Authors: Kimberly Stedronsky
Before A Perfect World by Kimberly Stedronsky
Text Copyright © 2014
All Rights Reserved
Interior Design by
Drive Around Publishing
Cover Design by
Najla Qamber Designs
Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
First Electronic Edition: July 2014
irst Paperback Edition: July 2014
Before A Perfect World
is a satire by Kimberly Stedronsky, and is not intended maliciously. Kimberly Stedronsky has invented all names and situations in her stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody.
Her text lit up my phone.
I’m sorry- just one more question. Will there be a camera in the audition with me?
I grinned, just as I always did when I got a new
message from Vivian. I reached for my phone.
You won’t be able to see it, stop worrying.
Scrolling upward, I read through our text conversation over the past twenty-four hours.
When that first message had come through, I’d snapped the pencil in my hand in half.
Keaton… Matthew is coming with me.
I stared at my phone for almost twenty minutes.
V: Keaton???? Did you get my text?
Irritated, I drafted a quick reply.
Me: I got it. Why is he coming?
Because I can’t hurt him.
the pencil at the window.
I win every game that I play, V.
I’m not playing games with you. He’s only coming for the audition. If I get the part, then I’ll be filming the movie alone. His first day of school is Tuesday.
eacher’s first day of school?
Who gives a fuck?
Me: Does he know about the baby?
No. I’m not telling him until I decide what I want.
I thought you’d already decided.
I told you that I loved you both.
You love me more.
V: UGH. I
promised him that I wouldn’t do anything with you right now.
At that, I nearly
called her. Controlling my reaction, I tossed the script for
onto the desktop, leaning forward to text with both of my thumbs.
By “do anything” do you mean let me make love to you?
The forty-five seconds that passed felt like an eternity.
I texted again.
I air quoted your ass. Don’t ignore the question.
Her response slid through moments later.
V: Yes! Anything. With either of you. Let me separate the baby, the movie, and the two of you so I can figure out what I’m doing.
And he’s willing to stand by and wait? What a pussy.
Um… aren’t you standing by and waiting?
I smirked at that.
Me: I’m holding your career in my hands, and you’re having my baby. I’m not a pussy. I’m the smartest fucking lion you’ll ever meet.
Another minute passed.
V: Are you still letting me audition?
I growled under my breath. She was
also the hottest little opportunist that
Yes, I’m still letting you audition. But now I have to play nice with Numero Uno.
He’s going to be civil. I already talked to him.
Words are words until I’m three feet away from your passion potion.
LOL Keaton. OMG.
I know you’re a star. You’d better prove me right. My casting director is already irritated that we’re giving you the time of day.
I’ll do my best.
Be professional when you get here. Don’t complain, don’t apologize, and don’t blame.
All I got in response was
V: I’m not an idiot!
And don’t kiss my ass. It looks bad. Save that for after you get the part.
“Mr. Thane? Miss Hale is here. Should I show her in?”
I lifted my eyes from my phone at Kathy’s voice. My secretary peered over her glasses at me, and I nodded, leaning back in my chair.
“Is she alone?”
Kathy lowered her eyes. “No, she’s with a gentleman. Should I show them both in?”
I slid my chair back and tugged at the collar of my shirt, assembling my confidence.
She loves me.
He’s here because she’s too nice to tell him to fuck off.
“Yes, please, Kath. Thanks.”
She nodded once. Her cool demeanor
, coupled with her mid-forties professional mindset, made her one of my most reliable employees. She was beautiful and intimidating, often making many of the actresses waiting in the chairs outside my office contemplate leaving under her judgmental glare.
When Vivian walked in, my heartbeat tripled.
I watched her smile for the first time in over a month, and every nerve ending in my body came alive. She wore a blue, strapless sundress, the exact same color as her eyes, and my gaze fell to her stomach.
At that moment
, of all times, my mind decided to finally register that she was carrying my child.
That I was going to be a father, and she was going to be the mother of my baby.
Every possessive instinct in my body fired up, setting off signals in my brain that completely counteracted my measured attempts to remain distant and collected. Even as
walked in behind her, I wanted to go to her, lift her into my arms, and kiss her.
All of her.
“Keaton, you remember Matthew,” she began softly.
I gave her a crooked grin, nodding and holding my hand out to Numero Uno. He was slightly taller than I was, not nearly as built, and continued glaring at me through his asshole
hipster glasses like he wanted to sing me a fucking Buddy Holly song.
V. Well, this isn’t at all awkward. Fowler, are you staying for her audition?”
dropped his arm over her delicate shoulders, ignoring my outstretched hand, and I shoved my hands into my pockets to keep from forming fists at my sides.
“Don’t be rude,” she snapped at him, turning to me. “No, he’s not. That wouldn’t be professional.”
a professional,” I added, grinning at her openly now. Hell, if he was going to be an enormous prick, then so was I. I was the one running this clusterfuck, and I was about to make him fully aware of that. “You look beautiful, V. You’re glowing.”
She stiffened, and
he reached for her arm, openly glaring at me. “Listen,” Fowler growled. “I’m not going to stand here and pretend that I
you, because I don’t. What you did to Vivian was predatory, and you took advantage of her while she was grieving.”
I stood perfectly still, my eyes shifting to Vivian. Her little jaw set, and she flashed daggers at him. “Matthew, you promised you’d be
I held my hand up to her.
“No, no, it’s okay, kiddo. I don’t mind being lectured by self-righteous Clark Kent. Was it hard to protect your identity while working at the
He rolled his eyes.
“Oh, the glasses, I get it. Clever.”
re quick, Woody Allen. So this May-December thing is working for you, then?”
.” Vivian stepped between us, and her bright eyes flashed to mine. “Keaton, stop it.”
Okay, let’s get this show on the road,” Max interrupted us, shuffling in behind Matthew. Frank followed, his beady eyes immediately drinking Vivian in. “You must be Vivian Hale. Pleasure,” Max added, holding his hand out to her.
Before she could reach for it, Frank threw his arm in her direction, turning to me. “Keaton. She’s perfect.”
“I know,” I agreed, and Vivian blushed prettily as I gestured to the open area in my office near the bar. “So, Mr. Fowler, if you’ll excuse us, we have an audition to attend to.”
Numero Uno was ready to explode, which was entertaining as fuck to watch.
And then Vivian turned to him, taking his hands like she’d taken mine so many times and lowering her voice.
“I’ll be out in just a little while. Thank you for coming in with me.”
I needed to swallow, but I couldn’t.
My throat refused to cooperate.
Jealousy was an unfamiliar emotion for me, and now it was lighting up my veins, goading, grinding at my chest.
You’ve got this, Vivian,” he said, calm and reassuring. “Show them what I already know you’re capable of.”
V,” I ordered, commanding her attention. She turned to me, taking a steadying breath as Fowler left the office.
the door behind him.
“I’m trying not to be nervous,” she whispered at my side
, under her breath. “If I break out into hives, you have to distract them.”
“I’ll need a moment alone with Vivian,” I said to Max and Frank, taking her hand in mine. The adjoining lounge separated my office by French doors, and I
shut them behind us.
The moment I closed the mini-blinds
on the glass windows, I turned to pull her into my arms.
She ducked from my kiss, pressing her forehead to my chest. “Keaton. God, I promised, please. Don’t kiss me.”
“Jesus Christ. It feels so good to hold you,” I murmured against her hair, inhaling her floral scent as she gripped my upper arms with her fingers. “How do you feel? Are you sick? Can I get you anything?”
“Just some water.
And I’m okay,
” she managed. I slid my hands down her sides, and she drew in a sharp breath as my thumbs brushed over her stomach.