The Publicist's Plight (Book I in The Harrison Inc. Series)

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Chapter 18

“Ommmm....ommmm....”

My hands at heart center, I take deep breaths and try to find my inner Yoga warrior. Emphasis on the word “try”, since my stress level is so up the roof I can feel the gray hairs pushing out of my scalp.

The early morning summer breeze rushes through the front porch of the guest house as I channel all of my negative energy into the wood beneath me. But it isn’t working. Because no matter how hard I try to get rid of the dark, clouded aurora that last night in North Carolina left behind, it still lingers in my mind about the chaos and disaster we left behind at Oliver Epps’s birthday party.

“Sun salutation,” I instruct to myself. I stretch my arms above my head and behind my shoulders into “waterfall” pose before bringing them in front of me, touching my toes, then at my sides while my legs stretch out into high plank, which is indubitably me just lying on the ground since I have no upper body strength whatsoever to hold myself up.

When I push my arms straight and curve my back into “cobra,” I then push into “downward dog” and exhale slowly.

Along with someone else behind me.

My eyes open quicker than I blink when I hear the sound of someone behind me. When I’m welcomed to the upside down image of Sebastian sitting on the wooden bench, a smile on his face, I lose my balance at the sight and fall over on my side, landing with a loud thump.

I scramble up and hit the back of the railing, “Y-you...why...it’s-but...y-you!”

“Good morning to you, too, Sunshine,” he says, grabbing my fruit-drink mix from the small table and taking a sip. “Is this strawberry?”

The amount of normality in his voice is alarming.

"Raspberry,” I grumble, my hands into fists at my side. “What are you doing here at,” I check my watch, “7:03 in the morning? Most importantly, why are you here?”

“Hey, I used to live here at some point, so I think I have some right to wander. But enough about me. Why don’t you go back to your...yoga routine thing?”

“What? N-no! No!” I refuse to feed into his perverted tendencies.

He laughs, “It’s obvious you’re still mad at me about something. So I figured, ‘why not bother her to the point of her having to tell me what I did wrong?’”

I pull up the front of my workout shirt and avoid his eyes, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Okay. If you say so.”

He doesn’t move.

“I would like to finish my yoga workout in peace.”

“I’m not disturbing it.”

“Yes. You are.”

“Just pretend I’m not here, then.”

I scoff, “You’re ridiculous. You know what you should be doing right now? You should be reflecting on the mess you caused yesterday in Charlotte with your junkie friend, Antonio.”

“It’s Anthony,” he corrects, taking another sip of my drink. “And I thought we passed that, already? New dawn, new day, you know?”

I don’t reply. All I do is grab my phone from by my feet and open the news column for him to see his name and the video of him dancing plastered on every gossip and entertainment page that loads.

He scrolls for a while and shrugs with disinterest when he returns my cell phone, “They just want something to talk about.”

“They just want something to talk about!?” I repeat loudly and angrily, disrupting my chi. When I realize my anger is steaming up again, I take a deep breath, hold it for five seconds, then exhale my furiousness.

“I don’t want to deal with this right now. It’s early, and I’m trying to get used to doing my yoga on Saturday so come back to me in two hours when I’m in my working mode, okay?”

The smirk on his face is almost challenging, like he enjoys seeing me angry with him and wants to provoke me further.

After staring at him for a good thirty seconds, I give up and turn around to resume my yoga session as if he isn’t behind me, watching. I lift my left foot and press it against my inner thigh while balancing on my right leg with my hands together by my heart. Tree Pose.

Eventually the thought of him still here seems to eat at me. God, I’m weaker than I think.

“You know what,” I start, staring at the dirt path and greenery ahead of me. “I just can’t seem to fathom what goes on in your brain sometimes.”

When I finally turn around, my breath hitches in my throat at Sebastian’s button-up shirt completely unbuttoned, exposing his tan skin and sculpted abdomen. He flaps the sides of the shirt to generate rapid airflow around him.

“Boy, it sure is hot,” he declares, sticking out his tongue like an exhausted dog.

“What are you doing?” I strain my eyes away from his chest with all of the strength I can gather.

“Why? Am I...am I making you uncomfortable?” he asks with the tilt of his head.

I avert my gaze, “You’re just...just–”

“Ridiculous. I know.”

I wipe a patch of sweat off of my forehead, “Gee, I wonder why you’ve never had a stable relationship.”

Sebastian’s shocked yet amused expression indicates I’ve hit a nerve that he wants to address, “Oh, so we’re playing that now?”

“I suppose.”

“Alright. Well for one thing girls are so needy. My thing is all about mutual understanding. We talk, we laugh, I take you out to dinner, we fuck, then we never see each other again. Simple, right?”

I can’t help but sneer in disgust.

“But some girls are all like, ‘I want more than this,’ or, ‘we should do this again sometime,’ AKA, Felicity Felix,” he rolls his eyes and huffs. “So I take them shopping to shut them up, then we fuck again, then that’s when I cut them off. Then it turns into some article in People Magazine about how much of a horrible person I am. I’m not a horrible person. It’s just about mutual understanding. Some girls actually get it and move on. I like that.”

“Which is why you’re a teen girl’s dream and their mother’s nightmare.”

“What do you mean?”

I can’t help but burst out laughing, “Sebastian, you’re a heartbreaker! You think girls are disposable. Do you ever sit down and think about all of the girls who actually did have feelings for you? Or actually loved you, and you just cut them off?”

He stares up at the roof for a moment before replying: “No, not really.”

“Again, every teen girl’s dream and every mother’s nightmare.”

“Correction: I’m every girl’s dream, sweetheart,” he gives me a wink that I return with a glare. “Now are you going to finish your yoga or move on to something more mobile,” he arches an eyebrow, “like Zumba?”

“Hm, how about I do neither of those things and go back inside? Yeah, I like that option better.”

I smile teasingly before taking my drink out of his hand and patting his chest before walking into the guest house.

“Aw c’mon, you’re givin’ be blue balls here!” he yells from outside, in most stereotypical New Jersian accent I’ve ever heard.


“Okay, what the hell happened last night?”

Sarah looks at me with eyes that read “I know it’s your fault” entirely in them, yet she pays me the courtesy of waiting for an answer from me.

How considerate of her.

“Sebastian was a little…disoriented last night.”

“Disoriented?” she raises an eyebrow at me, then looks at Sebastian and waits for him to speak.

“By disoriented she means I was high out of my fucking mind,” he answers before chuckling.

Sarah rolls her eyes, “I’m glad you have such a positive attitude about this situation, because Oliver Epps feels the complete opposite.”

She picks up her laptop and shows us a video, paused, with Oliver’s angry frozen frame on the screen.

Sarah presses play.

“Thanks to him, my party was ruined!” Oliver yells into the camera, other camera phones recording behind him. “People topplin’ over like dominos, people accusing me of—of some illegal drugs, what the fuck?! I don’t condone that shit! Yet he got off and left cause he’s some rich white boy whose daddy’s right wing ass wouldn’t have him cuffed, God forbid. Just let this happen to me I’d be shot dead on the ground. Fuck my $300 million-dollar net worth!”

“Damn right!” someone yells in the back.

Sarah pauses Oliver’s ranting, “Look, I hate to agree with Co-Co puff here, but she actually has a point.”

My head snaps up when I realize she’s referring to me, and when I realize she has called me Co-Co puff again.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t call me Co-Co puff.”

Sarah ignores my request, “We’ve been here almost a week and gone through three instances where you haven’t been successful swaying your target audience, not to mention the Opera in L.A. We have three more weeks to get this right.”

“I know,” Sebastian answers, obviously uninterested. I try my hardest to hold my tongue.

“Well obviously you don’t, because judging by last night and a couple of days ago with Felicity, you don’t know how to get people to…to—”

“Like you,” I blurt out, generating a hateful glare from Sebastian.

Sarah, irritated by my interjection, sighs when she knows I said what she wanted to say all along.

“Yeah. Like you. We’ve been trying to devise game plans but nothing seems to be working, because trying to get people on your side isn’t working at all.”

It’s like a lightbulb flicks on in my head.

“That’s…that’s it.”

Everyone turns to me.

“What’s it?” Lucas asks.

“That’s it! God, what have we been doing this whole time!?”

“Okay, what are you talking about?”

Without saying a word, I grab Sarah’s laptop from her hands and rewind the video of Oliver Epps before pressing play at the targeted time.

“—he got off and left cause he’s some rich white boy whose daddy’s right wing ass wouldn’t have him cuffed, God forbid,” Oliver yells before I pause the video.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Sarah asks, arching her eyebrows once again.

“We’ve been trying to get support from people who don’t like Sebastian’s legacy. And by Sebastian’s legacy, I mean the Harrison legacy: rich, white conservative men who can literally bend the laws and physics of the American system. But instead of getting support for Sebastian from people who don’t or wouldn’t like him, we should be getting support for him from people who would, like—”

“Rich, white conservative men,” Sarah finishes with a smile on her face, “Like Garrett.”

“We focus on Republicans, Sebastian. Conservative Republicans. Men and women who support and like Garrett. Because if they like your father, they will be more open to liking you. Oliver Epps just represented how majority of the liberal population feels about you and your family on your father’s side. But if we say the right things to the right people, not only will we get their support for you, but we will get their support for the Board to see.”

“There’s just one little problem with your idea,” Sebastian says in a small voice. “I’m not conservative. At all.”

“They don’t know that,” Lucas chimes in from the desk. “All they see is a man who likes to party. They don’t know your political views and standpoints. If you make them see your father in you, they will support you one hundred percent once they find out you plan to take your father’s place.”

“So I’m supposed to lie?”

We all nod.

I clap my hands excitedly, “Perfect! This is perfect! I’ll call Garrett and tell him the idea so he can possibly make some calls for me.”

“And I’ll check if Isabella emailed us back about Mississippi,” Lucas tells me.

Sebastian tries to say something but all of us run off in different directions before he can even speak. He then walks over to a random book shelf, pulls out a random book, and sits on the couch while flipping the pages.

“Oh! Sarah,” I say as I hand her laptop back to her, “How did yesterday go? In Memphis?”

Her face is stone-hard suddenly, “Um…it went…great.”

“…Sarah…”

“I swear it went just as we planned.”

“Well what was your plan?”

“You’ll find out soon enough,” she answers. “The baby-buzz with Felicity Felix is still at large, so when it dies down a little bit, I’ll go in for the kill.”

“The kill?” I widen my eyes. “What exactly did you and Lucas do last night?”

“Hey, you left it up to me,” she walks over to the desk, and I follow her, “That means you should worry your little head over it.”

“Um, I should worry, I’m his publicist! If news comes out that you two did something stupid to sabotage her and they find out who you are we’re toast!”

“Trust me. We have it all under control. I’ll tell you when anything new comes up about it. Right now, you just worry about calling Garrett, alright?”

I’m not convinced.

“Leslie, I’ve dealt with shit like this a thousand times working for Sebastian. And besides, you were the one who said we had to work together on this, right?”

“I said my way.”

“Oh, well that’s just too bad ’cause it’s a little late for your way.”

Her smirk makes my blood boil in my veins. The curiosity about what they did in Memphis last night it literally eating me alive. It’s one thing for Sarah to not tell me herself what happened, but another to have to find out via TMZ.

Knowing she won’t listen to me further about it, I pivot and walk the other direction out of the library. My prime concern, is getting Garrett on board with my plan. Felicity Felix can wait.

Hopefully.


“Why, that’s brilliant! What made you think of that?”

Garrett is more than happy at the sound of my idea, and I’m more than happy he is, considering we’re all dangling from a really thin thread because of yesterday.

“Oh, you know, it just came to me from the midst of yesterday,” I answer, playing with the fabric of one of Fiona’s living room couch pillows.

“Well that’s actually a very clever idea. I actually have a friend who is hosting a party at his house in Morgan county. I’m sure if I give him a call he would love to have Sebastian attend.”

I sit up when the apprehension and excitement peaks in me, “Oh, really? That sounds grand.”

“Great. I’ll have Lucinda email you the details about the party once I receive them.”

“Thank you so much, Sir. And before you go, I just wanted to…apologize for this week. It seems we’ve all gotten off on a rough start.”

He sighs, “Say no more, Leslie. I understand how difficult it is, dealing with Sebastian, believe me. I’m just grateful you took the job upon yourself.”

“It’s my pleasure. I can promise you that from now on I will have nothing but success to report.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Garrett replies happily.

We hang up, and it isn’t even five minutes before Lucinda emails me about Garrett’s friend’s party:

Morning, Leslie! :D

I am emailing you regarding Abraham Collingwood’s Cocktail Party in Morgan County, Tennessee. Abraham Collingwood is a Native Tennessean who works in the logging business. His house rests on thirty acres of land, and he is known to hold frequent gatherings there, mostly on Sundays. Mr. Harrison and Mr. Collingwood are very good friends.

Lucinda attaches an image of Abraham Collingwood and Garrett Harrison together at what looks to be a “red tie” event around ten to twenty years ago. Abraham, an average looking white man, is laughing with Garrett, who has a considerably less amount of gray in his hair.

The reason I attached this particular image is because Abraham’s upcoming gathering, which happens to be tomorrow, is a “red tie” event, which in other words, means a Republican function. All men are recommended to wear a red tie, while the women are recommended to wear a blouse that is a red tint.

The word “tomorrow” makes my skin cold. Tomorrow? Why so soon? It seems all the events scheduled for Sebastian happen to be compacted into the first week.

It’s like Lucinda is reading my mind:

I know it is so soon, but Mr. Collingwood loves to hold parties right after church with the rest of his congregation present as well. If you would like Sebastian to attend, please reply at your earliest convenience so I can notify Mr. Harrison about your decision and whether or not to contact Mr. Collingwood or not.

Have a great day! <3

Lucinda Chapman, P.A., Harrison Incorporated

I stare at the email for a good minute. One, because Lucinda decided to put a heart emoticon in a Harrison Incorporated email, and two, I have a Conservative Party to prep Sebastian for by tomorrow.

And I don’t even think he has a red tie.

“Something on your mind?”

To my left is a familiar pair of green eyes staring at me. Except they don’t belong to the man who ruined my Yoga day this morning, but instead to the man who stopped my mortifying fall the day of the fair.

“Oh, hello William,” I smile. “No, it’s just…work.”

“What’s new, right?” He chuckles, walking further into the living room. “Did you end up fixing your heel?”

I blush, “Yes, I did. God, that’s so embarrassing.”

“Don’t be embarrassed. I don’t know anyone who can run that fast in heels.”

We both laugh as I try to rid the memory out of my mind. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen William since the morning of the fair. He looks so…new to me besides the eyes that are a Harrison trademark with three out of the four Harrison children having them. William’s dark curls that put my own curls to shame and his well-built frame prompt me to wonder how a man could even be so gorgeous. I remember vaguely the instance where Sebastian told me his Grandmother is Roma, a Romani immigrant to be more specific. William, however, is the only one out of his siblings that looks the most Romanian, southern at least, with the dark hair, tan skin, and bright eyes that all contrast so damn well.

William takes a seat in the chair next to the couch and plants his feet atop of the table.

“So,” I start, trying to engage in small talk. “What have you been up to around here, lately?”

“Sleeping,” he laughs. “Yeah, just sleeping and walking around. Nothing much. But I’m glad I get to relax a bit.”

“That sounds nice.”

“What about you? And you know I’m only asking to be polite since I already know what you’ve been up to.”

I cradle my head in my hands and groan, “I take it you heard about the party last night?”

“Oh, of course. I heard about the party…and Felicity’s alleged pregnancy…and the fair…and the opera. To be honest, this is a new record for him.”

I groan louder, “It sounds worse when you say it aloud. Makes it seem like it’s my fault considering his ‘record’ started ever since he met me.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s done worse in an even shorter period of time.”

“Wouldn’t be surprising,” I force myself to laugh.

“I like to think of Sebastian as a crying child,” William explains, prompting me to look up at him. “He’ll keep whining and complaining and being difficult until someone musters up the courage and patience to sit down and truly ask him what’s wrong. But frankly, no one has been successful at that yet.”

With William’s clever analogy, he smiles kindly and reassuringly at me before removing his feet from on top of the table and standing up. Somehow, tomorrow’s cocktail party comes to mind when I watch him walk away.

“Wait!” I call after him. He stops walking and faces me. “You wouldn’t happen to have a red tie…lying around?”

“Unfortunately, no; I’m not the formal type of guy. But I do know someone who does.”

I immediately know who he’s talking about, “I doubt Patrick would be kind enough to let me borrow a tie from him, especially if he knows it’s for Sebastian.”

“I’ll ask and say it’s for me, then I’ll give it to you.”

“Really? That would be so great, thank you so much!”

“No problem. Wait here and I’ll bring it to you.”

I nod, and William walks away out of the living room, leaving me with a view of his perfect ass in his Levi’s.

I really need to stop.


“Attention, everyone.”

I stand in front of Sarah, Lucas and Sebastian with my hands behind my back. Sebastian, who looks to be actually reading the book he picked earlier, looks up with confusion in his eyes at my secrecy.

Sarah just looks annoyed.

When I have their complete undivided attention, I reveal the crimson, intricately stitched tie from behind my back and hold it out in front of me.

“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Sebastian complains, burying his face into the pillows and mumbling angrily.

“That’s right. Thanks to your father, you will be attending Abraham Collingwood’s Red Tie Cocktail Party at his house tomorrow afternoon. I already emailed Mr. Harrison’s personal assistant to RSVP us all, so there’s no backing out.”

“Wait, Abraham Collingwood? As in the logging guy?” Sarah questions.

“Yes.”

Hell no!” she exclaims loudly. “That man is a straight racist. There’s no way in hell I’m going to that.”

I lower the tie in shock, “B-but I already RSVP’d for us to all go.”

“He only cares about you two going so you should be fine.”

“But you’re Sebastian’s manager.”

“And I’m Mexican. Manager is immediately out of the question when he sees my face. So there’s no point.”

It’s hard for me to understand Sarah’s viewpoint even though I truly want to. Part of me only hears excuses not to go to the party on assumptions that he’s a racist.

“You two will be fine,” she repeats.

“Wait, us two? What about Lucas?”

“Lucas is tagging along with me tomorrow to finish the ‘Felicity Fiasco,’ actually. I need an extra set of hands.”

She cracks her knuckles with a menacing grin until she sees my angry and fearful look.

“Kidding, I’m kidding. But seriously, we both are working on cleaning the Felicity mess up.”

“She’s right,” Lucas says with a smile. “We’re pretty close to brushing this under the rug, so it’ll be best if you guys go without us, even though Sarah practically terrorized me in Memphis.”

“Hey, you didn’t get into the car fast enough and Joe had to leave!”

Lucas stands up and snorts, “Oh, please, as I screamed for my life you decided to tell Joe to floor it! I heard you!”

Sarah hides her smile behind her mouth, “That was actually hilarious.”

“No. It. Wasn’t!”

“Who is Joe?” Sebastian asked, stopping their arguing.

“Yeah,” I add, “And why was Lucas screaming?”

It’s quite before they both say: “It’s a long story.”

Oddly enough, I dismiss the mysterious event and sit at the couch across from Sebastian.

“I already have a script in mind for you tomorrow.”

“A script?” Sebastian asks before I can even finish.

I place the tie on my lap, “Why, of course. We’re going to a conservative-based party. I didn’t expect us to be attending one this soon but this is your best chance for redemption.”

“Well I was thinking…maybe we could—”

“First I need to teach you the basics of American Republicanism,” I tell him. “Basically you need to know this: you’re anti-gun control, anti-abortion, anti-welfare, anti-immigration, you don’t like raising taxes nor do you like lowering taxes for lower incomes, you support military spending and also you don’t like Obamacare. And plus, you love big business and Sunday is your favorite day of the week because it’s the Lord’s day.”

“Um…”

“Please don’t talk about feminism too much, and also, don’t talk about minority rights. Talk about…supporting the troops and how excited you are for fourth of July next month!”

Sebastian rubs his eyes.

I hand him the tie, “And if they ask, tell them your favorite president is Andrew Jackson.”

“Wasn’t he a Democrat?”

“He would be a Republican today if he was alive, when you think about it.”

He takes the tie from my hands and runs his thumb across the stitching.

“Do you need me to write this down?”

He shakes his head.

“I’ll write it down, and we’ll go over it during the car ride there. Right now, I’m going to talk to my assistant about Oliver’s party yesterday, see if I can soothe the talk.”

I get up from the couch and make my way to the door. But before I leave, my hand grasping the door handle, I look at Sebastian from over my shoulder.

“And whatever you do, Sebastian,” I say, “don’t forget to wear your tie tomorrow.”

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