Peter left his apartment at seven in the morning. He knew it was early and that there was a chance Holly might not even be awake when he got there, but he was determined on catching her before she left for work.
He placed the folder down on the seat beside him, and started the car. He’d been up most of the night, playing and replaying the coming conversation in his head, trying to figure out the best way to broach the subject. He had briefly considered trying to bring Evelyn in to help him, but remembering how she’d shut him down the first time he’d gone to her to try and tell her about Alan, he had decided against it.
No, he would do this himself. He would hand Holly the folder, he would have her look at everything, and then he would start the explanations.
He was nearing her apartment and he trying hard to concentrate on the road, but his thoughts were whirring by at a thousand miles an hour. He needed this to work, he needed this to go it the right way or the situation would implode, he needed her to understand that he was doing this because he cared-
Peter braked abruptly, one block from Holly’s door. The car behind honked loudly and the driver gesticulated angrily. Peter pulled over to the side quickly and stared out through the windshield. There was a large group of people outside one of the buildings up the street and he was sure it was Holly’s. Paparazzi, his mind quickly supplied, it has to be. But why? This many all of a sudden had to mean there was some new story they all wanted in on.
He pulled out his cellphone and dialed Clint. It rang several times before being answered.
“Clint. It’s Peter. I’m outside Holly’s apartment and there’s a whole bunch of photographers. They’re your lot; any idea why they’re here?”
There was a pause. “You mean you haven’t seen the tabloids yet?”
Holly let out a groan and pulled a pillow over her head.
“Holly,” said Amy’s voice. “I know you wanted to sleep in today but…well there’s a bit of a scene outside. Holly?”
Holly rolled over onto her back and blinked blearily up at the ceiling. “It feels early.” She yawned sleepily.
“Yes, sorry as I said-”
Holly sat up abruptly, Amy’s words suddenly starting to sink in. “Scene outside? What do you mean?”
“There’s a whole lot of photographers. I tried to head to work and got mobbed, everyone asking questions about you.”
“What on earth for?”
“It seems word sort of got out somehow. About you and Alan, I mean.”
Holly stared at Amy. “Are you sure?”
“Pretty positive. They were all asking about it. And after I beat a hasty retreat I checked online.” Amy held out her smartphone. Holly took it and skimmed through a webpage Amy had up.
“Oh. Wait there’s-,” Holly blinked several times. “How did they get a picture of me wearing the ring? I’ve kept it on the chain every time I go out in public and most of the time besides that.” Her cellphone started ring, and Holly fished it out of her purse. “Hello? Oh Alan, have you seen-”
“Yes. That’s why I’m calling.” His voice was concerned.
“I don’t understand how they got this picture.”
“It must have been someone at the jewelry store. Holly I’m so sorry about this.”
“Amy says there’s a bit of a mob outside.”
Alan sighed. “I was afraid of this. We’re still new, you’re new, we’ve got new movies coming out. This was just the perfect storm for an engagement to wreak havoc. I’m so sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter. There were some outside the apartment when we started dating too. I dealt with it then and I’ll deal with it now. Hopefully better though.”
“There are quite a few more then there were then,” cut in Amy.
“Look,” said Alan, “I’ll come pick you up for work. Then we can talk. It might be a good idea for you to stay somewhere else for a few days. Let this die down.”
“You really think that’s going to be necessary?” asked Holly.
“It would make it easier. I’ll be over in half an hour and we can talk about it.”
Holly hung up. She smiled a little sheepishly up at Amy. “I’m so sorry about this.”
Amy shrugged. “It’s not your fault. Come on, I’ll make you some breakfast.”
“What about your work?”
“I’ve already called my boss and explained. He knows I’ll be late.”
“Engaged?” Peter felt as if he’d been hit in the gut. “Are you sure?”
“As near as anyone can be till there’s an official confirmation, but yeah. I traced the story back to a pretty legitimate website.”
Peter swore and thumped the wheel in anger. He forced himself to take a deep breath and focus. “I have to talk to her.”
“Are you really going to go up there now for all the photographers to see?”
Peter hesitated and then sighed. “No. I’ll come back tonight. But I have to get the folder to her. Now more than ever.”