I shake my head.
“You need to sleep, Ava.”
“I know. I just…I couldn’t.” I rub my hands over my face.
“Have you heard from Gabe since last night?”
As my mouth turns down with sadness at hearing his name, I bite the inside of my bottom lip. “No.”
“Vaughn’s on his way over there now. He just dropped me off, and he’s going to meet Tate and Julian at Gabe’s place. I know you didn’t want him to be alone, so I thought you’d want to know.”
“I saw the news…about Gabe.”
I glance at her. “It wasn’t me. I didn’t tell Bradford Digby anything.”
“I know that. God, you didn’t even tell me on the phone, and you could have because you knew the story was about to drop.”
“I would never share Gabe’s private life with anyone. I just don’t understand how this happened, Charly.” My eyes swell with tears, and I blink them back. “There’s a recording of our private conversation, which Gabe thinks I did. And a contract with my signature on the bottom, giving exclusive rights to Digby.”
“Fucking Digby,” Charly mutters. “That guy has his nose in everybody’s shit. Look what he did to Vaughn.”
Before Charly met Vaughn, he was dating this actress, Piper Watts. Vaughn, Piper, and Cain Acton—Vaughn’s best friend—were on Digby’s talk show, doing a live interview about their upcoming film. Then, Digby exposed that Piper and Cain had been having an affair behind Vaughn’s back. He was humiliated. He took it quite badly for a while, partying and hooking up with multiple women. But that was before he met Charly.
“I just don’t get it. How Digby could say that it was me when it wasn’t. And it’s not like I can call him up and say, Hey, why the hell are you spreading lies about me?”
“It fucking sucks, babe.”
“The thing I can’t get my head around is how he got a recording of our conversation or my signature on that contract.”
“Signatures can be forged,” Charly says.
“Yeah, but it was definitely my writing. I recognized it.” I sigh.
“Well, have you signed anything recently?”
I shake my head. “No…oh, wait. I did sign something the other day for Gabe’s cleaners.”
Lifting Gucci into her arms, she shifts around on the bed, sitting Indian-style, and puts Gucci back in her lap. I move on the bed to face her.
“It was this new form. Sadie, one of the cleaners, asked me to sign it. It’s something that their boss implemented just to prove that they’ve done the work.”
“And you’d never signed one before?”
“Nope. That was the first time.”
“Hmm.” Charly taps her lip with her finger.
“Just odd that your signature is on a contract that you definitely didn’t sign, and only a few days ago, you signed a form that you’d never had to sign before. Did you read the form?”
“Not really,” I admit.
“So, it’s possible that you signed the contract giving permission to sell Gabe’s story without realizing it.”
“You mean, Sadie? No. No way. And, anyway, it’s Digby who published the story.”
“Digby doesn’t write his own new pieces. He doesn’t need to. He has a team of trashy writers who do that for him. He’s the face, but there’s a whole slew of rats turning that wheel.”
“So, what? You think Sadie has something to do with it? But why use my name? It doesn’t make sense. And how would she have gotten a recording of our conversation? She’s only at the apartment during the day. And she’s not alone. Barb, the other cleaner, is there, too.”
“Hang on…let me think.” Charly taps her fingers on her temples.
I can almost see the wheels turning in her head.
“What’s Sadie’s surname?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s the name of the cleaning company she works for?”
“Yeah, I thought that.”
Charly picks her cell up from the bed and starts tapping away on the screen.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting their number. I’m gonna give them a call.”
“To get her name, and while I’m at it, I’ll ask about that form you signed.”
“Charly, you can’t just call them up and ask that!”
“Sure I can.”
She grins and puts her cell to her ear. “Oh, hi. I was wondering if you could help me. Sure, yes, I’m in need of a new cleaner, as I had to fire my last one. She was terrible. Anyway, I was just wondering what you have in place to make sure that the cleaners do their job properly. Hmm…mmhmm. A friend of mine has a cleaner, and she has to sign off on the job to say that the cleaner has done the job to satisfaction. Do you have that? Oh, you don’t?” Charly gives me a knowing look. “Okay, that’s great. Just one more thing. A friend of mine uses your service and said there’s a woman who works for you who is such a great cleaner—Sadie…something. Black. Yes, that’s right. Oh, she has, has she? Oh, well, that is a shame. Okay, well, thank you for your time. I’ll be in touch.”
Charly lowers the phone from her ear. “Seems Sadie Black left Floor-to-Ceiling Cleaning a couple of days ago.” She taps her nails against the screen of her phone. “She had you sign a nonexistent form a few days before Gabe’s story broke, and then she quit her job. Coincidental? Me thinks not.”
“Oh my God.” My heart starts to pound in my chest. “So, what do you think? That Sadie sold the story to Digby and used my name? But why use my name? And how did she get the recording?”
Charly stares up at the ceiling, thinking. “Where did you and Gabe have the conversation when he told you all that stuff about his past?”
“At his apartment, in the living room.”
She brings her eyes back to mine, a light flickering on in them. “Maybe she bugged his apartment.”
My eyes widen. “Bugged his apartment? Doesn’t that seem a little far-fetched?”
“Maybe. But some people will do anything for a story. She could have bugged Gabe’s apartment. Gotten the recording of your conversation. And then sold the tapes to Digby.”
“But that still doesn’t explain why she used my name. She’d want the glory for herself, right?”
“Not necessarily. Because illegally recording a huge movie star’s private conversation about his personal life and then publishing it in the press would, without a doubt, lead to a huge lawsuit for whoever did it. But if his girlfriend recorded the conversation and she sold the tapes to a journalist and signed a contract to give him exclusive rights to the story of the century? It would keep the journalist’s nose clean, and he could run the story without repercussions.”
“And, if a lawsuit did happen, it would land back on the girlfriend who recorded the conversation.”
“Holy shit.” I press my hands to my head.
“Got to give it to Digby; it’s clever as hell. If it wasn’t so fucking deceptive and it wasn’t you and Gabe he was screwing over, I might actually be impressed.”
“I just can’t believe this.” I tug at my hair. “I can’t believe he would go so far for a story.”
“Digby’s a shark with no morals.”
“So, we get that Digby’s behind the whole thing, but where does Sadie fit into the picture?”
“She probably works for him. So-called journalists like Digby have spies everywhere.”
“That’s nuts and a lot scary.”
“It’s the life of a celebrity, I’m afraid.” She sighs, knowing all too well what it’s like for Vaughn.
“I’m going to look up Sadie online and see if I can find anything out about her.” I get my cell, bring up Google, and type in her name, but all that comes up are some Facebook profiles, and none of them are her.