"I know," I said quickly, forcing a smile. "I'm just a little worn out. It's been a busy past week, and I'm mentally preparing for Japan."

"Sometimes I forget how new to all of this you are," Audrey said, tucking her black hair behind her ear. "You're honestly one of the best personal assistants I've hired for any of my clients."

I wondered if that was true, or if she were just saying it, but she continued to smile at me, and I continued to smile back.

Perhaps we were both as fake as Lana herself in that moment.

"I'd better find Nathan," I said finally, grabbing my phone and making my way towards the back of the venue, where a side door allowed access into a secluded carpark. Most of the attendees were hanging out the front if they ventured outside— it wasn't as dirty out there, and there was more lighting compared to the dimly lit, trash bin filled space I was milling around in. I'd just wanted some quiet, so I could at least hear Nathan if he happened to pick up. Though, if Lana couldn't get hold of him, I didn't know how I was going to be able to.

I tried his number three times, but received no response. It was then that a bad feeling began to develop. Maybe he'd been in an accident? I knew he was a little all over the place, and he wasn't known for being timely, but this was a big event, and he hadn't even been in touch with Lana since the event began to explain his absence.

I turned, and was about to head back inside when a figure rounded the corner, and just like that he was there. He looked normal— unharmed. In fact, he hadn't even dressed for the event yet.

"Nathan!" I exclaimed, staring wide eyed. "Where have you been? And why haven't you been answering your damn phone?"

He approached me with a serious expression.

"The story is, I was caught up at work. The reality is, I've been looking for you."

I raised an accusing eyebrow at him.

"Is that right? And where did you think I'd be, apart from Lana's side? Did you forget I'm her personal assistant?"

He seemed to bite back a retort.

"I meant, I was waiting until you were alone. I couldn't risk doing this over the phone."

"Doing... what?" I asked slowly.

He looked around quickly, like he was checking to see who was around, before taking another step towards me and dropping his voice.

"What you said to me... at the party..."

"You remember all of that?" I asked, my cheeks heating up with embarrassment. He grimaced.

"Part of it. The gist of it, I guess. It made more sense later on, when I'd sobered up. What you said... you were right. I should come clean about the contract... about Lana... but I can't. I love her, and I can't betray her like that." He sighed deeply, like that revelation physically hurt him. "But I need to start standing up for myself... without her influence. So think of this as me taking a stand."

He looked around again, and I shook my head impatiently.

"Jeez, Nathan, out with it already!" I replied, folding my arms.

"Lana's onto you."

Everything inside of me turned to ice.

"Onto... me?" I repeated slowly, and he nodded, side-eyeing the door to the venue anxiously.

"She knows you're up to something shady, and she's convinced Asher's involved somehow. After seeing you at the couple's party... she's not going to stop until she figures it out."

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