“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.
“This will pass,” she says firmly. “The reporters or whoever they are will all move on when some other star does something crazy. Maybe Tom Brady and Giselle will finally get a divorce. Who knows? But the media can’t hold onto this story forever, especially when there’s nothing real behind it.” Her confident words are belied by that slight tremble in her voice. She’s nervous. Maybe she doesn’t believe this story is going to fade anytime soon, and Drew and Fable don’t believe it will either.
That’s why they want Sydney and me to pretend we’re in a relationship. That she’s my girlfriend and I’m her boyfriend and she belongs to me. I’ve been a player. I’ve messed around with many a girl over the years, but never once have I had a steady girlfriend. For the longest time, I firmly believed I didn’t need one. Once Owen got together with Chelsea, and I saw what a great relationship they shared, I knew someday I would want something like what they have.
Just not yet.
Tilting my head to the side, I study Sydney. Really study her for the first time, and I have to admit…
I like what I see. She’s pretty. Average height and a bangin’ body from what I can tell, with striking blue eyes and wavy golden blonde hair and that kissable mouth. There’s no denying we have chemistry. I’ve felt it. I’m feeling it right now.
Hell. I scrub a hand over my face, telling myself I shouldn’t focus on just how kissable her mouth is. If we really do this, I wonder how far I’ll have to take this fake relationship thing. Will we hold hands? Will I have to slip my arm around her shoulders, her waist? Will we kiss in public? That might get weird.
Or then again, it might not…