One Night with Morelli(8)

By: Kim Lawrence



She was five three without heels and had chestnut-brown hair. Making no concession to the occasion—the dress was enough—she wore it as she always did: scraped into the heavy knot on her slender neck. It was not a style statement, though it did reveal the length of her neck and the delicate angle of her rounded jaw, just convenient. When exposed to even a sniff of moisture it fell into a mass of uncontrollable kinky waves and Eve liked control in all aspects of her life.

There had been a period when she had struggled to emulate her friend Hannah’s effortless elegance, but no matter how hard she tried it just didn’t happen. She always ended up looking as though she were dressing up in her mother’s clothes. Gradually Eve had found her own style or—as an exasperated Hannah put it—uniform, which was a little unfair. Not all Eve’s trouser suits were black—some were navy—and who had time to shop anyhow when they had a business to run? You couldn’t afford to relax in this competitive world.

‘Ouch!’ She tripped over the skirt of her duck-egg-blue silk bridesmaid dress and banged her knee on the window seat. The pain made her green eyes film with tears.

‘Well, if you’d come to a fitting it wouldn’t be too long.’ Harriet gave an affectionate smile and shook her head. The frantic last-minute pinning meant that Eve’s dress had a sort of waist but the neckline of the fitted bodice still had a tendency to gape and slip down a couple of inches if Eve moved too quickly—and Eve moved quickly a lot. Her friend was never still mentally or physically, and just watching her made Hannah feel tired.

Eve gave another hitch accompanied by a hiss of exasperation. If she’d been more naturally blessed in the boob department it wouldn’t be a problem, but even with the tissues tucked into the strapless bra that was chafing the partially healed scar on her shoulder blade she was one cup size short of keeping the bodice up.

On the plus side, while she was focusing on not exposing herself she wasn’t thinking about her mother throwing herself away on a man who didn’t deserve her! The furrow in danger of becoming permanent in her wide brow deepened because, impending wardrobe malfunction or not, she was thinking about it and had been ever since her mother had rung excited as a schoolgirl with the glad tidings. A week was not a long time but Eve had prayed her mother would come to her senses.

She hadn’t.

‘The measurements you sent must have been way off. Sarah said you’ve lost weight since she saw you last,’ Hannah commented.

Eve felt a stab of guilt that intensified when Hannah made excuses for her.

‘I know Australia is a long way to come for a fitting.’

‘I didn’t go there to avoid my mother!’ Eve protested.

‘I never thought you did.’

Until now, thought Eve, wishing she could keep her big mouth shut. ‘I don’t see what all the big hurry is for anyhow.’ The way Hannah was looking at her made Eve frown. ‘Well, do you?’

Hannah pressed a protective hand to her stomach, reflecting on how odd it was that Eve, who was super smart and intuitive in so many ways, could not have at least suspected. She had often felt a little intimidated by her friend’s quick brain and focused drive, but for all her ability there were times when Eve couldn’t see what was right under her nose and this was one of those occasions. Hannah swiftly changed the subject; now was probably not the time to voice her suspicions.

‘Well, you made it back in time, which is the main thing. I’d have loved you to be at my wedding too,’ Hannah added wistfully.

‘I didn’t get an invite.’

‘I barely made it there myself.’

‘Fine, be mysterious,’ Eve grumbled, thinking that whatever the full story behind her friend’s marriage to the Prince of Surana she had never seen Hannah looking happier or more beautiful—she was positively glowing.

‘But you must be happy, Evie; this is what we have always wanted. For us to finally be a family.’

Eve swallowed the retort on the tip of her tongue.

She could hardly say to the man’s daughter your dad is a sad loser and I never wanted him to marry my mum. I wanted her to wake up to the fact he was using her and end the sordid, secret affair.

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