I stare at the tiled wall, blinking hard. I thought Ryder was on my side. But no, he’s filling Violet’s head with stories of Caden being a lying con man. Just freaking great. “Don’t you think you two are being a little harsh?”
“No. I call it being protective of my baby sister.” Violet reaches out to rest her hand on my shoulder, but I shrug out of her touch. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
I turn on her. “I’m a big girl. I can handle myself.”
“Just be careful,” she pleads. She looks worried and I feel bad, but her worry isn’t going to stop me from continuing to see Caden. “And Hugh is like … the perfect guy for you. I wish you could see that. He’s smart and handsome and he works for Fleur.”
“What, you want me to be just like you and Ryder? Give me a break. I don’t know if I want to continue working at Fleur.” I throw my hands up in the air, so frustrated I could spit.
“You don’t mean that,” Violet whispers. “You gave your notice after you argued with Father. You know he’d take you back.”
“I do mean it. Daddy is furious with me and the feeling is mutual. Pilar is getting everything she could ever want and you’re the wunderkind of the family. No one gives a shit if I’m there or not. I’ve disappeared for the last couple of weeks and no one’s missed me. Fleur goes on whether I’m there or not,” I point out. “Can the same be said if you weren’t there? Or Daddy? Or even … Pilar?” God, it kills me to say her name, but I’m feeling pretty low right now.
“I’ve missed you,” Violet says.
“That’s not good enough.” I shake my head, refusing to feel guilty over disappointing Violet. “When I go back to New York, I’m not returning to Fleur.”
“Why? I don’t understand how you can even consider that as an option.” Violet looks incredulous and I don’t know what to tell her. How to explain.
Because I don’t have the proper explanation myself.
“See, that’s just it. You wouldn’t understand.” I’m tired. Tired of explaining myself, defending my actions, defending Caden. “There’s nothing more to say, Violet.”
She studies me, her arms curled in front of her, her expression unreadable. I’ve disappointed her. She’s probably mad. But for once, I don’t really care. “You’re making a mistake,” she finally says.
“I’m sure I am,” I say wearily. “I think I’m allowed to make one every once in a while.”
Without another word Violet turns and leaves, the door slamming hard behind her, and I slump against the edge of the countertop, throwing back my head with a sigh so I can stare at the ceiling.
That went over well.
I use the facilities and wash my hands, splashing water on my face yet again. Another woman walks in and throws down her makeup bag, opening it to pull out a Fleur lip gloss. She slicks her lips a deep red shade as she stares at her reflection before she puts the cap back on and throws the tube into the bag. She notices me watching her and gives me a puzzled smile.
“Beautiful color,” I tell her. I recognize it, of course. One of the shades from our Winterberry collection, the name of the color is Blackberry Ice.
“Oh, thank you.” She smiles, revealing she has a bit of gloss stuck to her front teeth. I rub at mine and she does the same with her index finger, giving me a rueful look. “Right. Appreciate that. I bet my friends wouldn’t have told me and had a good laugh over it later.”
“Wow, really?” Sounds like they aren’t very good friends.
“It’s dog-eat-dog out there, haven’t you noticed? I’ve been flirting with the same bloke for the past half hour and then another pretty girl turns his head and the ass leaves me standing there alone.” She zips her makeup bag up almost violently. “What’s a girl got to do to keep a man’s interest in this city? Show her tits?”
I feel like a complete shit, since only a few minutes ago I had the interest of two men. How selfish am I? “Do you like smart guys?”
She laughs. “I certainly don’t like dumb ones.”
“I know someone … he’s sitting at my table. Really sweet, but always seems to be overshadowed by the other men he works with.”
The woman raises her brows. “Is he ugly?”
“Not at all.” I shake my head, enjoying her brutal honesty. “He’s cute. In an understated way, you know? Fun. Earnest. I could introduce you.”
The woman smiles. She’s dressed nicely in a pretty green dress and with her dark auburn hair and pale complexion, I’m sure Nigel would be bowled over to talk to a woman like her. “That sounds great. But if he’s so amazing, why aren’t you going after him?”
“Because I already have someone amazing,” I admit, thinking of Caden. I don’t care what my sister said. I don’t care if Ryder thinks he’s a con man. Look at Violet and how she turned Ryder around. I could do the same, right?
I exit the bathroom with my new friend Louise and hopefully Nigel’s future date, when we run into a glowering Caden in the hallway. I send him a pleading look, introducing him to Louise before we head out to the table.
“What are you doing?” I ask brightly, hoping he isn’t as mad as he looks.
He scowls. “What does it look like I’m doing? Using the bathroom.” With those famous parting words, he shoves his way into the men’s restroom, the door slamming behind him.