Her ambition was one of the first things I noticed about her. That, and the fact that she knew how to work a room.
We often ran in the same social circles because she was my sister-in-law, Jo’s, assistant and friend, but those titles weren’t the beginning and end of her. She was also an actress, a talented one. She was…remarkable.
What attracted me to her initially was our similarities, our comparable drive and desire to succeed. It didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous in a girl-next-door kind of way—flawless copper-colored skin, cute little pouty lips, big expressive eyes. She was taller than me in heels, but shit, I actually kind of liked that. Thin, with just enough curves and a great ass. Always put together, always on, as if she knew opportunity might knock at any moment and she wasn’t about to miss out. She spoke her mind and laughed out loud. She was...she was perfect, but I froze up around her, couldn’t get my thoughts to align with my words, ended up bringing up something trivial or benign when I tried to have a conversation with her, and that was out of character for me. I was a talker, had always been smooth with it, too. I can’t lie; Bridgette Turner intimidated the shit out of me, but I was going to have to get myself together since I couldn’t shake what I was feeling for her. I’d tried, but just couldn’t.
The main issue was that I hadn’t really had to try when it came to women in a long time. I just pointed, and the women were handed to me thanks to my membership in the very exclusive Gallery, a place that specialized in fulfilling the needs of any man who could afford to pay the club’s fees. I could pay, and had enjoyed the benefits of that affiliation for years, but now? Well, now I was feeling far less than fulfilled. Now I had a thing for Bridgette Turner.
Now, I only wanted her.
“Mm, you vant make sex again?” Galina’s voice was husky, heavily Russian-accented, and drowsy as she scooted closer to me in bed, resting her hand on my Bridgette-induced erection. Yeah, just thinking about her did that to me.
Before I could answer her, she was sliding down my body, ducking beneath the covers. So I rested my head on the pillow and closed my eyes, imagining that she was Bridgette.
“Jessie Mae? That you?”
I took the phone from my ear and stared at the screen. My iPhone had informed me that the call came from Alabama, which was why I answered it. I thought it was my friend, Karen, with another update. She was how I kept up with everyone back home without interacting with them. I knew her number but thought maybe she had a new one or something. However, this wasn’t Karen. This voice…I knew it well, and with it came an avalanche of dark memories, memories that made my hands shake and shit, and I wasn’t the nervous type. I considered myself rather fearless. But this voice? It reduced me to a scared child, a state I absolutely despised to be in. So it was obvious that I needed to hang up, but I couldn’t, because despite the darkness and pain the owner of the voice had allowed to compose my childhood remembrances, despite the years it shaved off my maturity, I kind of missed hearing it. So instead of ending the call, I activated the speakerphone and closed my eyes as she repeated herself.
I hadn’t heard or seen that name in a long time, not since I legally changed it. I’d gone by Bridgette since middle school, but my high school diploma still said Jessie Mae Turner.
I wondered if there was a way to change it.
Because I hated that damn name and the bitch it honored.
The only reason I didn’t change my last name was because I actually liked my father.
She said the name once more, mumbled something I couldn’t decipher, and then she hung up.
I stood there for a moment staring at my phone before tucking it in my pocket, inspecting myself in the restroom mirror, and leaving the sleek office building. I’d killed the audition I’d just finished, but then again, I always did. As I slid behind the steering wheel of my Kia, I threaded my fingers through my freshly-relaxed hair, squeezed my eyes shut, and prayed I’d get the part, because acting was the great equalizer for me. It reduced the amount of Jessie Mae Turner left in my soul. And I needed that more than anything.