Liv Bartlet is the pseudonym for writing partners Becca McCulloch and Sarah McKnight, who have been building worlds and telling stories together for more than a decade. They’ve logged hours of behind-the-scenes movie and TV footage and challenged each other in a friendly Oscar guessing game every year this millennium. Lifelong Anglophiles, their Monkey & Me world sprang to vivid life on a trip to London that included divine pastries, sublime art, and a spectacular pratfall in the British Museum.
I wanted to be done with Kat.
I was done.
Then a single phone call two days before my twenty-ninth birthday landed me back at square one. Fixing Kat’s messes—the specialty I wish I’d never chosen.
Our old publicist called in every favor I’d ever done for him. To save Kat. From me. Actually, from Matthias, but I’m the one who struck the match that lit the torch for this witch hunt.
John, Nicola, and I stand together outside a Sundance premiere, conferring about possibilities for the ruination about to be visited on Kat. And strategies for mitigation. We’re in agreement that the Daily Mail’s silence over the past months is more than a little worrisome—Matthias’s version of the calm before the storm, making the revenge dish extra cold.
I’d like to think John and I are overreacting, but my gut says we’re not. Then I made everything worse last night by losing my temper at the first sight of Ian Graham, Kat’s celebrity lover.
“And…?” The worry etches deeply in the lines of his face.
“I might have thrown a glass at Ian Graham’s head.”
John raises an eyebrow.
“Okay, I definitely threw a glass at Ian’s head. But he deserved it.”
John’s silences speak more clearly than any words. I shouldn’t have done what I did.
Should I feel guilty about it, though? Kat’s the one who elbowed me out of her big movie project, and then when I thought I found a way to hold on to Monkey & Me by tying my own brand to 21 Things and Void, she neatly sidestepped my financial machinations by forming a new production company with Ian. She’s all but tanked me. I deserve to throw a few glasses.
But I do feel guilty. I believe in being good to people. No matter what Eddie says about religious hypocrites, I’m not one. I actually try to follow what Jesus taught, even when it’s hard.
So I’m here to undo what I did by making Kat the villain of all my stories these past few months. God’s payback is always perfectly meted. I’ll think twice before I willfully toss blame about in the future.
John issues assignments. While he talks to Nicola, my phone buzzes. A text message from Eddie—my line to sanity these past days.
Frozen north sadly lacking in ski vs snowboard contests. You promised me.
Imma kick your trash, Wolverton, don’t be so eager. I mastered spraying snow in faces years ago.
Snowboarding = frozen arse. I’ll have warmers at the ready.
Save them for your own sprained ankles, boy.
Nic nods when John stops speaking and then hurries down the hall to check the back entrance. Any hope that my assumptions about today are wrong dies when Nic rushes around the corner.
“He’s here. My arrogant brother is here. Linked up with Ian’s ex.”
Addy Andres. I’ve never known what to make of her. She’s Ian’s pinup ex-wife, as volatile as she is voluptuous, and mother of his youngest daughter. They’ve been locked in an ugly custody battle the last several months.
John pinches the bridge of his nose. “Heaven help that little girl.”
Nic shudders. “She wouldn’t feed her daughter to the Daily Mail wolves, would she?”
“There’s a custody battle on, she’ll do anything.” The lines in John’s face carve deeper every passing second. “Kat and Addy…don’t get along. Addy and Ian had attempted a reconciliation when Kat and Ian…”
Seriously, Kat?! I force a closed smile echoed by everyone in the group. We’re all thinking the same thing.
John shakes off the end of his sentence. Then he sighs. “And Addy is in this film.”
The worry capstone cements into place. We’re sitting on top of a giant powder keg of insecurity with a Kat ignition switch.
John’s sadness is palpable. Kat is more than a client, she’s the daughter he never had. Everyone in this circle has been coping with Kat’s poor judgement in one way or another.
I rub John’s arm in shared empathy. He lifts his eyes to mine. “Do your best for her. Please?”
I nod. “Let’s get inside so I can.”
I’m still not sure why I’m here. Trying to head off Matthias should have been a phone call but John insisted I be on hand. Maybe he simply holds out hope that our Kat is inside the shade that greeted us last night.