Home > Bombshell (Hollywood A-List #1)

Bombshell (Hollywood A-List #1)
Author: C.D. Reiss

CHAPTER 1

CARA

—Wipes. Please say you have wipes—

—Now—

The two texts came rapid-fire. Ding ding, really loud in the waiting room. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the lighting were hard, cold white, and the sound bounced off them like a gong. The receptionist with the bun and black tailored jacket looked up at me disapprovingly. I made an “I’m sorry” face, then clicked off the sound. The five other well-groomed women in their twenties and thirties ignored me.

—What’s happening? Where are you?—

—Hallway ladies room. Bring wipes. I’m out—

Everything about the text was weird. Why was Blakely in the bathroom? She was supposed to be on the other side of the glass doors, interviewing for a nanny job.

I smiled at the receptionist as I walked out. She knew me. I’d worked with West Side Nannies for years. I spoke French, navigated private school applications, wiped noses, helped with pre-calc homework, managed ancillary staff, and kept the little ones safe.

My last job had ended amicably but suddenly. My agent, Laura, shrugged it off and told me she could get me anything. So I made demands. I wouldn’t work for absentee parents. No actors. No celebrities. No Hollywood hangers-on. Just vanilla rich. Or vanilla well-off. Glamour came at too high a price. A nanny didn’t even have to sleep with a daddy to end up on the front page of some rag, and if there was anything that terrified me, it was seeing my face on the magazine racks at the grocery store checkout.

In an hour she found me something so perfect I nearly fell off my chair. Two gay bankers in Hancock Park. I’d met their son, had coffee at their house, and accepted an offer. I was at the office to sign the contract and keep Blakely company as she sat for her kid-meet with a family who wouldn’t give their name.

Apparently, the meeting wasn’t going well.

I could hear the screams and cries of a child from down the hall.

I knocked softly and the door swung open. I got hit in the face with a wall of poop stink and the teary screams of a little girl.

Blakely crouched on the tile surrounded by a ring of white-and-brown-streaked wads. The expensive toilet paper disintegrated when it was wet. Her hair had started falling out of her perfectly professional blonde chignon. She turned to me and stuck her hand out, snapping her fingers for the wipes.

She was an actress first, nanny second. Taking care of Hollywood kids was easier than waitressing, paid very well, came with rent-free housing, and sometimes—if you were lucky—the schedule was flexible enough to audition.

But she had a hard time finding work these days. Money was getting tight. Blakely had been my first friend in Los Angeles. We’d met at a birthday party and she’d taken me under her wing. So when her name got dragged through the mud, I was the one to grocery shop for her so she could avoid seeing her distorted face at the checkout and I was the one who defended her to the other caretakers at events.

Now I was going to bring her wipes because it was the least I could do.

The toilet seat was covered in brown streaks. The little girl standing by the throne with her stained pants around her ankles was crying so hard her face looked like a wet tomato.

Blakely was holding a wet wad of toilet paper with her fingertips. The door clicked closed behind me. She wiped the little girl’s tears with a disintegrating piece of toilet paper and gently shushed her. The shushing didn’t quiet her. I handed my friend the wipes and wet some overpriced hand towels so I could wipe down the poop.

“It’s all right,” she said in a gentle-but-firm nanny voice. “We’re going to get you cleaned up in a jiff.” Blakely stood, fell halfway out of her pump, and skidded on a soggy wad of toilet paper and poo, landing on her butt.

The little girl went from big-fat-tear-weeping to screaming in terror. I stepped over Blakely and kneeled in front of the little girl. I felt my chest expand as soon as I looked at her. My heart swelled and broke a bit. I’d do or say whatever I had to to soothe her.

“Are you all right?” I asked Blakely in a singsong so the little girl wouldn’t get upset.

“I think I fell in poop,” Blakely said from behind me. “Yuck. I did.”

I turned back to the little one.

“Hi,” I said, hoping she’d hear me through her wailing. “My name is Cara, what’s yours?”

Blakely interrupted, “Nicole, it’s—”

“How old are you?” I asked. She snarfled, making a massive effort to get herself together. I’d seen men dig ditches with less struggle. Good kid.

“F-f-f-f—”

Blakely broke in. “—Brad Sinclair’s daughter.”

Talk about grocery store fodder. The A-list Oscar nominee had had a five-year-old from a short fling dumped on his doorstep a week earlier. If I were this kid, I’d shit myself too.

“Five,” the girl spit out.

“Five?” I acted surprised and impressed. The fact was, Brad Sinclair’s bodyguards were going to bust in here in a minute and arrest both of us. This girl needed to calm down. “So big! Wow.” I snapped a few wipes from the dispenser and handed them to her. “Do you want to wipe your eyes or can I do it?”

“You,” she sniffled. I patted her cheeks. News of her had been all over the internet. Notorious Hollywood playboy Brad Sinclair had knocked up a girl six years before, when he was working in a little crystal store in Venice Beach. Right after he got cast in his career-making role. She’d put his name on the birth certificate but never told him. When she died in a freeway accident, the state contacted him, DMZ got wind of it, and no one had been able to talk about anything else for a week.

“Are you feeling sick in your belly?” I asked.

She nodded.

“And your head?”

“It hurts right here.” She put her hand on the front of her head and moved it back. Top of the head. Not neck. That was good. “And it smells really bad in here.”

Her face screwed up. She was about to cry again.

“You’re right,” I said. “It does. Should we clean up a little?”

“Yes, please!”

The mother, whoever she was, had raised her well so far.

Blakely cut in, “I have an audition in an hour.” She tossed the wad of paper in the toilet.

“You smell like a colon.” I looked at my watch. “And you don’t have time to get home and shower.” I pointed to the seat and addressed the little girl. “Hey, great job cleaning up. My name is Cara. Do you want to tell me your name?”

She shook her head. Her face had gone from red to pink to normal, revealing brown eyes big as cups of black coffee and thin eyebrows. Her coloring was nothing like Sinclair’s, but the lines and planes of her face were so similar, she could have been his clone.

“That’s all right. You don’t have to tell me. Let me see what we have back here.” She bent over in the shameless way of children so I could see that the backs of her thighs were covered in brown stink.

“Not so bad,” I said. “Blakely, can you toss these and grab me a fresh one?” I handed her the wad, keeping my eyes on the child. “This is a nice shirt. Who is this?” I pointed to a pink horse with kitten ears.

“Pony Pie. Her nature symbol is joy.”

“We could use some of that.”

“We could,” Blakely said, handing me a wipe. “But this sweetheart really is a joy. Just having a hard day.” She leaned forward to make eye contact with the girl and winked. Nicole wiped her nose with her sleeve.

“I agree,” I said. I got to work on the girl’s bottom while Blakely wiped down the bathroom.

Blakely whispered, “I’ll never make it home to shower and get to Culver City in—”

She gulped her words back when there was a hard knock on the door.

“Blakely Anderson?” a male voice barked from the other side. My friend and I looked at each other.

“We’re in here,” I called.

A key slipped in the lock and the door slapped open, revealing two huge guys in dark shirts with radios squawking. The little one started screaming again, stamping her feet in poop streaks.

“Close the door close the door close the door,” she shrieked. Blakely threw her hands up. The guys came for the girl, who was getting more upset by the millisecond.

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