When It's Real
These responses are terrible. If I were replying, I’d have said something like—
I dial Jim again. “I want access to my Twitter account. If I’m dating this chick, I should be able to respond to her directly.”
“What? Why would you want to do that?”
“Because I do. So do I get access or do I make up a different account?”
“Hold on.” He sighs then barks to some assistant. “Get Claudia on the phone and find out how to get Oak on Twitter.”
“Are you supposed to be dating Oakley Ford?!”
W’s loud, angry voice hurts my eardrums, but I don’t ask him to calm down. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to talk on the phone since my online conversation with Oakley began. My boyfriend has clearly saved up his frustration from these past twenty-four hours and it all comes pouring out now.
“I can’t confirm or deny that,” I answer with a sigh.
“Bull! You don’t know how many of our friends called and texted to tell me you’re flirting online with Oakley Ford!”
My guard snaps up. “I hope you didn’t say anything about my job. You signed an NDA, W. If you break it, Diamond will—”
“Ruin my life,” he finishes sourly. “Yeah, I know.”
Ugh, this is not about W’s life, but I know from past experience that I’m going to have to listen to him bitch and moan until he gets it out of his system. “So what did you tell everyone?”
“That we’re both upset about our breakup and that flirting with some celebredouche is your way of trying to get over me.”
I wince at his word choice, but only say, “Thank you.”
There’s a long pause.
“What exactly are you doing with Ford?” W mutters.
“Not much.” I hesitate. “We’re just going to be hanging out—for the cameras—a few times. And there might be a kiss. No, a peck. And none of it is real, remember?”
“It better not be.” My heart flips a little over his jealousy, only to die a quick death at his next words. “I’m not happy looking like a loser here.”
A whiny voice sounds from my bedroom doorway. “Vaughn! We need our phone back!”
I hold up one finger to silence Shane. “I promise, it’s all a show,” I assure my boyfriend. “Just like reality TV.”
“We need to call Kenny!” Spencer shouts, coming up to stand beside his twin. They both glare at me, the gold in their hazel eyes sparking angrily. At twelve, the two are already taller than my five feet six inches and could easily wrestle the phone away.
I sigh. “I have to go. The twins need their phone. I’ll see you this weekend, okay?”
“Okay.” He hesitates again. “I love you.”
“Love you, too,” I answer, and the twins release simultaneous groans and then proceed to make gagging noises, their light brown hair flopping all over the place.
I hang up and toss the phone to Spencer. “Here, you brats. Go call your precious Kenny.”
After they dart off, I collapse on the bed and curse the day I let Paisley convince me to meet with Jim Tolson and his entourage.
Claudia believes that someone could pull our phone records, so for two months I can’t call W on my own phone or my sister’s, which means I’m at the mercy of two twelve-year-old boys.
And I actually had to ask Claudia’s permission before I could make the call. And then she had to hold a stupid brainstorming session with her PR team to determine if it makes sense for W to keep in touch with his ex-girlfriend’s little brothers. I reminded her that W was a part of my family for two years, so of course he would be close with my brothers.
“Phone,” my sister’s voice says, jolting me out of my thoughts. Paisley walks into my room and holds out her iPhone. “Claudia.”
A silent scream goes off inside me. Oh, my God. I cannot deal with another one of Claudia’s dumb requests right now.
“You’re going to make your account private today,” Claudia says instead of hello.
“Why? Because of all my new followers?” I woke up this morning to discover I have twenty-five thousand new followers on Twitter. I almost died from shock.
“Because we want to fuel the fire even more. If you suddenly go private, Oakley’s fangirls won’t be able to follow you and it will drive them crazy. They’ll start gossiping on their own feeds and speculating about why you’re private, and the ones who are already following you will start screen-shotting your Tweets and turn you into an even hotter commodity.”
I don’t bother to argue. I’ve given up on trying to figure out the logic of a publicist.
“Fine,” I say. “Anything else?”
“Yes. Amy’s emailing you an archive of your Twitter account. Start deleting all the pictures with your ex-boyfriend.”
I’m outraged. “How did you get an archive of my account? And how did you get my email address?”
“From Jim. Don’t ask how he got it. He’ll never tell,” Claudia chirps. “Anyway, we’d like all traces of your ex-boyfriend gone from your account by tomorrow. You did it, of course, to erase him from your life.”
Bitterness climbs up my throat. “If you have access to my archive, why don’t you delete them?”
“Oh, of course. We’d be happy to do it for you. We just thought you might like to do it yourself. Getting over an ex is a difficult process for a teenage girl.”
I imagine some stranger going through my pictures of W and clicking the little trash can button, and I realize she has a point. “Forget it. I’ll do it. And he’s not my ex, Claudia!”
“He is in the eyes of the world.” She’s starting to sound annoyed with me. “One last thing. We need you to go out to dinner with your family tonight.”
I wrinkle my brow. “Why?”
“Lord, Vaughn, is that your favorite word—‘why’? Careful, sweetie, or I’m going to start answering with ‘because I said so.’”
I clench my teeth so hard my jaw twitches. “Why do I need to go out for dinner, Claudia?”
“Because it’s family night. As of right now, you and your siblings go out once a week for family night.”
I respond with her favorite word. “Why?”
“Because that’s what wholesome people do!” There’s a loud, frustrated huff in my ear, and then her voice softens. “Is your Instagram linked to your Twitter?”