‘Hey, aren’t you that girl who was in the news the other day? You’re dating that rock star ain’tcha, Ethan Whatshisface…’
Ivy sighed, slumping down in the car seat as she tried to think of yet another excuse. Ever since that bloody article had been published she hadn’t been able to go anywhere in the small town of Sunset Valley without being recognised. That was the pitfall of living in such a tight-knit community; everyone knew everyone, and once your face was out there it was impossible to slip about town unnoticed, as Ivy liked to. She didn’t want this.
‘No. That wasn’t me.’
‘You look just like -‘
‘It wasn’t me! Right here, please.’
Sensing that she didn’t want to talk any longer, the taxi driver shut up and turned right. Thank gnomes Ivy groaned to herself. That was one problem out of the way. Now for the other… Her heart sank a little as the house came into view. ‘Um… Can we stop here please?’
Pulling over, Ivy hopped out the taxi and shut the door. The driver gave her one last look as if he were thinking about questioning her identity further, but one fierce look from Ivy dissuaded him and he drove away, wisely. This newfound, unwanted ‘celebrity’ status was not doing good things for Ivy’s grumpy side.
Heading down the path, she walked through the gate and rang the doorbell.
She rang it again, a little more urgently. She knew Maria was home, she always was. Half nine on a Sunday morning? As if she’d have gone anywhere at this time!
Muttering grumpily, Ivy stomped back through the gate and turned back to the house. ‘Maria! I know you’re in there! You’ve got to talk to me at some time, you silly mare!’ she shouted, resisting the temptation to kick over the bin. ‘Are you seriously going to let this come between our friendship?!’
Sod it. I’m not letting her stick her head in the sand over this.
Wrenching out her phone, Ivy furiously dialled Maria’s number. The phone rang once, twice, three times before going to answerphone. Hi, this is Maria, leave a message!
‘Maria, it’s Ivy. Why the hell are you being like this?! As I’ve said on my previous eight gazillion messages, Ethan and I had only been on one official date when that article came out! You’d been so busy at work, I was waiting to see you in person before saying anything. You know full well that I would tell you first about any relationship, just like you would with me! I didn’t ask for that article to be published! So will you stop being such a bloody brat and just call me back!‘
Fuming, she hung up and flung the mobile back into her pocket before flagging down another taxi. ‘The Plaza, please.’
‘Sure thing, love! Hey! Aren’t you -‘
* * *
Trying to collect herself before she actually exploded, Ivy headed out of the supermarket and settled on a bench, opening her newspaper – the Times, not the Post. As if she’d pick that newspaper after they published that article! She had to put Maria to the back of her mind. She’d come round, she was just nursing her injured pride, and gnomes knows that Maria’s pride was easily damaged!
Scanning through the articles, Ivy’s heart sank as she caught sight of her own name.
Ethan Blaine’s new bit on the side has been formally identified! The Times can exclusively reveal her to be Ivy Rivers, daughter of Cassie Rivers, author of the best-selling ‘Through the Bars’ series. Ivy, pictured here courtesy of photographer Frank Pock, works in the Valley as a gardener, although The Times expects her to ditch her trowel any day now to join her squeeze in the big city of Bridgeport any day now! And let’s face it, who can blame her?
Ivy balled up the newspaper, trying to contain her temper. What right did this newspaper have to name her like that?! Wondering whether or not she had the nerve to sue them, she got up and stormed over to the nearest bin, throwing the newspaper in there to rot amongst the apple cores and old chewing gum. Where it belonged.
‘Oho, you! I’ve got a bone to pick with you!’
Ivy looked up to see an elderly woman she’d never seen before staring crossly at her from in front of the shop’s door. ‘Um, can I help you?’
‘I’m sure you won’t! Do you realise the heartbreak you’ve caused, young lady? My granddaughter is in tears over your carrying on with that Ethan Blaine! I bet you didn’t think of the young ones when you decided to latch onto the first celebrity who looked your way, did you? Too eager to get on the celebrity circuit, weren’t you! I know all about your type, you fame-hungry leeches! You should be thinking about other people, girl! Shame on you!’
Sticking her nose in the air, the woman strode off as best she could on her aged legs as Ivy stared after her, speechless. Could she not go anywhere without people harrassing her?!
The Community Gardens were the worst. As it’d been named in the first article people had been hanging out there hoping to run into Ethan Blaine’s Girlfriend. In fairness, some weren’t entirely hateful…
‘Oh my god, you’re her, aren’t you! Ethan Blaine’s Girlfriend! You are so lucky! I’m so jealous of you! But you know, good for you! Hey, can I get his autograph? Can I get your autograph?!’
Ivy had scribbled on the proffered notepad dazedly. While she infinitely preferred the wellwishers to those who were hurling abuse at her, why on earth would they want her autograph?! She wasn’t famous! She was just a gardener!
Still, she would have rather signed a million autographs than dealt with the whisperers. These were the groups of gossipers who didn’t say anything to her face, but whispered audibly to one another as she passed by so she only caught snippets of their insulting comments. She’d finally snapped as she’d been making wine one day. Already self-conscious in her bikini, her heart had sank as two girls she swore were following her about town sidled in and began talking in hushed tones, glancing over at Ivy when they knew she was looking and able to see.
‘Gnomes, look at her, so pale! She needs a sunbed!’
‘I’m sure Ethan can buy her one! That’s probably why she’s with him, can’t afford a holiday!’
‘Oh, I’m sure he’ll be able to whisk her away! I wonder if they’ll sell the official photos to a magazine?’
‘Course she will! Ethan won’t want to, but she’ll make him. Fame-hungry whore!’
Seething, Ivy climbed out of the fruit basket and pulled her dress and cardi on. It was the same outfit she’d worn to her date with Ethan; the warmth of the cardigan hugging her shoulders made her wish he was there with her now. No-one would dare say anything to her if he was here…
As she strode past the two busybodies, she had been going to ignore them. That was until one of them muttered ‘skank!’ as she walked past.
‘Right! Just you listen here, you!’
The two girls looked shocked as she walked up to them, stabbing her finger in their faces. ‘Just you listen here! I am not, have never been, and will never be fame hungry! Never! Ethan being in a successful band is nothing whatsoever to do with why I’m with him! He could be unemployed and on benefits, and I’d still want to be with him! And he’d still want to be with me! Now will all of you just pack it in with your jealous bitching and leave me alone!‘
Ivy had stormed out, entirely regretting her outburst. She’d meant every word of it, but judging by the characters of those girls she wouldn’t be surprised if her words ended up in another magazine by the end of the week.
As she watched the old woman walk away still grumbling to herself, Ivy felt tears rising up in her eyes. Everyone was watching, staring, everyone was judging her she just knew it! Biting her lip, she took a few shaky steps forward. She could hear their murmurs, all of them gossiping about her, spreading hateful lies and vicious wishes. She needed to get out of here. She couldn’t handle this.
Flagging down the nearest taxi, she climbed in and leant her head against the window. She knew where she needed to be.