But her agenda right now was of the getting-to-know-you kind.
“Where do you go to school?” Riley continued, and she sounded truly interested in me. Even though I’d vowed not to be seduced by actors again, the fact was she was good. Whether she was playing or not, I wanted to tell her the truth. Because I wasn’t an actor. I wasn’t a player. I was no good at pretending, and I didn’t want to fake my way through this meal with Riley any longer.
Besides, I had nothing to lose. And if I’d learned anything from my week with William it was that any relationship—even one that promised to be as brief as this moment in time with Riley—ought to be based on honesty.
“I’m pre-med at the University of Los Angeles. I graduate in two months, and then I’m going to med school, and I pay my way through school by taking pictures of celebrities,” I said in as business-like a tone as I could manage.
As if I hadn’t just dropped the worst bombshell possible into a celebrity’s lap. Hello, you’re having lunch with a paparazzo! Sucker!
Riley’s eyes widened, and she clutched Sparky McDoodle to her chest. His ears perked up, and he looked sharply at me, too, as if he was admonishing me.
“You do?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I do,” I said matter of factly. “That’s why I was there that day in Manhattan Beach. I was there to take your picture at the bridesmaid fitting. Or fake bridesmaid fitting, I should say. Only I never got the picture because of what happened with Sparky McDoodle. And I also tried to crash your sister’s wedding yesterday, only I wound up crashing the fake wedding down in Ojai Ranch and I got some great photos of all the actors hired as stand-ins for guests, and even the actress they hired for you,” I said, and I leaned back in my chair, feeling in control as I unspooled the very true story of my life.
She listened with her mouth agape as I told the tale of the moment when her sister’s doppelgänger walked down the aisle. Her big brown eyes widened to planet-size, and she motioned with her fingers for me to tell her more. Oh, did I ever have more to tell. I had the goods, and I went for broke, laying it all out. “But I have real pictures of you, too, because Jenner Davies hired me through his publicist’s younger brother to take pictures of you and Avery making out outside the smog facility in Burbank the other night, and Jenner used them to bribe Avery to get Nick’s role in The Weekenders. But supposedly, and I have no idea if this is true because it came from a guy who pretended to like me but was really playing me, Nick wanted off the movie to go do a TV show, so both Nick and Jenner were in on the blackmail scheme. Oh, there’s one more thing. I got your right side when I took the pictures.”
There it was. The whole damn story.
Riley’s mouth turned into a giant O. She didn’t speak. She sat there in shock that might have morphed into admiration, because soon she was grinning. “You got my right side?” she said, as amazed as if I had just told her I’d stolen a Van Gogh and fenced it for millions.
“Do you have them still? The pictures?”
“I do. I may even have them on my phone. Want to see them?”
“Yes,” she said, and I found it odd that she wasn’t walking away, or throwing a fit, or tossing ice-cold water on me. But that could still come. Even so, I reached into my back pocket for my phone. I’d put it on silent, and I had missed a few calls, but I didn’t look at the missed call list. Quickly locating one of the shots, I held my phone out to show her, careful to keep a tight grip on it.
She shook her head in appreciation. “That is a great picture,” she declared, tapping a finger on the screen. “And do you know what this means?”
“What does it mean?” I asked, figuring this would be the moment when she went full actress on me, drama queen and all. Tablecloth yanked, drink tossed in my face, the works.
Instead, she raised one eyebrow, then rested her chin in her hands, the most delighted look spreading across her face. “It means I don’t have to get together with that toad again to take him down. I don’t have to kiss him again. I was going to let it slip to the media that we were hooking up tonight. I didn’t say anything the first night because I didn’t know how it would go. But I was going to drop a hint to the press before tonight, so that the girl who took the shots of my sister’s wedding could get pictures of him and me. Then I could get him off the movie because of his no-cheating clause. But I don’t have to now,” she said, with wide eyes and a massive smile, as if I’ve just presented her with the greatest gift in the world. Then she turned serious. “That is, if you’ll let me leak these photos.”