Page 21 of Rags to Riches Baby

“What are you dressing her up for?” he asked once Lucy disappeared again.

“The charity gala they’re holding at the Museum of Modern Art Saturday night.”

“Ah,” Oliver said. “I got invited to that. Champagne, weird sculptures and people pressuring you to write checks. I bet the only reason they invited her was to get their hands on some of that money she’s inheriting.”

Harper put her hands on her hips. “And why did they invite you, hmm? The same reason. It’s a charity event. That’s the whole point. At least she knows what she’s looking at when she walks around the museum.”

Oliver shrugged off his sister’s insult. It wasn’t ignorance on his part when it came to art. He’d taken all the required art appreciation classes in college, as many class field trips as any well-educated child in New York, and followed Aunt Alice around museums on the occasional Saturday. He just didn’t get it. Especially modern art. And if he didn’t like it, why should he waste his brain cells remembering who this artist was or what that piece symbolized? He just didn’t care. He could name maybe six famous painters off the top of his head, and four of them just happened to also be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The saleswoman returned to the room looking very pleased with herself, but when Lucy came in behind her, she looked anything but. To be honest, this time Oliver had to hold in a chuckle. The dress was black with sheer fabric that highlighted the black structure of the dress like lingerie of some sort. On its own that would’ve been fine, but it also had red and pink cutouts all over it, looking like some kind of couture craft project.

“What on earth is that?” he asked.

“Christian Dior!” the saleswoman said with an insulted tone.

“No, just no,” Lucy said, turning immediately to take it off. Apparently, she agreed with him.

“Is there anything on that rack that isn’t a neutral or see-through?” Oliver asked. “I don’t know what’s wrong with color these days. The women are always wearing black or gray. Lucy should stand out.”

The saleswoman clucked her tongue at him before turning to the rack again. “So no black, nude or white…” She flipped until she got to the last dress on the rack. “I guess we’ll try this one, although it’s not my favorite. The designer is relatively new and not very well-known.”

“Give it a try,” Harper said encouragingly. “You’re not really helping us,” she said to Oliver when they were alone again.

“It’s not my fault her personal shopper picked out ridiculous outfits. I mean, you saw that last one, right? I know it’s for a modern art event, but she doesn’t want to be confused for an exhibit.”

Harper’s lips pressed together as she tried to hide a smirk. “Yes, well, this one is nice and I like it. You’d better like it, too, or go home so we can do this without your help. Don’t you have a business to run, anyway?”

Oliver shrugged. It was a well-oiled machine and at the moment, he was far more concerned with what was going on with Lucy. For multiple, confusing reasons.

When Lucy returned a moment later, Oliver struggled to catch his breath. The dress was a bright shade of red with cap sleeves and an oval neckline that dipped low enough to showcase her breasts. It fit Lucy beautifully, highlighting her figure and flattering her coloring with its bright hue. It had a sash that wrapped around Lucy’s tiny waist, but other than that, wasn’t particularly flashy. No beading. No lace. No sheer panels. No wonder the saleswoman hated it. If Lucy picked this gown, her commission would hardly be worth the trip.

“I really like this one,” Lucy said. “Especially this part.” She turned around and surprised everyone. The dress was completely open in the back, almost like a reversed robe that was held in place with the sash. It was paired with a pair of black satin capris.

Oliver wasn’t even entirely sure if that qualified as a dress or a pantsuit, but he liked it. It was different and for some reason, he thought that suited Lucy. He liked the flash of skin along the whole length of her back. Any man who asked her to dance at the gala would get to run his palms over her smooth, bare skin. While he might enjoy that, he felt an unexpected surge of jealousy at the thought of her dancing with anyone else. Plus, the capri pants accented the high, round curve of her ass. He hadn’t noticed before, but it was quite the sight.

When Lucy stopped preening, she sought out the price tag and sighed in relief. “This is the one,” she said at last.

Oliver watched the women discuss the dress, tuning out the noise and noting nothing but the stunning vision in red. He hadn’t intended on going to the museum gala on Saturday, but if Lucy would be there, in that dress, he might just have to amend his plans.