When It's Real
And now this? Yeah. I think this “friendship” has run its course.
“Forget it, don’t answer that,” I mutter. “Just get your stuff and go.”
“Don’t be like that, bro.”
My patience is nonexistent. “D,” I call over my shoulder.
Big D appears behind me. He crosses his enormous arms over his enormous chest then proceeds to glare daggers at Luke until the bassist sighs in defeat and starts gathering up his belongings.
With my bodyguard handling the sitch, I march off and take the stairs two at a time. This day just keeps getting worse and worse, starting with the meeting with my new fake girlfriend, a chick with a smart mouth and a chip on her shoulder, and ending with yet another person I considered a friend showing his true colors.
I’m seething as I burst into the media room on the main floor and grab a beer from the fridge. Yeah, I’m underage, but there’s been booze, drugs and girls at my disposal for as long as I can remember.
I twist open the cap and heave myself onto the leather sectional. It’s only five o’clock and I’m legit ready to call it a day.
Tyrese pokes his shiny shaved head into the room and grunts, “All taken care of, Oak.”
“Thanks, Ty.” I take a swig of beer and click the remote.
“D’s heading out,” he tells me.
I nod. Both my bodyguards stick to me like glue during the day, but only Ty sticks around on the nights I go out or have people over. Big D actually has a wife and kid. Ty’s single.
“Lemme know if you need anything.”
After he disappears, I turn up the volume and do some channel surfing, but nothing holds my interest for very long. I watch ten minutes of a documentary about komodo dragons. Five minutes of some crappy sitcom. A few minutes of sports highlights. A few seconds of the five o’clock news, which is just long enough to bum me out, so I quickly change channels again.
I’m about to turn off the TV altogether when a familiar face catches my eye. The channel I’m on is playing TMI, a mindless show where two asshats watch paparazzi footage and offer color commentary on it. The screen shows a tall, willowy blonde in skintight jeans and a flowy blue top leaving LAX airport.
That blonde is my mother.
“—and not too concerned about her son’s latest scandal,” the male host is saying.
Wait, I have a latest scandal? I scan my brain trying to think of what I’ve done lately, but I come up blank.
A melodic giggle pours out of the surround sound. I know that giggle well.
“Oh, pshaw! My son is a healthy, red-blooded nineteen-year-old. If making out with a pretty and legal-age girl outside a nightclub is a crime—”
Right. That scandal.
“—then go ahead and lock up half the teenage boys in this town,” my mother finishes. Then she pops her oversize sunglasses over her eyes and slides into the waiting limo in the airport pickup area.
“Maybe Oakley is just following his mommy’s example,” remarks the female host with spiky pink hair. “Because obviously Katrina Ford herself has no problems canoodling outside nightclubs. This pic was taken in London last night.”
A picture of my mom locking lips with some silver fox flashes on the screen. I turn off the TV before the commentary kicks in. I’m less concerned about Mom’s London shenanigans and more concerned about the fact that she’s back in LA.
And she didn’t even bother calling me.
Crap, or maybe she did, I realize a second later when I check my phone to discover a missed call from Mom’s LA number. I forgot I put my phone on silent during the conference at Diamond.
I hit the button to return the call then sit through at least ten rings before my mother’s voice chirps in my ear.
“Hey, Mom. When’d you get back in town?”
“This morning.” There’s a flurry of noise in the background, what sounds like loud hammering and the whir of power tools. “Hold on a second, sweetheart. I’m going upstairs because I can barely hear you. I’m having renovations done on the main floor.”
Again? I swear, that woman renovates her Malibu beach house every other month.
“Okay, I can hear you now. Anyway, I called to make sure you’re still planning to make an appearance at the charity benefit that the studio is hosting this weekend.”
My jaw stiffens. I guess it’s too much to hope that she called to actually talk to her only son.
“What’s the charity again?” I ask woodenly.
“Hmmm, I don’t remember. Cruelty against animals, maybe? No, I think it’s for cancer research.” Mom pauses. “No, that’s not right, either. It definitely has something to do with animals.”
I’m not gonna lie—my mother is an airhead.
She’s not dumb or anything. She can memorize a hundred-page script in less than a day. And when she’s passionate about something, she throws her whole heart and soul into it. Except the thing is...she’s passionate about the dumbest shit. Shoes. Redecorating the multimillion-dollar house she got in the divorce. Whatever new fad diet is making the rounds.
Katrina Ford was the queen of rom coms, vivacious and drop-dead gorgeous, but truth is, she doesn’t have much substance. She’s not winning any Mother of the Year awards, either, but I’m used to living in the background of her self-absorbed bubble.
It’s not like my dad is any better. Mom at least remembers to call me. Sometimes. Dustin Ford is too busy being an Academy Award-winning actor to remember he has a son.
“And sweetheart, please don’t bring a date,” Mom is saying. “If you show up with some girl on your arm, all the focus will be on that and not the charity we’re trying to raise money for.”
The charity whose name and purpose she doesn’t even know.
“I’ll get Bitsy to text you the details. I expect at least an hour of your time.”
“Sure, whatever you want, Mom.”
“That’s my boy.” She pauses again. “Have you spoken to your father lately?”
“Not for a few months,” I admit. “Last I heard, he was in Hawaii with Chloe.”
“Which one is Chloe again? The one with the boob job or the one with the botched Botox?”
“I honestly don’t remember.” Ever since my parents’ divorce two years ago, my father’s love life has been a revolving door of surgically enhanced women. Hell, that was his life even before the divorce.
Hence the divorce.
“Well, when you do speak to him, tell him there’s a box of his stuff that’s been sitting in the foyer closet for almost a year, and if he or one of his people doesn’t pick it up soon, I’m going to burn it in the fire pit out back.”