There was no way Emmie could continue her shift

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There was no way Emmie could continue her shift. She took Trisha up on her promise to relieve her of her duties for the remainder of the day, and, ignoring Ryker's requests to drive her home, fled the diner as soon as she could. Ryker had been upset about the article too, mainly because it assumed he was the baby's father, but he had also seemed to genuinely care about the fact that this was a disaster for her. Still, her being seen with him out and about in Moon Beach was the exact last thing she needed. There could be paparazzi lurking everywhere, as far as she was concerned. If people were interested enough in this article, maybe they'd want more, and maybe a sleazy tabloid rag like this one would pay photographers for the next big scoop in the Ryker-Emmie saga. Well, she wasn't about to give them one.

She hurried away towards home, digging in her purse for her phone as she walked. She needed to talk to Sam, find out if there was some way to mitigate the damage from this. How that would happen, she didn't know.

Sam picked up on the first ring. "Emmie? Is everything all right?"

"Where are you? Back in Portland?"

"Still in Chicago until Friday, why? You sound agitated."

Phone clasped in one hand, the other wrapped around her trusty pepper spray, just in case, Emmie eyed every alleyway and dark corner with suspicion as she walked as briskly as possible towards her apartment. "I am agitated. Sam, I... I totally messed up."

She confessed everything: going to the TED talk in Seattle, speaking backstage with Ryker, the reporters, the cameras...

"Okay, first off, you should have told me about your travel plans."

"It wasn't like I flew to Mexico on vacation. I drove to Seattle for the day. It's just four hours away. I didn't even stay overnight."

"And yet, obviously, that one day trip had repercussions."

"You were busy. I didn't want to bother you about it."

"It's my job to have you bother me about things you think will bother me." He sighed for what Emmie swore was a good thirty seconds. "Look, I'm trying my best to approach this calmly, but Emmie, I am not happy about this. How many reporters took pictures?"

"Maybe four or five. Ryker tracked them all down, though. Told them not to print any pictures with me in them and he said they'd agreed to it. But then today this local tabloid called Coastal Stars had a picture of us on the front cover. Oh my God, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I was so stupid."

"You're not stupid. Don't say that. You made a mistake and now I have to figure out what I'm going to do about it."

"This is bad, isn't it? Coastal Stars is just an Oregon thing, though, I think. It's not like a major publication with huge circulation...but still..."

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