“Anyway, it’s only like you and me,” he says.
“Julian in the closet. We’re in the closet, albeit together. People don’t know about us.”
“For a completely different reason.” I can feel my insides starting to tense.
“Yeah. But whatever the reason, we’re still hiding. Just like Julian.”
I don’t say anything because…what can I say?
I’m partly doing it for him—the movie and keeping his reputation clean, not attracting attention to his love life again—but I’m also nervous about us going public, which is the truth but not for the reason he thinks.
I feel like I’m deceiving him.
I am deceiving him, and I hate it.
I just don’t know quite what to do about it yet. Well, I do know what to do, but at the end of the day, even when that’s done, I’ll still have to tell him the truth. I’m just not sure what version of the truth to tell him.
“So, I’ve been wanting to ask…” He pauses the show and shuffles down the bed.
He turns on his side to face me, so I do the same.
“Sounds ominous. It doesn’t involve something kinky and dirty, does it?”
“No, but it can if you’d like?” His eyes flash at me.
“I’m not averse to kinky and dirty, but let’s put a pin in that for later, so you can ask me what you wanted to ask me.”
“Will you come to Sasha’s wedding with me?”
He’s asking me to the wedding?
My heart soars.
“I mean, I know the dress is fixed, but I thought she might need you there, just in case, you know.”
And then it drops like a rock in water.
“You want me to come to help with the dress?” My voice is stilted. I know it is. I can hear it, but I can’t seem to help it. “The dress is fine. Sasha won’t need my help.” I sit up and start to get off the bed.
“Hey, where are you going?” He tries to tug me back to lie down, but I resist.
“Back to my hotel.”
He moves across the bed, so he’s sitting beside me. “Why?”
“For fuck’s sake, Charly.” His voice is tense. “Don’t play games. Just tell me what’s wrong.”
I turn my eyes to him. He looks irritated.
So, I tell him the truth, “I overheard you talking to Natasha on set last week.”
His brows pull together. “About?”
“Sasha’s wedding. You hadn’t even told me, which was fine because you didn’t have to.”
“Clearly, it’s not fine.” His tone is resolute.
“Well…it just would’ve been nice if you’d mentioned it, considering all the time we spend together.”
“It wasn’t a conspiracy to keep it from you, Charly. I’m a guy. I don’t think of shit like that.”
“Natasha knew. And she knows about us. I thought we weren’t telling anyone.”
His eyes flash anger at me. “I didn’t tell her about you and me. She guessed I liked you back in the beginning when I yelled at you on set. And I trust Natasha. She’s not a gossip; she’s good people. And, as for Sasha’s wedding, Natasha already knew that, too. I’ve known her for a long time. She knew when my sister got engaged, hence her knowing about the wedding.”
“Okay,” I say.
“Who says there’s more?” I frown at him.
“Your body language.” He gestures at me, and I realize I’m pointing my body away from him.
“Fine. I heard Natasha ask if you wanted to invite me, and you didn’t answer. You didn’t say anything.” I stare at the carpet beneath my feet. “And I know I’m not getting paid for doing Sasha’s dress because I don’t want to get paid,” I quickly add. “But, even still, I don’t want to go to your family’s home, feeling like the hired help.” And I don’t want you to take me when you really don’t want to.
“Jesus, Charly.” He grabs my face and turns my eyes to him. The look in his is fierce and determined. “I want you there.”
“No, you don’t. I heard you, Mr. I Don’t Take Women Home.” I mimic his voice. “And that’s fine, Vaughn, but just don’t make out that this is something it’s not. You don’t want to take me home as the girl you’re dating; it’s fine. And, like you said, we’re still in the closet, so it makes sense anyway.”
“First off,” he growls, “I’m glad you finally said we’re dating because that’s exactly what we are doing. And there are no worries about taking you home to my family as my girl.”
It’s stupid how crazy my heart goes at that.
“My family knows better than anyone how my life is. They don’t talk about my private life or me—ever. And not just my family, but also the people in the town I grew up in Oregon. Keno is a small town and a safe place for me. My family has lived there for generations. After I got famous and my status started to rise, the press began turning up in town, trying to get dirt on me. The townsfolk quickly made them aware that they weren’t welcome there. And, yeah, the press knows I’m from Keno, but they don’t know I still live there now. Not many people do.”
But I do, and he trusts me with that information. I feel a confliction of happiness and shame because he doesn’t know everything about me.