“I was a little rushed for time,” he weakly answered, staring me in the eyes. “It was the best point to break the news.”
“Yeah, well, why’s that, exactly?”
“It needed to get broken to the tabloids,” he answered coolly. “Disseminated from within my company. That’s partly why I explicitly called for an event photographer, to capture the moment. It would back up any claims made by my staff, of which there have already been some.”
“You…haven’t been following the tabloids,” he asked, tilting his head. “It was front page all week. We’d better get inside.” He was suddenly looking over his shoulder, staring down the street at the throng of people passing by.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
“Well,” he answered aloofly, “Considering all of these people, I’ve undoubtedly been spotted here by now. The paparazzi know what you look like, and they are going to be here any minute now…and then they’ll know where you live.”
I pulled Cole inside the apartment and hastily locked the door behind him. Right afterwards, I pointed him to the modest two-seater table in my dining room.
“Look, I’m going to get changed, and then you’re going to tell me what’s going on and why you’re here,” I demanded.
“Take your time,” he replied casually, “but you might as well pack anything you’ll need for a while – and don’t forget your birth certificate, and any other identification you have. At least a couple of weeks, I’d recommend. Do you happen to have a suitcase, or should I make a few arrangements for you?”
“Yes, I’ve got suitcases…but why am I packing?” I paused, crossing my arms and glaring at him.
“Well, you’re coming with me,” he told me. “To my penthouse. The driver is waiting outside.” It acted as if everything was fine and that he hadn’t ruined me on stage.
Wait a second. “You’re kidding.”
“I’m not. Especially since they’ll be here soon.”
“You said you’d never let me live there. That you’d never trust me.”
“I changed my mind.”
Cole sighed, glancing at his watch. “I owe you some an apology for the way I handled things. And if I leave you to the paparazzi, either they’ll tear you apart, or you’ll feed them bad information about me. Possibly both. You’re sitting on the first half of my fifteen million and I need you ready to put on a convincing show as my wife. The way I see it, you can’t stay here any longer. People are already starting to ask why nobody’s seen us together and I can’t afford to watch everything go pear shaped.”
“I…fine. I’m not going to stay here and live in fear of people peeking in my windows. It’s not like I really have anything here to hold me down anyway, now that you fired me. Am I at least going to be fed properly at your place?”
“I’m handy with a skillet,” he smiled. “If that’s not good enough, I’ll bring in a personal chef tomorrow.”
“Fine,” I repeated, slipping away towards my bedroom. “But don’t you think for a moment that I’m happy with this. You’ve screwed up…and you have a lot of explaining to do.”
“Looking forward to it,” he lied.
* * *
Just to piss me off, it turned out that he was right. By the time I’d dressed into something remotely classy and grabbed up a few possessions – mostly clothes, my laptop, some toiletries, and so on – I could already hear the throng of the paparazzi outside my windows.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, what’s going on out there?”
“They’re hungry for something,” Cole chuckled easily. “We’d better get a move on.”
I ignored his attitude and let him take one of my suitcases. I grasped the other one firmly, holding my keys close at hand.