A week later, we bought some cheap plane tickets to Vegas, left, and got married.
Nick got to stay in the US. He applied for permanent residency two years later and was approved.
We could have divorced then, but like we had agreed, to make it appear real to the authorities, we decided to stay married for another two to three years.
There wasn’t any rush for us to divorce. Neither of us had met anyone special. We dated other people, of course. It was probably risky. But we figured, if we did get found out, then we would pass it off that we were swingers or had an open marriage. There’s no law against that.
So, the time passed, and everything was great. We were actually approaching the time when we had agreed to get divorced, but it wasn’t something that was at the forefront of my mind.
And then I met Vaughn.
And everything changed.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with him. Or for the press to find out about us and expose my past before I had the chance to tell Vaughn the truth.
It was naive of me. I know that now.
I just didn’t know marrying Nick all those years ago would cost me the love of my life today.
I don’t regret marrying Nick. I wouldn’t change what I did. I would marry him again in a heartbeat.
What I would change is telling Vaughn. I would have told him sooner. The moment I realized things were serious between us.
Because keeping it from Vaughn is ultimately what caused me to lose him.
I guess my only excuse is, apart from my cowardice, that being with Vaughn felt like a fairy tale. Too good to be true. Especially for someone like me.
But it was real, and I’ve lost it. I’ve lost him.
And, even now, he still doesn’t know the whole truth. He left before I could tell him.
I felt trapped in that moment with Jack and Alex there. I couldn’t tell him the real reason I was married in front of them and risk putting myself in jail and having Nick deported.
So, I had to let him believe the worst. I had to watch him walk out the door and leave, thinking that I’d betrayed him in the worst way possible. Just like Cain had.
And, now, Vaughn is gone. Took the car from Aiden, and I don’t know where he is or how to reach him because his phone is still off.
But I do know one thing. I have to speak to him again. I have to tell him the whole story. Even if he doesn’t forgive me, he needs to know that I didn’t betray him in the way he thinks I did.
And that I’m sorry.
And that I love him.
I take the elevator straight down to the parking garage. If Aiden’s not there, then I’ll go out on the street and get a cab if I have to. I just need to get the fuck out of here.
When I exit the elevator, I see Aiden standing by the car, his cell phone pressed to his ear.
He looks up at my approach. “Jack wants to talk to you.” He holds the phone out to me.
I take the phone from him and disconnect the call. Then, I hand the phone back to him.
“Key,” I tell him.
He doesn’t seem surprised that I want to leave.
He knew. Everyone knew. Everyone, except for me. Yet again.
Vaughn West, the dumbest fuck on the planet.
God, the press must be laughing their asses off at me right now.
My hurt and anger burn even hotter. “Give me the fucking car key, Aiden.”
“Jack won’t like this.”
“I don’t give a fuck whether Jack likes it or not. And Jack doesn’t pay your wages. I do.”
Aiden hands me the key. I get in the car, slam the door shut, turn the engine on, and squeal out of there.
I hit the street. Not knowing where I’m going or what the hell to do with myself.
I can’t fucking believe this. She’s married. Married! All this time, and she never said a word. How could she do this to me?
I’m so fucking stupid. First, Cain and Piper. Now, Charly.
I must have Dumb Fuck written on my forehead.
I took her to my home. Introduced her to my family. I let her in my bed. I fell in love with her.
And, all that time, she was married.
“Fuck!” I slam my hand against the steering wheel. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
Breathing heavily, I grip the wheel tight with both hands, trying to get a handle on my emotions.
How could she look me in the face and lie to me like that? Was she fucking me and then climbing out of my bed and calling him up? Telling him she loved him?
Because she sure as fuck doesn’t love me.
I don’t even know who her husband is. But I’m guessing he knows about me by now.
The whole world probably fucking knows.
Embarrassment covers me like a dirty black cloak.
I can’t stay in Vegas. I need to get away. I need to go back home.
I turn the car in the direction of US-95, heading north to Oregon.
Once I’m on the highway, I turn on the radio.
“And, in entertainment news today, pictures are circulating of Hollywood sensation Vaughn West, who has been caught in an intimate moment with a married woman. The woman has been identified as Charlotte Michaels, a wardrobe assistant on the set of West’s current film, The Lament.”
I reach out to turn it off when the sound of her husband’s name stops me.
“Ms. Michael’s husband, Nick Sharp, an interior designer, resides in New York with her. They’ve been married for four years. When approached, Mr. Sharp wouldn’t comment on if he had any knowledge of the relationship between his wife and Vaughn West. We reached out to West’s publicist, but we have yet to hear back.