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7:00 A.M. TO 7:00 P.M.
Nina Riva woke up without even opening her eyes.
Consciousness seeped into her slowly, as if breaking the morning to her gently. She lay in bed dreaming of her surfboard underneath her chest in the water, before she began remembering reality—that hundreds of people were going to descend upon her house in just over twelve hours. As she came to, it dawned on her once again that every single person who would show up tonight would know the indignity of what had happened to her.
She lamented it all without even peeking through the curtains of her own eyelashes.
If Nina listened closely, she could hear the ocean crashing below the cliff—just faintly.
She had always envisioned buying a home like the one she and her siblings grew up in down on Old Malibu Road. A shabby beach bungalow off of PCH, built on stilts, extended out over the sea. She had fond memories of sea spray on the windows, of half-rotted wood and rusting metal holding up the ground beneath her feet. She wanted to stand on her patio and look down in order to see high tide, hear the waves crashing loudly underneath her.
But Brandon had wanted to live on a cliff.
So he’d gone and bought them this glass-and-concrete mansion, in the cliffside enclave of Point Dume, fifty feet above the coastline, a steep walk down the rocks and steps to the breaking waves.
Nina listened as best she could for the sounds of the water and she did not open her eyes. Why should she? There was nothing for her to see.
Brandon was not in her bed. Brandon wasn’t in the house. Brandon wasn’t even in Malibu. He was at the Beverly Hills Hotel, with its pink stucco and its green palm trees. He was—most likely at this early hour—cradling Carrie Soto in his sleep. When he woke up, he would probably take his big paw of a hand and move her hair out of the way, and kiss her neck. And then the two of them would probably start packing together for the U.S. Open.
Nina didn’t hate Carrie Soto for stealing her husband because husbands can’t be stolen. Carrie Soto wasn’t a thief; Brandon Randall was a traitor.
He was the sole reason Nina Riva was on the cover of the August 22 issue of Now This magazine under the headline NINA’S HEARTBREAK: HOW ONE HALF OF AMERICA’S GOLDEN COUPLE GOT LEFT BEHIND.
It was an entire article dedicated to the fact that her tennis pro husband had publicly left her for his tennis pro mistress.
The cover image was flattering enough. They had pulled one of the photos from her swimsuit shoot in the Maldives earlier that year. She was wearing a fuchsia high-leg bikini. Her dark brown eyes and her thick eyebrows were framed by her long brown hair, lightened from the sun, looking a tad wet, a faint curl still in it. And then, of course, there were her famous lips. A billowy bottom lip topped by her thinner upper lip—the Riva lips, as they had been dubbed when they were made famous by her father, Mick.
In the original photo, Nina was holding a surfboard, her yellow-and-white Town & Country 6′ 2″ thruster. On the cover, they had cropped it out. But she was used to that by now.
Inside the magazine, there was a picture of Nina in the parking lot of a Ralphs grocery store from three weeks prior. Nina had been wearing a white bikini with a flowered sundress thrown on over it. She’d been smoking a Virginia Slims and carrying a six-pack of Tab. If you looked closely, you could tell she had been crying.
Next to it, they’d put a photo of her father from the midsixties. He was tall, dark, and conventionally handsome in a pair of swimming trunks, a Hawaiian shirt, and sandals, standing in front of Trancas Market, smoking a Marlboro and holding a bag of groceries. Over the photos ran the title THE APPLE DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE RIVA TREE.
They’d framed Nina as the dumped wife of a famous man on the cover, the daughter of a famous man on the inside. Every time she thought about it, her jaw tensed up.