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No secret is too juicy for Maya Morgan to expose. But her most important scoop yet means going behind her friends' closed doors. . .
When it comes to the glitterati, nothing shocks Maya Morgan--until she sees former starlet Paula Olympia getting hit by her A-list actor boyfriend. So she's making it her mission to out celebrities in abusive relationships. ...
No secret is too juicy for Maya Morgan to expose. But her most important scoop yet means going behind her friends' closed doors. . .
When it comes to the glitterati, nothing shocks Maya Morgan--until she sees former starlet Paula Olympia getting hit by her A-list actor boyfriend. So she's making it her mission to out celebrities in abusive relationships. But the bigger her story gets, the more signs she's seeing that her BFFs, Sheridan and Kennedi, are in big-time relationship trouble. And when they won't listen to her 411, Maya makes them her next big story. But putting her friends on blast uncovers a shocking secret. With friendships at the breaking point and her credibility again in doubt, Maya will have to dig deeper to find the whole truth--and save something way more valuable than her gossip diva throne. . .
"Billingsley's dialogue is on point. . .this guilty pleasure is wish fulfillment, sensationalistic scandal, and snappy one-liners." --Publishers Weekly on Rumor Central
Membership had its privileges. Membership in the "It Clique," that is. And not only was I in the It Clique, I could very well be president. I know some people call the way I am arrogance, but I call it confidence, and I'm one confident chick. But then, again, I am Maya Morgan, the hottest young talk show host in the country. Anyone who had any doubt just needed to check out all the paparazzi clamoring to get a glimpse of my love life at this very moment.
"Maya! Are you and J. Love back together?" one of the photographers shouted in my direction, just as yet another flash went off. I didn't say a word as I followed the security guard back into the VIP section of the club. The photographer was quick, though. He jumped over the rope and started clicking away just as I sat back down.
It didn't take long before security was all over him, dragging him and his camera out.
I kept my signature smile, but I didn't miss how everyone was staring my way. Oh, yeah, I love my life. I was the go-to chick in the entertainment industry. And I didn't even need to be in L.A. to claim that title. I was kicking butt and taking names from right here in Miami.
I, the fantabulous Maya Morgan, had made a household name of myself as host of Rumor Central, and though many had tried to knock me off my throne, no one had succeeded. That's why I was once again sitting in the VIP with the hottest R & B singer in the country by my side, paparazzi sneaking in, fans going crazy ... trying to get my picture.
Before I was on-air—first as one of the five members of the Miami Divas reality show, then as the host of my own show—I was already at the top of the food chain as one of the most popular teens in Miami. It didn't hurt that my dad was stupid rich—he owned a chain of hotels, which, of course, made me stupid rich. In fact, my popularity was why I'd been approached to get in the reality biz in the first place. Then, Miami Divas had tanked (definitely not because of me, though). So, they'd canceled that show, fired the other four Divas, and given me my own show. That had been the smartest thing since the invention of the Internet, because in no time, I had become the go-to chick for all the latest celebrity gossip, dirt, and entertainment news. Rumor Central had exceeded everyone's expectations and was now internationally known.
My BFF, Sheridan, had been one of the original Miami Divas who had been fired and that had led to a whole lotta drama, but we'd squashed that and were back to kickin' it. I couldn't say the same about the other busters from Miami Divas. Shay, Bali, and Evian still had stank attitudes about the way everything had gone down. (They claimed we'd had a pact to stick together and I'd sold them out by taking my own show. Like it was my fault that they were boring.) Besides, they all knew that if the tables were turned, no way would they have turned down the chance to have their own show.
"Hey, what are you thinking about? Hope it's me," whispered J. Love, my ex-boyfriend and date for the night, as he leaned in, snapping me out of my thoughts.
"Of course I'd be thinking about you," I told him. "After all, you're the most important thing in my life." I flashed a sarcastic smile and he laughed. J. Love was an R & B singer who had to be the hottest thing going right now. He was so fine it was ridiculous. He had smooth chocolate skin, curly hair, and a body that was out of this world. He looked like a much finer version of Trey Songz, with the swag of Chris Brown.
Problem was, he knew it.
"You're something else, Maya Morgan."
I just smiled and did a sexy wink. I knew J. was on cloud nine, because he'd been trying and trying to get me to give him a second chance. Long story on why we'd broken up in the first place, but I wasn't trying to give him another chance. However, J. Love hadn't gotten to be a world-famous singer by taking no for an answer. He'd kept after me and I'd finally broken down and agreed to go to this MTV party that we'd both been invited to. My other BFF, Kennedi, was here, too, even though I hadn't seen her butt in the last thirty minutes. That's who I'd been looking for when the paparazzi almost trampled me.
I'd known the paparazzi would eat it up if they saw me and J. Love back together. And I'd been right, too, since the man they had just escorted out was still trying desperately to keep taking pictures of us as they tossed him out.
"You need anything?" J. Love asked as he stood.
"No, I'm good," I replied, leaning back and crossing my long, chocolate legs, which were toned in all the right places. My sequined Vera Wang miniskirt made sure J. could get an eyeful, and he didn't try to hide that he was checking me out.
"Dang, girl. You are so fine." He shook himself out of his trance. "You sure you don't want something to drink?" he asked me again. He'd been trying to pump liquor in me since I'd walked in the door. "This is some good stuff," he added as he held up his cup. I turned up my nose. I didn't need to drink to be cool. I'd said it before and I'd say it again. I didn't need anything to take me off my A game.
I glanced to my left and saw a girl passed out in a booth in the corner—her legs were wide open and someone was taking a picture of her. She would be on MediaTakeOut before she woke up. No, that wouldn't be me. I'd worked too hard to build the Maya Morgan brand, and I wasn't going to blow it over a glass of Patron.
"No, J. Me and my water are just fine," I said, tapping my bottle of Fiji.
"That's why your skin is so beautiful," he said, smiling at me. "All that water you drink."
I smiled. I wanted to say, Tell me something I don't know, but I'd been trying to curb my confidence since Teen People had recently done an article calling me "arrogant." I couldn't help it if I was all that. But Tamara, my boss at the TV station, had suggested I bring the confidence down a notch.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Miss Maya 'Snitch' Morgan."
I turned around to the voice that was coming from behind me. I rolled my eyes at the sight of the one person in the industry I simply could not stand, washed-up actress Mynique Foxx. (The child's name was pronounced Monique, but she spelled it with a y trying to be different. It was just stupid if you asked me.)
I couldn't stand her because she couldn't stand me and she made sure to tell anyone who would listen how she really felt about me. Mynique had been on a hit TV show eight years ago, but her star had definitely fallen. Now, she did straight-to-DVD movies. So, I didn't sweat that one-hit wonder and her funky attitude because as the comedian Katt Williams said, If you don't have haters, then you ain't doing your job.
"What's up, Mynique? Nice dress," I said, looking her up and down. "Isn't that from the new collection at Target?"
She put her hands on her hips and wiggled her neck. "Whatever, Maya." She held her hand up as if she was blowing me off, before turning to J. "What's up, J?" she said, smiling flirtatiously.
"It's all good," he said. Either he was blind and dumb, or he was just trying to ignore her, but he was acting like he couldn't tell she was flirting with him.
"How have you been?" Mynique smiled again as she fingered his chest and my eyebrows rose.
"I'm cool." J. Love stepped away from her. "Um, hey, babe, I'm going to go ahead and get that drink," he said, making a hasty exit. Guess he wasn't so dumb after all.
"Anything else I can help you with?" I finally told Mynique, when she just stood there all in my personal space. She was messing up my good mood.
"No, I just thought I'd come over and say hello," she said with an attitude, then flashed a big smile. "You know, while I'm waiting on my boo."
"Okay, but why don't you go wait on your boo somewhere else?" I said, turning back to look out on the dance floor.
"You know you're always asking for the scoop—maybe you'll want this one," she said.
As if I'd want anything Mynique Foxx had to offer.
"Mynique, if it involves you, I'm good," I told her, not even bothering to look her way.
She ignored me and kept talking. "I just thought you'd like to know that Demond Cash and I are an item," she said proudly.
That made me do a double take. Demond Cash—the A-list actor? What he wanted with her D-list behind was beyond me, but I wasn't going to let her see that I was fazed.
"Okay, good for you," I finally replied. "When you become somebody who is worthy of being talked about on my show, I'll look into that. Until then, later." I stood and pushed her aside. If she wouldn't leave, I would. I motioned for Mann, the security guard whom the station had hired to guard me from crazed fans, to follow me out. I'd made the mistake of getting rid of Mann at one point, but since my star had risen, I'd had stalkers, maniacs who'd wanted to hurt me, and disgruntled celebrities who'd threatened me. So, while I still didn't like Mann following me everywhere, I definitely didn't go out to clubs and parties now without him.
He led me out of the VIP area and stayed by my side as I walked around the club to see if I could spot Kennedi. I couldn't believe that she had just up and disappeared. I also needed to see if I could roll up on some dirt. I was always in gossip girl mode, and since this party had everybody who was anybody, I was bound to find some dirt up in here.
I saw one of my old friends and went to talk to her for a few minutes, and then decided that I needed to get back to the VIP because being down here with the common folk wasn't cutting it. I made my way back up the stairs and had just rounded the corner when I saw J. Love and Mynique deep in conversation.
"What's going on?" I said, approaching them. J. Love jumped back, but Mynique let out a smile.
"Just sitting here, catching up," she replied.
I looked at him and crossed my arms. If he told me he used to date Mynique Foxx, I'd be too done.
"So, you're going to give me a call sometime?" Mynique asked him.
"Uh, nah, I'm good." J. looked nervous as he rubbed the back of his neck.
I couldn't help it; I stepped in her face. "Really, Mynique? Like seriously, you want to go there?" I told her.
"My, does the little girl feel threatened by a real woman?" she sneered.
I didn't know how old Mynique was. The tabloids said she was twenty-five, but I'd bet a hundred dollars she was at least thirty-five.
"I would never be threatened by your desperate behind" I usually didn't do any arguing over a guy. Period. But Mynique had rubbed me the wrong way.
"Rawr" she said, making a clawing motion in my direction. "Sounds like the cat is jealous"
"Jealous of you? Get real" I snapped.
This party was definitely becoming whack. Now that I knew they'd let Mynique Foxx into VIP, it was changing my perspective on everything.
We stared at each other as Demond approached us. "Yo, what's up?" he said. "Is something wrong?" He looked back and forth between the two of us. "Hey. Maya Morgan?" he said, recognizing me. "What's going on?" He stuck his arm out to shake my hand. I didn't take it as I kept my eyes on Mynique.
Demond's gaze shifted back and forth between us as we glared at each other.
"Okay, what's up?" he asked, dropping his arm.
"Your date is what's up," I said, still not taking my eyes off of her. This one-hit wonder was about to learn I was not the one to mess with.
Demond put his arm around her and pulled her close. "What is my girl over here doing?"
"You need to get your girl before she gets slapped" I said. I was never one for violence, but I wasn't about to be played either, especially when I'm sure someone around us was rolling on his camera phone. Besides, I'm not going to lie, having Mann around gave me a little juice because he was good at his job and he'd break up any fight before it even jumped off.
"Oh, who's going to slap me?" Mynique asked, stepping closer to me.
"Disrespect me again and see," I replied, watching out of the corner of my eye to make sure Mann was moving in. He was. "You know J. Love is here with me and you got one more time to roll up on him ..." I wasn't even into J. Love like that, but I could just see the headline. MYNIQUE PUNKS MAYA . No ma'am.
"Yo, hold up. What?" Demond said, dropping his arm from around her neck and stepping back to stare at her. "What do you mean, roll up on your man?"
"Nothing, baby," Mynique said, pulling his arm. She no longer looked all big and bad. She actually looked ... I don't know ... scared.
"No, what is she talking about?" he asked, jerking his arm away.
"I'm talking about your girl right here flirting with my date, trying to get his number so they can go out, while you and me are just across the room." I turned my lips up in her direction. Yes, I'd just cold busted her.
"What?" Mynique acted shocked. "I didn't do that!" She turned to him. "Babe, she's just running her mouth. Don't listen to her."
Demond's happy demeanor had disappeared and he looked burning mad. He didn't say a word as he grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the VIP and toward the back.
J. Love just stood there like he didn't know what to say or do. Kennedi, whom I hadn't even seen approach, leaned over and said, "You think you should've done that?"
I side-eyed her. "Girl, please. In the words of Kevin Hart, she gon' learn today," I said, before picking up my bottled water and returning to my seat.CHAPTER 2
It was time to call it a night. Mynique had ruined the whole mood and I hadn't even been able to enjoy myself the past twenty minutes. J. Love was trying his best to get me to go to some after-party with him. But I was a little salty with him because while he hadn't encouraged Mynique, he'd done nothing to shut her down. That wasn't a good move for him. He was already on my bad side because of the way we'd broken up. He'd treated me like crap when somebody had told him that I'd leaked something to the press. Turns out it had been a hacker/stalker, but the fact that he hadn't even given me the benefit of the doubt had severely damaged our relationship. Every time I tried to give him another chance, he did something like this to make me mad. But I couldn't deny the fact that J. Love was all that and then some. Not to mention the fact that his record was the hottest joint in the country right now. Still, I'd blessed him with my presence enough for one night.
"You ready to go?" I asked Kennedi.
"Yeah," she said. She claimed that she'd been on the dance floor all night, which was why she'd been MIA. But I didn't know if I believed her. She'd been in a foul mood most of the evening. I think it had something to do with her new boyfriend, Kendrick. Even though she kept denying it, she'd really wanted to go out with him tonight since she'd just gotten back in town. K, as I called her sometimes, had been living in Orlando, but her dad's job had transferred him back to Miami so she'd moved back two weeks ago. Personally, I'd thought she'd be upset about having to leave school her senior year, but she was happy to be back near me and Kendrick, whom she had been dating for the past month.
Tonight, though, Kendrick had had to go out of town, so Kennedi had been "stuck hanging out with me." When she told me that, I straight gave her the side eye. Nobody had to be stuck doing anything with me. It was a privilege to be with Maya Morgan. But since she was my BFF and I knew she was mad at Kendrick, I let her make it.
Kennedi and I had been friends since we were little. Our mothers had been friends for years. Even when she'd moved to Orlando, we'd hung out as much as possible. She had been there through every guy I'd ever dated—from my first boyfriend to my last.
"Yeah, let's go," Kennedi said, standing up from the seat she'd been plopped in for the past fifteen minutes.
I said good-bye to J. and promised to call him later. He wanted me to wait so he could walk me out, but his manager wanted him to meet some bigwig at MTV and I didn't feel like waiting. Besides, I had Mann with me.
Excerpted from Boy Trouble by RESHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY. Copyright © 2014 ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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