“Oh, please.” Before I can tell him what I want, he walks away without another word, his broad-shouldered body cutting a swath through the crowd, and they all part for him obediently. He’s a head taller than the majority of the people in the room, so it’s not difficult to keep tabs on him as he strides toward the bar across the way.
He doesn’t smile at a soul, doesn’t stop to make pleasant conversation with anyone, either.
I’m completely fascinated.
“Who’s the guy?” Violet magically appears at my side, her gaze dropping to my dress, pointedly taking in the slits in my skirt, my thighs playing peek-a-boo whenever I move. “Did you draw him in with the dress or what?”
“Not everyone is as scandalized with the dress as you are,” I mutter, irritated that she’s ruining my mood. Violet and I are usually on the same side about everything, but the moment I made my appearance at Daddy’s suite before we all went to the premiere together, I knew she wasn’t happy with my choice of attire.
And that hurt, despite my brave face and carefree attitude. I blame it on the fact that she’s always had a motherly, almost protective attitude toward me. Daddy didn’t like the dress, either, but that’s no surprise. Ryder gave me a high-five with a wicked grin on his face before we left the suite, and I appreciated that. Clung to his approval like some sort of anchor that was saving me from drowning. I needed any show of support to get through tonight.
You did this to yourself. The only one you have to blame is … you.
That naggy little voice inside my head needs to shut up.
“Can I be honest with you?” Violet turns to face me, her expression somber, warning me I’m not going to want to hear what she has to say.
I barely withhold the sigh that wants to escape when I answer, “Go for it.”
“You’re reminding me of Lily.” She wrinkles her nose, looking both cute and disgusted. That’s the ultimate low blow, saying I remind her of Lily. I feel like she stabbed me right in the heart. “The flashy outfit, the necklace. Did you know Grandma was going to let you wear it tonight?”
Ah, is that what this is about? That Grandma let me wear the necklace and not her? Maybe it was stupid, wearing such a dress. The press had shouted at me continuously as we posed on the red carpet. Asking me who designed it, where was Lily, since when did I get so bold. Hardly any of them asked about the necklace.
I wonder if that made Grandma mad.
“No, I didn’t,” I answer. “She brought it to me about a half hour before we all met. I had no idea she had it with her.”
“She mentioned to me she was going to bring it to Cannes a while ago. But I figured she would want Lily to wear it. Since she’s not here …” Violet’s voice trails off.
“You’re right, she did want Lily to wear it. She also said I reminded her most of Poppy.” I absently drift my fingers across the stones, my thumb smoothing over the largest one set in the center. “So she let me wear it tonight. Said you didn’t need to because you already have your big diamond on your finger.”
Violet immediately holds her hand out, the diamond catching the light just right and making it sparkle. A little smile curls her lips as she stares at it. “She’s probably right.”
“I know,” I say dryly, my gaze snagging on my savior, who’s still waiting in line at the bar. His shoulders are terribly broad and he’s so tall. His hair is longish in the back, in dire need of a trim, and he reaches back at the exact moment the thought passes through my mind, scratching at his nape absently before he turns, his gaze meeting mine all the way across the room.
The look in his eyes renders me completely still. Even my breath stalls in my lungs. I part my lips, the low roar in my ears growing louder, drowning out what Violet’s saying to me, blocking out every little sound until all I can focus on is him.
He doesn’t look away. Doesn’t smile or lift a brow or wave a hand, no acknowledgment that we’re watching each other. Slowly, the movement so subtle I almost don’t notice it, he works his square jaw, his lips pressing together, his chest rising with his deep inhale. Squinting his eyes, one side of his mouth goes up slightly, the lopsided ghost of a smile appearing before it’s gone.
In a snap.
The man turns, his back facing me once more, and I wonder if I imagined it all. Blinking, I tear my gaze from him and turn to my sister, who hasn’t stopped talking. I have no idea what she just said. None.
All I can think about is the man who saved me.
And I don’t even know his name.
The moment I see the necklace around the wrong sister’s neck, I’m infuriated.
Mad as hell.
Yeah. All that.
I had a plan and I hate deviating from the plan. I thought Lily Fowler was coming to this premiere. This is one of the biggest moments for the Fowler family and their business. And their oldest daughter isn’t even here with them at the freaking Cannes Film Festival, so what the fuck?
Not that I thought Lily would be wearing the necklace. I figured it would be Violet. The quiet sister who’s the true force to reckon with at Fleur, the driven one who’s taking the cosmetics company and pushing it forward. I hadn’t considered the new boyfriend, though. That guy never leaves her side and glowers at whoever looks at her with even halfhearted interest.
It’s freaking Rose Fowler wearing the damn necklace instead. The baby sister, who’s barely old enough to drink legally. The gorgeous-as-hell and completely untouchable sister is wearing a necklace that I heard from inside sources would be featured in the documentary. I have connections. Hell, I have someone who would pay me top dollar if I bring the necklace to him. I’m here in Cannes at his insistence and he sent me here to grab it. We both had a hunch it might be seen tonight, and that’s why I’m here.