Chapter One, Section 7

DSCN5050By lunchtime, Charlotte’s plan not to think about Jake was unraveling. So she called her roommate Taylor, and they met for tacos at the stand on Pico Boulevard.

Aware that Taylor had some pretty firm rules about relationships, Charlotte launched the conversation in between bites of drippy pork. “Jake didn’t go for my pitch about Sherman’s Stallion.”

“Yeah, well you knew that was a stretch,” Taylor said. “It sounded weird to me and I like animals. I even read the whale memoir.”

Charlotte wiped the juice from the leaking tortilla off her face. “OK there’s something else – but promise you won’t get mad at me.”

“Oh no. Oh, no Charlotte, what happened?”

“His wife found out about us.”

“Why didn’t you listen to me? I told you not to sleep with him! I mean, I work at a family law firm, cheating spouses are our bread and butter.”

Charlotte stirred her iced horchata. “I didn’t do anything illegal, right?”

Taylor chewed gracefully. “I think it’s OK if you’re equals but his fault if he’s a superior. So he could be more screwed than you.” In five-inch heels and immaculate makeup, Taylor somehow managed not to spill one greasy drop on her linen jacket.

“It was consensual,” said Charlotte. Although technically, he had been the one to invite her back to his hotel room when they were on location in Florida.

“Doesn’t matter. You’re the tramp cause he’s married.”

“Oh come on, this isn’t the fifties.”

“Charlotte, the ‘other woman’ is always vilified. Anyway, I don’t make the rules; I just type them up in document files and press send.”

Charlotte suddenly felt queasy. She balled up the rest of her taco and dropped it in a nearby trash can.

Taylor eyed her friend with concern. “What are you going to do?”

“Focus on work. Obviously, we can’t be with each other right now.”

Taylor wiped her mouth with a napkin, then opened up her purse and pulled out a bottle of sanitizer. She squeezed a few drops into her palms and began to rub them together. “Look, maybe you should take some days off. You know, lay low for awhile.”

“It’s not my fault,” Charlotte snapped. “He’s the married one.”

“You don’t have to work in family law to know that no one believes that.”

Charlotte stretched out her hand for some cleanser. “I talked to my mom. She wants me to come back to Ipswich and get my stuff.”

“Now?”

“Next week.”

“Then go! Serendipity is calling you, Char.”

“I can’t leave in the middle of a show. There’s a million people who would love to take my job.”

“I know but…do you think Jake’s wife will try to contact you?”

Charlotte shrugged. “I have no idea.”

“Do you think she’s the type to use a gun?”

“No. She’s got two little kids.”

“Eeeww.” They shared a grimace.

“Well at least she’s not a power player,” said Taylor. “When Jessica Rubenstein got caught with that director, his mega producer wife made sure no one took her calls. She’s not even doing those adoption stories for the Pet Channel anymore.”

“I thought you stopped watching the Pet Channel.”

“Well, the psychic is very accurate. Look, Charlotte, here’s the bottom line: Do you want people to see you as a rising producer or the dumb production assistant that sleeps around?”

“Associate. I’m a production associate.”

“Uh, huh.” Taylor Regina Washington dismissed this with a flick of her smooth, black extensions.

Ipswich, Massachusetts, Charlotte groaned. Not as glamorous as hiding out in Hawaii but definitely more affordable.