“I’d rather do Hawaii. I’m sure I can convince him it’s the better place to honeymoon.” She grins. “So what did you do while you were in Maui? Check out the sights? Go to the beach? Did you meet anyone? I’ve never gone on a vacation by myself before. I’m not sure I’d know what to do with myself.”
“Um …” I scramble for what to say. Fucked around with a strange man? That wouldn’t go over too well. “It was super relaxing. I laid out by the pool a lot.” I don’t bother mentioning my injury from the first day. My palm is healed and there’s no reason to bring it up. Then I’d have to mention Max and the story would spiral out of control.
“I can tell from your tan.” She lifts her head, her gaze darting toward the windowed walls of her office. “Oh, there’s Rose.” She waves to her, the door opening moments later, and in walks our pregnant baby sister.
I leap up from my chair as Violet shoots from behind her desk, and we’re both fighting over who gets to hug Rose first. She laughs and wraps her arms around our shoulders, bringing us in so we’re all hugging each other, and I’m so overwhelmed with love for them I almost choke up. Again.
But then Rose shoves us away with a laugh, and my overwhelming emotions fade when I catch sight of her growing belly.
“Rosie!” I drop a hand to her tummy and give it a gentle rub. “Look at you. You’re so …”
“I know, I’m so fat,” she moans, though she’s smiling. Glowing, really. I’ve never seen her look prettier, and Rose is already flat-out gorgeous.
“You’re not fat,” Violet reassures her as she rests her hand on the other side of Rose’s belly. “You’re full of child.”
The smile on Rose’s face is nothing short of dreamy. “Trust me. I feel fat. Like I don’t know how to move with this belly. I’ve become awkward and clumsy, which is totally embarrassing. Though Caden says I look sexy with his baby growing inside me. And my sex drive has been off the charts lately—my God. He comes home from work and all I want to do is attack him the minute he walks through the door.”
“Ugh, gross. Don’t take us there,” Violet says, sounding like she’s thirteen, and making all three of us crack up.
“You look good, Lily,” Rose says, turning her attention to me as we all sit around Violet’s desk. “Maui definitely suited you, hmm?”
I brush my hair back from my face, thankful I wore a dress like my sisters. I look like I might actually work here, though no way would I ever want to. Rose is here because she’s sitting in on an afternoon meeting.
I’m here because I knew they would both be here and we’re all going out to lunch.
“She’s being terribly vague,” Violet tells Rose, the two of them settling their skeptical gazes right on me. I feel pinned in place by the way they examine me. How could I forget that my sisters are so nosy? “Makes me wonder if something else happened while she was on Maui.”
“I stayed out of trouble, just like I promised,” I say, throwing up my hand in a Girl Scout pledge. “Didn’t really drink much. No partying, either.” That was sort of true, so I don’t feel like a complete liar.
“Well, the media certainly quieted down once you disappeared. I think they’ve moved on to the next troublemaker,” Rose reassures me, her expression solemn. “That’s a good thing, I suppose.”
“Definitely,” I say. Relief floods me. Arriving at JFK yesterday, I’d disguised myself as best I could. Hair up in a sloppy topknot, giant sunglasses on, boring, everyday clothes, as in matching black sweats and a hoodie I picked up from Victoria’s Secret’s PINK line. I wanted to fit in and look like every other woman my age on that plane and I succeeded. There were no paparazzi waiting, no cameras flashing in my face.
“I don’t think they realize I’m back,” I say.
“And you should keep it that way,” Violet says firmly. “You don’t want to make Daddy angry or give us any bad publicity. He was mad that you just disappeared, you know. He was worried, too. Though I think he’s over it, now that he knows you’re safe.”
“In my dreams he’s over it,” I mutter, making them both laugh. But I can certainly hope that’s the case. “Are you guys ready to go to lunch? I’m starved.”
Both Violet and Rose frown at my abrupt change of subject. “You are coming back with us to the meeting after we have lunch though, right?” Rose asks with a puzzled frown.
“No way. I don’t belong there.” I shake my head. I don’t want any sort of confrontation with Pilar, especially on her turf. I may own a piece of this company, but she’s worked here for years and feels like Fleur is hers. She’d tear me apart.
“We’re talking about the perfumes and testing the sample scents, and you’re an integral part of that, Lily,” Violet explains. “Ryder is sitting in on the meeting since this was his idea from the get-go. Pilar’s not involved, so she won’t be there. This is our project. Ryder and I were both upfront from the beginning that Pilar plays no part in this project ever. Father understands how important it is to us and no one else.” Violet smiles softly. “So don’t worry about her.”
“Ugh. So glad that bitch isn’t involved. I wouldn’t go to the meeting either if she were there.” Leave it to plainspoken Rose to lay it all out. “God, I hate her so much.”