Good Girl Page 2

“Seriously, though, you know you’re freaking gorgeous as you are, right?” Amber says. “Is that what I’m doing here? Pep talk?”

“I’m burrito pregnant,” I mutter.

“I hate that you’re letting that bother you,” she scolds as I go to the pantry and grab a bag of chocolate chips. “The tabloids are crap. You know that.”

I do know that. But I’m also human. Reading the not-so-flattering things about yourself sucks. Even more so when they’re untrue. And not being able to go to the hair salon without a dozen paps in your face, not being able to get a manicure without every beauty blog weighing in on the color you choose…it gets old.

I know, I know. Poor little famous rich girl, right?

I’ve got zero right to complain, but knowing that doesn’t make me any less inclined to burn every single picture of my belly bump.

Being in the media spotlight, I can handle. I don’t like it, but it’s part of the job. I get that. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine just how much of the stuff you read in the magazines is pure fiction.

I knew I’d be followed, ridiculed, analyzed. I just thought it would be based on stuff I’d actually done.

I dump a handful of chocolate chips into the blender. Chocolate fixes everything.

Tucking the phone between my ear and shoulder, I put the lid on and flick the blender back on, sort of relishing the hacking noise the chocolate chips make as they whir.

“What the heck is that noise?” Amber asks.

“Just throwing some carrots into the blender,” I lie.

“Oh, good call! I love how carrots add that delicious bit of sweetness,” she says.

I roll my eyes. Sweetness my ass. They’re carrots.

“It does make for a sort of ugly color, though,” Amber continues. “Yucky and brown.”

My smoothie is now indeed yucky and brown, although not from vegetables.

I stick my finger into the brown sludge and scoop out another sample, more enthusiastic this time.

The enthusiasm, as it turns out, is not warranted. Chocolate and kale are not complementary flavors. Shocker.

I give up. Grabbing the bag of chocolate chips, I ditch the blender and head into the living room, Dolly trotting behind me with her stuffed chipmunk clenched in her little mouth, pausing every two steps to thrash it.

I sit on the couch, and she hops up beside me, curling into a little ball and resting her head on the toy.

“How’s the smoothie?” Amber asks.

“Good,” I say, popping a couple of chocolate chips into my mouth. “Super good.”

“We’ll make them eat their words,” Amber says gleefully. “Next time they post a picture of you, it’ll be to talk about your washboard abs.”

“I don’t want washboard abs. I’d settle for somewhat flat,” I say, patting my little tummy pooch. The truth is, I have a pretty good-ish body, I think. Not as skinny as Amber, but I’m healthy-looking. Five-seven, medium boobs, good legs. But the belly’s always been a problem area. Every bit of chocolate and, yes, burrito goes straight to the stomach.

“You’ve got to shake it off, babe,” Amber says. “You’re a musician first and foremost. People shouldn’t care if you have hooves and a wart for a face if you can sing great music.”

She’s right. Of course she’s right.

I eat another chocolate chip, but it doesn’t taste good anymore. I toss the bag on the coffee table and flop back against the couch cushions.

When did I turn into this person?

When did Jenny Dawson, small-town daughter of a CPA and a seventh-grade science teacher, start caring about a bunch of jerks with big cameras and petty celebrity bloggers?

Since when did I start eating kale?

It’s like one minute all I needed to be really, truly happy was my guitar, and the next I was shoved onto a pedestal as America’s sweetheart and was living in daily terror of falling off.

“It’ll pass, you know that,” Amber is saying around what sounds like a mouthful of very dry salad. “Everybody loves you. Heck, even the ones that did think you were pregnant started calling your offspring ‘America’s baby’ and began knitting baby booties.”

“That’s just creepy,” I say, running a hand over Dolly as she begins squeaking incessantly on her chipmunk.

“Okay, no more moping,” Amber says. “I’m pulling up my fave site right now so you understand that they’ve already moved on, and tomorrow nobody will remember that you were supposedly preggo.”

I want to tell her not to bother, and that I don’t care. But I do care. I don’t know when I started caring, but I do, and I hate it.

Here’s the thing: do you ever feel like a stranger in your own skin?

I used to think that was the sort of crap they only said in those Academy Award–nominated coming-of-age films, but lately that’s how I feel: like a stranger in my own skin.

I have everything I wanted: a career in music. People pay me money—a lot of money, if we want to get crass about it—to do my dream job. I should be thrilled, and I am. Or at least I pretend I am.

But it came with all this other stuff that I just wasn’t expecting. Or maybe I was expecting it, but I wasn’t planning on how icky it would make me feel.

Stuff like being told that a move to Los Angeles would make me more palatable to the mainstream.

Yes, those are the words that were used.

Stuff like being told that highlights and eyelash extensions and a freaking juice cleanse were nonnegotiable if I wanted to “make it,” and yes, I’m using air quotes right now.

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