Home > Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(15)

Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(15)
Sarah Mayberry

She was a million miles from the girls he’d grown up with. She always knew the right thing to say or do. She was beautiful, refined, elegant. Her love had been the final seal on his success.

And it had all been a house of cards, his facade balanced precariously on Elizabeth’s.

Sitting in his car, he stared bleakly out the windshield.

Elizabeth had had the courageto call bullshit on all the pretense, but he’d been so invested, so desperate to belong that he’d been prepared to play a part for the rest of his life.

You sad, pathetic, when-will-I-be-good-enough bastard.

For a moment he was gripped with the urge to start the car and simply drive away from it all. The life he’d created for himself. The career he’d so arduously built. The friends, the clubs. He could drive and drive and drive until he was somewhere else. And maybe he could start again. Do it differently this time.

After a long beat, he started his car and drove home. The truth was, he’d fought too hard and too long to make this life. Like it or not, it still meant too much to him. Maybe that made him weak or tragic or grasping, but it was the truth.

Now he just had to work out what to do with it.

Violet blew onto her cupped hands. She was wearing gloves, but it was dark and cold and threatening snow and she was freezing her derriere off in the street outside the offices of Whittaker, Malcolm and Venables.

She checked her watch again.

Where in the hell was he?

She jiggled from one foot to the other, the heavy weight of the bottle of Belgian peach schnapps in her shoulder bag banging against her hip. Not for the first time she wondered what she was doing, lurking out here in the dark, waiting for a man who showed every indication of genuinely despising her.

Not for the first time, she had no ready answer.

The obvious reason was that she felt sorry for Martin. She knew how much he loved Elizabeth, and she knew that things were over between the two of them, which meant he was probably feeling more than a little sorry for himself and perhaps more than a little angry over the shitty hand he’d been dealt.

She knew for a fact that he’d only landed back in the country two days ago, and she’d made an educated guess that instead of taking a few days off to recover from jet-lag and lick his wounds, he would march straight into work like a good little soldier. As though his heart wasn’t broken and he wasn’t miserable and sad and lonely.

Idiot.

She blew on her hands again. A figure appeared in the doorway of the very old, very genteel building where Elizabeth’s grandfather and former-fiancé plied their trade. She tensed but as he stepped out into the street she saw that he was too old to be Martin.

Although they probably patronized the same tailor, judging by his stuffy attire.

She looked up at the building, eyeing the one window that was still illuminated. She imagined Martin bent over some dusty legal tome, burying himself in precedents and caveats and whatevers because he didn’t know how to deal with his own feelings. He could be in there forever. For all she knew, he might be the kind of tragic workaholic who slept on the couch in his office rather than go home and be forced to face his own life.

She made a decision, crossing the street to stand outside the front entrance of his building. Two minutes later, her hopes were answered as a severely dressed woman exited through the security door. Trying to look as though she knew exactly what she was doing and where she was going, Violet caught the door before it could close behind the woman and ducked into the foyer. The dry warmth of central heating hit her, warming her cheeks, and she unbuttoned her coat.

Now there was only the small problem of working out what floor Martin’s office might be on. She crossed to the elevator and stared at the brass plaque. She knew that Martin worked in insolvency, but it looked like there were two floors dedicated to the joys of people going out of business. With the economy the way it was, they were probably eyeing a third floor.

She stepped into the lift, hitting the buttons for both floors. She stared at the indicator and tried to ignore the voice in the back of her head that was telling her this was a bad idea.

As she’d already acknowledged, Martin hated her. He thought she was easy, spoiled and vacuous. Not that he’d said any of those things to her face—although he had made that crack about the Playboy catalogue. His contempt was in every glance he threw her way, in every word he said to her.

And yet here she was, a peace offering banging against her hip.

She must be mad.

The lift pinged to a halt and she ducked her head out. From what she could see, there wasn’t a single light on throughout the whole floor. Onwards and upwards, then.

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