I cry. I can’t stop. I cry at night before I go to sleep. I cry throughout the day when I should be doing something, anything to remind myself that I’m alive. I should be living.
But instead, I cry for what I’ve lost.
I cry for what I’ve found.
And then . . . one day, there are no more tears. They’ve dried up, like they never existed in the first place.
Gone is the girl I once was. Gone is the woman I was slowly becoming.
Now there’s only this void. And there’s only one person to blame for what I’ve become, what I’ve turned into.
And his name—his real name—is Will Monroe.
She is relentless in her pursuit of me. The constant calls, the texts, the voicemails, the emails. No wonder she’s one of the top investigative journalists on TV.
Lisa Swanson is a serious pain in my ass.
After three weeks of constant harassment, I give in and answer her call. She sounds surprised to hear my voice and I’m pleased that I could shock her. I don’t think much gets past her.
“You answered,” she says.
“It’s either answer or try to ignore you for another three weeks,” I tell her, sounding bored. Inside I’m a wreck. I’ve remained undercover since that moment Lisa texted me and Katie . . .
My heart thuds. Hard. Like it came to a complete and utter stop. How am I still alive? Just thinking about her wrecks me. Twists me up inside until I feel like I’m going to be sick.
When Katie discovered the text from Lisa and left me, I shut down. Physically and emotionally shut down for days. Only within the last week have I once again tried to pick up my normal routine. Working on projects. Talking to clients. I behave normally, move through life as if nothing’s wrong, but inside . . .
Inside I’m hollow. Broken into so many tiny pieces, I don’t think anyone or anything could put me back together. I’ve lost the only thing that matters. The only person I’ve ever really loved.
And she hates me. She should hate me. I can’t excuse my actions.
“Your father’s interview is set to air soon,” Lisa says, her determined voice bringing me back to reality. “I’ve delayed it for as long as possible, but I can’t put it off anymore.”
“Why’d you delay it?” I know the answer. I’m just curious to hear what she has to say.
“Because I wanted to get your side of the story, Will.” I flinch at hearing my name. My old name. I’m not Will any longer. I wish she would stop calling me that. “I’m going to be honest with you.” She pauses.
Honesty. There’s a funny concept I seem to know nothing about. Deception and lies, that’s what defines me. Makes me tick. I pretend. I don’t know how to be my true self. Only with Katie did I feel close to who I really am.
And now she’s gone.
“Your father said some . . . not-so-nice things about you,” Lisa says haltingly.
“Like what?” I sit up straighter, run a hand over my head. I’m still in bed. What’s the point of getting up? I can do everything here, even work. My laptop lies discarded next to me. My iPad is on my bedside table. I’m in my underwear, I haven’t eaten anything yet today, and it’s already past noon. I can’t remember the last time I shaved, looked at myself in the mirror. I’m afraid of what I might see, the truth in my eyes, the deception in my face.
Who said the truth hurts? Because they’re so fucking right.
“Accusatory things,” Lisa says, purposely being vague. Why doesn’t she want to tell me? Oh, probably because she needs something to draw me in and get me to talk. “You won’t like it if he goes on national television and says those things, Will. I promise you, it would be to your benefit to talk to me.”
Leaning my head back, I close my eyes and blow out a harsh breath as Lisa waits for my response. I don’t know what to say, how to reply. Doing a televised interview with her would expose me, when I’ve hidden in the shadows for far too long. Not talking to her might end up with me looking like a savage child rapist in cahoots with my father.
Either way I can’t win. And Lisa knows it. She’s taking a risk, hoping that I’ll choose talking to her as the lesser evil.
I’m not sure if that’s the right thing, though.
“Has she agreed to talk to you?” I ask, my voice tight, my muscles strained. I’m so tense I could shatter.
“Who?” Playing dumb. Lisa’s good at that, too.
“You know who,” I say through gritted teeth.
She sighs. “I told her I found you.”
My heart fucking drops into my toes, swear to God. “What did she say?”
“She didn’t say much at all, which surprised me. I thought she’d be happy to hear the news.” Lisa goes quiet, then clears her throat. “Talk to me, Will. Please. You won’t regret this.”
I will so regret it. And she knows it. She’s just trying to pretend she has my best interests at heart. “I don’t know.”
“Your father’s interview is tentatively scheduled to air ten days from now. If you talk to me, I could get an extension. The execs would love to hear your side. And if I could somehow get Katherine involved again at one point—”
“No.” The word shoots out of me like a bullet, as though I’m defending myself against a direct strike to my heart. I feel like I’m already dead with just the mere suggestion of Katie being involved in this three-ring circus Lisa is trying to organize. My father in one ring, me in the second, and Katie in the third, all of us alone, fighting one another.