Out of Her League(6)

By: Samantha Wayland

Callum’s sister, Savannah, had offered to come help her get settled, which was really sweet. Michaela hoped they’d get to know each other better over the coming months, but as of now, she didn’t know her that much better than the complete strangers her mother had proposed.

And, of course, Lachlan hadn’t offered to help at all. Which, really, was for the best all around.

The brief and evil fantasy of innocently asking Lachlan to unpack her underwear drawer drifted through her mind, and she smiled momentarily before scolding herself. She felt sorry for the guy, and as much as a good prank could make her whole day, she didn’t have any smelling salts.

Then she considered how bad it would be if he found the box under her bed, unlocked. 911 worked the same everywhere, right?

Grinning, she set up her speakers, chose a playlist, and bopped her way into the kitchen to start working.

Lachlan thought it had to suck to be Michaela Price.

Standing in Out of Town News, just a few feet from his office and in the heart of Harvard Square, he frowned at the wall of magazines before him. Normally he wouldn’t spare them a second glance, but it was hard to ignore the glossy, full-color covers when they featured his own brother.

America was currently obsessed with the story of the Olympic-medal winning professional athlete who had left it all behind to marry the man he loved and raise their two adopted children. Add in that Rupert was an earl and it was the stuff of romance novels—or so Lachlan’s mother had attempted to explain.

It all seemed like a lot of hooey to Lachlan. It was just Callum and Rupert. They were good people, trying to raise more good people well. Lachlan knew and loved them, and was one hundred percent certain their lives didn’t really resemble the crap he was looking at on the newsstand.

Michaela, on the other hand, he didn’t know, but his bullshit meter was still stuck at full tilt. She was on more than half of the covers, too. And in two cases, she got the big picture, and his brother and Rupert had been relegated to the little box in the corner.

Scorned again! declared one particularly busy headline. Did she know? asked another.

She had known. She’d known Callum was gay almost the entire time they’d been friends. And certainly for every minute they’d pretended to date. Lachlan had never understood why either of them had thought that was a good idea, but he’d been able to imagine why his brother had believed being an openly gay man and an NHL star hadn’t been possible. Lachlan absolutely couldn’t fathom why Michaela had done it. Hell, she’d been the one to suggest it.

Lachlan didn’t know shit about society or celebrities, but even he knew Michaela was both. He’d heard someone once call her a celebutante. The daughter of a wealthy and powerful family, blessed with a symmetrical facial structure and a lot of shiny hair, meeting the current standards for beauty seemingly without much effort, thanks to genetics making her tall and slim.

So what.

None of this explained why people wanted to know so much about her. And why they didn’t seem to care if what they read was the truth or not. Callum had been sick with worry about how his coming out and marriage would affect Michaela. She’d insisted that he not worry about that, about her, and make himself happy.

And he had. With her blessing and support, even though she’d known full well that this crap would be the consequence.

To Lachlan, that was the story that readers should care about, though mostly he thought people should just mind their own damn business. She’d thrown herself to the media wolves so her friend could be happy. That was interesting. That told him something about her. But people didn’t care about that.

What they cared about appeared to be—Lachlan leaned closer to the rack of magazines, embarrassed to even be looking at this dreck—a sex tape.

Lachlan jerked upright. A sex tape?

“Did you hear Michaela Price is enrolled this semester? I read she’s working on her PhD in psychology.”

Lachlan glanced at the group of undergraduates to his left. The one who’d spoken picked up one of the magazines featuring Michaela, front and center, on the cover.

“Must be nice to be able to buy your way into any school you want,” said another with a sneer. “Think we’ll recognize her when she hasn’t had herself Photoshopped?”

Lachlan wondered if they actually thought she’d volunteered to be on the cover of a magazine decrying her inability to keep a man happy.

“She’s probably a bitch,” another announced.

Lachlan’s hands curled into fists, his lunch souring in his stomach. He fled the newsagent and walked briskly back to campus, his shirt sticking to his skin in the humidity.