Home > Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(16)

Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(16)
Sarah Mayberry

The lift doors slid shut and she tapped her foot nervously. Another ping and the doors opened again. She stuck her head out. Ah. A light. Finally.

She started up the corridor, her spiked heels digging deeply into the plush carpet. She glanced into the darkened offices as she passed, taking in the shiny wood and burnished leather. Martin had done well for himself for a kid from the mean streets of Hackney. She wondered if he ever took a moment to simply stop and appreciate the fact, or if he was too busy lining up his pens on his blotter and straightening his tie to notice.

Her steps slowed as she drew closer to what she assumed was his office until finally she’d come to a complete halt. Her hand found the neck of the schnapps bottle in her handbag. Maybe schnapps hadn’t been the right choice. Maybe she should have bought him cognac or a malt whiskey or something more suited to all this wood and pomp and circumstance. She’d chosen the schnapps because she could remember him trying some once and he’d commented on how much he liked it. She’d figured that if she was going to encourage him to drown his sorrows and wallow a little, he might as well do it with something he liked.

She lifted her chin. Either she was going to do this or she wasn’t.

She strode forward.

Apparently she was going to do this.

She stopped when she reached his doorway. He was reading over some papers, wearing a pair of glasses that would have looked at home on Elizabeth’s grandfather. Which, she guessed, was probably where Martin took most of his fashion cues from.

Yet tonight, like the night he’d accosted her in the street, he looked far more rumpled and less spic and span than usual. He’d taken his jacket off and rolled up his shirt sleeves and yanked his tie loose. Even his hair was mussed, standing up in uneven spikes as though he’d been running his fingers through it.

She cleared her throat. “Hi.”

He started. “Bloody hell! Where the blazes did you spring from?”

Not the most welcoming greeting she’d ever received.

“Sorry. Someone was leaving downstairs so I let myself in.”

He’d recovered from the surprise a little and he settled back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest as he eyed her darkly.

“Come to gloat, have you?”

“No. Of course not.”

Martin stood, rounding the desk so he could face her. God forbid he cede her the advantage of standing while he remained seated.

“You don’t have to be coy. We both know this is a triumph for you. Elizabeth tossing over her stodgy, anal-retentive fiancé at last and taking up with some bronzed Aussie surf god.”

“Bronzed Aussie surf god? What are you talking about?”

He looked over his glasses at her.

“A tip for you—the Little Miss Innocent routine only works when there’s a credible belief that innocence is possible.”

Violet glared at him. Screw trying to make amends if he was going to insult her before she’d said more than hello.

“You are unbelievable, you know that? You want to throw around blame, how about you take a good hard look at yourself and your stupid, prematurely middle-aged life? This is the twenty-first century, not the 1800s. People have sex in positions other than missionary, and lots of women like doing it doggy style. And no, they’re not all prostitutes or porn stars—they’re people who are in touch with their own feelings and wants and desires. Unlike you, Mr. Stick-Up-Your-Ass.”

Martin flushed a deep red. “Charming, as always, Violet. Your parents must be so proud.”

She could feel her own face flush with heat. “I wouldn’t know, since they disowned me years ago. You should ask my father about it next time you’re smooching ass over at the Savage Club.”

His nostrils flared. “Well, I must say, this has been a real treat. Goodbye, Violet.”

She stared at him, all the anger draining out of her as she realized how quickly and easily they’d descended into acrimony when she’d come here offering sympathy.

“Look. I’m sorry. Okay? That’s what I came to say.” She took the bottle of Schnapps from her bag and put it on his desk. “I even brought a peace offering.”

He went very still, then his lips curled into a thin parody of a smile.

“Experiencing a little post-manipulation remorse, Violet? I’m sure it will pass.”

“Martin. Just...shut up and listen, okay? I think what’s happened between you and E sucks. Yes, I thought you were bad for each other, but that doesn’t mean I think you’re a bad person or that I don’t want you to be happy. And I might have made a few jokes about you being uptight and called you Droopy Drawers, but I never told E to dump you. I know how much you love her.”

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