Pretend It's Love(4)

By: Stefanie London

“I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what’s recommended.”

Nina shrugged and set the shot glasses on Libby’s desk, free pouring until the liquid reached the edge of the glass. “Bottoms up.”

Libby brought it carefully to her lips. She downed the drink in a single gulp, shutting her eyes and letting the alcohol work its magic. The sweet scent of marshmallow and rose petals danced in her nose. It was the first flavor she’d ever made.

The business had started out as a hobby when she’d infused store-bought vodkas in pretty jars and given them as gifts for Christmas and birthdays. When Nina got married she asked Libby to make her a special blend for wedding guest gifts. Compliments and requests came rolling in, and Libby put her medical degree on hold to turn her passion into a business.

It was the first time she’d ever taken a risk on herself.

“Hit me again.” Libby slammed the glass down on her desk and gritted her teeth.

She would not let her business die. She would not admit defeat because of bad timing. And she most definitely would not crawl back to her father and tell him that he was right.

“That’s my girl.” Nina grinned and blew a strand of her electric blue hair out of her face as she refilled the glasses. “Cheers.”

Libby tipped back the second drink and dropped down into her desk chair, surveying her office. The room was originally a spare bedroom, but she’d turned it into her own personal command center. Boxes of product were piled up in one corner, and her adorable vintage couch and coffee table were covered in Nina’s artwork for the launch party. Her desk was a bit of a hot mess, but she still had her beautiful makeshift flower vases—some of the prototype Libby Gal Cocktails bottles—holding rainbow bouquets of roses and oriental lilies.

This was her dream, and she would fight for all of it. Kicking off her towering emerald-green stilettos, she turned her laptop to face her. Slowly, she ran one pink lacquered nail down the column of restaurant contacts and jotted down names and addresses on a notepad.

“What are you going to do about The Chief?” Nina jumped onto the desk, swinging her bare feet back and forth. “You know he’s going to be all over this like a rash.”

Though her father was a world renowned surgeon, he approached everything from parenting to washing his car with a style more suited to the military. Hence the nickname.

“I’m hoping that he’ll be too wrapped up in his latest wife to have noticed,” Libby said.

“You think he won’t mention it? Yeah right.” Nina twirled a strand of her blue hair and let out a sigh. “He’ll latch onto anything right now if it means dragging you back to his life plan.”

“I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.” Libby pursed her lips. “But I know one thing for sure, I’m not going back to med school.”

Chapter Two

Libby gritted her teeth and strode along the footpath, ignoring the throbbing pain from a nasty blister on her heel. She’d been on her feet all day, dashing from one meeting to another in shoes that were better suited to a stilt walker than a burgeoning entrepreneur.

But her look was part of her brand—bright hair, big heels, in-your-face lipstick. People noticed her because of the way she looked, then she made sure they remembered her for what she said. She wasn’t giving that up, blister or no blister.

Sadly, nothing had helped her today. She was zero for ten…every single business she’d signed for her launch had backed out. If her life was a game then she’d hit the biggest damn snake on the board.

Her phone vibrated in her hand, but she didn’t bother to check who was calling. Her father had been trying to get a hold of her for three days, ever since the press release that ruined her business had hit the papers. She hadn’t even bothered to listen to his numerous voicemails, because she knew exactly what they would say. Her father was circling, sensing a chink in her plan—an opening, a weak point, a precious sliver of vulnerability.

After all, daughter dearest had deviated from her path, and he’d been hating every minute of it.

Libby laughed to herself, it was the only response that wouldn’t encourage the onslaught of tears. She’d done right by him her whole life, she’d tried to be the daughter he always wanted. The perfect Grade A student, the Mini-Me to his Dr. Evil. And now that she finally wanted to do something for herself, was he happy?

Hell no.

Still, at least he called. That was more than she could say for her mother.

She shoved the still-buzzing device into her handbag and kept walking. Eventually she’d need to take his call, but after an abysmal day of rejection she needed a drink. Normally getting home to work on a new cocktail or test out a new infusion idea would be priority. But not today.

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