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You Don't Know Me Like That
By RESHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 ReShonda Tate Billingsley
All rights reserved.
I read the headline for what had to be the twentieth time. My fabulous photo covered the whole front page. I needed to call Alicia Keys and thank her for writing a song about me because This Girl Was On Fire!
Don't get it twisted. I already knew I was fabulous— shoot, I came out of my mama's womb fabulous—but this just proved it beyond any doubt. The fact that I was on the cover of the Entertainment section of USA Today—with a full spread—proved I was the hottest teen star in the country. And I hadn't had to act in one movie to get that title. In just three short months, I had become the go-to chick for all the latest celebrity gossip, dirt, and entertainment news. My show, Rumor Central, had exceeded everyone's expectations and had been picked up by several other cities. So, I was no longer just known all over Miami; I was now known all over the country.
Next stop, the world!
"Really,Maya? How many times are you gonna read that article?"
"Don't hate," I said, taping the newspaper to the front of my locker despite school rules. My locker was in a prime spot right by the cafeteria, so all my classmates would see it as they made their way in for lunch. I turned to my best friend, Sheridan. "Can I help it that I'm divalicious?"
"Ugggh," Sheridan said, playfully rolling her eyes as she tapped away on her Samsung Galaxy III phone.
A few months ago, I would've had a problem with Sheridan's eye rolling. But that was then. This was now. We had settled our little beef. I'd gotten over the fact that Sheridan had pushed up on my boyfriend. And Sheridan had gotten over the fact that I had basically left her and the other members of the Miami Divas reality show high and dry when it came time to get my own show. Sheridan was able to forgive me because she knew if the shoe were on the other foot, she would've done the exact same thing. But the others—Shay, Bali, and Evian—they weren't so forgiving. Bali had gone back to Cuba. (His father sent him back after finding out he was involved in a vandalizing and theft ring.) But he made sure that he sent me a text every now and then reminding me how foul I was.
Evian and Shay were still walking around with attitudes. But screw them. Maya Morgan didn't need to beg anybody to be her friend.
"Hey, did you know you're trending on Twitter?" Sheridan said, tapping the screen on her phone.
"What?" I said.
"Yeah." Sheridan turned her phone around and pointed it at me so I could see. "See, Rumor Central is in the top ten trends."
"Wow," I replied. Sometimes we got a lot of people talking after a show aired, but I had never been a top trender before." That's crazy.We usually don't get hype like that except when the show is airing live."
"Guess that newspaper spread is working," Sheridan said.
"I guess." I closed my locker, then thought I probably should get some type of book or tablet since I was heading to class. I opened the locker back up and pulled out my textbook.
Sheridan shrugged. "Well, you're doing something. Listen to what some of these tweets say: 'If you're not watching Maya, you're missing out,' 'Maya's got the dirt,' and 'Can't wait to see what Maya's talking about tomorrow.'"
One of my classmates walking by must have overheard us, because she stopped and said, "Oh, yeah, congrats on that." She pointed to Sheridan's phone. "You've been trending all week."
"How do I not know this?" I said, pulling out my own phone and going to Twitter. I clicked on and read some more of the tweets.
If you're not watching Rumor Central, u r missing out!
Rumor Central is the biz
Watch out, Wendy Williams; there's a new gossip girl in town.
All of them had the hashtag #RumorCentral and came from someone using the Twitter handle Rumor Central.
"Wow," I mumbled.
"Yeah, looks like your social media department is on top of things," Sheridan said.
"I know. And to think, I thought they were kinda whack.
But as soon as I get into work this afternoon, I'm going to go give them major props."
"And a raise," she joked as we made our way to class.
As soon as I hit WSVV, the TV station where they filmed Rumor Central, I headed to Tamara Collins's office. She was the executive producer on my show and the one who called all the shots.
It was after five, so Tamara's secretary wasn't at her desk, so I just knocked on her office door.
"Hey, Tamara," I said, once she called for me to come in. I was always in awe whenever I went into her office. Talk about top of the line. Everything in here was first class—from the marble desk to the plush leather chairs. Her walls were covered with awards that I guess she'd won for her television shows, and pictures of everyone from Jay-Z to Justin Bieber. The only thing out of order was her cluttered desk.
"Hello, Maya. How was school today?"
"School was school." I shrugged as I walked in. I wasn't into my senior year like the rest of my classmates. Even though we were a private school, we still did the typical senior week, parties and events during homecoming—none of which interested me. I was on a whole different level than those busters at Miami High.
I plopped down in front of Tamara's oversized desk. She was sifting through a pile of papers on it. I smiled as I took in her BCBG suit. It was a new design that had just come out last week.
"I just wanted to swing by and give props to the social media department. They are on it."
She didn't look up from her desk. Obviously, she was searching for something. "Maya, what are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about Twitter."
"What about it?"
I guess she didn't know either. "Rumor Central is trending on Twitter. I didn't do it, so I just assumed the social media department did it."
She finally stopped and stared at me. "I don't see how that's possible. We just got rid of the old girl because she was so behind, she didn't even know what Instagram was."
I smiled. "Well, whoever took her place is definitely on his or her job."
She looked at me. "Yeah, that's just it. We don't have anyone working social media right now." She picked up the phone. "Let me call marketing. They usually don't leave until late." She punched in a number. "Hey, Sara, it's Tamara. Do you have anyone working on the publicity for Rumor Central?" She paused. "So, they're just doing PR and not social media?" She paused again, then shook her head. "Okay, thanks. Let me know when you get someone. I'd like to meet with him or her."
"So, what's up?" I asked when she put the phone back on the hook.
"Well, what's up is someone else is behind that Twitter trending. It's not us. Publicity was aware of it, and they were actually trying to find out who was behind it. Sara said they'd called you earlier to see if it was you."
I shook my head. "I didn't get a message, but no, it's not me."
Tamara smiled. "Guess it looks like you officially have a serious fan. He or she is going all-out."
"Wow, I guess I do," I said, a bright smile spreading across my face. "Wish we had someone like whoever is behind this on staff," I said. "Because if I'm trending above Kim Kardashian, I'm obviously doing something right."
"You know," Tamara said, cocking her head like she was thinking, "you may be on to something." She pressed the intercom." Kelly, are you still here?"
"I'm here," her secretary said. "I just stepped away for a minute. But I am about to go. Do you need anything?"
"Yes, just for a minute. Can you come in here? I have someone I need you to find. Maya's superfan." She smiled my way. I grinned back at her. I had fans, I knew that, but this was taking things to a whole different level. But I guess that's what happens when you're divalicious like me!
"... And that's right, if you want the scoop, you know we're doing the digging. Until next time, holla at your girl."
The music came up in our spacious, trendy studio as Manny, our director, gave me the all clear. "Good job as always," he said.
I removed my earpiece and smiled. I wanted to say, "Tell me something I don't know," but I was going to play it cool, and so I just said, "Thanks."
I knew that show was going to be the bomb. I'd just broken the story about Chris Brown and Rihanna getting back together for the umpteenth time. In the beginning, people used to doubt if the gossip I delivered was legit, but in the three months I'd been on the air, they'd quickly learned that I wasn't in Miami's "it" clique for nothing.
I had just made it back to my office when Carl, the mailroom clerk, walked in.
"Girl, I think we need a separate office just to store all your gifts and fan mail. I mean, who even sends snail mail anymore? You'd think with social media, some of this stuff would fall off," he said, setting down a big basket of letters.
Since my show had been on the air, I'd been getting cards, gifts. One of the football players from the University of Miami had even tried to date me. I talked to him on the phone a couple of times, but when he started trying to get me to go away for the weekend, I knew I needed to back off. Besides, I didn't want to do my baby Bryce like that. But I'd seen some of everything. That's because they were definitely feeling me.
"You ready to go?" My friend, Kennedi, had been sitting in my office waiting for me to finish taping. I really wish that I could've invited both her and Sheridan to this party tonight, but the two of them didn't get along—at all. They were my two best friends in the whole world and couldn't stand each other. So I was forced to do stuff with them one at a time. Tonight was Kennedi's night.
"I said, are you ready to go?" I dropped my scripts on my desk.
"Oh, sorry. Didn't hear you," she replied.
"What are you looking at anyway?"
"Well, I was just scrolling through Twitter, but then you started trending, and I got caught up reading it."
"I'm trending again?" I asked. "I was just trending yesterday."
"Yeah, well, you're trending today, also," she said.
"Dang, we really need to find the person who's behind that." Just then, my assistant, Ariel, walked in.
"Good show, Maya," she said.
"Thanks," I said. I don't know why these people expected anything less from me. Every show I did was going to be a good show.
"Hi," Ariel said to Kennedi.
"Hey," Kennedi said, not really looking up from her phone.
"So, do you need anything else from me?" Ariel asked.
Just then, it dawned on me; the more people we had trying to track down this person on Twitter, the better.
"Yeah, matter of fact, I need you to see if can you find out who set up the Rumor Central Twitter account," I said.
"The station didn't do it?" she asked.
Duh. "If they had, then I wouldn't be asking you to find out who did it, now would I?" I swear, sometimes I couldn't believe this chick was about to graduate from college.
Ariel had only been with me for a few weeks, but there was something about her that I just wasn't feeling. She was a senior at the University of Miami and working here as my assistant as part of some college work-study program. It's not that she didn't do her job. But you know how some people just give the vibe that they can't be trusted? That's how I felt with Ariel. She was a pretty girl—nothing to get excited about—but she always seemed to be lurking around, and it got on my nerves.
"The marketing department is working on it, but I thought you could try to track her down as well. If you find anything out, let Tamara know."
She nodded. "I'll get right on it."
"Thanks." She didn't move, so I said, "Anything else?" She shifted nervously. "Well, I know I've only been here a month," she began stammering. "I was just wondering.... Everyone didn't get a big break like you...."
I narrowed my eyes at her.
She quickly tried to clean that up. "Oh, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I think it's great that you've had the opportunities that you have. I mean, you're good, so you deserve all the success you have. But well, I was kinda hoping you could take a look at my demo tape. And if you like it, maybe you could, ah, you know, put a word in for Tamara to let me fill in or do some fieldwork on your show."
It took everything in my power not to look at her crazy. I should've known. She wanted to be on air and probably had some resentment that here I was, at seventeen, with my own show, and she was, well, she was my assistant.
"I'm not sure what you'd like me to do, Ariel," I said.
"Just look at my tape. That's all. And let me know what you think."
"Okay," I lied. I didn't like horror movies, and just the thought of Ariel trying to be a reporter was enough to scare me.
She handed me the tape, which I just noticed was clutched in her hand. "I know you're busy, but if you'd look at it as soon as you can and let me know, I'd appreciate it."
I gave her a tight smile as I patted the tape. "As soon as I can."
"Okay, I'll let you go. Have a good day."
I just nodded. As soon as she was gone, Kennedi looked up from her phone. "That chick wants your job." She laughed.
"Who doesn't?" I said, gathering up my things.
"Are you gonna watch her tape?" Kennedi asked.
I turned up my lips, grabbed the tape, and dropped it in the trash.
Kennedi chuckled. "I didn't think so." She finally dropped her phone in her purse and stood.
I grabbed my jacket. "I'm not thinking about that for now. I'm off the clock. Let's roll."
Kennedi followed me to the door. "Girl, you are never off the clock. Just once, I'd like for us to go somewhere and chill and not get bombarded with folks asking for your autograph."
"Don't hate," I said, wiggling my petite hips. "That's now the story of my life!"
I loved my life! A slammin' party last night. Red carpet tonight. It didn't get any better than this.
The flashing lights of the paparazzi lit up the night. I was in the front of the Olympia Theater, and there were people lined up along both sides of the velvet rope. I turned from camera to camera, flashing my fabulous smile.
"Maya, over here!" someone shouted.
I turned in his direction just as another photographer shouted, "Maya, this way." I struck yet another pose.
Normally, I would be the one waiting to interview celebrities, but since I was being honored tonight with a Young Achiever's Award, I was actually walking the red carpet. Yes, Maya Morgan was getting honored tonight with One Direction, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift. It didn't get any more fab than this.
"Well, if it isn't the gorgeous Maya Morgan."
"Hey, Terrance," I said, turning to greet the Entertainment Tonight reporter. It had been prearranged that I would stop and talk to Terrance, with his little cute self.
"Usually, you're over here with us," he said as his photographer zoomed in on me.
"Not tonight, babe," I said, tossing my perfectly styled Brazilian Blowout curls over my shoulders.
"You rockin' that dress," he said.
"Oh my God, is that a Valentino original?" his cohost, Giuliana, said.
"It is." She knew her stuff. My mom had shelled out a pretty penny for this dress. She loved my red carpet events and made it her mission to find the perfect dress for each event. And this royal blue Valentino original was no exception.
"You know you make me feel like such a slacker," Giuliana said. "When I was your age, I wasn't thinking about anything but boys and clothes."
"Oh, I still think about that." I laughed. "I just have to also include work."
They asked me a few more questions, then I wrapped things up and made my way over to Sasha, the girl my station had sent over to interview me.
Of course, I nailed that and was making my way inside when I ran into rapper and resident hood chick, Paula Olympia. I groaned because I knew this was not going to be pretty. I'd done a story last week about her little affair with a costar on the set of her new music video. It was news her new boyfriend didn't take too kindly, and he'd dumped her like he'd caught her twerking naked on Twitter.
Excerpted from You Don't Know Me Like That by RESHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY. Copyright © 2013 ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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