The world knows her face . . .
Mean girl. Goddess. Bitch. Supermodel Sofie Baston has earned those labels . . . yet they don't scratch the surface of who she really is. Before she can follow her own dreams, Sophie must do her daughterly duty and reel in a "fish" for her father's business-a tall, brown-eyed entrepreneur who immediately hooks her. He's a big guy with an even bigger heart . . . but will that heart be open to Sofie once her darkest secret is revealed?
. . . but only one man knows her heart
To Trevor Bishop, Sofie is a beautiful mystery he would gladly spend his life solving. He figures her tough demeanor is armor against a world that's hurt her too many times. Then Sofie's deepest wounds are reopened by the powerful, ruthless man who made them. When she musters the courage to take him down, her world shatters. Now Trevor is determined to help Sofie pick up the pieces so they can build a future together. The challenge will be convincing his ice princess that it's safe to melt in his arms . . .
Release date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Forever Yours
Print pages: 436
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Until I'm Yours
The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
Blah, blah, blah, blah.
“How long are we here again?” I glance out the cab window and up at the flock of billboards flying overhead in the Times Square airspace, a confetti skyline swirled with Technicolor and kinetic lights.
“Three months, give or take,” my assistant, Henrietta, says, not looking up from her phone.
I already miss my house in Atlanta. Despite the many miles I log flying all over the world, I’m a Southern boy at heart. A city like Atlanta makes an excellent home base for me. A world-class city with the charm and sensibility of a much smaller town. When I’m in New York, I feel on edge, like the Big Apple is taking a bite out of me. It’s not an easy place to negotiate. It’s a city bursting with possibility and creativity, but it requires a certain amount of armor. Feeling that way for three months…
“We’re lucky to have your sister’s place while we’re here.” Harold, my business partner and best friend of fifteen years, looks at our schedule on his iPad. “We have so many meetings at the UN this month. All the companies interested in buying us out are here in New York. We have several galas in the city over the next few weeks. Makes sense not to keep going back and forth, and just make this our base for a little bit.”
“Yeah, at least we’ll be staying in Brooklyn.” I lean an elbow on the base of the cab window, considering the changing digital billboards while we’re stopped at a traffic light. “Downtown gives me a seizu—”
The word freezes on my tongue when one advertisement in particular catches my attention. Or, I should say, the model does. Her name is nowhere on the ad, but it doesn’t need to be. Sofie Baston’s been one of the most recognizable faces in the world for more than a decade.
She’s naked. Even though she’s stretched out flat on her stomach with her chin propped on her hands, breasts pressed to the floor, she’s obviously naked. Her hair, famously silver and gold, is ruthlessly scraped back, exposing the flawless bone structure of her face. It’s rare to see someone like her wearing no makeup at all, but her face is completely bare. Matter of fact, the product she’s promoting is called BARE.
BARE: Skin care so good you’ll have nothing to hide.
She’s naked, no cosmetics at all, and yet her eyes make a lie of that tagline. She’s utterly exposed, and though her green eyes are the clearest I’ve ever seen, they yield nothing.
“You were saying?” Harold wears a knowing grin, glancing from my face to the billboard before it swipes to the next product being advertised. “I hope you’ll be less obvious when we meet her in person tonight, Bishop.”
“Tonight?” I frown. “What are you talking about?”
“That’s Ernest Baston’s daughter,” Henrietta pipes in, eyes still fastened to her phone. Sometimes I think she has eyes in the back of her head under that ponytail. “She’ll be at the Bennett charity dinner tonight. They’re at your table, if I’m not mistaken.”
I look back at the billboard even though a different image has taken its place. I still see her as vividly as when she stared back at me with those guarded green eyes.
Even when we’re several blocks away and have started discussing our upcoming trip to Cambodia, I’m still wondering how a girl naked on the side of a building managed to hide in broad daylight and show nothing at all.
Sofie, over here!”
“One more shot, Sof.”
“Could we get one of you by yourself?”
My date moves a few feet ahead, leaving me to stand alone, a lightning rod in the storm of flashing bulbs and the chaos of shouts and snapping shutters. A carnival of exhibitionism, and me the main attraction. Red carpets and runways. There’s no place like home.
I stop and strike a pose. Body in profile. Face front. Breasts up. Hips forward. Knee bent. Head high. Like a horse, I could fall asleep standing this way. A very well-bred, expensive horse, and I dare anyone to bet against me.
“Who are you wearing tonight, Sof?”
God, who did I settle on? Several of my favorite designers sent dresses over, and for the life of me…I glance down at the clover green shantung sheathing the long line of my body as if the designer’s name might be emblazoned there. Cardinal rule of red carpet—never forget who you’re wearing.
“Elie Saab.” I lift the hem of the dress mere inches to reveal the glittering glory of my shoes. “Giuseppe’s.”
I nod my head once and offer a smile before moving down the carpet to join my date.
Michael “Rip” Ripley. Last year’s MVP, former Heisman winner and my future ex-boyfriend. This may be the last night we’ll share the spotlight. He won’t see it coming, but it needs to come.
Actually, so do I. Maybe it won’t hurt to wait just one more night before I cut him loose. He is brilliant below the belt. He has this thing he does with his fingers and his tongue while managing to look right into your eyes. Part creepy, part perfection. He is a quarterback, so I guess excellent hand-eye coordination should be expected.
“You think there will be more press inside?” That eager light in Rip’s eyes reminds me why it has to be quits. Probably tonight. Sadly, not even one more visit below stairs.
He wants all of this more than he wants me. I get it. I grew up in a world of calculation, and the most calculating player of them all stares back at me from the mirror every morning. I look her right in the eyes with no regrets, but this—all of this—doesn’t feed me. I suspect Rip has quickly become addicted to the spotlight, to the attention. He needs it, and I’m allergic to needy. I feel a breakout coming on like a dreaded pimple knotting below the surface of our brief and very public relationship.
We’ve been going out for less than a month, and he’s already shipping us. Looking for ways to combine our names. To Brangelina us. Like he’s the Tom Brady to my Giselle, but if he ends up modeling UGGs, I won’t be held responsible.
“There may be some press inside,” I finally respond to his question. “But the worst of it’s over.”
“Worst?” Rip frowns, a quick bend of his dark blond brows. “This is what you do, Sof. I thought you loved it.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been doing it half my life. It gets old.”
“Not for me. Not yet.” He flashes his Colgate smile—literally, he just signed the contract today—and takes my hand. “I’m just getting started.”
And I’m ready to stop. Oh, there will still be red carpets at fund-raisers like these, and endorsements and the occasional show, but I’ve been modeling since I was eighteen years old. In fifteen years I’ve scored every major cover. Worn all the elite designers. Been through every Fashion Week on repeat year after year. The catwalk is littered with kittens, girls still in high school. It’s a girl’s game, one that requires constant vigilance. Too much vigilance for something I find means less to me than it ever has before.
My mind wanders to the meeting scheduled with my team tomorrow to strategize the next phase of my career. My first natural smile of the night moves my mouth from the plastic facsimile I offered the cameras to the closest thing to real I’ll show in public. My plans for this next stage of my life are completely my own, and they excite me. Maybe I’m jaded, but it takes more and more to excite me these days. That’s probably why I’ve kept Mr. Hand-Eye around for the last month.
Once inside Cipriani, I glance around one of New York’s most elegant ballrooms, its Greek revival columns studded with muted lights. Floral arrangements of gold, cream, and rose serve as elaborate centerpieces for each table. The seventy-foot Wedgewood ceiling hovers over the scene like an elegantly painted sky.
“I know I should know.” Rip bends his head, the warm breath of his words at my ear. “But what is this event for again? They kind of all run together after a while.”
“Uncle Martin is honoring some entrepreneurs for their philanthropic efforts. An excuse for rich people to dress up and eat and have their pictures taken.”
“Martin Bennett isn’t actually your uncle, though, right?”
“No, but he’s my father’s closest friend. Daddy was a huge part of building Bennett Enterprises, and he’s Uncle Martin’s right hand.” Yet another natural smile touches my lips. A tiny shrug lifts my bare shoulders. “His son, Walsh, and I grew up very close. Our families took vacations together. We went to the same schools here in New York. We were…well, it was nice.”
“You and Walsh ever…” Rip lifts and lowers his eyebrows suggestively.
So there are still some people who don’t know every detail of my life that’s been blared in tabloids and proclaimed on TMZ as gospel truth. I can’t decide if I’m pleased or insulted by Rip’s ignorance of my past with Walsh.
“Yeah, we dated a few years back.” A bitter pill lodges in my throat, but I force myself to swallow it and say the next words. “That was, of course, before he married his wife, Kerris.”
Rip glances at the card the hostess handed us when we entered, and scans the room until his eyes rest on a table near the stage. He points the card in that direction.
“Isn’t that them at our table?”
What did I do to deserve this? Who am I kidding? I’ve done a lot more to deserve much worse, but it seems like a particularly cruel punishment to seat me with Walsh and Kerris Bennett. I spent half my life certain that Walsh and I would marry, that we’d be the envy of all our friends and pretty much the civilized world. Instead, envy pinches my heart. They had twins not even two years ago, and Kerris’s petite frame shows a small baby bump. She’s pregnant again. Already? What are they, rabbits? It’s obscene to be that fertile.
And obscene to be that happy.
As I watch, Walsh presses his hand to Kerris’s back, seating her and dropping a kiss on her dark hair. Their eyes lock for an extra second, something passing between them that makes me feel like a Peeping Tom. Something that walls out everyone around them for those few moments.
It doesn’t hurt anymore, seeing them together, but a whole night of it could drive me to drunkenness and disorderly conduct, two offenses I’ve avoided for more than a year. There should be a token for that, like a sobriety coin or something. Though my sins have been anything but anonymous. I’m a pap’s field day. I know it, but can’t make myself care what they report. Most of it’s true, and all the fucks I had to give ran out years ago.
I can’t figure why I’d be at their table. My mother chairs this event. She wouldn’t torture me this way. Mother wouldn’t, but Daddy…
Speak and he shall appear. My father materializes in front of me, dapper, distinguished, and as handsome as the day my poor mother married him. The fairness of his hair swallows up the gray, and he looks not much older than in the wedding pictures I’ve seen from thirty-three years ago. The lines fanning out from the green eyes so like mine only deepen and add maturity to his appeal. Those eyes stare back at me with something very close to…tolerance. That’s about all Daddy has left for me these days. You can’t live the way I have, as publicly as I have (refer back to the fucks I ran out of years ago), and expect to remain Daddy’s little girl.
Yet I’d do anything for him. He knows it and exploits that weakness at every turn, and I see a turn coming. He glances speculatively between Rip and me.
“Hi, Daddy.” I loop my elbow through Rip’s. “Rip, this is Ernest Baston, my father. Daddy, you know Rip, right? He plays for the Jets.”
“Yes, of course. That was some pass on Sunday.” My father reaches for Rip’s hand and gives it a friendly shake before dismissing him with the look he reserves for people who can do nothing for him. “I could use your help tonight, Sofie. There’s a big fish here we need to reel in.”
This isn’t the first time he’s required my help persuading someone his company would be much better off under the Bennett Enterprises umbrella. I glance down at my cleavage, which is on display, making sure the girls are ready to earn their keep. When your father recruits your sixteen-year-old charms to persuade grown men, you get used to feeling like a commodity. No different from using my legs to sell shoes or my blond hair to sell shampoo. Only the payoff is Daddy’s approval. Much harder to come by than any check I’ve ever cashed.
“Your mother has seated Walsh at your table to help,” Daddy continues, his voice low as he grasps my elbow and walks me slowly toward the table, leaving Rip to trail behind just out of earshot. “So Walsh will be in one ear and you’ll be in the other.”
Great. Not only do I have to watch my former lover and oldest friend’s wedded bliss with another woman, but I get to bathe in some old man’s drool all night while I convince him he really should be happy when our mammoth conglomerate gobbles up his life’s work. And if I start losing him, I’ll just point to my chest and say, “And did I mention my breasts?”
“So who is this big fish I’m wiggling on the hook for?” I slow my steps, forcing my father to do the same.
Daddy’s lips tighten with distaste at my candor. He has no problem doing distasteful things, but he doesn’t like me talking about them. Or maybe he just doesn’t like to talk about the distasteful things I do, even when I do them for him.
“Trevor Bishop.” Daddy narrows his eyes like he’s sighting a target. “Thirty-five years old. He and his business partner are based in Atlanta, but are here in New York for a few months exploring options to expand, taking meetings, doing events like this one.”
Well, at least I can knock old off the list. He’s not much older than I am.
“So what’s his deal?”
“His ‘deal’ is that he and his college buddy started a business to start businesses, and it’s exploded. They focus on developing and third world nations. They’ve started businesses in Haiti, Kenya, and Cambodia. They’re really concerned about training the people in these areas and empowering them economically. It’s actually quite brilliant, and good of them.”
“If it’s so good of them, why can’t we just leave them to it?”
“Because, honey”—Daddy dips the word in condescension—“they’re making money hand over fist, and that bottom line would be even better under Bennett leadership.”
“Better because it would be a Bennett holding and you’d get to benefit from it?”
“Me?” Daddy elevates just one brow. “Don’t you mean we? This is your future, too, young lady. When you’re done with this modeling nonsense, there’s a place for you at the table.”
He says this to manipulate me. He uses my love against me, and I allow it. Daddy probably thinks the only place at the table for me is under it, blowing some client who needs persuading. Not that he’s ever actually asked me to sleep with anyone to acquire a company. Even he wouldn’t prostitute his own daughter.
I guess. Who knows how badly he wants this fish.
I look at the table where Walsh and Kerris just sat down. Walsh stands back up to greet two men approaching the table. One is the kind of man you’d see and struggle to recall exactly what he looked like five minutes later. He is beige and insipid like oatmeal. His mouse-brown hair is receding. His glasses barely hang on the tip of his nose. He seems fit enough, maybe five ten. That’s all I have the attention span for before I have to look away.
The other man—well, the other man you’d never forget. If his friend is beige, this man is a vivid swath of color. His tuxedo—Tom Ford, if my eye is right, and my eye is unfailing—lays against him like a lover. He wears it with a white, open-collared silk shirt instead of a bow tie, and I approve. He is what some would call strapping. Not many men can look down on me, but he could. I’m five eleven barefoot. He must be a good six five, with a broad chest and a tapered waist. The flawlessly tailored pants pull just a little at the muscled line of his thigh. There is a craggy symmetry to his features. A rough balance of high, sharp cheekbones, slashing dark brows, and wide sensual mouth. The almost hawkish nose and square chin make something arresting of a face that could have stopped at handsome. The contrast of his tanned skin and burned cinnamon hair draw my eyes and won’t let go.
Ah, a ginger. I’ve never had a redhead before. I’m a ginger virgin. He could pop that cherry anytime he likes.
“Did you hear me, Sofie?” Impatience tightens Daddy’s lips.
“Sorry, Daddy. No. You were saying something about this Trevor Bishop.”
“That’s him at the table with Walsh. He’s the taller one, and his partner is the shorter one with glasses.”
“You want me to charm him?”
The prospect of flirting with this beautiful beast of a man makes me tingle. It will be like taming a lion with no whip or chair. A bare-handed taunting and tempting with only my considerable female wiles to subdue all that hulking maleness. Deliciously dangerous, and I’m completely up for the challenge.
“Not charm, just…be nice to him. Talk up Bennett when you have an opening.” Daddy’s mouth goes stern and his eyes turn hard. “I’m trusting you with this, Sofie. Do not embarrass me with this man. He’s not like these other men you…entertain.”
He casts a glance over his shoulder at Rip, who is looking around the ballroom like he’s at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I just don’t get famous people who don’t realize they’re famous. This is now your natural habitat.
“Don’t worry, Daddy. I promise not to embarrass you with my wanton ways.”
I keep my tone light, but I know my past exploits prompted his warning.
“I’m not worried. You could lure flies away from shit when you set your mind to it.”
“What a pleasant image, Daddy. I’ll hold it close.”
“Do.” He brings us to a complete stop, offering my elbow back to Rip with an absent smile. “It was good meeting you, Rip. Keep up the good work this season.”
“Sure thing, Mr. Baston.” Rip offers the white-toothed smile he’s taking all the way to the bank. “Nice to meet you, too.”
Daddy nods before returning his eyes to me.
“Remember what I said, Sofie. I need to go check on a surprise guest.”
“Surprise?” My interest piques. Daddy does great surprises. “No hints?”
“You’ll find out with everyone else, sweetheart.”
Of course. Why would I be special?
“You ready?” I ask Rip as my father walks off to tend to his surprise guest.
Rip kisses my hair, and I can’t help but remember the kiss Walsh gave Kerris a few minutes ago. I’m not sure anyone will ever kiss me that way. Not the kiss itself, the practice of lips touching hair, but what lay behind it. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m sure no one has ever touched me that way. No one has ever felt for me what Walsh feels for that woman. I can see it in the simplest contact they share. Whatever they have, I don’t think I ever believed in it, and I certainly don’t expect it for myself.
We reach the table, and I see my place card to the left of Trevor Bishop’s, with Walsh on his right, like Daddy said it would be. At least he seated my date on my other side. Kerris is, of course, on Walsh’s other side. There has never been any love lost between that girl and me. She stole what was always supposed to be mine. Walsh and I made sense. She and Walsh defy the laws of social logic, her being a nobody and all, but somehow here they are, obviously besotted with each other and…working.
“Sof, Aunt Billi told me you just got back from Dubai.” Walsh walks around the table and kisses my cheek.
“Yep.” I lean in to the friendly greeting, knowing friendly is as far as we’ll ever go now. “It was a quick shoot.”
Somehow we’ve remained friends despite the disastrous affair a few years back, a desperate attempt on my part when Kerris married Walsh’s best friend, Cam. I’ve been conductor for enough train wrecks to recognize one, and that was some fucked-up shit. Now Cam is married to Walsh’s cousin Jo, and Walsh is married to Kerris. A game of musical beds I wish I could have gotten in on.
Come to think of it, with my turn at Walsh, I guess I kind of did.
Walsh has stayed true through everyone telling him what a bitch I am, and let’s face it, they’re right. He even forgave my insulting treatment of his wife. I mean, we don’t talk every day or anything, but he could have used his influence with the Walsh Foundation to take something from me that means a lot. I have served as the foundation’s celebrity ambassador for years. If I haven’t done anything else right, I have that. Walsh knows how much it means to me, and didn’t take it away as retaliation for the bad blood between Kerris and me. For that, and for a hundred other kindnesses he has shown me since we were in preschool, I’ll strain to be civil to his sweet wife.
“Sweet” is not a compliment, by the way. Kerris’s smile alone gives me a cavity.
“Good to see you, Walsh. Hi, Kerris.” I slide my glance to Kerris. She returns my nod, wearing a guarded look on her face. Smart girl. I’ll try for my best behavior, but I’m a bitch on a leash that slips from time to time. Best be prepared for anything.
“Sofie, let me introduce you to our guests.” Walsh gestures to Mr. Oatmeal. “This is Harold Smith, co-founder of Deutimus Corp.”
Mr. Oatmeal, given name Harold, stands and shakes my hand. He sports the look most men have when they first meet me “in real life.” Slightly stunned. I’m so used to my face, to this body, that I almost forget the effect they have on people. Also, the fashion world is an alternate dimension, populated by a species of gorgeous, lissome perfectly maintained superwomen where I am the norm. I rather enjoy not being the most striking person in the room from time to time.
“And this is his business partner, Trevor Bishop.”
Walsh steps back, and I have my first close-up of the fish I’m here to catch. Only I’m the one hooked, immediately. I’m careful not to show it, but that stunned look I’m used to seeing on other people’s faces? All over my inside face.
This force of flesh and bone and muscle wrapped in heat looms over me. Trevor Bishop’s presence burns holes in my composure. I could tell from across the room that he was attractive and built like a mountain lion, lean and strong and broad. But it’s only now, with proximity, that his absolute confidence meets mine head-on. He tilts his head to the left, his chocolate-colored eyes steadily considering me, and I swear he knows. Even though I’m sure my face doesn’t give it away, I swear he knows that as I stand in front of him, inhaling his clean scent and waiting for his first smile, windmills turn in my belly.
“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Baston.” His lips, wide and full, give me a smile punctuated by dimples. And he has a Southern drawl.
Fuck me now.
That’s not a figure of speech. I quite literally want him to toss me over that hulking shoulder, find a dark corner somewhere, and screw me so deeply into a wall we leave a dent. Or in a bathroom stall. Hell, he could drag me over to the elaborate buffet table and take me from behind right there by the ice sculpture.
One brow, a few shades darker than his hair, rises. Holy crap, I haven’t responded yet.
“Um, nice to meet you, too, Mr. Bishop.” I take my time so my tongue doesn’t betray the muddled mess of haywire hormones I am right now.
His eyes drift over my shoulder, forcing my mind and manners back to Rip.
“Oh, yes. I’m sorry. How rude.” I turn to Rip, who immediately claims my elbow and draws me into his side. All of a sudden he’s territorial. I can’t blame him. If my girlfriend was within five feet of this man, I’d handcuff her to me for the night. “This is Michael Ripley.”
“Great game Sunday.” Trevor shakes the hand Rip isn’t manacling me with. “I’m a Falcons fan myself, but I can appreciate a good toss no matter the team. That’s some arm you got there.”
Rip’s hold on me relaxes a bit. Clever Trevor, disarming him that way. Well played. Will I be able to strip this fish of his defenses as easily?
Once seated, Rip, Trevor, Harold, and Walsh fall into a discussion about football I don’t even try to follow. Apparently neither does Kerris. She’s texting someone with a small frown on her face, and mumbles something to Walsh about a sitter. I settle into my seat beside Trevor, taking a few moments to compose myself and strategize how I can get that hook in his mouth.
“So you were in Dubai?”
The question startles me a little, I was so lost in my musings. I turn slightly in Trevor’s direction, creasing my lips politely.
“For a shoot, yes.” I toy with the clamp on my clutch, which rests on the table. “And my friend Ardis married a prince over there. I like to visit her every once in a while.”
“A real live prince, huh?” He teases me with a quirk of those full lips.
“Don’t be too impressed.” I lean a few inches closer to him and lower my voice. “He’s a prince in name only.”
“If he’s a prince in name only, what does that make him in deed?”
I can’t hold on to the humor when I recall the bruises shackling Ardis’s throat and wrists, or the black-and-blue mark on her cheek like a brand. I refocus my eyes and sober my mouth.
“I thought you ladies kissed all the frogs to find the prince.”
“It happens that way in fairy tales, not in Manhattan.” I sip my champagne. “Or in Dubai, apparently.”
“So that accounts for your tan.” His dark eyes make a slow, thorough inspection of my features.
“Hmm. What accounts for yours?” I toss a skein of silvery-blond hair back so he gets an eyeful of the bare line of my neck and shoulder. His eyes move down my neck, warming the skin like a touch, before he looks back into my eyes.
“Haiti.” He laughs a little, lounges back in his chair, and links long fingers across a flat stomach I imagine is corded with muscle. “Well, and my father is Lumbee, so some of my tan’s natural.”
He laughs again, his teeth white against his skin. I really like that it’s because of something I said.
“Lumbee Indian, a tribe found mostly in Lumberton, North Carolina.”
“So your mother’s responsible for the red hair?”
“She is.” He brushes a hand over his neat hair, disrupting it into a coppery spill on his forehead. “I was spared the freckles, though.”
“I’m sure there’s one or two.”
His eyes are suddenly hot chocolate, heating up a little as they hold mine.
“You’re welcome to try to find them.”
I’m supposed to be flirting with him, baiting him, but he’s casting the line. I don’t like it. I need the pole in my hand. I break that steamy contact, lowering my eyes to the cocktail ring I’m twisting around my finger.
“What took you to Haiti?” I ask. “It’s miserably hot this time of year.”
He pauses a moment before answering, the press of his lips against a smile acknowledging my conversational feint.
“Sofie’s been to our orphanage in Haiti several times for the foundation,” Walsh interjects from Trevor’s other side.
I wonder how in on this little plan of Daddy’s he actually is. Walsh is a great guy, but when it comes down to it, he’s as much Martin Bennett’s son as I am Ernest Baston’s daughter. Both of us descend from ruthless corporate raiders.
“She’s our celebrity ambassador,” Walsh continues.
“Really?” A new light enters Trevor’s dark eyes. It could be respect. I’m not sure.
“Kristeene, Walsh’s mother, recruited me years ago to do it, and they haven’t gotten rid of me yet.”
Though there were a few times I wondered if the Walsh Foundation board of directors might have ousted me had I not been Baby Girl Baston. And right on cue, Daddy takes a seat beside Harold. Maybe Oatmeal is his assignment.
“Sorry, I was detained making plans for a surprise guest.” He takes a sip of the white wine at his elbow. “Now, Harold and Trevor, you’re both Princeton men, right?”
“In a manner of speaking.” Trevor offers a self-deprecating laugh, sharing a grin across the table with Harold. “We dropped out our junior year to start Deutimus Corp.”
“It all worked out, though.” Harold pushes the glasses back up his nose with an index finger. “They conferred an honorary degree on us last year.”
“Well, that was nice.” Daddy points a fork in my direction. “You wouldn’t know it, but Sofie here was accepted to Princeton.”
My lips purse against the groan that wants out so badly. Not this again.
“And Sarah Lawrence,” Daddy continues. “And UCLA.”
“Yes, but somewhere along the way I got confused and thought it was my life.” I dash saccharine on the smile I offer my father. “And that I could do what I wanted with it.”
“You mean running all over the world having your picture taken?” Daddy lowers his fork to his plate and his eyebrows into the frown I’m used to seeing when we discuss my misspent youth.
“It’s actually worked out quite well for me, Daddy.”
I’m one of the highest-paid, most sought-after models in the world. That means something to me, if not to him. I won’t le
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