Chapter Seven

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Sunlight was streaming through the window in Emily's bedroom when she opened her eyes the next morning. Squinting in the bright light, she looked over at her alarm clock. It was already eleven. She knew she should get up, but she was too comfortable lying in the sunshine, wrapped up in her duvet. Smiling, she closed her eyes again and thought about the night before. It was, she realized, one of the best dates she'd ever been on, even if they had been making an overly-affectionate spectacle of themselves. She hadn't thought about the work she needed to finish this weekend even once last night, and that was something rare.

Good job, Cory, she thought, rolling over and reaching for her phone. She thought about texting him to thank him for such a great night. When she turned her phone on, though, she was sidetracked by an alert informing her that she had eighteen new text messages.

Guess I'm popular today, she thought, hoping there wasn't a crisis with someone in her circle of friends. She scrolled through her list of messages to see who'd texted her.

From her friend Monica, whom she hadn't heard from in at least a month: Dang, girl! Way to go. Lookin' hot!

From her brother Sam, whose email from two weeks ago she really needed to answer: Number one with a bullet, huh?

From Jenna, a writer at Sweltry she sometimes worked with: I want those boots!

From Shelby: Hey there, Mystery Girl. I'm home. Go look at Wally Hood Goes Hollywood. Call me when you get this.

Mystery Girl? She couldn't recall that ever being one of Shelby's nicknames for her. Then again, she and Shelby had known each other since the sixth grade. It was possible she'd just forgotten about this one and how it had come about.

The next fourteen texts had come from friends all around the country, and each was equally puzzling. She scrolled through the messages until she reached the last one, which was from Jesse. Call me when you get up, little Em.

She wrinkled her nose and deleted his text. It was the first time she had heard from him since he'd spent the night and slipped out while she'd been sleeping. She assumed he had gotten on a plane and flown back to New York City a few days ago as planned. After the fabulous night she'd just spent with Cory, he was the last person she wanted to talk to right now.

Checking her list of missed calls, she saw that Jesse, Shelby, and her parents had also tried to call her. "What world event did I miss this morning?" she asked. Whatever it was, returning the texts and phone calls and finding out would have to wait until she'd had her morning cup of coffee.

Emily climbed out of bed with her phone in hand. While making her way to the kitchen, she opened her phone's web browser app and typed in the address for Wally Hood Goes Hollywood, curious to see what Shelby thought would interest her on the site. Her best friend may have been an avid follower of the tabloids, but she knew Emily rarely read entertainment headlines unless she was searching for celebrity fashion trends, looking for inspiration for Zeeked.

She set her phone down on the kitchen counter so she could make coffee while the site loaded. When she was done scooping coffee grounds and pouring water into the coffee maker, she picked it up again and looked at the screen. She'd expected to read about the latest celebrity arrested on a DUI, or a catfight between reality stars at a nightclub. What she saw, though, almost made her drop her phone.

The first headline on the page read: C-Samp Macks on Mystery Girl.

Below it was a photo of Cory engaged in a passionate liplock with a blond woman. Wait. She recognized that top, the short, swingy black skirt, and the black leather boots. The blond woman was her.

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