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Jayna gradually woke from a deep, exhausted sleep. The display wall of her cabin shone brightly with an image of the morning sun high above a blanket of fluffy white clouds. What should have been a beautiful, peaceful scene filled her with deep loneliness instead.

She had been so certain that Sid was different, but in the end, he was just like Ward—another entitled, creepy, self-centered topper. Why hadn’t she followed her common sense and stayed far away from him?

She turned her slapfone on and was about to call Gabrielle when she was inundated by a barrage of messages. Scowling at the tiny screen, she cast the list to the display wall and scanned through it. There were several from Gabrielle, and she recognized a few other contacts, but most were from complete strangers.

Jayna furrowed her brow. Who were these people, and why were they trying to contact her?

She scanned the list again and felt a sting of disappointment, but it took her a moment to realize why—she had been hoping for a message from Sid.

Jayna scolded herself. She didn’t want to hear from him.

Well, maybe she did. But she shouldn’t want to hear from him. Falling for Obsidian Hayes had been a mistake, and the sooner she flushed him from her heart, the sooner she could get over him.

Her slapfone buzzed again, and a new message from Gabrielle popped onto the display.

Call me. Now!

Jayna’s heart pounded in her chest as concern swirled through her mind.

A still photo of Gabrielle appeared on the display wall as the call connected. Without a greeting, she said, “Kalani? Really?”

Jayna’s brow furrowed. “What about Kalani?”

A video feed of Gabrielle replaced her still image, and she appeared as confused as Jayna felt. “Where are you? I thought you said you were flying home.”

Jayna realized the entire suite was probably displayed, and it wasn’t anything like a typical airline interior. “I am flying home. They upgraded me to this suite. What do you mean, ‘Kalani, really?’”

“What I mean is…” Gabrielle closer eyes and shook her head. “I can’t even say it.”

Her confusion deepened. “Gabs, please. What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about this.” Gabrielle’s image was replaced by a grainy video. Jayna immediately recognized herself with Kalani outside the Grand Manutai. Text at the bottom of the video claimed it was security footage from the Jubilee Ball.

The two of them were partially obscured by a bush, and with sickening clarity she realized just how scandalous their actions might appear.

“Where did you get this?”

“It’s all over the streams. Please tell me it’s not what it looks like.”

“No!” Jayna said. “We were just talking. You have to believe me.”

After a gut-wrenching pause, Gabrielle said, “I believe you,” though her tone made it clear she still had questions. “But if you’re just talking, why are you in the bushes with your hands all over each other?”

Jayna took a calming breath and then dished everything that had happened at the ball: Sid’s obsession with his reputation, Rosalind’s bombshell revelation that her matchmaking aggregator was the reason Sid purchased Realms of Neptune, going to Kalani for support, and Emmaline taking responsibility for everything during her surprise appearance at the airport.

Gabrielle stared back from the video wall, slack jawed. After several long seconds, she finally said, “No wonder you pushed him into the fountain.”

Before Jayna could explain that Sid had fallen on his own, Gabrielle continued. “You need to make a statement or something. There’s an entire corner of the Myst debating whether you’re an innocent girl who’s been wronged by a wealthy jerk, or a gold-digging climber who badly used an upstanding philanthropist to improve her own position.”

Jayna felt a flash of rage. “Is that what he’s saying? That I took advantage of him?”

Gabrielle scowled. “No, he hasn’t said anything. And that’s the problem. Everything is pure speculation, and the story is taking on a life of its own. Which is why you need to say something. Right now.”

Jayna knew Gabrielle was right. But she was so confused. “What should I say, Gabs?”

“If it were me, I’d throw him into the void and say everything was his fault.”

Jayna shook her head. “I can’t do that.”