I immediately sat forward, trying to use Tudor as a shield to hide my naked state. “What? What is it?”
Tink stared down at the phone and glanced back up again. “There’s been a leak to the press, it’s in all the papers… everywhere. Apparently you made the evening news last night too, even in the UK,” he whispered, tilting his head at Tudor.
I grasped Tudor’s hand in support. “Why? Tink for God’s sake, why has he made the papers? What exactly has been leaked?”
Tink winced. “Somebody has sold the story about your childhood and the abuse you suffered from your father, a very detailed story.”
He looked apologetic. “It’s also come to light about the recent attack on your sister and that your father is incarcerated awaiting trial for her attempted rape.”
Tudor immediately jumped to his feet, wrapping the sheet around his waist and began pacing, clenching his hands over and over with frustration before walking to the wall, slamming his fists against the cement and pressing his head against it in defeat.
Tate, ever the efficient assistant, ran into the front room to make the necessary communications with Tudor’s team – his PR, lawyer and agent.
My bestie, actually demonstrating some emotional intelligence for once, left to put the kettle on, leaving me alone with Tudor.
I walked towards him and took his hand in mine. He flinched and looked down, and went to pull away, frosting over again, like he always did when things got rough. This time I held on tight.
“No, don’t pull away. Don’t shut me out again.” I begged.
He looked so torn. His go-to response in life was to carry the burden himself, to protect everyone else, but no more, not this time.
I squeezed his shaking hand in mine. “I’m here with you, Tudor. This time we will face this together. You’re not alone anymore, you have me. You are not alone.”
He stared at me for a long time, fighting his inner demons and eventually pulling me to his chest and whispering in a pained voice, “This time I have you.”
This time we had each other.
After hearing the news, we immediately went to Tudor’s house, where we all – Henry, Samantha, Tudor, Tink, Tate and I – gathered in the lounge to try and come up with a plan of action to deal with the fallout of the information leak on the horrific and abusive past of the Norths.
To say the atmosphere was tense was an understatement. Everybody was nervous, angry or upset, and everyone was bewildered as to who could have sold the story. A family’s dirty laundry being aired to friends and neighbours was bad enough, but add into the mix that one of the key players was mega-star famous and the situation became exponentially worse.
The world now knew that Tudor, for much of his early childhood and teens, had been subject to brutal beatings and both physical and emotional torment by his father, and to be honest, the reports were so detailed in their descriptions, that even I was learning new information about my immensely private boyfriend and what he had been through: things that he hadn’t even confided in me yet – and nor should he have if he wasn’t ready. They were heart-breaking.
As an actor, Tudor's response must be well-calculated and thought through: one that protected his family, his career, the trial. There were so many different things at stake, not to mention the fact that the topic of all the hype was such a sensitive area. We were expecting his publicist, Kate, to arrive in Calgary from LA so she could advise Tudor on what to do next. Until then, there was nothing we could do.
Drawing on both my Scottish and English heritages to cope with the situation, I made cups of tea laced with whiskey for everyone, and the six of us sat around the fire, no-one saying a thing.
Henry broke the uncomfortable silence first, after shifting back and forth on his chair for near enough the last thirty minutes. "What are you planning on doing, Tudor? What do you think you will say to the press?"
Samantha moved to sit next to Henry, hands on his tense shoulders, and Tudor pulled me onto his lap and began stroking my hair. It calmed him.
He stared into the fire, watching the flames dance, lost in his personal thoughts. "I don't know. Do I ask the media for privacy and not say anything on the topic of abuse, but have it hanging over my head for the rest of my career? Or do I come clean and admit to what we all went through? But then that will leave me exposed, and I hate the idea of that; the world knowing all about us when we've kept it so well-hidden for so long." He laid his forehead on my shoulder, defeated. "I have no idea what to do for the best."
He gripped me tightly around the waist and groaned. I drew back and lifted his chin. “What’s wrong? What’s going on that head?”
He looked sheepishly to the others in the room, hesitant to talk. I looked in his eyes and urged him to explain. His head slumped forwards. “I just don’t think I’m ready to talk about it to the world, it’s all too raw. My family needed the next few months to heal, to adjust. I was willing to talk about it all in the future with the trial, but now?”
I squeezed his hand in sympathy. He fixed his broken gaze on me. “Why, just because I act on a screen, do I have to have my entire life made public? Why should the world get to read about our problems while having their toast and coffee on a Sunday morning? Just a hot topic, gossip material to mention in passing to colleagues on scheduled breaks at work. Can you imagine it? Our past being the topic of conversation to some middle-aged couple in God knows where: ‘Oh honey, have you seen this article about Tudor North, the actor? His father broke his jaw and fractured his collarbone with a chair leg when he was fifteen for spilling soda on the kitchen floor. Anyway, what time are we meeting your parents for lunch?’ That’s my life, our lives, that they are discussing. Why do people need to pick at every God-damned part of me just because I act? Our lives are not entertainment. I’m the actor. My family didn’t ask to be given the lead roles in the latest f**ked-up celebrity scandal.”