He makes a noise, resumes his reading on the iPad. “She claims she’s worried about your supposed lack of focus. Thinks you’re too wrapped up in wedding plans.”
“Bitch,” Ryder mutters, shaking his head.
“How dare she,” Violet breathes.
Rose speaks up like she can’t stand it any longer. “You need to fire her, Daddy. Break it off with her and let her go, personally and professionally. She’s trying to ruin us. For all you know, she already has. God knows what Jayne Cosmetics has planned now that they know about our future product line.”
“And the perfume line,” Violet adds.
He says nothing and we all seem to look at each other, silently communicating that we’re in agreement with Rose.
“Violet, I believe if you went to Felicity Winston and told her you know exactly what she received from Pilar, you can get her to back off whatever plans they might have to steal your ideas,” Max suggests.
“Maybe.” Violet clears her throat, her eyes so sad. I feel terrible that I didn’t realize what Pilar had done sooner. We could have stopped all this a couple of weeks ago. “I know Felicity personally but I wouldn’t call her a friend. There’s always been friendly competition between us, but I would’ve never thought she’d do something so low.”
“She may have agreed to take the information, but it was Pilar who offered it up so easily,” Ryder points out. “Don’t forget that.”
“He’s right. I say you approach her carefully, maybe even send her a veiled threat. Nothing too outrageous—we’ll leave that up to Pilar. But you need to let Felicity know you’re on to her plan,” Max says. “If you need any help with offering Felicity proof with the email correspondence between them, I can do that.”
Pride makes my chest fill with emotion. He’s so smart, so competent, so incredibly strong and kind. Look at how easily he wants to help my sister, my entire family. Me.
He’s a good guy. The first real good guy I’ve ever been with.
I don’t want to let him go.
“I would like that, thank you,” Violet says softly.
“What do you want me to do about this?” Daddy asks as he sets the iPad on the coffee table in front of him. He remains leaning forward and rests his elbows on his knees, running his hands through his hair over and over again.
I don’t remember ever seeing him look so distraught. I knew what we had to tell him would end up breaking his heart, but I didn’t think it would break my heart as well. Despite our volatile history, I hate seeing him so upset. I’m tempted to go to him and wrap my arms around his shoulders, reassure him that everything’s going to be all right eventually.
Would he want me to? Or would he tell me to go to hell? I am, after all, the bearer of bad news. I always have been.
“I don’t know if confronting her would be the right approach,” Max starts.
“Why not?” Rose asks, sounding annoyed. “Bitch would deserve it. She knows what she did. That’s why she’s so hell bent on bugging Lily to death for that stupid laptop.”
“I thought about giving her a dummy laptop loaded with false information, plus screenshots of her in-boxes,” Max explains. “But now I’m thinking that would be pointless.”
“Why?” Rose asks again. “I like the idea of her being tricked.”
“Retaliation might not be worth the risk,” Ryder says. I look over at him, our gazes meeting. Here is a man who speaks from ample experience. “When she thinks she’s been wronged, she can become … unhinged. I don’t want her to do anything that might harm any one of you.” His gaze falls on Max. “Even you.”
“Thanks,” Max says wryly.
“I’ll talk to her,” my father says quietly. “It’s the only way. I’ll call her into my office and calmly confront her with the information you’ve given me, Max. She won’t make a scene at Fleur, not after what I have to say. I’ll let her know it’s in her best interest that she give her notice and leave Fleur for good. I’ll even give her a recommendation.”
“Why?” Rose explodes for the third time, leaping to her feet, causing Caden to stand as well and try to calm her down. She shrugs off his hands and strides right up to where our father sits. She’s the epitome of righteous, indignant fury, resting her hands on her hips as she stares down at him. “A recommendation? Are you serious? Why the hell would you even consider that! She gave away company secrets! Confidential information to our direct competition! Giving her a recommendation would be like a reward for all the shitty things she’s done. I can’t let you do that, Daddy. I say we go after her and give her a dose of her own medicine. I’m sick of the way she’s fucked with our lives. She would deserve every single awful thing that might happen to her!”
“Calm down, baby,” Caden says, slipping his arm around Rose’s waist and steering her closer to him. “I don’t like seeing you so worked up.”
She drops her hands from her hips and takes a deep breath, nodding. My heart is beating triple time. I’m just as upset as Rose is and I tell myself to calm down, wishing that Max would wrap me up in his arms and never let me go.
His being here by my side and helping me, helping my entire family, is proof that he cares. That he wants to do right by me. I can’t deny that I’m still hurt over his betrayal but in the end, he kept my laptop and came to me. I can forgive him.