If Colin thought yesterday was bad, today was even worse. Aunt Sophie came in as he was setting up (and Amy was ignoring him still).
“I just got off the phone with Martin at the ferry,” she said. “Colin, you should probably stay in your room today.”
“Why?” he asked.
“The ferry is filled with your little fan club,” she replied. “And more are waiting for the next ferry across.”
Colin sighed and glanced at Amy. She was pretending to wipe the edges of a jam dish.
“I can hide in here,” he said. “So I can still help out.”
Aunt Sophie shook her head.
“I don’t wanna risk anyone trying to sneak into the kitchen,” she said. “Just stay in your room and close the curtains, okay? Your manager already told me if fans show up I’m supposed to say that you went back to the mainland for the day.”
Colin nodded and took off his apron. He looked at Amy.
“I can help finish setting up,” he offered.
“It’ll go faster if you just leave,” she replied shortly, snatching his apron and putting it on the hook.
Aunt Sophie gave him a questioning look, probably catching Amy’s tone, but he shook his head and went upstairs. It was probably for the best, he thought. Besides, he’d been wanting a day off for forever. He locked his door and flopped on his bed. Maybe he would take a nap. He didn’t sleep much last night anyway.
He opened his eyes to the sun glaring at him through the window. With a groan, he sat up and checked his phone. It was noon. He stretched and stood. If Amy was on her schedule, she would have already finished cleaning the guest rooms and would be hanging laundry outside. He stood up and went to the window.
His window had a good view of the back garden. In the corner, he could see the laundry lines. Sure enough, Amy was there with a basket full of sheets. Her hair was falling out of her ponytail, and she was moving faster than usual.
It didn’t take long for him to know why. Just at the gate, there was a small crowd. It looked like mostly teen girls, and they were all holding their phones in her direction. Colin cracked his window open.
“What was it like being touched by Colin?” a girl called.
“What does he smell like?” another yelled.
“Were you faking it to seduce him?”
Colin glanced over at Amy. She adjusted something near her ears. She was probably wearing earbuds, he thought. But those girls had voices that carried. He wanted to yell at them… but that would only make things worse. With a sigh, he closed the window and shut the curtain.
She could handle herself, he told himself. And she’d be mad if he tried to say something on her behalf.
He reached for his phone.
“There’s my favorite star,” Rob said, picking up after the first ring.
“Can we at least say that I’m not on Kera anymore?” Colin asked, flopping on his bed again. “So that all these fans leave everyone alone?”
“Why? It’s probably great for the local economy.”
“Aunt Sophie has a bed and breakfast, not a tour agency,” Colin retorted. “If anything, it’s just giving her more trespassers to deal with.”
“She’ll be fine,” Rob replied. “I’m glad you called, though. I’ve been on the phone nonstop with reporters. And the numbers came in for this week. You would not believe how many viewers we’ve gotten.”
“I don’t care,” Colin said, more to himself than Rob.
He heard a sigh on the other end of the line.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but there were also a few calls about some movie roles,” Rob said. “Well, auditions for movie roles.”
“Let me guess, I shouldn’t even think about it?”
“Well, the shooting schedules would probably interfere with Arthur.”
So Dad wouldn’t even consider agreeing to it.
“But this has been more media attention—well, good press, I mean—than we’ve had in a long time,” Rob continued. “Your father likes having the rumors around at least… Maybe he’ll allow some auditions too.”
“Look, just do something about the fans,” Colin said. “I’m supposed to be helping Aunt Sophie, but I can’t even leave my room now.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Rob promised.
Colin hung up the phone and tossed it on his bed. He heard a knock on the door and hesitated. What were the odds of someone sneaking into the house?
“It’s just me.”
Amy’s voice sounded a little annoyed. He quickly unlocked the door.
“Delivery,” she said, handing him a sandwich and some crisps. “Your aunt doesn’t want you to starve. Just leave the plate until later on.”
“I can bring it down after everyone leaves,” he offered.
“We still have guests,” Amy replied with a shake of her head. “They don’t look like fans, but it’s better not to risk you wandering around. Sophie’s words, not mine.”
Colin gave her a curious look, but it seemed like she was trying to look everywhere but his direction.
“And what are your words?” he asked. “I mean… how are you doing with all of… this?”
“If you’re asking if I’ve talked to any reporters, the answer is no,” Amy replied. “I’m not planning on selling you out or anything.”
“Amy, look, I didn’t sell you out,” Colin began.
“Enjoy your lunch,” Amy said shortly, spinning on her heels and heading for the stairs. “And lock your door.”
Colin sighed and watched her leave. She didn’t even glance back. He closed the door and put the plate of food on his dresser.
It was still there when Aunt Sophie knocked on his door that evening. He opened the door for her and sat on his bed. She raised a brow at his uneaten food and closed the door behind him.
“So, I talked to Amy,” she said. “And read some of those articles.”
“It was Rob,” Colin said immediately. “I wanted to retract them, but he said it’d only cause more trouble.”
Colin looked at her.
“What do you mean ‘so’?” he asked.
“You’re just gonna let that story stick?” she demanded. “Without a second thought of how that affects anyone else?”
“Amy said she was fine with it,” Colin mumbled.
“And you believed her?”
The honest answer was no. But Colin nodded his head slowly.
“It was just a summer fling,” he said. “Once she’s off the island, everyone will forget about her involvement in this, so it’s no big deal.”
“No big deal? She feels used right now,” Aunt Sophie replied, her voice raising.
“I didn’t use her!” Colin snapped.
“Well, you might not have meant to before, but you definitely are now,” she retorted. “And you’re basically telling her you’re choosing good press over her.”
“I didn’t choose anything over her!”
“Think really hard about everything you’ve done in the last couple of days and see if you can understand why Amy would feel used,” Aunt Sophie replied, grabbing his lunch plate.
“If I say something, it’ll just make things worse,” Colin said weakly. “She’ll go from just some person I happened to meet to… what? A secret girlfriend?”
She doesn’t deserve to be hidden away, he thought, but couldn’t voice it aloud. He wouldn’t ask that of her—couldn’t—without feeling like the most selfish prick in the world. She’d be stuck with Rob and his father hounding her with a pile of NDAs while he, what, texted her to meet him in the back of a secluded restaurant for a date?
“Did you talk to her about it? Maybe ask her what she’d prefer, random American or someone special to you?”
Colin sighed and ruffled his hair. Aunt Sophie just didn’t understand, he told himself. She didn’t know how things would go south if he tried to do anything now. How the paparazzi would show up wherever she went, trying to coax juicy tidbits out of her about him. How Rob would start calling her nonstop to pester her about her public image. How she’d end up in the inevitable article about one of his scandals, stuck fighting a bunch of internet trolls while he could hide behind his manager who wasn’t paid to care about anyone else.
“Look, if you want things to end this way, that’s on you,” Aunt Sophie said, pulling him from his thoughts. “Just be honest with yourself, for God’s sake.”
She opened the door and paused in the doorway.
“From what I’ve heard about her past, she’s pretty used to being passed over for something else,” she said. “If I knew you were going to do the same to her, I would’ve just left you at the ferry.”
She slammed the door behind her. Colin laid down with a frustrated sigh. She was choosing Amy over family?
He punched the lumps out of his pillow.
To be fair, he would choose Amy over himself right now. He’d been a self-centered ass, he thought. As much as he wanted to say it wasn’t his fault, he knew better.
Colin stared up at the ceiling, trying to think of how to fix things. His phone buzzed, and he glanced at the screen. It was the article Rob promised to send, he realized. The one where his dad put into writing that he was proud of his son.
“I’ve always known Colin was a kind of hero,” Mr. Thomson told reporters. “On screen and off.”
Colin smirked as he read the article. It was no mystery where he got his acting skills from, he thought. He set his phone down. Somehow finally hearing his dad brag about him seemed… shallow. A small paragraph at the end of the article mentioned rumors that Hollywood had a new project in the works with a role for him.
He sat up in bed and took a deep breath.
“Sorry, Dad,” he murmured, reaching for his phone again.
He should warn Rob, since he was about to have another mess to clean up.