Home > Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(13)

Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(13)
Sarah Mayberry

It took two days before Elizabeth’s reply arrived in her in-box—two days of Violet sweating it out and feeling like the worst friend ever.

It’s okay, Vi. You did the right thing. I didn’t mean for you to get caught in the middle of all this. Martin turned up on my doorstep a couple of days ago. We talked. I hope we parted as friends. I guess time will tell. Will write more when I can.

Love you,

E

Violet frowned at her laptop screen. Was it just her, or was Elizabeth’s account of what had happened woefully inadequate? Where was Martin now, for example? Had he come home again? When was Elizabeth coming home? Maybe Violet was reading way too much into her friend’s economical email, but she sensed that there was something else going on with her friend. Something unrelated to both Martin and her father.

The shop bell tingled and she glanced up to see a tall, broad shouldered figure filling the doorway. The sun was directly behind him, reducing him to a silhouette, and her heart gave a crazy, nervous thump against her rib cage.

“Martin?” she said.

The moment he stepped into the light she saw it wasn’t Martin. Disappointment thudded in her belly.

“Excuse me. Can you tell me where I would find the nearest Tube Station?” he asked with a broad American accent.

“End of the street, turn right. You should see the sign on your left.”

“Thank you. Have a great day.”

The polite smile faded from her lips as he exited. She had no idea why she’d thought he might have been Martin, why Martin had been the first person to leap to mind when she’d seen that tall, broad silhouette in the doorway. There was no way Martin would ever turn up at her shop voluntarily. He despised her. He thought she was a bad influence on Elizabeth. Hell, he probably blamed her for everything that had happened with her friend.

Not so many days ago, Elizabeth had told her that she needn’t bother getting hot under the collar about Martin any more, since she never had to see him again. Violet should have been grateful for the knowledge. She should be celebrating even now that she would never have to look into his condemning grey eyes again.

So why wasn’t she?

Martin’s footsteps echoed around the empty space as he walked from the formal dining room into the kitchen. He glanced around the room at the gleaming white cabinets and Carrera marble counters, then crossed to the window to see if the sash had been repaired, as per his instructions.

Not that it mattered. He would never live in this apartment. He’d bought it for Elizabeth. He’d planned to surprise her with the purchase when they returned from their honeymoon. He’d searched for months for just the right property. The right neighborhood, the right proportions. He’d had the whole place repainted, taking his cues from Elizabeth’s grandparents’ stately Mayfair mansion.

He’d been deluded. He could see that now. What woman wanted a house she hadn’t chosen for herself? Better yet, what woman wanted a house that had been decorated to someone else’s taste?

The window moved smoothly, indicating the sash cords had been replaced. He let the window thump back down to the sill.

He should go home. It was late, and there was no point to this. He was simply rubbing salt into the wound. Tomorrow he would call the real estate agent and put this place on the market. With a bit of luck, he’d get his money back. That was what he should be concentrating on right now.

There was nowhere to sit, so he sat on the floor, his back against one of the kitchen cabinets, feet flat on the floor, knees bent. He rested his forearms on his knees and stared down the hallway to the front door, ignoring the fact that he was probably getting dust on his suit.

He didn’t know how to feel, what to do with himself. For so long his future had stretched in front of him like this hallway—straight and clean and utterly known. He’d known exactly what he needed to do—build his reputation at Whittaker, Malcolm and Venables, make partner, solidify his position in the world. Elizabeth had been an integral part of that, the woman he’d imagined at his side as he took the steps required to get him to where he wanted to be.

As it turned out, where he’d wanted to be was not where she’d wanted to be. Funny, but he’d never thought to even ask her.

Just as he’d never thought to ask her if she would like to live in this house, with these paint colors.

He lowered his head and massaged the small muscle between his eyebrows. He’d been an idiot. A blind, foolish idiot. And he’d paid the price. He’d lost Elizabeth.

The woman you think you want to marry doesn’t exist. She’s a construct, cobbled together by my over-developed sense of duty and your desire to be connected to a man who in many respects has filled the role of father in your life. I would make a terrible, terrible wife for you.

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