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“Really?” The excitement is clear in her voice, making me feel instantly guilty. “Where did you meet her?”

“Through Rebecca, she works with her.” Damn, another lie rolling right off way too easily.

She lets out a sound of surprise. “One of her models?”

“Yes.” I’m already in this lie, waist deep. No sense in backing out now.

“Okay, well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Her tone is flat like she’s distracted. “I’ll talk to you later. Love you.” She hangs up before I can respond. I chalk it up to her wanting to call my sister and dig around, knowing she can get more from her than me.

I sigh as I run my hand through my hair. I might have gotten my mom to back off for today, but tomorrow will come and I’ll have to deal with the fallout. Maybe I can just fake it? I could say my date got sick or something. I’m not worried about Rebecca. When my mom calls she’ll know what I’ve done and play along.

My driver pulls up to the building my sister leased for her new business. Pride fills me with how far she’s come. She’s too hard on herself about where it is. From my research, she’s doing more than well for a new business like hers, even if she doesn’t see it in herself. But if I’m honest, I don’t care if the place is bleeding money, I just want her to do something she loves. I’ve made enough money for all of us to live well and I’ll keep making sure that it stays the same for our family to come. Maybe not family for me, but when my sister decides to have one.

I don’t wait for my driver and open the door myself. When I walk inside I pause when I see my sister standing there waiting for me. She comes over and gives me a hug, and I can tell she’s already laughing.

“I love you, but sending Ma my way? Really?”

“About that,” I start, but she cuts me off.

“I have a line of models coming today. I’m sure one would be more than willing to be a fake date for you.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “Maybe it could turn into more.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re on Ma’s side,” I groan. I can’t have both of them after me. That would be cruel and unusual punishment.

“Guess you’ll find out soon enough.” She winks at me as she hits the button for the elevator, and I roll my eyes. The last thing I want is for a group of women to think I’m interested. Because at the end of the day, I know all they see when it comes to me. Money.

Three

Ava

I set Rebecca’s coffee down on her desk before rushing back to mine. I have a pile of emails to go through already and I need to fix a few shipments that went out wrong. I sigh at the stupid mistakes someone else made that are going to take extra time that I don’t have to fix. If they had taken one second to check their orders, it would have saved everyone the hassle.

I glance up to the waiting room to see a crowd of beautiful women coming in. But my breath catches as the elevator doors open and I see him. I stand up so I can get a better view and look him up and down. My heart starts to pound. He’s saying something to Rebecca and she laughs in response.

How is he even more handsome in person? I peel my eyes away from him and sit back down in front of my computer screen. I pretend that I’m doing something when really, I’m trying to get myself together. Why do I love seeing that he’s so good to his sister? For some reason that makes me like him ever more. Because you don’t know what family is really like, my brain chimes in, and I try to push those thoughts away.

It makes me think that he would be a family man. The whole white picket fence and two point five kids package. It’s something I’ve always longed for but would never dare give voice to it. It’s hard to dream of something that feels so out of reach. Work and school, I can hold on to. Those things are dependent on my actions. I’ll never go for something I can’t do on my own, and that man seems like he’s so far out of reach. I curse myself for having this attachment, as if I can somehow control it.

I finish up what I need to do at my desk just as Rebecca comes into the office. Thankfully alone. I’m irritated with myself for getting so worked up about Lucas, so I’m going to go the extra mile with being professional today.


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