Tough Enough(2)

By: M. Leighton

Mona is tall and fair and beautiful with a sweet, outgoing personality. I am none of those things, which is probably why we get along so well.

“White’s great, but he doesn’t look like that.” White Bristow, Mona’s boyfriend, is the executive producer of the show. He’s fairly good looking, but nothing like the man I’m about to meet, Kiefer Rogan. White’s as much of a player as Kiefer is alleged to be, but Mona loves him enough to overlook it. No matter what else he’s doing (or who else he’s doing), he always comes back to Mona. I guess maybe he loves her in his own way and that seems to be enough for her. “God, I wish he did, though.”

“Looks aren’t everything,” I remind her softly.

Her expression falls into one of regret and sadness. She reaches out and smoothes the hair that I always keep swept over my left shoulder. It can always be found draped around my neck to hide my scars. She’s one of the few people who know what lies beneath the swath of hair. And how sensitive I am about it. “No, looks aren’t everything, but if they were, you’d still be one of the most wanted.”

I smile. That’s Mona—always seeing the best in me, whether it’s accurate or not. “That’s sweet, but you and I both know that’s not true.”

“Oh, but it is. Look at you, Katie. All this thick, wavy auburn hair, those big dark blue eyes and you’re so tiny! I’d give anything to be petite like you.”

“Mona, you’re like a living, breathing Barbie Doll. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to change a thing, not even your Amazonian height,” I tease. She’s not the least bit insecure about her five-eleven frame. In fact, she’d be the first to tell you that it’s her unusual stature, replete with legs that go for miles, that helped her get the attention of White. And White is the person responsible for bringing her into the Hollywood world.

I stop in front of my “office” door and turn to face her. Mona leans up against the jamb, her eyes going all dreamy. “I wonder if Rogan likes tall women,” she muses.

Back to Kiefer Rogan, I think with a deflated sigh. I won’t be able to avoid him much longer, so why do we have to talk about him now?

My bitterness surfaces. A guy like him—beautiful, wealthy, had the world in the palm of his hand—showed me just how destructive men like these could be, and he left me with scars to prove it. Scars that won’t ever let me forget it.

In an uncharacteristic show of emotion, I let that bitterness flow, secretly hoping it’ll stop her from bringing the conversation back to him. “From what I’ve read in the tabloids, he likes anything with boobs. But I think he’s into the divas mostly, which would count you out. Thank God!” I, for one, am glad that Mona isn’t conceited about her looks or her position here at the studio. She’s utterly guileless, happily clueless and I like her just the way she is—diva not included.

“I could be a diva,” she says, straightening, her expression turning enthusiastic. “I could totally be a diva. If it meant having those flirty green eyes and that drop-dead gorgeous smile turned on me, I’d be whatever he wanted me to be.”

Her little-girl giggle belies her words. She could never be a diva. “You don’t have a diva bone in your body. Besides, why would you want a guy like that? He dates the most horrible women and he goes through them like water. I mean, look at Victoria,” I say, lowering my voice as I scan the hall left and right to ensure we aren’t being overheard. “What kind of decent person would date her? She’s awful!” I go on cynically, finding some strange comfort in pigeonholing him, calling a spade a spade. Hoping that maybe if I build up my armor against him, I won’t be swayed by his pretty face. “I bet he’s a conceited jerk who only cares about what his arm candy looks like.”

“Guys who look like him can be annnything they want, as long as they stay hot.”

“Well, he’s all yours, then. I don’t have room for cocky, obnoxious, self-involved sleazeballs in my life.” I glance at my watch. Six fifteen a.m. Mr. Rogan should be here by six thirty, but I won’t be holding my breath. “I bet he doesn’t even show up on time. Jerk!”

Mona sighs, tilting her head, a faraway look in her eyes. “I’d wait all day for a guy like that. He makes my special places shiver.”

“Well, you and your special places are welcome to him. I don’t see what the big deal is,” I reply, turning into my office. “He’s not even that good-looking.”

I take two steps through the door and come to an abrupt halt. There, settled in my makeup chair with one ankle resting on his other knee, looking highly amused and as though he’s been here for a while, is none other than Kiefer Rogan.