Lucy wrinkled her nose as she studied him and turned back to the clothing. “Harper,” she complained, “these outfits are all way, way out of my price range.” She picked up one sleeve and gasped. “Seriously. I can just wear something I already have in the closet.”
“Absolutely not. You’re a millionaire now and you have to look the part, especially at this gallery event. You want to work in the art world, don’t you? This is your chance to make an entrance as Miss Lucille Campbell, not as Lucy, the assistant sent by Alice Drake. The invitation had your name on it this time, Lucy. Not Alice’s.”
Oliver watched curiously as Lucy shook her head and looked at the clothes. “How did they even know to invite me? I haven’t told anyone about the money.”
“Things like that leak out whether you want them to or not. I’m sure Wanda couldn’t wait to share her outrage with her circle of friends and it spreads from there. The art world is small and people were probably eager to find out who would get Alice’s estate. Honestly, I don’t know how you’ve managed to keep it a secret.”
Lucy pointed over to where Oliver was sitting on the couch. “That’s why. He’s why. You act like I already have this massive fortune, but I don’t. All I have is what I saved to go back to school. I’m willing to spend some of that to get a dress for the gala, but not much. I have no guarantee that I’m ever going to see a dime of that money to replace what I spend.”
“Will you at least try some of it on? You never know what you might end up liking.”
The saleswoman pulled out what was probably the most expensive designer dress on the rack. “Let’s start with this one. Where would you like to change?”
She and Lucy disappeared down the hallway and Harper started sorting through the clothing on the rack.
This was an unexpected development. He thought for certain that Lucy would jump at the chance to buy some expensive designer clothes and start flaunting herself around Manhattan. Yes, he was responsible for putting a hold on the flow of cash from his aunt’s estate, but there were ways around that. He was certain she could probably get a loan from a bank to front her lifestyle until the money came in. At the very least, charge up a credit card or two.
But she didn’t. It was curious. She didn’t seem to enjoy the position she was in at all, much to Harper’s supreme disappointment. That woman loved to shop. Of course, so had Candace. She was full speed ahead the moment she’d gotten her hands on one of his father’s credit cards. Candace had insisted that she just wanted to look as beautiful as possible at all times for his father. It was amazing how much money it took to make that happen.
Perhaps Lucy had a different angle. Her wide-eyed innocent bit was pretty convincing. Perhaps not spending money was part of it. Or maybe he was overthinking all of this.
He’d run through that night on the patio in his head dozens of times in the last week. Was she sincere? Did it matter? His body certainly didn’t care. It wanted Lucy regardless of her innocence or guilt. Of course, his father had proved that following the advice of one’s arousal was not always the best course of action. His dad had followed his right into near bankruptcy.
Speaking of what his groin wanted…
Lucy stepped back into the room wearing a gown. It was a sheer, tan fabric that looked almost as though she was wearing nothing at all but some floating tiers of beaded lace. It looped around her neck and when she turned to show Harper, it was completely backless.
“This one is Giorgio Armani,” the saleswoman said proudly. “It looks lovely with your coloring.”
The women talked amongst themselves for a moment before Harper turned to him. “What do you think, Oliver? If you’re going to sit on the couch and gawk at her, you should at least make yourself useful.”
It did look nice. He felt almost like a Peeping Tom, getting a look at her that he shouldn’t have, but he’d rather see her in some color. “She looks naked. She could go naked for free. If she’s going to pay that much money, she should at least look like she has an actual dress on.”
Lucy laughed, clapping her hand over her mouth when she saw the saleswoman’s horrified expression. Oliver was pleased that he’d gotten her to laugh, although he wasn’t entirely sure why. She did have a beautiful smile. He hadn’t really gotten to see it before. She spent all her time frowning at him, although he probably deserved that.
Harper just shook her head. “Okay, it’s not my favorite either. Let’s try this one,” she said, pulling another gown from the rack.