Authors: Beth Fred
The Other Marlowe Girl
Cover Art by
For my Emils because I love you.
“Here, you can put this on for these last few,” said
Nigel, an ad photographer I knew from my brief experience in college,
handing me a nude colored bikini.
“Nigel, you said no nudes.”
“They’ll be implied nudes, and you have the bikini.”
I huffed and put my hand on my hip.
“Kammy, a thousand bucks a night is more than you’re going to make anywhere else. Because truthfully, I can get way hotter models and you don’t even have a portfolio. Some other nobody would be happy to do this, and not just for the quick cash.”
I sighed. “I’ll go change.”
My current outfit was almost too much. The shorts were so short they barely covered anything and so tight I couldn’t wear panties. Each step I took chaffed me in places I never wanted to be chaffed again.
Why? Why am I doing this? Duh, I need money. Bad.
I stared in the full length mirror behind the bathroom door. The outfit was sluttier than what I usually wore, which according to my family was already scandalous, but I looked good in it. I’d never be some overachieving CEO like my big sister, but I was hot.
Might as well work it.
I shimmied out of the jean shorts and pulled up the bikini bottom. Butt floss. I didn’t realize it until it was on.
Nigel knocked on the door from the outside. “I’ve got something for you.”
I opened the door enough to take what he wanted to pass to me. Six-inch red stilettos. I sighed and slammed the door.
The nude bikini looked just that. Even without the red high heels, it wasn’t exactly the way you wanted to be seen in the centerfold of a local magazine. It had limited circulation, but still.
“Is this really necessary?” I called from the bathroom.
“You’ll be holding a shoe box. It’s a shoe ad, and you’ve got the bikini. Kammy, come on. I don’t have all day.”
to do this instead of a model with a portfolio because they charge more. He’d make more of a profit skimping on my pay. He needed me to do this almost as much as I needed the money. I grabbed the denim chaffers and started pulling them up. I would march out this door, grab my bag, get dressed in
clothes, and leave. He’d come to his senses. As I shimmied my way back into my denim paint, my phone buzzed against my thigh.
I removed it from the pocket.
“Where is my money? 1 week Kammy. 1 week B4 I mess up that pretty face.” Daniel. My ex-husband’s drug dealer I wrote a hot check to.
So much for that idea. I sighed and scooted back out of the shorts, strapped the shoes on, and headed back for the camera.
“Make it quick, Nigel. It’s getting late.”
I knew. I also knew in half an hour my parents were going to start sending “where are you” messages like I was sixteen.
“Let’s just get this over with.”
“You know, when you get some experience, you’ll get better gigs and higher pay. I could give you copies of the shots. It’s not that bad.”
Right. Because I really wanted to parade around wearing butt floss in front of cameras for a career occupation. Then again, what else was I going to do? It wasn’t exactly like I had any skills. And I did have to come up with money for Daniel.
“Okay,” I said.
“I’ll put it all on a flash drive. We’ve got three poses and we’re done, so the sooner I get good shots, the sooner it’s over.”
Those three poses took forever. Nigel was as annoyed as I was, but he was nice about it. He said for no camera experience, I was doing fine. When we were finally done, I grabbed my athletic bag and went back into the bathroom where my phone buzzed against the tile floor.
My mom had called six times and texted three more.
Where are you? We agreed you’d come in by midnight.
Work. Kind of. This was a side job for Nigel, so we didn’t start until eight. But after three jobs in the last six weeks, it was kind of my only gig.
Why can’t you be more like your sister?
Believe me, I asked myself that every day. I blamed it on getting left over genetics and maybe God or fate. Whatever. I wasn’t Tiffany. That was obvious from the day I showed up, but lots of people wanted me to be.
The phone buzzed against my palm.
“Kammy? Where are you?”
“I’m at Nigel’s—”
“Nigel’s? Have we met this one?”
“Have you found a job yet?”
“Have you even started looking?”
“Where? Where have you been looking for a job?”
“That coffee shop down the street.”
“So one place?”
“Kammy, you’re too old for this. You’re never going to get your life together. I don’t think we’re helping you by continuing to support you. I was going to give it a few more weeks but it’s after midnight and you’re out at some guy’s. You’ll sleep all day tomorrow, and you’ll stay out all night tomorrow night. You can stay here tonight, but tomorrow you need to find your own place. If you need me to, I’ll co-sign a lease, but I won’t pay the rent. So I recommend you find a job.”
What? Was she serious? My own parents were kicking me out? I didn’t even have a job. Where was I going to stay? I couldn’t worry about first and last month’s rent right now. I had to cover the check I wrote to Daniel. He was after me, not Emmett, for some reason. And when I talked to Emmett about it, hoping (against logic) he would man up and do something about it, he basically told me it was my problem.
Great. I should have gone back to bed after the quart of Ben & Jerry’s for breakfast.
“Mom, I’m not coming home tonight. I’ll come by tomorrow and get my stuff.” I clipped the call.
I couldn’t deal with my parents. They wouldn’t have kicked my perfect big sister out. And it was her fault I knew Emmett to begin with. I got dressed then texted my bff, Katia, to see if I could stay with her. She agreed, but it would be two before she got home to unlock the door.
With time to kill, I decided to go to Cosmos and slam a few ’ritas back before crashing on Katia’s couch. Sure, I’d probably end up spending my last $20 on drinks, but when you couldn’t make things better you might as well make them worse, right?
It was a Thursday night, so Cosmos was hopping with college kids, meaning it was more packed than usual. I slid into the only open bar stool and ordered my strawberry ‘rita.
“Will, I need another shot,” the guy beside me said.
No way. This dude had gotten three shots since I ordered my drink, and I still wasn’t holding the goodness of frozen tequila in my hand yet.
“Hey, Will, no more shots for the house drunk ‘til I get that strawberry ‘rita. Got it?”
The bartender spun around, exasperated with us both. “Enrique, there are three orders ahead of you. You’ve had enough shots, bro. You’ll just have to wait. Ma’am, I’ll have your margarita as soon as I get this martini made.”
The guy beside me leaned toward me. “I’ll buy your prissy ‘rita, if you tell him to make my shot first.”
“Will, ‘bro’ here needs his shot more than I need that ‘rita, so make his first,” I said to the bartender. For the first time, I really looked at the guy sitting next to me. He was hotter than a Texas July. Even sitting I could tell he was at least as tall as me, maybe taller, and guys were never as tall as me.
He studied my face for a moment before pinching his brows together. “Have we met?”
“Have we met? Seriously? That is a lame ass pick up line. I’ve never heard that one before.”
My drunk neighbor laughed. “I’m not hitting on you. You’re not my type, but you look so familiar.”
What did he mean I wasn’t his type? I was everyone’s type. Hello, I just spent the night posing in seriously skanky clothes to sell shoes.
“And what exactly would be your type?”
“Are you hitting on me now?”
That was so absurd. It was my turn to laugh. “Uhh—no. You give me the most recycled pick up line to be used in any bar on any given night and then when I call you on it, you insult me. If the blonde model isn’t your type, what is?”
Enrique shrugged as Will set another shot in front of him. “Last one, Enrique. For real. If you’re not taking a cab, I’ll drive you home when I get off.”
Enrique made a face like he was eating a lemon. “Will, I can handle my liquor. I don’t need a babysitter.”
“I could call your brother to pick you up.”
His mouth dropped. “If you call my brother, I’ll kick your ass.”
“Wow, you seem to like your brother as much as I like my sister,” I said.
“There is nothing wrong with my brother. He’s just an overachiever and expects everyone else to be.”
“He drove Enrique to drinkin’,” Will said.
“Don’t you have anyone else to wait on?” Enrique asked.
“Sorry.” Will walked to the other end of the bar.
“Your brother drove you to drinking?” I laughed as I said the words, because it was more fun to make fun of the pathetic sap in the designer suit than admit my mom drove me to drinking.
Enrique sighed. “My overachieving brother is my boss. I’m happy putting in forty hours and going home—”
“Or to the bar,” I jumped in.
“Or to a bar, so you can see how it could be a frustrating work situation.” He finished his shot then threw it at the sink behind the bar. “Grr, I’d open my own practice if I felt like paying for the damn insurance.”
“So you never answered my question.” He needed a change of subject bad, and the banter with him was keeping my mind off my own problems.
“If the blonde model isn’t your type, what exactly is?”
“You’re—hell, you’re beautiful.” The last two words came out like a guilty admission. “But, I’ve outgrown bar chicks.”
? What was that supposed to mean?
“I understand. I outgrew bar dicks a long time ago.” I turned around to face the bar and gulped my margarita. Tiffany had probably referred to me as worse, and I was in a bar on a weeknight. I wasn’t even sure why the words stung so badly. I didn’t know this drunk loser.
Because it’s true, Kammy. You’re pushing twenty-five and your biggest life accomplishment is still being on the cheer leading squad.
He laughed. “I didn’t know it was the same for girls.”
The hot guy beside me was a jerk, but he proved fun to talk to. I grasped my drink in my hand and spun around on the stool to face him again. “Yeah, only guys want to date someone really hot and then marry someone really marriage worthy.” Although, I knew Emmett wasn’t marriage worthy when I married him.
Enrique smiled. “So you’re a player.”
“Everyone’s a player.” Well, that wasn’t exactly true. My incredibly straight-laced, perfect older sister was anything but a player, and I thought her husband probably wasn’t either. Yeah, Tiffany got everything, good grades, fancy degrees, even the valiant hottie while I was stuck with her sloppy leftovers. A player.
“You think everyone’s a player?” His grin grew wider, exposing a dimple.
“Maybe not everyone, but most people are out to get what they want first and care about anyone else second.”
“You are one jaded chick. That’s probably true, though. So what brings you to a bar on a Thursday night?”
“I got evicted.”
His brows furrowed and a crease formed across his forehead. “What are you going to do?” Ironically, this stranger sounded more sympathetic than anyone else would. Katia took my side and offered her couch, but she was far more worried about her date.
I shrugged. “It’s no big deal. I’ll crash with my friend, but she won’t be home for a while. So I thought I might as well grab a drink.”
“Now I feel like a jerk for complaining about my shithead brother. I guess there are bigger problems to have. You know you don’t have to leave.”
“Your place. You can stay for thirty days. If you demand a jury trial, you might be able to push it out further.”
I shrugged. “I got evicted by my mom. I think I’ll just go.”
“Ouch. Some days I wish I’d get fired by my dad. That won’t happen though.”
“I thought you worked for your brother?” I finished off my margarita.
“My brother is my manager. The company still technically belongs to my dad.” He paused. “I’m sounding more and more pathetic by the moment.”