“And you got the call.” I set down the sandwich and stood up. “So?”
“So,” she said patiently, in the way an executioner would take a deep breath before whacking off your skull, “you answered my phone and wrote down this number and then stuck it in this drawer full of whisks where I would never see it.”
“You think I intentionally hid the call from you?” I opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. “Be serious.”
“You’re with Vision Placements. We all know about your seven-figure deal—god, your publicist wouldn’t shut up about it. Which is so great, because we all know you needed the extra million.”
I narrowed my eyes at her and dared her to continue.
She stepped closer and jabbed her finger into my chest. “Just admit it, Cash,” she hissed. “You didn’t want the competition.”
I had to laugh at that. Talk about truly funny. I stretched out the laughter a little longer than was necessary, but it was worth it, her face darkening with each additional guffaw. I gasped for breath and then gave it another throaty chuckle.
And that was when she went off script and slammed her fist toward my face. I turned to avoid the blow, but it caught my jaw. Honestly, I thought her manager had been a giant baby about the whole thing when she’d done it to him, but damn—that girl could pack a punch. I’ve had grown men deliver less of a blow.
My cheeks felt like they were under a heat lamp when Dana made that comment about jacking him off. He looked at me when she said it, and I couldn’t look away. And there was this long awkward moment where we just stared at each other.
It was… it was almost nice, a calm before the storm.
And the punch was the wrong thing to do, I know that. It was unplanned and completely impulsive, but trust me when I say that I had to do it. Which sounds crazy, right? I mean, who has to punch someone? Especially when they aren’t doing anything other than laughing. But uggggh, that laugh was obnoxious. And he was laughing at me—that was the painful part of it. Whether we were playing a part or not, the mockery was real. He was laughing at the thought that he could ever be threatened by me. And it wasn’t just a quiet chuckle. He was intentionally cruel about it, and in a moment that was being captured on film and would be broadcast to the entire nation—or at least the subset that watched MTV.
But the embarrassment and humiliation weren’t why I punched him. I did it—and damn, that iron jaw hurt—because I had felt myself preparing to kiss him. Feet inching forward. Hands twitching to grab onto his shirt and tug him to me. Lips trembling with the realization that they wanted to press against his.
I was going to try to kiss him, and I was terrified of how he would react, and everyone was staring at us. Watching. Recording.
So I punched him. And yes, I realize how insane that sounds.
She punched me and ran. Like, literally ran out of the kitchen in her towel, pushed through the pile of crew and assistants, past the craft service bar, and out of the front door. It slammed against the frame, and there was a moment of total silence in the house before Dana screamed at everyone to chase her.
You’ve probably seen the footage of the chase. Everyone has. It’s like a shaky Jerry Springer clip where the camera guy is wheezing as he jostles after her, and Emma flicks him off as she’s getting into the car, and you see a production assistant tugging at the exit gate, but it’s useless because Emma was already halfway down the drive, her windows down, wet hair blowing in the wind, and then she was gone.
Within fifteen minutes, everyone was back inside, huddled in the kitchen, an emergency production meeting underway. I was offered an ice pack that was quickly snatched away by Dana, who muttered something about preserving the injury.
“We need to get Cash into an interview asap, but let’s get legal out of the way first. Suits from the network are on their way, and I’ll need signed statements from everyone who saw what happened or caught any of it on camera. We also need the daily’s to show them that this wasn’t planned.
“Police are on their way,” a brunette in coveralls piped up.
“Get cameras outside and record them pulling in. Cash, try to look more wounded, okay? We want video of him with the cops and a closeup on the charges, so do it discreetly, but zoom in on the paperwork whenever you can.” She surveyed the room and ignored my hand, which I raised in question. “Who is following Emma?”