He flinches, face contorting, and the evidence of the pain I’m causing tears me in two. “Do you want a life with him?”
L.A., fancy cars, fancier homes, leaving everything I love here and tearing Cami away from her family? Destroying my relationship with my parents forever? Regardless of my feelings for Marston, the answer is obvious. “I don’t.”
“Do you want a life with me?”
“Julian . . .” His name comes out in a raspy croak. “I don’t know.”
Julian stumbles back as if I’ve hit him. “Figure that out. Sooner rather than later would be nice. My parents are planning to fly in for the wedding.” He opens my office door and slams it behind him as he walks away.
I lean back against the wall and press my palms to my eyes, but my tears leak out anyway.
* * *
Divorce paperwork isn’t that complicated for a no-fault case like ours, but I stare down at the papers I printed off this morning and can’t make myself pick up a pen.
Cami must’ve sensed my mood when she got off the bus, because she finished her homework quickly and asked if she could go hang out in the kitchen. I agreed, not wanting to poison her good mood with my brooding one.
It’s good she’s not here. It gives me a chance to get this done. Then again, I wish she were here and I had an excuse to avoid it.
“When I find myself hesitating to make the simple decision, there’s usually a reason,” Savvy says from the doorway.
Instead of looking up and acknowledging her, I fold my arms on the desk and drop my head. “It’s called self-sabotage,” I mutter.
I hear the soft scuff of her sneakered steps as she walks into my office, then a gentle hand is combing through my hair. “You’re still trying to process that Julian lied?” she asks. I was able to give her the quickest debrief over coffee after her morning spin class, but she’s been busy with clients all day, so I haven’t seen her since Julian stormed out of here midmorning.
I lift my head and draw in a shaky breath. “He showed up this morning and told me he wants me to quit my job and work for him.”
“He did what now?” She folds her arms and rocks back on her heels, her oh, no you didn’t! stance.
“Am I crazy?”
Savvy bites her bottom lip and wrinkles her brow. “Can you be more specific?”
I gape at my friend. “Thanks, bitch.”
Savvy grabs the chair on the opposite side of my desk, drags it next to mine, and sits down. “You’re not crazy for wanting The Orchid for yourself. You run this business in a way you should be proud of. Never be ashamed of wanting more control, given all the work you do here.”
“But . . .?” I swallow. As someone who grew up under constant criticism, I usually shield myself from it these days, but right now I need someone with some perspective to give it to me.
“You know I was never in favor of you marrying Julian just so you could get your trust.”
“That wasn’t the only—”
She holds up a hand. “I know. He’s your friend, you make a good team, you don’t want to be alone forever, and the sex is all right. I get it. There are days I’m so sick of going home to an empty house that I’m ready to take Smithy up on one of his random proposals.”
An unexpected laugh bursts out of me. God, Smithy does love to proposition Savvy, but the idea of my hotheaded go-getter best friend with my stoner cousin is so absurd.
“I know you don’t want to lose The Orchid, but I think the question you need to ask yourself is this: if Mrs. Wright sold this place to someone else tomorrow, and there was no chance of you buying it—trust or no trust—would you still want to marry Julian?”
I drop my gaze to my hands. When laid out so succinctly, it seems like it should be an easy decision.
She scoots the stack of divorce paperwork toward me. “Figure out that part first. Then tackle this question.”
I throw myself back in my chair and whimper dramatically. “When did my simple life get so messy?”
She cracks a smile. “When you dared to let in the good stuff. Messy is okay. There’s nothing here that can’t be fixed.”
I think of Julian’s face when he left my office, and I’m not so sure that’s true.
Standing, Savvy winks at me before returning the chair to its spot on the other side of the office and heading out. “Oh,” she says, hand on the doorjamb. “Marston’s in the kitchen baking with your daughter. Thought you’d want to know.”
Cami slides the tray of puff pastry into the oven and closes the door. “Twenty minutes, and the dough should be perfectly flaky. Then we’ll take them out and dust them with powdered sugar.”