Coffee, Tea? Or me?

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Part III

DISCLAIMER: The following chapter containes examples and references to cyber bulling that may be triggering for some people. Please feel free to skip the chapter if you think this could be the case for you, the next parts will have an explanation of what happened here.

III

Lucy woke up early on Thursday morning, she wrapped herself tightly in the duvet for one last moment of warmth and tossed the covers on the side, afraid that if she closed her eyes again she would fall asleep.

She quietly made her way to the bathroom, trying not to wake up James peacefully sleeping next to her.

She was supposed to be at work at six-thirty for a short trip around Europe and she was looking forward to it, seeing work as a welcomed distraction from the events of the days before.

Seeing Sam again had been a shock, almost as much as James’ reaction.

She could still see the fiery anger on her boyfriend’s face, in her mind.

Two days had passed and she had heard nothing from her ex, James seemed to believe he had moved on, but Lucy knew Sam too well and was sure that silence meant trouble.

She put on her uniform and gave James a kiss on the lips, a grunt in response and a sleepy “Have a great day, love you”.

As Lucy entered the briefing room no furtive looks or whispers greeted her and she felt once again positive that the upcoming days could lift her spirit.

The first day of flying took her to a there and back flight to Paris and an overnight in Copenhagen. She loved that destination: the little cafes, the alleys and their hotel in style art deco all contributed to that sense of nostalgic romance that she adored.

As she received her wake up call at three-thirty in the morning she once again got up quickly and got ready, behind sleepy eyes. She was really tired, but that day Lucy and her crew had only one short flight back to London. She made herself strong with that thought and finished getting dressed; when she went to retrieve her mobile phone from the socket near the bedside table she realised that her adapter was broken and that her phone hadn’t charged at all. She threw the phone in her bag and quickly left her room.

The flight was quiet and relaxing, only a few passengers travelled that early in the morning and that left time for the crew to have a much-needed cup of coffee and some food.

Lucy leaned against the metal counter in the galley enjoying the relaxing chitchat of her colleagues about some new uniform rumours and the view of the sun slowly rising behind them in an explosion of pinks and blues and thought that this was true happiness for her.

As soon as she arrived home she put her phone on charge and went to prepare some beans on toast for breakfast, an old episode of BoJack Horseman playing on Netflix as she turned on the tv for company.

As she took the steaming bowl of beans from the microwave she heard the first pings coming from her phone, she quickly walked to her device and checked the list of notifications, noticing a few from unknown numbers. She opened the first one:

Hey Lucy, this is Emma Cooke from A-list Instagram PR department, I was given your number from a friend of yours who said you would be willing to have a chat with us about your relationship with James Kent. Let me know if the offer is still valid.

What the fuck? She thought in dismay.

All the other messages were of the same sort, about ten of them from different magazines or websites. How did they get her number? Surely not through James or Harriet and none of her colleagues would have done something like that as it would have been in breach of their social media-related policies.

Then she understood.

“That fucking prick!” she said out loud.

Of course, it had to be Sam behind this, his way of getting back at her and James, two birds with one stone. She couldn’t believe how ingenious his retortions were!

She thought about calling him and telling him to quit it once and for all, but again she refrained from doing that because she was not going to entertain his revenge. She deleted the messages from the press, hoping that not receiving a reply they would think the number was a hoax.

She reluctantly called James and told him what happened, she really didn’t want to have another discussion about how she had decided to handle the situation but at the same time, this was too big of a thing to hide from him completely.

“You need to tell on him Lucy!” said James in a no-bullshit tone. “I can put you in contact with my legal team...”

Lucy pinched the bridge of her nose, feeling a migraine slowly sneaking out.

“Again, he thrives in confrontations. I know he’s a bully, but quite frankly he’s more pathetic than anything else. I’ve told Nigel to call the police if he sees him near the building, so he can’t get to me”.

That seemed to calm James a little.

“Change your phone number then, like right now,” he insisted.

Lucy sighed, wishing she were still on the plane, contemplating the beautiful sunrise.

“It’s not that simple. I need it for work, especially because tomorrow I’m on call...I see if I can change it over my days off”.

“This is ridiculous,” she added then, annoyed.

James was silent for a moment.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “for everything”.

“Why would you be sorry?” Lucy asked, her voice tired.

“Well, for putting you in this situation, for punching that shit and making it worse...Just in general for you having to go through this just because you’re with me”.

Lucy shook her head, her migraine now thumping in her forehead.

“We both know it’s not your fault. You didn’t put me in any situation, I did when I decided I wanted to be with you no matter what and Sam did by being who he is”.

“Do you regret your decision?” James asked.

“No.” Said Lucy, her tone gentler. “Not at all”.

She could hear James releasing a breath.

“Listen, I have to go now my head is killing me. I know you’re busy tomorrow but do you want to have dinner later?”

“Of course I do!”

They said goodbye and Lucy quickly went to bed, hoping to chase her migraine away along with her pressing problems.

***

Lucy was sitting in the cafeteria of the crew reporting centre counting the minutes passing by, hoping she would be called for a nice trip. But nothing had happened so far. She sipped on her second coffee of the day, scrolling through Instagram, hoping not to fall asleep there on the table.

She had received another couple of messages the day before and one that morning so she was not surprised when her phone dinged again with an unknown number.

She opened it without much interest, cursing Sam in her head but was shocked when she read through it:

Honestly, I think you should be ashamed of yourself. It’s obvious why you’re with him, you should leave him alone and go back to your little pathetic life.

Lucy read it again, then quickly typed

Who is this?

She tapped nervously on the white table until a reply arrived a few minutes later.

Just someone who really loves James.

Who gave you this number? she typed back.

Lucy waited for a reply but nothing came.

Half an hour later another ding, Lucy unlocked her phone quickly, her heart beating fast.

A message from another number.

You’re just a dumb bitch.

And another one

What do you want from him? Leave him alone.

In three minutes she received another five messages all of the same kind and she knew something was really wrong. Her stomach was tight and she felt nauseated. She wanted to run out of there and go home, as she felt exposed and vulnerable. She glanced at the time and noticed it was only forty minutes before the end of her shift. She decided to stay.

She quickly opened her internet browser and googled her phone number and a few Instagram feeds came back; they were all comments on James’ fan pages accounts where a certain admin.2323 had written Maybe you can tell her directly here and her phone number followed.

Lucy thought she would be sick there and then in the middle of the cafeteria. This was not pathetic anymore, it was scary.

Another couple of messages came through and she ignored them both, feeling like she could faint.

She quickly got up and gathered her belongings, she hated doing this but she couldn’t take it any longer. She walked to the report desk and smiled faintly at the blond woman behind it.

“Hi, sorry to ask for this but I only have ten minutes left on my shift and I’m not feeling too well. Any chance I can leave now?”

The blond gave her a sympathetic look and reacted to her ghostly face.

“Of course honey, you don’t look too good. I’ll swipe you off in ten minutes so nobody will know”.

Lucy thanked her from her heart and left her staff number for the woman to clock her out, then ran to the subway station and almost collapsed on the train seat as she got on.

She refused to check her phone for the whole journey home, simply staring outside the window opposite her, trying not to make eye contact with anyone who wanted to start a conversation with her, which always happened when she was in her uniform.

At Earl’s Court, she left the train and power walked the short distance to her building, eager to get home and think of a plan of action.

As she crossed the street and turned to lift her suitcase on the pavement a man approached her.

“Lucy?” he asked.

She instinctively turned to him, a confused expression on her face, she had never seen this man before.

“My name is Nick, from Staronline. I was hoping I could get a statement from you?”

Lucy didn’t say anything, her head spinning.

“I was hoping I’d catch you today, we tried to talk to you yesterday but you never came out”. The man continued as if lurking around people’s building was the most natural thing in the world.

“How did you find me?” she asked, her voice thin.

“A friend of yours said you might not answer your phone as you’re busy, but that you would be persuaded to talk to us if we came around,” the man said with a wink.

Lucy shook her head, incredulous. This must have been a nightmare.

“I’m in a hurry,” she said, trying to move forward but the man blocked her way.

“It will only take a minute,” the reporter insisted.

“I’m sorry” Lucy moved past him and could see a flash going on near her, blinding her for a second.

She was tempted to turn around and tell him to delete the picture and fuck off but didn’t want to give the man a chance to take a better shot at her.

“Is everything ok?” Nigel asked from the building door.

Lucy looked at him with teary eyes as the emotions were becoming difficult to manage.

Another flash went off behind her.

She squeezed past the doorman and ran inside the hall.

“This is private property, you can’t take pictures of the inside,” Nigel said to the reporter as he got ready to snap another shot.

“If I see you around again, I’ll call the police,” he added menacingly and closed the big glass door.

Nigel turned to Lucy, still panting, her hand trembling as she attempted to call the lift.

“What sort of trouble are you in, darling?”

Lucy shook her head.

“I don’t know. Thanks for that- she pointed to the door- I’ll explain as soon as I can”.

And she disappeared behind the lift doors.

Once inside her flat, she removed her coat and quickly unclipped her cravat, feeling as she was chocking.

She could hear her phone going off inside her handbag, she took it and looked at the screen as the messages were pouring in.

You don’t deserve him.

Sorry to tell you this, but I’ve slept with him a couple of days ago...

You’re ugly and look stupid.

Her tears now flowing free.

Then she noticed a message from Sam, she opened it with hands trembling from anger and anxiety.

“Try to enjoy your life now...”

Lucy threw the phone on the floor and screamed in frustration. Sam had leaked her phone number, her home address and she couldn’t feel safe in her own house anymore. She felt trapped, her privacy violated. She needed air.

She quickly got out of her uniform and put on a pair of grey trackies that James had left behind, an oversize black hoodie and Nikes. She fit a baseball cap tight on her head.

Her hand still shaking, she grabbed her handbag and her car keys and left.


Thank you so so much for reading this far, I hope you’re finding this story interesting!Sending positive vibes to you all! Stay safe, Xx

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