Nikki gave a contented side and scooted a little closer to Clint. He had one arm wrapped around her, his boots propped up on the coffee table, and the two were watching a movie. It was, all things considered, probably the perfect way to spend an afternoon, she thought.
Or it was until the banging on the front door started.
She sat up. “Who could that be?” Nikki looked at Clint and suddenly got the oddest feeling that he had a pretty good idea who that could be and wasn’t overly eager to tell her. “Clint?”
The banging kept coming.
Clint sighed. “Nikki, I have an explanation.”
“That’s horribly un-reassuring.”
“I’d better get that before the neighbors start complaining.” Clint got up and reluctantly went and answered the door. Instantly someone burst past him into the apartment and was whirling around on him.
“I have a bone to pick with you Clint.”
“Holly?” Nikki stood up. “Holly what’s going on?”
“Oh. Nikki.” The sight of her seemed to stop Holly in her tracks a little. She frowned. “You didn’t know did you?”
Clint shook his head. “No she didn’t.”
“What didn’t I know that everyone else seems to?”
“Nik I can explain it to you later-”
“That you’re a sneaky, lying rat?” asked Holly.
“Holly, I understand that you’re upset-”
“Those pictures are a lie and you know it. You edited them and I am going to prove it!”
“Look, if you’ll hear me out-”
“Hear you out that you invited me and Peter to that café under false pretenses? That you manipulated the situation so you could take photos that you could then edit and sell as a pack of lies? Or hear you about how you did it all for Grant.”
Clint sighed and rubbed his forehead. “You’ve thought this through I see.”
“You know, I know what you did to Peter all those years ago. And he’s told me about how you helped him with the evidence against Alan. He thought you had changed. But I guess he was wrong, wasn’t he? You’re still the exact same person who would take advantage of someone at their lowest point. You’re a coward if you helped Grant because you were afraid of him. You’re a coward and I’m disgusted.”
“Fine. Don’t hear me out,” he snapped. “So what did you come here for then? Just to vent your righteous rage?”
“You’re an idiot if you think you are possibly going to get away with this, and you’ve got another think coming. We’re going to take those photos and we are going to prove that they’re completely and utterly fake and then we are going to trace them right back to you! Good bye Clint.”
The door was slammed shut behind her before Clint even had a chance to blink.
He turned to Nikki. She was staring at him and he got the distinct impression that the storm wasn’t quite over.
“What was that all about?” asked Nikki carefully.
Rather than bother explaining, Clint pulled his phone out of his pocket, brought up the photos, and tossed it over to her. She caught it.
For a long minute she stared at them.
“Alright?” he raised an eyebrow. “That’s it?”
“No. I’m just trying to decide where to start.” There was a dangerous edge to her voice. “Are they fakes?”
“What does it matter?”
“Because I’m trying to figure out why you would fake photos. But then again, I’m also trying to figure out when you returned to the paparazzi without telling me or why you’re apparently working for Grant!” Nikki was building up steam.
“Nikki I’m doing something I have to do.”
“Because Grant’s here. He’s a threat. He’s threatening you.”
“Yes. You and your career.”
“Don’t you think that’s something you should have talked to me about then? Something you should have let me decide?”
“But he brought the threat to me. Just trust me Nikki. I have this under control…sort of,” he amended.
“That,” she said, gesturing after Holly, “didn’t look like control.”
There was a long beat. “Okay.”
Nikki smiled. Suddenly, it didn’t seem like there had ever been a storm there at all. “I think at this point, trust is the least you can ask for.” She came over and kissed him. “Here’s your phone back.”
“You know for a second there I thought you might throw it at me.”
She laughed. “I like to think I’ve outgrown throwing things.”
“Good. Because it’s a new phone and I’m not sure if the warranty covers girlfriends.”
He couldn’t quite believe it when Nikki led him back to the couch and they returned to watching the movie. He’d been sure they had been about to have a blazing, storm-out-of-the-apartment row, and they hadn’t. She’d accepted what he had to say. She hadn’t even insisted on a full explanation.
Clint took hold of Nikki’s hand, tangling their fingers together, and despite Holly’s blistering attack, felt completely content. With Nikki here, he knew exactly where he stood.