“This man was a weak-ass prick that liked to prey on women. He tried to find weak women, and he exploited their fear, their reputation. It wasn’t always about blackmail, Lindsey. You have got to stop this. You did nothing wrong. No man has the right to take what isn’t offered.” She laughed. “It’s like this whole thing of a woman shouldn’t wear short skirts if they don’t want attention from men. I call bullshit. Women should be allowed to wear whatever the fuck they want, and guys need to learn to keep it in their fucking pants.”
“No, I don’t believe so either. It’s why I always wore what I wanted. I didn’t think about men or what men should or shouldn’t do,” she said.
“Then don’t do this to yourself, Lindsey. You’re a good woman. A kind woman and I hate to see you like this. He has no right to win. Don’t let him get to you. I mean that. He has no right at all. He’s the monster, not you. Do you want to know what I think you should do?”
“No, what do you think I should do?” she asked.
“You should forget all about this doctor asshole. He’s not worth your time anyway, and you should think about how much Pie wants you. Your date and whether or not you’re going to give him what he wants.”
“What he wants?”
“Come on, Lindsey. You and I know both know that sex has to be considered. Unless, you’re not comfortable.”
“I’m fine.” She hadn’t thought about it much unless Pie was in her thoughts, and then she thought about nothing else.
“Good and I will always be here to talk to you. You know, in case you ever need it.”
I’ll always babysit for you,” Lindsey said, and Kasey smiled.
“That’s always a good thing.”
Her friend winked at her, and for the first time in over a month, Lindsey felt better in herself, calmer, like she could handle whatever was thrown her way.
Holly seasoned the carrot and cilantro soup she was working on. The recipe kept annoying her as it either tasted too sweet or too herby with all the cilantro.
She heard the door open and slam closed.
Frowning, she lowered the heat to a simmer, and made her way out in time to watch Matthew storm past her.
They’d rarely been alone together in the last few weeks since he’d come back home.
“Hello,” she said.
He jumped and released a little scream.
“Shit, Holly, I had no idea you were here.”
“Mary’s got the kids while I’m working on a few things. What’s up?” She folded her arms and stared at her stepson.
“Really? If I’d returned home with a shattered front door, how would I have explained that to your dad?”
“Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.”
“We all do a lot of things we didn’t mean.” She sighed. “Come into the kitchen. You can be my taste tester.”
Matthew groaned, and she stopped, turned, and raised a brow at him. “Got a problem?”
“If you’re alone in the kitchen it means you’re doing a recipe that sucks big time.”
“True, carrot and cilantro soup. You’ll totally thank me.” She reached up into the cupboard, grabbing her favorite soup bowl.
Staring at the recipe on the side, she paused, thinking about her mother. This had been the soup bowl her mother gave to her when she married Duke. It seemed like such a little thing at the time.
“You’re a grown woman now, and it won’t be long before you’re doing soup for your daughter or son.”
“Holly, you okay?” Matthew asked.
She looked up to see his worried frown. “I’m fine.” She licked her lips, holding up the bowl. “Mom always put my soup in this bowl. It has a recipe on the side, and she told me once that just relaxing, enjoying a mug of soup would help your troubles melt away.”
“I’m sorry,” Matthew said.
Her mother was murdered by her father, part of the Abelli family. Her mother had been killed right in front of her, and there were times that the memory was still raw for her.
“It’s fine. I’ll be fine.”
Matthew rubbed her back. “Do you want me to call Dad?”
“Nah, you don’t need to do that. I think this is the first time I’ve used this bowl since she died. You know. I’ll be fine. I’m a big girl.”
Holding the mug, she picked up a ladle, and filled it to the brim. Placing it on the kitchen, counter, she let out a breath and smiled.
“Try not to hurt my feelings,” she said.
He took a sip, and even though he tried to hide it, there was no mistaking that he hated it.
“How is it?” she asked.
“It’s … very good.”
“Really? Take another slurp. I don’t think you got a big enough try.” She held in her smile, pressing her lips together. It was hard not to burst out laughing at the fear on his face. It was so cute to watch him, especially as he clearly didn’t want to upset her.