The Swap by Robyn Harding
English | 2020 | Thriller | ePUB | 3.1 MB
Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.
After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.
Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.
After numerous affairs, her parents divorced. Freya’s mom moved to Topanga Canyon, but Freya stayed in the Palisades with her dad. “I knew if I lived with my mom, I’d become her caregiver. And my dad had a lot of useful connections in the entertainment industry.”
Freya had started out as a model. “Commercial stuff,” she explained, as she demonstrated how to apply slip to a bowl with a squeeze bottle. “I wasn’t tall enough for editorial.” She looked at me then. “Have you considered modeling, Low? You’ve got the height and a really unique look.”
My response was a blank stare. In addition to the lack of a modeling industry in our tiny community, I’d never thought of my lanky body and pointed features as positives.
“Actually, don’t do it,” Freya continued. “You’ll end up with low self-esteem and an eating disorder.”
It had been a throwaway compliment, but I clung to it for days. Unlike every other person on our island, Freya saw something different when she looked at me. She saw someone interesting, fashion-forward, maybe even elegant. I swear my posture improved in the afterglow.
Freya had been an actress, too, a career she called soul-crushing.
“I did a teen sitcom pilot that never got picked up. And a sappy Christmas movie that was just embarrassing. My character’s name was Trixie Gains. Do I look like a Trixie fucking Gains to you?”
I laughed. “No.”
“We filmed it in LA with fake snow. I had to wear angora sweaters in every scene, and it was ninety degrees. LA is a cesspool,” she informed me, “but I miss the weather.”
In more recent years, she’d been a social media influencer. “It was the best gig ever,” she said, her eyes sparkling with remembrance. “I’d get paid twenty grand for a post. Up to thirty for a live story. I got invited to clubs and restaurants and concerts. And I got so much swag! Beauty products, electronics, even vacations.”
I avoided social media like a root canal, but I said, “Sounds amazing.”
She put down the sponge she’d been using to wipe the wheel. “I had half a million Instagram followers. I’d get over a hundred thousand likes on my posts. Sixty thousand views of my stories. It was addictive—all the attention, all the adoration, and positive reinforcement.”
I smiled and nodded, though I was unfamiliar with the feeling of public validation.