“I get that he’s busy, I just want to help.”
“He’s asked me not to let you in,” she says with a sympathetic smile.
A bolt of ice goes through me. “Excuse me, what?”
“I just think it might be better if you just went home.”
I straighten my shoulders, “I’m sorry, May.” I push past her and shove open the door to Matthew’s office, leaving her gaping. She follows me in and Andrew’s head snaps up as I open the door.
I put my hands on my hips and square off in front of him. “I get that this is probably one of the worst days of your life, but shutting me out of it is not going to make this better or easier for you.”
Andrew looks past me to May. “Give us a minute please, May,” he says softly. When she closes the door behind her he says, “I’m sorry.”
“What the hell is going on? And why are you trying to hide from me.”
He looks a little guilty. “A couple of reasons. I wanted to protect you from some of this. Connection to me right now only damages you. And second…” he hesitates. “I’ve said some things to you about wanting to push your boundaries and make you more than you are. I thought…I thought you might believe what they’re saying.”
I cross the room towards him. “I don’t believe them. And you don’t get to tell me that I matter and that I’m special without treating yourself the same way.” Yanking his face down to mine, I kiss him. “You’re talented and brilliant and there are tons of people who know that. Just tell me the truth about why she’s doing this.”
“I loved working with her,” he says. “She’s an excellent model, but she didn’t want to just be my model. And in the years that we worked together it was a constant onslaught of hints and suggestions that we should be together as more than just professional colleagues. I didn’t want that.” The corner of his mouth pulls up into a smile. “I didn’t want that with her. Then one day I came home to find her naked in my bed. I severed our professional relationship the next day.”
I press my forehead against his chest. “So she’s attacking you because you’re with me.” Guilt creeps up my spine. He could lose everything because of this.
“I don’t have any regrets about being with you. None.”
Andrew lifts my face so that I’m looking at him. “I’m serious. This is not your fault.” He kisses me, and I allow myself to melt into him a little bit.
When we come up for air I ask him, “How bad is it?”
His expression clouds over. “Not good. People having been pulling out of meetings and stores are threatening to drop the line because of the article.”
I drop myself into one of the chairs in front of his desk. “But anyone who knows you and has worked with you knows these things aren’t true.”
“Bad press is bad press,” he shrugs. “With something out there like that, being connected to me is a liability.”
So,” I say, “they’re afraid of this article because Maya is a huge model and they don’t want to offend her, and they don’t want to lose sales by being in business with you.”
I think for a second. “So all we have to do is get people who like you to spin the story the other way.”
“I think it’s easier said than done, but I’m open to ideas. What are you thinking?”
Smiling, I pull out my cellphone. “I’m thinking we have to move fast and you have to make me a queen,” I say as I dial. “Fleece, can you tell Barbara you have somewhere to be tonight?”
The gallery looks completely different from last time, but even with all the bad press, there’s a crowd waiting outside to come in. I can’t believe everything we did in the last twenty-four hours. I’m exhausted and nervous and I feel like I might throw up, but we have to do this.
Andrew comes up behind me, hands skimming my hips and lips against my neck. “Thank you for this.”
“Thank you for what you said this morning.”
He called a reporter this morning and submitted his rebuttal. A simple, short version of the story that bleeds truth because of its simplicity and confirmable details. But it was the end that took me completely off guard.