I always enjoyed the train wreck that came with Hollywood’s falling-outs, whether it was friendships, love stories, or simply superstars throwing shade at other superstars. I grew up in Los Angeles, so I was used to it; gossip was part of my reality. I loved the public, petty celebrity breakups, and more recently, the Twitter and Instagram bashing.
As much as they claimed to want privacy, celebrities could never seem to hold back. Things always got ugly, even with the biggest power couples.
Pretty much every divorce turned nasty, despite the A-listers being oh-so-concerned about “the well-being of the kids”.
We were never short of drama in Hollywood, on or off the set.
I happened to be one of those who enjoyed the spectacle—that is, until I found myself in the middle of one and my name became a headline.
Admittedly, it was partly my own fault. I had decided reckoning day should be a public affair. I refused to take the high road. I had been given lemons, and I was going to serve lemonade.
I had been dreaming of attending the Golden Globes since I was a young girl.
My parents worked in the industry for decades, and growing up, my sister and I always wanted to work in movies. While I was more of a behind-the-scenes type of girl, my sister enjoyed the spotlight, and she became one of the most beloved young actresses in Hollywood. At twenty-six years old, she was already a Golden Globe winner and an Oscar nominee.
The Golden Globes were one of my favorite awards shows.
I loved the atmosphere—it was always funnier and looser than the Oscars. The jokes were sharper, too, and usually included poking fun at the intoxicated attendees. I also loved the after-parties. I had gone to a couple of them in the past thanks to my sister Amira, but this year I was attending with my boyfriend, Eric Oliveira.
The show we both worked on, which he co-created and co-wrote, was nominated for best comedy on TV. I was so proud of him. He had worked so hard to get there.
Hi, My Name is Georgia, was Eric’s lovechild with actress Quinn Levy, and it had quickly become the darling of the critics. Ratings hadn’t been great the first season, but thankfully the network had granted us a second chance.
Season two had been well reviewed so far, but once again, the declining ratings had brought us close to the brink of paranoia. We feared every day that the network would decide to pull the plug on us. Then, a month ago, we had woken up to the greatest news ever.
Georgia had not only been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Comedy, but both the lead actor and actress had scored a nomination in their respective categories. Ratings started picking up, and even though the show was currently on Christmas break, our numbers on Hulu and Netflix were up as well. It seemed Georgia was finally getting the big break it deserved.
Quinn Levy played the part of the titular Georgia, on top of being the co-creator and co-writer of the show. Quinn was beautiful in that obnoxious typical Hollywood actress way—tall, skinny, blonde—but she had such a fantastic personality that it was basically impossible to hate her. She was funny, and she always had your back, a real team player. On set, she always tried to make everyone’s job easier. In Hollywood, she was outspoken in the fight for women’s equal pay.
If there was one thing she was awful at, however, it was breaking.
No matter how many times she rehearsed a scene, there would always be a moment, especially during late-night shoots, when she’d break out of character and start laughing while delivering the lines. She broke more than Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live. One night we had to shoot a scene almost a hundred and fifty times. Other than that, she was a peach. She was from Georgia, coincidentally, and she had the kindness and manners of a Southern belle.
She gave the funniest interviews, too—well, almost as funny as my sister’s. No one beat my sister Amira—or Mira Farouk, as the world knew her—when it came to charming the press.
Quinn finished telling a joke from her early days as a stand-up comedian, and we all laughed. As they announced the beginning of the telecast, we all clinked our glasses and cheered. Eric hugged me and kissed my cheek.
“You look so damn sexy, Sam. I can’t wait to fuck you out of that dress,” he whispered in my ear, sending a shiver down my spine. Seven years as a couple—including two living together—and he still turned me on like the first day.
“You’ll have to, since Amira’s stylist sewed me into it,” I replied seductively, looking up to him. His eyes went wide, and he replied with a deep hum as he scanned my body, which was wrapped in a tight red dress that exposed my back all the way down to my ass.
Eric and I had been together since one hot summer working on the same show seven years earlier. After resisting him for weeks, I had succumbed to his charm. To this day, our passion was incandescent. Everyone knew how fragile relationships were in Hollywood, and this was true for actors as well as people who didn’t have a spotlight pointed at them at all times. Even my parents, after three children and many years of wedded bliss, had called it quits about ten years ago.
Fortunately, Eric and I were doing just fine. He was even more handsome after recently turning thirty. His hair was jet black, and his eyes were a beautiful emerald green. His skin was tanned, which added even more sex appeal to his whole persona. His parents were from Brazil and had immigrated to the US when he was a kid. When he was younger, he was approached by a talent scout to do some modeling, but he turned it down. He could have probably been the male Gisele if he’d wanted to, but instead he decided to work in television. I gazed at his profile and he smirked when he caught me staring. I bit my lip in anticipation of what would happen later that night.
What seven-year itch? I was still completely smitten with him, and we were still having as much sex as we had when we started dating. We’d even manage to sneak around on the nights we worked late.
As a matter of fact, Eric seemed to be even more passionate as of late, maybe because things were going better with the show.
It was only a matter of time before he’d propose…at least I thought so.
I wasn’t one of those women whose sole objective in life was to get married, but I loved my man and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I knew marriage was in the cards for us because he had been telling me so himself. He was the one to bring it up, explaining that he wanted to get married after he’d hit it big. He was ambitious and determined, and he knew it was just a matter of time before he would get to work on a hit show.
A win for Georgia would definitely secure his status, and maybe a ring on my finger, too.
A couple of awards and several drinks later, I waved at my sister from across the room as she walked back to her table after announcing the winner for Best Supporting Actor in a movie. She was sitting with the director and cast of her latest commercial success, No Time Like the Present. Amira and Ross David, the director of the movie, had become quite the dynamic duo in the movie industry. Ross called Mira his muse, purely because she was such a talented chameleon. In fact, Mira seemed to be able to slip into any role, no matter the challenge. I knew a lot of people in Hollywood speculated that Mira and Ross were a couple, but my sister assured me their relationship was purely professional; we didn’t keep secrets between us. She was just three years younger than me and was my best friend. I knew there was nothing going on with the director, because I could always tell when she was lying. I didn’t really have anything against Ross David—he was handsome and successful—but he was also fourteen years older than Mira. I wouldn’t have wanted an old man dating my twenty-six-year-old sister, and our father wouldn’t have either, that was for sure.
A few awards later, we all damned Gael Garcia-Bernal under our breath when Wilder Simmons, the male lead in Georgia, lost for Best Actor in a Television Series Comedy category—but only after making sure the cameras weren’t pointed at our table. We all knew it was a long shot, and we were aware of how much buzz there was around Mozart in the Jungle. The Hollywood Foreign Press seemed to be completely smitten with it.
“I’m going to lose to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, I just know it,” Quinn said as Seth Myers and Amy Poehler came out to introduce the Best Actress in a Television Series Comedy category. I saw her breathe nervously and I wanted to hold her hand, but Eric was sitting by her and I couldn’t reach her. We exchanged a look and I gave her an encouraging smile. She nodded and smiled back, looking uneasy.
“And the Golden Globe for Best Actress goes to…” Seth Myers said.
“Quinn Levy for Hi, My Name is Georgia!” Amy Poehler yelled, and everyone at our table erupted into cheers and hugs, quickly stealing kisses from Quinn as she started making her way toward the stage from our table, which was way in the back.
We all listened to her speech with tears of joy in our eyes, and suddenly, the excitement in our hearts grew even bigger—maybe we had a chance to win Best Comedy, after all. I looked around at Eric and the cast and the producers sitting at the table; I knew we were all thinking the same thing, but no one wanted to jinx it.
When the time came, Eric held my hand in one hand and Quinn’s hand in the other. When they announced the name of our show, Eric hugged Quinn first, leaving me dumbfounded for a second. Then he turned around, hugged me, and gave me a passionate, quick kiss before going with the cast and the producers up on stage. It was such an incredible moment, I felt overwhelmed with joy. I was smiling, but tears were coming down my cheeks, my heart drumming so loudly in my chest it almost overpowered the cheers and claps in the room.
Quinn was hilarious as she tried to thank everyone as fast as she could and then passed the microphone over to the producers of the show. They all tried to talk and give their speeches quickly because they knew the music was going to start any second.
Eric took over the microphone, and he looked so handsome and happy, it took my breath away. I loved him so much. He was brilliant and funny in his brief speech, thanking his parents and his teachers and everyone at the network that supported the show.
He didn’t thank you.
Amira’s text came through as soon as they started to leave the stage. She was right; he hadn’t thanked me. The producers had made sure to say a quick thank you to their wives and children, but Eric said nothing about me. Sure, it stung a little, but it happened all the time.
Dude, remember when you forgot to thank your director?
Touché. Still, I don’t see how I could forget my partner of the last SEVEN years.
Maybe he’ll make it up to me. ;-)
I decided to forget about Eric’s little mishap considering he didn’t have much time left before the music started playing, and I went to stand outside the press room where they were giving interviews.
Best Comedy was one of the last awards, so everyone was about ready to get out of there and head to the Vanity Fair after-party.
I waited, leaning against a column because my shoes were already killing me.
Soon after, I saw everyone from Georgia walk by, but I couldn’t spot Eric.
Maybe they were holding them back for another interview.
I looked around, trying to decide if I should go back to the table or not, and then I heard Quinn’s laughter. I turned around, and that’s when I saw him.
That’s when I saw them.
And my whole world came crashing down.
A bullet to my chest would have hurt less, probably. There was no way to explain how it felt seeing my boyfriend of seven years kiss his coworker, my boss.
A woman I thought of as a friend.
I hid behind the column as I spied on them…watched the love of my life capturing Quinn’s mouth in a hungry kiss. He was holding her head just at the nape of her neck and his other hand was looped around her waist. She raised her arms and wrapped them around his neck. It didn’t even look like a first kiss; there was no hesitation. They looked too comfortable with each other’s mouths for it to be the first time this had happened.
My eyes welled up with tears. My lips trembled. I was holding on to the column with my hands, feeling like my knees were going to give way at any moment.
I felt like sobbing, but somehow I managed to keep my mouth shut.
Don’t move, I told myself. Then I got an idea.
Quinn caressed Eric’s face, and then they kissed again.
I pulled out my phone and took as many pictures as I could.
They stopped kissing, and as Quinn fixed her hair and her dress, I hid behind the column. When I heard footsteps approaching me, I circled the column, trying to stay hidden. They laughed, walking back to the ballroom hand in hand.
My heart sank, and I finally let out the sob I had been holding in.
How long? How long had they been sneaking behind my back?
How long had Eric been cheating on me?
I started replaying the last few weeks, the last few months in my head, trying to remember a detail, a moment, or a situation when I should have been suspicious, when something strange should have tipped me off.
The late nights…but those were part of his job, always. Writers always stayed up late writing scripts…and they weren’t alone. But they were together. Always together.
I clutched my fists, and I ran as fast as I could in my high heels.
I locked myself in the nearest restroom, needing a moment to clear my head. I didn’t know how I was going to face Eric again, but I couldn’t confront him right then.
Not here. Not tonight.
I leaned my forehead against the door and took a deep breath as the tears kept coming down, falling everywhere: my cheeks, my chest, my dress.
Where are you?
The fucker texted me. I scoffed. Even seeing his name on the screen of the phone repulsed me. It’s funny how quickly your perception of people can change. I didn’t want to be anywhere near him, but I couldn’t tell him what I’d seen—not yet.
Maybe not ever.
I looked at the photos of him and Quinn on my phone, and I could barely make out who was in the picture. Anyone who knew them could probably identify their silhouettes, but not everyone would recognize them. I exhaled, disappointed and angry. My evidence was crap. Then, an idea popped in my head.
It sounded dangerous and crazy, but oh so appealing. I could already feel it on the tip of my tongue—the sweet taste of revenge.
I sniffled and typed a quick text.
I’m in the restroom. I’ll be right out.
Hurry. The broadcast is over. We’re about to leave.
I opened the door of the bathroom stall, looked at my tear-stained face in the mirror, and turned the faucet on to fix my makeup. I had left my clutch behind, like the idiot I was. Just as I finished cleaning up my tears, a crowd of cheerful, intoxicated women swarmed the place, and I headed back to our table. The ballroom was half empty, the remaining people scattered around the space, chatting and catching up.
Eric stood alone by our table, and as I walked in his direction, he turned around, as if he sensed me coming. He smiled warmly at me, holding up my clutch in his hand, and a bright smile stretched across his face. It felt like a blade cutting through my skin.
Liar. Liar. Liar.
I tried to reciprocate his smile, but my facial muscles felt stiff, as if I had just gotten Botox. I had to force myself to smile wider.
He handed me my clutch, and as I got closer, he placed a small kiss on my lips.
You’re a pig, Eric. You’re a fucking bastard. You’re a liar. I’m done being your fool.
“Don’t you have anything to say?” he asked with a smirk.
“What do you mean?” I said, confused.
“Sam, we won! A fucking Golden Globe! We’ve done it. The show won’t get cancelled now.”
Duh, of course that’s what he meant.
“Yes! I’m so happy, honey. I’m so proud of you,” I told him, caressing his face just as Quinn had done a moment before. I tried to smile again, but it felt like I was grimacing. Eric didn’t seem to notice, just ran his fingers through my long dark hair and pressed his body against mine, giving me another kiss.
With tongue this time.
I closed my eyes, repulsed by his touch. I wanted to gag, but I couldn’t let him know anything was wrong. I couldn’t let him know I knew.
Still, I couldn’t respond to his kiss as eagerly as I usually would.
Suddenly, he stopped.
“Babe, are you okay?” Eric asked, his brows furrowed, showing concern. Fucker.
I swallowed and shook my head. “I’m fine.”
He tipped my chin up and studied my face.
“You look like you’ve been crying.”
“Well, it’s been an eventful evening, and I was so happy when we won, I couldn’t stop the tears,” I said, running a finger under my eyes, cleaning up the last few smudges of makeup. I sniffled. In that moment, he looked worried, handsome, attentive. In that moment, he was the perfect boyfriend—but in reality, he was a liar. He was a cheater. I wanted to scream in his face. I wanted him to pay. I wanted him to suffer. How could he do this to me? How could he cheat on me on a night like this? How long had he been doing it behind my back?
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I swear I am! It’s just…I’m a little drunk and my emotions are all over the place.”
“Yeah, me too,” he said with a dreamy look, hugging me closer to him and grabbing a handful of my ass.
Fuck you. And fuck Quinn.
I wasn’t going to go down quietly.
I was going to take everyone down with me.
“Ready to go?” he asked, and I nodded, a million different thoughts and scenarios running through my head.
Don’t make rash decisions. As much as causing a scene at the after-party sounds like a good idea, you’re just going to end up looking like the crazy girlfriend.
Take your time.
What do they say about revenge?
It’s a dish best served cold.
Eric held my hand as we walked out of the ballroom, toward the valet. We waited outside the Beverly Hilton and then got in a car to head to the Vanity Fair party. Eric was busy checking his phone, and as I stared at him, so careless and oblivious, I felt sick.
My stomach was churning. We hadn’t had anything to eat, and then I’d downed at least five glasses of champagne. I was lightheaded. I wanted to scream at Eric, sitting next to me as if nothing had happened, as if he hadn’t just been kissing another woman half an hour ago. His eyes met mine, and I wanted to cry and let my disappointment spill everywhere. Instead, I looked away.
“Sam, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t feel good. I think I might need to go home.” I couldn’t bear the idea of partying with him and everyone else, having to pretend I was happy for all of us. I didn’t want to be around Quinn and act like we were friends.
He scoffed at my words. “Sam, come on. You’ll feel better later. How can you bail now? I thought you wanted to go to this party…” He searched my eyes but I looked away. He was right. I had wanted to go to the party.
“I don’t want to bring morale down, and I don’t want to end up getting sick while I’m there. I know I’ll be better off if I go home.” He rolled his eyes and ran one of his hands through his hair, frustrated.
“What’s gotten into you?” he asked, and for a moment, his eyes looked fearful, as if he knew I knew. Then, as the car stopped, he changed expression. He turned on the light and tipped my chin up, examining my face.
“You know, you do look a little pale. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s better you call it a night.” Right. This way you’ll be able to sneak around with your mistress. He gave me a peck on the lips, and another one on my forehead. I wanted to cry. I wanted all of it to be a bad dream. I wanted to wake up next to him as if nothing had happened.
I wanted to be able to love him and trust him again, trust him like I had just an hour before. He said goodbye, and as he left the car, I felt as if I had lost a part of myself. I felt as if a huge part of my life was suddenly over.
On the ride home, my feelings alternated between anger and sadness as the driver tried to make small talk. I replied to him absentmindedly, unable to think of anything but the scene of betrayal I’d just witnessed. I was heartbroken, but I knew I wasn’t letting Eric Oliveira walk away unscathed. I got a text from my sister.
Where are you?
Not feeling good. Too much bubbly. On my way home.
What? That’s a bunch of bullshit. You were so looking forward to this.
I overdid it with the champagne. Why does no one tell you you have to skip the red carpet to get served dinner in there?
I know. I’ve made the same mistake before, trust me.
I told Amira goodnight, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hide this from her. She could always read me like an open book, and my mother could, too. She was going to know something was up.
I needed to talk to her.
I called her and she answered after a couple rings.
“Mom, I need your help.”
That night, I resisted the urge to break everything Eric owned or was sentimentally attached to. I resisted the impulse to set the house on fire. The fabric of the train of my designer gown rustled on the smooth floor as I paced the living room, trying to calm myself down and decide what I needed to do. I managed to get myself out of the dress and get ready for bed, never turning the lights on, enjoying the quiet, and I went to bed with tears streaming silently down my cheeks. I closed my eyes but couldn’t sleep, so I lay under the sheets, naked, plotting my revenge.