I haven’t even lived life. 

He deserves better. 

Why is even Mr Zeepler interested in me?  

I’m a truly horrible creature.

***

The door creaks open. My eyes snap open. My stomach churns as I expect to see Mr Zeepler’s face. Instead, it’s his spy — Mishka the cat. Probably, he’s come to gloat.

His large green eyes gleam in the dimness.

The black cat stealthily stalks towards the coffee table and leaps up onto the glass surface. A small pink tongue flicks out to lick his mouth. 

The big green eyes shine with joy as it peaks inside the hamper. Jackpot.

Scowling, I peer at him through my tear-stained eyes.

The cat pauses and we stare at each other. A conflicted expression comes across his small face.

Reluctantly, he drags himself away from the hamper and pounces onto the wicker sofa. He curls up beside me. My fingers bury themselves in his thick, soft, blotchy fur. 

Without protest, Mishka allows my tears to dampen his fur. And for that, I’m grateful.

***

The dress fits like a glove. It’s an intense-red Givenchy number. 

The Golddigger sent it to me as a Christmas gift two years ago. She only does that when she wants to look good in front of Magnus. Then he can buy her whatever she wants…

I’m surprised it still fits me. It was the only dress in my wardrobe which fit the requirements. The few dresses I own are too casual for this black-tie charity bash.

So what if it’s a Golddigger gift? It doesn’t look too bad on me. 

The velvet is sinfully soft against my skin. The dress has a pleated sweetheart bodice which ruches up at the waist. A voluminous skirt falls just below my knee. It’s sartorial perfection.

I’m in awe of the glamorous silhouette that the dress creates.

Definitely wouldn’t be able to wear this more than once.

I round off my elegant look with a pair of strappy black heels and a cute silver clutch.

It’s party time.

***

Marie and I have resolved our differences. It’s a struggle to keep a smile on my face but I’m feeling better. She seems happy that I’m not morose.

Personal recovery is a rocky road. I’ll stumble along the way but, eventually, the end will be in sight. In a few years, I won’t even remember this unhappy period in my life. Who knows? In the future, I may even laugh at these events…

Unfortunately, Gina couldn’t join us. She has a date with Mr Mystery (the sexy businessman in the cafe). 

Laughing, we enter the grand, expansive hotel ballroom. There’s a lively band playing swing hits. Women are clothed in their best dresses. They’re the only splashes of colour amidst all the smart tuxedoed men. 

People are mingling with each other in small groups. Currently, enthusiastic couples are waltzing on the dance floor. 

The chatter slowly dies down as Marie and I travel across the room. The men stare at me with strange expressions. Mr Hallström’s flute glass splinters as it hits the floor. His wife gives me a poisonous glare. The waiters gawp at me. One ends up tipping a platter of canapés on a prune-faced old woman. I hear an appreciative wolf-whistle. I shudder as old Mr Delius raises his glass to me with a wink. 

“You’re sizzling, babe,” Marie grins. “Belle of the Ball.”

She scans the crowd of faces and blushes when she sees him. Bored, Mr Bergman’s oldest son is glancing down at his phone. Marie’s had a crush on him for months. As she starts to head over to him, I tug at her arm. 

“I thought you weren’t going to abandon me,” my eyes dart round nervously at all the hungry men ready to pounce on me.

Marie pats my back. “You can come too.”

I sigh. “No. I’m fine. Enjoy yourself.”

“I won’t be long.”

Grinning, she almost skips over to him. The boy’s face lights up when he sees her. It’s kind of sweet actually. I wish there was someone in this room who looked delighted to see me (barring all the older, married men, of course).

I manage to snatch a champagne glass off a passing silver tray. As I’m guzzling it down, I feel someone’s gaze on me.

Goosebumps spread along my arms. 

His brown eyes are just as consuming as I remember them to be. 

A/N: PLEASE VOTE, COMMENT and SHARE! Thank you. Who is he? ;)

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