Page 41 of Hot Mess

“I don’t have her number.”

Another laugh.

Why was I talking to her again? I should have told her to send Alex over with Adalyn, but here I was.

“I had no intention of having it when she came here, and when I put mine in her phone, she joked that if I wanted her number, all I had to do was ask for it.”

She sighed heavily. “And you didn’t.”

“Obviously not. But I also didn’t think it’d be two days before our paths crossed. Plus she’s been here a week so I thought we’d discuss a longer-term rental plan, but she just sent the money to my bank account this morning.”

“You’re charging here?”

“Blaire, she was a stranger when she showed up here. Yes, I’m charging her. It’s my business.”

“All right, I’m just sayin’.” She moved the ashtray out of the way and picked up her mug of coffee. “Why didn’t you go over there and check in?”

“I was going to, but it felt awkward. And she’s been dealing with a lot. When she was here three days ago, she found out for sure it was her ex who sold the tape.”

“Sold it? What a motherfucking sleazebag.”

That was one way of putting it.

“I know she was reporting it to the police on Friday and then speaking to her agent or whoever to figure out her next moves. I didn’t want to go and distract her, because if Ari knew I was going over there…”

She chuckled, looking at the girls. “Yeah, you’d never get her away. I’m here. Do you want me to run over and see if she’s okay?”

I stared at her.

“Hey, I like her. I think she’s cool. It wouldn’t be weird if I went over there. Only you, considering you can’t seem to figure out if you’re attracted to her or not.”

“I can safely say I’m attracted to her, Blaire.”

“I would be, too, if I swung that way.” She winked at me and got up. “I’ll be ten minutes. Tell Adalyn I’ll whoop her ass if she’s naughty.”

I rolled my eyes because we both knew I would do no such thing.

Blaire and I had been friends since I’d moved to Creek Keys, when she’d taken the ‘weird English kid’ under her rather quirky wing. Then she met Alex when he came on vacation—and he never left.

I sat and waited for her to return like a lost bloody puppy. She did, within a few minutes, and sat back down on the step next to me.

“Well?”

She tilted her head to the side, watching as the girls ran down to the waves. “Don’t go in too deep!” she yelled at them. “Knees only!”

I winced and rubbed my ear. The woman could shout for America, that was for sure. “Blaire. Focus.”

“Sorry. She’s fine. She’s just been really busy. She said she was on the phone to the police for four hours on Friday and two hours to her lawyer before that. Not including the ten million calls to her sister who’s checked in every thirty minutes.” She paused. “I think that was an exaggeration, but she really didn’t act like it.”

“From what I understand, they’re really close.”

“Uh-huh. Yesterday she was on and off the phone with her agent and publicist. Apparently, she’s been given the green light to post a video that basically says it was published without her knowledge, but no further comment will be given while there’s legal shit happening.”

“Very technical.”

“Shut up. She’s trying to figure out the best way to do it without giving too much away to her younger fans. I had to hide her laptop because she was about to throw it across the room.”

“You hid her laptop?”

“Yeah. She went to the bathroom, and I put it in the dryer.”

“Let’s hope she opens it before she starts it,” I muttered. “So now what? Is she holing up until she figures something out?”

“Nope. I’m taking your daughter for a few hours, and you’re going to go over there and help her.”

“Blaire.”

“No.” She shook her head so vigorously she almost whipped me with her braids.

“Put those away.” I gathered them in my fist and set them so they hung over her shoulder—the one farthest away from me. “You’re gonna take my eye out.”

“Good. Then you might use your ears instead.”

“Why are you taking Arielle?”

“Because.” She touched her hand to my knee. “You clearly like Elle.”

“Oh, Jesus, not you, too. I just had this rant from my aunt last night.”

“Oh, I’m not gonna Elsie you.” She laughed. “But part of the reason you don’t date is because you always have Arielle. You have no time to build relationships. It was so much fun the other night when we hung out. We haven’t done that since Christmas.”

“You have to work. You can’t just take Ari so I can have a life.”

“Actually, I’m on vacation for the next two weeks, so I can.”

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