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Authors: S.A. Ozment

Tags: #gay romance

Tangled Web

BOOK: Tangled Web
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Tangled Web

By S.A. Ozment

 

By day Ashley Stevens is a dedicated nurse; by night he runs multiple social media sites for his crush and all-time favorite actor, Sebastian Gray. After a particularly grueling day at work, Ashley drinks away his misery while dreaming about being with Sebastian—only to realize it’s no dream when Sebastian actually contacts him.

Sebastian asks him to officially run his sites and Ashley is thrilled—right up until Sebastian makes it clear that he thinks Ashley is a girl. And maybe it’s the wine, or maybe it’s a fear that if Sebastian knew the truth, he wouldn’t want him, but Ashley never sets him straight. But keeping the secret becomes a nightmare as Ashley and Sebastian talk online night after night, forging a true connection. And the longer Ashley waits to tell the truth, the more tangled the lies become.

A plane ticket from Sebastian, along with an invitation to meet in New York City for a fan event, brings it all to a head. Ashley must face Sebastian and tell all, but he might not be the only one keeping secrets.

Acknowledgments

 

 

Many thanks to everyone who helped make
Tangled Web
happen, especially Patricia, Nicole, Jenny, Adele, and Caroline. I would also like to thank my daughter Courtney for her input. On to the next one….

Prologue

 

 

September 17th

 

NEVER BEFORE
had I dreaded opening my laptop because, quite frankly, it was my lifeline to all the things I loved. That is… until today. Before I had opened my eyes this morning, and more importantly, before I had my first cup of coffee, I heard the
ding
of my cell phone alerting me to a Facebook message. Fighting the urge to throw the covers back over my head, I remembered what was happening today and reluctantly reached out into the dark, my fingers searching my bedside table for my annoying iPhone. Feeling the slick rainbow cover of my phone case, I grabbed it and hid it under the covers. Hearing the
ding
again, I knew I couldn’t avoid the inevitable, so I pulled the phone up to my face. As I peered at the screen through half-closed eyes, I struggled to see who was sending a message at this ungodly hour of the morning. After blinking several times to adjust to the bright light of the phone, my eyes focused, and I saw the name
Seb4life
. Groaning, I threw the iPhone back down on the bed. I knew immediately what Celeste—aka
Seb4life
—wanted, and since I had not found a way out of this situation, I didn’t want to deal with her, at least, not yet.

Chapter 1

 

 

Four months earlier—May 8th

 

AFTER SLAMMING
the front door of my small one-bedroom apartment, I leaned back against the hard wood and closed my eyes in hopes of settling my nerves. What a horrible day it had been. There was a shooting at a local fast-food restaurant, and the victim had been a little girl. The EMS had brought her into the emergency room where I work, and I had been assigned to her case. Normally I could handle almost anything that comes through the front doors, but today was different. This little girl really got under my skin, and it was all I could do to keep my wits about me while I assisted the ER doctor during the initial treatment. After the doctor stabilized her, she was taken to surgery to remove the bullet. I’d made a point to check on her before I left work, and fortunately she had made it through surgery and should make a full recovery.

Breathing normally for the first time in hours, I opened my eyes and headed straight for the kitchen. I walked over to the sink, maneuvering around the breakfast bar, which separated me from what I was aiming for. I reached down into the brown cabinet below, moved aside my huge Crock-Pot, grabbed one of the bottles of chardonnay I had been saving for a special occasion, and placed it on top of the counter. I searched in the top drawer for my corkscrew, located a nice big wine glass, and stalked out of the kitchen as I headed straight for the living room and my laptop without missing a beat. On most nights I would’ve stopped to change into comfortable clothes but not tonight. I wanted nothing more than to drink and forget it all. And most of all, I was badly in need of a nice chat with my online friends at my hangout of choice—my Facebook page for my favorite actor, Sebastian Gray.

While waiting on my computer to boot up, I quickly drank my first glass of wine. I told myself to slow down, but my hand didn’t get the message as I filled my glass again. Why was I so keyed up? I had worked on children before, but there was something about this sweet little girl with the long blonde hair that had tugged at my heartstrings. Maybe it was because she reminded me of my little sister when she had been that age. Regardless, I would never be able to understand how anyone could hurt a child because they were angry with the mother. And what kind of idiot takes a gun to a fast-food restaurant looking for the woman? What in the hell was going on with people these days? Well, all of these philosophical questions would have to be answered at a later date because I was online now, and my friend Patricia was waiting on me.

Ashley: Hello Pat! Thank goodness you’re around tonight
, I typed into the instant messenger.

Patricia: Hey, baby! You sound upset. Did you have a bad day at work?

Ashley: Yeah, it was pretty horrible, but nothing a few glasses of wine won’t help.

As I typed I felt the first little buzz zipping through my brain. I knew I should slow down, as I didn’t drink very often. A few glasses in, I’m ashamed to say, I’d probably be pretty tipsy. But I lifted the glass to my lips unconsciously.

Patricia: I’m here, baby, if you need to talk.

Smiling, I thought about how much I loved talking to Patricia. She was such a nice person and always willing to listen to me, especially when I went on a ramble about how much I adored my celebrity crush, Sebastian Gray.

Sebastian was a semifamous actor. I say semi because he was just now becoming well-known. I discovered him a few years ago on a short-lived television show and was immediately smitten. He was your typical Hollywood type but better-looking than most. I’d read online that he was around six feet tall—perfect height for me. His hair was blond with streaks of gold from the sun. He wore it like most of the guys these days, short on the sides and slightly longer on top. His California tan contrasted nicely against the color of his hair while his eyes… well they were to die for. Sebastian’s eyes truly did appear to be the window to his soul. They were a pale shade of blue that seemed to radiate kindness. The rest of his face was chiseled and beautiful, but truthfully, it was his dimples—on both cheeks—that sunk in when he smiled and won my heart. If he weren’t such a fabulous actor, he definitely could’ve been a model. I had been so captivated by him I had barely finished watching the show before I was online to find out more about him. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that Sebastian didn’t have a social presence on the Internet other than an outdated IMDb page. It didn’t show me anything other than he was born on the seventh of January, and he was now thirty-one years old, which made him only two years older than me.

After following him for a year or so, I decided he needed more of a social presence, and I was just the person to help him with it. After all, who doesn’t want free publicity, and besides, in my opinion, the entire world needed to know about this Hollywood hunk of a man. I started an online fan page for him on Facebook, opened an Instagram page using only part of his name, and created a handle on Twitter. I never pretended to be Sebastian, but I did promote him pretty heavily, and his number of followers had grown tremendously since I started. Unfortunately, over time, I came to realize Sebastian was one of those actors who either didn’t care about social media or had never bothered to learn how to use it. But I was fine with that as I updated each site every few days with announcements or general chatter to keep people interested. The only rule I had on his sites was that there would be no gossip about Sebastian’s personal life. All rumors pointed to Sebastian being straight, but since I was a gay man living three thousand miles away, and not to mention the fact that I would never be lucky enough to meet him, his sexual preference was a moot point for me and anyone visiting the sites.

Patricia: Hey, Ashley, did you ever send that e-mail to Sebastian’s manager?
Patricia typed into our window on Facebook.

Ashley: I did, my love… I did. I told her about all the social media sites I had on Sebastian and how huge the following had become, especially in the past two years.

Patricia: And….

Ashley: Then I bit the bullet and asked her if I could make one of them an official page. And you will be happy to know that I used all the wording you suggested.

As I typed this last sentence, I felt a warm fuzziness flow through my body. Realizing the alcohol must be kicking in, I looked down to see I had already drunk the second glass of wine.

Patricia: Fantastic! How long ago did you send it?

Ashley: Uh… it’s been a while. Maybe a month?
I glanced up at my calendar.
No wait, it was more like two months ago.

Patricia: Did you hear anything back?

Ashley: Not yet, and truthfully, I don’t expect to. I think if Sebastian had any interest in social media, he would’ve created the accounts a long time ago.

Patricia: Well you never know. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. Now tell me what happened to put you in such a tizzy.

I started to write about my day in the emergency room. I was now on my third glass of wine, and I continued to drink as I told Patricia about the little girl, how the bullet had lodged in her stomach, and how I had flipped out completely. After a short while, I began to feel dizzier, and I was giggling nonstop like an idiot. Glancing over at the bottle, I could see it was almost empty. Shit! I must have been more upset than I thought. I couldn’t remember ever drinking an entire bottle of wine by myself.

As I chatted with Patricia, I saw a Facebook message fly down the left side of the page, stating I had a new friend request. I instantly popped over to my Add a Friend page and saw the name
Imsebastiangray
.

Sure you are, buddy
, I thought as I sloshed my last little bit of wine around in my glass. Leaning back in my chair, I hesitated a moment as I thought about whether to accept it or not. It always ticked me off when someone created a screen name using a celebrity’s name, as if they’re hiding their own name. But what the heck, I was feeling good tonight, so
Ba
Boom, I clicked Confirm and minimized the page.

I continued typing to Patricia,

Ashley: Anyway, needless to say, it was one hell of a day….

A few minutes later, another instant messenger screen popped up beside my chat with Patricia. Becoming a little frustrated over the second interruption, I typed in Patricia’s box.

Ashley: Hold on a second, sweetie. I have an annoying person instant messaging me who wants me to think he’s Sebastian.

I clicked out of the chat with Patricia and read the message from
Imsebastiangray
.

Imsebastiangray: Hi, Ashley, This is Sebastian Gray. My manager told me you had several social media accounts set up on my behalf, and I’ve spent the last thirty minutes looking at them. First, I want to say thank you and that I appreciate all your hard work. Secondly, I wanted to say that it was fine with me if you wanted to make them official.

My heart skipped a beat while I reread his message. Then I laughed. Out. Loud. Seriously? I lifted my eyebrows in disbelief. Did this dude really think I would believe him?

Ashley: Who is this? Gabby is this you? After the day I’ve had, I’m not in the mood for your nonsense.
The last thing I needed was my coworker playing another one of her pranks on me.

After a few seconds went by, this Sebastian wannabe responded.

Imsebastiangray: It’s me, really, I’m Sebastian Gray.

Ashley: And I’m Julia Roberts! Stop it Gabby!

Now I was becoming annoyed. My head was spinning from the wine, my wits had still not been collected from today’s events, and now one of my not-so-funny friends was getting on my nerves.

Imsebastiangray: Okay, I see you’re not going to believe me. What can I do to prove it’s me?

I thought about it for a second. First of all,
my
Sebastian would never pick such a stupid screen name.
I mean… really? I am Sebastian Gray?
He might as well announce it all over Google. But okay, I can play along. I started snickering as I typed.

Ashley: Take off your shirt, and send me a picture holding a sign with my name on it. I’ll know that eight-pack anywhere.

BOOK: Tangled Web
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