Home > Faking It with the Frenemy

Faking It with the Frenemy
Author: Nadia Lee

Chapter One



You’d think having billions of dollars would fix all your problems, then give you what you didn’t even know you wanted.

It doesn’t.

I know, not because I have billions of dollars, but because I work for a man who does. And a statue he wanted last month is…well…not even close to being in his possession. Not because he can’t afford it, but because the reclusive hermit artist won’t return my damn calls.

Or texts.

Or emails.

So I follow up for the thirty millionth time, instead of doing actual productive work. Like coming up with something my boss wants before he even knows he wants it.

“Hi, François, this is Kim Sanford, calling—again—on behalf of Salazar Pryce. It’s about your Wife statue. He would like to buy it from you. I know it’s not a commissioned piece, and he’s prepared to offer a very good price. Please call me back.” I recite my number, then, because I’m desperate, I add, “I might send you a naked selfie if you return my call in the next twenty-four hours.”

I hang up. Hopefully that will motivate him. He’s been wanting me to model for him. He said it’d only be for four to ten weeks, depending on how his muse was feeling, and he’d put me up in his flat in Paris.

“Ma chère, just imagine! You will be immortalized!” Given where he was looking at the time, he probably meant my breasts would be immortalized. Actually, I think I exist only as breasts in his world. “But they are magnificent! Marvelously proportioned and shaped. A thousand years from now, people will admire your form!”

More like people will be jerking off to my bronzed tits. Not my idea of a flattering artistic situation. Besides, I’m not going to spend weeks sitting around nude in François’s studio, not even for the sake of art that people might pay millions of dollars for…especially when the purpose of said art is to memorialize my mammaries.

Maybe I’m just plebian. I don’t get fine art in general. I only buy what I buy because my boss wants it. And I’m pretty sure Salazar doesn’t actually care that much for art. I overheard his financial advisor telling him it’s a safe investment… Salazar just agreed with a small grunt.

But maybe François could use the naked selfies to inspire his next project—or so he’ll likely claim—assuming I ever send him any, of course. I never promised.

Praying that the temperamental Frenchman deigns to listen to my message, I go back to my laptop to put the final touches on the special getaway itinerary my boss wants. He already rejected three earlier versions, saying they were too “plain.” A hundred thousand bucks in two weeks is apparently just too basic.

I lean back in my seat in Salazar’s elegant downtown office and purse my lips. His desk is empty; he’s staying home today. I look out at the blue sky, interrupted by unevenly tall columns of buildings. I wonder what I can add to make the getaway even grander. Triple the budget and extend the length to a month? But what could he possibly do with his ex-wife for that long? And why in the world did they start dating again after they got divorced?

The cheery opening jingle from “Sleigh Ride” startles me. I have an instant of total WTF?…then roll my eyes. Jo. She’s the only one who would dare to change my ringtone, and she probably did it yesterday during happy hour.

I scowl at the annoyingly cheery music—spring is way too early for Christmas tunes—but suddenly realize it might be François finally calling me back. Woohoo!

“This is Kim Sanford,” I answer, using the Bluetooth set lodged in my ear. Hope surges like a gathering tsunami. I need to hear his gravelly, accented greeting. I’d even welcome a few of his ridiculous innuendos. I know, I’ll put us on video call so he can talk to my breasts like he prefers…

“Did you see those articles about your roommate? Why didn’t you tell me she married Nate Sterling!” The familiar voice is breathless and fluttery, like an overly excited sparrow. But I didn’t miss the small undertone of disappointment and censure because I’m not the one who married Nate Sterling, billionaire philanthropist and the last available bachelor from the filthy-rich Sterling family.

And who else but Mom would call to talk about tabloid articles?

Hope deflates like a balloon that hasn’t been tied properly. “I was busy,” I say, as flippantly as possible. Mom has this super radar when it comes to gossip involving rich men and their marital status. If she could tweak it so it was calibrated to detecting gossip about François’s whereabouts, she could sell it to me for a nice chunk of change.

Or not. I’m certain she credits her radar for her success in life, if marrying five times can be considered “success.”

“How can this be? She’s only been in L.A. for…what? Ten months?” Confusion and outrage color my mom’s voice. If she were here, she’d look like a puppy that was denied bacon that all its littermates got. “How can she already be set up for life when you’re not? It’s not fair!”

I say nothing and save the document on my computer. Mom needs to vent unimpeded. That way she won’t call again about this topic for at least another week. The best course of action for now is just to let everything she says flow through one ear and out the other.

“You need a rich husband, Kim. Before it’s too late.”

“It’s already too late.” How many times have we had this conversation? “I can’t do what you did. Five husbands is just…beyond my ability.” Loveless marriages are sad, even if you’re swimming in money. And it sucks even more for the kids. I know for a fact that I was an accident. Nothing ruins a woman’s figure like pregnancy, and Mom’s priority was to cling to youth and beauty for as long as possible in order to snag rich men. She only had me because it would have looked heartless to her fourth husband to have me aborted. And he only allowed it because it would make him look like a dick not to pretend he welcomed the new life he’d created with Mom.

I’m sure he regretted that when he realized he’d have to pay child support.

“Don’t be silly,” Mom says. “I had to struggle because I only had millionaires to choose from. You’re surrounded by billionaires. One good marriage should do it.”

“I’m not eighteen anymore, Mom,” I say, suppressing a long, hard sigh. Only my mother would label being married to a millionaire a struggle. “No billionaire wants a trophy wife over the age of twenty.”

“You’re still pretty enough, but that won’t last forever. Things are different now, so you can hang on to your youth for a little longer—at least facially—with Botox. But your breasts are another matter.”

François disagrees, but I keep that to myself. No need to overexcite Mom. The elusive Frenchman is worth a few million bucks at least. But then again, he’s only worth a few million bucks. Trophy wives seem to be setting their sights higher these days.

She continues, “Can’t Botox your way to perkier boobs, dear. Gravity spares no one.”

Only Mom would think about Botoxing your breasts. I look down at mine and shudder at the thought of injecting them with bubonic plague or whatever the latest anti-aging rage is. They’re perky enough. And when they reach the point of needing injections or implants or whatever…

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