Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 29

The truth about what happened next comes from the daughter herself, Tate Butler, now eighteen. A close friend of Tate’s tells the Guardian that she has graduated from high school, is attending college in Sonoma, California, this fall, is obsessed with the idea of following in her father’s footsteps, and “is ready to move beyond her secretive past.”

As it turns out, Tate was taken by Emmeline to a small town north of San Francisco, where she assumed the name Tate Jones. Emmeline—who managed to stay under the radar as Emma Jones—has lived a quiet life in the small resort town of Guerneville, California. Although custody battles raged behind the scenes, eventually Emmeline won full custody of Tate, and worked to keep her away from Ian, and the spotlight.

Tate’s first trip out of the country was to London, and it was here that she told a trusted confidante everything.

“I don’t get the impression that he was a very good father,” the source says. “Despite his side of the story, Ian didn’t make many attempts to connect with Tate. She has been incredibly sheltered. No one—except maybe three or four people—knows who she is. It was a priority for her mother and [her grandmother] Jude to keep Tate out of the spotlight, and they’ve done that. But she’s an adult now. It’s time for her to start living her life freely.”


I WAS HYSTERICAL ON the phone—a bubbling cauldron of panic. After Mom admitted that there were photographers outside the house back in Guerneville, she could barely get a word in edgewise.

“I’m sorry, Mom, I’m so sorry.”

“Baby girl, listen,” she said, “this was going to happen at some—”

“But I told him everything. I told him about you,” I choked, “and Dad. What is Dad going to say? Is he going to sue us?”

At this Mom laughed. “Don’t be silly.”

Don’t be silly.

She sounded so sure. So unworried.

Meanwhile, Nana paced the room behind me, on the phone with the airline, trying to rearrange our flights. Once that was sorted, she called Mom’s old agent, coordinating to have someone meet us at Heathrow, to get us home without incident.

I was just holding the phone to my ear, listening without hearing to the words Mom was sending across the line. Soft sounds of reassurance, telling me she loved me, it would all be okay.

But it wasn’t okay. I knew I’d made an enormous mess.

And a small voice in the very back of my head kept whispering, He’s going to remember he has a daughter now.

A man met us at the airport. He opened the door as our car pulled up to the curb. Before I could catch a glimpse at his face, the door closed and he shuttled Nana past a throng of photographers, into a tight circle of airport security guards. And then he came back, holding his hand out for me.

He smiled. “Hey, Tate. I’m Marco.”

He was in his late twenties: fine, carved features, jet-black hair, penetrating blue eyes—and yet somehow he managed to exude calm rather than panic, like he’d navigated this sort of thing a thousand times before. I took his hand; it was warm. His skin was soft, but I could feel the strength of the tendons and bone beneath when he tugged me forward, out of the backseat.

To my surprise, Marco didn’t pass me off to a crew of security guards. He ushered me in under the blinding hail of flashes, hiding me beneath his own coat. The airport wanted even less to do with this madness than we did, so they let us through a private security line and into a secure room while we waited to board our flight.

Nana stepped out, telling me she needed to call Mom, needed to get water. To me, it felt like she needed to get away from me and my terrible decisions for a few minutes. My eyes were puffy; so puffy I felt like I could see my own eyelids. My nose was sore from being wiped on tissue after tissue, my lips were chapped. I hadn’t brushed my hair.

I looked up at this polished, composed stranger, and his expression was exactly the same as it was when there were a hundred photographers on our trail: mouth a faint upward curve, eyes steady.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Are you kidding?” I ran a shaking hand over my hair. “I’m great. You?”

He burst out laughing, but I couldn’t keep up the surreal joke. I felt the tears swell in the back of my throat.

“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” I told him, voice thick.

“Of course not.” He waved like my intention was the least of his concerns, and a smile lit up his entire face. He was too pretty to be very masculine. Elfish. I remember seeing Lord of the Rings with Charlie and laughing for hours when she quipped that Legolas was the prettiest woman in the movie. Marco was like that.

“Ian has been on four major magazine covers this month,” he said. “So finding you is the biggest story anyone has on either side of the ocean. There’s no way around this circus.”

Whether we were past it or not, I needed to know. “Not to be rude . . . but who are you?”

He pressed an apologetic hand to his chest. “I’m sorry. Of course. My name is Marco Offredi. I’m a PR manager. I was hired by your trust to handle all of your publicity-related concerns for as long as you should need.”

“My . . . trust? Hired you?”

He laughed. “Technically. The trust pays my salary, but your father called me.”

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