Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2)


by Lauren Layne

Jenny

A week ago, I had my first burrito baby.

I mean, I didn’t know I was even pregnant. Thank God I have the tabloids to tell me these things.

It happens that way sometimes, at least in Hollywood, land of the flat bellies.

See, if your belly isn’t completely flat, if maybe you’ve put on a few pounds courtesy of a penchant for extra guacamole on your Chipotle burrito…

Bam. You’re at the grocery store buying tampons and M&M’s and you glance over, and there you are, all over the rag mags. Pregnant.

Or at least accused of it.

Because the tabloids don’t seem to care that it’s been quite some time since a guy’s been near my…ahem. Apparently in Hollywood you don’t need a guy. All it takes to get “knocked up” in L.A. is a tortilla the size of a hubcap and an avocado or four.

Let me be clear: I am not pregnant.

I just like to eat. A lot.

To be honest, up until last week, when I naïvely ordered extra sour cream while wearing a tight-fitting T-shirt that apparently accentuated the fetus that wasn’t there, I hadn’t really thought a lot about Hollywood beauty standards.

I mean, for starters, I’m not Hollywood. At all.

I live in the Hollywood Hills, yes. I rent a Hollywood director’s home, yes. Even did a tiny cameo in a movie a few months back.

But I, myself, am Jenny Dawson.

A country singer.

Don’t.

Roll.

Your.

Eyes.

I get that country music can be polarizing, I do, I really do. But I swear I don’t twang about dead dogs and dusty highways. I just write songs about real life. My life. And then I sing them.

Formerly in the shower, and now on the radio.

Where was I going with this?

Oh, right. Hollywood. And how I’m not it.

It’s not that I hate Los Angeles. Sure, the traffic sucks, and the women of SoCal have more than their fair share of silicone between the shoulders, but the city’s got its good points too. The weather. The ocean. The shopping.

But the paparazzi thing has been getting under my skin.

I’m not one of those girls who moved here to get famous. I was already famous, courtesy of All of Me going double platinum last year.

When my agent and label suggested that some time in L.A. might be good for maintaining my “mainstream” popularity, I didn’t really fight it. See above points about weather and ocean.

But I wasn’t counting on being quite so center stage all the time.

I certainly wasn’t counting on the fact that I’d be embracing the homemade smoothie revolution. And actually, embracing is a strong word. Let’s just say I had to actually read the instructions before I knew how to work the fancy blender. And yes, I may have allowed my weight gain, and the tabloids’ notice of it, to shame me into the land of kale and quinoa.

And there you have it. The backstory of why I’m currently standing in the kitchen of a rented house, wearing yoga pants and a pink sports bra, and trying to work up the courage to ingest the green goo in front of me.

Stalling, I snag a piece of organic kale out of the package and drop it to the floor. I’ve never known my orange Creamsicle of a Pomeranian to turn down human food before, but Dolly is not digging the kale. The leaf makes it into her snout, only to be promptly ejected onto the floor.

“You’re supposed to be my healthy-eating coach,” I say, giving her a reproachful look. In response, the little dog gets into her favorite pounce position and squares off with the piece of discarded kale, barking at it twice in that sharp small-dog yip that’s been known to send a grown man or two heading for the hills.

“I know,” I tell her with a sigh. “I wish it were fried too. But if half the country thought you were knocked up, you’d be trying to prove them wrong too. Desperate times, Doll.”

I poke a finger into the blender, scoop out a bit of the green gunk, and stick the finger in my mouth.

“OMG. No.”

I reach for my phone and call someone who will serve up a large dose of tough love.

Amber picks up on the first ring. “Hi!”

“Who was it that told you smoothies taste like milk shakes?” I ask by way of greeting.

“Why?”

“I want their address so that I can deliver them an actual milk shake and make them confess how wrong they are.”

“I believe my exact words were that it tasted like a healthy milk shake,” my best friend counters.

“That’s the equivalent of those cardboard chips that say they’re baked instead of fried. The ones that claim to taste the same or better. Lies!”

“The healthy-eating phase is going well, then?”

I sniff the blender. “Super.”

“It’ll get easier. By the way, I bought you subscriptions to some of my favorite fitness magazines. My treat.”

“Treat’s a strong word there, Am.”

“Sorry, babe. But we’re not nineteen anymore. We’re twenty-two, and gone are the days when we could eat pints of ice cream every day and look like sticks,” she mutters.

“Says the girl who’s still a size two.”

“Because I’m eating a spinach and quinoa salad right now.”

I make a face. The truth is, Amber Fuller, best friend since preschool, is far more Hollywood than me, and she’s never even been here. The girl’s never lived anywhere other than Tennessee, and yet somehow she’s learned to embrace a gluten-, dairy-, and flavor-free existence in the land of barbecue, biscuits, and cornbread.

“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.