By: Mia Sheridan

I laughed, Daisy's banal chatter lightening my mood. "The nerve of her to reproduce?"

"Exactly. So tell me what has you so distracted today."

"Oh the usual. The business, Stuart, finances . . . all very boring."

Daisy gave me a sympathetic look. "I thought things were looking better with the business."

I sighed. "I thought so, too. It seems like every time we get a break, something else happens to set us back again. And of course, Stuart doesn't help." My spendthrift brother who still lived as if we could afford to be extravagant. Ever since my father died and Stuart had taken over the company, things had gone from bad to worse. Upon my father's death we'd discovered the company was in more debt than my father ever let on. Possibly because it was still a situation that could have been managed had the person taking over had a semblance of fiscal restraint or management skills—neither of which my brother possessed. I sighed to myself. I did love him, but I also frequently wanted to kill him. I also missed my father terribly. His kindness, his intelligence, his love. Despite the irony, I wished he were alive to have as a sounding board about how to get us back into the black.

Daisy patted my hand. "It'll be fine. You know what you need? Some good sex. When was the last time you had some? There's nothing like a good thorough fucking to lift the spirits."

I choked on a sip of champagne and Daisy grinned. "If only I had a candidate," I said, laughing. I did love Daisy—she came across all polish and style, but she was liable to say the most outrageous things just when you needed it. But Daisy was a trust fund baby who had never had to worry about money a day in her life. She didn't really know what it felt like. Up until recently, I hadn't either. Life had happened, and now I'd learned lessons I'd never expected to learn. And not just about money. I took another sip of champagne. "Things will be fine. Of course."

She nodded. "Did you know the family that bought your estate put it up for sale a couple months ago?"

I stared at her for a moment. "Why?"

She shrugged. "I heard rumors about a big job offer overseas, but I didn't know them. They've already moved. I think it's still on the market."

My heart clenched. God, if only I had a way to purchase it back. I sighed, letting that thought float away. I didn't, and there was no use wishing for something that was an impossible dream.

"How's Gregory?" I finally asked to change the subject.

Daisy's eyes shifted away. "Oh, busy as always. But I guess I knew what I was signing up for when I married him. If he didn't look so hot in a suit, I'd have given up on him long ago."

I gave her a small smirk. "Is he working today?"

"Yup—closing a big deal." I thought something like doubt moved through her eyes, but before I could question it, she smiled brightly, pointing out some girls we knew who'd just arrived and launching into a story about one of them.

I nodded, drifting off again, as my eyes moved over the people at the garden party, laughing, talking, and enjoying appetizers and cocktails. All so carefree. Why did I feel so . . . trapped? Trapped, standing here in the middle of the wide-open lawn, the summer sun shining down on me. Trapped and restless. It didn't feel like it was only the financial issues my family was facing. But I couldn't put my finger on it exactly. There had to be more though, didn't there? More to look forward to once we were able to get the business back on solid ground? More than the world I'd been raised in, the world of endless social events, shopping, and surface chitchat that, these days, went in one ear and out the other. I couldn't help it. I'd thought working as the vice president at our family company would fill something in me that felt empty, but it hadn't. It was challenging—Stuart ensured that—and it was interesting and fulfilling in its way, and rather than simply being the figurehead I could have been, I chose to be very involved with the business, getting my hands dirty, so to speak, along with the rest of the staff. But it still didn't offer that . . . something I'd been hoping it would provide. Oh, shut up, Lydia, you don't even know what you want. How can anything fulfill you when you're so clueless as to what you're missing? Shut up, Lydia . . .

Shut up, Lydia . . .

"Lydia," my stepmother said, seemingly coming out of nowhere, air kissing my cheek, the heady fragrance of her perfume—the Chanel N°5 she'd worn ever since I'd known her—lingering in the air around me even after she'd leaned away to air kiss Daisy. I barely held back the sneeze that threatened."Daisy darling," she said, and Daisy greeted her with a small smile.

"Ginny," I muttered, taking a long drink of champagne. "You look perfect as always."

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