So Far Away (California Dreamers #2)

BOOK: So Far Away (California Dreamers #2)
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So Far Away

The California Dreamers Series

Dakota Madison

So Far Away

Copyright © 2016 by Dakota Madison

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.

This is a work of FICTION.

Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author's offbeat imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual persons living, dead or previously dated by the author, is entirely coincidental.

A SHORT ON TIME BOOK:

Fast-paced and fun novels for readers on the go!

For more information, visit the website:
www.shortontimebooks.com

.

 

One

“That's her.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard those two words in the last three months I'd be wealthy and not so desperate to find a job.

Even though I'm wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses I'm still recognizable. Somehow the paparazzi always manage to find me. Today is no exception. They snap photos of me as I dash into the corner market.

I selected Gino’s, a small neighborhood grocery store, because I thought it would be safe. Or at least safer than some place like Trader Jay's Whole Foods Organic Gluten Free Market where the paparazzi expect to see celebrities.

Not that I’m famous…more like infamous. I’m the Naughty Nanny. That’s the moniker I was given by the press following Nannygate.

“That's her.” A young blond girl elbows her friend and points in my direction. The two whisper and snicker as they gawk at me.

People aren't subtle when they stare. And they often say rude things about me, right to my face. I've even had a woman spit on me. Obviously she was a big fan of America’s Sweetheart, Annabelle Miller.

I had only worked for movie stars, Daniel Robinson and Annabelle Miller aka Dannabelle, for a few months before all hell broke loose.

Annabelle accused me of screwing her husband and immediately filed for divorce.

When two of the hottest celebrities in Hollywood split up it’s big news, especially when there’s another woman involved.

And I just happened to
be the other woman
.

I do my best to remember the few items I had intended to pick up at the market.

Tomatoes, pasta, mushrooms…I can’t remember the fourth item.

It’s difficult to keep my mind on my grocery list while every other customer in the place gapes at me.

Olive oil
. I snap my fingers.
That’s the final item on the list
.

The older woman at the cash register doesn’t seem to recognize me. I consider that a small miracle. She just asks me for my twenty bucks then bags my items.

When I step out of the store there are still several photographers waiting to snap shots of me.  

How many people are able to completely ruin their lives by the time they’re 26 years old? I’ve certainly done an excellent job of it.

I wave to the guys snapping my photo and then give them the finger. I’ve got nothing to lose. Everyone in the English-speaking world already hates me.

Of course no one knows the real story, and oddly enough no one seems to care. The scandal took on a life of its own and I became the target of hatred and scorn.

Two months have gone by since the story made national headlines. I thought the media attention would eventually fade, but it hasn’t yet. With the world watching Daniel and Annabelle go through an ugly divorce, my name continues to be dragged through the mud.

I realized very quickly that I would never be able to get another gig as a nanny. No woman wants the Naughty Nanny anywhere near her husband and kids. What I didn’t anticipate was that no one would hire me to do
anything
ever again. I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs, for which I’ve been qualified, everything from marketing to retail management. Mostly I’ve gotten thanks-but-no-thanks letters. The few interviews I have managed to snag have gone sideways the moment the interviewers realized why they recognized me.

I guess I could pose for a nude magazine and complete the cycle of public humiliation and degradation.

At least it would pay the bills that are starting to pile up.

The paparazzi follow me as I begin the walk back to the condo where I’ve been staying. Luckily my best friend, Nellie Berg, and her boyfriend, Roscoe, have an extra bedroom and have graciously allowed me to use it for as long as I need to.

I realize I’m like the rusty third wheel, and I won’t be able to stay with them indefinitely, but I really don’t want to have to move back in with my mother and husband number six.

Or maybe it’s number seven.

Honestly I’ve lost count.

Either it’s a very slow news day, or something else has happened in Daniel and Annabelle’s ongoing divorce saga and they need some new photos of
the nanny
to go along with the breaking story.

When did Americans become so obsessed with celebrities and scandals? Why does everyone love it when celebrities are torn down and ripped to shreds in such a public way?

Nellie is watching
Hollywood Exposed
when I enter the condo.

The place is very upscale, and I’m sure very expensive. It’s easily three times the size of the shitty apartment that Nellie and I shared when we lived together. That was before I become a nanny and before she met Roscoe.

Nellie never told me the entire story, but apparently Roscoe inherited quite a bit of money when his mom passed away. Enough to afford a place that easily cost three quarters of a million dollars.

Nellie and Roscoe are both screenwriters, but Nellie is a little further along in her career than he is. She’s already had one of her scripts optioned by a producer.

“What’s up?” I shout over the television.

She quickly shuts it off when she hears me. “Sorry!”

“Let me guess. More breaking news in Daniel and Annabelle’s divorce case.”

Nellie scrunches up her button nose. “A former stripper now turned model-actress claims she has a sex tape featuring you, her and Daniel in a threesome.”

I roll my eyes. “I wish I had as much sex as the tabloids claim.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to hire a lawyer? Maybe a publicist? Something?”

I shake my head. “What’s the use? Everyone is already convinced I’m a conniving whore who came between Daniel and Annabelle. Everyone loves Annabelle Miller. She’s America’s Sweetheart. No one wants to hear that she’s a mean, crazy bitch who just didn’t want to be married to her husband anymore. It’s easier to believe a gigantic lie than it is to believe the truth. Especially when it’s a truth you don’t want to hear.”

Nellie strokes one of her thick, dark eyebrows. She does that whenever she’s giving something serious thought.

She and I are complete opposites in nearly every way. She has dark hair and eyes and is so small that Roscoe has nicknamed her Munch, short for Munchkin. She’s introverted, or some might even say socially awkward. It takes a long time to get to know her, but once you break through her amour, Nellie is a fiercely loyal friend.

I, on other hand, am the stereotypical California girl. I’ve been referred to by more than a few people as the personification of a Barbie doll. I’ve never been sure if that was a compliment or an insult.

I’m a natural extrovert, and have always used it to my advantage.
That is until Nannygate
.

Now all I want to do is hide.

“You should attend the meeting tonight,” Nellie suggests when I plop down on the couch beside her.

Before she has a chance to elaborate I give a preemptive headshake.

She continues on as if she didn’t just see my nonverbal opposition to the idea. “You can meet some new people. And they’re bringing beer. Not the cheap stuff either. They’re bringing bottles.”

I frown. “How would you know the good stuff?” Nellie has never been much of a drinker.

She shrugs. “I think you should consider it.”

“I don’t want to meet anyone. I especially don’t want to meet anyone in your screenwriters group. They sound like a bunch of pretentious wannabes. Present company excluded of course.”

“Duly noted.”

“Besides, I’m busy.”

She narrows her big brown eyes at me. “Doing what?”

“Stuff.” I lie.

“And by
stuff
, you mean you can’t come up with an excuse more quickly than that.”

“You told me you weren’t even sure you liked those guys.”

“They’re growing on me,” she insists a little too forcefully.

I raise an eyebrow. “Really?”

She exhales a long breath. “Roscoe likes them, so I’m kind of stuck with them.”

“Have fun with Roscoe’s buddies,” I tell her. “I need to put my groceries away.”

We both stare at the small bag.

“That will take about three seconds,” she says. “Then what are you going to do? Sit in your bedroom and mope? You need something to get you out of this funk.”

“I really don’t think Roscoe’s nerdy friends are going to help.”

“They’re not that bad. You’ll like them. I promise.”

“Fine,” I finally agree because I know she’ll just hound me until I do. She can be very stubborn when she makes her mind up about something.

I just hope none of Roscoe’s friends recognizes me.

***

“Hey, aren’t you the Naughty Nanny?”

So much for Roscoe’s friends not recognizing me. As soon as I sit down on the couch across from two of his scruffy-looking friends they’re already smirking at me.

The guys look like brothers. They’re both a bit on the nerdy side, and have strikingly similar thick, wavy dark hair and coal black eyes.

They’re definitely not my type. Even if they were the last guys on Earth I would probably choose to remain celibate. 

Luckily I don’t seem to hold their interest very long. The two guys start an intense conversation about comic book adaptations, which I quickly tune out.

When Nellie joins me on the couch I whisper, “That guy recognized me immediately.” I point to the nerdy guy on the left.

“That’s Milo,” she whispers back. “Just ignore him. You can ignore his brother, Oliver, too.”

“Where’s Roscoe?” I ask

“He had to pick up Finn. Jasper couldn’t give him a ride.”

As if on cue Roscoe hurries into the condo with a hot blond guy on his heels. The blond is carrying a case of beer that I’m really hoping is cold.

Roscoe is a cute guy, but at times he can be a real smartass. Nellie seems to find that extremely endearing, even if everyone else on the planet finds it annoying.

Not that I don’t appreciate Roscoe allowing me to stay in his home. He does have a big heart, even if he is a bit of an asshole.   

Anyway I’m a lot more interested in the hot guy standing behind Roscoe. And I’m definitely interested in his beer.

“Who’s Nellie’s friend?” I hear the blond guy whisper a little too loudly to Roscoe.

I like that he’s asking about me. He’d make a wonderful distraction from my extremely shitty life. And I really like the fact that he doesn’t seem to recognize me.

“She’s the Naughty Nanny,” I hear one of the nerdy brothers shout from the other end of the room.

I’m so disinterested in the brothers Grimm that I’ve already forgotten their names. The blond guy’s whisper was loud, but I didn’t think it was
that
loud. Maybe the nerds have some kind of supersonic hearing.

The blond guy steps up to me and offers his hand. “I’m Finn.”

I shake it. “Maddie.”

“You’re a nanny?” he asks.

“I used to be one. Presently unemployed.”

That doesn’t seem to faze him. Obviously the guy doesn’t keep up with celebrity news, which is unusual in this town. Everyone knows everything about everyone in Hollyweird.

“I’m a screenwriter,” he tells me. Then he frowns. “
Duh
. That’s why I’m here.
Screenwriters meeting
. Also presently unemployed, but working very hard at not working.”

I look him up and down. The guy is tanned and buff. “You must surf.”

He nods. “When I have time.”

“You must have a lot of time.”

When he laughs his face lights up. Finn is
definitely
my type. He’s a replica of the jocks I dated in high school, and also very similar to the frat boys I fooled around with in college.

When I think back over my dating history every guy I have gone out with was some version of Finn.

“You need a beer.” He pulls one from the case that he sat down on the floor next to him, removes a small bottle opener from the pocket of his cargo shorts, pops the top and hands me the bottle.

“Thanks.” I take a small sip.

He grins. “My pleasure.”

Another guy hurries into the condo. Dressed in a button-down shirt and khaki pants he looks like he just got out of a young Republicans’ meeting. His brown hair is perfectly styled and his teeth are as white and straight as I’ve ever seen. If he wasn’t here for the screenwriters meeting I’d wonder if he was running for political office.

As soon as his eyes land on mine he changes course and heads in my direction.

“You’re not a writer,” he observes as he looks me up and down.

“You’re right.”

“Are you an actress?’ His brown eyes narrow. “Are you here to read some lines?”

I shake my head. “I’m just here for the beer. I heard you’ve got the good stuff.”

That brings a slight smile to his otherwise serious face. Then he puts his index finger to his bottom lip and thumps on it a few times. “Have we met before? You look familiar.”

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