“The paparazzi are after Sydney still. But if they constantly see her with you instead, they’ll eventually give up talking about the Naughty Nanny affair story and move on. And we need them to move on.” He meets Fable’s gaze for a quick moment, his expression softening before he returns his attention to us. “So go out together. Be seen together in public places, at restaurants or wherever you want. Have Sydney over at your place. Have her come to the game this Saturday so she can root for you and look like the perfect girlfriend.”
“It might look like she’s there to root for you,” I point out. I’m not trying to be argumentative. I just want them to see all the possibilities.
“Not if you make a big production about her being there. Giving them no doubt that she’s at the game to support you.” Drew shakes his head, appearing frustrated. “Look, just trust us. This idea can work. A fake relationship is a great distraction. We know it is.”
Come on. How would they know?
I glance over at Sydney, but she’s not saying a word. Her lips are thin, like she’s pressing them together so tightly they’re eventually going to disappear. She looks as uncomfortable as I feel.
What Drew and Fable are proposing is totally insane.
“If we were to agree…”And no, I’m not agreeing. Not yet. “How long do you expect us to keep this up?”
“All we ask for is a week. That’s it,” Fable says with a nervous smile. “We think a solid seven days will help distract the gossips and get them to focus on something—or someone else.”
“Or we’ll just fuel their fire and have them questioning everything we do,” Sydney points out, her voice trembling.
Her statement is the only logical one in this sea of crazy. What Drew and Fable are proposing is nuts. I don’t have time for a relationship, fake or real. I’m trying to put my all into football, into the team, into my teammates. This is a distraction I don’t need, because I know spending one-on-one time with Sydney would distract me.
And the scariest part of it all is I wouldn’t mind letting her distract me either.
“Please, Wade.” Fable turns her big green eyes on me, her voice tremulous. “We need your help, and we thought this was the safest, easiest solution. We know this is a big favor that we’re asking of the both of you, and normally we would never propose this type of thing, but all this constant talk of the affair could be damaging Sydney’s reputation, and that’s not fair. She got drawn into this mess because she works for us. She never asked for any of this.” Fable directs her gaze to Sydney. “We’re so sorry, Sydney. I wish we could make all of this disappear.”
“It’s not your fault,” Sydney says softly, her head bent, dark blonde hair falling into her face. “I don’t blame you or Drew.”
Fable’s gaze meets mine. “It’s not only Sydney’s reputation that’s being harmed, it’s Drew’s too. And mine. Our entire family’s reputation is at stake, especially now that I’m pregnant.”
She has a point. The paparazzi would speculate endlessly over her pregnancy, the supposed affair with the nanny…
“We don’t want Drew to lose his endorsements, all over a false story. And maybe with you gaining a little attention from this fake relationship could help with endorsements for you in the future. You never know.” Fable tries to smile but fails, so she gives up.
And man, if that doesn’t make me feel like shit.
“So what you’re telling us is that you want to create another false story to counter all the negativity that’s fallen upon you and Drew,” I point out, stating the obvious. I don’t mean to be an asshole, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. Lies upon lies don’t necessarily solve the problem.
I’ve learned that a few times in my life.
Fable actually looks hurt and I immediately regret what I’ve said. “When you put it like that, you make us sound awful, but that’s not our intent. We want to help Sydney. And we need help too.”
“I hate asking this of you, but it’s only a week. That’s not very long,” Drew adds. “Think about it.”
I turn to look at Sydney, who’s studying me with a wary gaze. “Want to go outside and talk about this?”
She doesn’t say a word. She doesn’t need to. Instead, she rises to her feet and we both head for the backyard.
The moment I shut the door behind us, Sydney’s pacing the length of the patio, scowling at the ground as she starts talking.
“This is the craziest idea I’ve ever heard. Seriously. And I’ve heard some crazy crap in my life. My brother is always coming up with outrageous schemes, ever since he was a little kid. But they want us to be in a fake relationship? I mean…really? That’s ridiculous. You don’t want to be with me, and I sure as hell don’t want to be with you.”
Ouch. “Tell me how you really feel,” I drawl, crossing my arms. Guess she doesn’t like me much after all.
Sydney comes to a sudden stop. At least she looks embarrassed by what she said. “I’m sorry. Really. I wasn’t trying to be mean. It’s just…”
“You have no desire to be with me. I get it.” I drop my arms to my sides and tell myself to get over my hurt feelings. “Let’s consider the situation, though. We need to be realistic.”
“You need this fake relationship way more than I do.”
“I’ve been dealing with the situation as best I can,” she mutters, sounding irritated.
“How? By hiding out in the Callahan mansion and pretending those stories out there don’t exist?” By the way she flinches, I’m guessing I just nailed her recent behavior pretty accurately. “You’ve made the front page of a few gossip rags. I saw you on the cover of some magazine at the supermarket.”
“You go to the supermarket?”
I roll my eyes. “I have to eat, right?” If she thinks I’m some sort of superstar like Drew who’s mobbed any time I set foot out in public, she’s completely off base. “Despite your hiding, the stories aren’t going away. Maybe pretending to be something that we’re not is the right thing to do.”
Sydney nods, like she gets what I’m saying. But I don’t even know if she’s able to focus on the words that just came out of my mouth. I think she’s too wrapped up in her own turbulent thoughts.