Mrs. Smythe-Smith did what she always did when she did not wish to reply. Her brows rose, her chin dipped, and she gave a disdainful sniff.
Welcome to the Red Fox, said the server. How are you—oh. You. I heard you were back.It was Amy Beckman, Queen of the Cheetos, once the nemesis to anyone bigger than a size 2, and, all through high school, Sullivan Fletcher’s girlfriend.
She looked almost exactly the same—bright blue eyes and sharp cheekbones, athletic build. She seemed to have dropped her addiction to tanning, since her skin was no longer orange. Age had given her some gravitas, too, and pretty had become beautiful.Still a little scary, too. How many times had she made me cry? Mocked my clothes? Snickered as I walked past in the cafeteria with a salad, knowing I’d binge-eat cheese when I was home?Amy, I said with all the enthusiasm of a dead squirrel on the side of the road. How are you?
So you guys know each other, obviously, Gloria said. Amy’s in my book club. Hey, you should join, Nora! It’s more of a drinking club, but we’d love to have you.Maybe I will. I wouldn’t. Thank you for the invitation.
Amy was still staring at me. What can I get you?
As ever, the old instincts to choose my food based on potential judgment flared up. A salad? No, that would be too much of a throwback. A cheeseburger to prove I could handle calories now (if I did an hour of Pilates back home, which my scapula and knee didn’t want me to try just yet)?She set her candy down with shaking hands and took a sip of water. Finally, she nodded. Go on.
Anyway, Ashley loved life, and the same energy she’d put into dancing she essentially transferred to her relationship with me. She was young too, and it showed. At twenty-two, she was eight years younger than me, but there was something about her that made me not care.Emma shifted in her seat but remained silent. She refused to meet my gaze but I stared at her, studying her expression the whole time I spoke. The pain, the conflict, the curiosity, I saw it all, and knew the only way to make it better was to press on.
So, with her youth came a lot of immaturities. She was jealous, even of the women I worked with. She was suspicious of my previous assistant, and absolutely hated Sonja. She was dramatic too. When she was angry, she would make it her personal mission to make sure everyone else was miserable too. Still, she was the breath of fresh air I needed at a time when I was working eighty- to ninety-hour weeks while our business grew. I’d gone on that way nonstop for three years, and when Ashley came around, it felt like a sign. I was thirty and it was time to settle down.Were you in love with her? Emma asked quietly.