Part chaperone, part babysitter, part therapist... all business.

Hello, Friend.  My name is Ester Sharpe—of the Buckhead, Atlanta Sharpes.  Yes, my father is THAT Sharpe, the media mogul, and yes, my mother is THAT supermodel, from the 1980s.  (I look like my father.)  You probably noticed my family has been getting its own fair share of media itself lately since my dad lost his ever-loving mind and did some incredibly stupid things, including having an affair with a girl who’s my age—twenty-six.  In case you missed it, my mother went nuclear on his assets and they seem determined to murder each other in the tabloids and over social media.  They each want me on their side, which is amusing considering they’ve pretty much ignored me most of my life.

With all the unpleasantness associated with being a Sharpe at the moment, everyone thought it best if I left my marketing position with my father’s company and found something else until things quiet down.  Easier said than done, but I finally landed a job as an Escort Girl. No, not THAT kind of escort.  I work for a local PR firm and it’s my job to meet, greet, and be discreet with VIPs who come to Atlanta to publicize their music, books, movies, TV shows, politics, clothing, beauty products, food, housewares, charitable causes, or anything else they’re hawking to the masses.

I’m part chaperone, part babysitter, part therapist to these needy, attention-seeking celebrities, and I’m on call round the clock.  Because my family has always been in the spotlight, I know how to avoid a scandal, but my clients don’t always listen.  Still, my goal is to get them where they need to be (on time and sober), keep them out of trouble while they’re here, and send them on their way with as little damage to themselves and to others as possible.

I don’t want to do this forever… but for now it’s a good diversion from my own messed-up life.

________________

The *FREE* ESCORT GIRL daily serial begins Friday, July 1 and runs through December 31, 2022.  The first 10 days of the serial will accumulate so as many readers as possible can get on board with the story before it reverts to displaying only ONE day's episode on July 11.  Please send your friends a link to this page so  you can all follow along and read the entire ESCORT GIRL serial for free!

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July 4, Monday

I studied the pink sneakers on my feet as I stood in front of my apartment building, still nervous about wearing them.  I reasoned it wasn’t too late to swap them out for my basic Asics.

“Excuse me, are you Ester Sharpe?”

I looked up.  I’d been so intent on my shoes I hadn’t heard the car arrive.  A handsome dark-haired guy who looked to be in his thirties smiled from the open window of an SUV.

“Yes,” I managed.

He put the vehicle in park, then climbed out.  Dressed in dark slacks and jacket, light-colored shirt, and striped tie, he looked every inch the chauffeur, minus the proverbial hat.  “I’m Ruben Decker, your driver.”  He picked up the soft-side cooler at my feet.  “Should I put this in the back?”

“Yes, please.”

By the time I gathered my briefcase, he’d stowed the cooler and returned to open the back door for me.  “Great shoes,” he said, nodding to my pink feet.  From the way his mouth quirked, though, I assumed he was teasing me.

“Thank you,” I said crisply, then slid into the seat.  As soon as he closed the door, my phone rang, and Fenton’s name came up on the screen.  I connected the call.  “Hello?”

“This is your daily briefing,” Fenton said.  “Do you have the schedule?”

I rummaged in my briefcase and withdrew a folder with the printout.  Fenton had already scared me straight about not relying on an electronic calendar because batteries died, cell coverage ebbed and flowed, and devices could be hacked.  Who knew that being a luddite was cutting edge security?

“Yes, I have the schedule.”  Juney Price, teen singing phenom, was appearing at the Fourth of July concert at Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta.  I was supposed to pick her up at her home in north Atlanta, deliver her to the venue, stay until she finished performing, then escort her home again.

“Did you do the grocery shopping?” Fenton asked.

“Yes, energy drinks and red licorice.”

“Cherry flavored, right?  Not strawberry.”

“Yes, cherry.”  I’d gone to three stores before I found it.

“Did the car arrive?”

“Yes.  Just now.”

“Who’s the driver?”

I looked to the front and met Ruben’s smiling eyes in the rear-view mirror.  I averted my gaze and put my hand over my mouth.  “Ruben.”

“Hm.  He’s new.  Everyone has to sign a non-disclosure agreement but be careful what you say.  In general, it’s better not to get chatty with the drivers.  They’ve been instructed, but just so you know, under no circumstances are they supposed to converse with clients.”

Unwittingly my gaze flitted to the front again.  When Ruben smiled again, I guiltily looked away.  “Okay.”

“You’re expected at Juney Price’s house at one o’clock.  She’s expected for a sound check at three.  Look for the secure parking lot for VIPs, you have the number of the stage manager.  Juney goes on at four.  She’ll perform one thirty-minute set, then leave.  No autographs, no interviews.  Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Juney is one of our biggest local clients, so don’t blow this.”

It seemed like a rhetorical comment, so I didn’t respond.  Fenton had already ended the call anyway.  I tried not to take it personally—it was a holiday weekend, so he was probably briefing other escorts who were meeting other clients.

Ruben kept glancing at me in the mirror.  I realized a certain amount of conversation was required, at least until I figured out the routine.

“Do you have the itinerary?” I asked.

He nodded.  “To Three Bridges Estates, then to Centennial Park.”

“And the timeline seems reasonable in this traffic?”

“I’ll get us there on time.”

I relaxed a tiny bit.

“I have to ask.  Are you related to Greggory Sharpe?”

I didn’t see any advantage to lying.  “He’s my dad.”

“Wow… so Millicent Monroe—”

“Is my mother, yes.”  I looked away, knowing he was making a mental comparison.

“That must be hard, having famous parents.”

Even if Fenton hadn’t warned me about chatty drivers, I was accustomed to having my guard up.  I gave him a flat smile.  “If you don’t mind, I need to do some reading.”

He gave a short nod, then looked back to the traffic.

I used the time to read up on Juney Price, so I could converse with her on the ride.

I needn’t have bothered.  After we gained entrance to the gated community and pulled up to the front of the pink mansion where she lived, Juney emerged wearing a gray hoodie that obliterated her face and climbed into the SUV without a glance or a word.  She was smaller than I expected for someone with such a big voice.

“I’m Ester,” I offered.

She didn’t move.

“Can I get you something to drink or eat?  We have your favorites.”

If she heard me, she didn’t let on, only sat woodenly by the door enveloped in her hoodie.

When the silence became awkward, I made eye contact with Ruben in the mirror.  He gave me a little wink.  My cheeks burned to have been so thoroughly dismissed by someone ten years my junior, but I’d been schooled to let the client set the tone.  For all I knew, it was the singer’s process for getting ready for a show.

We sat in utter silence for the hour and twenty minutes it took to drive to the park.  When Ruben brought the SUV to a stop in the secure area for VIPs, she was out the door in an eyeblink.  I had to scramble to keep up with her, flashing my lanyard and back-stage access pass to gatekeepers along the way.

Standing in the stage wings I dodged roadies, musicians, and back-up dancers.  Juney wore her hoodie for the sound check, the microphone barely visible it was stuck so deep into her self-made cave.  After the sound check, she came back to stand where they’d first positioned us.  She still didn’t acknowledge me, but I watched her in case she signaled she needed something.  Suddenly her hand emerged from a pocket, and she dropped a white tablet on her tongue.

I suspected it wasn’t antacid.

She turned her head toward me, and I caught a glimpse of her eyes behind a tangle of hair—she was daring me to say something.

I remained mute.

Minutes later the emcee shouted her name, and ten thousand screaming fans lost their minds.  In one motion, Juney unzipped the hoodie, threw it at me, and exploded onto the stage, her wild hair in disarray and her body vibrating.  She leapt straight in the air and landed with a microphone in her hand, totally in command of the song and the audience.  I was mesmerized at the transformation of the silent figure in the car to electric performer.  For thirty minutes she sang and danced her way across the stage.  When the set ended in a crescendo, she grinned and waved to the fans, jumping like a pogo stick, then strode off stage.  Without looking at me, she grabbed the hoodie and shrugged into it while walking.  Within a few steps she’d zipped herself into her silent little world.  A couple of people tried to stop her for autographs, but I intervened with a quick apology that she was out of time.  We retraced our steps to the SUV.  Ruben appeared and opened the door for her.  She bounded in and I climbed in on my side.

The drive back to her house was just as long and just as silent.  She was out of the SUV before it even came to a stop, then jogged up the steps leading to her colossal front door and disappeared inside.

Ruben turned the SUV around.  “She’s not much for talking, is she?”

Instead of responding, I put in earbuds and found some of Juney’s songs to listen to on my phone.  The lyrics were angsty and haunting… and to me, they sounded lonely.  Privately, I understood where she was coming from.

When Ruben stopped the SUV in front of my apartment building, I said, “Thanks,” then hopped out, suddenly eager to get away from him.  His happy eyes unnerved me.

But he’d climbed out, too.  “I’ll get your cooler.”

He retrieved it from the back and handed it to me.  It looked as if I’d be having cherry licorice for dinner.  “Thank you.”

“Ester?”

I turned back.

“I’m sorry I asked about your parents.  It’s none of my business.”

I wet my lips.  “I appreciate that.”

He smiled.  “See you soon.”  As he climbed back into the SUV, I noticed he wore colorful printed socks to break up his conservative uniform.  Unbidden, a little spark of pleasure bloomed in my chest.

I watched his retreating taillights and bit into my lip.  Maybe there were some perks to being an Escort Girl after all.

Other than cherry licorice.  ~

July 3, Sunday

“You were right to call me,” my mother said.  She swept through the door of my apartment in a cloud of fragrance wearing layers of upmarket athleisure clothing and enormous sunglasses, carrying bulging shopping bags in both hands.  Out in the hall two of my neighbors, a guy and a girl, gaped at her.  The guy took a photo with his phone.

Mom dropped the shopping bags and pointed at him.  “Wait!  Let me see that.”

He nervously walked to her, then held up his phone screen.

“That’s a terrible picture,” she declared, then took the phone and hit the delete button.  Before the guy could complain, she stepped next to him, smiled, and held up his phone to get both of them in the shot.  “There.  You can post it with hashtag-Millicent-Monroe-thriving.  Got that?”

He nodded with a goofy grin.

“Have a great day,” she said with a wave, then closed the door.

And burst into tears.

I instinctively moved toward her.  “Rough day?”  Lately I was accustomed to her rollercoaster of smiles one minute, tears the next.

“Your father is a lying, cheating beast.”

My mother managed to look gorgeous even through her tears.  Twenty-six years into being her daughter, I still marveled over her physical perfection—the enormous blue eyes, the expressive brows, the chiseled nose and full wide lips that now quivered with emotion.  She reached for me.  Surprised—and pleased—I embraced her.

“I’m sorry this is happening,” I murmured.

She stiffened.  “Watch the hair.”

I pulled back.  “Sorry.”

“Find me a tissue?”

I did, then handed it to her and waited while she delicately blew her nose.  “Have you and Daddy talked?”

“Only through our attorneys.”  She suddenly brightened.  “He’s angry because I burned the clothes he left at the house.”

“You did?”

She held out her phone and played a video of her tossing my father’s suits in the firepit in the backyard of the house I grew up in.  “I bought them all,” she said.  “No way is he wearing them for that child he’s dating.  And from the number of likes this video is getting, the public seems to agree.”

“I thought your attorney said to stay off social media.”

“Everyone needs to know what kind of man your father is.”

I pressed my lips together.  It was useless to try to reason with her, or to explain that it wasn’t in my best interests for my parents to be at war.

For most of my life I’d felt like a floor lamp my parents had bought with great enthusiasm on their honeymoon but had liked less and less after they’d brought it home.  So, God help me, even though I knew it was a little dysfunctional for my mother to be venting to me about my dad’s infidelity and other offenses, it felt a little good to have some kind of role in her life.

“Do you have any vodka?” my mother asked.

“It’s barely noon.”

“Don’t judge me, Ester, I need a little something to take the edge off.  I’m not sleeping well.”

“But—”

“Just tell me where it is.  I’ll get it myself.”

If you were wondering, yes, she was even beautiful when she was angry—it made her cheeks look more rosy, her eyes more bright.

“It’s in the freezer,” I mumbled.

“Look in the bags,” she said over her shoulder as she walked to my tiny galley kitchen.  “I went through my closet and pulled out some things I thought would suit you.  I don’t know why you don’t let me take you shopping.”

I didn’t want to give the paparazzi mother-daughter fodder.  And trying on clothes in the presence of my mother wasn’t fun.  Department store clerks were dazzled by her and gave me such pitying looks.  Plus I knew Mom would insist on paying for everything which seemed unnecessary since her closet itself resembled a boutique.  Most of her clothes even still had the tags on them.

Still, I stared at the shopping bags with trepidation.  She tended to forget that my fair skin didn’t lend itself to the vivid colors she wore with aplomb, and that my figure was shorter and less… everything.  I pulled out at least a dozen shoe boxes and stacks of pants, skirts, and tops.  All the items were suspiciously cute.  I typically avoided wearing anything that might catch a photographer’s eye lest I wind up in a tabloid with the caption “Millicent Monroe’s Daughter Trying Too Hard.”

“You should adopt a uniform,” she called from the kitchen.  “Do you have any mixer?”

“I think there’s cranberry juice in the door of the fridge.”

“Found it!  All the top women executives wear a uniform—something simple, but hip, you know, with a signature piece?”

It seemed like something Toni Peters would appreciate, considering her oversized glasses.  “Like what?”

My mom returned with a drink that looked light on cranberry juice, heavy on vodka.  “Like a great leather jacket, or a memorable pair of shoes.”

Since I wasn’t the leather-jacket type and summer in Atlanta was a thousand degrees, I set about opening the shoe boxes.  We wore the same size, but Mom was six inches taller.

There were kitten heels, platform pumps, gladiator sandals, booties, shooties, rubber clogs, snakeskin loafers, and rhinestone flip-flops.

“None of these have even been worn,” I said, pointing to the pristine soles.

“Not true—I wore the loafers once when I drove to the bank.  Ester, you make me sound so frivolous!  Your father has piles of shoes he’s never worn.”  Then she gave a harsh laugh.  “Well, not since I had the bonfire, but still.”  She took a drink from her glass, then teared up again, but thankfully composed herself.  Using her pinkie, she pointed to an unopened shoe box.  “Try those.”

I lifted the lid and hesitated at the sight of bright pink sneakers with thick white soles, toe caps, and laces.  They were cool and hip and so not me.

But I was instantly infatuated with them.

“Do you like them?” Mom asked.

“I do, but I don’t think they’re appropriate for work.”

She gave a dismissive wave.  “Your boss is right.  The clients will expect you to be on-trend.  Try them on.”

“By the way, my boss said to call her if you want a new PR person.”

My mother’s mouth pursed, then as if she suddenly remembered that could cause wrinkles, she pressed her hand to her mouth.  “I’ll think about it.”

I toed off my sandals and pushed my feet into the neon-colored cloth sneakers, taking care to straighten the laces as I tied them.  I couldn’t stop the smile that lifted my mouth.  It was crazy that such a little thing like pink tennis shoes could lift my spirits.

Was I really so fickle?

“Those will look great with that pair of black jeans and—” She used her unoccupied hand to rummage through a bag, then made a triumphant sound.  “This white button-up shirt.”

“Those jeans will never fit me.”

“Yes, they will, sweetie—they’re enormous on me.”

Alrighty then.  While my mother was making herself a second drink, I tried them on, along with the white shirt.

“Told you so,” she said when I emerged from my bedroom.  “They’re just the right kind of tight.  And the shirt is perfect.”  She gave a flourishing wave with her arm.  “Voila! Your work uniform—young, hip, cool.”

But I was dubious as I stared at my reflection.  “I can’t wear pink shoes every day.”

“You don’t have to.”  She pointed to the bags I hadn’t opened yet.  “There are at least five or six other colors.”

“Of the same shoe?”

“They were all so pretty in the store!”

I bit into my lip.  “If you’re sure.”

“I am.”  She squealed and gave my shoulders a squeeze.  “My little girl is finally finding her inner clotheshorse.”

Happiness surged in my chest.  My mother and I were having a real bonding moment.

She pulled back, then sighed.  “Now your makeup… and hair.”  ~

July 2, Saturday

“I’m sorry about this, Ester.”

I gave the security guard a little smile as we walked toward the cubicle maze on the fifth floor of the CMY building.  “No worries, Don.  You’re just doing your job.”

“It sucks that people lump you in with your dad.”

“It comes with the territory,” I offered.

“He always said hello to me when he passed the guard desk.  He seemed like a nice guy.”

That was my dad—he should’ve been an actor.  Actually, he studied theater in college, but that item on his resume had been spun to say it had inspired him to build one of the largest multimedia conglomerates in the world.  The fact that he was a trained liar seemed to have escaped everyone.  “Thanks, Don.”

The news never stopped, so the office was nearly as full as a weekday.  I passed former coworkers, some of whom gave me nervous smiles, and some of whom openly stared.  Whispers erupted in my wake.  My face burned but I kept moving forward until I reached the six-feet by six-feet topless cube where I’d spent the last two years learning the ropes of marketing the news.

The term itself always seemed like a misnomer to me—the news was just the news, right?  Why would anyone have to market the truth?  Ah, but the truth had become more elusive as the country had maimed itself with the red axe of conservatism and the blue axe of liberalism.  Every day in the office had felt like a bloodbath.  So many times I’d wanted to request a transfer to a less stressful part of the business.  But it had taken me a long time to overcome the perception that I’d gotten the job because of my dad (true) and would be treated with favoritism (not true), so I didn’t want to ask for a special assignment.

Then suddenly, me working for the news division of CMY became too incestuous because the headlines were about my father, Greggory Sharpe, the married CEO, and his scandalous affair with the newest “it” girl and supermodel, Addy Bridges.  Allegations of improper business dealings with the FCC followed.  My scorned mother had thrown gasoline on the fire at every chance.  It wasn’t long before coworkers were no longer making eye contact and paparazzi were waiting for me in the parking lot.  Soon after, my father was invited to leave the company he’d started and advised to take his nepotistic daughter with him.

That would be me.

Don cleared his throat and pointed toward the elevator.  “I’ll wait over there.”

I nodded, then unfolded the cardboard box I’d brought to collect my things.  My father’s firing and my own had been so abrupt, I hadn’t had time to clear my desk.  As I surveyed the work surface and half-open drawers, I realized someone had done some of it for me.  I knew my work laptop would be scanned and wiped, but the realization that people had rifled through the personal items I’d stored in my desk left me feeling a little queasy.  Someone had taken the photo of me with my parents I’d thumbtacked to the corkboard over the work area, and the loyalty card for the deli across the street—I had needed only two more stamps to get a free lunch.

I opened the drawers and removed toiletries, over-the-counter meds, and a smiley face stress ball that I’d worn completely out.  The bottom drawer held the stash of graphic novels I sometimes read on my lunch hour, covered with a magazine so my coworkers wouldn’t know I read what most people considered to be comic books.

So much for my secret.  Worse, a couple were missing—The Downy Sisters and Meet the Jerichos.  Whoever had taken them had probably laughed at my seeming fixation on siblings and large families—neither of which I had.

“Ester?”

I startled, then turned to see my coworker—er, former coworker—Jacklyn standing there, hands on hips.

“Oh… hi,” I said, stuffing the books into the box.  Jacklyn was a little older and had worked at CMY longer.  She and I weren’t close friends, but I admired her no-nonsense attitude.  And she’d never made any sly remarks about my familial connections.

She gestured to my cardboard box.  “This isn’t fair.”

I shrugged.  “It’s better this way.”

“Do you have another job?”

I nodded.  “Peters & Shine public relations.  I start Monday.”

She made a thoughtful noise.  “I’ve heard rumors that Toni Peters is a difficult boss.”

I chose my words carefully.  “She seems to have high standards.”

“You doing marketing for them?”

I coughed.  “Uh, no… I’ll be escorting talent to events.”

“That sounds exciting.”

“Uh huh.”

She gave me a little smile.  “Look, Ester… I’m sorry I didn’t get to know you when I had the chance.  Call me sometime if you want to grab coffee.”

But if I’d learned anything while working at CMY, it was that most people had an angle.  “I can’t share anything about the firm’s clients.  I had to sign a forty-page NDA agreement.”

She angled her head.  “I meant if you need a friend.”  She extended something to me—the photo of me with my parents.  “I was afraid someone would take it.”

“Thanks,” I murmured, curling the photo into my hand.

“Good luck,” she said, then turned and disappeared through the cubicle maze.

I stared after her.  Friend?  I’d heard of such unicorns but had never seen one.  ~

 

July 1, Friday

“Ester Sharpe?”

I turned my head toward the lean well-dressed man who scanned the posh lobby.  I instinctively lifted my hand a few inches.  When I realized how schoolgirlish that seemed, I pushed to my feet and walked toward him.  “Hello.”

He surveyed me suspiciously.  “You’re Ester Sharpe?”

I was accustomed to that reaction when people tried to reconcile my plain appearance with my celebrity surname.  He’d expected me to be the cute redhead scrolling through her phone or the striking blonde taking a selfie next to the phallic table sculpture.  I ignored the flash of pain and gave him my best smile.  “Yes.  What’s your name?”

He recovered.  “I’m Fenton, Ms. Peters’ personal assistant.  Toni is looking forward to meeting you.”

“Same here.”

I shouldered my briefcase bag and followed him down a hallway.  He walked quickly, as if I was late, although by my watch I was ten minutes early.

I trotted to keep up.  “What can you tell me about her?”  I’d learned long ago it was beneficial to befriend the people who supported the people whose names were lettered on the door.

He grunted.  “She lets her clients get away with murder but has a zero-tolerance policy for employees.”

I swallowed.  “Good to know.”

He stopped at a glass-walled office and rapped on the closed door.  A petite dark-haired woman behind the massive desk lifted her head and waved us in.  She wore black-rim glasses and her red mouth was moving—she appeared to be on a conference call.

Fenton opened the door and preceded me inside, then stood quietly while Toni Peters finished her phone call.  The woman was compact, immaculately dressed, and barely contained.  She looked to be in her forties, although I suspected she was older.

“Phil, I’ve already spent too much time on this mess,” she said matter-of-factly.  “If you expect me to stay the course, you know what you need to do.  Bye.”  She stabbed a button on the desk phone with a gold letter opener that looked lethal, then lifted her gaze to us.

“Who’s this?”

“Ester Sharpe,” Fenton offered in an apologetic voice.

Behind the glasses her eyebrows arched.  After she gave me a twice-over, she waved to Fenton.  “Leave us.”

He fled.  I waited.

The woman leaned back in her white leather chair, still surveying me, missing nothing.  “How old are you?”

“Twenty-six.”

“Well, you didn’t get your mother’s looks, did you?”

“No,” I agreed.

“Well, I hope for my sake, you got your father’s smarts.”  Then she scoffed.  “Not that he’s been making good decisions lately.”

Unsure of an appropriate response, I tried to turn the conversation back to me.  “I’ve been working in marketing at CMY for the past two years.”

“Such a pity your father had to step down.  The stock’s in the crapper, and I had a truckload.”

I wet my lips.  “I’m a fast learner.”

“Are you single?”

I nodded.

“Good, because you’d be on call round the clock, including weekends.”

I was still standing, and it was clear she wasn’t going to ask me to sit.  “I’m sorry—no one told me what the job is, exactly.”

Her smile was humorless.  “It would be the hardest job you’ve ever had.”

She thought I was a powderpuff.  But then, so did most of the world.  And I couldn’t blame them.  My father was a rich, bombastic man who made or broke careers with the wave of his arm, and my mother was once declared the most beautiful woman on the planet.  I, too, would’ve assumed their only offspring had been raised in the shelter of nannies and servants to shield me from pedestrian virtues like “work” and “effort.”

I lifted my chin.  “Try me.”

Her mouth quirked.  “You’d be an escort girl.  Some of our clients live here in Atlanta, but most don’t.  Regardless, it would be your job to get them to their events on time and see to their needs until you deliver them home or back to the airport.”

“I see.”

“You’d have big shoes to fill.  One of my best escorts, Liz, is out for six months with her newborn.  You’d be taking over her clients.”

My pulse blipped.  “This is a temporary position?”  I needed a steady job to pay bills, like everyone else in the world.  Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t have a trust fund.

To be honest, I was running low on trust in general.

“Temporary for now,” Toni said, nodding.  “After that, we’ll see.  I have to warn you—my clients are my business, so I expect the highest level of competency where they’re concerned.  And I probably don’t have to tell you that celebrities can be difficult and demanding.”

I shifted foot to foot.

When she realized I wasn’t going to dish dirt on my parents, she straightened.  “Your primary job would be to keep the client on schedule, but it’s equally important to keep them happy and out of trouble.  Do you think you can handle that?”

“I… yes.”  Thanks to my dad’s missteps, my job at CMY was over, and with the vitriol in the headlines people weren’t lining up to be associated with the Sharpes.

She pursed her mouth.  “At least I won’t have to worry about clients hitting on you.”

One upside of being mousy.

She still seemed uncertain.  “Can you start Monday?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.  Fenton will provide you with your weekly schedule and will answer any questions you have along the way.  Welcome to Peters & Shine Public Relations.”

I smiled.  “Thank you for this opportunity.”

She frowned.  “Don’t screw it up.”

My smile fell.  “I won’t.”

“Go,” she said, pointing to the door.  “Fenton has paperwork for you to sign.”

I turned toward the door, torn between relief and dread.

“Oh, and Ester?”

I turned back.  “Yes?”

She scanned my modest gray dress and flat sandals over the top of her glasses.  “Casual clothes and makeup are fine, but I expect you to look stylish.  Can you ask your mother for advice?”

My cheeks flamed.  “Of course.”

She made a thoughtful noise.  “Divorce is an ugly business.  Let your mother know if she needs a new public relations rep, I’m here for her.”

Ah—the real reason I’d been offered the job… she wanted my mother’s business.  It wasn’t the first time someone had tried to get to my parents through me.  “I’ll let her know.”

Toni almost smiled.  “Now you can go.”

I went, nursing mixed feelings about the chance I’d been given because of my proximity to the rich and famous.  Most people would probably be excited at the prospect of a job that would have them rubbing elbows with celebrities all day long, day in and day out.

But since I’d been raised by celebrity parents who had celebrity friends and celebrity enemies, I knew better than to be excited.

To be honest, I was a little scared.  ~

A Note from the Author