“I should let him tell you,” she says vaguely.
“No. Tell me, Violet. I want to know.” I think I already know, but I don’t want it to be true. It can’t be true …
“He asked her to marry him.” Violet releases a shuddering sigh. “She’s wearing a ring. One of Grandma’s old rings, a tacky-looking diamond that’s so large it doesn’t look real. A castoff. At least, that’s what Grandma called it. You know she hates Pilar as much as we do.”
I say nothing. What can I say? I knew this moment was coming, no matter how much I wanted to deny it. “I’m sure she’s getting the promotion then, too,” I finally say, my voice raspy, my throat dry.
“That hasn’t been formally announced yet, but I’m guessing the answer is yes. He’s willing enough to marry her, so I’m sure he’s more than willing to give her the coveted promotion,” Violet says snidely.
I wanted that promotion. My current position—or the position I left, that is—isn’t even a real one. It was created for me when I started working at Fleur full-time. I wanted to earn a vice-president position on my own merits. On my talents and the love and hard work I put into Fleur, not because I’m a Fowler.
And here’s Pilar, getting a promotion, getting an engagement ring … getting everything she wants. Stomping all over me in the process, too. I know she just about had a party when Violet left to work in London. Now she can get rid of me too and take over completely, standing right by Daddy’s side and waiting for the day he retires? I shouldn’t give her the satisfaction.
I turn and press my forehead against the wall of the tub, closing my eyes. Violet is still talking and she sounds so furious, so frustrated. I know it’s pointless to get so upset, to waste so much energy.
What’s done is done.
She catches my attention when she declares that she and Ryder have no plans to return to New York anytime soon. I open my eyes and sit straight up in the tub. “What do you mean, you’re not leaving London anytime soon?”
“We can’t go back there, not with Pilar. Ryder refuses to. There’s too much bad blood between them. Too much bad blood between us as well,” she adds.
“How can Daddy do this? Is he blind to all of the awful things she does? She’s tearing our family apart.” I told myself it didn’t matter, that I wouldn’t expend so much energy being upset over this, but I can feel the tears threatening. And I refuse to let them fall. “I hate her.”
“Maybe he’ll see one day,” Violet says softly, her voice choked with emotion too. “She makes him happy, Rose. We can’t deny him happiness.”
“You would say that,” I mutter with a wretched laugh that turns into a sob. I slap my hand over my mouth, trying to stop it, contain it, but it’s no use. The tears are flowing freely now. I wonder if I should tell her about our mother’s last few entries in her diary before she died. Violet deserves to know. But how can I say anything about them after the news she just delivered? The timing is all wrong. “I have to go,” I say with a loud sniff.
“Rose. Rosie. Don’t cry, sweetie. She’s not worth your tears, trust me.” Violet pauses, and I can practically see her brain scrambling as she tries to figure out what to say next. “You want me to come over? Or how about you come over to our place? I’ll take you out to dinner. You can spend the night and we can stay up late and watch movies. What do you think?”
“No. I’m fine. Really.” I wipe the tears from my face, rest my hand against my mouth and nose. “I’ll call you later, okay?”
“I promise.” I end the call and set the phone carefully on the side of the tub before I push myself out of it, going to the sink so I can splash cold water on my face.
But it doesn’t help. My cheeks are tinged with pink and my eyes are rimmed with red. I look miserable. I feel miserable.
It’s not even so much over the fact that our father actually wants to marry that bitch—though that sucks no matter which way you look at it—it’s the idea of me not feeling welcome at my family’s business. That I would rather walk away from my legacy than work with a woman I despise. Once Violet left, it’s as if everyone at Fleur forgot I existed, even our father. I wasn’t called into strategy meetings anymore. I attended the publicity events and that was it. I was bored. Unused. Frustrated.
I should go back. I can’t stand by and watch my father fall deeper and deeper into Pilar’s control, can I?
Leaning my hands on the edge of the sink, I peer at my reflection in the mirror, desperately looking for something. An answer, a solution, an idea … anything to help me figure out what I should do next.
But I see nothing. Just my pitiful face staring back at me, the remnants of my tears drying on my cheeks and the hopelessness in my eyes.
I push away from the sink with a little sound of frustration and exit the bathroom, returning to the bed to see that Caden hasn’t moved at all. He’s still sprawled on his stomach, his arms stretched up over his head, his left leg bent upward. The sheets lie across his lower back, revealing all that delicious muscled goodness, and the familiar tingle sweeps over my skin, setting me on fire.
When do I not want him? And there is no better time than now, when I’m feeling at my lowest point. Caden will know how to make me feel better. A teasing comment accompanied by one of his sexy smiles will help me forget. An orgasm will chase away all of my blues. I take off the tank top and boy shorts I wore to bed, leaving them in a pile on the floor. My nipples are already hard and between my thighs I’m wet. Eager.