Home > Two for the Show (One for the Money #2)(3)

Two for the Show (One for the Money #2)(3)
Author: Skye Warren

 

 

2

 

 

FINN

 

 

I didn’t come here to get sucker-punched by a wedding toast.

I probably deserve it. It feels wrong and intrusive to be here. Eva and I agreed to fake a relationship, but showing up at her sister’s wedding reception strikes me as dishonest given that I was supposed to be her plus one. And given the way I spoke to her.

It’s over, sweetheart.

I’d made up my mind not to come; then at the last minute I got dressed and drove here.

I feel like an asshole, looking at Eva. And I also feel like I’ve come home. Like I can finally breathe again now that I’m in the same room. Five hundred people have taken over a section of the Met. She’s across the room. It’s still better than being without her.

Eva faces forward, not looking at me. Her brothers are getting up to make speeches. Leo gets choked up in the middle of his and abandons the entire thing. He finishes by handing Emerson an envelope and giving a toast to art.

Carter takes the microphone from Leo and pats his shoulder. “We’re all going to forget what we’ve just seen,” he intones, and then he tells a story about how Daphne started out sketching and drawing and painting everything she could see or imagine. He’d study science, and she’d study the world. It took her years of careful study to find her true obsession, but she never gave up. “And now you found him,” Carter says. “I always knew you would.”

Frankly, it’s awful. The little hints of their family life make me feel closer to Eva and miles away. I want her so much that it hurts.

For sex purposes, obviously. And also for this life that she has. Her family is overbearing and dysfunctional and intense. Sometimes I think they need to learn some goddamn boundaries. But they belong to Eva, and she’s part of them, too. I want to be by her side when she’s in the thick of it.

I won’t abandon you. No matter what.

That’s what she said to me. And what did I do? I broke up with her. Threw her out.

Daphne and Emerson rise from their table.

It’s time for cake.

I hang back until they’ve cut a slim piece from a cake subtly designed with an ocean theme. Even at a distance, I know Eva had something to do with it. Ivory fondant gives the impression of light coming through water. A spray of edible pearls curves down one side.

The photographer swoops in to capture the moment. Then waiters fan out among the tables, and I make my approach.

Daphne’s smile gets wider when she sees me. “Finn! Hi!”

“Congratulations, Daphne. Emerson.” I shake his hand. “Beautiful reception.”

“I’m so glad you could make it.” Daphne clasps her hands in front of her. “Eva said you weren’t going to be able to come. Is your dad feeling better?”

“I hope he is,” Eva says from directly at my side. Her mouth is soft with concern, but her dark eyes are sharp. She could make the accusation right now. You shouldn’t be here.

“Much better.” By this point in my life, the lie is automatic. The feelings underneath it are not. They’re a goddamn mess. Eva covered for me, even after I was a bastard to her. “I’ll let him know you were thinking of him.”

“Is there anything I can get for you?” Eva’s tone is distant, as if I’m just another one of the guests. Death by a thousand cuts. “If you’re hungry, I can have a dinner plate brought out.”

I give her a classic Finn Hughes smile. “I’m here to celebrate and enjoy the company. Don’t worry about me.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t.” Eva laughs, but she doesn’t take her eyes off me. Is it pain or hatred glittering there? It reminds me of a broken champagne glass.

“We all know that’s not true. You’re the best hostess of our time. An expert in worrying about party guests and making everything perfect.”

“Some things are beyond even me.”

“I doubt that.”

“Well, don’t.” Eva’s tone is as light and steely as barbed wire. “I have my limits like everybody else.”

Daphne’s beaming, hardly paying attention to our conversation. Her husband, on the other hand, sees everything. His eyes move between me and Eva with sharp intensity. I don’t love the feeling that he knows exactly what he’s looking at.

Torture, in the middle of a wedding reception.

But his face stays calm. If he’s noticed and understood the tension between us, he doesn’t say a word about it.

“Eva.” Daphne leans toward her. “Do you think—” Someone calls Daphne’s name from a nearby table. “I’ll ask you later. It was really good to see you, Finn. Don’t forget to dance with Eva, okay?”

Daphne and Emerson are pulled away, leaving me with Eva.

It’s hell to be this close to her and not kiss her. It’s hell to know that this isn’t fixable. It’s hell to know I can’t leave. Not until I’ve tried.

She takes a tiny step closer and lifts her chin. “I’m sorry.” The apology is frosty. I’m probably imagining the layer of warmth underneath. “I didn’t know what else to say.”

About my father being ill. It’s technically true. The irony is not lost on me that she’s apologizing when I was the asshole, even if she’s being terse and polite.

I know I should leave her alone. I can’t bring myself to leave.

I wave off her apology. “How have you been?”

Dark eyes skim over my face, and Eva purses her lips. There’s no current of flirtation between us now. The night I stole her from the Morelli Mansion, we were a team. It was us against the world. Now there’s an ache in my chest like my heart has been stabbed, repeatedly, with one of the dinner forks.

“I’ve been well, Finn. Thanks.”

It’s so dismissive it kills me. More than dismissive. This is polite avoidance from Eva Morelli. She’s probably still pissed at me.

That’s fair.

“Any plans for the holidays?”

Eva looks away, holding her champagne glass close to her body. There’s about an inch in the glass. She doesn’t take a sip. “I’d imagine we’ll have the usual get-togethers.”

“I’m available to help with the mince pies.” I’ll never forget working with her in the big kitchen at the Morelli Mansion. She wouldn’t stop until everything was perfect. I just wanted an excuse to be near her.

She gives a short, shallow laugh. “We’ll have that under control. I wouldn’t want you to lose any sleep over it. You should enjoy the holidays to the fullest.”

Elsewhere, she means. Not at the gala hosted by her family. Not with her.

This is more than Eva being distant. She’s being…cagey. Vague on the details. Making a point of discouraging me from coming anywhere close.

Is she dating someone else?

Jealousy rises. It’s ridiculous for me to be jealous, but I am. I saw Alex Langley among the guests. That was probably Sarah Morelli’s doing. Eva’s not interested in him.

But the fact is, someday she will be with someone. And I’ll have to watch.

I’ll have to watch her be conspiratorial with him and familiar with him and happy with him.

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