I liked working for Mirror, Mirror Inc.

The only thing which would make it better would be getting out from under Queenie’s reign.

“Are you done here?” Queenie snapped, her green eyes flashing. It was remarkable that she and Hunter shared eyes of almost the same shade yet there was nothing remotely similar about them.

She’s a cruel hag underneath that Estee Lauder and Chanel while Hunter is gorgeous and warm.

“Almost,” I replied quickly. “I just need to pack a few more samples.”

“Well hurry up. Our flight is early and I don’t want to hear any excuses as to why you’re late.”

She didn’t give me a chance to respond as she stormed away, her bony shoulders erect and haughty. I wouldn’t have known how to answer that anyway—I’d never been late, not once.

I stepped up my pace and finished collecting what needed to come with us to Hof, reaching for my cell as it began to ring in my lab coat.

“Sasha Snow,” I answered automatically, even though the display clearly showed my mother’s picture.

“Oh, good! You haven’t left yet!” Mom breathed. “I was worried I’d missed you.”

“Mom,” I groaned quietly, shooting a look over my shoulder to ensure I wasn’t being overheard. “I told you I’m leaving tomorrow morning.”

“Honey, I really wish you’d reconsider this trip. You know, it’s called Iceland for a reason. It’s cold and—”

“Mom,” I sighed. “I’m really busy trying to get everything together right now. Can I call you later?”

“You won’t though, will you?” Mom muttered, inspiring an instant guilt in me. Mothers were born knowing how to shame their children and mine was no different. From the minute I’d told her about the impending trip, she’d been nothing but fatalistic.

I reasoned it was her job to be an alarmist but I wished she could have been happy for me.

“I promise I’ll call you later, Mom,” I grumbled. “But I really have to go.”

I could feel Queenie’s scathing look, even without raising my head.

“Fine.” She didn’t bother to hide the hurt note in her voice and I rolled my eyes heavenward.

“Bye Mom.”

I disconnected the call and gathered the rest of my belongings. Cautiously, I glanced at my boss who seemed fixated on me, even though there were still others milling about the lab.

“Need anything else, Amanda?” I asked pleasantly and her scowl deepened.

“I need you to not take personal calls when you’re on the clock,” she shot back. I smothered a biting retort and instead nodded.

“Of course. It was just my mom, making sure—”

“Is your mother a personal call?” Queenie interrupted.

There was no reasoning with this wench.

“It won’t happen again,” I muttered, even though I knew no one else had to adhere to the rule. It wasn’t like I was glued to the phone, gossiping with Alex all day or something.

“I’m heading out,” I told her, turning away before she could get on my ass about something else. “I’ll see you at LaGuardia in the morning.”

“Don’t be late!”

I didn’t bother to address the inane comment with a reply. There was no sense in fighting with her. I’d long ago realized that.

As I pushed my way out of the lab and stripped off my gloves and lab coat, I wondered if maybe my mom was right to be worried about the trip. It wasn’t the isolation or the cold, however. No, it was spending a month with that relentless shrew which made me apprehensive.

I shoved aside my reservations as I exited my workspace and weaved through the small inner office before finding myself at the elevator banks.

My phone was ringing again and this time it was Alex.

“We still on for dinner?” my best friend chirped in my ear when I answered. “And you better not say no. If I’m losing you for a month, you’re letting me take you out for dinner.”

“I wouldn’t stand you up,” I promised. I couldn’t imagine leaving for Iceland without seeing Alex.

“I’ll be there in an hour. I just need to go home and change first.”

“Forget about changing,” Alex laughed. “I want to squeeze every minute I can get out of your face.”

* * *

Halloween had thrown up all over Manhattan but I found myself relishing it somehow. When I was a kid, I’d always loved the holidays and New York was nothing if not over the top when it came to celebrations.

First Halloween, then Thanksgiving and finally Christmas and New Year’s.

I’d be back the week after Thanksgiving and I regretted that I wouldn’t be around to spend it with Alex and my mom. I said as much to Alex, stifling a melancholic sigh.

“Will you pop by on my mom over Thanksgiving?” I asked her. “She’s guilting the hell out of me.”

Alex chuckled and tossed her short bob easily.

“That’s what makes Ariel, Ariel,” she reminded me. “Of course I’ll check in on her. I’ll even bring her a plate. I’d invite her over but I know how she feels about Harlem.”

Tags: Nicole Casey Romance
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