Page 14 of Hot Mess

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, too! Sorry I’m going to have to wring your neck to murder your dumb ass when you get home!”

“Can I talk now? Are you done yelling at me?”

“No, but I would like some answers, so I’ll delay the yelling until later.”

“I appreciate that,” I muttered. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you before I left. I panicked, Em. I had half an hour’s notice of the tape going public and there was nothing my lawyer could do to get it stopped. I had to run and I left my phone behind.”

There was a sniff. “You should have told me.”

“I know, but I didn’t think. I grabbed a shitty phone once I was out of the state, but I didn’t have your number. I should have checked my email and let you know I was safe as soon as I got here.”

“Here? Where is here? Where the hell are you?”

“Florida Keys.”

“What the—how in the fuck did you end up there?”

“I just drove,” I replied lamely. “Until I was as far away from New York as I could be. I have no idea what’s going on.”

She blew out a long breath that crackled down the line. “Well, shit, then. It’s a media storm,” she said solemnly. “I had to wade through a media camp to get to your building. The new doorman—who is very nice, by the way—let me into your place when I showed him my I.D. and flirted with him a little bit.”

“You’re married.”

“And you were missing. Shut up.”

Fair enough.

“You’re trending on social media, you’re all over all the gossip blogs and websites, and your lawyer is trying to get into contact with you.”

“How do you know that?” I navigated to my business email.

“Bethany called me. I’m your next of kin so when she couldn’t get hold of you, she called me to see if I knew where you were. She’s already handled everywhere who had the actual video up, and as far as she knows, it’s no longer on the internet.”

“If she believes that, I need a new lawyer.”

“That’s what I said to her. Either way, it’s on the dark web, and most of these idiots can barely handle Twitter, never mind anything else.” She sighed. “Elle, what happened?”

I was getting tired of telling this story. Still, I repeated for the third time that day what had happened.

“I didn’t mean that. I know you didn’t do it. I know you would never video yourself having sex. You didn’t have sex until you met him, so there was no way you were going to get that freaky in the bedroom, never mind a broom closet.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. You should call your lawyer and see what’s happening. Do you definitely know if it’s Mitch who leaked it?”

“I can’t imagine it would be anyone else. How would anyone have gotten hold of it? He either shared it or sold it.”

“Are you sure?”

“I didn’t even know it existed. Of course I’m sure.”

“Okay. Why don’t you report it to the police? Ben can take it in. He’s working tonight.”

“What good will that do?”

“It’s revenge porn, El. It’s illegal. They’ll take him in for questioning.”

“I don’t know. I’m not there to give them an interview. Won’t me running away work against me?”

She blew out a long breath. “I don’t think so. You made a perfectly rational decision, even if I am mad at you.”

“I need to think about it. I feel like I need proof.”

“I might be able to help you there.”

“You’re only just proficient in email and Instagram. Can I trust you here?”

“Ha, ha. Shut your ass. I have an old friend from Dallas who might be able to help you.”

I frowned and stood up. “Dallas? From college?”

“Right. When I was getting my PhD, I had to work. I was paired with a team that included this rookie police officer called Noelle to do psych work for one of her cases. We hit it off, and she’s a private investigator down in Texas now. We still talk on occasion. Do you want me to call her and see if she knows anyone who can help you?”

“Sure. It’s not like I know where to start to pin it on him. If she could get proof, maybe then Ben can take it in for me.”

“Of course. Whatever you need, El. Do you need me and Amelia to come down to you?”

“No, don’t be silly. I’m on a tiny island where nobody will find me.” If you don’t count my landlord and neighbor’s daughter. “I’m okay, really. I’ll look over the emails from Bethany and see what she’s said before I call her in the morning. It’s too late now.”

“All right. I’ll contact Noelle and see what she says. She might be able to work remotely and figure it out. Her computer guy can hack into anything.”

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