BELOW UNFORGIVEN SAMPLE
THE MOVIE SERIES, PART ONE
“Like I said, I have another job for you. If you’re willing to listen to the terms.”
“Is it an acting job?” she asked quickly. “I almost have an acting degree, and I have some stage experience… I have a resume, if you need one?”
“Yes, it’s acting, and no, I don’t need your resume.” I tugged on my shirt. It was humid, and I needed a cold shower- for more reasons than one. “Vivian, I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t seen my family in seven years. I left this town when I was nineteen. I didn’t plan to come back.”
“Robin told me a little about that. That your mom had some problems,” she admitted, and I appreciated her couth. She could have said ‘your mom was the town drunk,’ which would have been the truth.
Obviously, this girl had class.
Like her name.
I went with my thought process without thinking it through, which was often a bad idea. My internal filter was a work in progress.
“Right. Well, I’m guessing you’ve seen Pretty Woman. Since she’s your namesake. Am I right?”
She was thrown for a moment. “Um…yes?”
I slipped into director mode and went for the pitch. “Well, like Richard Gere tells her- he needs an escort. A professional. An actress. I need an escort. For the weekend. I’m going through a divorce, and I have a reputation to uphold here. I know almost everyone who will be at this wedding.”
(And fucked the female half.)
I felt like she was rifling around in my brain, and her sarcastic glare turned into an eye roll. “How nice for you.”
I smirked. “I don’t need any… complications. I’d like to employ you to be my escort.”
She stared at me, and I waited for her to digest my words.
Then I waited for the sting on my cheek to dissipate as her hand collided with my face.
“I’m not a fucking prostitute!” She nearly made it to the front of the trailer before I could stop her. “Wow. Unfuckingbelievable. Robin told me that you were an asshole. I guess some things never change.”
“No, no, Vivian,” I cringed, following her. “I don’t mean sex. I mean an escort, minus the sex. Just a part to play. Be my date for the weekend. Convincing. I want my mom to see all of her children happy. For once.”
“What, you mean for the dinner tomorrow, and the wedding?” She was still fuming, and the flush ran all the way over her chest in bright, red blotches. She reminded me of a sexy little bee, buzzing around me, ready to sting me at any moment.
“Listen.” I needed to recover- fast. I was sounding like numero uno douchebag. “You don’t know me, I don’t know you. In no way am I asking you to sleep with me for money. I’m asking you to play the part of my date for the weekend. Yes, the dinner, the ceremony, the reception, and the family breakfast on Sunday. I need to be on my best behavior this weekend, not get wasted and make an ass of myself at this wedding. And to be honest, that’s where I’m headed.”
Her reproving once-over, combined with the fact that she was so damn small compared to me, was completely castrating.
“You’re an adult. Are you seriously telling me that you have no self-control?”
Fine, I’ll take it. Deserved.
Lowering my voice, I played the pity card. “I’ve been in a really low place in my life lately, and I don’t want to bring my shit to my little brother’s wedding. I don’t need to get loaded and fuck the bride’s sister. I need a… conscience.”
To her credit, she listened without interrupting- or slapping me again.
“So, let me get this straight.” She plunked her hands on her hips, arching one eyebrow. “You want to pay me- to babysit you. You want to employ me to be your nanny.”
“Yes. Forget Pretty Woman. More like- Mary Poppins.”
She cringed, and then rolled her beautiful eyes. “You could get any girl you want for free.”
She was relenting. I could feel her calming down. Mental note- hell of a temper. “That’s just it. I don’t want to ‘get a girl.’ I want to go home and resume my nosedive without any obligations. And I want to leave here as envied as I came.”
“Wow. That is some ego.” She glared at me. “If you think for one second that this whole contrived bullshit ‘job offer’ is going to get you laid- by me- you’re out of your mind. It’s overdone. It’s clichéd. It’s despicable.”
I softened my voice, tempted to kiss the thesaurus right out of her.
Instead, I pulled out my most professional tone. “I respect you. You seem like a good girl, and you’re going somewhere. Somewhere out of this little town. You can consider this experience. I may be able to get you some work in LA… if you have actual skills.”
I closed my mouth, a little surprised that she didn’t ask me to elaborate. “Round figure? I don’t want to insult you. Make me an offer.”
She lifted her eyes to the evening sky, and I could almost see the equations floating around on her mental chalkboard, Good Will Hunting style. “Three days?”
“And two nights.” Her eyes turned angry blue, like the center of a flame, and I held my palm up quickly. “Only because we’ll be two hours away, in Pittsburgh, at the hotel. And you’ll have your own room,” I added, my cheek already anticipating another perfunctory assault.
Her little jaw stiffened, and she scowled deeply. “Three days, two nights.”
“And costumes. I don’t expect you to have gowns lining your closet for this occasion.”
“Costumes?” she mocked. I shrugged.
“This is a job. I’m trying to be professional here. I’m not handing over my credit card and offering you a new wardrobe. Just costumes to fit the part. Include that in your calculation.”
Her full lips twisted into an irritated pout, but then she resumed her animated thinking.
Finally, she lowered her lashes, meeting my eyes. “Two hundred dollars.”
Don’t speak. Think.
What did the court-mandated anger management counselor say?
Filter. Filter. Filter.
“Two hundred,” I clarified.
She reached for her ponytail, fiddling with the long, auburn strands at her collarbone. I wondered how thick her hair was. It had to be past her waist, given the length of her ponytail-
“Yes,” she answered me, jolting me out of my fixated stare.
“No. That’s not enough. The gown alone will cost over two hundred.” I rubbed my chin, pretending to consider. I knew that it didn’t matter what amount she threw at me, I’d cover it. I was balls deep in this scenario now, and there was no way I was letting her go, now that she was interested. “One thousand for clothe- costumes. And two grand for the weekend.”
Her mouth fell open. After endless minutes of silence, she finally spoke. Her voice cracked adorably.
“But… he paid her three thousand- for an entire week.”
Who…? I finally realized that she was referring to Richard Gere.
I shrugged. “That was over twenty years ago. Inflation, Vivian.”
She took a brave step toward me. I followed the strap of her tank top, unable to pull my eyes away from the gap between the material and soft dip in her shoulder. Her skin was flawless, creamy, like milk and honey, not broiled like most of the LA wannabe actresses flooding in and out of my office every day.
Her voice drew my attention. How long was she talking while I stared at her shoulder? “But she was sleeping with him, Keaton.”
My name… on her lips. Hot. Focus. Exhaling slowly, I tried my damndest to force blood back to my brain. A couple hours back in this town, and I was reverting to sex-crazed high-school bullshit. I’m twenty-six goddamn years old.
“I’m not propositioning you for sex. That is immoral- and illegal- and I have more respect for you than that. Are we clear?”
She nodded quickly, and I noted her eager response to my authoritative tone. This was the same attitude I used with reluctant actors and actresses, so I went with it.
“If you agree, then we’ll go get you a dress in the morning, as well as clothes for the dinner and the Sunday brunch. I’ll fill you in on my family and make arrangements for another hotel room. Dinner, wedding, brunch. That’s it. Three grand- including clothing.”
While her wheels turned, I felt a twinge of guilt for a reason that I couldn’t quite place. Did I want to fuck her? Of course. Was I going to? Hell no. Robin was right- she was different- innocent- maybe even a virgin. There was no way I wanted that kind of responsibility- nor could I handle that kind of responsibility at this point in my life.
She finally took a deep breath, lifting her chin and meeting my eyes.
“Yes?” I almost couldn’t believe the word came from her mouth.
Her smile turned polite, and she held out her hand. “Yes, Keaton.”
Those two words combined, coming from her perfect lips, did me in. I nearly forgot how young she was, or how fucked up I was, or the fact that’d I’d only known her for an hour of our lifetimes. I wanted her mouth on mine.
And I was sure that I was going to pay for it.
Text Copyright © 2013 by Kimberly Adams