The Chop


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“Oh God, please no. Why?” Camryn shook her head and buried her face in her hands. Her brunette bob fell loosely over her fingers. To emphasize the dreadfulness of the assignment at hand in the most dramatic way possible, she feigned collapse on Ari Warburg’s desk.

“Really Camryn, I’m not asking you to give the man your liver,” he replied sardonically. Ari was middle-aged, balding in the wrong places, and not generally given to the whining and excuses of his production assistants. He, however, had a weakness for Camryn, but not in any creepy romantic way. She was more like his protégé being groomed for the big time. She worked five times as hard as any of the other PAs and exhibited a certain kind of intuition for the business without the wide-eyed, fame-starved millennial entitlement he’d grown so weary of.

“All things considered, giving him my liver might be easier,” Camryn deadpanned. “And probably more helpful.” Ari was mildly amused.

“Look,” the producer said in his best bargaining voice. “This is a huge step from Hideaways. If you can get Alasdair Maxwell through filming without a relapse or a complete fuck up, I’ll make you full producer on your own show.”

Camryn raised an eyebrow. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” She leaned back in the ridiculously uncomfortable wood and leather chair. Ari believed in keeping furniture that inspired his staff to cherish standing over loitering in his office. He favored the Danish modern minimalist look, but he certainly would have employed metal spikes if it were fashionable. She shifted on the hard seat trying to figure out which cheek provided more cushion. It was the left. Definitely the left.

“I didn’t promise. I made a condition.” Ari leaned forward and rapped his pen on the light walnut desktop with the dizzying chevron inlay. “Seriously, Camryn. Taking on Alasdair is a make or break proposition.”

“Honestly, I feel like you’re setting me up to fail. Secretly you want me to stay an abused and neglected PA for the rest of my natural life.”

“And have you be a constant pain in my ass? Tcha. If I make you producer on another show, at least you won’t by my problem anymore.”

“You love me and can’t live without me,” she teased.

“Go. Leave.” Ari waved emphatically. “Before I change my mind.”

Camryn Pitney was twenty-eight, had a Bachelor’s degree in Theater with a minor in business administration (because she needed a Plan B), and somehow managed to become a production assistant at Gramercy Global Media or GGM – a corporate conglomerate that owned a dozen television networks, ten news publications, and twenty glossy periodicals with stakes in a few internet and social media businesses. They also were a book publisher and had a large investment in solar energy production. If Camryn had learned anything in business school it was that diversification was key.

The PA gig was supposed to be temporary. She had come to New York like every other starry-eyed girl with dreams of being a stage actress. And it worked out about as well, too. Camryn was talented but she always seemed to lose out to someone who was thinner, or taller, or prettier, or just more than she was. Working at Gramercy was intended to pay her share of the rent in a two bedroom flat shared with her roommate, Ren, until she had a breakthrough on Broadway. Then one day the epiphany happened: she realized being behind the scenes had infinitely more possibilities than being center stage. Not to mention, producing was an entirely objective pursuit. No one cared what she looked like only that she could deliver a product on schedule and under budget. To her benefit, Camryn had the gift of anticipation and discernment with almost psychic precognition. She just had a knack for knowing what people needed and wanted before they themselves could verbalize it. Such a talent made her a great production assistant. The work was steady. She took a fair amount of abuse but was compensated handsomely.

Camryn had been in Ari’s department for nearly two years. He ran programming on both The Excursion Network and Food Central. Camryn specifically worked for a show called Hideaways that took her interesting places around the world in search of hidden travel gems off the beaten path. She’d graduated in the last six months to acting assistant producer on the show helping the director scout and plan out location shoots, overseeing their budget, and supervising the crew. The show’s host was just a voiceover actor who recorded narration mostly written by Camryn in a New York City studio. The production crew was largely without any personalities that required coddling or assuaging which made working on the show relatively laid back. Of course, getting off the beaten tourist path occasionally meant roughing it in every sense of the phrase – being without electricity sometimes, or running water, or other modern conveniences. The worst was Bali where half the crew was sickened by something not quite as deadly as cholera but that made the sufferer believe death was a better alternative. After spending almost 850 days on the road in four years, Camryn could honestly call herself a seasoned traveler.

Ari had called her to his office to ask a favor. The network, and subsequently the entire corporation, made a substantial profit off one personality specifically – Alasdair Maxwell. He was a chef and restaurateur as well as a globetrotter who had gained notoriety from his two travel and cooking memoirs (both published by GGM). He hosted two shows on Gramercy networks – Three Days, Two Nights and Eat-Tour – which Ari had executive produced for several seasons. Ari and Dare (as Alasdair was nicknamed for a variety of reasons) had been friends for longer than that. It was Ari that convinced him to do network television knowing that it would make them both a ridiculous amount of money. Alasdair was a charmer but he was also a colossal asshole according to the PAs Camryn knew working on his shows. PAs rarely lasted a month working for the prick, infamous for his undiplomatic honesty and somewhat disagreeable nature. Ari tolerated Alasdair’s antics because they were friends. He ran interference for Dare on numerous occasions with Vince Gordon, the broadcast media division president.

It was widely known that Alasdair was sort of a womanizer and had allegedly alienated some of his shows’ crews from time to time. But the cherry on top for such a fine human being was his affinity for cocaine. Ari argued repeatedly that these were all quirks that could be controlled and mitigated by a strong producer. And Ari had for the most part kept Alasdair properly reigned in and sober while he was working. It was when production was on hiatus that he became unmanageable. Out of the reach of Ari, Alasdair would disappear off the grid to some incredibly seedy locales both domestic and foreign, go on binges, and then turn up hungover and disheveled right before production began again. Alasdair certainly wasn’t the only colorful personality at Gramercy. He just happened to be one of the more visible due in part to his popularity and reputation for being brutally forthright in all aspects of his life. People loved to hate him which made Alasdair Maxwell entertainment gold.

Ari he needed someone he could trust – a veritable tamer of beasts. GGM had issued an edict after Alasdair’s latest public display of recklessness. The details were splashed across Page Six. Alasdair’s transgressions were memorialized in full glossy color on nearly every tabloid cover in the country. The result caused a significant financial loss to Gramercy in the form of libel litigation and negative publicity. Ari couldn’t convince anyone that there was no such thing as bad publicity least of all Vince, who had nearly been subjected to public execution by Gramercy’s CEO. And since shit rolls downhill, the network vice president and a few executive producers – including Ari – found themselves staring down the prospect of unemployment.

No, Ari had reached his limit with Alasdair and had summarily decided that this particular goldmine was no longer worth potential career suicide. Ari couldn’t see any way to persuade Dare into an acceptable pattern of behavior. He’d have to be managed into it. The job required constant vigilance. It required Camryn’s finesse.

She might be able to reign in Maxwell. Though Camryn was young, she was strong-willed, seasoned, and capable of using her talents to keep Alasdair subdued. At least Ari believed this. Maybe it appeared that Camryn was going to be a sacrificial lamb, but her failure would lie squarely on Ari’s shoulders. At best, Camryn would be reassigned. At worst, she’d be scooped up by another company with arguably better pay and benefits. If she could keep an eye on the miscreant even half the time, people would laud Camryn as a hero. Ari silently reassured himself that this was the best…only…course of action. Who else could he get to take a job no one wanted?

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Mise En Place

The next morning, Ari was laughing indifferently at Alasdair’s latest exploits in front of the network receptionist’s desk when Camryn arrived. Introductions were made. Alasdair noted her fine dark brunette locks swept to the side of her face and closely cropped right below her jaw. The style shaped her face without making her appear childish. She had wide-set, stormy gray eyes, thin lips and high cheek bones with a stare that made him feel less than insignificant. Camryn was thin but had an alluring line to her body – straight with the slightest concave curve at her waist that became convex at her hip. More egg timer than hourglass, but feminine not boyish. Her skinny jeans sat on her hip exposing a sliver of olive skin under her tight cardigan and camisole then hugged her legs straight to her ballet flats. She reminded him of Louise Brooks straight out of a 1920s Vogue. Timeless. Beautiful.

Alasdair was tall but not imposing, broad shouldered and fairly fit for a man near forty who’d spent more than half his life abusing his body in one way or another. His hair was black and shaggy, mussed about like he’d rolled out of bed and jumped in an Uber ten minutes before. A few stray white hairs around his temple and sideburns framed his face and his jaw and chin were sprinkled with a weekend’s worth of unshaven stubble. His eyes were like melted milk chocolate and adorned by long lashes, bushy but controlled eyebrows, and the fine creases of crow’s feet that were distinguishing rather than aging. Alasdair wore a tucked in gray t-shirt under an olive drab military jacket, straight-legged indigo jeans and black Chuck Taylors, untied with the tongues hanging out. He was aloof but styled and had he not had a reputation for being a dick, Camryn would have found him attractive even at more than a decade her senior.

Rakish, she thought. That was the word. And then she promptly cursed herself for even considering Alasdair Maxwell in any way other than as her ward for the next three months.

Ari had directed them to the conference room down the hall and waved for Elise the receptionist to bring a bottle of sparkling water post haste. He began summarizing the itinerary of pre-scouted locations for filming the next season of Three Days, Two Nights.



Faroe Islands



Kuwait City

Hong Kong


Havana – 2 part episode

Camrym scanned through the destination list – all places she’d been including the remote Faroe Islands which was featured on an episode of Hideaways last year. Ari had planned this out well in advance of this meeting, Camryn recognized. Going to familiar places most certainly meant Camryn wouldn’t feel too out of her element and it would be easier to keep a watchful eye on Alasdair.

The pre-production team was taking care of the logistics of each location which required careful finagling – especially in Kuwait and Moscow. And with relations being recently thawed with Cuba, no one was really sure what exactly to expect. It was closing in on Labor Day now and each location took roughly seven to ten days to shoot even though the crew and host supposedly arrived and departed within just 72 hours. Lighting and weather always were factors in the shooting schedule. Security was the other concern.

They’d leave for Montreal the Friday after the holiday and plan to wrap before Thanksgiving. New episodes would start airing on The Excursion Network the second week of January. Post production editing would occur on the road including some of the voiceover work. But the season would be polished and ready before Christmas back in New York.

Nine locations. Twelve weeks. And Alasdair Maxwell. Kill me now, Camryn thought.

“So we thought it would be fun for Alasdair to do a whale hunt in the Faroe Islands,” stated Ari. It was more than just a suggestion. Anything that made it onto the shooting schedule was happening. The level of detail in the schedule was telling of how tightly controlled Ari expected this expedition to be. There was no room to ad lib.

“You don’t think that’s a little provocative considering Alasdair’s recent um…exposure?” Camryn challenged.

“What because it’s hunting whales?” Alasdair interjected. His chest almost puffed out with physical exuberance that proved he was up for any task because he believed he was God. “It’s not like I’m actually going to be harpooning anything, right?”

“You really have no idea do you?” she scoffed. “Ari, it’s asking for unwanted attention.” Camryn stood her ground.

“Meh,” Ari shrugged. “Global Expedition is already up there doing a piece for the magazine and a special for Lonesome Globe. So, it’s going to be a network cross-promotion for a series on controversial cultures. What do you think’s going to happen, Cam?”

“Oh I don’t know, Greenpeace protestors?” she waved her arms emphatically.

“Protestors?” asked Alasdair. His eyes widened and he looked back at Ari for some sort of direction. The one thing he’d managed to avoid considering his shenanigans were boycotters and picketers. Every time his face was published in US Weekly, his restaurant sales bumped at least 25 percent. Everyone loves a good train wreck.

“Okay, so maybe the practice is a little controversial. It’ll be great for ratings. Honestly, I thought I’d get more flak from you about Cuba.” He talked around Alasdair as if he weren’t in the room.

“Considering they reopened the Embassy there, no. If he makes a complete ass of himself,“ she glared at Alasdair sitting smugly across from her at the conference table. “At least we have a piece of American soil to retreat to when the Communists try to shoot us.”

“Dare, are you going to make as ass of yourself in Cuba?” Ari asked sarcastically. He was openly mocking her in a way meant to undermine her given authority over the location production. It unnerved Camryn. If she had to keep Alasdair leased, the last thing she wanted was him believing she could be sidestepped or manipulated.

“Every day is a new chance at redemption, Ari.” Alasdair deadpanned.

Camryn rolled her eyes while desperately trying to convince herself not punch Alasdair Maxwell. “What are you doing about security in Moscow and Kuwait?”

“Jordy’s making the entire trip. Is that okay with you, Ms. Associate Producer?” Ari was referring to the hulking man beast that headed security for shoots in high-risk locales. The ex-Army Ranger traveled with her Hideaways crew more than a dozen times through the Middle East. He spoke flawless Arabic and Farsi and had razor sharp instincts that kept her from being a casualty in an Ankara bus bombing last summer. Jordy Malkin was invaluable but Camryn knew his services were less about personal safety and more about keeping tabs on Alasdair. Kuwait and Moscow were relatively tame compared to some places they’d been.

Camryn exhaled and nodded with approval. “He’ll be with you at Good Day USA on Monday morning. I don’t think that guy has ever cracked a smile but he seemed genuinely thrilled to be working with you.”

“Thanks,” Alasdair and Camryn answered in unison. Camryn glared at the chef. She knew who Jordy really wanted to work with.

Ari stood from the head of the conference table and rolled his eyes. The egos were heavy in the room and he could only take so much. “Well, I’ll leave you two to…get acquainted then.” He grabbed up the notepad and stack of files that followed him around the office. Camryn left Alasdair behind to fiddle with his Instagram account to chase Ari down the hall.

“You’re serious about the Faroe Islands?” she grabbed his arm.

He pulled her into an empty office. “Cam, I’m not leaving this to chance, okay? My ass is on the line here.”

“And wouldn’t that put me in jeopardy too?” she said sharply as she stared her boss directly through his designer eyeglasses.

“Not as long as you stick to the itinerary. I’ve been working on this since Dare went to rehab. The network isn’t going to ignore his bullshit anymore.”

“Oh I get what you’re saying,” she said flatly. “I’m just supposed to be your minion and carry out your bidding.” Ari really didn't trust her, she believed for a minute. He needed someone to ensure they stayed on track but nothing more. She was incensed. Camryn stormed for the hallway.

“No, Camryn, wait,” Ari grabbed her elbow forcefully and pulled her back into the office. She turned to face the man whose hairline had seen better days. Thinking about it made her a little less angry. “Alasdair is going to be enough stress. I handled the details so you can focus on getting us all through this.”

“Whatever,” she said, flatly and continued down the hall. Camryn turned on her heel toward Ari before disappearing toward her office. “Thanks for Bozeman,” she smirked.

“It was the least I could do, kiddo.”

“She’s rather fierce,” Alasdair cracked giving Ari the fright of his life. His glasses slid to his chin from the jolt.

“Fuck, Alasdair. Are you trying to kill me?” He fumbled with his frames then refocused on the disaster before him.

“I don’t know. Are you trying to kill my career?” Alasdair asked.

“Oh, I think you’ve done a pretty bang-up job of that yourself, friend. The network is pissed but they can’t fire you because they’re on the hook for your contract regardless.”

“Remind me to thank my agent for that,” Alasdair chuckled as he followed Ari back towards his ridiculous office. He searched for a place to sit that didn’t inspire a sciatica flare-up. “You have to get new furniture, man.”

Ari collapsed into his desk chair and thumbed through the missed calls and messages on his phone. “You know how I feel about people loitering in my office, Dare, present company included.”

“Well, I think you owe me at least a minute to discuss this completely fucked filming schedule that you planned without my input.” Alasdair chose one of hard, wooden chairs in front of Ari’s desk to sit on. He considered that standing might have been the better alternative. “And this child you have running the show,” he pausedAri glanced up from his phone and glowered at Alasdair. “Camryn is hardly a child and she happens to be one of the most talented associate producers at Gramercy. And you did pick the locales somewhat inadvertently.” Ari wouldn’t deny that he’d picked two sparsely populated islands surrounded by subfreezing ocean as a deterrent from deviance. But Alasdair had provided some input for this season before. Whether he remembered was a different point of discussion.

“I’ll go to Vince, Ari. I don’t want to do it.”

“I’m not playing this game with you anymore, Dare. Neither is the network. They’ll mothball the series and block you from working not to mention toss my ass on the street without severance if you fuck this up. They want to recoup their investment and that’s the only reason you’re going back out on the road for another season. But considering the spin I managed in L.A., you owe me.”

Alasdair rose from his chair without so much as a breath and walked towards the door. Ari clearly didn’t realize that Alasdair wasn’t interested in loyally obeying him anymore. Ari was deeper in debt than he knew. L.A. hadn’t scratched the surface.

“And by the way, Dare. Please stop harassing Rachel Ray on Twitter.”

“I’ll stop harassing her when she stops being a hack.”

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A Lesson Before Frying

Ren had the masculine beauty of Michael Fassbender – the green-blue eyes, subtle fiery hair left just a little long at the top and swept coolly to the side, and the tight, lean body of a swimmer. The only problem was he wasn’t wasting it on girls. He’d recently been through a particularly bad break-up which earned Camryn the coveted role of roommate. They’d pretty much been sharing a room since middle school anyway. Living together now just seemed like second nature. Ren didn’t mind much anyway. Cam was the perfect roommate. The rent was always on time and she was constantly on the road.

He was busy chopping all manner of vegetable matter for something for dinner while Camryn perched on a stool at the bar and watched. Ren moved swiftly through onions, carrots, russets, and garlic with the precision of a surgeon, each item uniformly cut, sliced and diced as if he was attempting to impress Iron Chef. She enjoyed a glass of Riesling and munched on brie and fig compote puff pastries.

“Get out of that,” Ren hissed and smacked her hand away from the platter.

“Why are you making all this food again?” Cam snagged another brie bite and shoved it in her mouth.

“I don’t know. I’m nervous,” he scowled.

“Introducing your boyfriend to your roommate got you that twisted up? I’m not the Spanish Inquisition.”

“You might as well be,” he laughed. “Your opinion is the only one that matters, Cam.” Ren dumped the vegetable masterpiece into a roasting pan and placed breathtakingly seasoned game hens on top then poured a healthy glug of cabernet around the display. He shoved it into the oven and set the timer for an hour.

Considering Keith had the culinary aptitude of a toddler, Camryn thought Ren’s efforts were for naught. From what she knew, the guy would have been perfectly happy eating Thai food from the carryout downstairs. Ren had been inspired to cook at home nearly every night since learning that Cam would be traveling the world in the company of the Alasdair Maxwell. Ren was in love with the man and if he were even the slightest bit gay, Ren would have begged harder for an introduction. He respected how furiously she strived to keep her personal life separate from work. And since she’d be spending the next three months with him, a little meet and greet with Alasdair outside of GGM was a long shot at best. If only he realized what an asshole Alasdair was. In the meantime, there was no reason for Keith and Camryn not to enjoy the fruits of Ren’s gourmet labors.

It was really just a game for Alasdair and Camryn knew that subconsciously, but it didn’t lessen the angst he caused. He’d been given an office down the hall from her temporarily while the production team finished preparations. Alasdair had decided that since he was on a short leash with the network that he’d make a pest of himself with everyone in the office. He’d come in every morning, hang around for most of the day, and leave when it suited him under the guises of working. Alasdair spent most of his time looking at porn on his phone and torturing the interns. When he wasn’t wasting oxygen in the office, he was hovering over Beverly – one of the network secretaries – admiring her spectacular cleavage.

Alasdair was disturbingly charming, Camryn decided. She could hear him pile on a load of insincere flattery to nearly everyone in his path. He laughed with the editors, told obscene jokes, and treated Camryn with unparalleled disrespect, but somehow he’d curried favor with practically everyone in the office including Beverly. And thus, his presence only seemed to annoy Camryn and Alasdair’s ex-wife. Katiya was the editor for Mode, one of GGM’s fashion periodicals. She had even more reason to detest Alasdair.

Jordy shook his head in derision while providing his security briefing yesterday morning. “Honestly, I’m glad Ari was smart enough not to send us to Amsterdam. But Moscow is going to be a problem.”

“Yeah, I know,” she choked back the last of her stone cold coffee. “What do you think? Extra guys? Too bad we can’t LoJack him.”

“No, no. Remember that scene in Silence of the Lambs when they have Hannibal Lecter strapped to the dolly?”

“Oh my God, do you think he’s a cannibal?”

Jordy chuckled as he imagined Alasdair deep in the Amazonian rainforest with indigenous pygmies. “He does say he’ll try anything once.” Camryn caught a glimpse of someone moving swiftly through the network offices leaving havoc in her wake of mixed-language expletives.

Jordy recognized her bottle blonde locks and painfully thin physique. “Jesus, is that –“

“Katiya,” Camryn finished his thought. The woman was on a tirade, tearing through cubicles and editing rooms screaming for Alasdair.

She was born in New York but her father was a crude Russian billionaire who owned at least two city blocks on the Upper East Side and a controlling share of a professional football team. She had modeled as a teenager – tall, lithe, blonde – but she was also incredibly smart. She’d always had the ability to use her connections to get what she wanted, but Camryn had a healthy amount of respect for what Katiya had accomplished on her own. She ran an entire magazine with as much expertise as anyone else in the business. But Katiya also had an insane temper. It was known throughout the Gramercy Global building – all fifty floors and half of Rockefeller Square – that when she was in a rage, it was best to take shelter.

“What is she doing down here?” Jordy asked.

“Oh, I imagine someone told her about Beverly.”The ex-Army Ranger looked as frazzled as he did on any given day in Fallujah. “Need me to step in?” he offered half-heartedly.

“I got it,” Cam answered resting a reassuring hand on Jordy’s bulging forearm. “Katiya!” she called catching the raving woman’s attention away from the interns cowering in the corner. Katiya stared at Camryn, the smoke figuratively emanating from her ears, tall model body towering over Camryn.

“Where is Alasdair?” she demanded and flipped her perfect blond locks over her shoulder.

“Really, I haven’t seen him all day.”

“Isn’t that your job, Camryn?”

“Well, that’s not all I do. But you make a good point.” Camryn looked over at Lola and Isaac who were busy trying to look busy on directorial notes. “You guys seen Alasdair?”

“Uh,” Isaac muttered as his eyes darted around the room.

“Not since lunch,” Lola jumped in.

Katiya whipped out her cell phone and dialed Alasdair feverishly. Camryn’s ears perked when she heard a phone ringing softly behind her to the tune of the Imperial March from Star Wars. How clever he likened her to Darth Vadar. She tried desperately to hold back a snicker. “That fucking bastard!” Katiya swore. “Where is he?” She dialed and dialed again until she could locate the source of the ringing until she finally stepped into Alasdair’s sham of an office. His phone sat ringing and vibrating in a desk drawer.

“How about I just have him call you when he comes back?” Camryn offered gingerly hoping to calm the beast.

Katiya threw Alasdair’s brand new iPhone across the room. It cracked against a wall and landed on the concrete floor most likely now shattered. “You tell that asshole this isn’t over.” She pointed a slender finger in Camryn’s face then stormed off down the hall.

Camryn shook her head as she trudged back towards Jordy. “What the hell?” he asked.

“He leaked some really distasteful photos of her to TMZ this morning,” she answered.

“Maybe you should have let her kill him.”

Camryn snickered, “And lose my job before we’ve even left the country? I have to keep him alive and sober. PR will handle the rest.”

A moment later, Alasdair Maxwell emerged from the supply closet and on cue followed Beverly, disheveled but no worse for the wear. The office personnel scattered like cockroaches exposed to light leaving Alasdair and Camryn at opposite ends of the hallway. The sight was vaguely reminiscent of a showdown at high noon twenty paces apart.

“Hey,” he smiled slyly at Camryn. “Can you get me some Starbucks? Venti nonfat caramel macchiato. Oh, and a new phone. After all that is your job, right?” Camryn glared and returned to her office and walked back out with her own iced cappuccino in hand. Before she had the wherewithal to control herself, she wound back her arm and launched the beverage at Alasdair’s head. He was surprisingly fleet of foot, no doubt having had to dodge flying objects before. Considering the state of his iPhone, Katiya had kept him in perfect form. Her coffee drink exploded against the wall sending a cascading waterfall of light brown sticky fluid over Alasdair’s shattered phone. The entire network office came to a silent and startled halt as Camryn continued her meeting with Jordy as if nothing unusual had happened at all. Certainly Jordy thought twice about his words. He wondered if Alasdair would get the message.

What she didn’t tell Ren before meeting Keith was that today she was ready to quit. Camryn emptied the bottle of Riesling which did nothing to assuage her disdain for Mr. Maxwell. And certainly not his wife though Camryn certainly understood why she’d be angry. He’d made a mockery of her.

After the prior day, it was obvious a closer watch would have to be kept on Alasdair. Ari was quite amused by the melodrama he’d apparently missed during an executive meeting. He’d chalked it up to Dare being Dare never mind that Katiya had terrorized the office. Ari approved additional “security” to keep up with Alasdair. He’d already made a point with the gratuitous office sex. There really wasn’t much holding him back from a cocaine or alcohol binge. So Jordy arranged for some of his staff to tail Alasdair which he made exceedingly difficult for the next 24 hours.

GGM’s public relations department had arranged a sort of goodwill tour for Alasdair before the holiday weekend to sort of get him back into the social graces of the national tabloids. His image could never be completely sanitized but he could certainly appear to be acting as a mature, upright citizen despite his insult-laden tirades at the celebrity chef culture and the revenge he was launching at Katiya. The net result would be higher ratings for the network and Alasdair’s crossover appearances on other shows. The spin doctors got Alasdair booked on Jimmy Fallon and Good Day USA doing the celebrity dish segment.

The problem with live daytime TV is that it required being awake before dawn to create. Cam had woken at 4:30am to meet the car service to Alasdair’s Upper West Side apartment. Jordy had assured her Alasdair would be awake and waiting by 5:00am. He had managed to shake his bodyguard the night before. She pounded on his door to no avail. But when Jordy threatened to bust in the door, it miraculously opened to Alasdair half naked buxom redhead hastily gathering clothing from around the living room.

“Get dressed, Alasdair. We have to be at the studio in thirty minutes.” Camryn could waste her breath on getting the answer. But he obliged to save her.

“The rehab facility hooked me up with a sober living partner literally,” he laughed to himself. Jordy shook his head and proceeded back to the waiting limo.

He was relentless in aggravating her. It was his sick and twisted way of getting her attention either way. She thought he had the emotional maturity of a kindergartner. Camryn was sent to fetch him to the studio from his dressing room. Alasdair carried on to the morning host about Camryn’s professional integrity over her refusal to run his errands and her constant glares as she stepped into the dressing room. She was meant to hear it, Camryn decided, because Alasdair was acting out against the new rules that governed his life. The next three months of his life from this point forward were planned in explicit detail down to the minute including time allotted for shitting, showering, and shaving. They would have this meeting of the minds at some point. Why not now in the Good Day USA greenroom?

Promotion or not, Camryn had reached the limit of Alasdair’s daft defiance of her efforts. “Because professionalism is predicated on my ability to fetch coffee or divert your ex-wife from walking in on you while you fuck the receptionist in the supply closet? You think I want to babysit you for 12 weeks?” she seethed as she burst into the room. Alasdair’s eyes widened recalling the previous day’s encounter. He really didn’t care if his ex-wife caught him in the throes of sexual pleasure save that he’d avoided a redundant tongue lashing. And yes, he used a condom. “You should be grateful I saved you from Katiya.”

He recognized immediately that Camryn wasn’t about to accept insult without indignation. “How heroic of you,” he responded sarcastically. “Do what you’re paid for and get me a non-fat soy latte.”

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Camryn stared him down ferociously. “I’m the producer, not your errand girl and neither are the other PAs on this show. Go get your own fucking latte.” She chucked a fistful of makeup brushes at his torso.

Alasdair flashed red beneath the layers of foundation and powder. He jumped up from the make-up chair shoving Camryn aside. Alasdair stomped off down the hallway to the Green Room where Ari was waving a croissant in morning host Mia Campbell’s face.

“What the fuck, Ari?” he shouted. Ari looked past Alasdair to Camryn who stood peeking around the frame of the Green Room doorway. She shrugged her shoulders and shook her head in silent acknowledgment of her completely unprofessional outburst but she felt no remorse in the true ‘sorry, not sorry’ spirit that was an insincere apology. He might have been the Alasdair Maxwell, but she certainly didn’t need nor deserve his abuse. Ari rolled his eyes and shifted his attention to Alasdair.

“She’s the boss, Dare.” His eyes shifted back to Camryn and they softened to provide reassurance that she’d not committed a cardinal sin. Ari went on admonishing Alasdair. The man was unrepentant.

Camryn had slinked away from the Green Room and found a few PAs not scrambling around between segments with whom to commiserate. She’d wandered over to the kitchen soundstage where Alasdair would be shooting his segment on Labor Day cookouts. The segment producer had scrounged around on Pinterest for a shandy-style beer can chicken and thought it would be cute for Chef Maxwell to demonstrate his skills. All of the ingredients were laid out in various states of preparation to meet the segment’s time constraints. Alasdair had whined for a solid hour at 6:00am about being on the national morning show. Unfortunately for him, it was a contract stipulation. And he certainly didn’t seem to mind now that Mia Campbell was throwing herself at him.

Amazingly he kept it straight for the live TV cameras. He was a sort of enigma in the kitchen instructing the morning hosts on proper techniques on beer can chicken and discussed the merits of grilling spatchcock instead of whole. He could be lousy 23 hours of the day, but when the cameras were on he was someone entirely different. Alasdair could really only be described as inspired. There was a Zen aura that surrounded him when he talked about food, when he prepared it, when he ate it as if it was his entire reason for being. Food was his soul. As Camryn watched Alasdair work, she felt a pang of remorse for his wasted talent then imagined herself stabbing his scrotum with a meat fork.

Camryn scrubbed the roaster with a fury Ren hadn’t seen since her senior tap recital in college. God help anyone who ever steps on foot again during a performance. She clearly wasn’t paying much attention to the mess she was exacerbating. Suds splashed over the sink and onto the countertops and floor. Ren had made a minor disaster of the kitchen but didn’t think it was enough to set Camryn off during dish duty.

“Woah woah!” Ren shouted as he grabbed the silicon scraper from Camryn’s greasy sudsy fist. “Give me that before you scratch the finish.” She surrendered the implement reluctantly and let Ren take over scrubbing and rinsing the roaster.

“What is going on with you?” Ren asked with a hint of exasperation.

“I know you think he’s awesome, but he infuriates me!” she threw a towel at Ren from the drawer.

“Jesus, you just met Keith. Was he really that terrible?”

“Oh gosh no!” she denied. “He’s great, really.” Camryn tried to assuage Ren’s somewhat fragile esteem when it came to love.

“Then who are we talking about?”

“Alasdair Maxwell.”

“If you hate him so vehemently, then clearly I’m misinformed.” She dished about the day’s events as Ren held back a laugh. Camryn regularly crossed paths with people Ren idolized including Katiya Antonovich and he was in constant awe.

“You have no idea.” She prepared to take the shine off of Alasdair.

“What’s Katiya like?” Ren begged.

“She’s very tall. Can we stay focused, please?”

Ren shoved the cork back in the bottle of cabernet and set it aside. “Well, I won’t make apologies for our gender. We’re assholes although I’d like to consider myself to be a little more evolved.”

“You don’t think with your dick?”

“Not as much as Alasdair does apparently. But you’re perfectly capable of overcoming whatever misogyny he feels like dishing out. I’ve met Ari. He has your back.”

“Ugh, I’m just so angry that he thinks I’m just there to fetch his coffee!” She wasn’t the type to go rogue feminist on anyone. God knows she’d worked hard enough to prove she was tough and professional without bringing up that she was a woman. But she questioned how seriously she’d be taken if she looked different. For that matter, how much time had Katiya spent clawing her way to the top of the fashion magazine food chain? No one had ever asked her to fetch coffee or run interference from her ex-husband. Not everyone has a billionaire father in the Russian mob to rely on either.

“Well, I’m quite certain he got the point this morning,” Ren said smugly. “I don’t think anyone’s ever thrown Starbucks at me with such bravado.”

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