Home > Dating You / Hating You

Dating You / Hating You
Author: Christina Lauren

Chapter one

Evie

La Cienega Boulevard is a never-ending hell of snaking concrete, but it’s a necessary evil in this town. Running north to south in Los Angeles, it forms an enormous artery cutting through the “thirty-mile zone,” also known as TMZ, also known as the Studio Zone—historically containing all the early film studios.

In its heyday, and before other cities began offering tax credits and big incentives to lure filmmakers into shooting on location, this was where most movies were filmed. It’s been the center of hundreds of millions of dollars in movie deals over the decades, but I’ve never heard anyone in the industry throw out “TMZ” in casual conversation. Not in the way you’re thinking, anyway. Similar to a tourist shuffling around San Francisco and calling it Frisco, anyone referring to the nexus of Hollywood life as such nowadays would reveal herself as an out-of-towner who’d happened upon a detailed Wikipedia page. It’s so archaic, in fact, that many of my colleagues don’t even realize that’s where the gossip site got its name.

La Cienega looks like most surface streets here in Hollywood: rows of shops and restaurants built at odd angles and crammed into every inch of possible space, palm trees and billboards that shoot for a gray-smudged blue sky, and cars everywhere. To the north is the stuff most Hollywood dreams are made of, where a backdrop of steep hills seems to have erupted straight from the asphalt. Multimillion-dollar homes sit like Tetris blocks on the hillsides, their gleaming windows and gated drives towering above the city.

It’s one hell of a panorama if you can afford it, but like most people here in Los Angeles, I have my feet safely on the ground, and at home my only view is into the apartment across the alley, inhabited by a frequently shirtless Moroccan juggler.

There are worse sights, I suppose.

Although I hate La Cienega and its never-ending gridlock, the boulevard is as much as the crow flies as you’re going to find through LA. Any local will tell you that driving here is all about timing: leave at two, and you can get nearly anywhere in twenty minutes. Leave at five, like everyone else, and it’ll take you an hour to go five miles.

Thank God I’m usually one of the last ones out of the office.

I look up at the sound of a knock and see Daryl in all her blond-haired, blue-eyed glory standing at my door. While I’m the precise amalgamation of my two dark-haired, dark-eyed parents, Daryl Hannah Jordan is the picture of her namesake, and looks more like she just washed up on the set of Splash than grew up in San Dimas, three houses away from me.

“The workday ended over an hour ago,” she says.

“Just reading this article before I go.” My eyes narrow instinctively as I study her. Daryl was in a skirt and sky-high heels just a few hours ago; now she’s wearing a pair of scrubs and has her beach-blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. “We have that party at Mike and Steph’s tonight. Please tell me that’s your costume.”

Daryl starts to fidget and becomes increasingly interested in a nonexistent spot on the hem of her shirt, and I know I’ve been had.

“No,” I gasp.

“I’m sorry!” She falls dramatically into the chair opposite me.

“You dick. You’re flaking?”

“I don’t want to! But I forgot I promised my uncle I’d come in tonight. Why didn’t you remind me this afternoon? You know that’s your job in this relationship!”

I slump back in my chair. Daryl worked her way through college at her uncle’s medical spa, and enjoyed the hell out of that employee discount while she was there. She’s gorgeous—with tight skin, perfect boobs, and a thigh gap you could watch TV through—but she’s also the first to admit that a chunk of that is due to the pioneering efforts of science and her uncle, Dr. Elias Jordan, Plastic Surgeon. Daryl turns thirty this year, and in addition to her job upstairs in the TV-Literary department, she’s been doing some extra work for him on the side to pay for all her recent fine-tuning. Like most people in this town, she’s determined to never grow old.

Thankfully, she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore, because I’m going to kill her.

“Well, this day has been comically bad.” I check my phone before tossing it into my purse. “Remind me why I love you?”

“You love me because I listen to your endless movie trivia and my passivity complements your need to be in charge all the time.”

I wish I could argue, but she’s made two good points. I grew up obsessed with movies; it’s in my blood. My dad was an electrician for Warner Bros. and my mom did hair and makeup for almost every studio around. By the time I was eight, I’d convinced them to let me ride my bike after school to the neighborhood video rental store—yes, I am old—and then talked the crusty old manager, Larry, into letting me work there for free rentals. When I was in eleventh grade he finally agreed to start paying me.

I’ve traveled the world, but LA has always been—and will always be—my home. It isn’t only because my family is here; it’s because my heart resides in the grit and chaos and unspoken rules of Hollywood. It’s why I became a talent agent. I’ve never wanted to be in movies, but I’ve always dreamed of being part of how they were made.

And I do always need to be in charge. She’s totally got me on that one, too.

“Fine,” I say. “But next time I’m set up on a terrible blind date by a client and can’t refuse, you’re putting on an Evie face and going in my stead.”

“Done.” She inspects me with a forced smile. “Not to add fuel to the fire, but is your costume in the car or are you going as a surly but fashionable banker?”

I open my mouth to tell her exactly what she can do with my costume, but I catch movement through the open doorway, over her shoulder.

“Amelia!” I call, and she pokes her head inside. “What are you doing tonight? Please, please tell me nothing, Ms. Amelia Baker, my favorite person alive.”

“I’m picking Jay up from camp,” she says, “and spending the rest of the night in my pajamas eating ravioli out of the can.”

My head drops to my desk.

I work in Features, representing actors and actresses; and Amelia is the second in command in HR. Because she got a start in adulting earlier than most of us around here, Amelia is also proud mommy to the smartest, handsomest twelve-year-old boy in the world.

I am verging on desperation. “Any chance you could get a sitter?”

Amelia steps inside and sits on the arm of Daryl’s chair. Her hair is cut close to her scalp. As much as I’d like to be able to pull off a style like that myself, it’s never going to happen—but on her, it shows off her bright smile, luminous dark skin, and cheekbones for days.

“On a Friday night?” Her tone carries an undercurrent of guffaw. “Not a chance. Why?”

“Because Daryl is the worst friend, and you’re the best friend?”

Her laugh tells me to give it up, and I groan.

“You have big plans?” With completely unmasked sarcasm, she adds, “It’s not like I expected you to have a date or something, but you know, one can hope.”

I sit up and point dramatically at Daryl. “I was supposed to go to a party with that one.”

“It’s true,” she says guiltily, “but I forgot and promised Uncle Elias I’d go through his accounts.”

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