The next day’s practice wasn’t much better. We were maybe halfway through when Sutton’s phone made a noise and he moved to check it, instantly paling.
He grabbed his stuff and ran to the door.
“I have to go,” he called, “Don’t wait around.”
“What the hell?” I yelled after him, moving to look down the hallway, “What do you think you’re doing?”
I received no reply. I sighed and pulled out my cell, pushing in Bea’s number.
“Sutton’s run off. Said something about Gabby.”
“I’m on it, chief!” she replied, “I couldn’t forget that Ferrari if I wanted to!”
She hung up but just before she did I could hear the sound of her car accelerating. I felt a little bad for sending a spy after him, but I had to know what he was up to and Beatrice had volunteered herself for the job without me having to say anything.
Well, technically, she hadn’t said she was following him. Maybe she was just....keeping an eye out? I shook my head at my poor excuses and accepted the guilt head on.
Knowing Bea, she would manage to figure out what was happening without letting him recognize her. He’d only seen her once, after all, and if nothing else she was resourceful.
Right then Talgus came into the room, smiling broadly.
“Katarina! Ready for the auditions?” he paused a moment before continuing, “Where’s Raphael?”
“He’s just...stepped out.” I said hurriedly, “But what brings you here, Gus? Was Florida too warm? Not enough wind?”
He shook his head, laughing.
“I came up here with Nina to deal with some property. And I figured I might as well watch you perform as Odette on opening night.”
“Well, there’s no guarantee I’ll get the part.” I replied, blushing.
“Oh, nonsense!” he tutted, “You’re the new dynamo everyone wants to see! That Vera girl may have sunk a lot of money into the Ballet but she dances like a dead mouse!”
We both laughed at the comparison, and he continued on.
“Besides, there’s a lot of paperwork to deal with and I’d rather spend the holidays in Chicago. I don’t want a sandy, beach Christmas.”
“Right on, Gus. Better shoveling snow than wishing for it.”
He chuckled and we chatted for an hour or so, before he exclaimed that he had to go visit his annoying real estate agent and left, telling me to greet Sutton for him.
Soon afterwards my phone rang, and I picked it up cautiously.
“Bea? What happened?”
“You won’t believe this.” She said, actually sounding serious, “And I mean, you really won’t believe this.”
“What?” I asked, shifting my weight anxiously.
“Gabby is short for Gabriella.”
“I know that!”
“-as in Lily Gabriella Sutton!”
“She’s his little sister, Kat! He was going to visit her...in some posh rehab!”
“I overheard the receptionist saying something about relapses. Did a bit of research, and it turns out that Gabby was a big partier, until she almost OD’d and was admitted. Raphael’s probably been trying to keep her on the straight and narrow.”
The texts came back into my mind’s eye and I realized that they could very easily have been those from a desperately drug-hungry little sister asking for her brother to help her through withdrawal.
I felt horrible for jumping to conclusions and even worse for snooping around in his personal life. To put it simply, I felt like a piece of shit.
“I can’t believe it.” I sighed, “Thanks Bea.”
“No problemo Kat!”
The call clicked shut and I headed home, figuring I might as well get some more time in at Frisco’s. Everything suddenly made sense. Him driving late at night when he crashed into me, all of the days he was particularly rude or detached...I felt horrible.
I had thought he was just some snobby rich guy with a superiority complex. But he had his own demons too.