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Chapter 4 You Disgust Me

  • The filming for the variety show started at three in the afternoon.
  • All of the six guests were enjoying a good run at the moment. The effusive reception which they received from the fans in the studio was a reflection of their current level of popularity. When it came to Claude Nealey’s turn to step onto the stage, the rapturous cheers from the fans below threatened to bring the house down.
  • Having spent a good ten minutes in the washroom clearing her head, Natalie had transformed herself into the brilliant and unflappable show host she was known to be as she bantered and played games with her guests under the illumination of the bright spotlight.
  • The recording for the ninety-minute program was over in a jiffy.
  • As they wrapped up, Natalie even won the commendation of the director. “Nat, you were absolutely on top of your game today! I heard that you are a fan of Claude’s. Were you so focused because you didn’t want to look bad in front of him?”
  • “Of course!” Natalie replied as she passed her own headset along to a member of the crew. “I’ll be off to the dressing room, Director. These contacts are killing me.”
  • Natalie then exited the stage in a hurry.
  • When she stepped into the dressing room and was about to call the makeup artist over, a figure squeezed in behind her and grabbed her by the hand.
  • “This is the dressing room, Mr. Nealey. There’ll be people passing by often.” Natalie twisted herself out of his grip and ribbed him. “You’ve just nabbed an award and is at the height of your popularity. I don’t want to get on the wrong side of your agency by landing you in the tabloids.”
  • “Nat, let’s just talk about this.” Claude did not like women behaving this way. He spoke as he brought himself closer to her. “I thought about looking you up back then but the agency had a job scheduled so I had no choice but to head overseas for filming. Before I left, I sent a letter to your home, only to find out that it had been sent back when I returned.”
  • Natalie replied impassively, “It was coincidental that I moved away and changed my number. If there’s nothing else, Mr. Nealey, I’d like for you to leave as I need to remove my makeup.”
  • She made straight for the dressing counter and felt much more comfortable with her contact lenses removed.
  • Claude followed her over. “I had my drink spiked and was entrapped by Sally. Later, I was lured to the hotel by her to do those things...”
  • “I didn’t know she took photos as well.” He had his head in his hands and struggled to continue. “You know who her father is... My movie was premiering. I’ll be finished if the photos were leaked then.”
  • Natalie did not appear to be listening as she got up to get something.
  • The man lost control when he saw that he was repeatedly being ignored. He wrapped his arms around her from behind. “I’ve already broken up with Sally and also changed agencies so her family cannot continue to threaten me.”
  • “Let go.” Natalie’s voice went from soothing to frosty as she labored against his forceful embrace.
  • “Let go of me, Claude Nealey!”
  • When it appeared that he would not be relinquishing his grip on her, Natalie berated in protest. A tearing sound was heard amidst her struggling. Her dress slid off her shoulder as the strap on her dress gave way, exposing a considerable section of her snowy, translucent skin.
  • That seemed to have brought Claude back to his senses as he finally released her from his arms. “I’m sorry...”
  • Natalie’s eyes darkened as she swiftly caught the falling fabric she still had on her and held it close. Without waiting for Claude to finish, she struck him across the face so hard that her hand became numb.
  • “You disgust me, Claude!” Meeting this man once more roused her dormant memories, and her lips quivered as she fought to contain the outpouring of her emotions.
  • As she glowered at him, Natalie’s words bled through gritted teeth. “How many times have I gone to Mr. Chavez? How many bottles had I drunk for him to grant you another audition for the lead role in that movie? But you? The only person you’ve ever thought about with those photos is your own damn self!”
  • It was just one year ago when she poured her heart and soul into their relationship, putting everything on the line for a future together with him. She had begged and pleaded with others to get him those job opportunities without the support of her own family.
  • In fact, she had not even turned twenty-two when they were dating and had never even touched a drink before. Nevertheless, she went out and networked on his behalf, day after day, bottle after bottle, until the alcohol almost damaged her innards.
  • She kept her faith in him even when she received those lewd photos from an unknown source. At that time, she had rejected three calls from her mother as she continued to wait patiently to hear an explanation from him.
  • Regrettably, in the end, Claude fled overseas and left it to his agent to inform her of his decision to end their relationship. The news of her mother’s suicide followed shortly after.