Things You Can't Take
by Erin Lockwood Genre: Contemporary Fiction
How far would you go for your best friend....
Abigail and Kessia shared a childhood bond that couldn't be broken. Challenged, yes—but never broken.
Born into Hollywood lineage, Kessia understood the risks and pressures of celebrity life and willingly dedicated hers to serving and protecting her best friend’s rise to stardom. But when Abigail learns of Kessia’s own behind-the-scenes battles with a predator, her sense of friendship drives her down a path that blurs the lines between loyalty and revenge at all costs.
We’re belting out a song from Abigail’s playlist when Barry pulls into the studio lot.
“Okay, turn it down!” Abigail shouts over the music.
“No, keep it up!” I yell. “I love this song.”
Barry, of course, listens to Abigail.
“I can’t,” she starts to yell but realizes she’s shouting when the music has been turned off. “I can’t let them hear me singing a promiscuous song. It’s irresponsible. I’m a role model,” she says softer. “Child actors have a higher rate of getting into trouble instead of moving onto bigger careers as adults.”
I roll my eyes a little. “We’re just having fun,” I mumble to myself. “It’s just a song.”
I throw my badge lanyard over my head before getting out of the car. Abigail hoists her Louis Vuitton purse over her shoulder, and we walk into the studio. It looks like a big airplane hangar.
“I’m gonna miss this,” Abigail says to me.
I hook my arm through hers. “I know, but we have Paris to look forward to.”
She smiles and perks up. We say hello to people as we walk by, making our way to her dressing room.
As soon as the door closes behind us, there’s a knock.
“Come in!” Abigail shouts.
“How’s my favorite star?” Pete Hallman’s head pops out from behind the door.
With my back to him, I make a face as if I were gonna throw up. He pushes the door all the way open and steps in, closing it behind him. I feel as if the air has been sucked out of the room.
At least Abigail is here. I panic inside whenever I’m alone with him. I always try to find an excuse to leave as soon as possible.
Abigail moves to him and reaches her arms out to hug him. “Hi, Pete. How are you?”
“I’m very well, thanks,” he says to her. Then, he looks my way. “How about you, Kessia? Where’s my love?” He puts his arms out and expects me to touch him.
I’ve never told Abigail the extent of how uncomfortable he makes me because I can tell she doesn’t feel the same way. It’s also partly because of how I was raised. My mom insists that producers, and directors are like gods and goddesses. I always have to use my absolute best manners.
Abigail and I have known Pete since we were seven when Abigail joined the cast of Heart of the Family, playing the youngest daughter. Now, she’ll be filming the final episodes in Paris soon.
“Of course. Hi, Pete,” I say to him and move closer to hug him.
When his arms wrap around me, he lets his fingers fall under the top of my jean shorts, touching my bare skin on my backside. His hand almost goes so far down that he could cup my butt cheek with his palm, but he stops and pulls his hand out before Abigail notices anything.
Pete stands up and backs away, as if nothing ever happened. It makes me feel crazy for thinking that something did happen. His hand touched my butt.
I just wish someone could see what he does so that I don’t have to be the one who says something.
It’s not just Abigail. Nobody ever seems to notice. If they did, they might not say anything anyway since he’s the studio’s most successful and awarded producer. “Walking Gold,” is what Entertainment Weekly once referred to him as. “Unstoppable,” was in another publication.
I step back, giving myself even more distance from Pete, and pretend to organize Abigail’s vanity.
“So, Pete, what’s up?” Abigail asks.
He leans back on his heels and rubs his round belly. “I thought I’d pop in and watch the final studio taping. We might have a project for you.”
Abigail looks surprised. “Really? That would be great. I’ll have Tammy call you.”
Pete’s eyes dart to me before looking at Abigail again.
“All right. You go get ’em, kid.” He puts his arm around Abigail and taps her lower back. He takes a step toward me and does the same thing, except his hand lands a little lower.
When he leaves the room, I feel like I can finally take a breath again.
“This is great news,” Abigail says to herself, grabbing her phone. “Hey”—she excitedly looks up at me—“did I ever tell you that Pete—”
“You should probably call Tammy,” I quickly interrupt her. I do not want to hear anything about Pete.
“Right,” she says, putting the phone to her ear, calling her agent.
Erin Lockwood grew up in Castro Valley, California and attended the University of Oregon, where she graduated in 2003 with a degree in journalism. From there she moved to Denver and spent the next seven years searching for the love of her life and building the family of her dreams.
It wasn’t long until, with children starting preschool and more time on her hands, Erin refocused on her career, beginning with a successful entry into the world of residential real estate as a Realtor. Free time was spent reading book after book (and binge-watching the subsequent films) in the New Adult genre. Feeling hopelessly in love with her husband, she wrote him a short story leading up to their fifth wedding anniversary. That’s when she discovered her tireless passion to share her experience of falling in love through fictional characters. That story evolved into the first novel in the Angles trilogy.
Erin still lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Phil, and their three children.