Easy on the Eyes(3)By: Jane Porter
The lights on Santa Monica blur. Cars stream past. I feel unbearably sad. “You should have warned me. I should have been prepared.”
“What did he say?”
“That my numbers are really down and it’s hoped that Shelby will help bring them back up.” I brake as the traffic light turns yellow and then red. “I don’t want to share the show with Shelby. It’s my show, and why Shelby of all people?”
“She’s twenty-eight, ten years younger than you, and she’s proactive. She’s already had her eyes done to look even fresher on camera.”
The horrible sick, sinking feeling is back. “Is that what this is about? My age?”
“For the record, I told you a year ago that a little work wouldn’t hurt you.”
He did, too.
I rest my elbow on the door and press my fingers to my temple. For the record, I heard him, and I didn’t ignore his advice last year. I consulted a dermatologist, and she recommended laser light treatment to stimulate the collagen in my face. She said it’d keep the skin around my eyes from growing too thin, and then I did a chemical peel to get rid of some of the finer lines.
“You should have listened to me then, babe.”
“I’m not into cutting and stretching, Max. That’s not me.”
“Then kiss away your career.”
“No one can make me do it.”
“No one can, no, but no one will renew your contract, either.” He sighs. “Come on, get real, you and I both know this industry. If you don’t renew your contract, you’ll be reduced to a celebrity correspondent for some cable show for a year or two until you’re too old for even that.”
“You’re saying I’d be washed up at forty if I don’t get work done.”
“I’m saying you’d definitely be washed up at forty if you don’t get work done. Because frankly, and this is coming as a friend and as your agent, for your line of work, you’re looking old.”
Could he hit any harder? Could he hit any lower? My throat, already thick with emotion, threatens to swell closed. “Max, I’m walking into CNN. I have to go.”
“Call me after the show.”
I hang up, blink. I can’t cry, it’d ruin my makeup and I’m about to go on live TV.
Besides, I’m not old. I’m only thirty-eight.
An LKL intern shows me to the green room, where I check my makeup in the bright lights to make sure it’s dark enough for the bright lights on Larry’s set. I’m just applying a darker lip liner when the intern returns with another guest in tow. I look up, into the mirror, as the intern and guest appear in the green room.
My breath catches in my throat and my heart falls. Not him, not tonight. I can’t cope with him on a night like this. Gorgeous, famous Michael O’Sullivan, plastic surgeon to the stars. And the hopefuls. And the has-beens.
Michael’s gaze meets mine in the mirror. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, which is such a waste of genetics, as I find him impossibly shallow and superficial. He’s always being photographed at the big fund-raisers and parties and nearly always with a different woman on his arm or at his side. I don’t like plastic surgeons, so you can imagine my loathing for a plastic surgeon who’s also a player.
“Dr. O’Sullivan,” I say coolly.
“Tiana,” he answers with a mocking smile. “How are you?”
“I’m so glad.”
Theoretically he hasn’t said anything wrong, but I’m already gritting my teeth.
Why do I detest this man so much? Is it because he’s become a bigger celebrity than many of his celebrity patients? Or is it the fact that last year he starred in his own reality show, appropriately named Dr. Hollywood? Or is it that he’s rich, ranked by Los Angeles magazine as one of the five wealthiest surgeons in Southern California, and I hate that he makes millions every year off of women’s insecurities? Or more appalling, People magazine had the gall to make him one of their “50 Sexiest Bachelors” last year?
“And you look rested,” I said icily. “Is that Botox and self-tanner?”
Michael just laughs as though I’m an adorable child and heads to the refrigerator to retrieve a bottle of chilled water. He’s wearing a dark, expensive suit, exquisitely tailored across the shoulders and through the chest. The man knows how to wear a suit, and with his open-collared white shirt he looks effortlessly elegant, which I also resent.
He’s the only man I know who makes me feel emotional and impulsive. But then he’s also the only man I know who pokes fun at me and my ambition.
Michael twists the cap off his water bottle. “One of my patients saw you on the Air France flight from Paris. Have a nice trip?”
“I did, thank you.”
“What were you doing in Paris? Work or pleasure?”
“Pleasure. I went to see— ” I break off, stopping short of mentioning Trevor. I’ve been dating Scottish actor Trevor Campbell for six months, and it’s not a secret, but I don’t want to talk about Trevor now, not with Dr. Hollywood, who is notorious for dating skinny blondes with big boobs and cotton candy for brains.