Sarah knew in her bones that tonight was the night.
She’d been biding her time all these years. From the moment she’d first laid eyes on Rafe, she’d been determined to make him hers. With his chiseled, muscular build, square jaw, and thick, tousled chestnut hair, Rafe was like a modern-day descendant of the gods. When he turned his smoldering dark gaze upon her, Sarah felt as if she’d been impaled, struck immobile by those intense, passionate eyes. There was a connection between them, an electricity that couldn’t be denied—and she knew he felt the same way about her.
Of course, there was that pesky business of him being married to her sister. But that was Amy for you—trust her to have everything. All her life, Sarah had had to deal with Amy’s one-upmanship. Money, career, their mother’s approbation: Whatever brass ring Sarah might desire, Amy would somehow find a way to snatch it up first. Of course she would have Rafe. But not after tonight.
Striding through the glittering, fabulously ornate Two of Hearts Ball, Sarah Cho smoothed back her sequined Versace sheath. As she pushed through gold lamé curtains, copper-tinted balloons, and a never-ending shower of tinsel confetti, she noticed Lin, the mistress of ceremonies, looking ever resplendent in fire red ruffled chiffon on the stage. The crowd parted before Sarah as she approached her target: Amy.
“Well, well, well,” Sarah spat out, “if it isn’t the queen bee herself. Lovely party.”
Amy whirled around in her ice blue satin Dolce & Gabbana gown. She planted her immaculately French-manicured hands on her hips.
“Sarah! What are you doing here?” she demanded.
“When I heard you were throwing this gala, there was no way I could miss it.” Sarah tossed back her lustrous ebony mane. “My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.”
Amy groaned in frustration. “Oh, come on, Sarah. After what you’ve done, you know you’re not welcome here.”
“Why?” Sarah demanded. “Because you’re ashamed to have a stripper for a sister?”
“Your sordid past is the least of my concerns.” Amy glared at her. “I’m more worried about what you’re going to pull tonight. Let’s think—you’ve already got kidnapping on your dossier, what are you going to add to your rap sheet now?”
“I didn’t kidnap anyone,” Sarah snapped. “I love that child more than anyone!”
“Except that she’s not your child!” Amy shrieked. “Get it through your head—she’s my daughter, not yours. They should have sent you away to Sing Sing, instead of letting you get off with a cushy stay at Shady Pines!”
“I’m fully recovered from my stay at the asylum,” Sarah declared, “and I’m here to reclaim what’s mine. I should have had Rafe’s child, not you!”
“That will never happen,” Amy said, sneering. “Once Rafe knows that you slept with his brother, you’ll never have him.”
Sarah’s eyes narrowed. “Careful, or I might have to lock you in that secret room in the basement again.”
Amy gasped. “You—you—bitch!”
She tossed her drink in Sarah’s face. Blinking gin out of her eyes, Sarah gaped at her for a second. Then she snatched up a nearby vodka tonic and hurled the contents at her sister. Dripping wet, Amy looked down in horror at her ruined designer dress, while out of the corner of her eye, Sarah noticed Lin and Rafe staring at them from the other end of the room. . . .
Amy looked up with mascara-streaked eyes at Sarah—and lunged toward her with a feral scream. The next minute, the two girls were careening around the party, shattering china, knocking over tables, and sending flower arrangements flying as they screeched and yanked at each other’s hair. . . .
Sarah blinked, abruptly shaken out of her reverie. Glancing down, she saw that she was still clutching a vodka tonic in her fist—
“Earth to Sarah!”
Sarah whirled around and saw her friend Chad Lockhart waving frantically from the bar. As she stared at him, he gestured wildly at the irate crowd around the bar, all clamoring for their drinks . . . and her even more irate manager, Donnie, who was barreling toward the bar. Uh-oh.
Snapping into action, Sarah swung toward the bar and started throwing together martinis and Cosmos at warp speed.
“Okay, there—” She whisked three olives into one of the martinis. “Now, who likes theirs extra dirty?”
As she handed off the drinks, Donnie appeared at her elbow, a stormcloud hanging over his overgrown eyebrows.
“What’s up, boss?” Sarah said gaily as she shoveled crushed ice into the shaker.
“Don’t think you’re fooling me, Cho,” he snarled. “I’ve had my eye on you for a long time now, and you ain’t foolin’ me for a second. Just give me an excuse—and you’re out of here.”
With that, he stormed off. Sarah sighed and closed her eyes.
“Wow, that guy really has it in for you, doesn’t he?”
Sarah looked up to see Chad leaning across the bar, the lone sympathetic face in a crowd of irate drunks.
“Tell me about it,” she groaned. “That douchebag has been gunning for me since day one—probably because I told him I wasn’t going to wear a push-up bra.”
Chad laughed. “Maybe you should just tell him to spring for a boob job.”
Sarah giggled. “I should totally tell him that. Right before I tell him where he can shove his fat ass!” She raised the pomegranate martini she’d just made and toasted a laughing Chad. Then, after glancing around to make sure Donnie wasn’t lurking in the vicinity, she took a quick, restorative sip of her drink.
“So”—Chad popped an olive in his mouth—”what were you daydreaming about back there?”
“Oh, that.” Sarah shrugged. “My drama teacher has us doing these immersion exercises where we imagine people we know in these soap scenes. She says it will help us ‘bring the characters to life.’ ”
“Hm . . .” Chad rubbed his jaw. “Interesting. So what scene are we talking about here?”
Sarah shrugged. “Oh, your standard two-sisters-one-guy love triangle degenerating into a screaming, drink-throwing, hair-pulling catfight.”
“Ooh, I like!” Chad exclaimed. “Let me guess, you channeled some of that long-simmering sibling rivalry you have with your sister Lin.”
Sarah tossed her head. “Don’t be ridiculous. I was obviously in a catfight with Amy, not Lin. There’s no sibling rivalry between me and Lin—we’ve always gotten along fabulously. Me and Amy on the other hand . . . well, that’s a whole other story.”
“I don’t know,” Chad said. “I think the lady doth protest too much. I mean, Lin’s beautiful, smart, supersuccessful. What’s not to be jealous about?”
Sarah sighed. “Thanks, you’re such a pal.”
Chad chuckled and drained his martini. “You’re welcome, darling.” He leaned back on his stool. “So who was the hunk in this burning triangle of love?”
At that moment, the busboy approached.
“Can I get you more glasses, Miss Sarah?” he asked.
Sarah turned and flashed him a smile. “That would be great. You’re always so thoughtful, Rafe.”
As she turned back to Chad, she saw that he was frowning at her in disapproval.
“What?” she demanded.
“Really, Sarah?” Chad said. “Now you’re fantasizing about the help?”
Sarah laughed. “Welcome to my life.”
The next afternoon, Sarah headed from her Hell’s Kitchen hood to Lincoln Center for her audition, walking briskly in the light spring rain from the number 1 train stop. According to the Craigslist description she’d read on the Internet, the audition was for a musical called United Nations. Sarah was auditioning for the part of a FOB (fresh-off-the-boat) Asian who finds love in her new country. Dressed in silk black bloomers and a qipao top, Sarah yanked her slightly wet hair back in a sleek ponytail and took a quick look at herself in her compact as she strolled into the large glass building. Yep—she definitely looked the part.
As she rode up the mirrored escalator, her thoughts flashed back to her first audition. She’d been only seventeen then and had to play hooky from school to make it to the open audition for some new teen Disney musical. Even though she couldn’t belt out pitch-perfect vocals like Mariah or shimmy like a pre-Federline Britney—and had zero possibility of getting the role—the experience had been exhilarating. Getting up onto the stage and having all eyes turn on her, that feeling where everything else receded and the only thing that mattered was the scene, that magical moment when she transformed into someone altogether different . . .
“Hi,” Sarah said when she reached the casting table. “I’m Sarah Cho. I’m here for the United Nations audition.”
“Great.” The woman at the table didn’t even look up as she jabbed a pen toward the right side of the stage. “Go towards your right, grab a script, and wait on that line.”
Obediently, Sarah turned—and gaped at the dozen-plus other Asian females on the line, all waiting to audition. Some sat on the polished tiled floor, while others propped themselves up against the glass-and-beechwood-paneled walls, but they were all furiously scanning the same stapled script pages. Checking out the competition, she realized she was going up against some of the most stunning Asian women she had ever seen: They all seemed to have the same long, silky jet black manes, size two figures, and flawless skin. Hold it together, Sarah, she ordered herself, you can hold your own with these girls—and you can actually act, unlike most of these no-talent bimbos.
As she got on line, Sarah checked out the casting director. She hadn’t seen him before at any other audition; he looked like he was in his mid-forties and was wearing Diesel jeans and a Ralph Lauren polo shirt. Although he had some funky rectangular glasses, he was nowhere near as dashing as Sarah had imagined (like the legendary General Hospital casting director Mark Teschner, for instance). Leaning against a table, he was reading with a drop-dead gorgeous Korean beauty.
“Excuse me . . .” A woman with a clipboard walked up to Sarah. “I’m Laura. You’re up next with Abe Cohen, our casting director.”
“Oh, great, thanks.” Sarah smiled. “How much longer, do you think?”
“Just another few minutes,” Laura said. “Here’s how this works: You’re going to read this one-page script with Abe, and once you’re done, you’ll step down and exit to your left. We’ll contact you for callbacks, if necessary.”
“Sounds good.” Sarah nodded. “Thanks.”
As Laura walked off, Sarah quickly glanced down at her crisp, white, brass-bound script. That was when she heard one of the girls next to her reciting her lines noisily.
“America is my dream!” the girl repeated in an overly loud voice.
Sarah couldn’t resist anymore; she sneaked a glance at her neighbor. Dressed all in black—à la “Black Widow” pool shark Jeanette Lee—her Asian rival glared at her.
“You a lesbian?” she demanded.
Sarah jerked back, taken aback by the scowl being directed at her. “Uh . . . no.” She hesitated, wondering if she had taken a detour to the land of the loonies.
“Good. Then mind your own business and stop looking at me,” the woman snapped.
“Calm down.” Sarah rolled her eyes. “No one was looking at you.”
At that moment, a nearby woman shushed them. As Sarah swiveled around, the woman started taking a series of deep breaths, as if she were meditating in a yoga studio, while simultaneously reading her script. Sarah shook her head, wondering if she had just walked into the wannabe-actress version of Girl, Interrupted. She couldn’t believe how fanatical some of these women were—after all, it was just an audition. Sarah considered herself to be pretty focused, but these women were verging on psychotic.
“Sarah Cho!” Laura called out.
Sarah hurried up onto the stage. She’d been so distracted by the crackpot women around her that she hadn’t had a chance to properly study her lines. . . .
“Hi, I’m Abe Cohen.” The casting director shook Sarah’s hand. “Ready?”
“Yes.” Sarah smiled, hoping she looked infinitely more prepared than she felt. She took a deep breath.
It was just as she was about to say her first lines that the Asian tigress screamed and dropped to the floor.
“This girl pretended to faint while I was reading my lines!” Sarah groused.
“Oh, how dramatic!” Chad burst into delighted laughter. “You Asian gals really bring out those claws, don’t you? I love it!”
Sarah shook her head as she nestled her cell phone into the crook of her neck. It was several hours after her ill-fated audition, and she was seventeen minutes away from starting her shift at the Buddha Bar in the meatpacking district. At the moment, the place was lifeless and smelling faintly of dried alcohol and bleach, but come happy hour the bar would come spectacularly to life as a raucous, pulsating mass of bodies. It was Sarah’s favorite time at the club—a little respite of quiet before the deafening, frenetic crush of the evening. . . .
“Chad, it’s not funny. Those people were seriously deranged!” Sarah exclaimed. “She completely ruined my audition. I totally screwed up after her little scene.” Sarah seethed just remembering the slick smile the woman shot her when no one was looking. The one that had “Here’s to you, sucker!” written all over it.
“Now, now,” Chad said, “no one likes a complainer. So stop being a whiny bitch and just go out there and get them next time. I mean, you didn’t really want the part of a FOB that bad, did you?”
“I guess not,” Sarah admitted. “But it’s just so frustrating. It feels like I’ve been going on these auditions forever and I’m just not getting anywhere. . . .”
“Don’t think like that!” Chad admonished her. “You just have to keep going to auditions, keep doing those immersion exercises—you can even use me in one of your scenarios. I’m thinking General Hospital, and I’m your long-lost lover—the one who was presumed dead in a tragic plane crash over the Bermuda Triangle.”
“Ah, yes,” Sarah said dreamily. “Or maybe it will be All My Children, and you’re the half-brother my mother gave up years ago when she was knocked up as a teenager.”
“Ah, the old incest story line,” Chad said. “I always wondered what it would be like to be the blond, blue-eyed child of a Chinese woman.”
Sarah laughed. Chad was one of her best friends, and there was nothing more that Sarah loved than their soap opera dissections. It didn’t hurt that Chad was the spitting image of a soap opera Adonis—tall, sculpted, with immaculately moussed blond hair and a wardrobe to match. When she’d first met Chad in art history, Sarah had developed an insta-crush on him, drawn to his impeccable good looks and male-model outfits, which stood out in the crowd of jeans and sweatshirts that most of her male classmates sported. For a while, Sarah continued to harbor fantasies of being with Chad—until she discovered him in the rec room one day glued to an episode of General Hospital. Sarah had always considered herself to be the number one soap opera fan of any of her acquaintances, but Chad could recite whole lines of dialogue from General Hospital episodes from ten years ago. Not long after that, Sarah and Chad became fast soap buddies, and three o’clock on weekdays became appointment television for them. Too bad Sarah was pretty sure that Chad batted for the other team—even if he wasn’t ready to come out of the closet because of his consultant day job.
“Well, hopefully, this will all result in you getting the role,” Chad said. “You realize that’s the only way you’ll be able to legitimize your revenge fantasies against your sister.”
Sarah smiled. It would be nice to be able to show her family that she was actually getting somewhere in her acting endeavors. If only getting this role were all that was needed to change their perceptions. . . .
“Sarah?” Chad said. “Did you hear me?”
Sarah blinked. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of thoughts of her family.
“I’m sorry, Chad.” She took a deep breath. “I totally spaced there for a second. What were you saying?”
Chad sighed. “Uh, only that there’s a huge Soap Opera Digest party this Friday that my friend Karen invited me to. Remember her? She’s the one who works for their marketing department.”
“Of course!” Sarah exclaimed. “The one I used to pepper for spoilers! I’m sure she was so sick of me asking her whether Blair and Todd were ever going to get back together again.”
“Well, she never said anything to me about it, but I know I was pretty sick of that,” Chad said archly. “Anyway, she invited me to this party—apparently, there’s going to be cast members from all the soaps there. You wanna come and work your charm?”
Excerpted from Young, Restless, and Broke by .
Copyright © 2010 by Blossom Kan and Michelle Yu.
Published in May 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.