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“Are you about done?” Brady snapped.

Liz eeped. “Um . . . yeah.”

“Good. Now that that’s off of your chest, let’s try to put all of that behind us and think about what we’re doing right now. I can’t change anything that happened the past year, and I can’t change any of the circumstances we’re currently in. I can only think about the future.” As Brady messed with his hair, he walked back over and took a seat next to Liz. “I want to go public.”

“What?” Liz gasped, standing abruptly and covering her mouth. She was sure that he hadn’t just said that. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“Liz, I want to go to public. I’ve had over a year to think about what I would have done differently. I’ve missed you enough that I want to do this. I want to try to make it work. The public already knows you exist. Sure, it won’t be easy to be out there, but I’d rather it be our choice than the media’s. We didn’t go public before because I couldn’t see anything past my career. Well, now I want both. I should be able to have both.”

Liz swallowed. She felt a bit faint. She never thought that she would have this conversation with Brady. Not in a million years. Every time she let herself think about being public with him, she had pushed the thought down and buried it. Now that she was faced with the possibility, she didn’t even know what that would look like.

“Um, whoa. That’s . . . that’s kind of huge, Brady. I mean . . . Hayden and I just broke up. I just got the job offer at the New Yorker. I’m still in school, editor of the paper, and those articles. You’re up for reelection.”

“Liz, I don’t care,” Brady said, standing with her. He grabbed her hands and pulled her closer. “I want to do this. All I hear is wasted time. You left. I get why you left, but I was stupid for letting it happen.”

“I just . . . I want to, Brady, but . . .”

“No,” he said, touching his fingers to her lips. “You want to.”

She smiled up at him, but her stomach was in knots. This was exactly what she wanted and it scared the shit out of her. Everything had changed so fast.

“I do, Brady. I want to be with you, but this is really sudden.”

“I know. It’s kind of crazy,” he said. “I’m not normally a rash person. You really do f**k me up.”

“I just . . . I know I was the one who wanted to go public last time, so I shouldn’t be hesitating about this, but it’s a lot to think about all at once.”

Brady smiled and then bent down and kissed her on the lips. “I think I’d be more surprised if you were completely okay with everything. It’s a big decision. I’m used to the limelight. You’d have to be in it too, baby.”

Liz froze. She hadn’t thought about that. Well, not really. She had always thought she was better behind a camera than in front of one. She preferred writing articles to working in broadcast. What would it be like to be out there with Brady?

“Can we . . . can we wait to see if all of this blows over first? I just don’t want to be rash and put us out there, only to be under worse scrutiny.”

“I’ll do it your way,” he said with another tender kiss, “as long as it means you’re mine.”

“I always have been, Brady.”

Chapter 28


Brady and Liz spent the rest of the weekend locked away at his lake house. Not wanting to risk being seen by any reporters who might wander by, they didn’t leave the house. But there were few objections from either of them about that. It was nice and peaceful compared to the hellfire they were walking back into when they left the lake. Neither was looking forward to it.

The drive back to Chapel Hill seemed to take half as long as the drive to the lake house . . . and she had been asleep for most of the drive there. Liz chewed on her nails compulsively until Brady slapped at her hands and made her stop. She grabbed his hand, laced their fingers together, and leaned on his shoulder. She wasn’t ready for their weekend of tranquility to be over.

“Brady,” she began as they turned off of I-40 toward her house.

“Yeah, baby?”

“I’m going to see you again, right?”

His eyes left the road to look at her. “Of course. Why would you ask that?”

“I don’t know,” Liz said. She really didn’t. Fears ate at her from every angle. She didn’t want to worry about how they were going to make this work, but she couldn’t keep those feelings from crowding in on her.

“There are a lot of unknowns going forward, Liz. But I’ll always be your airplane, and you’ll always be mine.” Liz smiled at the reference. She had said the same thing to him on the day of his primary. “You meant it then, and I mean it now.”

“Okay. You’re right,” she said.

She needed to trust Brady and trust what they had. They would let the storm blow over, and then come to terms with what they were going to do. Thrusting them into the spotlight and expecting everything to be all right sounded to her like a recipe for disaster.

Reporters fed on stories like this. Liz hadn’t wanted to jeopardize Brady’s career before and she didn’t want to do it now. She knew he cared about her, and for now that was enough. They had been apart for a year and a half, so the last thing she wanted to do was be away from him again. However, she knew logically that it would be better for them to wait. Plus she probably needed the time away. After Hayden’s deception, jumping directly into a full-on, public relationship with Brady sounded drastic. Everything would work itself out with time.

Brady turned down her street, and Liz’s head jerked at the sight in front of her. “Keep driving,” she barked.

“What?” Brady asked.

“Just keep driving. Don’t stop. Drive around the block.”

“Okay,” he said, continuing to the end of the street and taking a left turn. “What’s going on?”

“That Audi was Hayden’s.”

Brady slammed on his brakes and they came to an abrupt halt. Liz jerked forward against her seat belt and grunted as it cut into her shoulder. “Jesus, Brady!”

“Sorry. But what the f**k is he doing here? I thought you said you broke up.”

“We did. Well, I mean, it’s over since he wrote that article,” Liz told him.