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Meeting Mr Anderson: Chapter 13

Dizziness hits me as heat burns through my body. I rush over to a bench to sit before I fall. There’s no denying that’s Anya coming out of Jay’s front door. She’s smiling and wearing a tight red sundress with heeled sandals and large black sunglasses. She looks incredible. Is it because she spent the night having passionate sex with Jay? Oh God.

It says this picture was taken at eight thirty Friday morning. Friday was the morning after we went for the Mexican dinner. Jay told me he had to go to a breakfast meeting; that’s why he didn’t spend the night with me before my flight home. He lied to me. The nausea in my stomach builds. He wasn’t at a meeting. He was with Anya Katiss. She left his house in the morning. That means she must have been there all night.

I can’t get my head around this. I could be sick right here on the floor, probably throw my heart up with it. People are passing me on their way to work, not even noticing the girl with the breaking heart. They’re all going on with their daily commutes and routines and I’m sitting and feeling like I’ve just been slapped hard in the face. That text message was a clue. It was all there for me, but I was just too stupid and drunk with lust, or whatever it was, to even see it. My head drops into my hands as I suck in a couple of deep breaths. I’m so stupid. I need to get back to my hotel room; I need to be alone. I drag myself up off the bench and hail a cab.

I make it back to my hotel room without bumping into any of the crew from my flight in the lobby or elevator. Thank God. I can’t face making small talk right now. I let myself into my room and collapse against the door. I sink down to the floor, and the magazine hits the carpet with a thud. How could I be so stupid to think that Jay Anderson was interested in me? Plain, boring Holly Havers. I was just another girl who filled some spare time he had. I look at the picture of Anya again. It makes sense he would be with someone like her. She’s from his world. She belongs. I don’t. I pull in a deep, shaky breath as tears of shame stream down my cheeks. I can’t stop them coming so I admit defeat and sit on the floor and cry.

I stay like this until I’ve got no tears left. I need to pull myself together. So what if Jay lied to me? I’ve been lied to before by Simon, and I survived. I don’t need an actor with far too much money to know that I deserve better than this. I’ve got great friends and I’m a good person. Fuck you, Jay Anderson! Fuck you and your blue eyes and big cock. I’m better than this. I shouldn’t be sitting on the floor in tears over him.

I get up and go in the bathroom, turning the shower on. Peeling off my running clothes, I turn to face myself in the mirror. My face is red, and my eyes are puffy, but there’s a new strength in them shining back. This is the last time I waste my time and heart on a man who lies and cheats. Never again. I step under the scorching water of the shower and try my best to scrub all trace of Jay Anderson away.

The flight home is quick and most of the passengers want to sleep, so I sit in the galley with some of the crew, chatting over cups of tea. They moan about their other halves, or lack of dating lives. I’m not the only one who isn’t living a fairy tale. Maybe this is just life. The movies and stories have a lot to answer for. We are conditioned from a young age to expect too much. We are told we can do anything, be anyone, and the right person will come along, and we can live happily ever after. It’s all a big fat lie, a conspiracy made up to give people hope so they can get out of bed each day.

After landing, I run to catch the bus to the staff parking lot. If I miss it, I will have to wait another twenty minutes. My suitcase is in one hand with my carry-on bag strapped to the top, and in the other I’m holding the box of cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery. It’s about the only thing I’m looking forward to today.

“Whoa.” I swerve to avoid a little boy running toward me without looking where he’s going. A man rushes past after him, knocking into my arm.

“Sorry!” he calls, but it’s too late. The box of cupcakes flies out of my hand and flips upside down, landing on the floor. Great, just great. Can it get any worse?

“I don’t know what to say, Holls. I didn’t peg him as a two-timing rat.” Rach looks at the cover of Celeb central again.

“Me neither.” I sigh, leaning forward with my spoon to scoop up another pile of mashed cupcake. The lid stayed shut when it fell, so although they were flattened, they still taste good. Small victories, I guess.

“And he’s been texting you since this was published?”

“Yeah, he hasn’t mentioned it though. Although now he’s started asking if he’s done something wrong as I haven’t replied to anything from him since I found out.” I sit back into our sofa, so relived to be back home again and for Rach to be here today. I would have hated coming home to an empty house.

“He either has no clue you’ve seen it, or he’s playing ignorant and is going to deny it all,” Rach says, licking her spoon as she thinks. “What did Matt say when you told him?”

“He was as shocked as I was. He couldn’t believe it. Didn’t want to believe it. He’s spent almost as much time with Jay as me, and he thought he was a great guy. Plus, Stefan always says how genuine Jay is, and he’s worked with a lot of people in the industry who are fake.” I shrug, unsure what to make of it all.

“I’m so sorry, Holls. I thought he seemed great too. He was so into you. Fucking snake,” Rach spits. “Do you want me to visit his house one night and chop his balls off for you?”

I smile; that is such a Rach thing to say. “Thanks, but he can keep his wandering balls. I don’t want to think about them anymore. At least I won’t have to see him again. I’m not likely to bump into him.”

“This is true,” Rach agrees. “You never have to see the lying bastard again. What about your LA flight tomorrow though? Are you still going to do it?”

“Yeah, it’s too late to swap off it now. Anyway, he doesn’t own LA. I loved going there before I met him and I will not let thoughts of him put me off,” I say, spooning another giant dollop of icing into my mouth.

“You know you’re only getting away with eating most of the icing because of the sex-rat circumstances, don’t you?” Rach raises an eyebrow at my spoon.

I laugh. “I know. There’s no way you’d stand for it usually.”

“Hell, I wouldn’t, it’s the best part!” Rach laughs.

“So, are you all packed for your Shanghai tomorrow?” I ask.

“Yep, all done, got lots of space in my suitcase to bring bits back.” She smiles mischievously.

“Why, what are you going to buy?”

“Panties. Sexy little panties, and lots of them!”

I laugh. “What?”

“Yeah, Holls. There’s this lady at the fabric market near the hotel who can make you anything in a couple of days. Got all different fabrics you can choose from.”

I nod as I listen.

“I’m going to get some Rachel specials made up and charge Mr. X extra for the bespoke package,” she says, eyes gleaming.

“What’s the bespoke package?” I ask, eyes wide. Only Rach would have thought this up.

“I’m not sure yet. I’m probably going to ask her to embroider them with messages, like scent by Rachel, or inhale, Mr. X, you bad boy,” she says, before shrugging her shoulders. “I’m not sure yet. But it’ll be something that’ll make his balls swell when he opens it and realizes, they’re not only worn but also made specially for him.”

“Eww, Rach!” I throw my head back and laugh. “You’ve no idea who this guy is! He could be some creepy old guy with black fingernails or a young lad who’s never even had sex before.” I wince at all the possibilities.

“You’re right, he could. I just don’t see it though. The way he writes his messages suggest he’s well educated, and he mentions things someone around our age would talk about. Plus, he’s spending a shitload on my panties now. I can barely keep up. So he’s got money to burn, or sniff.” She cackles at her own joke.

“Okay, just so long as you’re careful,” I say, reaching over to hug her. “You’re my best friend and I need to know you’re safe.”

She hugs me back. I’m one of the few people Rach will hug for over two seconds. She doesn’t trust easily, but when she does, she will do anything for you.

“I’m fine. He’s never seen my face, and there must be hundreds of crew called Rachel. He doesn’t even know that’s my actual name. He sends money to my account and I have a special email address set up. You don’t need to worry, Holly, although I’m glad you do.” She smiles.

We’re interrupted by my phone beeping with another text from Jay. I couldn’t bring myself to delete his number yet, but I changed his name from Magic Cock. I hated seeing it flash up on my screen.

Lying Cheat: Holly, please talk to me. I’ve seen the photos. I can explain. X

I throw my phone back down on the sofa in disgust.

“Was that Jay?” Rach asks.

“Yeah, he wants a chance to explain,” I say as my phone rings. “God, it’s him,” I groan, putting my hands up against my face.

“We’ll see about that,” Rach snaps, picking up my phone and hitting answer. “She doesn’t want to talk to you, asshole. Why don’t you go back to your supermodel girlfriend and cry on her shoulder?” She stabs at the disconnect button and hangs up. “There. He won’t ring again if he thinks he will get me giving him an earful each time,” she says, satisfied.

“I can’t believe you just said that to him,” I say, putting my hands over my mouth.

“Well, it’s true, isn’t it? You don’t want to talk to him, and he is an asshole.”

“You’re right, Rach. I would just never have the guts to say that like you just did.”

“Well, you’re going to start today, Holly! No more men treating you like a fool. Stand up for yourself and tell them where to shove it!” Rach says, holding her fist out so I can bump it.

“Yeah,” I agree, not quite feeling as confident as her. “You’re right. It’s time I started speaking up for myself. It’s time I stopped being a pushover.”

“You can do it, Holls. I believe in you. You can start by forgetting all about Jay, whatever his name is.”

“Yeah, I will.” I will forget all about Jay Anderson. I can do it.

The next day’s flight to LA drags and I’m glad to be on the bus to the hotel. I’ve decided to catch a cab to the mall after I’ve showered so that I can get noodles from a place the crew have been raving about. We pull up at some traffic lights and my eyes wander to a giant billboard advertisement on the side of a building. My chest tightens. It’s for season three of Steel Force. It must be one of the photos they shot the night Jay met me in the bar. The night I saw Simon. Jay’s intense blue eyes stare back at me from the poster. He’s in full FBI gear and looks mean and sexy as hell.

“Oh, hello!” pipes up one of the crew on the bus, pointing to the poster. “I wouldn’t kick him out of bed.”

“I don’t think anyone would,” another girl agrees. “You’d need your head tested,” she says.

I sink down in my seat. Maybe forgetting about him will not be as easy as I’d hoped. Not when he’s here in glorious giant-sized high definition wherever I look. I put my earbuds in and lean back, closing my eyes for the rest of the journey.

After I’ve showered and changed into a summery dress and flip-flops, I head outside the hotel entrance to get a cab. A movement on the other side of the street catches my eye and I look up just in time to see a guy in dark glasses and a hoodie turn and walk around the side of a building. My fingers tingle. Was he watching me? No, I’m being stupid. He would have no reason to be interested in me.

“Hi, Holly.” Cooper looks up from his desk where he’s texting on his phone.

“Hi, Cooper, how you doing?” I smile. Cooper is always so upbeat. I enjoy having a chat each time I’m here.

“I’m all good. I’ve got the day off tomorrow. Me and Eric are heading to a car show down the coast.” He beams.

“That sounds fun! Okay, not my kind of fun, I know nothing about cars, but it sounds like your kind of fun.” I smile.

“You know us,” he chuckles, “can’t get enough of a great car. It’ll be so good to spend some time with my brother too. How about you? What you got planned for this trip?” His eyes are on my face, waiting for my answer.

“Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. Not too much.”

Cooper’s brow furrows, and he opens his mouth, then stops, seeming to change his mind about what he was going to say. He opens it again, and says, “You need a taxi?”

“Yes, please, to the mall.”

He goes out to the road and hails a cab. He bends down to the window to talk to the driver and hands him something.

“Here you go, Holly, this one’s all yours.” He smiles, opening the back door for me.

“Thanks, Cooper,” I say, climbing in.

As we set off, I pull my phone out to text Matt.

Me: Hey gorgeous. How you doing? How was your flight?

He should have landed in Barbados a few hours ago.

Matt: Busy! Full of honeymooners and holiday makers. Feel like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Nothing a cocktail at the beach bar won’t fix though! How’s LA? Heard any more from Jay?

I would much rather be at the beach bar with Matt right now.

Me: Have a drink for me! Nope, nothing from Jay since Rach answered my phone and gave him an earbashing. He’s probably given up now.

I look out the window as I wait for Matt to text back. It’s funny, I don’t remember ever driving this way to get to the mall before. Maybe there’s a road closure or something. My phone beeps in my hand before I can give it much more thought.

Matt: Stefan said he’s been a right grumpy git since you left, Holly. Been a nightmare, apparently. He told me not to tell you as it’s none of his business, but he thinks you should hear Jay out. Maybe there’s more to it??

Huh? What does Stefan mean by that? What could Jay possibly have to say to explain why his ex is leaving his house early in the morning? I sit back and fold my arms across my chest as I look out the cab’s window. We are definitely not on the right road. We aren’t even going in the right direction for the mall. The driver must be lost, or misheard Cooper when he told him where to go.

“Excuse me.” I lean forward between the two front seats. The driver raises his eyes to look at me in the rear-view mirror.

“Yes, miss?”

“Are we heading the right way for the mall?”

He looks puzzled. “The mall? No, I’m taking you to where the valet guy said,” he says slowly, as though I don’t understand.

“What do you mean, where the valet guy said? What’s going on?”

“Like I said. The valet guy gave me this address and paid in advance. Gave me a big tip too,” he says, his forehead wrinkling. “Hell, this isn’t some weird setup, is it? We’re almost there now. Look, I don’t want any trouble. If there’s something fishy going on and you don’t feel safe getting out, then just say the word and I’ll drive you straight out of here!” he says, turning his head to look at my face. His eyes are wide. “I mean it. I thought the guy was just doing you a favor, you know? Paying upfront like that. I didn’t think anything was going on.”

“Don’t worry. It’s fine, I’m not in any danger. But Cooper will be when I get my hands on him,” I say, narrowing my eyes as the cab pulls up to a stop outside Jay’s house.

“You sure, miss?” he asks, his face relaxing.

“Yes, thank you. Thanks for the ride,” I say as I get out and shut the door behind me.

I walk up the driveway, aware I’m being watched. Standing there on the doorstep in black jeans and T-shirt, his muscular arms folded across his chest and his intense blue eyes burning into mine, is Jay.


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