#54: The Line

"I can't believe you lied to me about tacos," Whitley grumbled.

"For, like, the fiftieth time I didn't lie," said Alicia.

"You said, 'I'll get you tacos.'"

"That's not exactly what I said."

"That is exactly what you said."

"Technically, I texted it. Also, I didn't specify when I would get them for you—man it is cold in here!" Alicia rubbed her bare, bulging biceps vigorously. "Besides, you forgot all about the tacos after our big performance."

"I wasn't expecting to be dragged on stage for karaoke. Do you have any idea how high I was?"

"High enough that singing karaoke made you forgot about tacos. Not that you even sang…"

"Demi Lovato! You chose Demi Lovato! Who listens to Demi Lovato?"

Alicia pointed to Krysta, who stood at the mirror next to her. "This wino down here certainly does."

"Aaaaaaarghhhhhhh! Can you two please, please stop talking?" Krysta moaned, dropping her head onto the counter. "If I did not feel like such complete and utter shit, I would choke you both to death right here inside this fancy refrigerator Julie calls a bathroom."

"Wait a minute," Whitley said. "You can't be blaming us for you chugging a bottle of wine and heading downstairs for late-night karaoke."

"Hey guess who I am?" Alicia said, nudging Whitley. She picked up a hairbrush and held it up to her mouth like a microphone. "Baby I'm sooooorry. I'm not sor—"

"Aaargh!" Krysta said, grabbing her head. "Stop talking, stop yelling, and for God's sake, stop singing. That will make me puke this morning, and I am not in the mood."

Within the confines of the hotel suite vanity area, Alicia and Krysta worked in front of Whitley who loomed above them. The three girls did their best to power through their fatigue as they touched up their hair and makeup for their two-hour photo shoot. Alicia's ribbing annoyed her roommates, but they nonetheless welcomed some distraction from their early-morning misery.

The door swung open, and Julie entered with her camera.

"Jeez, could you three look any more hungover?" Julie shared what she deemed to be the best of the several test shots she'd taken. "You're smiling like I'm holding you all at gunpoint."

"I'm hungover and tired," Alicia whined.

"I'm hangry and tired," Whitley said, rubbing her growling belly.

"I am tired, hungry, and hungover," Krysta said, rubbing her temples.

"Deal with it. You all have ten minutes before we start the next shoot," Julie said. “I'm going to go prep the set. Do whatever you need to get ready. Don't ruin your makeup."

"I, for one, am going to go hang out near the toilet, not vomit, and catch up on my messages. God, it is cold in here." Krysta shuffled into the bathroom, switched on the fan, and shut the door leaving Whitley and Alicia by themselves.

"She's taking that awfully well," Whitley said, scooting into Krysta's vacated position at the mirror.

"You've lived with her for three months," Alicia said. "You know this isn't her first rodeo."

"I'm talking about the video you posted of her from last night."

"Not to mention the Instagram post," Alicia said with a chuckle. "You know how it is. We have a weird unspoken thing where we give each other a little social media bump every now and then. Checks and balances, yeah?"

"That's not at all how checks and balances work," Whitley said, shaking her head. "Krysta has seen the video, right?"

"Ah, that's what you're getting at. No, her phone died last night. It’s been charging in the bathroom for the last hour since we got up.

Whitley dropped her hairbrush. "Wait, she doesn't know?"

"Judging by her mood, nope."

"Oh sh—"


"There it is," Alicia said, her voice wavering slightly. "Well, this’ll be a show."

Krysta burst back in, seething with palatable rage. "That's it! This is the last fucking straw, Alicia. I give you a certain amount of leeway, but I thought you knew where the boundaries were."

"Krysta, I didn’t —"

"No. Shut up," Krysta snapped. "You will pay for this.”

Whitley opened her mouth to say something, but Krysta silenced her with a glare. She turned back to Alicia, who immediately looked down.

"Alicia, how could you? You know damned well you crossed a line."

"She didn't. I did."

All three whirled around to Julie leaning against the doorframe, arms folded.

"It was my idea to do the video as promo for the project we're shooting. I asked Alicia if we could record it from her account since she has such a huge social media reach. Krys, you've gained a couple dozen followers in the last five hours and the number is still ticking up. Also, judging by the comments, your engagement is through the roof."

Krysta tapped open her analytics app and scanned the data, her frown slowly melting away. "Huh."

"Yeah. Told you," Julie said.

Her mind still reeling from discovering the live video and Alicia's morning Instagram post, Krysta took a moment to process this new information. It was a lot to take in, particularly while still hungover.

"So what's the long-term plan? Get wasted every night and do my best Lexie Cheer impression? Unscheduled live chats? My schedule is hard enough to manage as it is. Where is the line?"

"You'll figure it out," Julie said. "You always do."

"I think the lesson is you need to forget about the line," Alicia said.

"That's not the lesson," Whitley hissed. "You're bad at this."

"What about Alicia?" Krysta maintained, unwilling to go down easy. "Her fans will undoubtedly ask about the tits model hanging out at her booth. That cannot be the image you are going for."

"OMG, Krysta. I am not ashamed to be associated with you."

"Aw!" Julie gushed. "That's maybe the sweetest thing I've ever heard! Now, y'all got five minutes." Julie reached into her bag and pulled out a small paper bag. "Whitley, I have two breakfast sandwiches for you. You get three more once we're done. Alicia, there's a sixteen-ounce coffee-banana smoothie for you in the mini-fridge. Krysta, go fawn over your analytics for a few minutes, then bring that confidence back to the camera."

Krysta twisted her mouth to hide her private grin and swiftly turned away, her breasts swinging a half-second behind her. "Bring your A-game, ladies," she announced, slipping past Julie back to the makeshift set. Alicia waited until Krysta was again out of earshot before shuffling over to Julie.

"Do you think Krysta believed it was your idea?" she whispered.

"I'm not sure, but she agreed with me, and that's more important as far as your safety is concerned."

"Wait," Whitley said. "Which of your ideas was it?"

"Hers," they both said, pointing at each other.

Whitley laughed. "Whatever. Alicia, you gotta admit it would have been Instagram gold to live stream you and Krysta beating the shit out each other all buck-ass naked." Whitley rubbed her bare arms and torso vigorously. "Speaking of which, can I at least get a robe or something?"

"No. If you're going be comfortable posing nude, you need to get used to the environment. Also, your nipples will play better cold."

"Is that why we're naked? If that's what you're after, I've got a plan for that." Alicia bounded out of the bathroom. Whitley scrunched her face in frustration and peeked out the door. "Okay, I have to know, is she gonna put the smoothie on her...yup, there she goes." Alicia yelped and Whitley promptly ducked back into the bathroom.

"Okay, can't unsee that," Whitley said. "And she wasn't kidding. She can flex, like, six muscles around her—" Whitley turned to see Julie taking a long gander at her body. Whitley cleared her throat several times, nearly sending herself into a coughing fit before Julie finally looked up.

"What? Just getting familiar with my subject."

"If you were anyone else, I'd say 'take a picture it'll last longer.'"

"And I'll say it anyway: I intend to take several," Julie chuckled smugly. "Also, Valentine..."


"You don't look that weird naked."

"Give me the damn sandwiches."