Home > Beauty in Summer (Beauty #2)

Beauty in Summer (Beauty #2)
Author: Ella Goode

Chapter One

 

 

Her

 

 

“I’m sorry I can’t help you this time.” I check my watch. I’m going to miss the bus. My car battery has been dead for a week, and my dad hasn’t been able to stop by to give me a jump.

“But, Bellamy, I don’t have anyone else to ask,” Shelley whines through my earpiece.

“It’s so last minute, Shell. I have plans.” My plans consist of a bowl of popcorn and a movie, but my friend doesn’t need to know that.

“Since when?” she scoffs. “The last time you went out on a date was with Greg and me…” She trails off, remembering too late that my first date with Greg happened to be the last because Shell showed up, batted her eyelashes, and Greg ended up calling her the next day instead of me. “Anyway, never mind about that. Can’t you move your plans? Just this once?”

“No.” I race toward the front door of the café.

“What?”

My abrupt response surprises both of us. In the past, I’d do anything she asked. I guess I’ve grown tired of that. “I said no.”

“Is this because I couldn’t meet you for dinner the other night?”

I stop in the middle of opening the door. The other night happened to be my twenty-eighth birthday. My parents had forgotten and scheduled a vacation—separately, of course. They haven’t been in the same room together for the last fifteen years. I didn’t have many friends, other than Shelley, which is why I let her use and abuse me for so many years. “Couldn’t meet? How about standing me?”

“I called,” she says.

“Forty minutes after our reservation.” I’d sat there alone, enduring pitying glances from the waiter.

“It’s just a dinner,” Shelley protests feebly.

“It’s not about the dinner.” It wasn’t just missing that one event that angered me. It was all the times she stood me up to go hang out with her cooler friends or some guy. It was all the times she called asking for some ridiculous favor like baking a pie so she could pretend that she was a great cook or having me pick up donuts at five in the morning to schmooze some client she wanted desperately to land.

“Then what is it?” she asks impatiently.

Her obtuseness is frustrating. I was there for her in all those times, but she couldn’t come to celebrate my birthday with me? An event she knew about for weeks? She even booked us at Flavors, a restaurant whose prices are too high for my impoverished state. Yet, I went anyway, even though I knew it meant eating ramen noodles for the rest of the month.

“I’m busy,” I repeat. I pull open the door and search for my mother.

“If you don’t do this for me, then I don’t see how we can remain friends,” she snaps.

Mom raises an imperious hand in my direction. I can tell by the stiffness in her frame she’s pissed. My shoulders slump. “You called me this morning to ask me to drive two hours to deliver a report that you should’ve delivered two days ago. Even if I wasn’t busy, it’s a really big chore you’ve asked me to do.”

“God, Bellamy. You’re so dramatic. We both know you have no love life and that the only thing you’re going to do tonight is sit on your butt and watch a movie by yourself. At least this way, you’ll get out of the house and get a little exercise. You need it. Come on. Be a real friend.”

Did she just say I was fat and needed to work out? “If you were a real friend to me, you wouldn’t steal my boyfriends, tell me I’m fat, and call me to ask me to do a last-minute favor.”

“Fine,” she snaps. “Don’t call me again, then. You’re no friend of mine.”

She hangs up. I look down at my phone in shock and then give myself a mental head slap for not seeing that coming. Shell and I have grown apart—if we were ever true friends in the first place.

“Sorry I’m late,” I tell my mom as I slide into the seat across from her.

“You were born late. I was in labor for twenty-six hours before you decided to make an appearance.” Mom closes her eyes as she engages in her favorite pastime—reliving all the pain I’ve caused her in my twenty-eight years.

“Sorry about that,” I say. I never really know how to react to her.

“Well, at least you’re finally here, and you look appropriate.”

I glance down at my white blouse and black skirt. Mom said that she wanted to see what I was wearing to interviews since I’d been having a hard time finding a new job. “I have my best undies on.”

She grimaces. “I don’t need to hear that vulgar talk. I went ahead and ordered since I knew you would be late. Ah, here it is.”

The waitress sets down two bowls of oatmeal. I gag slightly at the smell.

“You’re looking a little heavy, so I ordered you oatmeal. It’s good and filling. You should be able to skip lunch and have only a light supper. I’d recommend chicken, unseasoned, by the looks of your waistline.”

Self-consciously, I draw a hand across my stomach. “Um, thanks.”

What’s really going to happen is that I’m going to end up being so hungry after not eating my oatmeal that I’ll end up at the vending machine in two hours. And unseasoned chicken? I’d rather be fat than eat that shit.

Mom nods grandly and then slides a slip of paper across the table.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a job, dear.”

I perk up. I need a job. Desperately. “It is?” I stop pretending to eat my oatmeal and snatch up the paper.

“Yes, I met this nice couple at a dinner the other day. We got to chatting, and I ended up telling them about how you can’t hold down a job. They both work at this company and suggested you come by for an interview.”

I unfold the heavy linen paper. “BMI Enterprises” is stamped in gold along the top. I scan the body of the letter which welcomes me to the family of BMI Enterprises as an administrative assistant to Mr. Garrett starting at a salary of—

My eyes bulge over the number. I drop the paper. “I’m already hired? And at this salary?”

She gives me another imperious nod. “I couldn’t believe it myself and suggested that you weren’t at all qualified for the job, but they were insistent that you’d fit the position perfectly.”

“Since when does an admin assistant make six figures?”

“Since she works for BMI,” a new voice announces.

Dropping the letter, I twist in my chair to see Dad behind me. His usually stern face is lit up with a smile. He pats me on the head and leans down to give Mom a peck before taking a seat at the table.

Confused, I rub the back of my finger across my forehead. This is all pretty unusual. Mom and Dad hate each other. The last time we all had a meal together was…I can’t even remember a time.

“What are you doing here?” I blurt out.

“I’m here to drive you to your new job. Didn’t you say that you had a dead battery?” He reaches out and tweaks my cheek. “You look nice today.”

“When I called you last week for a ride to an interview, you told me that you weren’t my chauffeur service.” I’m so confused. “Is this April Fool’s Day? Am I being punked?” I swivel in my chair, looking for a camera or something to explain this very strange behavior.

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