Babe, you’re like a whoopee cushion.
Fun to squeeze but embarrassing at social functions.
Two things were delivered to the library addressed to me on a sizzling hot Friday in August. The first I recognized immediately as the Check I Did Not Want. No matter how many times I sent the thing back, it was returned. Over and over. With a growl, I tossed it on my desk to deal with on Monday.
The second was from an agency of some kind with a Dallas address. I opened the envelope slowly and pulled out the contents. Photos.
Not just any photos either. They were the engagement photos Chris and I had taken in his parents’ backyard, photos I’d never seen. A note slipped out from between the photos and fluttered to the floor.
Thought you’d want these.
No signature. I took my time to flip through them, although there were only five in total. All of them were the photos taken before, during, and after the kiss. One of them had a sticky note attached to it that read, “This one.”
My breath caught when I saw it. In it, one of Chris’s hands rested on my cheek. One arm wrapped around me, his head dipped, mine reaching toward him. The curve of a smile just touching the corner of my mouth.
It was a photo taken a second before. A second before something magical happened. A second before everything changed. A second before a kiss.
Nothing about it seemed fake. Not the way his thumb rested on my cheekbone or how my fingers curled into his shirt.
It was a photo of two people in love.
Later that day, Aidan found me in the Y.A. section. I sat on the floor surrounded by piles of books as I attempted to fix a shelf on one of the bookcases.
“I am smarter than a shelf. Truly I am.” It should be noted this shelf was proving to be genius-level frustrating.
“I have a name,” Aidan said.
I frowned. “A name for what?”
“A name for Anonymous. Took me forever. I had to do a lot of—”
“Nope,” I cut in. “I don’t want to know how you did it.”
He grinned. “Oh right, I forgot. Well, I have the name of the anonymous source. Looks like he lives in New York City.”
“New York? Well, that narrows it down to eight million people.”
He cleared his throat. “There are emails between this guy and your dad. Looks like that’s how your dad got a copy of the contract.”
I stood, mindless of the books that toppled over. “Does this guy have a name?”
“Yeah—it’s Douglas McGill.”
My pulse skidded to a halt and started back in double time. “No.”
“Do you know him?” Aidan asked.
“That’s Chris’s agent.”
“What?” Piper bellowed.
I winced and held my phone away from my ear.
“That rat,” she huffed, only slightly quieter. “Are you willing to help me hide a body?”
She sounded a lot more serious than I was comfortable with. But, at the very least, it would be justifiable homicide as far as I was concerned. I would totally be a character witness at her trial.
“Will you make sure Chris knows about this?”
“You know what? I sure will. I’m doing it in person. He has a pre-season game tomorrow in Atlanta. Afterward, he’s giving his first press conference since the television interview. Doug is with him. Don’t worry, I’ll get him.” The thread of violence in her voice convinced me she was not lying.
“Good.” I hesitated. “How is he? Chris?”
“Great. Good. Okay is good.”
Piper barked a laugh. “You two are something else. Did you get the photos I sent you?”
“Those were from you? Thank you. I love them.”
And him. I love him. I love him so much; it hurts not to see him. I thought of Ollie and his lost love. I thought about spending the rest of my life in Two Harts pining for someone who never even knew how I felt about him. I thought about all the plans I’d made and how maybe just this once it was time to do something spontaneous. Even if it was terrifying.
Because living life without Chris was even scarier.
“Piper, do you think you could get me into that press conference?”