Cruel Summer

Has Hayley Bolton Ruined Her Reputation? Is There Another Breakup On The Cards?

Summer, Year 3
“This restaurant is fantastic,” Raúl said cheerfully. He and Hayley were having lunch on the observation deck at Eden. It was a clear summer afternoon and the view across the river was quite stunning. “Will I see you tonight?”
Hayley shook her head. “I have a concert tonight. I should be heading over to the UTA grounds soon, actually. I’ll need to set up.”
Raúl pouted. “Don’t go.”
Blowing him a kiss, Hayley stood up. “I have to, sweetheart. It’s my job, remember? I’ll see you tomorrow!”
Raúl thought he was the luckiest man on Earth.

The concert went very well, as always. Hayley was getting more used to the audiences and it was a wonderful feeling. Once the show was over, she stayed back and signed some autographs and practiced a few new numbers she’d been working on. It was quite a tranquil feeling. Her friend, Kaiden, had turned up to see the concert and she was enjoying singing along to some of his tunes.

She was just finishing off her set when she heard a loud voice over at the bar.
“It’s Rebecca,” Kaiden said cheerfully. “She said she’d probably drop round here.”
“Drop round here?” Hayley asked incredulously. “She doesn’t live anywhere near here.”
Furiously, Hayley marched up to Rebecca. “He’s not here, you know!”
Rebecca looked round and smiled. “Oh, hello Hayley. I’m sorry? Who’s not here?”
“You know very well.” Hayley folded her arms. “Jack isn’t here.”
Rebecca laughed. “I wasn’t looking for Jack, sweetie. I came to see Kaiden. He’s my friend too, you know.” She smiled slyly. “Anyway, don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.”
“I beg your pardon?” Hayley asked, raising her eyebrows.
“Your little liaisons with Raúl. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. I was told in the strictest confidence.” Rebecca winked at Hayley.
Hayley grabbed a drink from the nearest table and impulsively threw the contents over Rebecca, before striding away.

Hayley’s agent and publisher, Zackery, had suggested she start doing video blogs to give people sneak peeks into her projects, planned releases and concert dates. So she set up her web cam and proceeded to do just that, trying to push away the unease she’d been feeling since her unfortunate encounter with Rebecca a few days previously.

During that time, she’d also moved to a better apartment across the river, in the Arts Quarter. One of her new neighbours was Ryan Valentine. She remembered Ryan from university and was pleased to catch up with him.

With the romance festival coming into town again, Raúl thought it might be a nice distraction for Hayley.
“But who could possibly have told her?” Hayley wondered aloud.
Raúl sighed irritably. “I thought this was supposed to be a distraction. Does it matter?”
“Yes.” Hayley shook her head. “It matters a lot, Raúl. She said she was told in the strictest confidence.”
“Look,” Raúl started. “I may have mentioned something to one of my dormmates at Uni, okay? Before we finished for the summer.” He sighed. “Look, my dormmate Richard has been dating Rebecca for a little while. He was sort of bragging a bit so I mentioned that I’d been on several dates with you. I showed him the photos and everything!”
“Raúl!” Before Hayley could say anything further, she heard the click of a camera. Looking over, she groaned as she saw a photographer running off, laughing. “That’s torn it.”

Hayley panicked. It was bad enough that jack was barely speaking to her after the incident at his awards show. Now she’d been photographed dancing with Raúl at a romance festival. She could almost envision the headlines.
“Hayley? What are you doing?” Kaiden snapped her out of her reverie. “Who’s this?”
“Kaiden? Oh, how glad I am to see you,” she purred. “You know how much you love me, right?”
“Love you?” Raúl looked horrified as he stepped back abruptly. “Love you? Hayley, what’s going on here? Are you dating him too?”
“Hayley?” Kaiden shook his head. “Hayley, what’s going on?”
“Well, well!” Rebecca sauntered up and shook her head. “Aren’t we in a bit of bother then?”
Hayley lunged at Rebecca. She never noticed Raúl and Kaiden disappear.

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