“Want another one, mate?” asks Ryder’s friend … Nigel. Right. Nigel.
“That would be great, yeah.” I reach for my back pocket, ready to pull out my wallet, but Nigel waves me off.
“I’ll get this round. I’m out anyway.” He holds up his empty glass before he slides off the chair and heads toward the bar.
“Where were you?”
I turn to find Whitney studying me with a suspicious gleam in her eyes, her tone accusatory.
“Bathroom. Then I had a phone call I had to take.”
“Who was it?”
Since when is it her business to ask me questions like that? “No one you know.” I am a consummate liar. It’s so easy to slip into my lies, they feel like a second skin.
“Hmm.” She doesn’t look like she believes me. Like I give a shit. “Rose was gone too.”
Unease creeps down my spine. “So?”
“So you were both gone. For a long time. And her dress is buttoned up wrong. It wasn’t before.”
Fuck. I feel everything inside of me wilt at Whitney’s words. As discreetly as possible I check out Rose, my gaze falling to her chest. Yes, the buttons are done up wrong, and I feel like a shit that I didn’t catch that before she escaped the bathroom.
“Are you accusing me of something?” I ask Whitney, my voice mean. I’m irritated that she’s calling me out.
“I don’t know. Did you do something?” she returns.
“Just say what you want to say, Whit.” I sound weary. I feel weary. “Let’s get this over with.”
She parts her perfectly glossed lips, swinging her hair back in a calculated move I’ve seen her perform before. The girl is gorgeous and she knows it, but she’s also a world-class pain in the ass and has driven every guy who’s been remotely interested in her far away with her needy, bitchy attitude.
I’m a shit. I put up with her, give her what she wants in bed, and then move on. What she sees in me, I have no idea. I don’t deserve her kindness. I don’t deserve anyone’s kindness.
“Whitney.” Violet rests her hand on Whitney’s arm, startling her. “Tell my sister about the time you slapped that guy across the face at a party. I was trying to tell her about it, but I just can’t do the story justice like you can.”
Whitney’s eyes narrow as she contemplates me, her expression tight. She doesn’t have to say a word but I know she’s thinking, You just got off easy. She turns to look at Violet, her smile back in place, her voice light and with the slightest hint of a drawl. “Violet, darling, there have been two face-slapping incidents. Which one are you talking about?”
Violet tilts her head, her gaze traveling to mine for the briefest moment, sending me a knowing look. “Tell us about both of them,” she says encouragingly, sending me a wink before she returns her attention to Whitney.
I sit there quietly, shock washing over me as I wait for Nigel to return with my fresh beer. Contemplating what just happened because holy hell, that was unexpected.
As crazy as it sounds, I think I was just saved from a nasty confrontation by Violet. Meaning somehow, some way, Rose told her sister what happened between us.
“You have some serious explaining to do.” Violet sends me a pointed look just before she picks up her coffee cup and sips from it.
We’re at a crowded little bakery not too far from my hotel, eating decadent pastries and drinking deliciously bitter coffee while sitting at a tiny table right next to the window that faces the street. The sidewalks are crowded with Saturday shoppers, all of them bright-eyed and dressed to perfection.
All while my hair is still damp from the quick shower I took before I came here. I’m wearing skinny jeans and a boring plain blue T-shirt I threw on as I dressed in a hurry in order to meet Violet on time. I have no makeup on, a cardinal sin according to our grandma, but I don’t really care.
I awoke earlier this morning from a crazy sex dream involving me, Caden, and a swimming pool to an endless stream of texts from Violet, basically demanding that I meet her here at the bakery at ten, no trying to get out of it. I replied that I would meet her only if she wouldn’t badger me with questions until I’d had my first cup of coffee.
More like my first sip. The cup barely touched my lips before she said something, asking for an explanation.
But how can I explain what happened yesterday when I barely understand it myself?
“I already told you what happened.” Briefly. Sort of. Last night she saw how rumpled I appeared when I returned from the bathroom, the buttons done up wrong on my dress—God, could I be any more foolish?—and immediately she was suspicious. I’d already told her I knew Caden, so she suspected it had something to do with him.
And she would be right.
“You told me what? That you know Whitney’s boyfriend? That you disappear for a solid fifteen minutes only to return looking a little, hmm … how should I put it—disheveled? That’s the polite term, at least.” She takes a bite out of the gooey fruit tart she ordered, little bits of powdered sugar sticking to her lips.
I may as well tell her and get this over with. “He’s the one who walked away from me,” I admit, my voice low, my appetite waning despite the outrageously delicious chocolate éclair I’ve nibbled on. Can’t remember the last time I indulged in something so sinful.
Maybe last night? When you let a handsome stranger finger you to orgasm in a bathroom?