A few weeks later, after getting hurt by Aiden, she decides to leave Eastbrooke for good. She’s going on Thanksgiving break by herself to St. Croix and is going to come up with a plan to fight back.
I have to deal with Vincent first. I have to get my life back. And after that, I promised to give B a chance.
I need to forget about Aiden. Put Eastbrooke and the friends I made there behind me.
My leaving is for the best. For everyone’s best.
I’m just not sure what’s best for me.
I’ve been mulling over a lot of options. I’ve considered moving to my loft, getting my GED, and starting NYU in the fall. But that would mean hanging out with Jake and Dawson. It would mean coming in contact with new people. People who I couldn’t make friends with.
I quickly ruled out that option.
Besides, I’m not going back to my loft.
I’m pretty sure Aiden ruined it, just like he ruined my lips. I’ll put it on the market and forget about it too.
I run my hand over my new four-leaf clover necklace and say a little prayer.
My phone rings, so I stop praying and answer with a polite hello.
“Miss Monroe, this is Edward at Jet Co-op. Before you board, don’t forget to stop in the office and sign the new paperwork.”
“I won’t,” I say. But, obviously, I had forgotten.
I hang up and ask the driver to run me back to the office.
I get out of the car and pull my sunglasses over my eyes, partially to block the light and partially because I’m a little freaked out to even go inside. I’m worried Vincent sent my photo to every airport in America.
I put myself into my role. I’m not Keatyn Douglas who’s being stalked. I’m Keatyn Monroe who’s just an Eastbrooke student.
Was an Eastbrooke student, I think, suddenly fighting back tears.
I’m looking at the office building, but in my mind I’m seeing the beauty that is Eastbrooke. The gorgeous trees. The old brick buildings. The commons. The people. I’m really going to miss everyone. I hate that I didn’t give them proper goodbyes. I hate that I did that to them. And most of all, I hate that I’m reliving this moment again.
I was stupid to go to Eastbrooke. Anyone in their right mind should’ve seen the potential problems.
But we weren’t really in our right minds when we made the decision. We were scared.
And I’m done being that way.
It’s time to take control of my life.
It’s time to fight back.
I take a deep breath and breeze into the office like I don’t have a care in the world.
“I’m Keatyn Monroe.” I shake Edward’s hand and then review the contract for the many additional hours that I purchased on a whim a couple of days ago. That was when one of my options included me turning the tables on Vincent and stalking him.
I decided that might not be my smartest idea ever.
Besides, a new plan is starting to take root. Cooper and me on a farm in Iowa, way out in the country. Lots of acres where we can set up a firing range. A barn we can turn into a training facility. Maybe a few chickens, a cow, and a vegetable garden so that we would never have to leave. We could grow everything we eat.
Okay, maybe not. I don’t think I could kill a chicken.
Or a carrot.
I think I’d prefer to buy my food already dead.
I’ve thought about marrying Cooper. Going Amish.
Living out my life in hiding.
I’m also strongly considering faking my own death.
I’d hate to do that to my family but if I did, I could kill Vincent. My family wouldn’t have me, but they’d have their lives back. I could watch the girls grow up from afar.
Then, maybe I could become the CIA’s youngest operative. Cooper and I could travel the world and spy.
I bet he’d look damn hot in a tuxedo.
Oooh, I know. I’m going to watch Triple X on the plane.
Oh, the things I’m gonna to do for my country.
While Edward goes in the back to make a copy for my records, I hear two ladies at the next counter gossiping about who’s going to star in the next best-selling book turned movie.
One of them holds out a magazine. “Here, you can read this on your lunch break. Did you see the cover? I can’t believe how scary skinny Abby Johnston has gotten. People think it’s the stress of Tommy’s affair.”
“I wouldn’t care what Tommy did as long as I could get a piece of that fine man. I’m not greedy. I’d be more than willing to share,” she says with a chuckle.
“But honest,” she says as she wanders off with her lunch bag. “Besides, I read that this morning.”
I wander over and help myself to a bottle of water from the self-service bar, glancing at the photo on the magazine.
I think back to Vancouver. I noticed Mom looked thin, but she looks even skinnier now.
I get my paperwork back from Edward, step outside, and call Tommy.
I’ll use this situation to set the first part of my plan in motion.
“I saw that magazine cover of Mom. She looks even thinner than she did at Gracie’s birthday party. I’m worried about her, Tommy.”
“I’m worried about her too,” Tommy replies. “This thing. The guilt. The fear. The lying. It’s eating her alive.”
“You’re almost done filming in Vancouver, right?”
“Yeah, we wrap up this week and then I’m scheduled to start Trinity 3: Retribution in New York with Matt.”
“And she’s supposed to start her publicity tour for To Maddie, with Love, right?”
“Yeah. That’s why she hasn’t been eating or sleeping. She’s so afraid that all the press and promotion will really send Vincent over the edge.”
“Cancel the tour. Break her contract. Pay them whatever you have to, Tommy. Get her out of it.”
“I’ve considered that.”
“You have to do more than consider it. You have to convince her. And I know you two don’t like to be apart, but you shouldn’t bring her and the girls to New York. Send them to France with James and don’t tell anyone. Lie. Say she’s sick. Say she’s in rehab. Hire a battalion to guard the grounds if you have to, but I know she’ll feel safe there.”
“She’s supposed to start another movie soon.”
“Get her out of that too. I’m going to start putting pressure on Vincent, and I need her and the girls somewhere safe.”
“What kind of pressure?”
“Financial pressure. I mean, I won’t be doing it personally, but, um, someone with like financial expertise will be. And that, combined with the timing of Mom’s release—well, we just don’t know how he’ll react. That’s why I really need them somewhere safe. Tommy, do you remember last spring when you asked me about a role in Retribution?”
“Of course. I was a little crushed when you told me you weren’t interested.”
“I was afraid I’d embarrass you. Will you tell me about the role?”
“An old enemy has you kidnapped and I go badass to save you. I want my last Trinity movie to be my best, and I just thought if you played my daughter, it would bring my feelings out more.”
“I love you, Tommy. I don’t tell you that enough, but I couldn’t ask for a better dad.”
“You mean stepdad?”
“No, I mean dad. And I know my real dad would be okay with me saying that.”
“That means a lot to me. I’m sorry how things went down at the house. The girls were so happy to see you.”
“I shouldn’t have surprised you like that. And, don’t worry; I won’t be seeing them again. Not until this is over. So, would I need to audition for the role?”
“You’d have to audition, but only as a formality. I had it all planned out so that you could shoot it over your Christmas break.”
I don’t bother telling him I’m not going back to school. Or that the timing is perfect, because I’ll be needing the spotlight about then.
“I want to do it.”
“I wish you could.”
“I’m working with Cooper on all of this. He says I can do it, and that he’ll make sure I stay safe,” I lie. Then I add sincerely, “It’d mean a lot to me, Tommy.”
“That would be amazing.”
“So you get Mom to France, and I’ll do the movie. Deal?”
“Baby, you’ve got a deal.”
Aiden and Peyton join Keatyn on the plane to St. Croix, and she allows them to go with her, in order to give Aiden the closure she felt that she and Brooklyn didn’t get when she left suddenly. She wants Aiden to be able to have that closure.
We get picked up from the airport in the Moran’s vintage Mercedes station wagon by a driver I have never met and who doesn’t look like he belongs.
The driver opens the front passenger-side door and says in an authoritative tone, “Miss Monroe.”
While he and Aiden load up our luggage, and he herds Aiden and Peyton into the backseat, I text Garrett.
Me: Is The Crab’s new driver one of yours?
Garrett: How did you know?
Me: His posture is too stiff for the islands, he’s not very friendly, and he has no tan.
Garrett: I sent two men. They’ve fully briefed the usual staff about your situation and about how your friends don’t know the old you. They have also removed all photographic evidence of you with your family.
Me: How did you know my friends ended up coming?
Garrett: Cooper was insistent that there be men at the airport. They were scrambling when you went inside the office.
Me: Oh. I just bought more hours.
Garrett: Yes, I heard. Planning on doing a lot of traveling in the near future?
Garrett: Don’t you dare take off on your own. You get your butt back to school when break is over.
Me: I’m not sure what I’m going to do.
Garrett: Tommy told me about your conversation. I agree with getting your mom and sisters to France, but why would you be ready to do a movie at Christmastime?
Me: Because I’m going to get my life back. Did he get Mom to agree?
Garrett: She agreed, but they still have to get out of her contracts. It’s going to cost them a lot of money, but Tommy doesn’t care. I’m flying to Nice on Friday to vet the security.
Me: OMG!! I’m so relieved.
Garrett: As am I. Your mom is a wreck.
Me: Make her feel safe, Garrett, and she’ll get better.
Garrett: You can make us all feel better by not doing anything stupid. When you get back, I’ll come to town and we can discuss this plan of yours with Cooper. Because I highly suspect Cooper knows nothing about it.
Me: I’m tired of lying.
Garrett: Don’t do anything rash.
Me: Don’t worry. Everything will be well thought out.
Garrett: That worries me more.
Me: I gotta go. I’ll call you after the break. I promise.
Vincent is streaming the tournament in Hawaii on his television. It’s the long Thanksgiving weekend, and he’s decided to take a few days off. The girl checked in with him and let him know that Lacy hadn’t joined Matt in Hawaii. She also said that her and the surfer continue to get closer. That they have been intimate. But he doesn’t trust her.
What he trusts are the television crews. They have spotters to find the most photogenic and attractive young women to show in the crowd at events like this. If his Lacy is there, they would showcase her. How could they not? All she’d have to do is smile.
He watches as Matt wins his first tournament and then goes up on stage for the trophy presentation.
The announcer says, “And in his first ever pro tour victory, BRRRROOOKLYYYYN WRIGHT!”
There’s more cheering and then the announcer holds his microphone out. “Brooklyn, tell us how you’re feeling!”
“I’d like to thank my dad, my sponsors, and the great fans here in Oahu who came out to support us, but I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for one special girl.” His eyes get misty and he looks directly at the camera, like he’s speaking directly to him. “Keats, you told me to follow my dreams wherever they took me, and even though you’re not here with me, know I wouldn’t be here without you. I love you, Keats.” Then he yells, “Here’s to causing a little chaos!”
The crowd goes crazy.
And so does Vincent.
He picks up the phone and calls the girl, who answers in tears.
“I didn’t know, okay?” she yells at him.
Then she hangs up.
Vincent hurls his phone at the television, smashing both to bits.
It’s time to make Matt pay.
Later, Keatyn tells Damian about not going back to Eastbrooke and how she needs to get Aiden to go without her.
“My life is unsettled because of Vincent. I’m mad because I can’t see my family. I’m mad because my mom is freaking out scared. She’s losing weight. Won’t ride anywhere with Tommy. Thinks Vincent is going to kill them both. My own family was afraid of me. They were afraid I brought Vincent to them.”
“But you would never do that.”
“But, yet, I almost did. He was headed there. He had men on the plane with him. Men who looked like Garrett.”
“Garrett scares me a little.”
“He’s been really nice to me. But tough, you know. And I love Cooper.”
“He’s the bodyguard?”
“Yeah, he’s a badass. And it’s really sad. His older sister was killed by a stalker—in fact it happened at Thanksgiving time.”
Damian looks like he just got the wind knocked out of him.
“I would seriously die if anything happened to you. You always have been and always will be my best friend.”
“I thought about faking my death. Even about killing myself.”
Damian’s eyes get huge and he grabs my shoulders and shakes me. “Tell me that is not part of your plan.”
“It’s not. I don’t think it’s just about me anymore. James said something about Vincent wanting both me and Mom. I’m positive there’s stuff going on that they aren’t telling me. So my being gone wouldn’t solve my family’s problems.”
Unless I take Vincent down with me, I think, but don’t dare say that out loud.
But Tommy intervenes . . .
I’m mentally gearing up for a battle with Garrett when I answer. “This is Keatyn.”
Oh, thank goodness. It’s just Tommy. “Hey, Tommy,” I say cheerfully. “What’s up?”
“I just got off the phone with Garrett.”
Freaking Garrett. Shit.
“Discussing Mom’s move to France?” I ask, still hopeful.
“Keatyn,” Tommy says softly, “please don’t make me worry about you, too.”
The desperation in his voice is clear.
“I won’t, Tommy. I promise.”
“Then go back to school.”
“I can’t. I’m flying Cooper here tomorrow so we can work on my plan to break Vincent. I have to, Tommy, or this won’t end well. For me or Mom.”
“Tell me your plan.”
The plan that has been simmering since I left school and, this morning, as I watched a yacht drift off into the distance, finally became concrete.
“I have to get my friends to the airport. Would it be okay if I call you after they leave?”
Please say yes. Please say yes.
“No,” he says firmly. “Because if I don’t like your plan, you’ll be going with them.”
“They can’t make me.”
“Yes, they can. And they will. You can’t fight them both.”
No, but I can run. Right now, when they’re least expecting it.
What Tommy doesn’t know is that before I came here, I moved money to various bank accounts in the Caribbean. Of course, it was in case I had to run from Vincent, not my own security team.
“Garrett knows about the money, Keatyn,” Tommy says, reading my mind.
“I think Garrett and Mom have been keeping information from you,” I tell him. I’ve been suspecting this for a while, but have yet to mention it.
“What do you mean?”
“I think Vincent is still sending stuff to Mom and threatening her. Or, worse, threatening you and the girls. And lying to you is killing her. I think that’s why she’s getting so thin. Why she was so freaked out when I showed up for Gracie’s birthday.”
Tommy doesn’t answer for a few seconds. “Fucking Garrett,” he finally says. “I knew she was keeping something from me. Not only is she hurting herself, she’s killing our relationship.”
“What?! No, Tommy! Don’t let that happen!”
“I’m trying not to. You know how much I love your Mom and our family.”
“I know.” Tommy has given me so much love and support and never ever asked for anything in return. Ever.
And even though I don’t want to do this, even though it’s totally going to ruin my plans, I have to do this.
“How about you focus on getting Mom and the girls to France. Once she feels safe, things will get better. I know they will. Let me deal with Garrett.”
“Does that mean you’ll go back to school?”