I’d moved to LA with Mom when she married Rick, and the sitcom had been my first acting job. When the movie Reid and I were filming was over and we were back in LA, we kept seeing each other. Neither of us was old enough to drive, but we were privileged kids of clueless parents. We hired cars and hung out frequently at each other’s houses, which weren’t too far apart.

We were too young and irresponsible to be sexually active, but eventually, going all the way felt like a natural progression. Reid looked at me like I was a goddess come to life in his bedroom. He was reverent and adoring. I loved the feel of my hair spread across his pillow and his weight pressing into me and the expression on his face when he stared into my eyes and whispered, “I love you.”

God, we were stupid. We used protection most of the time, but occasionally we’d forget, especially if we’d been drinking. Reid resisted drinking with me most of the time, or he’d have one beer or one shot and quit. Something to do with his mother. And then came the night of the screwdrivers. We must have downed half a bottle of vodka between us, and we were both violently sick most of the night. The next morning, his dad discovered us in his room, passed out and hungover. After delivering a harsh parental lecture, his dad called my mom.

Loving mother that she is, she sent a car around to collect me. (Had she even noticed that I never came home the previous night? Who knows.)

When I staggered through the door, the only thing she asked—derision in her tone, not concern—was if I needed a morning-after pill. The last thing I wanted to appear was dumber than my mom. “Of course not,” I told her, trailing my hands along the hallway walls on the way to my room. “We use protection.”

She narrowed her eyes at me, and if she’d had any sense she’d have never believed me. Instead, she snapped, “You don’t get to be all high-and-mighty just because you know how to use a rubber, missy.”

“Why the hell not?” I returned, my head throbbing. “If you’d known how to use one, I wouldn’t be here to bother you.”

She slapped me then, and it wasn’t like seeing stars, it was like sparks erupting and everything blacking out at the edges. Rick rushed in and said That’s enough, Sharla and steered her out of my room as I stumbled onto the bed. He came back minutes later with ice chips and pain pills. My ears were still ringing when he sighed, “Just sleep it off, Brooke. You’ll feel better later.” In his kind eyes was the concern missing in my mother’s. He was weighing something he never got a chance to say, because Mom began calling his name in that petulant tone. Patting my arm, he sighed and left the room.

She preferred me to be invisible to him. I was starting to look like a woman, and all of a sudden, I was a rival, or at least something conceivably prettier than her. She didn’t like it.

I don’t remember what Reid and I fought over the night we broke up. We’re so similar that if we both happened to be in a pissy mood at the same time, we would inevitably end up in a vicious argument. At first, he seemed shocked at the things I’d say, trying to hurt him, to get a reaction. But his temper was as bad as mine—he just had a longer fuse. When he’d finally lose it, we would say cruel, spiteful things to each other and accuse each other of all manner of sins.

I confess that making him that angry was a turn-on at times. If I could get him to lose it and then rein him in at just the right moment, the passion he unleashed was insane. He’d pin me to the bed and kiss me so hard it hurt, choking back his anger and redirecting it gratefully to something more satisfying than screaming obscenities at each other.


Sometimes I missed the mark and pushed him too far. That night was one of those. And then, for the first time, he didn’t call me an hour later, crying. That reaction from him always made me cry, too, and we’d blubber apologies and reaffirm our love and the need to see each other even if it was 3 a.m.

I waited, but he never called. Two days later, I was in a panic. I didn’t want to call first and appear weak, but I was breaking down. I missed him. I wanted his forgiveness. I also wanted him to need me more than anything, and if he was staying away, that wasn’t the case.

So I went out to a club with a couple of costars from the last film—girls in their early twenties who felt sorry for my little fifteen-year-old breakup woes. I had no problem passing myself off as legal with the right makeup, clothes, attitude, and a top-notch fake ID. Being fawned over by older guys didn’t help like I thought it would, though.

I was close to grabbing a taxi to Reid’s house and begging his forgiveness when I noticed a guy with a camera. Failing in his attempt to be subtle, he was hiding behind a post that didn’t quite conceal his girth. I knew he’d be spotted and shown the door any second. As he zeroed in on my friends, I decided on a different, stronger course of action. I would make Reid crazy with jealousy, and then he’d come back to me.

I found a hot guy, pulled him onto the dance floor and performed every degrading dirty dancing move I could think of on him. I incorporated things I’d seen my mom do on the stripper pole she had installed in the extra bedroom for “exercise,” and the photog recorded it all. Reid and I weren’t big time, but we were cute together, and Hollywood liked us. I had no idea that being idolized also meant people were salivating over the moment we’d split up and how it would happen. I was just desperate to make Reid cave first.

The article online the next day made me out to be the biggest whore imaginable—so sad, she’s so young—while Reid was cast as the naïve boy who had no idea what his slutty girlfriend had been doing behind his back.

Out that night, and the next, and the next, Reid was photographed leaving clubs, parties and hot spots with a swarm of different girls until there was no doubt in my mind that we were done and he was over me.

I cried for two weeks. I barely ate. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to call and tell him I hadn’t been with anyone else, that it was all a ruse. But I was hurt and resentful, knowing that was no longer true for him. My mother, fresh into her separation from Rick, sat me down and told me that the only way to get over a guy like that is to get a new one. I heeded her advice, but couldn’t settle down to any one guy. And I couldn’t exorcise Reid from my head.

That’s when I met Graham, who resisted and spurned me. No one rejected me, not when I was offering straight up no-strings screwing around. We were on location not too far from LA, just beginning to film a movie. I’d known Graham for a week, and I already detested him for his high-handed dismissal.

And then I figured out that it had been a while since I’d had a period. I peed on a stick and was stunned to find out I was pregnant. Abortion? No problem. Sign me up. Until the doctor said how far along I was—almost ten weeks.

Which meant it was Reid’s. Absolutely Reid’s. I told them I couldn’t do it. Not when my mother pleaded with me not to ruin my career. Not when my father was called in to order me to comply (because yeah, that’s always worked on me).

“I’ve made the appointment, and we’re going tomorrow,” Mom said, as though I had no opinion in the matter.

“Be a good girl and listen to your mother,” my father added.

I hated them both.

Graham heard me crying in my trailer that night, and knocked on the door. I don’t know why, but I took one look at those warm brown eyes and I told him everything.

Holding me while I cried, he told me that he and his ex-girlfriend were having a baby in a few months. She was planning to hand it to him and walk away, but he was hoping for a reconciliation.

“Brooke, this might be the most important decision you ever make. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t plan this—there’s a choice to make, and you should make it. Decide what’s right for you, whatever that is, and then do it.”

No one had ever said that to me before, and here was this boy, who wasn’t quite a year older than me, sounding so wise and sure. Of course, I know now that in that moment, Graham still had completely undeserved faith in Zoe, so he wasn’t exactly the soul of discernment he appeared to be. Still, he had a point about taking over the decisions for your own life. That was the moment I started doing just that.

If I’m capable of loving anyone, it has to be Graham.

The ends justify the means, right? The ends justify the means.

Me: I’m in town for a couple of days. Meetings over that fall project. Dinner?

Graham: Bad week. I’ve got finals and papers due through friday. When are you leaving?

Me: Early friday. :(

Graham: Damn, not the sad face! I could maybe get away for an hour or so tomorrow?

Me: Yes please! :) Text me your address and I’ll pick you up at eight.


Brooke: We’re having dinner tomorrow night. Photos should be up thursday. Make sure she sees them.

Me: Yep

Brooke: That answer doesn’t leave me with warm fuzzies

Me: Are you capable of warm fuzzies? I’m thinking cold ice shards.

Brooke: Do you ever STFU??

Me: Quit freaking out. I’ll handle it.

Emma and I are on our second day of local television morning show interviews. These are like an annoying, unnecessary rehearsal for the ones that matter—the nationally syndicated talk shows, the late night network and cable shows.

Most of these local morning anchors will never make it out of their thirties in front of a camera, especially the women. Not because they can’t do the job, but because there’s always some fresh-faced, ambitious twenty-something who wants that job, will take less to do it, and will look hotter doing it. No wonder some of them look at Emma and me like they’d give anything to just punch us in the face.

I may be exaggerating a bit.

This morning, though, the female anchor is interrogating Emma as though she’s personally responsible for a host of swept-under-the-rug hate crimes. Leaning so far forward that Emma moves closer to me, Wynona narrows her overly-lined, heavily-mascaraed eyes. “Emma, you can’t tell me there isn’t something going on between you two. Look at the photographic evidence!”

Without her eyes ever leaving Emma’s face, she points to a huge monitor in between her chair and our small sofa. I stifle a laugh. The cell phone photo I suspect Brooke of taking during Walt’s show? Really? Everyone saw and picked apart that photo, months ago. “Um…” Emma says, and I lean up, chuckling slightly.

“Wynona.” My voice is like honey and her attention swings to me. Professional thirty-something women aren’t quite sure how to react when I take such a familiar, somewhat condescending tone. “That’s a really old, really fuzzy photo.” I shrug. “As we’ve said in previous interviews, the whole cast got along really well during filming. We were all very close.” When Emma almost turns to look at me, I press my knee against hers and she freezes in place. Good girl.

“Reid, I believe you had an old flame in the cast, as well?” Wynona clicks the device in her palm and the photo on the wall is suddenly a four-years-younger me, leading Brooke by the hand as we leave some LA hotspot. Both of us are smiling—me, right into the camera, and Brooke, looking at me. I haven’t seen this photo in a very long time.

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