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Chapter 1 Excerpt

“Would you be still already?” Simone insisted.

“I am still.”

“No, you’re not. You keep fidgeting in your seat while you got me touching up already flawless makeup.”

“No, see, right there.” Phaedra Winters, better known to the world as Liv Summers, pointed to the area above her left eyebrow. “It’s not blended like how you normally do it. I see me coming through.”


“I don’t.” Simone huffed. “But I know you won’t be satisfied until I fix ‘it’.” She made air quotes with the last part of her statement.

“Thank you.” Phaedra offered her long-time makeup assistant, pretty much manager, and best friend all rolled up in one, Simone Gadberry, a genuine smile.

Simone crossed her arms over her voluptuous chest and let her curvaceous hip rest against the vanity.

“You know what? I might as well start from scratch with your face.”


Phaedra looked up at her with wrinkled eyebrows. “What? Why?”


“Because, you know what I have to do to give you your finished look. Aside from the eyeshadow, the bronzing, and minimal contouring I do for your beats, you know the other whole rigmarole I do for your face.


“First, there’s the primer, and then there’s Dr. Johnson’s foundation, and then I add the powder, and then the seal spray to help it all stay intact and last throughout your shoots. Adding more foundation on top of that will show in a big way. So, the hours I spent earlier before we showed up here, beating your face will have been for nothing.” She turned and grabbed a face towel and drenched it with makeup remover and turned to hand it to Phaedra. “But if that’s what you want, then here, wipe your face.”


She looked up at Simone confused. “Why won’t you do it?”


“Because I don’t see a problem, you do, so you should help fix it.” Simone cocked her head to the side in playful defiance.


Phaedra snatched the towel from her and began to wipe the slate, that was her face, clean. Freeing it of the layers of makeup she wore in public to hide her true self.


When she had rid her face of all but the foundation on the edge of her chin, the door to her private dressing room burst open and in walked the photographer’s assistant. “Li—”


“Simone.” Phaedra growled and quickly buried her face in the towel in her hand.


Simone rushed to the door, pushing the assistant outside before she was able to get a good glimpse of Phaedra.


“How may I help you?” Simone, out of breath from her dash across the mid-sized room, huffed at the assistant.


The assistant stuttered as she worked to gain her bearings and held up the outfit in her hand. “Marlon wanted me to give this to Liv. This is her first outfit instead of what we sent in earlier.”


Barely looking at it, Simone snatched the outfit from the assistant’s hand and rushed to close and lock the door behind her. Once she double checked to make sure the door was locked, as she knew Phaedra would demand this time, she paused to catch her breath. Deep, slow breaths helped her heart rate return to a normal pace. She stared up at the reflection of Phaedra still balled up in her chair. Her face was buried in the towel and she was tucked in the cocoon she created with her knees drawn tightly into her chest.


Simone shook her head both understanding and vexed by Phaedra’s posture. She straightened off the door and headed towards Phaedra. “The door is closed and locked now,” she said as she again stood next to Phaedra and rested her hand on her shoulder.


“Are you sure?” Phaedra’s voice was muffled by the towel still covering her face.


“I’m sorry I didn’t double check it before, but I’m certain it is now. You’re safe now. But sweetie, how much longer do you plan to keep this up? There’s only so much hiding it you can do.”


Phaedra finally looked up at the mirror, unmasked, and made eye contact with Simone. “I’ve made it this far in the industry hiding it, I think I can keep it up until my modeling career is over.”

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