I took Josie’s hand so as not to lose her to another bouncer this time. We made it onto the dance floor, weaving through the bumpers and grinders getting low, low, low. I spotted the doorway opening to the patio, finally, up ahead past the edge of the dance floor and to the side of the roped-off VIP area. Josie and I joined the line for the patio. Almost done, I kept thinking, like passing through this one final portal would be my rite of passage out of the tornado I’d gotten myself twisted up in. I wouldn’t have to lie that I’d been to the after-party. I could describe the scene, maybe see someone I recognized from the RV and get a quote. Or maybe Liz would buy an investigative journalism angle on this whole thing—“A Glitter World Exclusive: Reporter Denton Hodges Reveals Amber Donovan’s Hair Secret.” Play it like I was onto it all along.
And think of the material I could use—a puking Amber Donovan, needy, desperate, confused, not sure where she is or where she’s going, and Prince Charming Chris West, concerned, involved, pissed about having to make an appearance somewhere but willing to stay with you and make sure you’re all right, even giving you the shirt off his back. Who cares about what happened in between? I could take what I needed. This could be my exit—the patio outside and then a few slights of the pen. Waiting in that line, plotting so many ways to cover my ass and make it all neat and tidy, I felt dirty, and something more…something like…devious. For the first time since Liz had given me this assignment, I really felt like Anna Creel. Like I got the story, I did what I had to, and that’s all that matters, so go have a freaking fashionable night, because I’m…
“Denny!” MD was coming down the stairs from a VIP booth. “Oh my G!”
“Dee-Dee!” Amber pushed past the rope from the patio, tripping on her way toward me. Her purple wig had been replaced with a cherry-colored red one. “Oh my God, Dee-Dee! Where have you been? I neeeeeed you!”
“Anna?” That voice. I hope I’ll see you around. I remembered his voice. He came up behind me and put his hand on my lower back. “Do you want to get out of here?” Why yes, Chris West, yes, actually I do. I don’t think I have the scoop on the story anymore. I am the story.
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