Trashed / Page 53

Page 53


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“And then one day, I was in an airport somewhere. Paris, maybe? Germany? I can’t remember. Somewhere in Europe. Oh, I remember now. It was France, after Cannes. I did this bit part in an indie art film, and I’d gone to the festival to support it. Anyway. I was in line in an airport shop, buying some water and a book, and I saw a magazine, a tabloid. And there were these pictures on the front page, photos of Emma and her co-star from her latest project. It was a serious drama, no romance at all. But there they were, holding hands. Kissing.” He shrugs, but it’s obviously difficult for him to act unaffected. “I flew back to L.A. early, didn’t tell her. Showed up at her house in Malibu, unannounced. Ryan’s car was there. She’s got this big bay window in front, you can see all the way through the house to the ocean behind. I saw them on the deck together. She was wearing his T-shirt, he was in his underwear. Drinking fucking mimosas. She saw me, and she just…fucking waved at me. Like, oh hey. No big deal.”

“What? She didn’t even care that you’d seen her?”

He shakes his head. “Nope. I was backing out of her driveway and she comes out the front door, still in his goddamned T-shirt and nothing else. She stops me. I open my window, and she leans in for a kiss. I was like, what? What the fuck is going on, right?” He snorts in derision. “Turns out, she had different ideas about the…exclusivity of our relationship than I did. You know what she told me? ‘We never said we were exclusive, Adam. I’m sorry if you assumed that, but I never said it.’ She’d—she’d been dating other guys the whole time we were together. I thought it—I thought we’d meant something, I guess. The whole time, a year and a half, whenever I wasn’t around, she was banging other dudes. Thing was, she never hid it, or lied about it, she just never told me, and I never thought to ask.”

I frown. “God, Adam, that’s fucked up.”

“That’s what I said. She wasn’t even upset. I was like, ‘Fuck you, we’re done. That’s messed up.’ She just shrugged and said it was fine, like whatever, no big deal. It was all over the tabloid, though. There was a photographer outside her house. He’d seen me at LAX and followed me to Emma’s place. Caught the whole thing on film.”

“So when that ended—”

He takes a swallow of beer and nods. “Yeah, after that, I swore off women. I was done.” His eyes go to me, sharp and hot. “Until I met you.”

“How am I different?”

“I don’t know, you’ve got this sense of…you are who you are and that’s it. A little insecure sometimes, maybe, but you’re not like everyone else. You’re tall, and you’ve got curves, and you’re so fucking sexy but I don’t think you even really know it.” He rests a hand on my knee, glances at me. “So what happened that you’re back in Michigan?”

I groan and lean my head against the back of the couch. “A lot of things.” I roll my head to look at him. “You want the long version or the short version?”

“Yes.”

I laugh. “Okay. Fine. I hated modeling. They stuffed me into clothes I didn’t always fit in, and I had to get changed in front of other people. Behind a screen usually, but never totally in private. And then I just stood there posing for hours and hours. Never got lunch breaks. Never had time to eat. There was barely time to breathe. The agency had me scheduled all day every day, on one thing or another. I mean, it was great in that I had a lot of work, which was cool. I was in demand. But I hated it. And I hated New York. So loud, so busy. All the time, morning and night, it never ended. So fast-paced, so chaotic. So big. Everyone’s rude and in a hurry. No one matters. No one gives a shit.” I look away, out the window. “And then there was this photographer. He was a big deal, a total legend in the modeling world. On one shoot, he had his eyes on me. Even when he was shooting other models, he’d glance at me. Watch me. He kept touching me, my hair, my clothes. Looking at me like…I don’t even know. Just leering. So creepy. So then I get a break and go outside, and he follows me. He fucking propositioned me, like ‘I can make your career, baby, all you gotta do is go home with me.’ Tried to make me touch him.

“That was the day I talked to Ruthie and she told me you’d visited her. I just couldn’t deal with anything else. So then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, this photographer got the director of my agency to book me for an exclusive swimsuit shoot in Florida. I had to do it, or else. So I did it. And I hated it. I hate wearing bathing suits. I just…I hate the way I look, the way I feel, and these were bikinis. It was awful. All the other models doing the shoot were actual swimsuit models. Skinny and petite and big-busted and beautiful. I stood out like a sore thumb.

“And again, this nasty-ass photographer shot me last, so it was just him and me and the crew. He finally got all his shots and then he dismissed the crew—so he could get me alone. He propositioned me again, but this time it wasn’t implied, like before. The first time it was ‘you help me, I’ll help you.’ Obvious, but not overt. That day on the beach, though, he straight up told me he would make me famous and successful or whatever if I sucked his cock. Outright told me I’d never get anywhere if I didn’t. Because of the way I look.”

I have to pause and gather myself. Anger bubbles up inside me even now, along with shame and embarrassment. “He told me…he said he had a big apartment and a big cock, and I could have both. That I shouldn’t refuse him, because it’s not like I’d ever get anyone better than him. He said it like it was obvious, because I’m…big.” The last word comes out as a whisper.

“Jesus, what an asshole.”

I try to shrug and can’t quite muster it. “Yeah, I slapped him, and then shoved him away from me. Flew back to New York. Then the manager from the agency met me at the airport with all my bags and sent me home. Like, don’t even bother coming back, you’re done. So here I am.”

He’s kneeling on the floor in front of me, his hands on my face. “You’re not big, Des. You’re beautiful. You’re perfect. You’re amazing and you’re sexy and—”

“Shut up, Adam. You’re sweet, but I know who I am, and I’m fine with it. Even after New York, I’m okay with how I look. Maybe even more so, because of everything that happened. I mean, before the stupid fucking bikini shoot, the agency owner and manager told me I had to lose weight. They said that even though I’m a plus size model, to do a bikini shoot I had to lose weight. I had to look a certain way. So I did it, and I hated it.” I can’t look at him. “It all made me so angry. Fucking Sidney telling me to lose weight. Ludovic telling me I’d never be able to get anyone better than him. The looks from the other models, like ‘what is she doing here?’ It just made me even more…shut down, I guess. I hated it, but I survived it, and I learned from it. I’m better for it. I won’t change who I am. I will not be made to feel like I’m less valuable or attractive than anyone else just because I’m taller or weigh more, or because I’m shaped a certain way. I can’t look any other way than I do. No matter how I diet or work out, I’ll never get any skinnier. And, if I try, if I just stop eating like I did in New York, I’ll not only be miserable, but unhealthy, too. And honestly, I don’t want to look any other way. I like how I look. I’m learning to be comfortable in my own skin.”


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