#33: Family Business
(and Brunch)

Good morning, cleavage.

Whitley caught Krysta's Instagram post on her phone as she climbed out of her SUV, returning from the morning's volleyball conditioning. She'd made a habit of joining the players for morning workouts, leading a few of them herself. Even with her raging furnace of a metabolism, Whitley had gained fifteen pounds since graduation. With her exceptional height already making her more prone to injury, she could not afford to let her weight get out of hand as well.

The back entryway led into the kitchen, where the beguiling breakfast aromas lured her in. Fresh off of a jog, Alicia deftly scrambled a half-dozen eggs in an extra-large bowl while Percy hovered around her, filming with a phone mounted to a stabilizer unit. Alicia wore only an apron, a sports bra, and her jogging shorts. Percy wore his standard green polo and slim-fit khakis—dressed for a weekday on a Saturday morning.

"Coffee's up!" Alicia said, gesturing with her elbow at a 16-ounce cup sitting on the counter next to the French press.

"Oh my God I love you," Whitley said, filling the mug and taking the French press with her. Her relationship with Alicia had improved since early morning volleyball conditioning sessions with the team replaced morning jogging. Whitley sat at the table and took a swig of the coffee as she browsed Instagram. She'd gained another five followers since the previous night, putting her up to a solid three hundred—an impressive number for barely over a month and just five posts.

A door slammed upstairs. All three looked up. Animated shouting in Vietnamese rang from above, the volume rising and falling as Krysta moved in and out of the upstairs rooms.

Whitley grimaced. "I assume Krysta's talking to her mother."

"They've been at it for the last hour since she got up," Alicia said.

Whitley displayed her phone with Krysta's post. "Did Krysta just shower, take a morning selfie, and post it all while screaming at her mom?"

"She's a multitasker," Percy said, zooming in on Alicia beating a dozen eggs, catching creases and veins of Alicia's forearms and a bulging bicep in the top corner of the frame. "Pretty good at it too."

"What could they even have to argue about for that long? Krysta's one of the more stable, well-adjusted late-twentysomethings I've met. It can't still be the showing-her-tits-online thing, can it?"

"Oddly enough, that's the least of it," Alicia said, pouring the eggs into a large skillet. "Her mom has strong opinions, about everything."

"She had to get it from somewhere," Percy quipped under his breath.

"So, basically they're catching up," Whitley said.

"Basically."

A loud banging emanated from upstairs as the shouting reached a peak before tapering off. Moments later, Krysta padded down the stairs in her elephant slippers, cutoff gray sweat shorts, and a purple tank top. "Good morning, everyone," she said, setting her tablet on the table and grabbing a mug from the counter, humming to herself as she prepared her tea.

Whitley snickered. "Need to take a load off after your—"

A loud whacking sound stopped Whitley short—the striking of Alicia’s spatula over the cast iron pan. Whitley looked up. Alicia and Percy were both wide-eyed, shaking their heads.

"Hm?" Krysta said.

"...um, looks like you've been productive this morning. Cute shower selfie."

"Thank you," Krysta said, propping up her tablet. "I am challenging myself to get away from the mirror selfies. Speaking of which: Percy, could I have you take some video for me later this afternoon? I would like to send some test footage in advance of the upcoming shoot with DreamGirls."

"Sure. I'm filming Alicia's workout in a little bit, but I don't have much going on later. It'll give me more practice with this stabilizer unit."

"The Athletics Department buys recording equipment he recommends," Alicia said. "Then he tests it out so he can train the student workers. It's a pretty sweet deal."

"Sounds like it," Whitley said. "Alicia, you should consider getting yourself a social media job somewhere, you know, for when your hentai voice acting money runs out."

Krysta rolled her eyes but said nothing.

"No way. Then I'd have less time for myself, as well as for advising you two."

Whitley looked over to Krysta, who sighed. "Yes, in addition to personal training and cooking rent credits, she also gets a minor consideration for social media consulting."

"What do you charge?"

Alicia shook her head. "No charge for you, Lengthy. You're my pro-bono project. Gonna see if I can get you to 2000 followers by the end of the month.

"...after you have already wasted a week trolling the ones she already has," Krysta said.

"'Trolling?' How do you figure?" Whitley said.

"You have posted three food pictures, an empty volleyball court, and a waist-up picture of you with pancakes."

"With a ridiculous typo no one called me out on."

"Your fans will—"

"—because I was baked STUPID when I posted that."

"Your f—"

"—seriously, it took me, like, an hour to type and post it."

Krysta cleared her throat. "Your fans will be ready to revolt if this keeps up."

Whitley shrugged. "Whatever. It's all Alicia's idea."

"It is totally my idea," Alicia said, plating Whitley's breakfast. "We need to build a little mystique. Tease 'em a little, before, wham! Out of nowhere, we hit 'em with a money shot."

Krysta raised her eyebrows. "Money shot?"

Whitley sighed. "We're still figuring that one out."

"We'll come up with something awesome, don't worry. In the meantime..." Alicia set down a platter of food in front of Whitley. "A six-egg mushroom & spinach scramble, six slices of pepper bacon, a side of fried rice, and two slices of wheat toast. Percy, please get a picture before Whitley inhales it."

Percy obediently snapped pictures of the breakfast feast, both with and without a proud, smiling Alicia leaning in. Whitley frowned impatiently. "You could have done that over there, instead of right in front of me."

"It looks better on the table," Alicia said, heading back to the stove. "Krysta, whatcha feelin' for breakfast?"

"Egg white, spinach, and feta omelet. No toast."

"You aren't going to lose ten pounds by Thursday," Alicia said, cracking two eggs.

"No, but I can feel thinner."

Krysta had spent the last month wheeling and dealing with DreamGirls to arrange the terms of her photoshoot with Alexis Cheer. She'd taken such delight in the negotiation, she'd nearly forgotten about the project itself. While satisfied with her travel and lodging arrangements and thrilled with her compensation, the reality of a week-long commitment to twice-a-day photoshoots—including two full days with Alexis—was finally setting in.

Alicia finished Krysta's breakfast and set it in front of her. Krysta waited to eat as Percy snapped several pictures "Enjoy. Now, it's lifting time. Let's go, Percy. I'm upping my bench weight today and I'm gonna need good footage."

"Gotcha. See you later Whitley, Krysta." Percy waved as he followed Alicia down the stairs and shut the door behind him.

Whitley waited for the footsteps in the stairwell to die away before speaking up. "He's a sweet guy."

Krysta sipped her tea. "He is, and also super geeky. We had that in common."

"What happened there?"

"We never really took off as a couple. We were more like business associates that occasionally climbed into bed together. We stayed friend...ly enough. He still helps with stuff, and still films me topless."

"Alicia doesn't mind?"

"Half the time she is there too."

Whitley scooped another spoonful of eggs into her mouth. Her phone chimed, indicating she'd received another Instagram notification. She clicked it open to find another comment.

"I want to see your legs," Whitley read aloud. "So much for innuendo."

"I told you," Krysta said. "Fans don't like being trolled."

"Can't we just call them 'followers'?"

"Yes, denial is one approach you could take. You could pretend there are not hundreds waiting to see a picture of you standing in a doorframe."

"...or propping my elbow on someone's head."

"Apparently a nice shot of your legs would do it."

"Argh! But I don't want to do any of that!"

"I doubt Alicia will let you get away with that attitude, and neither will your fans."

Whitley scrunched her nose and grumbled. It had only taken two weeks of public exposure on her Instagram for her information to appear on the Tall Admirer's forum.

She's got an Instagram!!!!!!!!! @whitleyval

The message stayed up for just over a day before several commenters demanded the information be taken down out of fear of 'creeping her out.' Whitley found the idea absurd, given the abundance of creeptastic video collages, Yahoo groups, fan art, and fan-fiction already available. In any case, the comments began to trickle in. She scrolled through some of the new ones.

A full body shot would be great.

Great jersey. Too bad we can't see your legs!

Show us your feet. I would be your foot slave.

"Okay, it's 4:20 somewhere," Whitley said, setting her phone down and finishing the last of her food. She packed a bowl from the weed she kept in a spice jar in the kitchen cupboard. She'd made a habit of keeping easy-access stashes all around the house for convenience. Krysta gathered the dishes from the table and began loading the dishwasher. Whitley noticed a third of the omelet remained on Krysta's plate.

"Please don't go anorexic. One, it's not worth it, and two, I can't stand seeing good food go to waste."

"I am not hungry," Krysta said, setting the leftovers in front of Whitley. "Too much on my mind."

Whitley gulped down the remainder in one go and passed the plate to Krysta. "Your tits are practically twice as big as hers. What can you possibly be concerned about?"

"It reeks of desperation. I put off shooting with DreamGirls for years. Now, I am flying in for a week of photo shoots with their marquee model. It feels like I am selling out."

Whitley sparked her bowl. "Sure, you're telling this to the seven-footer who started an Instagram to appease an army of giantess enthusiasts."

"It is not the only reason you did it."

Whitley exhaled a few smoke rings. "Likewise, Miss Moneyboobs."

Krysta finished loading the dishwasher and nearly slammed it shut. "'Doing it for the money' is the definition of selling out."

"It can't be the only reason you're doing it."

Krysta rejoined Whitley at the table. "Yes. Career-wise, I believe it is the right time for me to make this move. The fans have been wishing for this for a while. At the end of the day, I am doing it for them."

"Well, good for you."

"Why are you doing it?" Krysta asked.

"Who the fuck knows?" Whitley said, exhaling a plume of smoke. "So, California, eh? Where are you flying into?"

"Santa Monica."

"Should be a good time," Whitley said, knocking back the last of her coffee. She caught an expectant look from Krysta, who quickly lowered her gaze to her tablet. Whitley groaned and dropped her face into her hands. "Ugh, for fuck's sake. When did my sister contact you?"

"The day you moved in."

Whitley sat up, took a long hit of her bowl, and exhaled. "So, Kiana lives about a half-hour away in Burbank. When you see her—and she will know you're there—take her up on her offer for lunch. She'll try to impress you by taking you somewhere expensive, probably Morton's Steakhouse, and she'll pay. Feel free to give her the rundown on what I've been up to. Don't leave anything out, and don't lie—trust me, she'll know. Order plenty of alcohol, she'll happily join you, thinking she can keep up—she can't. Soon enough, the floodgates will open. She'll tell you everything you want to know, and plenty else you don't."

"Okay," Krysta said.

"You don't have to tell me everything she tells you. Just the good parts."

"Sure."

"And lastly," Whitley said, standing up and slinging her backpack over her shoulder. "Tell Kiana she can go fuck herself."