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Without having to speak to him, Liz knew why he had done this. He had been hurt by what she had done, angry and jealous. But that did not excuse his taking her trust and smashing it into a million pieces. She knew Hayden wanted to advance his career, and he had taken the first opportunity to make it happen. He had used her story when she had trusted him. And he didn’t even have the decency to call her back.

Liz snatched her phone back off her desk. She had called Hayden only thirty minutes earlier to tell him about her job offer. She had been ecstatic, wanting to share her good news with him. She was calling for a very different reason this time.

She dialed his number and waited. As she expected, after three rings it went to voice mail. Either he was purposely avoiding her calls or he was just that swamped with calls about the article. Liz doubted that it was the latter.

The line beeped for her to leave a message.

Liz took a breath before speaking. “Hayden. This is Liz. Perhaps you’ve heard of me. I called you thirty minutes ago with some really super exciting news. I’m calling you back because I have some even more exciting news that I really need to talk to you about. Call me back at this number. I don’t think you’ve managed to lose it overnight. But in case you have, don’t worry . . . I couldn’t think less of you than I do in this moment.”

Liz ended the call and threw the phone into her purse. She was so pissed, she was ready to jump into her car, drive right down to Charlotte, and wring his perfect f**king neck. She had been obsessing since October about what had happened with Brady; she finally let Hayden in, and he did this to repay her.

Well, she couldn’t stay at the office any longer feeling like this. She wasn’t going to get anything done tonight. Liz tore out of her office with her purse slung over her shoulder. She sought out Massey.

“Hey!” Massey said brightly when Liz approached. Then her face fell. “Are you okay?”

“Still not feeling too well, I guess,” Liz said, laying it on thick.

“Oh, no. Do you need me to cover for you again?”

“That would be so nice. I just think I’m trying to push myself too hard.”

Massey nodded her head and clicked a button on the computer. “You should probably go rest. Don’t worry about tomorrow. I’ll take care of it too. I’ll see you Monday morning, Liz!”

“Thanks a million, Massey,” Liz answered sincerely. The woman was saving her life.

Liz bolted from the office and took the steps down to the bottom floor of the Union two at a time. She wrapped her jacket tighter around her body as she stepped out into the crisp February air. The cold air jolted her memories. This time last year had been her snow day with Hayden. She had decided to finally give up Brady after finding out about Erin and had given herself to Hayden for the first time. Now it all felt like a joke. A big, fat joke.

She had never gotten over Brady, she had never given Brady up, and she had never given herself fully to Hayden. Then as soon as he had found out, he had used that against her. The irony of it all was that when Hayden was furious and hurt over their relationship, he had chosen his career over her, which was the very thing she had feared with Brady.

She had walked out, spent over a year missing Brady, pushed him away to the point of no return—for nothing. All she wanted to do was call him, try to explain, beg him to give her one more chance.

But she couldn’t.

No. She wouldn’t.

Brady had shut the door. He had told her not to call him when Hayden broke her heart, and Hayden had done just that. Brady was probably fuming, and the last thing he needed was for her to call him because of Hayden’s article. She wanted to go to him and make it right, but the way to make it right was to remain invisible.

If he wanted to reach out to her, then he would. But she doubted he would. Brady wasn’t the type to go back on promises. How often had he told her that he didn’t make promises he couldn’t keep? Wasn’t that the reason he hadn’t told her he loved her? Even thinking that word sent a stabbing pain through her chest. Love. What a joke.

Liz sped home, parked the car in the driveway, and burst through the front door. “Victoria!” she called, slamming the door behind her. “Where are you?”

She stalked down the small hallway and banged on the door. “Vic, are you in there?”

“Yeah, I’m busy,” Victoria choked out. “Can you come back in like fifteen minutes?” There were some whispers from the other side of the door and then Victoria giggled.

“No. This can’t wait. Not unless you want to find your roommate with her veins open on the bathroom floor in fifteen minutes.”

Liz knelt in front of Victoria’s door and pushed her hands up into her hair. Her whole body ached and just wanted it all to stop. She knew she needed to get herself together, but she couldn’t see or think or feel anything through the fury. All she saw was Hayden’s face when he found out, when he asked her for details, when he maliciously f**ked her for the mistake that was never a mistake. Had he known then? Had he known that he was planning to ruin her . . . them . . . Brady? Was the sex a good-bye? That thought only pissed her off more.

“Melodramatic much?” Victoria called.

There was shuffling from the other room and then the door popped open. Victoria was dressed in skinny jeans and an oversize sweater. Her hair was a hot mess and she was trying to wrangle it into a ponytail as she exited her bedroom. Liz assumed Duke Fan was on the other side, but assumptions with Victoria were a very bad idea. Victoria pulled the door closed and stared down at Liz expectantly.

“Well, Miss Melodrama? What is so goddamn important?”

Liz stood and walked into the living room. She didn’t want to have this conversation where Duke Fan could potentially hear her. Victoria huffed loudly, but followed behind her.

“You know how we agreed that the worst thing that could happen when I told Hayden about Brady was that he would leave me?” Liz asked as she pulled out her phone.

“Yeah.” Victoria glanced over her shoulder to her closed bedroom door.

“We were wrong.”

“What?” Victoria asked. Her head snapped back to Liz. “What do you mean?”

Liz pulled up the article on her phone and passed it to Victoria. “He wrote about it,” Liz whispered.

“Fuck!” she cried. “Holy f**k!” Her eyes scanned the article. “What a f**king bastard! I’ll cut his balls off!”