Chapter Nineteen

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What is that noise? Emily groaned and pulled a pillow over her head. She didn't want to be awake right now. Her stomach was queasy, her mouth was parched, her tongue felt swollen, and her throat was sore.

If she'd at least had a fun night out to show for her hangover, it might have lessened the pain. She wondered, like she had several times last night at the Troubadour and Saddle Ranch, what had made her think going to Jesse's show was a good idea.

Memories from the night before flashed through her mind. Cory sitting down next to her and trying to talk to her at the Troubadour. Jesse telling her how happy he was that she'd come to the show. Bailey dripping blueberry vodka all over the floor at Saddle Ranch and bolting for the men's room. At least that last memory wasn't bad.

There was no arguing it, though. She'd caved, and now she had yet another Wally Hood Goes Hollywood account of her supposed relationship with Jesse to show for it. Beautiful.

Emily forced herself to get out of bed and headed for her bathroom. Once there, she turned on the sink faucet and leaned over to splash water on her face.

As she toweled off the drops of water, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. "God, I look like hell," she said out loud. Her complexion was paler than normal, and she had dark circles under her eyes. The whites of her eyeballs were tinged a light red, bloodshot from the night of drinking and not enough sleep.

She heard her phone ring and returned to her bedroom. She saw the caller was Shelby, who was probably checking in on her after last night.

"Good news," she announced upon answering the phone. "No drunk texts sent or answered. See? I'm learning and growing."

Shelby laughed. "Good job. Impressive self-restraint aside, how are you feeling?"

"On a scale of one to spectacular misery, we'll go with 'like hell.' I don't do as well with vodka these days as I did when we were in college."

"Ouch." Shelby sounded sympathetic. "If your morning is already shot, then I guess I won't ruin it by telling you to go look at Wally Hood Goes Hollywood?"

Emily stretched out on her bed, resting her head on one of her pillows. "What now? Or do you mean the article I already saw last night?"

"No, this one was just posted. Cady Sugarman speaks."

"This I need to see," Emily said, closing her eyes. "Or maybe I don't. Do you want to give me the highlights?"

"I would, but I'm late for my spin class. Do you want to go watch the Lakers game later and grab some food?"

"If I ever feel like I can eat again, sure. Otherwise, I'll watch you."

Shelby chuckled. "See you in a few hours. Stay away from scumbag managers and full glasses of vodka."

Emily hung up the phone and squeezed her eyes shut against the daylight that still seemed a hundred times too bright to be normal. Advil, she thought, trying to will the bottle out of her medicine cabinet and into her hand. When it didn't materialize, she opened her eyes again and looked at her phone.

"Advil first, then the insightful words of Cady Sugarman?" She looked at her bedroom door. "Too far," she concluded, and opened the browser app on her phone.

Wally Hood's site loaded. The first thing Emily saw was a photo of Cady Sugarman at the top of the page. In it, Cady's chestnut brown hair tumbled past her shoulders, and her face was lit up with one of the sweetest grins she could ever recall seeing. Fame, fortune, beauty, charm, and the heart of her ex-boyfriend. The girl had everything.

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