This week, I’m going to finish the first draft of Transgression. If all goes according to plan, it will be released next month.
I thought it was time for another sneak peak at the story. Read the first excerpt here. Kris is Zach’s “public” girlfriend; she’s mostly for show, an arrangement they both acknowledge. She also co-stars on his series.
When he got home, Kris was sitting on the couch in the living room reading a gossip magazine. It wasn’t even one of the good ones, but a rag from the checkout stand at the local grocery store.
He set the bag of herbs on the table near the door. Andy had dropped him off and would return his car in the morning. While he’d sobered up some, Zach had decided he was still too drunk to drive.
“Were you in the mood to read about two-headed alien babies or something?” Picking up his mail, he flicked through it. Bill, bill, junk, bill…. One of these days, he’d make enough money to pay someone to take care of this shit for him.
Although he co-starred on a series that had just taken off, and him with it, he was being paid a pittance. When it came time to renegotiate his contract for season two, he’d be making a lot more. Then he’d hire a personal assistant. Until then, he was careful how he spent his money. He’d had to think long and hard about the trip to Australia. The one to NYC, however, was a no-brainer. He loved that city, and he hadn’t seen his parents since filming started.
Kris tossed the magazine aside. “I can smell you from here,” she said, wrinkling her perfect nose. “You two tied one on tonight, huh?”
Zach shrugged and kicked off his shoes. He had to lean against the wall to maintain his balance. “We had fun, yeah.”
“What’s in the bag?”
Kris never missed a thing. “Herbs. Andy took me to someone tonight who prescribed them for my insomnia.”
“I’ve offered you my sleeping pills―”
“No.” He straightened and padded across the floor, going to the kitchen. “I don’t like feeling hung over. Told you that.” Kris never forgot anything, either. She was just being a bitch. “No side effects with herbs.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Shows how much you know.” She tapped the supermarket rag. “I just read about St. John’s Wort. People use it for depression. Says it can cause anxiety, stomach upset, and erectile dysfunction.” She laughed. “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your penis, would you?”
He got a bottled water from the fridge, opened it, and drank it all. Wiping his mouth, he tossed the empty in the recycling bin. “Nothing’s going to happen to my dick. I take very good care of it.”
Her laugh got louder. “So do I.”
They’d been dating casually for six months. He was pretty, she was pretty, and they looked great together. They were good for each other’s careers, at least at this point. But aside from their work and ambition, they didn’t have a lot in common. Kris was focused on being a star and little else, and Zach was interested in the whole universe.
Sure, being successful was important to him, but it wasn’t the only thing on his mind. Beside the bed was a stack of books covering topics as wide-ranging as atheism, astronomy, spelunking, and English royalty in the fourteenth century. When Kris stayed over, she read the industry papers and fashion mags; she wasn’t interested in anything that didn’t further her career. If they didn’t work together―she played one of the women in their ensemble medical series―they would never have met.
When he went into the bedroom, she followed. As always, she was dressed in whatever was hot at the moment, and her hair and makeup were well done; she’d often said, “You can’t be sure who’s watching, or if there’s a camera pointed at you.” Kris lived in horror of appearing in a magazine looking less than her best.
Zach didn’t care. He wore what was comfortable, which was often a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. The media had labeled him “hipster.” He had no idea what that meant.
“I started packing for you,” she said, sitting on the edge of the bed to remove her heels.
Zach noticed the half-filled bag on the chair. “Thanks. I don’t plan to take much. It’s a vacation, remember? Swim suits, shorts, T-shirts. That’s all that’s required.”
Shaking her head, a wry smile on her lips, she unzipped her dress and stepped out of it. “We’ll go out to eat sometimes. We might be invited somewhere fancy.”
“Fancy” was the last thing he wanted. He was still kicking himself for inviting her, but she’d caught him at a vulnerable moment, and he’d asked her to come along. Idiot, he thought, getting into bed naked. He’d have had a lot more fun alone or with Andy.
She rolled against him, sniffed, and moved away again. “There’s only one thing I ask, and then I suggest you shower because you reek of booze.”
He raised an eyebrow, feeling more sober by the moment. She did love drama, whether it existed or not. “No rules, no ultimatums.”
“You’re not my wife, we’re not engaged, so don’t start laying down rules.”
She crossed her arms. “I’m not allowed to ask you anything?”
He adjusted the blankets. “I know that tone. You’re about to set a boundary of some kind, and I’m not having it. This is my vacation. In fact, it’s the first real time off I’ve had since we started the series, and it’s the first time I’ve had enough money to go somewhere nice.” Sliding down under the covers, he turned away from her, burrowing into the pillow. “I’ll shower in the morning. I’m too tired now.”
He didn’t have to look at her to know she was simmering in anger. All her emotions were extreme. If she loved you, she gushed. If she was horny, she let you know as directly as possible―she was fond of grabbing his crotch, especially in places someone might see―and if she was pissed, it was like watching a volcano blow.
He was still drunk enough he didn’t care. He just wanted to sleep. Then he wanted to wake up, go to the airport, and fly to Australia. Fourteen fucking hours on a plane. Christ.
Groaning at the thought, he hoped she’d avoid the meltdown this time. When she shoved him hard between the shoulder blades, he knew she’d failed.
“As your girlfriend,” she said, leaning over him, “I’m fucking entitled to ask you anything I like. I’m entitled to make requests and suggest behavior.”
His gut tensed. “Shut up,” he whispered into the pillow.
She leaned closer. “What?”
Growling, he threw back the covers and sat up. “I don’t do that to you. I don’t make suggestions or ask you shit, so why do you do that to me?”
Her eyes widened in surprise. And then she doubled down. “No, you don’t. Why is that? I mean, is that a guy thing, or do you just not care what I think or feel?” Getting out of bed, she started to pace. “Come to think of it, you don’t seem much interested in anything I do. Why is that, Zach? Is it because of the way you are?”
“That has nothing to do with it.” Even as he spoke, he wondered if that wasn’t a lie.
She glared at him in disbelief. “No? Okay, let’s say I buy that.” Dramatic pause. “For now.” She drew breath, and he cringed. “Tell me why you never ask how my day went. Tell me why you apparently have no interest in anything I say. Tell me why you usually beg off going places with me even though I go places with you. Tell me, Zach, and make it good.”
The words were poised on the tip of his tongue, begging to jump off. Against his better judgment, he let them.
“Because I don’t give a shit.”
The words hung in the air like the stink from a pig farm. After a long moment, she stalked to the dresser, picked up the ashtray his cousin, Shelly, had made for him in camp when he was eight―the ashtray he used when he smoked the occasional joint―and threw it at him. He ducked, and it hit with a thud that dented the sheetrock before crashing to the wood floor, where it broke in several pieces.
She dusted off her hands as if ridding herself of him forever, slithered back into her clothes, and clomped noisily out of the room, trailing words behind her. “Goodbye, Zach. Fuck off and die, you goddamn freak.” The slamming front door punctuated her departure.