Once an Outlaw

By: Debbie Rawlins

1




SHE WAS LATE. All because she’d forgotten the necklace and had to go back. Reese Winslow parked her red Beamer convertible illegally, jumped out and raced through the studio doors.

A panicked-looking young woman with blond, spiky bangs, and wearing headphones, jogged toward her. “Dr. Winslow?”

Fingering the smooth jade pendant that hung around her neck, Reese nodded. It was a talisman more than a piece of jewelry, and she hated doing anything important without it.

The woman’s relieved expression flirted with annoyance. “Seven minutes to airtime. Will you be ready?”

“I will.” Reese pointed to the hall on the left. “This way to makeup, right?”

“Yep. Karla’s waiting, but you gotta hurry.”

Reese was tempted to pull off her four-inch high heels, but then she’d risk ruining her new hose. When she entered the dressing room, Karla already had a makeup brush in her hand.

“You don’t look too bad.” The redhead squinted at Reese over gold reading glasses. “I’ll have you ready in no time.”

“I’ve got about five minutes.” Reese sat in the black leather chair facing the mirror.

Shaking her head, Karla threw a cape over the front of Reese’s dress. “Your mother used to always be late, too.”

“Oh, please, this is the first time I’ve been late.” She was nothing like her mother, but she didn’t want to go there. “I’ll bet you a hot fudge sundae I’ll be in my seat on time.”

Karla snorted and gestured to her curvy right hip. “Do I look like I need a sundae?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re losing the bet. Not that I need a sundae, either.”

“Oh, brother.” The woman shook her head but concentrated on working her magic. “Believe it or not, when I was your age I was a size four, too.”

“The camera makes me look like a size twelve,” Reese muttered, studying her reflection. “I should’ve worn my navy blue suit. This green dress makes me look washed out.”

Karla exchanged the makeup brush she’d been using to apply blush for a smaller one, while eyeing Reese critically. “No, it brings out the green in your eyes.” She went to work on touching up Reese’s eye shadow. “Don’t worry, honey, the camera loves you.”

It was her nerves talking, Reese decided. Which was crazy. She’d been around movie sets her whole life. Before her parents had divorced, and twice as much after. No matter which one she and her sister, Ellie, had been shuttled to, either their mother or father invariably were starring in a movie.

She’d be okay once the camera rolled. Oddly, the last two times she’d been invited to join a panel of physicians, she’d immediately calmed down as soon as the on-the-air signal came. Needing to focus on the questions put before them had rid her of anxiety. Especially since the rest of the panelists were a collection of esteemed doctors a good two decades her senior.

Reese glanced at the large round wall clock. Too bad she didn’t have a tenth of her mother’s composure. Or her father’s enviable charisma. Brad and Linea Winslow had been Hollywood royalty, the power couple of the seventies and eighties. Even now, close to sixty, they each enjoyed considerable success.

If Reese had wanted a career in show business, the doors would’ve swung wide open. But from the time she was ten, she wanted to be a doctor. And nothing had swayed her off the path. She’d been blessed with excellent tutors who accompanied her to her parents’ sets. Blessed, too, with a scientific mind that had allowed her entrance into one of the best medical schools in the country. Before she’d completed her residency, she’d been invited to join the staff of a prestigious East Coast hospital. Everyone thought she had it made. In many ways she did have everything. At least to the naked eye.

The blonde briefly poked her head into the dressing room. “Two minutes, Dr. Winslow.”

Reese breathed in deeply, counting to ten before she exhaled. She wished Ellie could’ve made it tonight. Her sister was the one constant in her life. The only person who understood her, who’d been by her side through their parents’ messy, public divorce, through the holidays spent with their nanny, through the broken promises. Yet even Ellie didn’t totally comprehend the depth of Reese’s loneliness. How could she possibly complain, when her privileged life had extended into adulthood?

Oh, Ellie had had her successes, too. Including a fabulous modeling career, which she’d chosen to leave. But after that she’d seemed lost, unsure of what she wanted in life. Reese had never faltered from the golden path. She’d inherited her mother’s fair looks, only twice suffered the indignation of receiving a grade below an A, and had enjoyed a short list of so-called perfect boyfriends.

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