I show up in his study, wearing my awesome new outfit, and keep the glasses full. He doesn’t clue me in.
Then I go to the kitchen to help cook afterward, and Cherie is there. Not only that, Mia is abandoning her post to fly across the kitchen and worship my shoes.
“Oh, I miss these,” she says, making the saddest face in the world. Glancing up at me with a dismal shake of her head, she says, “Mateo buys the best shoes.”
“I’m not even a shoe girl, really, but these kick major ass,” I agree, bending my ankle and sparing a moment to admire them.
Francesca comes over to see what all the fuss is about. “Ooh, those are nice. My brother does very well in the gift department.”
“He does very well in all the departments,” I state.
Mia and Francesca exchange a look, then Mia uses her index finger to make circles around her temple, indicating I’m crazy. I just grin, because they don’t even know.
The kitchen seems abnormally busy with all of us in here. It takes until the salads are ready to go out for me to really get it.
Mia pauses by me as she grabs Vince’s salad. “Don’t forget Mateo’s dried cranberries. He’ll send you back in.”
Rolling my eyes, I say, “I know, it’s happened before.”
“Oh, right, you don’t just serve on Sundays. Sorry, I was never a maid, I forget these things.”
“Wait, I’m taking him his salad? I usually stay in the kitchen throughout most of Sunday night dinners.”
Mia’s eyes move pointedly over my outfit and linger on my shoes. “He wouldn’t have given you a Sunday night dinner outfit if he expected you to stay in the kitchen.”
Still a little uncertain, I grab his salad plate and take it out. I watch Mia hand Vince his and put one down for herself, taking a seat. As I approach Mateo’s back, I feel all warm and fuzzy, just seeing him. God, what a sap.
I grin at my own thoughts as I lean down and drop off Mateo’s salad. Then, because I’m still unclear, I lean closer to whisper, “Mia thinks I’m staying for dinner?”
He nods, indicating the empty seat on his right, directly across from Mia.
I was not prepared for that, so I have to go back to the kitchen and grab a salad for myself. I flash Cherie a somewhat apologetic look, but she doesn’t seem to care.
It feels weird to take a seat at the table—not even just at the table, but during Sunday night dinner. Mateo’s very attached to his Sunday night dinners, from what I’ve gathered.
“I love your dress. It’s so vintage,” Mia tells me, taking a sip of her wine. Is she old enough to drink? I don’t think so. I never thought about it before. Oh well.
“Thank you,” I say, glancing at Mateo.
Completely taking me off-guard, he reaches across the table and caresses my hand. Right there, in front of his whole family. Mia blinks at the gesture, then gives me a girly, wide-eyed look that makes me smile.
I mean, it’s not like it’s a big secret we’re sleeping together, but one thing is fucking the maid, another is bringing her to family dinner.
“Adrian,” Mateo says, nodding at the man opposite him at the foot of the table. “Did you ever hear back about Castellanos?”
I freeze. The color draining from my face feels like a physical thing as I stare at the tablecloth, Mateo’s hand still laced with mine.
“Uh… you wanna talk about that now?” Adrian asks, not sounding terribly comfortable with the idea.
“Why not? We’re all friends here.”
The way he says it sends chills down my back. I can feel his eyes on me, and if he’s looking at me and talking about Castellanos, I’m terrified I know why.
He can’t know, right?
No. No, I would know. He’s not that good a liar. He wouldn’t still be doing cute things and inviting me to family dinner if he knew that.
Francesca is the first to speak up. “Castellanos? I thought you guys were okay.”
“Yeah, we were. We’re not anymore.”
“I thought—” Francesca pauses, taking a sip of her wine. “I thought—”
“Like I said,” he interrupts. “We’re not anymore.”
I’ve had a minute to get myself under control, but I still can’t look at him. Instead, I take a drink of my wine, glancing at our damn hands, still entwined.
“That sounds dangerous,” Francesca says.
“It is,” he verifies.
“Are you…planning anything?”
“Of course. He’s left me with no other option.”
Francesca is on my side of the table, so it’s not a subtle thing, craning to look at her, but the dread on her pretty face nourishes the fear growing in mine. “Can’t we just renegotiate?” she asks.
“Antonio doesn’t want to negotiate, he wants to take over. His family doesn’t, but he’s trying to turn them, framing me for shit I didn’t even do. This is beyond negotiation.”