Xavier Cold

Page 37


“That’s what makes you such a good person, Anna. You really do care about people.”
“Thank you. I don’t always feel that way about myself. Father always made me feel like I was the evilest thing in the world.”
“Pfft,” Quinn huffs. “Uncle Simon needs a reality check. By being his crazy, uptight self, he’s missing out on what an extraordinary woman you have become. It’s his loss, Anna, and you have to stop believing that what he said is true. He’s the one who’s wrong when it comes to how strict he’s been with you. Hopefully, one day, he’ll wake up and give you the apology he owes you.”
I release a slightly bitter laugh. “That’s never going to happen, Quinn. You and I both know Father doesn’t work that way.”
“You never know. He might surprise you after he realizes that you’re not going to bend to his will anymore.”
I open my mouth to repeat again that Father will never apologize, but the sound of my name being called over the low murmurs in the catering room catches my attention.
“Anna Sweet?”
“Right here.” I raise my hand and then whisper into the phone, “Got to go, Quinn. I’ll call you soon.”
“Okay, love you,” she says before we end the call.
I shove myself out of the seat and then follow the guy wearing a Tension T-shirt out of the room. I recognize the man as one of the stagehands. When the show goes live, he is responsible for fetching the talent to get them ready to head out and face the crowd.
We make it back to a set of closed blue double doors, and the man raps his knuckles on the steel just below a piece of paper that says Writers.
He twists the knob and then pops his head inside. “Anna Sweets for you.”
“Send her in, Al,” a female voice on the other side calls.
I instantly know I’m about to face Vicky.
Al turns to me with an expression on his face that can only be described as worry as the corners of his mouth pull down. “Good luck.”
I lift my chin and step through the door, unsure of what I’m walking into.
The writers’ room is set up identical as it was in Atlanta with the folding tables side by side and four writers sitting next to each other, typing furiously.
“Have a seat,” Vicky orders. She doesn’t bother to glance up at me from her computer.
My eyes flick to the blue plastic chairs in front of Vicky, and there, with a smirk on his face, sits Rex.
I sigh as I note he’s strategically placed himself in the middle seat, leaving me no choice but to take a chair next to him.
He wiggles his eyebrows and pats the empty seat to his right. “Saved you a seat.”
I roll my eyes and plop down on the edge of the seat next to him, doing my best to scoot the further away from him. He throws his arm around my shoulders, and my skin crawls.
“Ugh.” I throw his arm off me. “Please don’t touch me.”
This amuses him. He leans in toward me and whispers, “Come on, Anna. You need to get used to me touching you because I’ll be doing it a lot on camera.”
I want to argue with him and tell him that there’s no way that’s going to happen, but Mr. Silverman has already made it perfectly clear that a romance with Rex on camera is in the cards for me.
I twist my head away from Rex, and he chuckles darkly as he settles back into his seat.
“Okay, Anna,” Vicky says as she swivels her chair to face me. “I’m sure you know why you’re here, so let’s get right down to the storyline, shall we?”
“Okay.” I fold my arms across my chest, knowing full well that I’ll absolutely hate whatever comes out of her mouth.
“Tonight, we’re going to send you out with Rex and another lady we’ve brought on as an employee. Rex informs me you’ve already met Deena.”
When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, Deena gets thrown into the mix.
Vicky awaits a response from me, but when she sees that she won’t be getting one, she adjusts her black-rimmed glasses and continues, “The two of you ladies will accompany Rex out to the ring, and you both will be a part of the Fire Phenomenal X support group, being sympathetic to Rex. The three of you will be leading a fictional protest to get Phenomenal X out of Tension for good.”
My mouth falls open. “That’s the most absurd idea I’ve ever heard. The fans will hate that, and I will not—”
“Need I remind you, Ms. Cortez, that you are under contract? You must follow the script we provide, or we will have cause to remove you from the company.”
Her threat is clear. I need to go along with this or get fired. And if I’m fired, Mr. Silverman will not allow me back into the building when Xavier’s suspension is lifted.
I take a deep breath. Being a part of a group in this scenario is better than being in a fake relationship with Rex.
I clear my throat. “So, I just walk into the ring with Rex and Deena and stand there? Is that all I do?”
“For now,” Vicky replies coolly. “Feel free to improvise if you think something will strengthen the plotline for the rivalry between X and Rex. We need to get the fans excited about an epic showdown between the two.”
“Got it,” I answer solemnly. “Anything else?”
She eyes me over the top of her glasses for a moment and then shakes her head. “That’s it. You may go.”
Without another word, I hop up from the chair and race through the door, relieved a little that I won’t be kissing Rex tonight like he threatened, but I still have this looming feeling that I’ve only temporarily escaped it.
Chapter 20
My cell vibrates, alerting me to a new text, so I quickly check the message folder.
Pearl: Your costume is ready. Come see me to get fitted.
My heart sinks when it doesn’t end up being Xavier responding to my earlier attempts of reaching him. I know we’ve been bickering a little, but he’s never gone this long without contacting me. The last time I heard from him was last night when he responded with the message that he was going to bed.
I fully expect him to call me before I go out solo on my first show, but so far, he hasn’t, so I decide to try him again one more time.
Anna: Checking in. Hope you’re all right. Super nervous about the show tonight. Would love to hear your voice before I go out there.