“No, I haven’t. And there’s no tension between me and Carrick.”
“Sure there isn’t.” She rolls her eyes.
I pretend not to have seen her, as I don’t want to get into my Carrick problems with anyone. I know Petra, and I like her, but I don’t know her well enough to trust her with my Carrick crap.
“Anyway, this is Carrick-related, kind of. He’s asked me to go with him to this event tomorrow night—as friends,” I add when I see her brow rising. “And I need a dress.” I won’t tell her that Carrick is paying for the dress because she’ll think for sure that something is going on. “But I have no clue what kind of dress to get or where to get it from here in Barcelona, and I need your help because I’m crap at shopping.”
She claps her hands together with glee. “Of course I’ll help.”
She glances at the clock, and I follow her gaze, seeing that it’s seven thirty.
“Lucky for you, we’re in one of the best cities for late-night shopping. The shops are open till nine.” She gets up off the bed. “What’s your budget? Because Passeig de Gràcia has the best designer shops, but they also have Zara and Mango.”
“Well, I don’t want to spend too much.” I can feel Carrick’s credit card burning a hole in my pocket. “But I want to look good.”
“Hot on a budget. Got it. Come on, chick.” She pats my leg as she passes by. “We’ve got some serious shopping to do and limited time to do it.”
And that’s how I find myself in the fitting room at Mango on Passeig de Gràcia.
Petra yells for me, “Have you got it on yet? You’ve been in there for ages!”
I run my hand down the dress again, looking at myself. I just…I don’t know. I think I look okay, but it’s a little risqué for me. It’s red satin, floor-length, strappy with a plunging neckline, so you can see definite cleavage. But that’s not the risqué part. It’s the split up the side. Granted, it’s not skintight, but you can see definite leg when I walk, like up-to-the-thigh high.
“Jesus…your legs go on forever.”
I flush at the reminder of Carrick’s words to me that first day in the garage.
Would he like me in this dress? Would I care?
I think I already know the answer to that last question.
“Andi?” Petra calls, impatience in her voice. “If you don’t come out in the next three seconds, then I’m coming in.”
“Okay. I’m coming out.” Taking a deep breath, I pull the curtain back and step out.
“Holy fuck,” Petra says, getting to her feet.
“Is that a good holy fuck?”
“It’s a very good holy fuck.” She grins. “You look amazing, not that you look like shit normally, but you’re always in those god-awful overalls or jeans and a T-shirt. All this time, you’ve been packing this under there.” She waves a hand over me. “Carrick is gonna come in his pants when he sees you wearing this.”
“Nice.” I grimace at her choice of words. “Seriously, you think it’s okay?” I turn to look at myself in the mirror. “It’s not too…red?”
“Not at all. And with your coloring, you can carry it off, no problem.”
“So, you think I should get it?”
“I definitely think you should buy it and maybe wear it every day.” She smiles, coming to stand beside me, looking in the mirror. “God, I feel so like a bloody midget next to you.” She pouts.
Petra’s only five-five, which is a good height. I’m just so bloody tall.
“I think we should go minimal on the jewelry,” she says. “Maybe just some earrings. Don’t want to take the emphasis off the dress. Oh, shoes. You definitely need some heels. Maybe black or nude. We’ll have to scout some out.”
Heels? “Er, Petra, I’m not used to heels.”
“We’ll go low.” She pats my arm. “Three, maybe four inches.”
Three or maybe four inches? “I was thinking more like one inch. Seriously, I won’t be able to wear them. I’ll fall over and make an arse of myself. And I’ll look like a giant. Can’t I just wear flats?”
She looks at me like I just asked for coffee on my cereal. “No, you can’t bloody wear flats! It’d be an insult to this gorgeous dress. I’ll teach you how to walk in them. And you won’t look too tall. You’ll look like a freaking supermodel. Now, go get changed.” She ushers me back into the fitting room with a pat to my behind. “We haven’t got much time left, and we need to get you those heels.”
I’M STANDING OUTSIDE THE HOTEL’S BEAUTY SALON, wondering what the hell I’m doing here. This isn’t me. I don’t do this girlie stuff. Sure, I go to the hair salon for a trim when my hair needs it. But getting my nails done? Hell, no. It’s too embarrassing.
I glance down at the text I got from Petra this morning. She was already up and out before I woke up as she had to get an early start on breakfast for some meeting that Pierce and the rest of the management team were having.
Hotel salon. 4 p.m. I made you a nail appointment. Be there. See you back at the room afterward, so I can do your hair and makeup.
I look at my hands. They’re all dry, and the skin is rough. Oil stains are around my cuticles, and my nails have been bitten down. Ugh. The nail technician is going to take one look at my hands and run screaming.