Read Online Books/Novels:
The Husband Game
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
Can my fake husband become the real deal?
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Unable to believe that I’m actually subjecting myself to this kind of torture—and yet also, at the same time, being painfully aware that my livelihood depends on it—I lug the heavy easel and collapsible stool and saddlebag packed with watercolors across the Hartford College campus.
All around me, students are bundled into jackets and sweaters in preparation for the fall weather that descended upon the town without warning this week. In my bulky peacoat and brightly striped scarf, thin leather gloves and earmuffs, I like to think that I blend right in. I’m on the shorter side of 5 feet, and people always tell me that between my big baby blue eyes and my long blonde waves, I pass for much younger than I really am.
Hopefully I can pass for twelve, though, because that’s how old some of the students trudging past me on the icy sidewalks look to my eye. Granted, I’m only 27, but still. College feels like a million years ago already. Something from another lifetime. A lifetime when I used to be able to pick up free meals whenever I wanted (albeit not great ones) from the campus cafeteria. A lifetime before I had to constantly worry about deadlines and accepting the next freelance assignment thrown my way.
Well, except for when it came to my home life. But I push any thoughts about my father from my mind right now. The last thing I need is to make myself angrier than I already feel about having to degrade myself like this today.
My phone buzzes the moment I reach the engineering building—the directions for which I needed to check about a dozen times en route here. I went to Hartford, but I swear the buildings have all moved around since I was a student. Or maybe it’s just because, as a lit major, I never ventured this deep out into the STEM undergrads’ territory.
The engineering building turns out to be a squat, gray, bunker-like building, hard to distinguish from any of the other squat, ugly gray buildings around it. They look nothing like the half of campus I was accustomed to, all red brick towers and ivy creeping up their sides. That half of campus looked like a New England prep school daydream, the sort of place that made you want to curl up under a blanket with a good book and talk about philosophy until 3 in the morning.
This half of the campus looks like a dungeon crossed with a hospital. Much less cozy vibes. More run-the-other-direction-fast-as-you-can, if you ask me.
Ignoring those instincts, I set the easel down across from the main doors into Branford 412 (even the building name sounds like a stuffy old scientist), and dig my cell from my pocket.
Fiona. My friend, and also VP of the news outlet I’m doing this current story for. She’s building an online magazine from the ground up and has hired me on her editorial staff. Well, strike that. I am the editorial staff, aside from Fi. It has been a complete lifesaver. Until Fiona’s came through, I’d been struggling to sell more than one story a month—and at $200 pay for each, that doesn’t even come close to making my rent, let alone paying for anything else.
Now, I can count on at least seven or eight stories with her magazine each month. I still need to hustle my ass off on top of this gig, to fill it in with other paying jobs and one-off contracts, in order to support myself. But Fiona gave me the baseline security I needed to be able to quit my shitty day job in retail and focus on my writing full-time. Thanks to her, I’m able to afford a small, if far outside of town, place of my own, instead of crashing in my mother’s basement.
I’m also able to call myself a full-time writer, something I’d dreamed of doing ever since long before I first set foot on Hartford’s campus.
Are you in position yet? Fiona asks.
The only reason I agreed to take on this particular assignment was to try and repay some of the favor I owed to her. And she really wants this story. She wants an entire issue dedicated to modern love and its viability. She’s sure it’ll make her online magazine take-off.
Just got here. Setting up now, I type out, my fingers already numb. How I’m going to coax them into painting in this weather, I have no idea. But I need to try.
Great. Keep me posted. This is going to be your juiciest story yet! I promise, you’ll get so many eyes on it, Lila. She ends her text with a winking face.
My heart sinks all the way down my throat into my stomach. The last thing I want, to be perfectly honest, are a ton of eyes on this piece in particular. It isn’t the type of article I want to write. It feels, quite frankly, humiliating.