Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 79

A flash of movement catches my eye and I lean to the side to see out the window, immediately wary. A photographer. Not unexpected, since we aren’t exactly trying to stay hidden. I’m sure Dad will be annoyed that I talked him into letting me drive instead of taking a car and driver, but there’s nothing to be done about it now.

He finishes signing an autograph, and I place a hand on his arm. “Just a heads-up that there’s a photographer outside.”

“Not a problem,” he says. “Was bound to happen sooner or later, right?”

“Guess that’s what I get for traveling with Ian Butler. It’s like you’re even better looking in person,” I tease.

With my head down, I take Dad’s offered arm and step outside. Voices call out to us, and it’s not just one photographer, it’s two now, calling for us to look up, to give a couple words, a smile. I can feel Dad beside me, standing straight, and a quick glance at him tells me he’s grinning happily.

But the glance at him also shows a group of photographers jogging around the side of the building.

There’s no longer just two of them; there are at least twenty.

Time shifts. I’m eighteen again instead of thirty-two, and we aren’t in front of the quaint farm-to-table restaurant, we’re in the circular courtyard of the London Marriott County Hall. Faces are hidden behind giant cameras and zoom lenses; microphones are hoisted up and shoved toward me. The questions seem to come from everywhere.

Tate, is S. B. Hill Sam Brandis, the author and screenwriter?

Is Sam Brandis the same boy you met in London?

What does it feel like to be reunited with the man who sold you out all these years ago?

“Tate! Tate! Over here!”

Ian, what is your relationship with Sam? Are you aware of their past?


We’ve only been here for an hour—how did they get here so fast?

Their voices call out, sharp and bright, and the single question is bulleted at me again and again from a dozen places: “Tate, who is Sam Brandis?”

I’m frozen, staring at the mob in complete shock.

Dad wraps an arm around my shoulders. “She doesn’t have any comment, but you all enjoy the rest of your day. Stay safe.”

Cameras flash in a manic staccato and Dad ushers me toward his car, helping me in the passenger side. He strolls around, waving amiably, shaking his head to indicate he’s not answering either. “You know how this works, guys,” Dad says, opening the driver’s-side door. “We know you’re just doing your job, but this isn’t how you get answers.”

He gets in beside me, behind the wheel.

“Tate!” someone shouts. “Is S. B. Hill the same person who sold your story when you were eighteen? Is it true that you were lovers and he betrayed you?”

It takes everything I have to stare straight-ahead, not give a single reaction that can be used on the cover of a tabloid.

Dad pushes the button to start the car and then looks over at me. “You okay, cupcake?”

I am not okay. I am stunned to the point of numbness.

None of this makes sense. “How in the world did they know about Sam?”

“You know how these guys are,” he says, pulling away from the curb slowly, careful to not hit any of the reporters still leaning in, hammering questions through the windshield. “They know everything.”

“I know but—” Once we are a half a block away, I bend, putting my head in my hands. My mind races, inundated with the static of voices, the clicking of cameras and bodies chasing after the car, angling for the perfect shot or sound bite that will get the highest price, the most clicks.

Did Nick do this?


I feel like I’m going to throw up. I trusted him.

When am I going to learn?

I groan, leaning my head back against the seat. “This is such a fucking mess.”

“It’ll be okay.”

I glance over at him. “I’m so sorry. I . . . I should have told you. I just don’t know how they found out. I think it was Nick who—”

My words dissolve away. Dad hasn’t asked me what this is about. He hasn’t registered a bit of surprise.

“Tate, it’s going to be fine.” He reaches across the seat to squeeze my leg, before returning his hand to the wheel. “You’ve been doing this a long time. You know how the press is.”

A mile or so flies by and he sings quietly along with the radio. My mind spins, trying to piece this together, to figure out what is happening. I can’t imagine Nick calling the press and sharing this. He has nothing to gain and so much to lose by betraying me.

I look at my father again; he’s so calm.

“Did you hear me last night?” I ask, trying to mask the tremor in my voice.

“You know I saw you, we already talked about that at the restaurant.”

“Yes, but did you hear me? Me and Sam. Were you listening to us talk about London?”

He tightens his grip on the steering wheel. “Kiddo, I told you, it’s fine. No press is bad press. This will bring Sam more attention and will be great exposure, not only for the film, but for all of us.” When I don’t immediately reply, he glances quickly at me, then back at the road. “Imagine the headlines. People are going to be fighting in the streets to hear this story.” Another glance. “Can you imagine the buzz when they see the three of us together?”

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