Home > Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(6)

Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(6)
Sarah Mayberry

“I couldn’t eat a thing. But a drink would be good. A drink would be perfect.”

Elizabeth waited by the door while Violet turned off lights and set the alarm, then they took the stairs to her apartment, which was situated over the shop. Elizabeth abandoned her suitcase by the door and went straight to the kitchen. Violet watched, worried, as her friend tore the cap off a bottle of vodka and poured two very stiff drinks. Elizabeth lifted hers to her mouth and downed the lot in one long, gulping swallow. Then she set the glass back onto the counter with a loud thunk and met Violet’s eyes.

“I’ve called off the wedding,” she said boldly. “And I want to find my father.”

Violet mouthed a four letter word. “You’re kidding me?”

They both know she was referring to the wedding part of Elizabeth’s announcement and not the part where she wanted to search for her newly discovered parent.

“No. It was suddenly incredibly clear to me. All these months—years, really—I’ve been doing what everyone else wanted me to do. All those committees Grandmother insisted on nominating me for. Giving up teaching full time. Accepting Martin’s proposal. It’s all been about what they wanted, not what I want.”

Violet watched, stunned, as Elizabeth downed the second vodka as quickly as she’d downed the first.

“You know what the crazy thing is? I don’t even know what I want. If you held a gun to my head right now and told me I had to tell you where I wanted to be a year from now, I couldn’t do it. I have no idea. None. Nada. The only idea I have in my head is that I need to find my father. I want to know who he is. And maybe knowing him will help me work out who I am.”

Elizabeth reached for the vodka bottle again, but Violet beat her to it.

“Have you had anything to eat?”

“I don’t want food. I want oblivion. I want to feel angry with all the people who have lied to me without having to feel guilty and obligated at the same time. I want to get really, really, horribly drunk.”

Violet met her friend’s eyes. She could see the hurt and the anger and the panic there. Elizabeth’s whole world had just been rocked on its axis. She deserved a good blow out, complete with hideous morning-after hang-over. It was practically a rite of passage.

She released her grip on the vodka bottle. “Okay.”

Elizabeth’s face crumpled, all the defiance leaking out of her. “Thank you for understanding. Thank you for always understanding.”

She threw her arms around Violet, crushing her close. Violet hugged her back just as fiercely. This woman was her best, most loyal, most wonderful friend. More than anything she wanted her to be happy and fulfilled.

“Let’s get toasted,” she said as they both drew back from the embrace.

They kicked off their shoes and made themselves comfortable on Violet’s saggy three seater sofa, and all the while Elizabeth talked, pausing only to gulp at the vodka and cranberry juice Violet made for her. She talked about the panic attacks she’d been having in the lead up to the wedding, and how stifled she felt sometimes living with her grandparents. She talked about knowing that her grandmother used her heart condition to ruthlessly manipulate and emotionally blackmail the people in her life but that up until now she’d felt powerless to resist her. She talked about standing in the hallway at her grandparent’s Mayfair mansion less than an hour ago and looking into Martin’s eyes and knowing that she didn’t love him the way she should love the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with and understanding, finally, that marrying him would be the biggest mistake of her life.

Violet nodded and made the right noises in the right places and got outraged on her friend’s behalf and passed the tissues when Elizabeth got to the maudlin, self-pitying drunken part of the evening. It was well into the small hours and they were both bleary-eyed and hoarse by the time Violet made up a bed for Elizabeth on the couch and staggered to her own room.

Lying in bed, she worried for her friend while a part of her rejoiced that for the first time in years Elizabeth was being honest about how she felt and what she wanted. A more cynical part of her wondered if Elizabeth wouldn’t wake up full of regrets and remorse tomorrow, but her gut told her that something had shifted irreversibly for her friend tonight. Elizabeth had broken free. With a bit of luck, she’d be able to hang onto that and start making some decisions about her life.

Violet’s thoughts drifted to Martin as she edged toward sleep. She wondered how he was feeling right now. Angry? Thwarted? Wounded? She waited for a sense of satisfaction to wash over herself—she’d never liked him, after all—but it didn’t come. Instead she felt a peculiar tightness in her chest and throat.

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