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

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Chapter 53

I sit on the couch in the guest house, staring out of the window in the living room at the dimly lit dinner scene by the main house—where the Vaun’s are having dinner tonight. I wonder endlessly if Sebastian is there, too. All I want is to speak with him, at least.

The feeling of his lips still makes my heart weightless from time to time. But then remembering how he dismissed our kiss so quickly makes that light feeling go away. Why, is all I want to know. Not why he kissed me, but why did he turn away?

The shower I took a couple of hours ago did little to ease my nerves. I got some work done, answered some calls and sat with Sarah in the library (A very happy Sarah, considering she avoided being thrown in the lake) as she herself went through the paperwork and changed my status to Sebastian’s publicist officially. It’s made some traction in the news that Sebastian has a publicist again, and I did receive more calls from People Magazine and TMZ then I’ve ever gotten, but the heavy work load did little to ease my mind.

The guest house is quiet; Loretta is still helping outside with dinner. I have half a mind to text Sebastian to confront him about it, but instead of doing so, my hand just hovers over my phone until I let it be and return my hand back to my side.

The front door of the house opens. Loretta walks in, tired and sweaty. She sees me and smiles, but the awkwardness still shines through the kind gesture.

“Hey, there.”

“Hi, Loretta,” I answer.

She sighs exhaustedly and starts right for the kitchen.

“Have you eaten anything yet?” she says to me. “I could make you something.”

“I had some top ramen.” I smile to myself pitifully. “Gourmet dinner for one, I suppose.”

Loretta comes out of the kitchen with two cups of green tea in her hand a few minutes later. She hands me a cup, and I thank her as she sits down next to me on the couch. She sets her tea cup on the table, but I hold mine still, staring at the hot contents steam up into my eyes.

“I talked to Rachael about what happened today,” she says. “She’s still a bit confused about what she saw, but I’m positive it won’t be a trial in her brain forever.”

I nod as a thank you, for the knot in my throat dares me to say anything without crying.

“Are you okay?” Loretta asks me, placing a hand on my leg with a troubled look.

I shake my head. “I don’t know. I mean, I really don’t know; I can’t stop thinking about him, Loretta. I really can’t.”

She’s quiet, a bit taken back by my honest response.

“You were right.” I laugh. “I like him. A lot.”

And now I’m crying. My hatred for crying surpasses many things, but I’ve been doing it a lot lately since I got here. It’s the type of cry that you try to hold in, but it comes out despite all your efforts. Loretta’s seen me cry twice; both times because of Sebastian. But this time it isn’t because of his insensitive words hurting my feelings. It’s because of my attraction towards him confusing everything inside me.

She takes the cup of tea out of my hands and sets it on the table. She invites me to come to her; I rest my head on her shoulder and continue to sob like an emotional sap. Her arm wraps around me and her words console me at the same time, like a comforting, loving mother. Of course I don’t know what a loving mother is like, but Loretta comes pretty damn close to the idea I’ve always had in my mind since I was little.

“Maybe coming to terms with how you feel about him is the best way to ease this confusion inside of you,” she tells me.

“I want to, believe me. I-I…I’m so used to locking how I feel away; I’ve done it since I was a child. Because every time I unleash my emotions I keep getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt again, you know?”

“I know, honey. But I doubt he kissed you for no reason.”

“Who knows why he kissed me.” I manage a small laugh. “It began so suddenly and ended so suddenly. There was no closure, no answer. Nothing.”

I sit up and look at her, tears streaming down my face. “We work together now. I quit being Garrett’s publicist and signed on to being Sebastian’s permanently. So whether or not he becomes CEO, I’ll still be working for him; he’ll still be my client. You know how complicated things would become if we were a ‘thing’? God, I’m getting ahead of myself. Who says we’ll ever be a thing?”

I lean my head against her again. I’m pretty sure she’s tired of me now, which wouldn’t surprise me; I’d be tired of me, too.

“And I haven’t done my Yoga Sundays in over four weeks!” I cry.

Loretta snorts, trying to suppress her laughter at my outburst. Eventually I start laughing, too, even though it hurts my head to.

“I’m such a mess,” I tell her. “I don’t know what to do.”

“That’s something you’ve got to figure out on your own, sweetheart. You’ve got to decide if you’re gonna listen to your heart or to your brain.”

Loretta’s subtle words of wisdom resonate within me in the silence that occurs after her advice is given to me. She leans forward and takes the tea cup from the coffee table.

“Here,” she hands me the cup. “Your tea is getting cold.”

It’s been three days since Sebastian and I have kissed.

Our last days at the manor are painful and awkward. Ever since Sebastian and I kissed, we’ve been ignoring the situation like it never happened. I don’t know if this is good to focus on our work or bad because we’re ignoring confronting each other. Either way, I haven’t told anyone besides Loretta about it, and have been dedicated to doing my work.

The only eventful and not-painful thing that happened was seeing Elizabeth’s baby, Amelia, yesterday. She’s a cute baby, and very quiet when you hold her. Surprising that I held a baby, but it was because Elizabeth insisted on it.

“I wanted you to hold her before you leave in a couple of days,” she told me. That made the reality of leaving more real.

Today, Sarah and I are working in the library while Sebastian and Lucas are out in the living room with Sebastian’s family. Sarah hasn’t caught wind about how Sebastian and I have been acting around each other, which I think is good. But at the same time, I have a feeling she’ll catch on once we get back to L.A.

I’m at the desk, responding to a few emails. Two TV networks in Hollywood want an interview with Sebastian, which is good; interviews help gain notoriety, depending on which kind of notoriety you want.

Sarah is on the phone with someone at the other end of the room. The call looks serious, but I try not to stare too long. As I’m responding to the TV network FTC about the possibility of an interview, I receive another email. But the sender makes my heart drop in my chest:

From: Francesca Cigliano

To: Leslie King


Date: 6/8/2015

Subject: Respond.


I feel quite hurt at the fact that I have to result to emailing you for a reply back. I’m your mother, and I deserve to be paid attention to by you.

Your sister needs a job. I know you have connections, because I heard you’re now working with Sebastian Harrison. You used to work for his father, correct? That’s a big client to have.

I would hope that you would set aside your pride and anger and help your family out. I feel the only way to get through to your thick, arrogant skull is to sound angry. What happened to you was not my fault, and my conscience is clear about this. The only person you’re angry at is yourself; it wasn’t my fault that you were —

I delete the email before even finishing it. I’m sweating; shaking from anger and shock. I hoped to keep my contact with my mother non-existent, but seeing her email me this way is a harsh reminder about the horrible nature of her and everything she stands for; she still blames me for everything that happened.

“Leslie?” Sarah says to me. “Are you alright?”

Sarah’s voice brings me back to reality away from my computer. “Wh-what? I’m fine.”

Sarah shrugs it off. “I just got off the phone with Harrison Incorporated’s event coordinator. They’re having a special party to celebrate some business deal between Harrison Inc. and a Real Estate investor named Salvador Quintanilla.”

“When is it?”

“This Saturday.”

“Sebastian should go to that, then.”

Sarah is hesitant. “If Sebastian goes, we have to go, too.”

“I know.”

“And…you’re okay with that? You did quit—”

“This isn’t about me. This is about Sebastian. And we can’t pass an opportunity like this because of my petty issues, so you should set it up.”

Sarah is both shocked and amused at my assertiveness. Not wanting to press the issue any longer, she agrees to set it up and calls the event coordinator back. I didn’t mean to snap at Sarah like that, but it just seems like one issue keeps piling on top of the other, and I can’t control how my emotions react to it.

Wanting to escape the constricting confines of this God-forsaken-library, I excuse myself and head to the kitchen for something to drink. I hear the family in the living room laughing about something. Me being nosey, I step in quietly to find them playing a game of charades. Sebastian is here, too, but he’s holding baby Amelia, while Lucas crouches next to him with his phone taking photos like a professional photographer. Sarah and I tasked him to compile photos good enough to post onto Sebastian’s Instagram once we create the account. Of course, Lucas takes his job a little too seriously.

“Three words! A movie!”

Marge is up with an older man. They look rather close; this must be Ulysses—Fiona’s brother and Marge’s husband. The movements Ulysses is doing make no sense to me, but they make even less sense to Marge as she just stares at him smiling and waits for help from her team.

“Leslie!” I hear a little girl scream. To my right, Rachael is smiling widely at me while in the arms of Claude—Sebastian’s cousin, Rachael’s older half-brother, and the man who tried to corner me several days ago when I was thrown into the lake. Upon closer inspection, I see just how attractive Claude is; attractive in a rustic, mysterious way. His beard is groomed near perfection, as is his hair, combed and slicked to the side. His eyes are an intense shade of blue that add that mysterious factor to him, but what makes him even more suave is the fact that out of all the men in the room, he is the only one wearing professional attire—a dark gray vest, dress pants, and a black buttoned up shirt with a tie to finish.

Claude looks at me and smiles. Thankfully, no one else is aware of my presence here; I want to remain sort of unseen.

“How you doin’?” he greets to me. His voice is deep but welcoming, and I swear I hear an accent on his lips; Philly? New York? Maybe Boston?

“I’m good, how are you?” I reply, trying to be cordial.

“I’m doing great.”

From the corner of my eye, I notice Sebastian staring at me—staring at us, both Claude and I, with a suspicious eye. Even though our conversation is nothing but friendly and I don’t see Claude the way I see him, I can still see Sebastian narrowing his eyes at us, like he wants to know what we’re talking about.

“You’re the publicist, right?” Claude asks me.

I nod. “Yup, that would be me.”

“You must have your hands full, huh?” he asks. I can’t seem to get over how sultry his voice is. Him and Sebastian must have a lot in common when it comes to attracting women.

“You have no idea.” I attempt to spin the conversation away from me. “What about you? What do you do?”

He laughs and thinks for a minute. He really has to think of an answer?

“I’m in an…independent line of work,” he answers.

“Oh. Like a private investigator?”

He shrugs. “Somethin’ like that.”

And we both decide the conversation should end there.

“The Shawshank Redemption!” someone screams. One team cheers while the other groans and rolls their eyes. Marge kisses Ulysses; an action some of the kids gag at.

“Hey, Leslie,” Rachael says, pointing to her parents. “Isn’t that what you and Sebby did?”

Kill me now. Please.

I stay painfully quiet, hoping that no one heard what she said, but Claude did, because he slowly turns from facing the front of the room to facing me, and the look on his face makes me blush so hard I’m positive I’m pure crimson. I pretend I don’t see him, but even when my eyes flicker in his direction, I still see him staring at me.

And not only did Claude hear that, but lo and behold, William heard it, too. And Elizabeth. And Sebastian. And who I assume to be Sebastian’s grandma.

I would give anything to be in L.A. right now.

They all turn their heads from Sebastian, to me, then back on him again. Sebastian’s eyes are closed, wishing he, too, was anywhere but here.

“What?” Rachael asks Claude. “What did I do?”

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