I slide my hands over his and link our fingers together. “We’d have found our way back to each other; I’m sure of it.”

“Once I stopped being an asshole and started listening to you, you mean?”


“Yeah, something like that.” I laugh softly. “You’re going to need to call Gil and let him know what’s going on—about Sandy and the bugs in your apartment.”

“I had Vaughn call him to fill him in while I came to see you. But I do need to talk to Gil about all that shit and about the press release. I know he’s probably getting twitchy, waiting for my answer on it.”

“Press release?” I ask.

“About my past. Gil had my publicist draft a statement. I have to sign off on it.”

“You don’t sound convinced.”

“I’m not.”

I sit around and look at him. “Don’t you want to tell your side of the story? Get the actual truth out there to your fans?”

“Yeah, I do. But the statement just doesn’t feel right. It says nothing about the truth in it. It’s just basically an apology for my past.”

“So, change it. Rewrite it yourself.”

“I’m not exactly a great writer, Speedy. I’m more of a verbal guy, if you haven’t noticed.”

“So, if talking is your strength, tell them face-to-face from your own mouth.”

“I don’t want to go on a fucking talk show and spill my guts.”

“So, don’t. Record a video. Say everything you want to and then put it out there on your social media. That way, you’re directing it to the people who matter—your fans.”

He stares at me for a long moment. “You ever thought of being a publicist? Because you’d be fucking awesome at it.”

“I’m awesome at most things.” I give a shrug and a teasing smile.

“You’re awesome at everything, Speedy. Except for driving. That, you suck at.”

“Hey! It was my shitty driving that brought us together.”

Gabe laughs, and the sound is beautiful. “Yeah, and I’m thankful every fucking day for that.”

Gabe

I’ve decided to do a live video on Facebook. No fucking around. Just go live on social media and get it over with.

Julian, Vaughn, and Charly left to give us some privacy while I do this video. Martin left straight after checking Ava’s car and mine. Thankfully, they were clear. He said he’d be in touch as soon as he had something on the bugging devices.

I also spoke to Gil. Told him to scrap the press release. I told him that I was going to do this myself, my way. He’s not too happy with me doing a live video. But it’s not like I’m doing a Q&A session. I’m just going on there, telling my side of the story, and then I’m done.

I also told Gil about the bugs in my apartment. He’s on with the lawyers right now. And I gave him Martin’s contact details, so the lawyers could talk to him directly if needed.

I’m just having a cigarette out on the terrace.

I glance over at the drinks on the table. They’re still there.

I’ve not had anything to drink. I want to do this video with a clear head. But I know I will drink something before the day is out. I can’t not. I just need to watch how much I drink.

And, first thing tomorrow, I’m getting in touch with whomever I need to, to help me kick this habit I have.

I want to be a better man for Ava. I want to be a better man for me. And cleaning my act up is the first step at that. But the cigarettes are definitely not going. For the time being anyway.

Ava suggested that maybe I could talk to someone about my past. About my parents and the way I used to earn money. She thinks it all contributes to my excessive drinking. A way to dull the memories.

I think she’s probably right.

“You ready, baby?” Ava steps out onto the terrace.

“Yeah.” I stub my cigarette out and get to my feet.

When I reach Ava, she takes hold of my hand and leads me inside.

“I’ve got your phone ready to go on Facebook live.”

“Okay.” I sit down on the sofa.

She sits on the coffee table, across from me. “I put Gucci in the kitchen. I didn’t want her jumping in the video or making noise while you did this.”

“She won’t be happy,” I tell Ava.

“I gave her some sliced apples and pears, so that should keep her happy for five minutes.”

God, I can’t believe I’m about to do this.

I swallow down and rub my hands on my thighs.

I’m shitting bricks. I’m man enough to admit that.

I’m about to go on camera and tell the world things I’ve been keeping secret for a very long time. But I don’t have that choice anymore, thanks to that bastard, Digby, and Sandy, his bitch of a sidekick.

“You okay?” Ava reaches over and squeezes my leg.

“Yeah, I’m good. Let’s do this.”

“Okay.” She smiles gently.

She lifts my phone up to video me. “Just tell me when.”

I run my hands through my hair and take a deep breath. “Okay…I’m ready.”

“It’s just counting down. Three…two…one…” She gives me a thumbs-up to tell me I’m live.

Here goes nothing.

“People of Facebook. Hey. I’m sure you know who I am because you’re on my social media page. But, for those of you who don’t, I’m Gabriel Evans. If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t know who I am, well, I’m sure you will soon enough. A news story about me went out last night, and that’s why I am here. Because I want to address the things that have been said about me.

“I could have done the press release stuff. But I didn’t want to hide behind a piece of paper pulled together for me by my publicist. I wanted to talk to you all directly.

“I know what you’ve all read about me in the media over the last day. And I’m not here to deny any of that. It’s true. My parents are in prison. They’re serving time for racketeering, drug trafficking, and murder. But I think the piece of news that has probably shocked and intrigued everyone is that I used to sleep with women for money. That is also true.

“But the truth you’ve been given by the so-called journalist who released this story is a vague representation of what actually happened. There are reasons behind people’s actions, and there were reasons behind my actions. It’s easy to judge based on the initial outlined facts, but when you dig a bit deeper, color in the actual picture with details, those actions begin to make more sense. The story that you first thought you were getting suddenly seems a hell of a lot clearer. A lot more understandable.

“I hope, by telling you the details of my story, you’ll see that, sometimes, when you read something in the media, even though the facts stated are the ‘truth’”—I air-quote the word—“they’re not the whole truth. So, here it is.” I clasp my hands together in front of me and blow out a breath.

“But, before I get started on the details, I firstly want to apologize to my girlfriend, Ava, who is currently standing behind the camera, filming me for you guys.” I look directly at her, our eyes meeting.

“I was led to believe that Ava had betrayed me. That she had recorded a private conversation between us and sold the rights to the story to a vulture of a man who I won’t even give the dignity of naming, but I think you all know who I’m talking about. I blamed her. Yelled at her. And told her to leave our apartment—yeah, I did that. But, in my defense, the evidence against her was strong. The people behind this went to great lengths to make it look like it was Ava who had done this. But it wasn’t Ava.

“She is a victim in this, as much as I am. Our privacy was invaded, and a private conversation between us in our home, detailing events from my past, was recorded without our knowledge, and then Ava was tricked into signing a release form disguised as something else. This might sound far-fetched, but sometimes, the truth is just that—far-fetched. Because we good people would never do something like that, we find it hard to believe that someone would go so far. Believe me when I say, they would. The lengths these people went to, to get this story is fucking scary. And something needs to be done about that, but that’s for my legal team to deal with.

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