Chapter 23: The Brash, Outrageous and Free

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The second Willow had said goodbye and left for the day, Kim jumped into action: staying in bed, doing absolutely nothing except snuggling Calum Woof. She petted his furry little head for a while, then stopped to check her phone, but then Calum insistently worked his little head underneath her hand so she had to keep petting him, and this process repeated for a while. Kim didn't mind; they had a lot of lost time to make up for.

Just as she was starting to feel lazy and like she should probably get out of bed and figure out what to do with her day, her phone rang. It was Kris, surprise.

"Hiiiii," Kim said, trying to suppress an eye-roll.

"Kim, we haven't heard from you. Did you get the stuff Kourtney needs from Kardash? Are you in transit?"

Am I in transit? Kim thought. What is this, Special Ops: Fashion Edition?

"Hey! How's the store coming along," Kim asked, trying to cheerfully change the subject. "I bet Kourtney's super excited, I'm so proud of her."

"Kim," Kris said plainly, not falling for it. "Kourtney is the same as ever. We need the delivery from Kardash. Time is of the essence."

"Fine, yes, I know, I just got pulled into a thing today. I need to go to...London?" she guessed.

"London? Why do you need to go to London today? This is very important for Kourtney and--"

"Kris, I am here for Kourtney," Kim said, her voice rising. "I am in Miami, running her little errand. But am I supposed to utterly reject my own personal brand in the process? Kourtney wouldn't even be opening her own store if it wasn't for me. I need to do my thing and I will get to Kourtney's thing later."

For once, Kris was silent for a moment before answering. Kim hated to let her frustration seep through like that--she did not need more enemies in this world, but jfc, enough already.

"I would never ask you to reject your brand, Kim," Kris said softly. "OK. Do good work in London. We're just excited about getting this project off the ground. We'll talk when you get back. Be careful and come back safe."

"OK. See you soon."

Kim hung up, staring at her phone, weirded out that Kris had suddenly been so reasonable, and feeling bad for getting so heated.

"Welp, Calum," Kim said, burrowing her face down into his, "Looks like I'm going to London today."

Calum licked Kim's face once and then burrowed down under the covers.

"OK bye," Kim said.

On her way to the shower, something glittery on Willow's dressing table caught Kim's eye. Hanging off the corner of Willow's earring display was a dazzling jeweled statement necklace. Kim gasped in recognition--it was the necklace the Bollywood actress Rani Khosla had given her back in New Delhi, months ago.

It had been one of the darkest times in Kim's life. It had felt like everyone and everything was aligned against her. Other Kim was manipulating things to make it look like Willow was Kim's enemy, and Tiny Monkey and his family had been killed, mere pawns in Other Kim's terrible game. Kim's personal brand was in ruins. Kim had never felt so alone, but Rani had risked her life to help Kim, giving her this necklace in the process, reaching out in friendship to Kim at a time when she had needed it most.

Kim fastened the clasp behind her neck. Rani had said it would protect her.

But what had happened to Rani since then? There was no news about her, ever. Kim did a quick search on her phone. It looked like Rani had done a few more films after Kim left, then she'd gotten married to some actor Kim had never heard of. An article mentioned a lavish wedding at 10AX and a honeymoon in San Francisco. And then nothing. Nothing! She'd been one of the most powerful and popular actresses in KKHollywood. Maybe she'd retired and settled down, exhausted from the media grindfest. Kim hoped Rani was somewhere, happy. But still: the Rani she'd known would never have retired so early in her career.

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