Checking the Heart Makers site quickly, I see that they’ve taken down all the photos. Thankfully. I flip to Rock Bottom Caroline, glancing through the posts and reading some of my favorites. The thought of leaving the blog behind doesn’t make me as sad as I thought it would, but deleting it because I’m being blackmailed leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I get to the more recent posts, and I go completely still. I’d practically blocked this guy from my memory, the fucking asshole that thought he could force me into having sex because he bought me dinner—the whole reason I quit dating for months. He wouldn’t have known that I had a blog talking about my dates anonymously. But if Heart Makers pushed my blog posts out to the dating sites, he would have seen my picture, and then looked at the blog, and…oh God. It has to be him.
I didn’t know that he was a hacker or that he had the ability to do something like this. And even though I didn’t give him my address, he knows what street I live on. If he’s a hacker, it won’t be hard for him to figure out my real address, and if I don’t delete the blog…
There’s a knock at the door and I jump. Noodle barks in response. It can’t be him, right? That’s too coincidental, and it’s not Monday yet. Even so, I grab the baseball bat Alice keeps behind the door and peak through the hole. My body relaxes immediately because it’s not that guy—who’s name I barely remember—it’s Chance. How the hell? I lean against the door. I filled out paperwork for the company. Of course he has my address.
I unlock the chain and let the door swing open. “What are you doing here?”
He glances at the bat in my hand. “You disappeared last night and you weren’t answering your phone. I was worried…”
We stand there looking at each other for second before he asks, “Is it all right if I come in or am I going to get beaten with the bat.”
I put the bat down again, “Yeah, sorry. I’m just…on edge.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
I shake my head, and he catches me by the shoulders. “You know more about what happened than you’re telling me, Caroline.”
I didn’t really think that I had any more tears to shed, but they spring to my eyes, and I can’t stop crying again. I tell him everything. About the asshole and punching him in the face and my very small revenge on him by writing about him on the blog, and Chance nods because he’d read that post too. I tell him about the email and the ultimatum and then I’m telling him I’m sorry because it’s all my fault.
We’re on the couch now, and Chance has me cradled in his arms. “Hold up a second,” he says. “None of this is your fault.”
“Of course it is,” I say. “I didn’t have to write about him. I didn’t have to have a blog at all. I could have taken it down when I got hired—”
Chance’s voice is stern. “That asshole got what was coming to him. You had every right to tell people what happened, and it’s important that you do. The fact that this man is so insecure and so angry that someone wouldn’t have sex with him, that he’d stoop to this level has absolutely nothing to do with you.”
I lean my head on his shoulder. “Alice spent all last night telling me that, but it still feels that way. And I still have to do what he says or else everyone in the world is going to have those pictures.”
Chance kisses me softly. “Of course you don’t.”
He smiles gently. “I own a web company. I have a few hacker friends of my own, and I already know who this guy is, where he lives, and as we speak my lawyer is speaking to a judge about pressing charges. I expect that he’ll be arrested in a couple of hours.” He shifts so he can get his phone out of his pocket. “Is this the guy that you went on a date with?”
The picture pops up and I recoil. “Yeah, that’s him.”
“Turns out he was also the guy staring at us that day at the restaurant. I had a feeling, and I asked my friends to look for some security footage, and it was a match.”
“So that could have tipped him off too. This is so messed up.”