With that last thought, she excused herself and headed to the bathroom, intent on texting Isabella. Mercifully, it was mostly empty in the powder room. She sat in a plush chair and began to open her purse.
“There you are, Daisy,” Kate said, sailing through the leather and gold studded door, all smiles, as if she hadn’t been flirting with Sebastian. “I haven’t been able to get a word with you.”
Maybe that’s because you’ve been too busy flirting with my fiancé, Daisy thought grimly. Not that she should care. She and Sebastian were pretend, no matter the very real feelings he’d stirred inside of her when he’d put—okay, so those thoughts were off limits too.
“That’s okay.” Kate took the seat beside her. “What did Sebastian think of tonight’s ensemble?”
“He said my hair looked pretty.” His compliment had sounded strained, like he hadn’t meant it.
Daisy glanced at Kate, at her perfectly coiffed hair and perfectly tailored outfit that looked nothing like the one she’d picked out for Daisy. Kate was all High Street fashion while Daisy was evening strip-mall formalwear. Maybe the woman had tricked her and had been secretly making fun of her by dressing her in some overdone, itchy material meant for a woman three times her age.
“Is that all?”
Kate frowned. “The outfit was perfect for him.”
“Then maybe he should have worn it.”
The dark-haired woman laughed. “Well, at least one outfit in your arsenal is guaranteed to stun him. I think you should wear the mint green Valentino to tomorrow evening’s gala. It was in the slew of dresses I had sent over as an apology.”
Daisy wouldn’t touch anything in her “arsenal”. Mint green Valentino or not. Sebastian’s favorite color or not. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Have I done something dreadful?” Kate’s brows drew together and there was concern in her pale green eyes. Eyes that the Valentino dress matched perfectly. Eyes that matched Sebastian’s favorite color perfectly.
Daisy’s stomach dropped to her manicured toes. “Who are you to Sebastian?” she asked bluntly.
“Merely a family friend, like I told you,” Kate insisted, but her gaze skittered away, like before.
“We grew up together, our fathers were business associates and… Daisy, I think you might get the wrong impression if I tell you the rest.”
“You’re still in love with him,” Daisy said, hoping against hope she was wrong. Hoping against hope that her memory hadn’t just kicked in and she was imaging that she had seen pictures of Sebastian and Kate together, arm and arm.
Kate’s porcelain complexion pinkened. “It doesn’t matter how I feel anymore, because he’s in love with you now.”
Oh God. Sebastian wasn’t in love with her at all, but she couldn’t tell Kate that, could she? Daisy jumped to her feet, all at once embarrassed and angry. “Maybe it would be better if we don’t hang out anymore.” Mostly because Daisy would feel like a fraud the entire time.
“Wait!” Kate cried out, standing and rushing over to her. “I completely respect your boundaries and I’ll stay away, but I want you to know…no, I need you to understand that I wanted to help you this evening and your entire stay, with your clothes and everything I could think of, because he does mean something to me. I enjoyed spending time with you as well, and I can see why he loves you.”
Frozen to the spot, Daisy stared at the woman. Something along the lines of “Ah…uh…” came from her mouth.
“Right, then. Please treat him well. He works too hard. Make him have a little fun. He needs some fun in his life.” Kate hugged her, and then left the room.
She gazed around the ornate bathroom, at the burgundy walls infused with gold veins, and the large mirrors with ornate black frames. Her reflection stared back, eyes wide and face pale. She didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror.
The vision wavered.
She wanted to go home.
“Are you mental?” Liam asked, his dark eyes scanning the room.
Sebastian made a face. “It was your brilliant plan, remember?”
“Not Daisy. She’s lovely, beautiful, and charming.”
Of course she was, Sebastian thought, but he wasn’t too keen on his friend noticing. “Then who?”
His friend slashed a hand through the air. “Her.”
“Her who?” Sebastian signaled for the server to bring the check.
Liam set down his drink. “Kate, your ex-girlfriend. Did you honestly think it was a good idea to have the woman who wanted to marry you in the same room, dining at the same table, as the woman who is supposedly marrying you?”
“Hang on a minute, “Sebastian said, leaning forward. “I thought you invited Kate?”
“What gave you that impression?”
“Yes, you did.”
“How did I give you that impression?”
Good God, they were quickly becoming the X Factor’s Ant and Dec. Sebastian took a deep breath and tried again. “The texts from Verity about Kate accompanying you around town.”
Shaking his head, Liam gave him a wry smile. “According to Kate, your fiancée invited her to dinner, with your expressed approval. They went shopping together this afternoon.”
“Oh, f**k me.” Practically leaping to his feet, Sebastian strode off in the direction Daisy had gone.
She met him halfway, her face pale. “I want to go home.”
“Of course,” he murmured, taking her by the arm. “Did someone—” Jesus, he was a coward and an idiot for not warning her, for not blurting out the truth before now.—“say something to hurt your feelings?”
A slight hesitation and his heart sank. “No. I’m just tired, is all. Some of us aren’t used to jetting around the world.”
Relieved, he grinned. There was his Daisy. “Let me pay the check and we’ll be on our way.”
The car ride to his home was as quiet as earlier in the evening, only this time tension invaded the space, thick and suffocating like a wet blanket.
It seemed as though she tolerated his presence, because as soon as they arrived and the doorman let them in, she’d nearly ran to her bedroom. He had no idea what he’d done wrong and no idea how to repair things.