“Well, it’s a rather nerdy name, so you might just want to keep that under your hat, Bernard.” Zep snickered, and I met his eyes with a glare that reminded him I knew all too well where his own name came from.

“That’s kind of hypocritical coming from someone named after a flying gas balloon.”

“I was named after my father’s favorite band, one of the greatest of all time, fuck you very much.” He released a breath, and we both left the bathroom, heading back to find a new table as our last one had new occupants.

I sat down at the first one that was available and the waitress I’d slept with a few months back came strolling by. She shot me a glare as she approached. “Can I get you anything?” She turned and smiled at Zep who slipped in his order.

“Just get me a beer.” I eyed her up and down, remembering her long legs wrapped around my naked ass as I pounded her.

“Sure thing, honey. I’ll get you your beer with the same effort you took to call me after the sex we had.” She sauntered away, and I had to respect the girl. Most would have been insulted but never called me on my shit.

Zep belted a laugh that was loud enough to turn a few heads in our direction, the ones that weren’t already staring. “Ouch! I like that woman.”

“She was good. Maybe you should try her.” He made a face that told me he just might.

“You know, I gave her an invitation to the gala earlier. With the way you’ve disposed of a few of the locals, things could certainly get interesting.”

About that time the plain Jane who’d spilled her drink rushed past us on her way to the bathroom, she’d apparently spilled again, the front of her blouse was soaked, and tears trailed down her cheeks as she passed.

Zep curled his lip and gave me a nudge. “Poor thing, I’m sure Halle and Sadie are going to eat her alive.”

Without gawking at the poor creature, I stared across the room in the opposite direction. “Better her than me.”

Chapter 5


Halle turned in front of the three-way mirror and checked the back view of the dress as I sat watching. I could have been in my own room, looking through my collection of my mother’s gowns and choosing just the right dress for the gala, but I was expected to be at the twin’s beck and call and, apparently, they needed all hands on deck to choose the proper dress. It wasn’t as if they valued my opinion at all, but anything to keep me busy and at their mercy made them happy.

Luckily, I still had a week and already had one of the gowns in mind, and it would be there when I got a free moment. I didn’t want to suggest stepping away after what had happened the previous night. I hadn’t meant to spill my drink, but I’d choked on a piece of ice, and it had just happened.

I hadn’t wanted to go out anyway, but the girls had insisted. Of course, that was only after they gave me ten minutes to get ready and hid my flat iron. I’d only had time to brush out the wavy strands, not control them, and by the time the humidity had hit it, it was one big mess. But that wasn’t the worst thing they’d done. They’d taken my contacts the night before, and I’d spent the entire day looking for them. I’d been a squinty, clumsy mess, just as they intended. I knew they’d done it simply because of their father’s suggestion and to show that if I was going to be their tag along, I was also going to be their comic relief.

The worst part of the night was when Halle accidentally spilled her drink too— all down the front of my dress. I’d run to the bathroom crying, but hadn’t let either of them see my tears. They were mostly tears of anger, tears for wanting to get revenge and knowing that if I ever wanted to get away from them and out of the Blue mansion, I’d have to suck it up at least until I had earned some money. According to Nola, who’d always been like an aunt to me, the banks had come for the money my mother had borrowed to do her chemo. Apparently, she hadn’t had any insurance on herself. I was thankful for Nola for looking out but hoped that once things were settled, I could make a new life on my own and build my career. That was the only reason I’d wanted to go to the gala.

I planned to wear some of my custom jewelry pieces and hopefully make a few future clients. Many people still wanted to get their hands on my mother’s designs, which had increased in value after her death, and I hoped there would be a bit of interest in my stuff from that.

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