as it was. Throwing some fish eggs down there was just about the worst thing I could’ve done that night. The slippery little buggers lasted all of about twenty seconds before they made a return appearance.

I didn’t even make it out of my chair before a fishy stream of bird’s nest soup flew across the table, covering Chester Leemington in a lovely bath of vomit.

The diners at the next table gasped in horror. Chester dabbed at his face with his napkin while the waiters hovered around him, trying to help.

I bolted for the exit, my heels clicking across the marble floor of the lobby as I made a beeline for the door. The fresh air provided some relief. I was sweating like a pig.

I handed the valet my ticket before hurling in the flower bed. If I puked in Hannah’s car, I’d never hear the end of it. Hopefully, my gut was empty. It wasn’t like there was much in there to begin with.

What the hell was taking the valet so long?

I glanced nervously into the hotel lobby, praying Chester didn’t come out looking for me. But there was no sign of him. It was just as well. I didn’t stand a chance at the job on his movie now. Not after I puked on him.

I jumped into the car as soon as the valet pulled up and climbed out. By the time I reached the Lion’s Gate Bridge, I was bawling my eyes out.

My big break, and I fucked it up by puking on a famous movie star, who happened to be the producer. I should’ve never eaten the caviar.

Why couldn’t he have taken me to a normal restaurant, with normal food?

Hannah said I didn’t have to bring the car back to her house. She’d get Judd to give her a ride to the bakery in the morning. I drove home and parked in the lot behind the bakery.

When I got upstairs, I stripped naked and crawled into my bed. I just wanted to forget that horrible night ever happened.

I liked my job at the salon. It was within walking distance. Which was important, since I didn’t own a car. I didn’t need a job on a movie set anyway.




Hannah barged into my apartment for the second morning in a row. She didn’t even knock or call my name this time.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee hit my nostrils, triggering a powerful wave of nausea. I sprung from my bed, making it to the bathroom just in time.

“Are you okay, Lex?”

I stared up at my sister through my sweat-drenched bangs. “Do I look okay?”

“What can I do?”

“Get rid of the fucking coffee.”

She disappeared down the hall toward the kitchen. I pulled myself up to the sink and splashed cold water on my face before stumbling back to bed.

“How did the interview go?” she asked when she returned.

“Don’t ask.”

“What happened?”

“I fucked it up, Hannah.”

“How?”

“I wasn’t feeling the greatest. And Chester Leemington thought it would be a good idea to order for me. Like I’m not capable of choosing my own food. Who does that?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “That is weird. What did he order?”

“Well, first we had soup made from a bird’s nest.”

“You did not,” she laughed. “That’s not a thing.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“Gross.”

“It actually wasn’t too bad. I just pretended it was chicken soup.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask what the main course was.”

“No idea. I didn’t get that far.”

“Oh no, Lex.”

“The second course was caviar.”

“Uh-oh.”

Uh-oh is right. I threw up all over Chester Leemington.”

“No!” Her hands flew to her cheeks as she stared at me in horror.

“Yes.”

“What happened after that?”

“I ran away.”

“Did you call him and apologize?”

“No.”

“I think you should.”

“Fine. I will later. But I don’t think that’s going to make a difference. He’s not going to hire me. I hurled all over him.”

“You’re sick. It’s not your fault.”

“I should’ve rescheduled the interview when I knew I wasn’t feeling well. But I thought I could get through it. I really wanted that job, Hannah.”

“Call him. Tell him you’re still interested.”

“Right now, I just wanna sleep.”

“Alexis?”

“I’m not up for a lecture this morning, Hannah,” I grumbled, rolling over to face the wall.

“What makes you think I’m going to lecture you?”

“The mom voice. And you used my full name.”

“I wasn’t going to lecture you, Lex. But I am about to ask you a very serious question.”

“What?”

“When was your last period?”

I rolled back over and stared at my sister while my brain searched unsuccessfully for the information. “I have no idea. Why?”

She stared back, her brows arched, that really? look on her face. The same one she always gave me when I asked a stupid question.

“Just spit it out, Hannah. I’m in no mood for this today.”

“Are you pregnant?”

“No.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m on the pill.”

“Did you maybe miss one, or take it late while we were in Alaska?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? You were up earlier most days than you’re used to.”

“I don’t think birth control pills are that time sensitive.”

“I’m pretty sure they are,” she said. “What about the night you stayed at the bear island? You guys didn’t get back until late the next day. Did you have your pills with you?”

“No,” I groaned, dread seeping into my ravaged gut. “I didn’t know I was going to be spending the night there.”

“Do you want me to run down to the pharmacy and get you a home pregnancy test?”

“You can’t do that, Hannah,” I said with a heavy sigh. “It would be all over the internet within an hour that Reefer was going to be a father.”

“Oh yeah,” she said sadly.

“You didn’t get pregnant in Alaska?”

“Nope.”

“You will,” I assured her. “Most people don’t get pregnant on the first try.”

“I will call the pharmacy and have them send one in a concealed package.”

“You don’t think they’ll blab?”

“No. They could get in big trouble. That’s a breach of personal health information.”

“I can’t be pregnant, Hannah!” I cried, the reality starting to sink in. “I don’t want a baby!”

“Let’s get the test before we go down that road.”

“I don’t wanna go down this road at all!”

“You do the crime, you do the time, sis.”

“How is that helpful?”

“It’s not,” she chuckled.

“This isn’t funny, Hannah.”

“I know. I’m sorry, Lex.”

I managed to drag my ass into the shower while I waited for Hannah to return with the pregnancy test.

I could no longer deny the evidence stacking up against me. I’d been nauseous two mornings in a row. The smell of coffee made me feel sick. I vomited. I was exhausted. My boobs were sore.

And the final nail in my coffin?

My period was late.

Like way overdue.

I missed it all together.

That never happened. I’d been on the pill since I was sixteen. It kept things going like clockwork.

Until you were late taking it. After your best friend dumped a few truckloads of his best swimmers right onto your cervix. They didn’t even have to travel far, thanks to their father’s extra long cock.

I was so fucked.

There was a text message from Chester Leemington on my phone when I got back to my bedroom.

Alexis, my dear, I hope you’re feeling better. No hard feelings. It happens to the best of us. I’d like to get together with you again to finish our interview. I’ll be in town until Sunday. Give me a ring back.

I sank down on the side of my bed, my phone slipping from my fingers as my big break obliterated before my eyes.

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