part 3

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Cody: We really need to talk. I get that you're mad and hurt and I'm sorry, but we need to deal with this.

Cody: This was a business deal. We both knew that all along, and it isn't my fault that things got so mixed up.

Cody: I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that

Cody: Please, Seth, we need to deal with this

Seth: I'll call you tonight

——-

"I talked to the lawyers," Ray tells me that afternoon as I'm touching up my makeup in the green room. "All you have to do to break the contract is get Seth to agree to it. And then you have to shake hands or whatever in front of a lawyer or a notary."

"A notary? Where the hell do you get a notary?"

"I can get trained on it online, but it's state specific, so it'd be better to find one when we get to Chicago. The contract was drawn up in California, but as long as it's notarized it shouldn't matter."

My head is swimming. "I have no idea what you're saying."

"Which is why you can't fire me," Ray says, flipping her hair over her shoulder. "All you really need to know is that you need to get Seth to agree to end the relationship so you can't be held in contempt by a court of law."

"That sounds bad."

"It is bad, for a lot of reasons. Plus, we definitely wouldn't be able to keep that out of the press. Just get Seth to agree, okay?"

"Okay." That sounds simple enough.

Except really, it doesn't. Because Seth is definitely still pissed at me, if his last text is any indication. And I don't blame him. I broke his heart. I basically stomped all over his heart just as he was giving it to me. No wonder so many people are scared of intimacy.

I've never been a heartbreaker before. I've never even, if we're honest, had my heart broken. There was that time that nobody asked me to prom, and that time when the guy I had a crush on asked out my best friend. Ray turned him down, of course, because she knew he knew I liked him and she concluded that he was a total knob.

So, suffice to say, my experience with broken hearts, my own and others', is pretty much limited to my imagination. I'm already sure, though, that I never want to break a heart again, not if it always feels the way breaking Seth's did.

My phone rings. It's on the couch between Ray and I. Even though I was expecting the call, Seth's name appearing on the screen fills me with dread. This isn't where I want to have this conversation. Why couldn't I be home right now, in my own apartment in Los Angeles, on my own couch, with the stuffed rabbit I've had since I was a baby in my arms?

Because that's not my life. This is: different city every night, thousands of people cheering my name, and a fake boyfriend I need to dump on the other end of the line.

We stare at the phone as it continues to vibrate.

"You have to answer it," Ray says.

"I know."

Ray nudges the phone towards me. "Stop delaying the inevitable. Answer it and get him to agree."

"Right," I say. I wait until Ray leaves the room to pick it up. Now it's just me and George and, in a second, Seth, too. "Hi."

"Hi," Seth says.

"Hi," I say again.

He sighs. I can't figure out where he is on the emotional scale right now. Is he red hot, still furious at me? Or maybe blue—has he spent the past few days curled up in a ball eating ice cream? Or orange—does he want to cross several state lines to punch me in the stomach?

the other side of fear // n.h.Where stories live. Discover now