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.”
“I know. I saw you on the cover of some trashy magazine at the grocery store.”
Closing my eyes, I exhale loudly. “It’s so embarrassing. What’s Mom saying?”
“You don’t even want to know.”
“Just tell me.” God, seriously I don’t want to know, but he’d tell me regardless.
“At first, she couldn’t believe you even had a job. That’s all she could focus on. Then she didn’t understand how you got it in the first place, and that you were working for such famous people—direct quote.”
“Did you tell her you helped me get the job?”
“No way. I wanted her to think you’re fully capable of taking care of yourself.” Gabe pauses for a moment. “You are, you know.”
I say nothing to that particular statement. I don’t feel like I can take care of myself. Instead I end up making a big mess out of everything.
“Is she embarrassed? Is she ready to disown me for life?”
“Funny enough, she doesn’t believe any of it.”
If I weren’t already lying down I probably would’ve fallen onto the floor at that particular statement. “Are you serious?”
“Oh yeah. She insists you would never do something so crazy.”
“She’s right.” Now it’s my turn to pause. “You believe me, don’t you?”
“Hell yeah, I believe you. I know you wouldn’t bone your boss. I mean, sure. He’s famous and he’s good looking or whatever the hell, but you’re not crazy, Syd. Not that crazy, at least.”
“Gee, thanks.” Despite my sarcastic tone, relief floods me at my brother’s reassurance. I close my eyes against the tears that suddenly threaten. “I’m so scared they’re going to fire me,” I whisper.
“Are they mad over what happened?” Now Gabe sounds pissed. “You can’t control the media. Neither can they.”
“No, no. They’re not mad. Not at all. They’ve been really cool about the entire thing. But still. I’m a nuisance. I’m the Naughty Nanny—that’s what one of the gossip blogs called me and they’ve all started running with it. Can you believe it?” I’m the farthest thing from naughty. I had a few boyfriends in high school, the most serious one my senior year, and yeah, we had sex a few times before we broke up, right as he was about to leave for college.
And I’ve been single ever since. I haven’t even wanted a boyfriend. I’ve been too busy trying to figure out how to survive to worry about finding a guy.
“Well then, just roll with it. All this gossip will eventually die down, right? It freaking has to. And once it does, they’ll forget all about you and your supposed affair with Drew Callahan. The Naughty Nanny will disappear and you can go on with your life,” he says.
“It’s just so unfair that I’m being dragged through this.” I can whine with my brother. He’ll let me, but only for a little while. “I’m innocent. Drew’s innocent.” And they definitely don’t want to mention Fable fainting at the restaurant. They want all of us to keep it a secret, and I’m fine with that. Truly, they’re lucky no restaurant employees saw it happen.
“Life’s unfair sometimes, sis. You just have to learn how to roll with the punches and keep making it happen,” Gabe says.
“Okay, Mr. Cliché,” I tease him. But then I get serious. “Thank you for talking to me. For supporting me.”
“I will always support you. And talk to you. Anytime you need me, don’t hesitate to reach out, okay? I love you.”
“Love you too.” After I end the call, I realize I still need to get ready before I go talk to Drew and Fable.
I grab clothes and head into the connecting bathroom, hurriedly turning on the shower.
Practice this last week has totally kicked my ass. It’s been brutally intense, hours on end of doing drills, catching the ball again. And again. And again. Most of the time, I make it. Sometimes, I miss. Or I drop it. I tripped over my own goddamn feet and went slamming into the ground just this afternoon. A few of the guys laughed at me—I’m sure they were glad it wasn’t them—but I picked myself up and shook it off every single time. The more I go out on that field to practice, the more I want to be there. I need to be there.