Billionaires and Beach Bums(8)

By: Mia Caldwell



Like a liar.

But I’m a professional and I kept my mouth shut. I put my business cards out in the kitchen, in case one of them wandered in, looking for more wine. Celia, however, just scooped them up when she thought I wasn’t looking and slipped them into her pocket.

Like a thief.

So to see her standing there, off-balance because she can’t tell the Honduran housecleaner from the black caterer (hey, a black ponytail’s a black ponytail, right?)…well, it was a little delicious. I hoped that she also was feeling a little guilty about me knowing she was a thieving liar, but I doubt my opinion mattered that much to her.

Her companion was looking blankly from one of us to the other so I just extended my hand to my old customer, saying, “Andrea Wilson, I believe we’ve met.”

As she took my hand in hers, with that weak, limp grip (girl, you lift weights all day, can’t you even shake hands?), I hoped I still had salmon-smell on my fingers.

“Oh, yes, of course! How nice to see you again.” She placed a hand at her chest. “Celia Bradford.”

I couldn’t resist just a little barb. “Oh, I remember,” I said with a smile. Let her wonder.

“Has Mr. Alexander been in?” she asked, before I could shake hands with her friend.

“No, are you expecting him here?” “Mr. Alexander” had better not be coming in…

“I was hoping to steal him for lunch. I’ll just pop up to say hello to Mother Alexander and if he’s still not here, I may go check at the office. Nice seeing you!” she said, breezing out of the kitchen without a look back. The anonymous friend trailed her, weakly lifting a hand to wave at me as she went, no expression on her face–as if she were afraid any movement of the mouth would give her wrinkles.

Mother Alexander? What did that mean? She’d called “pookie” when she came in. If Walker is Pookie and his mom is Mother Alexander, then this Celia…well obviously she was his girlfriend. Maybe more, given the “Mother” thing.

My face was flushed as I went over the previous night in my head. Clearly I’d misread some signals, right? Or was he just a dog? He has his rich blonde girlfriend and he flirts with the help. God knows he wouldn’t be the first. I guess at least he was honest about it.

I kept working on the lunch, waiting for the sounds of the women leaving. I did not want to go up there while they were there. Rosa came in to refill her water bottle.

“Hey Rosa, are those two women still up there with Mrs. Alexander?”

She rolled her eyes just a little. “Yes, they think Mr. Walker will be back, but his mother says no. At least not before dinner time.”

“So, um, the blonde one, Celia? Is she Mr. Walker’s girlfriend?” May as well stop speculating, right?

Rosa took a swig of water and shrugged. “Right now? I think so. Maybe? She come and go.” She stepped in closer and lowered her voice, her eyes darting to the doorway. “He’s too good for her. But he don’t have time to date. Where’s a rich businessman going to find a good wife? He works all the time and she just spends money.” She made a dismissive gesture.

Ugh. My stomach was clenched up tight. “Rosa, I know this is asking a lot, but I, um, have a history with Celia and I’d rather not go up there. Could you take Mrs. Alexander her lunch?” I tried for a winning smile. “I’ll make you a plate, too.”

She smiled and gave me the side-eye, “I don’t want an avocado smoothie.”

“Honeyed salmon on fresh greens with goat cheese fritters.”

“Sold.” She picked up the tray and marched out.

I fixed her a plate and tidied up so I could leave. I had a dozen calls I needed to make before I came back here to make dinner, but my head was just swirling. And I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.

I texted Kiera and she agreed to skip a meeting and meet me for coffee. That’s a best friend.

“I don’t know,” she said, sipping on her iced cappuccino. I’d told her everything, from “would the help flirt back” to “Pookie.” I’d hoped talking about it would make it all clear to me and then I’d know what to do, but not this time. I needed advice.

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