NINETEEN

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Trying to figure out what I was going to do without Ronnie was previously uncharted territory. Ronnie was reliable – always there for meetings, always met deadlines, always someone to count on for something. Her consistency could be disregarded as merely being Type A, but it was most easily seen as passion. It was one of her goals for her, and the paper she worked for, to thrive.

     But because of that, I was thrusted into the permanent position of sidekick. Ronnie would frequently be praised for pushing herself and pushing to find a story where we believed there wasn't one; I would just do what was assigned and, despite doing it well, it wasn't the same.

     I watched as Ronnie walked away from me – knowing it wouldn't be the last time I saw her, but knowing that everything was different now – and suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. I'd been on edge for most of this year, and for what felt like my entire life sometimes, but this was something new.

     This was pressure. It was forced adjustment to change.

     I took long, tense strides to the safety of the same bathroom I had found Margo in not too long ago.

     Despite the comfort of knowing I was alone, I wasn't able to get the emotional response I wanted. I felt like once I cried or threw up or got angry I would be able to resume my day, but I was in an uncomfortable state of purgatory.

     I was furious that Yanick had put us in this position at all. There was no real reason for her to enforce the rules that she had. While the story was controversial, it was significant. If there wasn't anyone reporting on it from the ground, the only thing that would circulate would be gossip. Without the Weekly the only people who could cover the story were local news organizations who would learn all of their information from those spreading and receiving the gossip. It seemed like an unreliable cycle of information at best and a dangerous combination at worst.

     Part of me was inevitably mad at Ronnie. I wasn't sure if I would ever be content with it – the idea of me taking over power was uncomfortable. There was a piece of me that was excited the opportunity had arisen, but it felt like a cheap way to get there. Instead of talent or willpower, I was making it into a position of power because the woman before me was strong enough to give it away.

     I was also mostly just mad that she was going to make me have to figure out what to do with Nudegate.

     I wanted to cover the story, but I wasn't sure if it was worth it. And I also knew there was no way I could continue the investigation with both Eros and Yanick being on my ass. I wasn't sure if Eros even had any credibility or if they were just making it up, but I had little to no desire to add them to the list of things I really had to worry about.

     It was an almost perfectly laid out plan – Yanick was forcing me to not cover the story, which would make Eros leave me alone. Technically, no one could get upset with me for not covering the story because I couldn't.

     At the same time, however, there was a depressing lack of integrity with that approach. I would be taking an easy way out. The exact kind of way out people would probably expect from generally quiet Eden Jeong.

     But thinking about how easy it was to get under the skin of Logan, or even just cause tension with WFC, maybe I wasn't as passive as I assumed I was.

     I paced in the bathroom, wringing my hands. The events of the last week rushed through me, making me realize there was no easy decision, no simple solution. There were too many moving parts this to neatly be solved.

      My phone vibrated in my pocket and just out of habit, I pulled it out of my pocket without thinking. Jeremy.

Jeremy Wexler:

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