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“I had a pretty traumatic Friday. I needed to escape. So I did,” Liz said, answering Hayden’s question. “What are you doing here?”

“I needed to talk to you, to explain,” he said.

Now that she got a good look at him, she realized that he didn’t look like himself. He had stubble growing in on his jaw and his clothes were wrinkled, as if he hadn’t changed them recently. The only time she had seen him this disheveled was last October, when she had walked out on him after their argument.

“I’m not sure what you needed to explain. I think I understand completely what happened,” Liz said, completely cool and resolute. Any apprehensions about coming in here had faded. She felt a dose of Brady’s confidence fueling this conversation.

“Can we talk in private, please?” Hayden asked, glancing over at Victoria and then back.

“Oh what? Like the last time we talked in private?” Liz asked harshly.

Hayden winced. “I—”

“Don’t have a good enough excuse for anything. And you never did.”

Victoria smirked. “I feel like I need to go pop some popcorn for this.”

“Victoria, really not helpful,” Liz said, shaking her head.

“Fine. I’ll be in the kitchen. If I hear anything at all that is out of place, I will be in here to beat the shit out of you, Lane. Don’t think for a second that I’m lying.”

He just stared at her with stone-cold eyes as she walked away. She left the kitchen door open, so there was no mistaking that she would be back in a matter of seconds.

“What are you doing here? Just spit it out so we can get this over with.” Liz crossed her arms over her chest and waited.

“I . . . I came to apologize for what I did.”

Liz started laughing in his face. “Oh, you’re serious. How sad.”

“What’s wrong with you, Liz? Why are you acting like this?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t know!” she said, raising her voice. “Maybe because when I confided in my boyfriend a secret I’d never told anyone but my best friend, he went and wrote about it in the newspaper so now the entire world knows!”

“I didn’t put your name out there. No one else knows that it’s you.”

“Right! Because that makes it better and suddenly absolves you from fault! Are you that stupid? Someone could figure it out, and even if they don’t, you still betrayed my trust in such a way that could never in a million years be repaired. How could I ever trust you again? You didn’t even have the decency to tell me you were doing it or f**king call me back that day to face what you had done!”

“Liz . . .”

“You’re the definition of a coward, Hayden.”

His jaw clenched and his hands balled into fists. She was pushing his buttons and feeding on his insecurities. He had to have known that this was going to happen. There was no coming back from what he had done. If he thought that she was going to let him walk all over her again, he was sadly mistaken. That Liz was never resurfacing.

“I came to explain. Are you at least going to let me explain?” he demanded.

“Sure. Go ahead and try to explain to me how this happened.”

“Look, I didn’t mean for it to all go this way. I was upset about everything and I ended up talking to Calleigh about you. She tried to comfort me. Told me to throw myself into work. That’s when I spilled about the story. I didn’t give her your name or anything . . .”

“Ugh! Digging the hole deeper,” she muttered under her breath.

“It wasn’t like that. You know I’m not interested in Calleigh!”

Brady’s words echoed in her mind about Hayden and Calleigh. “Sure seems that way to me.”

“Nothing happened, but when I told her about the story, she pitched it to the editor without telling me. Once it was approved, I didn’t have much choice but to run with it.”

“Right. Try to claim that you didn’t have a choice. Make it not about you. See if that works,” she said.

“I messed up. I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to tell you. I wanted to do it in person, but . . .”

“But what?” she snapped. “You lost your balls and had to go looking for them all weekend?”

Liz heard Victoria snort laughing from the other room. That only ticked off Hayden more.

“Are you serious right now?” he yelled into her face. “I’m trying to apologize to you. Can you take this seriously for a second?”

Liz raised her eyebrows. “If you yell at me one more time, Hayden Lane, I promise that you will never be welcome in my house again. And I don’t make promises I can’t keep,” she said menacingly. Brady sure had an effect on her.

“Sorry,” he apologized again. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“You’re probably itching for a cigarette,” Liz said offhandedly.


“Oh, you thought I didn’t know that either?”

“I don’t smoke.”

“Lies. All lies. They just build the fire into an inferno,” she said, shaking her head.

“I don’t smoke!” he said, raising his voice again. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to . . . Why do you think I smoke?”

“Oh, because I saw you do it in October when you left the newspaper.”

“You were watching me?”

“It seems the only way to get you to tell the truth!”

“I used to smoke,” Hayden admitted. “When I was in high school, the other guys on the track team smoked, but I quit. High-stress situations make me crave them.”

“How many high-stress situations have you been in lately?” Liz asked accusingly.

“A few,” he said stiffly. “But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to try to make things right. How can I make things right?” He splayed his hands out in front of him and took a step forward.

“If you came here to fix things, then you should have never come. You can’t make it right. There’s absolutely nothing that you could say to me that would get me to change my mind. You’ve already done enough damage here. I think you should maybe do some soul-searching and see how much you totally f**ked up the best thing you’ll ever have in your life. How does it feel knowing that you ruined your own life?” she said calmly. “I hope that Calleigh beats you to that promotion and drops your ass. It would be what you deserve.”