‘I was out in the garden, I meant to say that she came out and got me,’ said Laura, carefully picking up two long shards of broken china.
If she had no one else, she had Alice, who believed in Etta even when she was playing at her worst. Of the two Brits in her life, she was grateful that at least this one seemed to care and love unconditionally.Alice pulled back, touching Etta’s cheek. Everything all right, love? You’re not having second thoughts, are you?
No! God, she couldn’t give Alice any excuse to cancel the debut. Just the usual nerves.Alice’s gaze narrowed to something over her shoulder; Etta started to turn, to look and see what it was, only to have her instructor touch one of her earrings, her brow wrinkling in thought. Did your mum give these to you?Etta nodded. Yeah. Do you like them?
They’re… Alice seemed to search for the word, dropping her hand. Beautiful. But not half as beautiful as you, duck.Etta rolled her eyes, but laughed.
I need to…I think I ought to make a call, Alice said slowly. Will you be all right to start warming up by yourself?
Of course, Etta said, startled. Is everything okay?The room erupted in murmurs of deliberation while I stood in the sea of ebbing voices.
For a moment, I stupidly believed I’d won. That I’d played my hand at the perfect time and earned my freedom. But I hadn’t learned my final lesson.I see your offer and raise you, Lord Mask murmured. One million, five hundred thousand pounds, not dollars. What say you?
Before I could reply—before I could increase my bid and change my circumstances, the dreaded gavel fell.Sold! the auctioneer yelled. To Mr. Lord for one million, five hundred thousand pounds.