The Black Sheep


I‘m barely out of the shower when Mona knocks on the door. “Kendra? I hate to rush you, but Max needs to get into the bathroom. He's going to be late.”

“Could he use another one?” I ask, toweling off. “I just got started here.” Judging from the fur growing on her legs, Mona has no clue how long it takes to pull a polished look together.

“There's only one, and it's a popular place in the morning,” she says. “Remember I pointed out the roster! Everyone gets fifteen minutes. I'm afraid you're running over.”

“Sorry,” I call to Mona. “I'll be right out.” I hope I didn't sound all uptown-snob there, but it never occurred to me they'd only have one bathroom. Max is a plumber: he should spend less time Saving Our Sea Otters and more on the bathroom crisis in his own home. Had I realized, I wouldn't have wasted half my allotted time on a security sweep to see if Judy had installed tiny cameras in the showerhead or toilet tissue roll.

Throwing my pajamas back on, I hurry down the hall to the bedroom. Though Meadow was sound asleep when I left, she managed to get up and out while I was gone. At ten, I probably wasn't concerned about personal grooming either. Now, as Maya's mirror verifies, I need to be concerned. My limp, lifeless locks can only be salvaged with volumizer and a blow dryer, both of which I left behind in the bathroom.

Limp hair isn't my only challenge. I have my parents' dull gray eyes (although theirs are beady and mine are normal-size), and I'm prone to breaking out at the worst possible times, such as after learning that I'm starring in a reality show. Fortunately, I also have good bone structure and a nice smile. My parents came through, there.

I wait a full twenty minutes before skulking back down the hall to the bathroom. The door is closed, but when I call Max's name, there's no answer.

I push the door open, step into the bathroom, and freeze. Standing in front of the sink brushing his teeth is a naked man. It isn't Max, unless Max has lost forty pounds and gained a full head of hair overnight. Nor is Max likely to have such pronounced tan lines.

By the time my eyes make the long climb from the guy's hip to his face, he's turned his to stare at me in the mirror, toothbrush suspended in mid air. It must be Mitch, I realize, because he's not much older than I am.

“Excuse me,” I say, still frozen to the spot.

“Do you mind?” he asks through a mouthful of toothpaste.

Keeping my eyes well above sea level, I reverse course until something blocks my exit. Make that someone: Judy, the show's producer.

“Morning, KB!” she says, flashing me a grin as she steps aside to give Bob a clear shot with his camera. “I see you've met Mitch.”

“Not exactly.”

She grabs a towel off the rack and tosses it to Mitch. “Put something on, cutie, this is a G-rated show.”

He rinses his mouth before putting the towel on, and I sneak another look at the tan lines. I've never had the opportunity to examine the male form at such close range before, unless you count the marble sculptures at the Met.

“Bob, zoom in on Mitch, but stay off Kendra. She looks pretty rough today.”

Mitch laughs, although he doesn't show any teeth. “It's nothing her stylist can't fix,” he says.

I glare at Mitch. “When you've finished mocking me, maybe you can hand me by blow dryer.”

“When you've finished invading my privacy, maybe you could close the door behind you,” he says, handing it to me.

I turn and stomp out of the bathroom, giving the door a good slam. It would have made a bigger statement if Bob and Judy weren't still inside.

© Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout