“Who’s going to be there?” I ask warily, waiting for her answer.
“Violet, Ryder, and Nigel. Maybe another woman from work, but no Whitney,” she adds hurriedly.
Thank Christ. I haven’t talked to Whitney since I fled her flat and I know she’s pissed at me. I need to call her soon and make up to her, but not yet. She needs more time to get over it. “I like Nigel.”
She smiles. “So do I.”
“I think we should go.” I lean back against the padded headboard, bending my arms behind my head and interlocking my fingers against my neck. “It’s time for you to get back out into the real world, sweetheart.”
Rose rolls her eyes as she grabs a pair of earrings from the top of the dresser, slipping one pearl into her ear, then the other. They’re gorgeous pearls. Perfect luster, perfect color, and the perfect size, they’d get a fair amount on the black market. I know this because if they weren’t Rose’s earrings, they’d already be in my possession. Hell, I probably would’ve already cashed them in and wired the money into Mom’s bank account.
She’d notice, though. She wears them every single day and no way could I risk snagging them. The Poppy Necklace on the other hand … I have no idea where it is. And I’d like to find it.
But the minute I find it, I’m out. Headed back home to cash it in and then go see Mom in Miami.
Thinking of my mother reminds me that I need to call her. This afternoon would be good, since I’ll be alone for the first time since Rose and I got together. Or whatever we can call this … thing we’re doing.
“And what do you do in the real world anyway?” she asks, her voice casual though I know she’s fishing.
Finally. I wondered how long it would take for her to start asking questions.
“I do exactly what you see.” I grip my hands together tight, hating the lie that’s about to fall from my lips. “Travel around, see the world.” Well, part of that is true. I just left off the other part. I tried going to college, but it was too damn expensive and I couldn’t focus. Tried going straight and finding a real job, but that was an epic fail on all accounts. Got Mom the hell out of New York and moved her to Florida, somewhere I’ve thought about going more than once.
But I don’t. Maybe I should. It might be easier, going there. Then I’d have to explain to Mom what the hell I do for a living, but I’ve been lying to her for this long. I can keep it up.
I’m all she has. Stealing keeps her and me afloat. I don’t know how to do anything else.
I am a world-class fuckup.
“Must be tough,” she teases.
“Oh yeah.” I thunk the back of my head against the headboard, wishing it weren’t padded and soft. I need to knock some sense into my stupid brain. Not like I can come clean to Rose, but maybe I can turn my life around for her. I’ve tried before, but I could never stay clean. She could give me purpose, though. A real reason to be good—all for her. If she’d have me.
She won’t have you.
I tell the voice in my head to shut the fuck up.
Rose comes to a stop at the foot of the bed, her gaze wistful as she studies me. “You really shouldn’t sit like that.”
“Sit like what?” The woman straight up makes no sense sometimes. Like right now. I have no idea what she’s talking about.
Slowly she shakes her head as she approaches me. “With your arms behind your head. Your biceps are bulging and your shoulders and chest look exceptionally broad. Makes it hard for me to leave. I’d rather stay here with you.”
Ah, poor Rose. She’s scared to go back to Fleur. She mentioned that she didn’t approve of the woman her father is involved with and that this woman works at Fleur, which makes her uncomfortable. But that’s all I know. And they’re back in New York, not here in London. “Then don’t leave.” I drop my arms and reach for her, but she sidesteps away from me. “Stay with me.”
“You just encouraged me to go and now you’re trying to tempt me to stay?” She laughs. “You’re a bad influence.”
She has no idea.
After ten minutes of heavy kissing, I finally shove her ass out of the suite, glancing around the room after I shut the door behind her. This is the first time I’ve been left alone in the suite. My first opportunity to go through her stuff, and I’m hesitating like a wimp.
I need to see if she has anything of value stashed in her suitcase. Like maybe the Poppy Necklace, because I’d really like to know where it disappeared to. Though she’d be damn crazy to keep that thing in her suitcase. The hotel provides both an in-room safe and an even harder-to-crack safe behind the front desk. The in-room safes are useless. I’ve cracked hundreds of them over the years.
So I decide to go ahead and crack this one. Just for curiosity’s sake. No way would I take whatever I find in there.
My heart squeezes when I open the little metal door and see there’s a box inside. Slowly I reach in, tentatively grabbing the box, as if it’s some sort of wild animal ready to bite my fingers off at any given moment.
Withdrawing the box from the safe, I examine it. It’s old, covered in faded black velvet, and I open it, not surprised at all to see the necklace nestled within. Pink and white diamonds, each cut precise and perfect, each stone chosen for its flawless clarity. The necklace is going to fetch me an absolute fortune when I turn it in to Dexter. He’ll add it to his private collection, never to be seen in public again.