Like a runaway train.
You will consume me,
But I can't walk away.
soundtrack: Crashed by Daughtry
South Beach – Stanfield Residence – 10AM
Rayne curled up on the rug in her room and scribbled absently all over her algebra homework. It was quiet, Saturday morning – the twins were out of the house; her father had finally gone to the studio after three days of mostly hanging out with her mother like they hadn’t seen each other in months. She brooded at the notebook paper, turning it, looking at what she’d drawn. She hadn’t slept – the math blurred into meaningless menacing equations about nothing.
All those photos in Probe…she’d spent all night looking at shots of Ryan naked, going onto the net and looking at even more. Thinking about it, Rayne felt a flush rising from her abdomen up to her face, the heat of it unsettling and causing her to gasp sharply. This was messed up…why was he so hot for her mother? She’d known it but seeing it like that…
Staring at what she’d written, Rayne started to crumple it all up, then stopped because it was homework she’d at least halfway done and didn’t want to rethink the problems. Ryan; it probably had been him last night; he probably had walked out and maybe hadn’t even noticed she and Randi were even there.
She shoved the papers aside, got to her feet and studied her reflection wondering what Ryan saw when he looked at her. She certainly wasn't a child any more. If she let down her hair, she might even be able to pass for her mother, if she wore sunglasses to hide her eyes. Or if it was dark. Dark like it had been on the beach that night someone took those shots of her mother and Ryan. That was so gross – she had Cooper Stanfield; why did she need to go wreck Ryan’s life? That had to be why he got fired, all because of her.
Her cell buzzed again like it had been doing all night, texting from everywhere about did she know yet and had she seen it and OMFG and Ryan is so hot have you seen him like that and, even worse, your Dad is so hot. Yeah well were they surprised about that?
She turned it off and paced restlessly around her room, finally stopping to stare down at the copy of Probe she’d tossed on the floor. Between the two of them, she and Randi had bought every copy on the stand last night although Randi had said it was stupid and pointless and it would be all over everywhere so she may as well get over it fast. Randi didn’t get it. Ryan wouldn't even be in Probe except for her Dad. Because he got into it with some naked model and so they thought they could use Ryan to sell more of their shit. Even looking at the cover again, her body reacted, pulse quickening. If that had been her...
Needing air, Rayne walked out onto the little deck outside her bedroom, the place her father had talked about wanting to close off because it was too exposed to the street. Pretty funny, him talking about exposure. What was she going to do? Wait for him to find out and come home and tell her mother? And how long was it going to take before Wyatt found out, and he already hated Ryan and would blame him. Everybody would blame Ryan.
She slammed the slider to the left so hard the whole glass wall shook. No she wasn’t going to wait.
Rayne snatched the copy of Probe and started out. Where was her mother now? Probably sleeping, just snoozing away with no idea what was going on or what people were looking at or thinking right now. Yeah, there she was, on the patio, all happy about everything. She’d used Ryan. Everybody was using him.
South Beach – Camilla Lombardo residence - 10:15 AM
“What did I tell you I knew it!” Shaking with anger, Camilla glared down at Heydon, who was slowly and deliberately going through the copy of Probe. “Are you listening to me! Nobody ever listens to me and I told them that woman who messed with my brother would fuck with Cooper too! If you do it once it’s going to happen again!”
Heydon paged through the thing. The shots of Coop were set up, Playboy model, the whole deal, nothing new there. The topless shots of Cam sprawled out on Nikki Beach next to Coop, that popped out at him but he remembered that day. He remembered it because he’d watched her; it was almost impossible not to watch her. She'd wandered off and hooked up with someone else. The rest of it was something Cooper had to deal with, if it was real, and it did look bad. What this had to do with Cammie’s brother escaped him though. That was ancient history. Everything always revolved around her family; it had gotten old a long time ago. “Cam,” he began, stopped, irritated, started again, “this has nothing to do with your brother or anyone else in your damned family. I'm tired of listening to you go on about them! Cut it out!”
“My damned family?” Camilla stepped in close as Heydon got up off the couch, glaring back at her. “Fuck you Heydon! You’re a fucking asshole!”
Heydon stood unmoving, heart beginning to pound in his chest and fired back at her. “Yeah? Take a look at those shots again, Cam. You’re right in there. If it’s good for her, it’s good for you. I’m an asshole? You’re a fucking bitch!”
“Go fuck yourself!” she snarled, stabbed a middle finger in his face and left the room.
Without a moment’s hesitation, he slammed right after her, reached out and pulled her hard against his bare chest. Camilla made no effort to move away and ran her open palms across his skin and nipples, her touch slow and deliberate and sensual. “Is that what you want?” Heydon demanded.
Camilla was breathing hard, those famous breasts rising and falling with each rapid breath, mouth still turned down in a growl, but her eyes were shining. “That’s what I said didn’t you hear what I said. I said fuck you Heydon Mitchell.”
Grabbing a fistful of black hair Heydon pulled Camilla close feeling the heat of her skin against his as he leaned in. “Any time,” he murmured and lowered his mouth onto hers, finally. It had taken years to get there, for him, and for her, too many years to let it go now. “Any time Cammie.”
South Beach – Stanfield Residence - 10:30 AM
Yesterday’s clouds and rains had blown out to the east, out to the ocean. Rainie paused on the warm stone patio and looked down at her mother.
And it was hard to look at her now and not think of those photos with Ryan all spread out on the beach…it was just weird to think about her mother that way.
“Mom,” she began, deciding her mother probably wasn’t all that asleep yet since her dad had left less than an hour ago, “I need to ask you something. What happens to the people you go out with but they don’t work out?”
Beth blinked at her hazily, all those rings she wore glinting in the sunlight. Rayne had asked her once about them but all her mother would say is that they meant something special to her father. She stirred, slid her head sideways and responded in a sleepy voice, “What? What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about!” Rayne glared at her. “You know exactly what I’m talking about! So you take a hard left turn and what happens to them?”
That got her up on her feet, that smooth slinky thing her mother did when she stood up. She glared right back at Rayne. “Excuse me? I’d better be mistaken about what you’re saying because you are way out of line!”
Rayne was, for a couple of seconds, uncertain. Those shots of her mother and Ryan, and those shots of her father and the woman…that was going to be bad. If it was me, she thought…if it was….
Rayne took a step back. It wasn’t her though and she would never have done something like that to Ryan. “The ones who don’t make it,” she repeated. “You just kick them to the curb, run over them and leave them there like road kill. Right? Is that the way it works?”
Her mother stepped right back up into her space, folded her arms and aimed those eyes at her. Rayne could see the anger, feel it. “What on earth are you talking about? Who have I kicked to the curb and run over? You’ve got about half a second to explain yourself.”
Rainie drew a hard breath, pulled the copy of Probe out of her pocket where she’d stuffed it. “Ryan is the road kill, isn’t he, Mom? And you know what, take a look at this. You’re about to be run over by the same truck.”
She dropped the tabloid on the stone pavers, turned her back to her mother and walked away, her heart beating fast. Behind her, Beth dropped to her knees and picked it up without looking at it yet.
Eyes boring holes into her daughter's back Beth snarled, “You stop right there and look at me! Rayne? What’s going on?”
“Take a look, Mom,” Rayne replied over her shoulder, smiling. “Take a good look. You’re right there on the pavement with Ryan now. And that woman with Dad isn’t going to offer to scrape you up with a spatula – I don’t see where she could hide one with what she’s wearing.”
South Beach – Starfish Pier - 11 AM
Completely dissatisfied with what he’d gotten from Tyler, an interview that was more an effort on his part to wake the man up and keep him awake, Rafe parked his bike and walked out onto the pier to get a cup of coffee. Tyler should have been an easy piece but the man had shut down on him. He’d go back, keep at it, once Tyler woke up, if that ever happened.
While he was grabbing a cup of coffee, why not bring home doughnuts or cookies or whatever they had here. Rafe took a look around the place – about a hundred different kinds of bread and very fancy cakes. Gayl might like one of those, if he could figure out which one to buy. Maybe they had morning buns; she liked those. He hesitated and looked around again.
On the far side of the shop, between bread and jam and cheesecake and the prissy little cakes, Rafe noticed the magazine rack. Curious if they had the latest issue of Stone with his recent piece, he took a break from examining baked goods and walked towards it. Don’t keep staring at this shit looking for your own work, he warned himself. You’re making a good living now, don’t worry about it.
Pulling up short in front of the stand, Rafe stared at the cover of Probe. Right there, right in his face, right in everyone’s face – Stanfield with Asteria. Yeah he knew who she was – body beautiful centerfold with ambition, her 15 minutes of fame and she'd stretch it out if she could. That didn’t surprise him; if it wasn’t her, it would be some other hot piece of ass. But the split shot, that shook him. Beth and Ryan McDermott. That was unbelievable. “What the fuck…”
Rafe left the shop and strode down the pier, glancing briefly aside at nothing, his anger so intense he was having trouble breathing. He’d known Cooper was playing around, but all this time she’d been at it too? He shoved his hands into his back pockets and remembered that scene backstage in Paris. McDermott had been uneasy and he’d picked up on it but completely misinterpreted it. Son of a bitch…had his dipstick right down in the goods and standing there bullshitting about Stanfield. Not going to forget that – if there was anything he could dig up, he wouldn’t hold back, not now.
Rafe stopped at the end of the pier and let the wind and spray sting his face and bare arms. He felt it. He felt it like he felt how he’d put himself out there for her, getting up in Stanfield’s face, over and over again, taking him on for Beth’s sake. It stung like hell.
“Girl,” Rafe growled quietly to himself, “if you don’t have to answer to him, you sure have to answer to me.”
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 9