Riana looked up at her one, true friend. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. She shut her mouth then tried again, but this time a sob escaped. Riana covered her face with her hands and let the threatening tears flow.
“Oh, no.” Loraine hugged her, back stepping into the apartment then she pushed the door shut. “You caught them in the act, didn’t you?”
She nodded, keeping her shame filled face covered with her hands.
Loraine rubbed her back. “Don’t cry. They don’t deserve your tears.”
Riana broke away from her and stomped to the two-seatter couch. She dropped onto it, pulling her legs under her. “Just say it,” she sniffed. “I know you want to.”
Loraine sat next to her, a gentle smile on her face. “Oh, honey.”
Riana cried some more, relieved her friend didn’t…
“I did tell you so.”
“Really, Loraine, really?” she shrieked, jumping off the couch to pace in front of her. “You are supposed to be my best friend. The last friend I have at this point, actually. Or am I wrong about that, too?”
Loraine stood up and pulled on her arm. “Hey! I’m the only true friend you have and don’t you ever forget it. And as your best friend, I need to rub reality in your face a few times to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.”
Riana dropped onto the couch again. She felt exhausted from crying, from the pain in her chest, from feeling betrayed. From being so darn stupid!
Loraine disappeared for a moment and came back with a glass of water and something clenched in her fist. “Here you go.”
Riana took the glass and opened her hand to Loraine’s clenched fist. “What’s that?”
She opened her fist and dropped the tablets in Riana’s hand. “Antibiotics.”
Riana’s brows drew together. “What for?”
“You were sleeping with Steve and he is sleeping with Claire and who knows what she’s been spreading her legs for.” Loraine shivered in horror for effect, her face contoured in disgust.
If Riana didn’t find that thought scary, she would have laughed along with Loraine. She tossed the antibiotics into her mouth and washed them down with the water.
“Do you want me to get your stuff?”
Riana groaned, tugging painfully on her hair. God she was stupid! “And take them where? Steve made me give up my dorm room so that we could live together. I have nowhere to go, no place to put my stuff!”
One month into the ‘loving’ relationship and he’d talked her into giving up her dorm room, going apartment hunting, signing a lease for rent she knew she couldn’t afford, and accepting the first big boobed bimbo who applied as their roommate. All that plus her virginity in the same damn bed.
Shit, she really was stupid and naive.
Loraine chuckled rubbing her back again. “You poor idiot.”
Riana turned quickly toward her, wounded. “Hey!”
Loraine laughed louder. She pulled Riana into a bear hug. “You are an idiot but you are also my best friend. You can take the spare bedroom and I’ll go get your stuff.”
Riana pulled away from her. “I couldn’t do that Loraine. That room is your studio.”
Loraine waved her concern away. “It’s fine. I’m not cut out for art anyway. I only took the course to annoy my parents. What I really want is to open a catering business.”
“Well, you do love to eat,” Riana chuckled, glad for the change in topic. It was a reprieve from the discussion of how much of an idiot she was. “What I don’t understand is how you always stay so skinny!”
Loraine winked. “Have you met my mother? It’s all in the genes. But I do envy the curves you have.”
Riana felt a lump form in her throat. “Well don’t. I don’t particularly like them right now,” she whispered.
“You are a Bahamian beauty and he is an asshole who just made the worst mistake of his life. It’s a good thing it isn’t the end of the month yet.”
Riana was confused. What did the time of the month have to do with anything? “Why?”
Loraine’s lips spread in a knowing smile. “You haven’t paid the rent yet.”
Riana giggled, and then it built up to a hysterical laugh. “I was supposed to pay Claire’s half, too. She went on a shopping spree and spent everything she had.”
Loraine laughed so hard she fell off the couch. “’Ain’t karma a bitch!”
* * * *
Riana caught the tears for the hundredth time that night. She’d promised Loraine she wouldn’t cry, especially at work, because their boss was a dragon lady. But she’d never felt so much anguish and loneliness since her mother died.
The death of her mother was so unexpected. One moment they were all together with her brother Reno, laughing and joking as they toured NYU, and the next she was getting a phone call from the hospital. They had gotten into a car crush and Reno was lucky to have survived. Everything went downhill from there.
Immigrations discovered Reno was an illegal immigrant, and after his two months’ recovery in hospital they deported him to Bahamas. Riana was lucky. Their mother had come to America when she was pregnant and Reno was four, so she became a citizen by birth. She wanted to go back with Reno but he wouldn’t have it.
“You would be throwing away the chance of a lifetime,” he’d said. “Everything Mom went through to give us this opportunity would have been a waste. I’m finished with college, and besides, I wouldn’t be able to pay for your tuition if you threw away the scholarship.”
And to top it all off, the man that drove their mother out of New Providence, also known as her sire, had died and left his run down hotel to Reno.
Apparently, it had been Reno’s plan to go back home for the inheritance, but he hadn’t wanted to tell her in case the hotel business was a flop and he ended up stuck there.
Reno had a point. Riana would have never agreed to their mother being left alone and going back to save that man’s business, nonetheless. She may not have known her father, but she despised him all the same.
She shook her head, even more disgusted with the male species.
How much time did a man, specifically her father, need to admit that he was already married?
Riana’s mother had been in for the shock of her life when she’d gone to see him at his hotel and a lady with the body and the air of a super model had demanded to know what Riana’s mom wanted with her husband.
Just thinking about her mother’s pain made her want to cry all over again.
A gentle, deep baritone voice spoke behind her, startling her. She quickly turned around, hurriedly wiping her cheeks dry with the sleeves of her shirt. Getting fired tonight would just be the perfect cherry on her disastrous day’s cake.
“I’m sorry, sir. Would you like me to get you anything? A drink, an appetizer, or directions to the auctioning…” She stopped abruptly when the sound of his deep chuckle filled the hallway. She groaned, ducking her head. She was rambling. She always rambled when she was nervous.
“I’m fine,” he said, amused.
Riana felt his warm fingers at her chin. He pushed her head up and she didn’t resist. Riana found herself staring at a wide chest, broad shoulders, and muscular arms perfectly encased in a clearly expensive black suit jacket before her eyes trailed up, taking in his amused face and the deepest brown eyes she’d ever seen.
“Hi,” Riana sighed.
He chuckled, giving his head a slight shake. “Hi, yourself.”
He rubbed her chin with his thumb and Riana drew in a quick breath, pulling her bottom lip into her mouth, her eyes still staring into his.
“Are you alright?”
“No more crying, okay?”
“Good. Because he doesn’t deserve you or your tears. You are too beautiful to be crying over a dirt bag.”
She nodded again, the edges of her lips rising to a smile, her bottom lip still trapped between her teeth. She was too caught up in the man’s mind melting looks to grasp what he was saying.
How is it possible for a man to be this hot? Her eyes did a slow perusal from his obviously designer shoes, to his thick thighs, up his wide, jacketed upper body, and back to his Greek god face and raven hair to match. It should be illegal for a guy to be this hot.