Pretending(8)

By: Shanna Clayton



The thing is, I don’t want Harland’s money or this house. Gwen would flip a switch if she knew, but I plan on handing all of it over to Wesley once the four years come to an end. It’s the right thing to do. Wesley is his son. Harland had only been dating my mom for seven months before she passed away. He didn’t owe me anything, and he’s given me far too much already. The only reason I’m here is because I promised him I’d finish school, and this is my only means to pay for it.

“For once, take something you want, Doll,” Gwen says, still eyeing the necklace with awe. “It would look amazing on you.”

“No way.” I steer her away from the case. “I’m not wearing it. End of story.”

She opens her mouth to say more but stops as the door to the library clicks open. The cook, Hannah, slinks inside the room, adjusting the straps of her bra that’s showing through her skin-tight tank top.

“Since when does she ever come in the library?” Gwen asks me, her tone laced with insinuation. Hannah doesn’t do anything without ulterior motives. I’ve never seen her pick up a book, so I seriously doubt that’s what she came here for.

She chooses this moment to glance up at us, faking a display of surprise. “Oh I didn’t know anyone else was in here.”

It’s such a bald-faced lie that I almost roll my eyes. She followed us, and I have a pretty good idea as to why. Tormenting me is on that girl’s list of favorite hobbies, and I think she feels more comfortable doing it now that Wesley is back in the house.

“Fancy seeing you about, Hannah,” Gwen says, the twang in her southern accent more pronounced. “Shouldn’t you be preparing Mr. Kent’s lunch at this time of day?”

“My, my, you’re right, Gwen. Must’ve lost track of time.”

“Glad to remind you.” There’s a sweet smile on Gwen’s face I recognize as anything but sweet. The two of them have been known to get into it over the messes Hannah leaves in the kitchen. Their arguments have gotten so heated, they can be heard across the house.

Although I haven’t said a word yet, Hannah gives me her attention anyway. Sharpening her green eyes on me, she looks like she’s up to something. Great. I can only imagine what it is this time.

“That reminds me, Miss Reynolds. Wesley is having a party this weekend. Make sure you and your,” she looks pointedly at Gwen, “friends stay out of the main rooms downstairs. Unless…did he invite you? He invited everyone on staff.”

My face and chest grow extremely hot. Hannah knows Wesley never invites me to his parties. She once caught me peeking in on one of his rowdier keggers. I’m not sure what made me stop to look in, curiosity maybe, but Hannah saw me spying behind the doorway. She brushed past me and shut the door in my face, and I swear she did it just to be spiteful. I don’t know why she feels it’s her responsibility to keep me out of Wesley’s way, but she sure takes pleasure in doing it.

“Hannah, you would do well to remember Mr. Kent is not your only boss,” Gwen says to her. “Miss Reynolds lives here too, and if she wants to go into the main rooms, that’s her prerogative.”

Hannah purses her lips into a pretty pout. “My bad. It’s just that Wesley asked me to take care of this for him.”

Gwen snorts. “I doubt he asked you to do that,” she says, looking about two seconds from snapping. “And to you, his name is Mr. Kent.”

“I’m not lying.” Hannah says, all innocence. She achieved what she sought out to do, so she saunters away from us. Before she leaves, she looks over her shoulder and smirks. “Excuse me if I prefer to use Wesley while I’m screaming his name later tonight.”

Both Gwen and I gape as she slips out the door. For several seconds I stand there like that, wondering whether I heard her correctly.

“What a little ho-bag,” Gwen mutters, shaking her head.

Nausea twists inside my stomach. I’m completely disgusted. “You have no idea how much I would love to strangle that girl.”

Gwen waves that aside. “I have a better idea. Why don’t you fire her instead?”

“For what reason?” I scoff. “Because she’s banging the boss?”

“Her food tastes like shit,” Gwen says, smiling. “Half this household will vouch for you on that one.”

Although I know I won’t actually fire Hannah, there’s something about knowing she’s an awful cook that’s really funny. This is why I love Gwen. She can pull me out of a bad mood faster than anyone.

“As tempting as that sounds, I’m not embarrassing myself like that.”

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