Chapter Thirty-Four

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Back in California, Jada's first order of business was to unload on Mikayla and Alia. As she suspected, her friends' mouths dropped in horrified shock at her tale. The Daniel debacle, her guilty omission, Tristan's vow to kick her off the film. The whole scenario garnered the appropriate moments of expletives, gasps, and sympathetic groans.

"But--but you CAN'T turn down this role, Jada. It's a game changer," Alia insisted.

"Alia, you damn workaholic! Fuck that! Her heart is broken." Mikayla cuddled up to Jada in a comforting hug. However, the only embrace she really wanted was the one she'd never get again.

"You both make good points." Jada bridged the gap. "But two things are clear. Getting over Tristan will be hard but it's a must. Giving up on my career again isn't."

"There's my girl!" Alia hooted.

"Yes, I'm not letting a man dictate what I do with my career ever again." Jada nodded.

"That's all well and good, and I fully support you, but...what if  Tristan issues an ultimatum and Logan chooses him over you?" Mikayla said hesitantly.

"That's a risk I'll have to take. I'll just hope that someone bets on me for a change because I'm sure as hell going to bet on myself."

Jada's words weren't false bravado either. On the long plane ride home, she'd had a lot of time to mull over her pain and make this decision. While true love was hard to find, scoring awesome acting jobs was even harder. Despite how enraged Tristan would be, she'd face him head on and earn her place on that movie. If he wanted to leave, fine. But she wouldn't go down without a fight.

Ironically enough, her time with him had been what clarified her resolve. Fighting with him, standing up to him...loving him had made her stronger. She'd rediscovered her backbone and she wouldn't let anyone break it.

So with her head held high, Jada strode into Avery Kane's office the next day to fill out the contract. She basically blew by the receptionist and gave a brisk knock on the agent's door. Avery glared at her in distaste.

"You couldn't wait five minutes until I called you in?"

Knowing Avery only made people wait as a power move, Jada smiled at her brightly. "What can I say? I'm just so eager to meet with you today."

Avery raised a skeptical brow but motioned Jada in any way. As she dug around for the paperwork, she prattled on about Jada's manners and work ethic.

"Now Mr. Wentworth seems pretty excited to take you on for this, but let me tell you, this isn't your run of the mill straight to the bargain bin film. This is no made for TV two-bit gig. This is the big time, do you understand?" Avery said as she whipped out the paperwork. Jada nodded, remaining silent as she mulled over the legalese. She would never have a great legal mind, but she'd signed enough of these to know what to look out for. As she perused, Avery continued to admonish her.

"And since this IS the big time, you can't fuck up. You can't pull a hysterical breakdown on this set like you did in New York and on Love Locket."

Jada's pen froze mid-air. "Excuse me?" she said with a tight smile. Avery gave one back, a devilish twinkle in her eye.

"I know that you saw Daniel at Tristan's premiere. Seriously, Jada. It's been years. You think you could say a simple hello instead of screaming and storming out in tears."

"In tears?" Jada repeated.

"Bawling like a baby in the theater. It's entirely unprofessional."

Jada set the pen down, steeling herself.

"You know what's unprofessional, Avery? You. Every fucking thing about you."

"What did you say?"

"You heard me. You're an asshole. You treat great clients like me like shit, then complain when we don't bring in enough gigs. News flash: YOU'RE THE AGENT. Pull your own damn weight."

Avery's face turned a very interesting shade of maroon. She shot up out of her chair, attempting to tower over Jada.

"You can't talk to me like that! You're—"

"Fired? Never going to work in this town again?" Jada jumped up from her chair as well, staring the fearsome agent down.

"You don't own me, Bitchery Kane. And I'll be damned if I let you run my life—or my career—anymore."

"Well, we'll just see what Logan Wentworth has to say about that," Avery shot back.

"Don't worry. I'll let you know," Jada said, waving her cell phone at her.

Then, she turned on her heel, marching out of that office like a fucking boss and loving every minute of it. As she made her way out of the building, she managed to nab Logan's assistant and explain her situation. The cliff notes version, of course. The lady was perfectly pleasant, saying how Logan had mentioned his desire to work with Jada. She assured Jada he'd still be open to signing with her and to let them know if she found different representation.

At "different representation" only one name came to mind. After several moments of anxious lip biting, Jada forced herself to make her second call: Doug.

"Jada! It's great to hear from you," he said once he picked up.

"Really?" she said, surprised.

"Why the shock, Lollipop?"

"Um, one, please don't ever call me that again. And two, didn't Tristan tell you?"

At Doug's obliviousness, Jada took a deep breath and launched into the torrid story all over again. Doug also made the pertinent exclamations at the right moments.

"So you see why I'm in a bit of a pickle," she said as she reached the end of her recap. "I don't want to stir up anything between you and Tristan, but I also can't go back to Avery. But honestly, if we're talking cold, hard business, you know taking me on is a good deal."

"That it is," Doug hummed in agreement.

"I want this job, Doug, and I also want you as my new agent."

"Why Jada! That's the surest I've ever heard you sound about anything."

"Thanks!" Jada laughed. "It's the new me. But I'm not sure how to make this new deal between us and Tristan work."

"Well, at the end of the day, as you said, this is business. Give me a day and let me talk to him. But whatever you do, don't tear up that contract!"

"Got it. Thanks, Doug."

As Jada hung up she was filled with equal amounts of relief and apprehension. She was proud of herself for coming this far, acting so quickly, and taking a stand. But on the other hand, just HEARING Tristan's name and wondering what he thought about her hurt. All she could hope for was that her new agent was as savvy as he promised.

*** Jada has finally found her true self, and she's not apologizing for no damn body.

How do you think Tristan will react to Doug joining up with Jada? 😱

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