I hate it.
My phone has been blowing up with texts, missed calls, voicemail messages and constant notifications. People I haven’t talked to since high school are reaching out, asking me if it’s true, asking me if I really am having an affair with Drew Callahan.
It’s humiliating. My life has turned into a giant mess. It feels like it won’t ever stop. I’m afraid I could get fired, even though Fable has reassured me repeatedly that’s not going to happen.
Hiding away in my room on my day off is not going to solve any problems. But it’s like I can’t make myself get out of my big, comfortable bed. I’m starting to wonder if my butt is permanently glued to the mattress. Maybe I’ll become bedridden. Housebound. I’ll be considered a hermit, a freak, a weirdo, a girl who let one stupid rumor get out of hand and now there’s no way she can ever get away from it.
I thought my parents cutting me off was the worst thing that ever happened to me. This situation is even more awful.
A brisk knock sounds on my door and before I can utter, “Go away,” because that was what I planned on saying, the door swings open and Fable Callahan enters my bedroom. She stops at the foot of the bed, her expression stern as she watches me wallow in my misery in my messy bed.
From the look on her face alone, I know it’s going to be bad. She’s going to fire me. I’m sure of it.
“Are you going to stay in bed all day?” she asks, her voice surprisingly firm.
I grab my phone and check the time. 11:52 a.m. “Definitely,” I say as I set my phone back on the bedside table.
An irritated sigh leaves her and she comes to my side of the bed, reaching over to tear the covers off of me completely. “Hey!” I protest, but Fable just takes a step back, hands on her hips as she watches me.
“You need to get up.”
“I don’t want to.” I grab the covers and pull them back over me.
She lifts a brow in surprise. “You sound like Autumn. Next thing you’re going to say is I can’t make you.” Fable tugs the comforter back off of me, tossing it onto the floor. “I know it’s your day off and I should probably leave you alone, but enough is enough. You need to get out of bed and get on with your life. Plus, we want to talk to you.”
Nerves tangle my stomach, making me queasy. I swallow hard, trying to hide my fear but it’s no use. “Is everything okay?” My voice shakes and I briefly close my eyes. Could I sound more pitiful?
“It’s nothing bad, I promise.” Her voice is soft and soothing and I crack open my eyes to find she’s still watching me. “We believe we’ve come up with a solid plan for handling the media.”
“Drew and me.” Fable grabs hold of my ankle and gives my foot a little shake. “Come on, Sydney. Hear us out. We’re excited to tell you about it, but it’ll only work with your cooperation. So we hope you’ll be on board.”
I’m wary. I can’t help it. What sort of plan is she talking about? My brother Gabe always used to come up with plans to trick our parents, trick his friends, trick the housekeeper, whatever. He was always coming up with something crazy. A lot of the time, those plans backfired, but he always meant well.
There’s a pang in my heart that makes me realize I miss Gabe. A lot. He’s called a few times since the bogus story broke. He’s texted me, messaged me on Instagram, left me multiple voicemail messages, the works. And I still haven’t responded.
I’m too ashamed—and I didn’t even do anything wrong. Imagine if I had?
“Why don’t you go take a shower and then come downstairs? We can have lunch and discuss our idea.”
Sighing, I sit up, pushing the hair out of my face. “Give me forty-five minutes?”
“Perfect.” Fable smiles. “See you in a bit.”
And with that, she walks out of my room, slowly closing the door behind her.
I grab my phone before I flop back onto the mattress, my head sinking in the pillows as I check my notifications. I ignore most of the texts, especially the one from my mother. She’s left me endless messages and voicemails too—the voicemails I’ve deleted without listening to them. The texts I go ahead and delete as well.
Though I do open up the string of texts from my brother.
Tell me it’s not true.
No way are you banging Drew Callahan, are you?
I know you’re not that dumb, Syd! Keep your head on straight.
I hear his wife can be mean! She’ll kick your ass!
Answer me, Syd. I wanna make sure you’re okay.
Syd! Call me! Mom won’t stop texting me about you!
Come on, baby sis. Talk to me.
Lucy’s worried about you.
We’re all worried about you.
There are a few more texts along the same lines, including one that says he loves me, accompanied by a bunch of heart emojis. I can’t take it. We’re close. We’ve given each other endless crap over the years, but we always take care of each other too.
Gabe must be really worried.
I decide to go ahead and text him.
I’m fine. I love you too. Miss you. :)
Immediately the gray bubble pops up, indicating Gabe’s texting me back.
My heart starts to race. Why am I so nervous to talk to him? It’s just Gabe. He won’t judge. He’s done so many stupid things, he can’t say squat to me about bad choices. Besides, this ridiculous rumor is just that—a rumor. I’m not having an affair with my boss.
So why am I afraid to talk to Gabe about it? I need to call him. I need to reassure him that everything’s okay.
Just as I’m about to dig up his number, my phone rings.
“I thought you were avoiding me,” is his greeting.
He chuckles, but there’s not much humor there. “I’ve been worried about you.”
“I’m fine.” I sigh. “It’s all just a huge misunderstanding. It’s not even true. None of it.”
“I figured. What happened?”
I give him all the details, and he lets loose a string of curses after I finish. “Sounds like the media is a bunch of lying sacks of shit.”
Leave it to my big brother to be so blunt.
“They are. They won’t let the story go either.”