Chapter Nineteen

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I get off stage, dreading to see Mason but when I spot him, he looks like he hasn't even listened to the speech. He's talking to a tall blonde who I'm sure I've seen on TV before, he doesn't even notice me. The girl looks at me and Mason turns too. "Didn't you like it?" I ask. "Excuse me for a second" he says to the blonde and she disappears in the crowd. I raise one eyebrow and wait for his response. "What was that?" he asks. "That surely did not attract any investors, if you like it or not, you're going to be stuck with me forever" he hisses. "What's wrong?" I ask. "People seemed to like it, there was clapping and I looked into the crowd and it seemed to touch them." "Yeah, those people who don't have any money to invest anyway, those families and all." "Those are the people this is all about! What happened to you?" I ask in disbelief, unsure why he's suddenly acting completely different. I've never seen him like that.

"Get together for a photo, please, Miss Nicholls, Mr. Remford!" I hear behind us and we both turn. I want to make a step closer to Mason but he just looks at me as if he's opposed to even the thought. When he sees me looking back at him, he carefully takes a step towards me and gives the camera a big fake smile. "The upcoming savior of teens and one of the city's most desirable bachelors, this will make the front page!" the reporter exclaims and clicks away. And that's when I get it.

As soon as the photographer is gone, I step away from Mason and look at him with pure disappointment. "You're ashamed of me now? Is that it? Now that you've been exposed to the public as not only loaded but also a savior and someone who doesn't judge others by the way they look you don't need me anymore? I mean, I've looked you up before I met with you and it was all you being an asshole and not treating people the way they deserved. But when I met you you seemed different so I gave you a chance because the media can lie but this is the real you, isn't it?" His face doesn't change so I just keep talking. "You're ashamed of me? To be seen with me? That's cool, I mean, you don't have to lie about it. I'd rather have you just admit it. Because trust me, this is not the first time I've heard it or at least known someone thought it without saying it." "Bev, that's not it" he says but it's only a weak attempt because he fears what I'm going to do. "No, it never is but let me tell you something, you don't offend me with how you're acting, all I can do is think less about you. Because what type of person do you have to be to think like that? I'm comfortable with myself and I know it's not me, it's you."

We stare at eachother. I'm a little hurt but I mean, I have expected it. That's the beauty of not getting your hopes up, you're either right or pleasantly surprised. And now I know that I've been right. "Bev, is everything okay?" I hear Melanie ask behind me. "Yeah, just a second, alright?" I ask and she nods. "I'll make you a deal, Beverly" Mason says, looking at me in a way that I've never seen before, not even online. "You don't expose this to the press and I keep financing your little pity business even though you've just utterly disrespected me." "I disrespected you?!" I ask in disbelief. "Think of the kids" he says, mimicking a girly voice that doesn't even come close to mine. I shake my head and take a deep breath. "Fine" is all I can say and turn around. I know it's wrong but I can't let everyone down now. Until we get more sponsors, I'll have to keep him around. And I don't want to ruin this for Melanie either. I don't want it to be ruined just because Mason is a fake piece of shit.

I make my way to the bar where Daley and Helen are talking to Melanie. "I think I'm just gonna disappear for a while" I announce and head for the dressing room, Daley and Mel following me. "What happened?" Daley asks as soon as the door is shut. "Nothing, we'll talk about it later. Mel, I don't want you to worry about anything. Go back out there and enjoy yourself, this is your night. Talk to the kids that came to see you." She bites her lip but then nods. "Your speech was great" she says before leaving the room.

"Mason didn't think so" I say to Daley as soon as Mel's out and drop down on the couch. "What?" "He had this speech prepared for me but it didn't have any heart and just didn't suit the event and our project at all. So I did my speech anyway and when I got back down, he didn't want to take a photo with me and basically, he's been using me, us, he's been using it to show everyone that he's not a rich asshole but to pretend that he's a rich softie who can date fat girls and who just has so much heart and basically, I want to puke. But I can't expose this to anyone because we need his money." Daley sits down next to me and puts his arm around me, I rest my head against his shoulder. "Not for long. We'll find someone else to support you, so many people are going to see this, hear about this night and they'll want to work with you. Soon enough, you won't need him anymore." I sigh. "Thank you."

For a few minutes, we just sit there in silence. "Helen seems nice" I say after a while. Daley laughs. "Doesn't she?" "Yeah, you gotta invite her for dinner so I can properly get to know her." "Best not, you'll scare her away." "I'm a doll." "Sure you are." We both laugh and I stand up straight, pulling him up by his hands as well. "Getting back out there?" he asks. "Don't let him ruin this for you." I nod. "I know, I can't do that." "Good." He links arms with me and we get back into the crowd.

I talk to a few more parents, eat some dessert but I can't really get my mood back up again. Once the first few people leave and Melanie is gone, Oli finds me. "You haven't been looking too jolly all night, Beverly" he says in a funny voice. I laugh. "I haven't been feeling too jolly either." "What happened?" he asks with worry and pushes his glasses up a little. I look up at him. "Can we get outta here? Daley's already left because he's sleeping over at Helen's and I just want to get away from Mason. I'll tell you on the way." "Sure, babygirl" he says quickly and packs up his stuff. "Let's get outta here." 

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