“Why, they’re diamonds of course, some of the rarest in existence. Your grandfather gave this necklace to me long, long ago.” Grandma sounds at once both proud and sad. “A present for when your aunt Poppy was born.” A wistful sigh escapes her and she looks away, her mouth turned down, her eyes shining with unshed tears. “You remind me of her. So much.”
“I do?” I purposely keep my voice soft, not wanting to upset her. I didn’t know my aunt Poppy, though I wish I had. She died in a horrible car accident before I was born. I’ve seen photos and yes, there’s a resemblance, but I never thought I looked much like her.
More tragedy. More death. Another family member we lost that we rarely mention. It’s frustrating, how easily we forget what happened to those who are gone. If I disappeared, would everyone eventually forget me, too?
I don’t want to forget anyone. Not my mother. Not my aunt Poppy. I want to know more. But tonight is supposed to be special, so I should let it go. This night is for my grandma, for the family, for Fleur.
I will myself to let it all go.
“Oh, yes.” Grandma turns to face me once more, the tears gone, the familiar determined look back in place. She rarely shows any signs of weakness and I love that about her. She’s such a strong influence on all of us, and right now I’m in need of some of that strength. “There’s some similarity in your looks, but really it’s your attitude. The way you speak, the way you behave, how you think. It’s just like my Poppy. She was so vibrant, so full of life, and she was never afraid to back down from something she believed in. Just like you.” She reaches out and clasps my face in her wrinkled hands, her fingers cold against my skin. I smile at her but it feels fake, and I let it fade. The velvet box is clutched in my hands, my fingers digging into the stones. “Wear this tonight and think of Poppy. Think of Fleur.”
“But Grandma, tonight is all about you.” We’re in Cannes for the movie festival, here to watch the premiere of a documentary about Grandmother and how she started Fleur. She monitored every step of this documentary and claims it is a collaboration of love between her and the director and producers of the piece.
More like my grandmother dictated to them exactly what she wanted mentioned. Again, no one crosses Dahlia Fowler. To do so would be taking an extreme risk. The woman has no problem making claims of ruining people.
She has ruined people. Time and again.
“You should wear this necklace. Not me,” I say when she still hasn’t said anything. She’s staring at me as if she can look right through me and I blink, hard. Blocking my thoughts, my anger, my frustration. But she can probably see it.
Grandma just chooses not to talk about it.
“No.” She shakes her head and drops her hands from my face. “You should wear it. It’s yours for tonight. Violet has her young man and Lily has … whatever it is she thinks she wants. Such a disappointment that she’s not here.” Her mouth screws up into this bitter line and I want to smack my sister for yet again letting everyone down. “You … you deserve this. Wear it proudly. It’s your legacy, too, my love. Never forget it.”
My legacy. Most of the time, I don’t feel like it’s mine. It’s Daddy’s and Violet’s. It’s slowly becoming Ryder’s. Lily’s? Not so much. She loves to wear Fleur cosmetics and spend the Fleur money, but that’s about it. She has no desire to be a part of the family business. She’s allergic to work.
Lucky bitch gets away with it, too.
I work like crazy and no one notices. I’m tired of putting the time in. I’m tired of dealing with Daddy and his horrific relationship with that slut Pilar Vasquez. The woman is scheming to become a permanent part of Fleur Cosmetics—by nabbing the last name Fowler—pure and simple. Does she really care for him? Doubtful. But my father is so blinded by lust he can’t see beyond her big tits and her supposed great ideas.
“My legacy,” I murmur as I withdraw the necklace from the velvet casing and hold it up to the light. It sparkles, the blush-colored stones even more dazzling when they shine. I vaguely remember hearing of the Poppy Necklace and I’m pretty sure I’m holding it in my hands at this very moment.
The necklace will look amazing with the white dress I’m wearing tonight. White may signify virginity and purity and all that other nonsense, but wait until everyone sees this dress. It’ll blow their minds.
And I’m in the mood to shock this evening. This is my last hurrah before I give notice to my father next week. Yes, I’m quitting Fleur. I can’t imagine staying there now. I made my escape for a short period of time after it came out that Daddy was dating one of the most conniving employees Fleur Cosmetics has ever had under its roof. Pilar rubs it in our faces as much as possible that she has our father wrapped around her little finger.
I hate her. I refuse to work with her, especially now that I’ve heard rumors that Daddy is promoting her. Not that he’d ever come to me and tell me about it. No one tells me anything. I’m ignored at Fleur. So much so that I don’t think it’s even worth continuing to work there …
Considering this evening will most likely be the last I’m representing the Fowler family for a long time—I know Daddy is going to be furious over my giving notice—I’m going all out. Besides, I’ve never been to the Festival de Cannes before. The necklace will only add to the effect.
Our family has been on public display our entire lives, and most of the time I don’t mind, though I prefer to be in the background, much like Violet. Leave it to Lily to be our public representative. Not that Lily makes Daddy happy with her antics. Or Grandma, considering how scandalous my oldest sister is. She’s tamed down somewhat, but she still has a flair for the outrageous.