Father died. You need to come home.
A few simple words-words that had turned her world upside down three days ago.
Rosalind Summerhill stood in front of her family's ancestral house in London, a hard grip on her carry-on. Although "house" didn't do it justice. The Mayfair mansion was straight out of a Jane Austen novel, with its red brick exterior and marble interior.
She didn't want to be here.
A pep talk-maybe that'd help. If anything, at least it'd put off going inside for a few more minutes. Pulling out her phone, she called her best friend.
Bijou answered the phone on the first ring, as if she'd been waiting for her phone call. Knowing Bijou, she probably had been. "Have you arrived?"
"I'm standing outside the South Street house now."
"I know you don't want to be there," Bijou said, "but you had to go or you'd feel all sorts of guilt and remorse. He was an ass, but he was still your father."
"He really was an ass." She chuckled mirthlessly. "Remember how my father called me when I got the scholarship to FIDM and said I was wasting my life? And then the next week he sent me that fancy leather portfolio because he wanted me to look proper?"
"Of course I remember. I wanted to pummel him."
"He thought playing with dresses was frivolous."
"Like being an earl for a living isn't?" Bijou's talons always came out when her loved ones were threatened. "You help women become goddesses for a day. There's nothing frivolous in making another person feel wonderful, especially on a special day like her wedding."
Rosalind remembered the expression on her mother's face whenever she put on a new ball gown: blissful. It wasn't an emotion Jacqueline Summerhill normally exhibited. Watching her mother transform that way was the reason she became a designer.
"Go inside, Rosalind," her best friend urged. "You're doing this for your mom anyway. I doubt your dad's going to give a damn at this point, wherever he is."
At one time, she'd have done anything to connect to her mother, but she'd given up on that dream years ago. You could only beat your head against a stone wall for so long.
"You need to see your mom and sisters," Bijou continued. "Maybe this can be a new beginning for you all. Maybe now that he's gone you can have an easier relationship with your family."
Did she want that?
She realized she did-especially with her mother. Part of her still longed to be the reason Jacqueline Summerhill smiled in happiness. So she nodded, even though she knew it was a lost cause. "Okay. I'm going in."
"Good," Bijou said with conviction that made Rosalind feel better about her decision. "If I were there, I'd give you a shot of whiskey with a pickleback and a hug, but since I'm not I'll just tell you I love you. Do this and come home."
"Okay," she said to herself, because Bijou was already gone. Feeling marginally bolstered, she tucked her phone away and looked up at the imposing entrance.
Okay. She nodded.
Stillness greeted her as Rosalind opened the door and set her carry-on down. The house felt creepy. Dead. As though it were in mourning for its master.
Not that its master had been kind to it, she noted as she touched a curled piece of peeling wallpaper. It was sad but not surprising. The family had long run out of money.