“You know what you need? A change of scenery.” She points her index finger at me, her gaze narrowed. “Come work with us for a few weeks.”
I’m incredulous at her suggestion. “Here? In London?”
“Yes, I know … I know it’s sort of last minute, but I would love to have you here. For two weeks, a month, what do you think? I’ll call Father and let him know you want to stay here for a while. I’m sure he’ll be on board.”
Hope rises within me and I try to squash it down. “Do you really think he will be? And are you sure you want me here with you?”
“I miss you too, you know,” she admits softly. “Ryder and I don’t plan on leaving London anytime soon, so it would be great to have you here. I could show you around the city, we could go shopping.”
I start to laugh. “I thought you wanted me here to work.”
“Well, we can call it that.” Violet shrugs. “And you’ll come into the office and work when you want, no pressure. We can also go visit the Paris office if you want. Oh, Rose. You should stay here. I know Father will approve. He wanted this for me, to spread my wings and work at other Fleur locations. I know he’ll want the same for you.”
I’m not so sure about that, but I don’t want to argue with Violet. Besides, I love her idea. I want to take her up on her offer. “But what about Ryder?”
She frowns. “What about him?”
“Will he want me around, staying at your place? I’m sure he’d prefer privacy.”
Violet actually blushes. I’m sure their sex life is off the charts, not that I want to think about it. But with a handsome man like Ryder, who fairly vibrates with all that pent-up sexual edginess, I can only imagine what he must do for Violet. To Violet.
“Am I right?” I prod.
Violet shrugs. “It’s only for a month. And he adores you.”
Even if that’s true, they’ll want their privacy. “I should go back to New York.” I sigh and shake my head, my gaze going to the window to my right. All of London is spread out before us, an endless view of nothing but buildings and British flags, the sky a brilliant blue scattered with fluffy white clouds. It’s a perfect late spring day in the city and I have the sudden urge to go outside. Run around and pretend I have zero responsibilities, at least for a little while.
“No,” Violet says vehemently. “Stay here with me. Back in New York, you’re restless. Unhappy. And that’ll only lead you into trouble.”
I frown. “What in the world are you talking about?”
“The way you behaved at the premiere, it was so unlike you. First there’s the dress. Have you seen the papers, by the way? Talk about a scandal.”
My stomach sinks. I haven’t seen the papers. I’ve avoided them. “Is it that bad?”
“Probably worse.” She rolls her eyes and reaches into her desk drawer, pulling out one of the tabloids that are so popular here. She tosses it across the desk so that it lands in front of me with a plop. “They’re saying you’re giving Lily a run for her money.”
I barely glance at the photo on the front of the paper. That I actually made the very front of the Daily Mail’s gossip page is both thrilling and horrifying. Finally I’m recognized for being me, though they have to mention Lily too, of course. And huh. It’s not the most flattering article either, showcasing the fashion faux pas at Cannes yesterday. Great. “I can’t believe you waited this long to bring it up.”
“I didn’t want to upset you. I’m upset enough already.”
My gaze drops to the photo of me on the red carpet, both of my legs on blatant display what with the slits up to my hip bones. I look … amazing, and completely exposed. The necklace glitters around my throat, the pink stones vibrant against my skin. “Did Grandma see this?”
“I don’t know. She’s probably only just landed in New York since her flight was after ours.” Violet snatches the paper away from me and shoves it back into her desk drawer. “You’re lucky no one found out about your mysterious man who felt you up after you skinny-dipped in the pool,” she retorts.
Leaping to my feet, I glare at her, anger coursing through my veins. “I thought you wouldn’t judge.” I should never have told her what happened. I didn’t give her all the details, but I did let it slip that I stripped off my dress and jumped into the pool.
Her words ring in my head and I feel foolish. I don’t measure up. I’m in Lily’s and Violet’s shadows and I hate it. The biggest obstacle I’ve ever had to overcome is being their baby sister. They’ll always be ahead of me, no matter what I do or what I say.
Being the youngest sucks.
“I worry about you, Rose,” Violet says, her voice steady, her demeanor calm. She folds her hands together on top of the desk, looking every inch the successful businesswoman. While I’m the floundering, trying-to-find-my-place Fowler sister. Clearly I’m the only one worked up here. “I was afraid something like this would happen, what with the flashy dress and wearing that necklace.”
“You’re jealous of the necklace, aren’t you? You hate that Grandma gave it to me and not you,” I throw out, trying to hurt her the way she’s hurting me.
And it works. Somewhat. She flinches at my accusation but otherwise, no reaction. “I don’t care about the necklace.”