Authors: Rachel Gibson
It’s been years since Vivian last saw Henry. She was scrubbing houses for a living, he was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.
She had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry. Vivian got what she wanted – and more – but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?
Henry got out too ... making it all the way to Wall Street, until his life took an unexpected twist and he traded in his cufflinks for carpentry back in Charleston.
But escaping his heritage is nearly impossible. And now he’s come face-to-face again with Vivian, the one who got away. He’s not looking for love. He’s not even looking for sex ... so why is resisting her the hardest thing he’s ever done?
A huge thanks to the readers who’ve supported me for the past eighteen years. I can’t answer every e-mail, but just know that I appreciate the time you take to write me. You all are awesome.
A special thanks to Lucia Macro and Claudia Cross for flying across the country to come to my aid. Your help and guidance is truly immeasurable.
And to HHH—you know why.
It’s official!!!! I
Ms. Eleanor Whitley-Shuler. Everyone calls her Nonnie. Not me. I call her the Mantis because she is long and skinny and has bug eyes. Mr. Shuler died the year after Momma and I moved into the carriage house. His name was Fredrickk, but I don’t remember him or how he died. I was just a baby, but I bet the Mantis bit off his head. I know she wants to bite off mine. Momma says the Whitley-Shulers are our friends, but I said they aren’t. We work for them and live in their carriage house. Momma says I need to be sweet, but I don’t want to be sweet. Momma says I can’t hate anyone, but the Mantis told Momma I’m as plump as a drop dumpling, and I shouldn’t eat so much ice cream. When she wasn’t looking, I knocked over a stupid dog figurine. ON PURPOSE!!
I hate school!!! Every year my teachers say my last name wrong. They say, Vivien Ro-
. I have to tell them it’s pronounced Ro-
. I’ve been going to Charleston Day School since kindergarten. For
years, the teachers get my name wrong on the first day every year. (Okay, so maybe I don’t remember the first day of kindergarten.) The kids at school laugh and call me roach-ette. I hate them and they’ll all be sorry someday when I’m a famous movie star. They’ll all want to be my friend, but I won’t let them. I won’t let them see my movies or come to the big house I’m going to buy my momma someday. Except Lottie and Glory. They can come. They’re my friends and we eat lunch together. Glory gets to wear a bra this year. Momma says I don’t need a bra. NO FAIR!!!
Death to the Mantis!!! When me and Momma were cleaning the big house today, the Mantis said I have to vacuum because she doesn’t trust me to dust. She says I have too many accidents. She says I’m clumsy and she’s afraid I’ll knock over pictures of her super stupid sons, Henry and Spence, again. I’m twelve—almost thirteen. I’m not clumsy and I don’t have accidents. I have on purpose, and who cares about Henry and Spence? They go away to school and only come home for holidays. They’re buttheads. Especially Henry. He doesn’t laugh or smile or anything. I call him Scary Henry or Butthead Henry.
He’s five years older than me but acts a lot older. His black eyeballs glare into mine like he can read my brain. He looks at me as if he knows I knock things over on purpose and lie about it. But he never says anything. Like last summer when someone knocked over the stupid lawn jockey and broke off its stupid arm. The Mantis said it was really old and had been in their family since before the war. She said it was probably my fault. She said I must have messed with it and knocked it over, but I said I didn’t. Henry stared at me with his black eyes like I’m a liar and Spence laughed because … Spence is crazy and laughs at everything. I cried really loud and ran inside the carriage house before the Mantis could bite off my head. Who cares about a stupid lawn jockey? It’s so heavy it could kill a kid. It’s not a kid’s fault that it can fall over if you stand on its shoulders to see a bird’s nest in the tree. In case anyone finds this and reads it, I’m innocent!!!
I ran all the way home from school because Momma said she was taking me to see the sand castles on Folly Beach. When I walked in the door, I knew we wouldn’t go. Momma was on the couch with the patchwork blanket that Mamaw made her. She was rubbing it with her fingers and staring at the ceiling like she does when she has a sad spell. I’m not calling Mamaw Roz to come and get me this time. I’m almost thirteen (in seven months) and can take care of myself. I can take care of Momma now, too. I hate her sad spells. I hope this one doesn’t last really long.
Today me and Momma walked to the store for strawberry Moon Pies and Coca-Cola. Momma was in one of her happy moods today and we walked to Waterfront Park, too. We got our feet wet in the Pineapple Fountain then looked at boats in the harbor. Momma says we’re going to sail away someday. She pointed at a big yacht and named all the places we were going to go. Aruba, Monaco, Zanzibar, she said it was going to happen, but I know it won’t. On the way home, Momma said she was going to buy a house on Rainbow Row someday because they look yummy. Like a row of pastel Candy Buttons they sell at Kroger. She said she could be happy forever in a yummy house. When I’m a rich movie star, I’ll buy her the pink one so she can be happy forever.
BENEATH THE WIDE
brim of a black straw hat, Vivien Leigh Rochet put a hand to her forehead and let out a slight moan.
“A few too many appletinis last night?”
“A few.” Vivien reached for a bottle of water in the console separating her from her assistant of five months, Sarah. The two sat in the back of a black Cadillac Escalade speeding down Interstate 26 toward Charleston and the thunderclouds gathering above the historic city. “Christian told me they matched my eyes.” Christian Forsyth—real name, Don Smith—was Vivien’s latest leading man and, according to the tabloids, her newest Hollywood lover.
“Today your face is a nice shade of appletini.”
Vivien took a long drink and hit the button in the armrest. “Don’t say
.” The window slid down and she tilted her face toward the wind spilling over the top of the glass. The heavy air fluttered the brim of her hat and smelled like the tall pine and scrub growing along the interstate. It smelled like magnolia and sunshine. Like rain and sea breezes. Like chaos and comfort. Like home.
Next to her, Sarah’s fingers tapped the screen of her notebook, and in the front, the driver spoke into his cell phone as he changed lanes. If he didn’t stop jerking the wheel like that, Vivien was going to puke all over the black leather seats. The humid air slipped across the sharp edge of Vivien’s bare shoulder and collarbone to play with the ends of the loose ponytail resting against the chiffon top of her Zac Posen bandeau dress. The breeze ruffled the rolled hem of the floral skirt and brushed her thighs.
It had been three years since she’d been home, working in a quick visit on her way to the New York City premier of
, her third and final film in the Raffle trilogy. The wildly popular dystopia films, based on the equally popular books, had launched Vivien Rochet from minor-role obscurity to major stardom. At the age of twenty-two, she’d been picked from thousands of hopeful actresses to play Dr. Zahara West, archeologist, assassin, and revolutionary leader in the blockbuster series. By the time that third and final film had come out three years ago Vivien had a resume filled with six major movie roles and multiple television appearances. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was just down from Charlie Sheen. Fitting she supposed since she lived down the street from him in real life.