Authors: Nova Raines
My chest lightens as I head toward the restaurant with a full tank of gas and new resolve. I’m telling Kaidan everything at dinner tonight. I can’t do this alone anymore.
I show up at five minutes to nine, fix myself up, and park a block away from the restaurant in a pointless attempt to hide the state of my car. I text Kaidan to let him know I’m here.
The trendy Japanese steakhouse where we’re meeting is filled with paper lanterns, bamboo accents, and a huge koi pond in the middle of a red marble foyer.
I sit on a red velvet bench for ten minutes, checking my phone, but he doesn’t text back. He’s probably driving—running late.
A silk-kimono wearing hostess approaches me.
“Can I get a drink for you?”
“Do you have a reservation for… Kaidan Stone?” I glance out the front doors, to the empty sidewalk outside. “I’m wondering if he got here already.”
She leads me back to the hostess stand. “Yes, I do. Party of two. He’s not here yet, but can I seat you while you wait?”
“Sure.” I take another glance at the door, nervous about seeing him again, about what I’m going to tell him. Then I follow the hostess back to the table through the packed restaurant.
She seats me, and I let out a breath and scan the restaurant. The tables only have a few feet between them, and the nearest table is sneaking glances at me. I check my phone again, and then the petite, Asian waitress brings me a water and the free bowl of edamame.
“Can I get you started on something?” she asks through a thick accent.
“Not yet. I’m waiting for someone. He’ll be here soon.”
She inclines her head and walks off.
I stare at the expensive menu for bit. I never really paid much attention to prices before, but now that I have no money, I’m painfully aware of how much I can’t afford this lifestyle. I put down the menu and look around at the crowd.
An older actress and her husband are seated against one wall, and a Lakers player is at another table with a girl hot enough to be a supermodel. She probably is one. A rowdy group enters the restaurant, and I instantly recognize the girl at the front. Neon blue hair, porcelain skin, and lots of dark makeup.
This is an exclusive restaurant, no doubt about it. The people in here are used to seeing celebrities in this part of Los Angeles. They don’t bat at eye, which is nice. Even though a few people have glanced my way, no one is gaping outright.
Although they might once Kaidan gets here.
he ever gets here.
At 9:20, I try calling him, but his phone goes straight to voicemail, and my throat closes. I hang up without leaving a message, because I know if I talk I’m going to sound pathetic and desperate. Why isn’t he here yet?
I polish off the edamame and drain my glass.
The waitress arrives almost instantly with another bowl and refills my water. “Are you ready to order?”
“My date will be here soon,” I say lamely.
She nods, her expression polite, but as she leaves my table I can see she’s a little irritated. I’m taking up one of her tables. And the sad truth is, I can’t order anything even if I wanted to. I spent all the cash Rowan gave me on gas. What I have left won’t even buy a single piece of sushi in this place.
“Hayley Wade?” I jerk to my left and see a very drunk girl stumbling my way. It’s Kennedy.
I sit up straight as she crashes into my table and leans close. I focus on her bloodshot eyes, the smeared bright-red lipstick at the corner of her mouth. I’m pretty sure I could get drunk off the fumes of her breath alone.
I press my back to my chair to put space between us, but she just leans closer. “You’re Hayley.”
“From one Stone Slut…” Kennedy jabs a finger at her chest to punctuate her slurred words, then points to me, “to another Slone Stut. Slut.” She giggles. “It’s my job to warn you. Kaidan’ll fuck you hard, then fuck you over.”
Kennedy lets go of her tight grip on the table and pulls out the chair across from me so she can collapse into it.
Now the people around us are definitely staring, irritated at the way she’s interrupting their dinner. My chest flutters. I’m mortified. What if Kaidan gets here, and she says this crap to
“No.” She holds up a finger to silence me, then grabs my water and chugs the entire thing. She wipes her wet mouth sloppily on the sleeve of her fishnet shirt and then starts to cry.
I stare at her in horror, unsure what to do next. I don’t even know this girl. I saw her one time ever, at the Stone mansion party, but I never even spoke to her.
“Enjoy it while it lasts,” she slurs through her tears. “Fuck him like it’s your job, but never ever give him your heart.” Her voice drops to a choked whisper. “I loved Devon. I really did.”
She puts her head in her arms and starts to sob loudly.
“Kennedy!” A dude with the best guyliner I’ve ever seen comes up to the table and grabs Kennedy’s arm. “Come on, love.”
She lets him lift her out of the chair, and he sends me an apologetic look before throwing an arm around her waist and helping her out the door.
The entire restaurant seems to be staring at me now. I whip out my phone to pretend to be busy. It’s 9:30 now, and Kennedy’s words have me on edge. Why the hell did she say that stuff? I go online to prevent myself from texting Kaidan yet again.
I check my empty e-mail inbox and surf around randomly before giving in and bringing up
. There are new headlines about my dad’s death.
Slash Wade Overdose Death—One Source Describes Wild Parties, Scandalous Orgies, Unlimited Cocaine
I let out a grunt and skip past that one. Yeah. Unlimited Cocaine. I’m paying for it. A few days ago, the tabloids moved from mere announcements of my father’s death to a bunch of stupid speculation and exposés on what a shitty drug-addicted person he was. I refuse to read it.
I scroll down, and I can barely breathe as I read the awful new headline halfway down the homepage.
KaiHay Stops Traffic, but is Kaidan seeing Peyton behind Hayley’s back?
My lungs seize, and my heart’s in my throat as I scan the article, dated
. The first picture is of me straddling Kaidan in his car, engaged in that steamy makeout session we shared yesterday right before we realized the paps had found us.
And below it, there’s a picture of Kaidan leaving a cafe. And right beside him, a hand on his arm—is Peyton. Is
the reason Kennedy just randomly approached me?
KaiHay stopped traffic yesterday with a public makeout session. But today Kaidan and Peyton were sighted having coffee in Los Angeles. Is KaiHay over just as soon as it began, or is Kaidan stringing his new doppelganger along, seeing Peyton in secret? Who do you think’s gonna make it? KaiHay or KaiPey? Sound off in the comments!
My stomach’s in knots, and I stupidly scroll down to the comments section. You never, ever,
read the comments. That’s, like, the #1 rule of reading articles about yourself on the Internet. I don’t know what I hope to find in the comments—maybe some tabloid junky invalidating this picture, claiming it’s from months ago.
Because I don’t want to believe my eyes. I don’t want to believe Kaidan just took Peyton out to coffee today. Is he standing me up for our date? Is he with Peyton
? I know reading the comments is a mistake, but I can’t stop myself.
LustLush219: KaiPey for LIFE. Hayley’s fucking fat and ugly. Look at the dumb whore. A cheap Peyton knock-off. Pey’s so much hotter and so sweet and talented. Hayley’s nothing!!!!!! She has NO talent. She’s only famous because of her dead daddy.
EnderVarronesHo: ha ha lush so true. No one will even remember her name in a few months.
StonesBabyGirl6382: Dump em both Kaidan! Fakeass blond bitches. He needs a real woman not a plastic doll.
TakenByLiam: I think Stone’ll keep goin back to Peyton. He’s addicted to her. They’re the perfect couple!
CheapHANDBAGS9483294x8347: Get the LATEST Prest handbags and sunglasses from THIS season by CLICKING HERE!
SparkleCowboy415: I vote KaiGAY! Seriously Kaidan you can do WAY better than Hayley Wade.
EnderVarronesHo: LOL Hayley should just kill herself like her parents did.
I have to stop there. I can’t read any more of this. I bet these trolls would be ecstatic if they knew I actually read what they wrote.
It’s 9:45. I look toward the door again, my jaw tight, my eyes burning, but Kaidan hasn’t magically appeared, and the restaurant’s starting to empty out a bit. My gaze lands on my waitress, who is standing by the hostess stand with a manager at her side. They all glance my way, and I can tell the waitress is pissed off I’m sitting here eating free edamame and drinking water.
I call Kaidan again, breathing too fast.
I want to know why he’s so late. He has to have a good reason. That article can’t be the whole truth.
What happened between us in the car? He said I was different, that he’d turned down so many girls to find me. Am I so naive that I couldn’t tell bullshit when I heard it? I really believed him. He seemed…
Then again, he thought
was real, and I’ve been hiding all kinds of shit.
His phone goes straight to voicemail again, and I hang up and get to my feet. I gotta get out of here. It’s clear he’s not coming.
I walk out of the restaurant, trying not to meet anyone’s eyes. Anyone who has been in here in the past hour can see I got stood up. I can only handle so much humiliation in one day.
I walk faster once I’m out of there, practically jogging down the street to where I parked. The tears come, and I wipe them away, not caring anymore about my make-up.
Flashes erupt behind me, casting their light on the dark sidewalk ahead of me, and I whirl around.
A familiar-looking pap in a patched vest and a giant gold earring is tailing me, and he’s snapping away less than a foot from me.
I hold my hand over my face. “Fuck off!”
His eyes widen, and he grins at me. The deranged pap pirate keeps snapping away, and the hot anger I felt earlier at my brother is back. I’m sick of everyone, of everything. And now this douche will make money off pictures of me crying.
KaiHay OVER! Hayley Ditched On Their First Real Date
I stumble back, trying to cover my face and then give up. I reach into my purse and pull out the pepper spray. “Go away!”
He doesn’t even care or blink an eye. He just steps closer to get a shot of my face now that I’m not covering it.
I flip up the safety and let loose, spraying his camera lens and his face.
He lets out a little scream and falls to his knees, dropping his camera to the pavement, rubbing at his eyes.
I hesitate, panic and guilt warring within me, but he wouldn’t stop—I told him to stop. He didn’t think I had it in me to actually spray him. Well he was wrong. Everyone’s wrong. They don’t know me or what I’m capable of.
I tear off my heels and run to my car barefoot as fast as I can. I can’t think straight as I make my getaway and drive back to my penthouse. I just hold back new tears and pay attention to the speed limit.
When I get home at 10:30, I rip off my tight dress and fall into bed in my underwear. My phone’s next to me, silent, no messages from Kaidan, and I reach over to the bedside table to flip on my MP3 player. A rap song comes on.
She drags me down, don’t know what to expect. All my niggaz say, that bitch be a train wreck.
Ugh. That’s me. A train wreck. I slam off the player and stare up at the ceiling in the dark, tears leaking from my eyes. I feel hollow, completely empty. Kaidan stood me up. And he’s probably with Peyton.
I have no solution to my money problem. I mean—I can get a job, but what job am I qualified for that will pay me enough to live on and also enough to pay what my dad owed the drug dealers? They’ll just keep adding more and more interest… and will they hurt me when I don’t pay up?
I never told Rowan dad owed them eighty grand. Maybe if I had, he would have reacted differently. I was too angry, too thrown off by catching him fucking some slut in his booth.
My phone rings, and I snatch it up. It’s Kaidan.
I take a deep breath and answer. “Hello?”
“I am so sorry,” his voice is deep and full of what sounds like genuine guilt and regret. “I didn’t realize how late it was, and—”
He goes silent.
“I really don’t want to hear you say you’re sorry anymore.”
There’s a long pause. An exhale. “I screwed up again.”
“Yeah. You should have called earlier if you couldn’t make it.”
I hear him take a deep breath. I want to ask about Peyton, but I don’t want him to know I’ve been reading the tabloids and believing them.
Kaidan breaks the heavy silence first. “There’s something big happening with work… I got caught up in it and lost track of time. There’s just a lot going on…”
My imagination is running wild with images of him fucking Peyton on top of his big wooden desk. Is that the kind of
he’s referring to?
He takes my silence as an invitation to keep talking. “The HIT music awards are tomorrow night. Will you come with me?”