“So, Vaughn, how was it, making a movie with your girlfriend and best friend?” Bradford asks me.
I’m sitting on a studio sofa in front of a live audience with Piper Watts, my girlfriend, and Cain Acton, my best friend. Treason is the film we did together. It’s a romantic comedy about two best friends who end up fighting over the same girl. Of course, I end up with the girl. It would have been a little weird for audiences if Cain had ended up with my real-life girlfriend. The film is due to drop in cinemas next week, so Piper, Cain, and I are doing the press rounds to promote it. Tonight, we’re on Digby’s Dirt.
No, I shit you not. That’s the name of the show I’m currently on.
The most popular late-night chat show on television.
It’s hosted by Bradford Digby, the television host that every celebrity loves to hate. The fucker is a rat through and through. He’s like a bloodhound. He can sniff out scandal at fifty paces. God, even his name sounds pretentious.
But he’s popular. His show has high ratings, hence the reason Jack, my manager—who is also Cain’s manager—and the studio are having us appear on here to promote our new movie.
Pausing briefly at his question, I slide a smile in Piper’s direction. “It was fun.”
Piper bitched the whole time. I might have been with her for six months, and I’d known she could be a challenge at times, but I’d thought her diva reputation on set was sheer embellishment. It wasn’t.
Honestly, it made me look at her with a whole new set of eyes. But that’s a thought for later.
I’d worked with Cain before, so I knew what to expect. It was great, as always. He’s my best friend. I’ve known him for ten years. I trust the guy with my life.
“It’s always fun working with Vaughn,” Cain says, smirking at me.
I know he thought Piper was a pain in the ass, too, but he’d never say it to me because she’s my girl.
Piper is actually the first woman I’ve dated seriously since I got in this business. I just figured it was time to settle down. I’m not getting any younger, and I want to have a family someday. Piper’s great—apart from being annoying to work with, which I’ll make sure I never do again. I’ll keep our relationship and work separate in the future.
“No disagreements? Arguments?” Bradford asks.
“Well, there are always disagreements.” I give a laugh, and the audience laughs, too.
“But they were only minor disagreements, right, V?” Piper says.
God, I hate it when she calls me V. How hard is it to say my name? Vaughn. It literally rolls off the tongue.
“We had a blast filming together. And what more could a girl want than to work with the man she loves and, of course, his best friend?”
The audience sounds out with an, “Aw.”
“Of course,” Bradford says. “Don’t forget the best friend.”
Um…what? Piper loves me?
First I’ve heard.
I make sure to control my outward reaction to this surprising piece of news, keeping my facial expression as neutral as possible.
Inside though, I’m shocked to shit. I mean, we’ve been together for six months, but we haven’t said I love you yet. Honestly, I don’t think I’m even there yet. But that’s beside the point. You’d think she’d have said it to me first before announcing it on live television.
God, I hope she hasn’t said it to me, and I didn’t hear it—or worse, that I forgot.
“So, Vaughn, how long have you and Cain been friends for now?” Bradford asks.
“Uh…” I look up.
Bradford chuckles. “Been that long that you’ve forgotten?”
“Probably.” Cain laughs and looks at me. “Ten years, right, man?”
“Yeah. Ten years too long.” I grin at Cain, and the audience laughs.
“Ten years? Wow.” Bradford leans back in his chair. His hand straightens out his tie.
There’s something in his tone that I don’t like. Unease moves through me.
“So, I guess it must come as a hell of a blow to learn that Cain has been having an affair with Piper for the last three months.”
I hear a whoosh in my ears and realize it’s the audience gasping.
I blink, glancing around.
Piper’s and Cain’s faces are frozen, like I guess mine is. And Bradford just has this smug expression on his face.
“What?” I laugh, but it sounds uneasy, even to my own ears. “You’re kidding, right? This is a joke.” I even look around to see if Ashton Kutcher is waiting to tell me I’ve been punked.
“It’s no joke.” Bradford’s eyes flick to the big screen behind him, and there’s a picture of Cain and Piper in an embrace, outside what looks like a hotel room door.
It’s fake. It has to be. Because Cain would never do that to me.
I squeeze my eyes shut.
But I know it’s not a fake.
Because I know this industry. I know this asshole wouldn’t risk his career on a rumor or a fake picture. He must have authenticated it. He wouldn’t have done this on live television without die-hard facts and the proof to back it up because he knows he’d have his ass sued if he were lying.
My heart sinks into the pit of my stomach.
“This is bullshit!” Piper snaps.
I open my eyes and look at her. She’s pissed.
It’s because she’s been caught. And caught so publicly.
My eyes flick past her to Cain.
The contriteness in his expression is all the confirmation I need.
And I feel sick.
There’s commotion all around. I can hear people yelling from off camera. Piper is screaming for them to turn the cameras off.
That’s what she cares about right now.
Not me. Not the fact that my heart is being broken on live television by my cheating-ass girlfriend. But, worse, by my friend, whom I trusted. The guy I’ve known for ten years.
Ten fucking years.
My head starts to cloud.
I’m no longer on live television with an audience of people sitting there.
I’m staring at my best friend, and rage is firing in my bloodstream.
I get to my feet. “Is it true?” I say to him, my voice trembling with anger.
Cain gets to his feet, facing me. “I’m sorry,” he says.