The Glamorous Life
by Nicole & Rob
Standard Disclaimer: This story is a complete
work of fiction. The authors do not know any of the celebrities mentioned in
this story, their sexual preferences, or any other such things that are quite
frankly no one's business but their own. This story may contain descriptions
of sex between consenting adults of both genders, so if you are under the age
of eighteen, depictions of such acts are illegal in your area or are contrary
to your beliefs, this is as far as you go. Don't say you weren't warned. Now,
with that said, on with the show!
Chapter Three: Oh, The Drama!
Cassie threw the phone on the table and was halfway to the door when a voice
stopped her. "Momma, where are you? You was gonna tuck me in!"
Oh, no! Abby! Cassie thought glumly. What a fine time for this to
happen. Turning around, she saw her daughter running toward her with
Nina right on her tail. Cassie caught her daughter, settling her on her hip. "Hi
Cookie. I know I promised to come up and tuck you in, but I need to go over
to Uncle Taylor's house for a bit."
Abby looked at her mother for a second and then buried her face in her mother's
chest. "But you promised!"
"I know honey, but..." Cassie wasn't sure how much
she should tell her daughter. She really needed to have left already, because
as time passed she was becoming more and more frantic about Taylor, but at
the same time, while she knew Abby would let her go if she knew that there
was something wrong with Taylor, she didn't want to frighten the child
either. Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. While she would normally never
condone lying to Abby, in this particular case, she made an exception. "One
of Taylor's neighbors called and said his dog was barking a lot, so I'm
going to make sure Uncle Taylor and the puppy and the kitties are all okay."
Cassie watched her daughter's face as she processed it in her head.
At last, she said, "Okay Momma. Calla's a good dog, and she don't
bark for nothin'."
Cassie smiled at her daughter and said, "Go on upstairs. Nina will be
up in a second."
Abby gave Cassie a kiss on the cheek and ran up the stairs to her room. "To
be sick and have that kind of energy," Nina said with a laugh, but her
expression changed when she saw the panicked look on Cassie's face. "What
is it? What's wrong with Taylor?"
"I don't know!" Cassie said sounding terrified. "He
just called, and said he needed help, and that he was in pain, and what
the hell am I doing still standing here?! Nina, call 911 and send them
over to Taylor's house!"
"Cassie be careful," Nina warned. "Don't endanger
yourself by doing something reckless too." However, Nina's advice
fell on deaf ears as Cassie was already out the door by that point. "Those
two," Nina said with a sigh, referring to Cassie and Taylor, "are
definitely a pair."
While Nina was calling an ambulance, Cassie jumped into her Mercedes and backed
out of the garage onto the street. Usually a very prudent driver—preferring
to leave the lead-foot antics to Taylor—Cassie stomped on the accelerator
and drove as quickly as she could to Taylor's, managing to cut down a
thirty minute drive into fifteen. As she was nearing Taylor's house,
she managed to attract the attention of not one but two Los Angeles County
sheriff's deputies, who both flipped their lights on and followed her.
Cassie, who was only a quarter-mile from Taylor's, decided that she would
risk the ticket, and felt right then that the consequences be damned, so she
kept going. Besides, if the ambulance hadn't arrived yet, maybe the police
officers could help Taylor with whatever happened to him.
Arriving at Taylor's house, Cassie pulled into the drive behind Taylor's
BMW and hopped out. Spotting his body lying on the ground, she dashed over
to him and dropped to the ground by his side. "Taylor? Taylor, answer
She started to shake his body, but was grabbed from behind by a police officer
and dragged to her feet. "What the hell are you doing?" Cassie
shrieked. "Let go of me!"
"Lady, I don't know who you think you are, but we clocked you
at twenty-five miles over the speed limit on the highway, and..."
"Look, can we discuss this later? Right now, my friend is kind of unconscious
over here!!" Cassie yelled.
"What? Oh my God! Rich!" the officer yelled to his partner. "Call
"I already did that," Cassie said, trying to control her temper. "Why
do you think I was driving so quickly? I'm sorry, but the 405 and the
Indy 500 do not look the same, and it is highly unlikely I would confuse
The officer glared at her. "Very funny. You know, you remind of that
woman I saw on TV once. What was her name? Cassidy Sanders?"
"It's Saunders," Cassie said, reverting to professional
mode, "and pleased to meet you."
The officer's eyes went wide. "It is you! I thought you
looked familiar! Yeah, my wife is always reading stories in the papers about
you and that other guy—the gay one."
Cassie's eyes went cold and hard. "If you weren't a police
officer, I'd deck you. The 'gay one,' as you so eloquently
put it, is Taylor Jeffries, who at the moment is currently lying on the ground
unconscious, and you are doing absolutely nothing about it!" Cassie spun
on her heel and went back to Taylor's side. "Our tax dollars at
work, Tay." She stroked the back of his head and was horrified to discover
blood on her hand when she pulled it away. "Oh, God. Officers! He's
The second officer, whom she only knew as Rich, came running over. "The
ambulance will be here momentarily. I'm Officer Stanton, ma'am.
Do you know what happened here?"
Cassie shook her head. "All I know is that Taylor called me, said he
needed help, that he was hurt, and that was it before his phone went dead or
he dropped it. As you know, I got here the same time you and that idiot over
Officer Stanton ignored Cassie's comment and began checking Taylor for
a pulse. "He's still got a pulse, so that's a good sign,
and here's the ambulance!"
The ambulance pulled up to the curb and two people jumped out. "Clear
the way!" one of them yelled. Everyone backed away from Taylor, including
Cassie, who did so begrudgingly.
Cassie ran over to her Mercedes and grabbed her purse from the front seat.
As Taylor's body was loaded into the back of the ambulance, Cassie came
up and said quite clearly, "I'm going with you."
One of the medical technicians looked at her and said, "Are you family?"
Thinking quickly, Cassie said, "He's my brother." When they
shot her a funny look, Cassie said, "He's adopted. What? Do you
want proof now? He needs to go to the hospital!"
"Get in. Let's go," the medical technician said at last.
Cassie got into the front of the ambulance and began to pray that Taylor would
be all right. Furthermore, she hoped that whomever had done this to Taylor
knew how to hide well, because if she ever found them, there would be some
serious hell to pay.
News travels fast in Tinseltown, especially when celebrities are involved.
By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, there was an entire media
contingent waiting for them. Flashbulbs began popping the minute Cassie stepped
out of the ambulance. The media always seemed to love getting pictures of Cassie
at her worst, and this was not exactly one of her best moments. Ignoring them
completely, she ran to the back of the ambulance where Taylor was being offloaded.
She followed them inside the hospital, but was waylaid by a doctor who told
her that she would have to go into the waiting room and fill out some paperwork,
and they would bring her word once they knew something.
With a heavy sigh, Cassie resigned herself to the agony of waiting for an
update on Taylor's condition. Every time someone walked in the room,
Cassie's head flew up, hoping it was someone with some sort of news.
In the meantime, she tried hard to focus on the papers she was filling out,
but the longer she read, the more all the words seem to run together. Taking
a break, she went over to the pop machine to get something to drink, ignoring
the stares from the other people in the waiting room who had either figured
out who she was or just weren't entirely sure. Wandering around, she
finally found a secluded area and called Nina. She was ever thankful that the
media couldn't get inside and make this nightmare even worse. As soon
as Nina picked up, Cassie said, "Nina, I'm going crazy here! No
one will tell me anything!"
"Shhhhhh. It's going to be okay. Now, take a few deep breaths
and get yourself together. You're not going to be able to help Taylor
any by falling apart now," Nina said quietly.
"I know Nina, I know," Cassie began, "but it's driving
me nuts! The hospital isn't saying anything, the media is camped outside,
and the people in the waiting room are really starting to creep me out."
"I understand that Cassie, but you need to be strong for Taylor. Just
promise me that as soon as you find out anything, you'll call me."
"I will Nina," Cassie said. "Has Abby gone to sleep?"
"Finally. I don't know where she gets all of that energy from!"
"Me either," Cassie chuckled. "All right. I had better go
to the non-information desk and see what I can't find out."
"Cassie!" Nina scolded.
"Sorry. I'll talk to you later," Cassie said before hanging
She stowed her phone back in her purse and went back into the waiting room.
She had just barely sat down when a doctor walked in and came over to her. "You're
Miss Saunders, Mr. Jeffries' sister, correct?"
"Uh, yes," Cassie said, standing up quickly. "How is he?"
"I'm Dr. Jean Carter," the doctor said with a smile, "and
we think he's going to be just fine. Now, he did take a rather nasty
blow to the head, which led to a mild concussion, and he does have a couple
of broken ribs, but all of that will mend with time. Now, we're going
to keep him here overnight for observation, just to make sure he doesn't
slip into a coma, but otherwise, he can probably go home tomorrow."
"Oh, thank God," Cassie said in relief. "Is he awake? Can
I see him?"
"He has woken up, but he's a bit addled by the drugs. However,
I don't see any reason why you couldn't go in." As Cassie
stood up, Dr. Carter said, "By the way, I do have one question for you."
"What's that?" Cassie asked.
"What's up with Dylan and Rebecca? I thought they were getting
divorced, but now they seem to be all over each other?"
Cassie burst out laughing. She couldn't help it. This was definitely not what
she expected to hear from the doctor. "Uh, I don't know. Maybe
your patient would have better insight to that than I would," Cassie
said with a smirk.
"True, but it would help if he was fully coherent," Dr. Carter
replied with a twinkle in her eye.
"I take it you're a fan of the show," Cassie said.
Dr. Carter grinned. "Yeah, and it's too bad Taylor doesn't
like women. He's too adorable!" In a lower voice, she said, "And
if you ever tell anyone else I said that, I will deny it!"
"No worries," Cassie said. "Your secret is safe
with me, but if you know me then you know that I'm not really his sister,
so how come you're still letting me go see him?"
"Doctor's prerogative," Dr. Carter said. "Now go.
I'm guessing he'll be glad to see you."
"Thanks," Cassie said, giving the doctor a close-up view of her
"He's in E-42," Dr. Carter noted as she looked on her paperwork. "Keep
it brief though."
Cassie watched as the doctor left the room, and she slowly collected her things
and made her way down the hallway. Arriving at Taylor's room, she quietly
let herself in. It had been really dark when she had arrived at Taylor's
house, so it had been hard for her to see how badly hurt Taylor was. Now that
there was proper lighting, she could see that his head had been bandaged as
well as his ribs; there was also quite a bit of bruising covering his muscular
chest and washboard abs. Cassie knew it was going to be quite a while before
Taylor would be able to take his shirt off on camera again, much to the dismay
of women and gay men across the country.
"Cass?" she heard Taylor mumble as his eyes slowly flickered open. "Is
"Yeah, it's me sweetie," Cassie replied. "How you
"Like I've been run over by a Mack truck," Taylor said. "Did
anyone get the license plate?"
Cassie chuckled. She knew Taylor was cracking jokes to keep her from worrying,
but the mom inside of her prevented that. Pulling up a chair next to his bed,
Cassie sat down and grabbed his hand. "Taylor, what happened?"
Taylor put a hand to his head and rubbed it. "It's a little blurry," Taylor
began, "but I had just come back from dinner, and..."
"Oh! That's right!" Cassie exclaimed. "I forgot all
about it! So who's the mystery man?"
"Cassie, I don't..."
"Come on, Tay! Tell me!" Cassie pleaded.
"It was me," said a voice from behind them.
Cassie turned her head toward the door and her mouth fell open in shock. "I...I...I
don't believe it."
Justin walked a few steps into the room and began to babble. "I got
here as soon as I could. I just heard about it on the television and came right
away, but if this is a bad time, I can come back, because I'm sure you
two have some stuff you want to talk about, and I don't want to intrude
or anything, and..."
"Justin, shut up and sit down," Cassie said bluntly, and the speed
in which Justin took a seat made her laugh. "I meant over here," Cassie
said a little more softly, motioning Justin to come sit next to her. "I
don't bite, I promise. Well, unless it was you who did this, in which
case, I bite HARD!"
Justin shook his head, picked up the chair he was sitting in, and came to sit
next to Cassie. "No. I would never do this to anyone. Is he going to
be all right?" Justin asked.
"I'll be fine, as soon as the room stops spinning," Taylor
said, putting a hand over his eyes.
"Okay, so one mystery solved," Cassie said, glancing at Justin. "So,
how did the date go?"
"Fine," Justin said, blushing profusely.
"And?" Cassie prompted.
"We talked, we ate, we laughed, we left," Taylor said irritably.
"No wonder someone whacked you," Cassie said lightly. "You've
got a bad case of PMS—Pissy Male Syndrome."
"Cassidy Elena Saunders, be thankful I'm in this bed and am in
too much pain to move, because if I weren't..."
"Don't even try to pull the middle name game, Taylor Antonio Jeffries,
because I can do that too!"
Justin sat back and watched the two argue with each other. Had he not known
that the two weren't related, he would have sworn that they truly were
brother and sister. They definitely acted like it, and he wondered whether
someone in the casting offices at their studio somehow saw this in the two
of them, or if it had just been sheer dumb luck. Either way, the bond between
the two of them was truly amazing—and somewhat frightening—to behold
in person. On television was one thing, but the real life pairing was way more
"So anyway," Taylor continued, "I came home and was surprised
to find a young woman waiting for me."
"A young woman?" Justin asked. "What was she doing at your
"She seemed to be a fan, and I thought she might want an autograph or
something, but she turned it down when I offered. That's when someone
hit me in the back."
"So she was a decoy to distract your attention," Cassidy said
angrily. To Justin she said, "It's common knowledge that Taylor
will always take time to stop and talk with fans, unlike a lot of daytime princes
and princesses who think they are too good for the rest of the world."
"Did you get any names? Do you remember what they said? Do you remember
what they looked like?" Justin prompted.
"Uh, his name began with a J, I think. Umm...John? Joe? Jed? Jim?
Jimmy! His name was Jimmy and hers was Madeleine. I don't know why, but
that stuck in my head for some reason."
"What did they look like?" Cassie asked.
"I don't remember," Taylor said. "It was kind of dark.
I never really saw the guy, but the girl was shorter than you, short brown
hair, and she was wearing jeans and a denim jacket." Taylor got really
quiet and then said, "That's all I remember. That, and..."
"And what?" Justin asked.
"As the guy was hitting me, he told me that he was beating me up because
I was a fag and that I should stay away from you and Abby or else they might
come after you too."
This bit of information infuriated Cassie. Not only had someone beaten up
Taylor because he was a homosexual, but that they had threatened her and Abby! "Taylor,
you are not a fag, and I never want to hear you say that again. Ooh, I swear
to God that when I find the people who did this to you, may the Lord have mercy
on their soul because I sure won't!"
"No one, and I mean no one gets away with doing this to
you and threatening my daughter!" Cassie continued.
Glancing over at Justin, Taylor said, "I want to know who's been
slipping testosterone into her food, because right now I think she has more
than I do."
Cassie glared at Taylor for a moment and then said, "Well, one of us
has to have it darling."
Taylor started to smile, but then winced in pain. "Cassie! Don't
make me laugh. It hurts too much."
She stopped laughing and said, "Sorry Taylor. Well, look at the bright
side. At least they didn't mess up that pretty mug of yours." Cassie
knew that while the studio would be able to work around Taylor having to be
clothed in order to hide the bruising, there was no way they'd be able
to hide any damage to his face. Cassie and Taylor both knew that something
of that magnitude could have quite possibly spelled the end of his daytime
soap opera career.
Justin was also thankful, but for a different reason. He liked Taylor just
the way he was—stunningly attractive. While Cassie joked about how Taylor's
sexuality should have been obvious, it came as a complete shock to the entire
world. Taylor seemed to have that All-American, boy next-door charm, and to
even suggest that he was anything but straight seemed absolutely silly—until
he came right out and said it.
The room fell into momentary silence before Taylor said, "Justin? How
did you get them to let you up here?"
Justin laughed. "Hello? I'm Justin Timberlake. Everyone bends
over backward to do things for me. I told them I was a good friend of yours
and they sent me right down here."
Cassie rolled her eyes. "I had to tell them I was your sister before
they'd even let me in the ambulance," she grumbled.
"You are," Taylor said, "on camera and off. Just because
it's not legal doesn't mean anything."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever," Cassie said, but there was no mistaking
the smile that had appeared on her face.
"Taylor, any idea who would do this to you? I mean, do you have any enemies
or something like that?" Justin asked.
Taylor remained silent, thinking it over. "Well, aside from that special
section of the country that thinks I'm now demon spawn, I can't
think of anyone who I would say is an enemy of mine." He thought for
a second and said, "Well, I take that back. There is one person, but
I don't think even he would stoop this low."
"Who's that?" Justin asked.
Taylor said nothing, but stared straight at Cassie. Cassie was no dummy; she
knew who Taylor was talking about, and while she didn't want to admit
it, especially after the conversation she'd had with Orlando hours earlier,
there was a very tiny part of her that had to wonder whether he had any involvement
Justin, who was also no idiot, saw the exchange of looks between Taylor and
Cassie and put two and two together. "You mean her husband?" Justin
"Ex-husband," Cassie said, emphasizing the first
syllable. "I'm inclined to agree with Taylor. While the man has
done a lot of nasty things to both of us over the years, I just have trouble
imagining that he would have someone come after Taylor like this. What purpose
would he have for that?"
"You mean besides trying to keep me away from you?" Taylor noted. "If
he were to ever decide that he wanted to try to get back with you, he knows
that I'm a rather large stumbling block to deal with."
Cassie shuddered involuntarily. Taylor had a point—a rather large point—and
it astonished her how Taylor seemed to hit the nail so squarely on the head.
She guessed that he knew that deep in her heart, she still loved Orlando, and
probably that Orlando still loved her too. She also knew that Taylor was, and
had always been, incredibly, incredibly protective of her and Abby, having
been witness to countless fights between Cassie and Orli when they had been
at their worst, and Orlando would have had to know that Taylor would not make
it easy for her to get back into a relationship with him whatsoever.
"Do you really think it could be him?" Justin said, shaking Cassie
from her thoughts.
"I don't know," Taylor said. "We'll just have
to wait and find out."
It was at that point Dr. Carter entered the room. "So, how's my
patient?" she asked as she looked at his chart.
"Just fabulous," Taylor said sarcastically. "This is just
how I wanted to spend my night."
"You know, Mr. Jeffries," Dr. Carter said, "sarcasm isn't
a very becoming trait on you."
"Oh no!" Taylor moaned. "Cassie's multiplying!"
Cassie burst into laughter, since she remembered having said those exact same
words earlier that day. "See. Told you so," she said with a smile.
"They're against me," Taylor said to Justin. "They're
all against me."
"Miss Saunders," Dr. Carter said to Cassie, "the press is
anxious for an update on Mr. Jeffries' condition, so the hospital has
organized a press conference downstairs. I'm sure they are going to want
a statement from you."
"Oh joy," Cassie said sarcastically.
"Nope," Dr. Carter said after a second. "It's not
a becoming trait on you either."
"You had to get the one doctor with an attitude, didn't you Taylor?" Cassie
said with a smirk.
"Yeah, and they're all jealous that I got a hunk of a man like
him," Dr. Carter said, eliciting a blush from Taylor. "Now, Miss
Saunders, if you choose to be present, it's starting in five minutes.
Oh, and you might want to do something with your hair," she pointed out
as she left the room.
In all the excitement, Cassie hadn't taken the time to fix her hair
from when she had fallen asleep on the couch, and it had flattened out in a
couple of spots. "Our public awaits," Cassie said with a sigh.
Leaning over, she gave Taylor a kiss on the cheek. "I'll be back."
Cassie exited the room, leaving Justin and Taylor alone. Justin stood there
silently, staring at Taylor's muscled body. What had been left to his
imagination at the restaurant was now mostly on full display for him. Justin
silently took a deep breath; he knew now more than ever that he wanted Taylor
to be his boyfriend. He just needed to find a way to make the feeling mutual.
"Don't stare too long," Taylor said lightly. "You
might give me a complex."
Justin blushed a new shade of red and averted his eyes. "Sorry," he
"What I'm trying to decide is whether you're staring at
my injuries or just me in general," Taylor pressed, watching Justin's
face turn an even deeper red.
"I would be lying if I said you weren't attractive," Justin
"If memory serves, you said I was 'hot' in your letter.
Oh dear. It looks like all this bruising has caused me to be downgraded," Taylor
said, trying to make a joke.
"Well, you are," Justin admitted, "but it's kind of
hard for me to say it out loud."
"I understand," Taylor said, "and if you know what's
good for you, you won't. I was afraid something like this might happen.
All it takes is one person to decide that they know what is best for everyone
and then do something about it. Like this Jimmy guy thinks that just because
he whacks me a few times that I'm suddenly going to decide to be straight?" Taylor
groaned as he shifted in the bed. "If only it were that easy."
"Taylor," Justin said, taking the larger man's hand in his, "I
just want you to know that you're not in this alone. I know Cassie's
by your side, and I'm ready to help in any way. Just let me know."
"I appreciate that Justin," Taylor said warmly. "I really
do, but I was serious when I said that being around me might be a bad idea.
It's different for Cassie. No one suspects anything different about her
because she's female and has a kid. Being a single guy and hanging around
a gay guy is only going to start rumors—one your reputation probably
doesn't need right now."
"Taylor, there are some things more important in life than your career," Justin
said emphatically, "and besides, I like you a lot, and I'd like
to get to know you a lot better. You just have to let me." Taylor said
nothing and stared at the ceiling. Looking over his shoulder at the door to
make sure no one was watching, Justin bent over and gave Taylor a quick peck
on the cheek. "Get some rest. I'll see you later."
Justin made a quick exit out the door, leaving a shocked and stunned Taylor
in his wake. Slowly shaking his head, he said quietly to himself, "Why
do I get the feeling this is just the beginning of things to come?"
As Cassidy walked down the hall in search of a public restroom, her mind was
in a good bit of turmoil. To say she was shocked that Taylor's mystery
date had turned out to be Justin Timberlake would have been the understatement
of the year—no, screw that, the millennia. While she had never been big
on "boyband" music, she would have had to be living under a rock
not to know that Justin Timberlake was considered one of the most eligible
bachelors on the planet. If word of his sexual preference ever got out, the
parents of America—and about fifty gazillion Justin Timberlake fans,
Abby included—would go totally apeshit, and things would only go downhill
from there. But Cassidy's mind wasn't on Justin and his current
dilemma; no, her main concern was for her best friend. Taylor had already been
through so much pain already, from his parents disowning him to catching his
last boyfriend in bed with another man, that Cassidy was sure he wouldn't
be able to deal with the fallout if things went south with Justin.
And to think I forced him to go on this damned date, Cassie thought
as she tried to tame her hair into some semblance of order. If things went
badly for them, she would not be able to live with the knowledge that
Taylor's heart being broken yet again was her fault. She dabbed in a
bit of lip gloss, giving herself a last little once over before she went back
into the hall to go in search of someone who could tell her where this little
impromptu press conference was.
Cassie quickly flagged down a nurse who directed her to the first floor conference
room where the assembled media had gathered for their latest feeding frenzy
and tale of Tinseltown woe. It was no secret that Cassie had a more than healthy
disdain for the worst of them—the ones who had sent her to the hospital
after her accident and into early labor came to mind—but she was a professional
when it came to handling them. She'd developed such a thick skin that
she could smile pretty for hours for the bastards while silently thinking about
just how badly she'd like to spit in their faces, and no one would be
the wiser. Pasting on the best of her fake smiles, she prepared herself to
enter the room where the press lay in wait for her like ravening wolves panting
after a helpless sheep. Just as she was about to enter, she felt a hand on
her arm and turned around with what Taylor and Nina laughingly called her "Hollywood" smile
plastered firmly in place.
"Ms. Saunders? Dr. Michael Prescott," the tall, somewhat handsome
man in the white lab coat said, clasping her hand so tightly she almost had
to ask him to ease off before he broke her fingers, "and may I say what
an honor it is to have you here at our wonderful institution. I wish this meeting
had been under different ..."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Dr. Prescott," Cassie interrupted
graciously, groaning inwardly at the thought of having to share space with
yet another panting, drooling fool who couldn't get his eyes above her
bustline. Smiling prettily she said, "Who exactly is in charge of tonight's
"That would be me Miss Saunders," an older African American woman
said, extending a hand for Cassie to shake. "My name is Bernadette Thomas
and I'm the Director of Public Relations for the hospital. I'm
sorry to have to be meeting under such unfortunate circumstances, but due to
the notoriety of you and Mr. Jeffries, the hospital felt it necessary to go
forward with this conference as soon as possible. We will understand if you'd
prefer to return to your friend's bedside, though."
"No, no, no... I'm fine for now. I would, however, like to
just get this over with so I can get home to my daughter before she sees this
on television," Cassie said calmly. "Now, if everyone who is involved
is ready to go, I'd like to get this done so I can visit Taylor for a
few more minutes before I have to leave."
"Of course," Ms. Thomas stated, moving around Cassie to grab the
door handle. "Whenever you're ready Miss Saunders."
Cassie squared her shoulders, her smile courteous but concerned as she nodded
to both Dr. Prescott and Ms. Thomas. "There's no time like the
With that, the doors swung open and Cassidy was on display for the entire
civilized world to see. As soon as she stepped into the room, flashbulbs started
going of at a rate close to the speed of light, temporarily blinding her but
quickly shaken off, as reporters from every major news source in the country
began hurtling questions her way. Cassie grimaced at the ensuing pandemonium,
wishing for the millionth time that she had gone into another line of work
as she quickly made her way to the makeshift announcer's table that had
been set up in the front of the room.
Ms. Thomas stepped up to the podium, which was almost hidden under a blanket
of microphones, a hastily prepared statement open in front of her. "Ladies
and gentlemen of the press, welcome to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. My name
is Bernadette Thomas, the gentleman standing to my left is Dr. Michael Prescott,
the chief of Emergency Medicine, and of course you all know Miss Cassidy Saunders.
I'll be reading a prepared statement before opening the floor to your
"At approximately nine forty-three this evening, actor Taylor Jeffries
was brought into the ER here after having sustained serious injuries during
an altercation with an unknown individual outside his Hollywood home. Mr. Jeffries
sustained severe bruising and multiple lacerations and contusions, along with
three broken ribs and a concussion from being beaten with a blunt object. The
Los Angeles Police Department has been notified and is currently conducting
a thorough investigation into this incident. At this time it is requested that
all members of the media direct any requests for information to the hospital's
public relations office. I'll now open the floor for a quick question
and answer session."
She pointed at a young reporter from the local affiliate of ABC. "Your
question Miss Hayes?"
"Is it true that this was actually a hate crime on Mr. Jeffries because
of his sexual orientation?" the reported asked, holding her microphone
Ms. Thomas turned to look at Cassidy briefly, seeming to wait for her permission
before answering. At Cassie's nod, she said, "At this time we're
not certain what prompted this attack, but based on information Mr. Jeffries
has been able to provide, that is the assumption. Yes?" she said again,
pointing at Ian Robinson from MTV.
"Hi. This question is for Miss Saunders," he said, causing Cassie
to look his way with a small smile. Few outside of her immediate circle knew
of her relationship to Ian—they were second cousins through her late
father—so she felt safe in answering any questions he might have for
her. "Have you seen Taylor, and if so, how is he?"
"Yes, I have seen him, and he's in as good of spirits as you could
expect for someone who's just been beaten almost to death with whatever
the hell it was they used," Cassie said calmly enough, but the members
of the press could see just how tight a rein she had on her temper. Of course,
they were all chomping at the bit to get her to lose it, but Cassidy was too
much of a professional to let that happen, and even given the current situation,
she was not about to let these vultures get under her skin.
"Next question please?" Bernadette Thomas said, casting a worried
glance at Cassidy. She was a huge fan of Temptations herself,
so she knew of the close relationship between its stars, but nothing prepared
her for the kind of anger she could feel rolling off of her favorite actress
in waves. She indicated a reporter from the NBC affiliate, saying firmly, "And
this one will be the last one for right now."
"Miss Saunders, seeing as how your name has been inextricably linked
to Mr. Jeffries in the eye of the public for so long, how do you feel this
attack will affect your joining him as his date for public functions in the
future?" the reporter asked. Cassie stared at the woman like she'd
lost her mind for several ticks of the clock, her face betraying her fluctuating
What the hell do you think, you stupid cow! Cassie thought, rolling
her eyes inwardly before she spoke. "Taylor Jeffries is my best friend," Cassie
said, her voice trembling, "he is my daughter's godfather, and
my brother by choice. If he and I choose to continue to be seen together in
public, I believe that is our prerogative. However, I will not now, nor will
I ever, allow one person's bigotry and hatred to dictate who my friends
will be. So to answer your question, yes, Taylor and I will continue to be
seen together... and anyone who doesn't like it can go to hell,
and I hope they choke on their hatred. Now, if that's all ladies and
gentlemen, I have a friend to visit and a child to get home to. Thank you all
With those words, Cassidy flashed one more dazzlingly seductive smile at the
assembled masses before walking out the double doors without a glance backwards
to see how her exit had gone over with the crowd. She breathed a sigh of relief
that this part of the evening was finally over, but relief turned quickly to
panic when she remembered that Abby tended to like to turn on the television
while she tried to fall asleep. Saying a quick prayer that Nina was still awake,
Cassie ducked into a small reception area to use her cell phone to call Nina
to give her an update and to derail Abby's usual nocturnal behavior.
"Come on Neen... still be up," Cassie repeated as she waited
for Nina to answer. Finally on the fourth ring, Nina's sleep slurred
voice came over the line. "Nina. It's me. Don't say anything.
I need you to go into Abby's room and make sure her TV is turned off,
or at least turned down."
"Cassie what's going on?" Nina asked, struggling to wake
up. She made her way into Abby's room, but stopped when she saw that
Abby had fallen asleep watching 'Toon Disney. "She was watching
Disney. Cassie, what's happening?"
"Taylor's been hurt," Cassie replied, turning to make sure
the door to the room was closed firmly and locked before she collapsed into
a chair, running her hand through her hair.
"Is he okay?" Nina asked, her voice trembling with fear—and
a healthy dose of anger. Cassie knew that Nina loved Taylor like her own child,
so naturally she would be concerned about Taylor's condition. She almost
debated telling Nina the truth, but decided that telling her would be the best
thing, since Nina's temper could rival her own for sheer ferocity where
one of her "babies" was concerned.
Cassidy sighed in frustration, wishing she were someplace where she could
take one of her infrequent smoke breaks. Since quitting when she'd found
out she was pregnant with Abby, she'd seldom touched the things, but
tonight would be an exception. "Well he has a slight concussion and a
few broken ribs, but they didn't do any serious damage."
"¡Da gracias a Dios!" Nina exclaimed, crossing herself quickly. "But
how the hell did this happen Cassie? Who would do something like this to Taylor?"
"I have no idea Neen, but I have every intention of finding out," Cassidy
stated, her eyes narrowing to slits. "When Tay got home from his date,
he said he found some strange girl in front of the house. He didn't think
anything of it until she started acting weird, but by then her boyfriend or
whoever had already attacked him with a damned baseball bat."
"Those bastards had better pray la policía find them first!" Nina
snapped, pacing her bedroom like a caged tiger.
"That's not the worst of it," Cassie stated, her anger building
to new levels as she contemplated anyone hurting her baby. "T-Taylor
told me that as the guy was beating him, he said he was doing this because
he was a fag and...the bastard threatened to hurt me and Abby if Taylor
doesn't stay away from us."
"I wish the asshole would try to hurt you or my Abby!" Nina shouted
before she quickly lowered her voice. "I'd rip their balls off
and shove them down their throats before I'd let anything happen to either
"Calm down Mom," Cassie teased gently, trying to defuse Nina's
anger as she stood and stretched her aching back. "Look Neen, I'm
gonna go visit with Taylor for a few more minutes before they kick me out.
I'll try to get out of here as soon as I can. If Abby wakes up before
I get home, tell her I had to stay at Taylor's so Calla wouldn't
be lonely or something. I also think it would be a good idea for Tay to come
stay with us, at least for the next few weeks while he's healing up,
so I'm gonna need you to fix up one of the spare bedrooms."
"Do you think he'll go for that?" Nina asked, smiling as
she pictured the determined look on her friend's face. Cassie snorted,
rolling her eyes at the phone, even though Nina obviously couldn't see
her. "I mean, you know how independent he is. Do you really see him agreeing
to do that?"
"I don't recall it being a choice," she said dryly with
an amused smile. "He knows better than to argue with Momma Cassie. Anyway.
I'll call you when I'm on my way home. See you guys soon. Kiss
my baby for me, and I'll see you as soon as I can."
"All right cariña. Give Taylor my love," Nina said as she
waited for Cassidy to hang up the phone.
Once she was sure Cassie was gone, Nina hung up herself, but she no longer
felt any need to sleep, which she'd been doing a pretty good job of when
the phone had awakened her. She continued to pace, her mind racing as she tried
to come up with a valid explanation as to why this had happened tonight of
all nights. Had his date somehow been involved? Taylor had seemed to be enjoying
himself when he'd called to check up on Abby earlier, but that could
just have been a ruse for her benefit. There were many, many people who were
probably rejoicing that this had befallen Taylor, especially once he'd
been outed, so Nina couldn't honestly say she was surprised. In reality,
she had almost been expecting it. Ever since Orlando had outed Taylor, she
had been harboring a secret dread that in some way, somehow, one of those fanatical
hatemongers would find a way to get to Tay and try to hurt him. Things had
been quiet for the most part, except for the practical deluge of hate mail
Taylor, and by extension Cassie, had been receiving almost nonstop since the
Emmys some two months ago. So, she wasn't really surprised that it had
happened, only that it had taken as long as it did.
"I just hope for Taylor's sake that they find el hijo de una puta
who did this," Nina muttered, sitting in her favorite easy chair and
turning on the TV while she waited to make sure Cassie arrived home safely,
her mind racing as she considered a possibility that, if found to be true,
would rock Cassie's world to its core.
Please, please, please... don't let him have been involved in
this, she prayed fervently, picking up a book and opening it as she continued
Cassie sat with Taylor for another hour until the charge nurse insisted that
she leave and get some sleep herself. She'd left reluctantly, not wanting
to chance anything else happening to Taylor in her absence. As she leaned over
to kiss him goodbye, she promised him that she would come back the following
morning to pick him up before grabbing her purse and walking to the door. She
paused briefly, looking back at her best friend lying there like a small child,
his body beaten and bruised, but his fighting spirit firmly intact. Her heart
went out to him, and she became more determined than ever to make him stay
with her until he was completely healed from his injuries, and if he didn't
like it, well too damned bad for him. What Cassie wanted, Cassie usually got,
and nobody knew that better than her best friend/partner in crime. It wasn't
until she got downstairs that Cassie recalled that she'd rode there in
the ambulance with Taylor and now had no ride.
"Son of a bitch," she snapped, walking out into the chilly Los
Angeles night. She glanced around, hoping that there was a cab nearby, but
the only vehicles in the lot were an ambulance disgorging one of the losing
combatants in a shootout with the police and a sleek black limousine. Sighing,
she pulled out her phone to call for a cab, but stopped short when the driver
of the limo got out and approached her cautiously.
"Miss Saunders? I have your ride," he said courteously. Cassie
stared at him for a second, her mind beginning to go blessedly numb from shock,
which had finally begun to settle in.
"Someone from the studio I suppose," she mumbled as she followed
the driver, who was standing patiently while he opened the door for her, and
then waited until she was settled in the plush seat before closing the door
behind her. Cassie leaned her head back against the headrest with her eyes
closed, relaxing for the first time since Taylor's call had come in earlier
that evening. So relaxed was she that it took her mind a few moments to register
that she wasn't alone in the car. Her eyes popped open in surprise when
a hand closed over hers, almost screaming until she was about to make out Justin's
face in the dimly lit interior of the car as they started to move.
"Jesus Justin, you scared the crap outta me!" she snapped angrily,
her bottom lip trembling as she fought an onslaught of fear. Justin stared
back at her, silent and shocked for a second but recovering his composure quickly.
"I'm sorry Cassie. I didn't stop to think I shoulda said
something right when you got inside. I just wanted to make sure you had a way
home, so I had my driver bring me back to the hospital. If you'd rather
I left..." he blurted, making Cassie laugh.
"Justin, breathe for goodness sake," she teased, smiling at the
obviously nervous pop star. She took one of his hands in her own, "I
don't want you to leave. In fact, thank you for being so thoughtful.
I was just about to call a cab, so you saved me a cab fare since, ditz that
I am, I forgot that I rode here in the ambulance and left my car at Taylor's
"Okay," Justin said, smiling as he squeezed her hand before they
settled back into a comfortable silence. He glanced over at her and said, "You'll
need to give my driver directions to Taylor's house, since I'm
totally clueless as to where he lives."
Cassie depressed the intercom button, waiting for the driver's voice
to come on before she gave him the address to Taylor's house. He asked
a few questions about the best way to get there and, after thanking Cassie
for her patience, informed both of the car's occupants that they would
be arriving at the house in about twenty minutes. Cassie thanked him and settled
herself back to enjoy the ride, her mind still churning in turmoil. The very
idea of losing Taylor made her want to fall on the nearest shoulder and weep
uncontrollably, but by an act of supreme will, she willed the threatening tears
away, needing to stay focused on something besides the memory of her best friend
lying in a hospital bed, his body a convenient punching bag for another person's
anger and bigotry. She'd meant every word she'd said during the
press conference back at the hospital. Taylor's friendship had gotten
her through some of the toughest times of her life, like the accident when
she'd given birth to Abby almost a full month early, and more recently
her divorce, and she'd be damned if she wouldn't continue to love
and support him in every way possible. Taylor's love had made her life
bearable during a time when worrying, and the constant arguing with Orli, had
made her wish she could just walk away from everything, so she owed it to him
to be strong for him now.
Cassie was so lost in her thoughts that she'd completely forgotten about
Justin sitting beside her, nervously wondering about the thoughts that had
made her go from smiling to looking so sad. She's probably worrying
about Taylor, Justin thought as he watched her face in the flickering lights
outside the window. I wonder if she knows what an expressive face she has?
"Justin, can I ask you a question?" she suddenly asked, her eyes
hidden in the shadows, but Justin could feel those haunting green eyes watching
"Sure...I guess," he replied uncertainly, not exactly sure
of what to expect from the woman next to him.
"Do you really care about Taylor, or are you just looking to fuck him
and run?" Cassie asked with her usual candor. Justin sat frozen for several
seconds, not sure if he wanted to answer or laugh in her face. Judging from
the look on her face, laughing would not be in his best interest, so he decided
honesty would give him a better chance of escaping with his balls still firmly
attached. "If it's the former, well I'll reserve judgment,
but if it's the latter, then I'll just tell you now to walk away
before you hurt him," Cassie said fiercely, her eyes flashing in the
dim light provided by the rapidly passing streetlights.
"Cassidy, I really do like Taylor. I think he's an amazing man,
and I think I'd like for him to be my boyfriend...but honestly,
I don't think he likes me the same way," Justin replied earnestly,
his face sad.
No, not sad. Wistful, Cassie thought, smiling at the younger man. "You've
been bitten by the Taylor bug," she stated with a smile, squeezing the
hand that still rested on her thigh, bumping his shoulder playfully before
she got serious again. "Just give him some time, okay? Taylor's
been burned a few times, so he tends to push people who say they care about
him away, even though he knows they love him. I know this for a fact 'cause
I've seen him do it. It's just his way of protecting his heart,
but it can get old after a while, ya know? So do whatever you have to do, and
make sure to be sweetly, lovingly persistent; no matter how hard he tries to
dissuade you, don't give up on him. In spite of what he might have to
say to the contrary, he has a lot of love to give to the right man. Let him
see that you aren't going anywhere, and I think he'll open his
heart to you. Just know that I will be watching you, and if you
hurt him, I'll rip your dick off and hand it to you gift-wrapped. Understand?"
"Yes ma'am!" Justin replied, barely suppressing his laughter
at the thought of the diminutive woman carrying through with her threat, until
he saw the icy green stare she gave him. Hell, she might actually try it...and
I'd be too much of a punk to stop her!
The rest of the ride went by in silence, and upon arrival at Taylor's,
Cassidy agreed to allow Justin and his driver to trail her back to her house
in Beverly Hills, not that she'd had a choice though. Justin had insisted
on it over Cassie's very vocal protests, and Cassie had finally capitulated
when it became apparent that Justin could be, and oftentimes was, just as stubborn
as she was when it came to getting his way. As she drove toward home, she contemplated
giving them the slip, but decided that it was easier to just deal with it than
to fight it. Besides, knowing her luck, Justin would rat her out to Taylor,
who would in turn snitch to Nina, and then—well, let's just say
that hell breaking loose would be preferable to enduring one of Nina's
When she arrived at the house, she pulled into her parking spot, happy to
finally be back in her comfort zone again. She still had to worry about what
to tell Abby about Taylor's injuries, provided he agreed to stay with
her, but she would cross that bridge when she came to it. Abby was one smart
little girl, so she wasn't keen on lying to her, but at the same time,
she didn't want to frighten her baby by revealing the truth that her "Uncle" Taylor
had been beaten with a bat just because he didn't love who the world
thought he should love. Cassidy was suddenly bone-weary, almost too tired to
go another step as she unlocked the front door, completely ignoring Orlando's
car in its spot in front of the garage as she went inside and made her way
to the wet bar in the living room, desperate for something to drink that would
calm her nerves enough to allow her to sleep through what was left of the night.
"I just need one glass of wine... Just one," Cassie mumbled
as she poured the wine into a goblet, savoring the taste as she tried to will
her fluctuating emotions to cycle down.
"Darling, are you all right?" Orlando's voice said from
behind her, causing her to shriek in surprise, dropping the glass in her hand,
one hand clutching her pounding heart.
"Damn it Orli, you scared me!" she shouted angrily, lowering her
voice as she thought of Abby sleeping upstairs. "What are you doing here?"
"I-I heard about Taylor on television and I wanted to make sure you
were okay," he replied, walking over to her and touching her cheek. For
one brief second, Cassie allowed that soft touch to lull her into an old sense
of security—almost allowing him to slip past her hard won defenses, and
Orlando sensed it. That soft touch, the simple caress that threatened to break
through the wall Cassie had erected to keep her anger and hurt over Taylor's
beating at bay. But she couldn't—no she wouldn't—break
down in front of him. Not in front of the one person in the world who could,
and often had in the past, hurt her the most—no matter how much he claimed
to have changed.
Orlando sensed the change in her, felt the invisible barrier that she'd
erected around her heart snap back into place, so he moved to put some space
between them again, leaving her staring out into the darkness, totally silent
and still, lost wherever she had retreated to mentally. He'd only seen
her like this one other time—when he had been in the hospital after he'd
lost a foolish bet to a friend and had fallen from a second story balcony,
breaking his back. Cassie had come to England on the first plane, not even
stopping at their flat before coming to the hospital, her quiet strength surprising
him until she'd been allowed to see him for the first time, lying helpless
in his hospital bed. She'd held it together until he'd looked at
her, his eyes full of pain, and then she'd lost it, crying until she
was ill as he comforted her as best he could. It was in that moment that Orlando
had realized how much he truly loved Cassie, and it was also when he realized
just how fragile she could be emotionally where the people she loved were concerned.
Her ability to love him so completely had stolen his heart, and to this day,
she held it fast, but he knew she would never believe him if
he told her that, so he chose to just be there for her as a friend—for
"Hey Cassie? Is everything okay in here? I thought I heard you scream... Oh,
hello," Justin said nervously as he came face to face with Orlando Bloom.
He extended a hand to him, smiling. "Justin Timberlake. It's cool
to finally meet you. I loved you in Pirates of the Caribbean."
"Thanks," Orlando replied warily, shaking the proffered hand. "Your
CD's one of my favorites. 'Still on My Brain' is a beautiful
song," he said softly, his eyes straying to his ex-wife, his expression
softening as he watched her. "I can definitely identify with how much
you must have loved the woman you wrote... I mean, I can identify with
how you felt when you wrote it."
"Thanks," Justin said with a huge grin, the look of longing in
the other man's eyes not lost on him. So he's still in love
with her, he thought as he watched Orlando stare forlornly at Cassie's
back. "Well, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay in here.
You should come lock up behind me..."
"Cassie, are you home?" Nina called downstairs as she came down,
stopping in her tracks when she spied the two men in the room with her. Her
eyes grew enormous when she recognized Justin, but her expression remained
neutral. Orlando's jealousy was almost legendary, so she waited patiently
to see how this would play out.
"Well, I need to be going," Justin said awkwardly, moving toward
Cassie, who still stood staring out the window, her back to the room. "Cassie?
I'll see you tomorrow. You try to get some sleep, okay?"
"What the hell do you mean 'I'll see you tomorrow?'" Orlando
snapped, his cold brown eyes raking over Justin. "Are you sleeping with
my wife, you bastard?"
To be continued...
Oh, what will happen next? Will Orlando jump to the wrong conclusion and
have it out with Justin, or will Cassie or Nina intervene? Or worse, will
he tell Orlando his own secret? Will Cassie and Taylor ever find out who
attacked Taylor, and will Cassie be able to 'persuade' Taylor into staying
at her house? What impact will this incident have on their show? Will Justin
ever break through the barrier surrounding Taylor's heart? Drop Rob or Nicole a
line and let us know your thoughts.
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