Beyond the rail of Jennifer Tanning's penthouse balcony, thick rain strings blurred the trees of Central Park.
Dark strands of hair brushed her long, straight nose; one delicate shoulder supported a thick, glossy wave.
Her fingertip tapped the number of the paparazzi her agent suggested.
"I want a camera at the Gotham Bar and Grill at noon today. Can you do it?"
"You gotta be kidding, Miss Tanning, of course I can, yes. Count on it. I'll be there and--"
Dark clouds thinned; blazing sunlight and fine rain mingled. The sparkling, warm mist set the soaring towers of Manhattan ablaze. A thousand tiny splashes dappled the surface of Jennipher's limousine.
Her face hung five stories up among the skyscrapers. The giant ad for her new movie draped across a building: Jennifer Tanning is--
The film premiered in seven days.
Hair tumbled in her face as she laughed. It sounded ridiculous; a calibrated machine absorbed little J.T. From Wonderville, Arizona and created a star in twenty two months.
The front tire of her car rolled through a wide puddle, brilliant in the sun.
"John, stop here, please."
She saw the photographer standing on the sidewalk; a fitted shirt hugged his trim torso. Water darkened the thighs of his faded jeans. His camera must have been waterproof, because it looked dripping wet. The lens pointed at the ground. Only two other people walked by on the sidewalk and they ignored the limo like poison.
The puddle reflected the limousine door opening. Jennifer stepped out and her feet disappeared in the water. She knelt in the fresh, warm liquid. She ducked her head and wet one side of her hair. Just one side will look funnier. Jennifer giggled. She supported herself on hands and knees in the water. She couldn't stop the giggles, man. Time to work; focus Jenn.
Jimmy Thoms snatched a pair of panties from her backpack in ninth grade and ran down the hallway shouting and spinning them over his head and he showed everyone in the world those white panties with the tiny rose right there. Go.
She looked at the camera.
The photographer laughed, "That's hysterical." The camera whirred and clicked, over and over.
Jennifer rose to her feet, dripping, and projected terror.
She froze the look on her face, turned her weak side toward the camera.
"Oh my God, you look pitiful." The shutter clicked nonstop. "All right, I got it. You're fierce, man."
Jennifer stood in the light rain. A band of skin flashed above her soaked, white, dirty, skinny pants. The faded peach tank top clung to her breasts.
"Jesus. You look like-- Athena. You look like you throw lightning bolts."
Her eyes met his. :That's-- That's a really good line."
"It's no line. I can't believe I said it. Your smoky eyes, all that black hair. It just slipped out. You look like you hunt with a bow."
Jennifer's eyes widened. "Thank you, I'm speechless."
"And I can't shut up. I've never said anything like that in my life. Never thought it even. You are stunning."
A tingle fluttered through Jennifer's chest. "That's sweet, but I want bad pictures, awful pictures."
"It won't be easy." He smiled. "I'll deliver what you want though. Pictures of you stumbling in a puddle."
"Cool. Tell me your name, and--"
The headline TANGLE FOOT TANNING: WET AND DIRTY sold twenty million copies and LUSCIOUS opened huge.