Glancing at the cars outside the bridal shop once more, I get an idea and push back from my desk. Grabbing the box of chocolate croissants, I make my way out of my office and to my neighbor.
Happily Ever After is right next door and shares a wall with my law office. The bridal boutique must be really successful with how busy they stay. I’ve seen license plates from three states away regularly, so the Schaffers must have an established name. Thinking about Valerie and how mad she was at me this morning makes me smile.
I’m practically beaming from the memory as I walk into the shop and hold out the box of pastries.
“Good afternoon, ladies. Can I interest anyone in a chocolate croissant?”
“Tidas.” Valerie says my name like a curse and I try—and fail—to hide my smile.
The interior of the bridal shop is actually quite beautiful. The high ceilings have stained glass windows in them, and the mirrors on one side of the shop reflect the light like diamonds. There’s a stage in front of the mirrors that I assume is for the brides to stand on when trying on wedding dresses. There’s a pale pink velvet couch in front of it, where two women now sit. One of them starts to laugh and then puts a hand over her mouth like she’s going to get in trouble.
Not paying Valerie any attention, I walk over to the couch and hold the open pastry box in front of them. Though it’s damn hard not to look her way. “They were made fresh this morning, and I can’t possibly eat any more. I’d hate for them to go to waste.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have bought them all.” Valerie moves in front of me and crosses her arms over her chest, displaying her ample cleavage in her navy blue knit sweater that is cut entirely too low for business casual.
Ignoring her statement, I turn to the ladies on the couch. “Can I interest you in a prenuptial agreement?”
“You must be Tidas,” one of them says as she takes a croissant. “We’ve heard all about you.”
“You’ve been talking about me?” I turn to Valerie and see her cheeks flush scarlet. “Val, I’m flattered.”
“I only told them about you because you’re so desperate for business you come over here and try to drum up clients.”
I shrug as I turn the box back to the women on the couch and watch as the other takes a treat. “It’s a preventive measure.” I wink at the dark-haired woman on the couch, and she laughs.
“Okay, you’ve given your sales pitch. Time to go.”
“Are you sure I can’t offer you a consultation?” I ask the room, and one of the ladies snorts.
“You really are something.” She looks at Valerie and then at me. “Does this kind of thing ever work?”
“Well…” I place the pastry box on the small table in front of the couch. There’s one left, and I’ve seen Valerie give it a side glance twice. “If you call ruffling Miss Shaffer’s feathers a success, then it’s a ten out of ten.”
I can practically hear Valerie roll her eyes as I tuck my hands into my slacks and walk toward the door. Before I push it open, I stop and glance back at the woman, who is fuming mad.
“Oh, and Miss Shaffer, keep your trash out of my bin. You’ve got your own at the end of the block.”
Her mouth pops open in a perfect circle, but she doesn’t deny it. I bid goodbye to the women in the shop and walk outside into the sunshine.
Damn it, why does it feel so good to play with fire?
“Say it ain’t true, Val. You’ve really been breaking rules and throwing things in that hunk’s trash?” Julie teases me. I never break the rules. This doesn’t even count as breaking one if you ask me. Tidas just dislikes me so much that he’ll pick at anything he can. I don’t understand why he always has to poke at me. It never ends.
“Yeah. Are you breaking rules?” Gracie fights back a smile. Somehow she makes it sound dirty.
“No, I just didn’t think it was a big deal.” I run my hands down the front of my dress, trying my best to smooth out wrinkles that aren't really there. “Neither of them get full, and it’s the same trash company. I don’t see the problem.” I get flustered, and Gracie bursts into laughter at my response.
“It’s not a big deal. Sometimes the boxes are heavy, and it’s late.” I actually stomp my foot this time, and Gracie laughs even harder.
“I’m sure he’d help you take them out.” Julie smirks. They are both having way too much fun with this. Again they’re making it sound dirty—and I don’t mean trash.
“As if I’d ever ask him for anything.” I hate how much that man gets to me. I don’t understand why he can’t leave me alone. “In case you didn’t notice, he doesn't like me.”