Happy Fourth of July!
This is one of my favorite holidays; I love the sense of history, of freedom, the celebration that everyone partakes in. Yes I even enjoyed it when I would have to work 12 hours shifts when I worked in tourism.
Before I go any further I want to say thank you to Drea for hosting this awesome hop.
Connections, is the story of two young women; Shayla Daniels and Cassandra Wood who are actresses on a daytime soap opera. Shayla has issues with her mother and a string of failed sexual relationships that complicate her life when she gets involved with Zach Jensen, a major league baseball player. Cassandra has spent her recent time in a relationship with Jordan, another actress on the show but no longer feels the same draw she once felt, only to feel it again when she meets a mysterious stranger down the shore.
Here’s an excerpt:
Each and every moment that she sat in this conference room made her stomach ache. The way it twisted felt as if a balloon was caught in a straitjacket, wanting to expand by unable to do so. The oil painting hung above the head of the table, looking down with purpose. The face of her great-grandfather looking over the empire he had created.
As she looked at the long cherry table and the empty seats that surrounded it, she couldn’t help but wonder how she had ended up here. This had never been her plan, this had never been her dream, yet somehow, she had ended up in the position of keeping this company afloat. She wasn’t the family member with the brains or the education for this at all, really that belonged to her sister. Their father’s will however, had been crystal clear; he wanted Addison to be in charge.
“Trying to get ready for the firing squad?” Bella, her older sister stood in the doorway. Her blond hair perfectly styled in a way that Addison had never been able to duplicate.
Sighing Addison looked over at her sister, feeling once more very much inferior, “Just a little bit. I just wish I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I barely made it through college. You should be the one running this company, not me.”
“That might be so, but that’s not what Dad wanted. For now, at least, you have to take charge. Grab the bull by the horn and take control.” A smile crept over Bella’s face that whenever Addison saw, it reminded her of Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmatians.
Chewing on her acrylic covered nail Addison looked over at her sister as what she felt was a brilliant idea swept over her, “Bella, what if, what if, I give this a try for like six months, or even a year. Then if I just can’t do it, if it doesn’t feel right, I name you as my replacement.”
Bella cracked her middle fingers before looking down at her younger sister, “Why Addison, I think that perhaps is a wonderful idea. I mean only if it’s what you would like.”
Addison burst across the room, “Yes Bella, it is. It really, truly is.” She grabbed her sister by the shoulders, “See this way, Dad gets what he wanted, and then we can make things right.”
Bella pulled away from her sister, “Very true. Now how long do you want to give this a try?”
Addison began to chew her nails again, “Well, perhaps I should go for a whole year, otherwise it might be obvious that I’m giving up.”
“Yes, I think a whole year would be good.” Bella smiled her villainous smile once again, “Though, Sister dear, if you do get in trouble before then, don’t feel like you can’t turn things over to me.”
Addison felt the weight of the world release from her shoulders, “What would I do without you Bella?”
Bella reached out and stroked her sisters strawberry blond hair, “Well Addison, let’s hope that you never have to find out.”
“And cut!” The Directors voice called out over the speaker before he came out onto the stage floor and looked at his two actresses, Cassandra Wood who played Bella and Shayla Daniels who played Addison. “Girls, that was wonderful. It will be a great Friday cliffhanger. I love the way the two of you played it off. Addison, still unsure and unaware that Bella is full of jealousy, brilliant Shayla, and you Cassandra, the way you kept up with the calculated plan Bella has in store for her sister was perfect.”
Shayla felt a sense of relief as the director made his comments, ever since she’d been told about the upcoming storyline where her character Addison would be hidden in a cabin in the woods, only to discover her Birth Mother was alive pending a recast in the role, her stomach had been in knots.
“Shay?” Cassandra snapped her fingers several times trying to get her friends attention, “Earth to Shayla.”
“Sorry, I think I drifted off into worry world over who will end up playing Addison’s Birth Mother.” She pulled out the hair tie that had been keeping her hair up and out of her face.
Cassandra shook her head as she snatched the tie from Shayla and put her own hair up in a ponytail, “Oh please, what are you so worried about? Bringing back the character of Maeve after all this time is a great move. Plus, won’t it be awesome to explore the dynamic of the mother-daughter relationship between her and Addison, along with the one between Addison and Chloe?”
“You’re right.” Shayla walked towards the door, “Plus the relationship between Bella and Addison and how Bella’s betrayal will affect them in the long run.”
Cassandra stopped to pull off her high heels, “You know, I half wish Bella would end up in a coma, just so I could go a few months without wearing these damn things.”
Shayla laughed as she looked at the flats she was wearing, “Well, it’s too bad that you never get to wear spiffy flats like these, but I guess this is one of the things that makes Addison the low maintenance type of girl and Bella the high maintenance type of girl.”
Cassandra glared at her friend, “Ya know its stuff like that which makes me realty anxious to do the scene where Bella poisons Addison when they go out for cocktails.”
Shayla shook her head as she opened the door of her dressing room, “Yes well, you will have to wait a whole week for that.”
“True.” Cassandra pouted, “But, it is one of the first scenes we will get to tape when we get back from this week long break.”
“I would much rather be here, pretending to be drugged up, then with my family or at my high school reunion.”
“Oh come on now, it won’t be that bad. I mean you will spend most of your time off with your high school friends.” Cassandra flopped down on the couch.
Shayla went behind the screen she had in the corner and began to change into her clothing and out of Addison’s. “I haven’t spoken to most of my high school friends in the past ten years, okay a few it’s been about six since I saw them after college graduation. But I only live a state away and I never visit home. I couldn’t even tell you if my high school still does all the same stuff for homecoming or if they’ve been changed by the internet age.”
Cassandra started to laugh, “Yes, I’m sure the pep-rally has been replaced by all the kids just texting, or tweeting or facebooking each other.”
Shayla stuck her head out from around the screen, “Okay, maybe not. But can you imagine how different it is compared to ten years ago?”
“I don’t want to think about ten years ago. Hello, I was on a different soap playing a runaway teenager.” Cassandra shook her head, “Still can’t believe I lost the Emmy that year.”
Shayla came out from behind the screen, no longer dressed in a business suit that would’ve made Amanda Woodward cringe, but now in a pair of jeans and t-shirts with a distressed image on it. “Yes well, Anorexia always beats teenage runaway, besides the role of Bella has got to be far more fulfilling.”
Cassandra stood, digging her toes into the carpeting, “You only say that because you play the goody-goody and I get to play the menacing bitch of a sister.”
“Which has got to be far more fun than the goody-goody with the tortured past.”
“Touché, Shayla, touché!” Cassandra stretched and looked over at the clock on the counter, “Crap, I have to get out of this place. I have that flight to Kansas tonight for the meet and greet and then after that a flight to Orlando for the week.”
Shayla hugged her friend, “Well, you have fun when you get to hang out with that fun family of yours.”
“Oh hush now. You will have fun with yours. I’m sure of it. You just need to chill the hell out.” Cassandra stood in the doorway, “Besides save all the tension for when you get back here and I poison you.”
Shayla picked up a glove and tossed it at Cassandra who caught it and tossed it back, “Very funny Cassandra.”
“Text me when your mother starts to lecture you about your career choice.” Cassandra called out as she backed away from the dressing room.
Shayla picked up her purse from the couch and started to dig through it, trying to find her cell phone and metro card. Sitting against the door was her suitcase and a backpack full of fan mail she had every intention of reading and responding to, especially if it gave her an excuse to lock herself away in her childhood bedroom, and not deal with her Mother.
“Shay! Wait up!” His voice was smooth and rich, the kind that made the fans melt whenever he spoke on screen.
She stopped and shook her head; this was not the time to deal with him. Couldn’t he come out just thirty seconds later, after she’d made it to the elevator and the safety of the door closing? She knew she had to stop and talk though; otherwise William would be calling her all weekend.
“What do you want William?” She couldn’t hide the frustration in her voice, the only time she could was when she was Addison and he was Dylan.
He reached out to touch her strawberry hair as if they were lovers, “Shay, come over this evening. We can watch a movie On-Demand, or we could prepare for that love scene we have coming up.”
She couldn’t believe he actually thought this would work, though she was half-tempted to go with it as a way to get out of going home. “Sorry William, I’m going home for Thanksgiving. Maybe one of the extras would like to be seduced.” She started back towards the elevator and then turned around, “Oh and the love scene is just a fantasy, for Dylan just as much as it is for you.”
The elevator dinged and she got on, watching William as his jaw was dropped and almost on the floor.
The train ride to New Jersey always seemed like a torturous ride to hell whenever Shayla found herself having to take it. She would always bring a script or two to read, hiding in a binder just in case a fan was nearby, though sometimes she wondered if there were any until she would randomly be bombarded with calls of “Addison! Addison! We love you!” followed by a generic comment regarding her current storyline.
The scenery blurred by her, she knew she should make a few notes on the scene she’d been reading, but her focus just wasn’t there. She was caught up in memories of her high school days. Recalling how stupid she and her friends had been when they’d taken the train into the city.
It was always a game of truth or dare that would lead to the same thing every time. Shayla would go up to a strange guy and hit on him. Sometimes it would just be a make out session on the way home, a few times she gave blow jobs to guys in alley ways in the city, and she did have a fair share of sex with these guys.
She could feel her body warm at the memory of one in particular. He’d actually been her first, he was older then she was. He was a young executive who had a thing for younger girls. He just hadn’t realized just how young she was.
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