Carefully Hidden Chaos Three

CHAPTER THREE
Let’s Get To Know You Better

In the wake of Newlyweds, the public clamored for something to fulfill their immense need for Jessica and Nick.
The magazines strove to fill it.

In Life and Style, an article touted an exclusive: Jessica, with a mysterious female! Who was she? Where was CaCee? Where was Nick?

In Crave magazine, they had already cracked the case and were offering Angelia up for public slaughter. Jessica had yet to hear now she was dealing with that.

Most of the articles spouted the same old bullshit, and Jessica ignored it. At this rate, she was going to be bisexual sooner or later. And Angelia Buchannan–the mysterious female–would be her lesbian lover.

Jessica was reviewing scripts one day while out by the pool a couple of weeks after the album launch party for the Fray. She got many, some outlandishly silly, some very serious. She was reading through one called Fifteen Wishes when the doorbell rang. A few moments later, her mother appeared, chatting with Nick. Her father was not with them. Jessica looked up and prepared to speak when her mother broke off her conversation with Nick and turned to Jessica.

“What’s this I hear about you hanging out with strangers?” Tina asked.

Jessica sighed. She at least could have started with hello. “Mama…”

“Don’t ‘Mama’ me, Jessica Ann Simpson,” Tina continued. “Didn’t we have this talk about strangers? You and your career cannot handle you going off with some woman you only know a few minutes.”

Nick decided it was time for him to rescue his wife. It was a daily occurrence. “Angelia’s not a stranger.” After a look from Tina, he amended, “Anymore.”

“I don’t know her,” Tina reminded them. “And your father doesn’t know her.”

Jessica sighed, knowing just who had sent her mother over to see her. Yes, she knew her mother was concerned about her, and loved her, but sometimes, her career got in the way of simple, plain-old mother-daughter worry. It was like she was PR Mama.

“Angelia is not going to sell me for a story, Mama,” Jessica assured her. “I promise.”

“We made her sign her name in blood and everything,” Nick added.

“Very funny, Nick.” Tina turned to her daughter. “I’m not going to approve of her until I meet her.” Jessica groaned and started to protest. “I’m putting my foot down, Jessica. I want to meet her before you guys appear in public again.”

Nick observed the mutinous expression on Jessica’s face and thought it would be a good idea for him to intervene. “Maybe we can all have dinner here or something. Angelia is a wonderful cook. She promised to make teriyaki chicken for us.”

Tina opened her mouth, but Jessica gave her a look.

* * *

After Tina left, Jessica drifted into the living room and plopped down on the couch. Nick followed behind her slowly, and watched his wife’s bottom lip stick out and her eyebrows furrow thoughtfully.

“Angelia’s going to be offended,” Jessica muttered.

Nick sighed. “Jess, Angelia will not be offended.” He sat down beside her and placed a hand on her bare knee. “She will understand. Besides, it won’t be so bad. It’ll be a chance for you to see your parents and for Angelia to get to know them.”

Jessica’s eyebrows straightened. “You think it won’t really be that bad?”

Nick leaned in and brushed his lips across her forehead. “I promise. I swear. If Angelia gets into a tight spot, I promise to ride in on my white horse and save her.”

“A real knight in shining armor,” Jessica murmured.

“I try.” Anxious to change the subject, Nick gestured to the script in Jessica’s lap. “So what’s this all about?”

“Oh. This?” Jessica looked down at the script. “It’s a comedy or something. About genies.”

“Genies?”

“Well, it’s about this guy who finds these genies…” As Nick’s eyebrows arched, Jessica trailed off. She shoved the script at him. “Oh forget it. Read it yourself.”

Nick picked it up and flipped through it, stopping periodically to read a few lines. “It seems good. Maybe you should do it, Jess. Make a foray into the world of acting.”

“Well, let’s just get through dinner first, Nick.”

FIFTEEN WISHES
Concept by Kai Corcoran and Ace Jones
Screenplay by Kai Corcoran

MAJOR CHARACTERS
Harper Buckley
Evangeline Cross (Eva)
Shari Moore, Eva’s agent/publicist
Cassidy (Cassie)
Ariel
Stella
Audrey
Suzanna (Zan)
Jessamyn (Jess)

Harper, a young, struggling photographer, finds himself enamored with Evangeline, an up-and-coming model and struggling in his career. His best friend Cassidy aka Cassie, who is quite the klutz, has a crush on him but he is so enamored with Eva that he hardly notices. One mysterious night, he stumbles upon five exotic bottles. He takes them back to his apartment, and when he awakens, there are five women in his living room! Ariel, Stella, Zan, Audrey, and Jess have been cursed to live the life of genies, until they have been set free by whoever finds them. Harper is swayed by the powers of having fifteenwishes and forsakes the five young women desperate for their lives back. In the end when there’s only one wish left, Harper must decide between his own personal dreams–and the dreams of the five women exiled because of him.
* * *
Angelia came early that evening, armed with groceries. It was the day after Tina came to see her daughter, and Jessica was worried that things were going to turn out badly.

When she told Angelia this, she laughed.

“Don’t worry so much,” Angelia told her as she diced onion. She turned to Nick, who was standing nearby. “Could you calm her down? I’m not going to put arsenic in the food. And the last time I checked, my people skills were bordering on almost nearly acceptable.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Nick responded. “I’m allergic to arsenic and bad manners.”

Angelia laughed and took the bottle of wine she’d brought from the counter. “Why don’t you open this? Your parents will be here soon, right? I don’t want to fully begin until they get here.”

Nick set the table while Jessica took out the wine glasses. As Angelia placed cubed chicken aside on a plate and went to the sink to wash her hands, the doorbell rang. She dried her hands and offered the nervous Jessica a smile.

“Relax,” Angelia told her. “It’s not like we’re getting married.”

“I don’t think we have to worry about that, Angelia,” Nick joked, and walked to the front door to let Jessica’s parents in. Angelia picked up the platter of mini-eggrolls she had arranged and placed it on the dining room table. Tina’s laugh and Joe’s voice would be heard from the hallway as they made their way inside. As Angelia turned from the dining room table, Nick was leading Tina and Joe into the living room. She gave her best hostess smile and greeted them.

“And you must be Jessica’s parents.” She shook hands, endured scrutiny. Jessica looked on, sort of alarmed, but she didn’t say anything. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“And I’ll say the same,” Tina responded. Joe had noticed the mini-eggrolls and decided to help himself. Nick followed. “Look at those eggrolls! Did you do this all yourself?”

Angelia nodded. “I figured you need something to chew on while I finished dinner. I don’t want everyone becoming too hungry.”

“I like her already,” Joe remarked, and popped one in his mouth. Tina made an exasperated noise.

“It’s alright, Mrs. Simpson,” Angelia assured her. “You can eat as many as you like,” she said to Joe.

Joe gave her a “See?” look.  Tina shook her head and said nothing to him.

She just turned to Angelia and asked, “So Angelia. You used to do modeling?”

“Yeah,” Angelia admitted. “Hated doing it, though. If you’re into the whole glitter and glitz mirage, it’s your cup of tea, but as it turns out I’m not that gullible. So I took the money I made and finished college. I’m thinking in getting my doctorate in English.”

Tina was impressed, almost as if she wasn’t expecting it. “Oh. Well. That’s a wonderful aspiration.”

“And one that is going to keep me up a lot of nights for the next several years, but who needs sleep?” Laughter followed, and Angelia clasped her hands together. “Well, I must start on dinner. Enjoy the eggrolls.”

Jessica tried to stifle a smile when she found her father stuffing another eggroll in his mouth. Tina sighed but didn’t bother to waste her breath.

Moments later, Jessica, her parents, and her husband were in the kitchen keeping Angelia company while she made the chicken. With her long blond hair pulled back and her blue eyes alight with mirth, she appeared right at home in the Lachey/Simpson kitchen.

“Has Jessica begged you to be the cook yet?” Tina asked.

Jessica reddened in exasperation. “Mom! I’m learning how to cook.”

Tina chuckled. “Oh yeah…I’ll believe it when I see it, young lady.”

“It’s true,” Nick piped up. “Just the other night she made me Ramen noodles.”

As Jessica pouted and Joe laughed, Angelia decided it would be a good idea to save her new friend. “I actually wouldn’t mind if I wasn’t teaching, but I do have to keep my day job.”

“You don’t have a boyfriend?” Tina wanted to know, her tone still conversational but a little curious.

Jessica nearly spit out her wine. Angelia blushed a little, and replied while turning the chicken, “Not a steady one. Though, if you were wondering, I am looking into some candidates for my next boyfriend. These days, you have to look closely before you settle down with someone. My last boyfriend turned out to be a closet necrophiliac and, believe me, that’s not someone you can bring home to meet Mum and Dad.”

“Necro-what?” Jessica blurted, perplexed.

“It’s a person who likes to have sex with dead people,” Nick explained. Jessica’s face scrunched up and she gave a shudder.

“That was my reaction, too,” Angelia admitted. “I figure I’ll find someone who I can spend the rest of my life with eventually. But right now I’m not going to search the street for him. When he comes, he’ll come.” She smiled at Jessica and Nick. “And I’ll know it’ll be true, then.” She looked down at the skillet, then smiled at everyone. “Well, I think it’s time to change the subject because dinner is done.”

Jessica sighed in relief and helped Angelia with the dishes.

* * *

Later on that night, after everyone was gone, Jessica and Nick cuddled in bed, enjoying the peace of the nighttime. Jessica tried to relax and found herself thinking of the dinner earlier.

“I think your parents really liked her,” Nick said suddenly, as if reading her thoughts. “I think they were surprised that you would befriend a person so…”

Jessica pulled away from his embrace and sat up to face him. “So what, Nick?” she asked, a challenge in her voice. “So deep? So smart? Is that it?”

Nick knew that he was treading on dangerous ground; if he answered in the affirmative, it would land him on the couch. If he lied, he’d get in trouble later.

Well…what was a little white lie?

“She’s different than all your other friends, Jess. She’s not into manicures and Louis Vuitton. She’s a schoolteacher. That’s all I’m saying.”

Jessica wasn’t convinced. “You think she’s smarter than me.”

Oh no. Another trap. “She’s a schoolteacher, Jess. She’s smarter than all of us.”

Jessica considered this. After a second, she settled back into his arms without comment. There was a heavy silence that made Nick uncomfortable for a few minutes before Jessica spoke again.

“You’re right,” Jessica mumbled. “Angelia is different than all my other friends. What does that say about me, then, if I care about trivial?”

“It makes you who you are, an individual,” Nick assured her. “Angelia is an English teacher because she wants to be. You’re a performer because you want to be. There’s no harm in what you do, or what she’s does. It’s just different. Nothing wrong with a little variety.”

Jessica digested this. Silence. Then: “Do you think she’s prettier than me?”

Nick sighed. Trying questions, these were. “Good night, sweetheart.”

From Jessica: “But do you really think–?”

“Of course not,” Nick insisted. “Good night,” he repeated with a yawn. Jessica returned the good night and lapsed into silence. Nick drifted off to sleep with no problem, but a small seed of insecurity had been planted in Jessica’s head. Only time would tell if it would be in the right conditions to grow.

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