Rosalind strode into the teashop, not actually expecting Summer to show up to their previously arranged date.
But she was there, at their usual table by the window. She stared outside, her brow furrowed as though she had a lot on her mind.
No kidding. Shaking her head, Rosalind made a beeline and sat down.
"Rosalind." Summer sat up straight. "I didn't think you'd come today."
"I didn't think so either. Summer."
The woman grimaced.
"But we already set up this date to show you your wedding dress, so here." Rosalind drew out the portfolio from her purse and set it in the middle of the table.
Summer stared at it, blinking as though she didn't know what to make of it.
Rosalind waved away the waitress before looking at her father's other daughter. "You aren't getting married, are you? It's all part of the lie."
"I can explain," she said quickly.
"I know, but I'm pretty sure I understand. You want money."
Summer shook her head. "I don't."
"You're saying you weren't interested in the will?" She raised her brow.
"I wanted the will, but not because I wanted money. I just wanted a piece of the heritage." She leaned in, her hands braced on the table. "I'm not a Summerhill."
She looked like one. The blond hair, the sharp cheekbones, the blue eyes. Rosalind didn't know why she hadn't realized before. And then there were her actions. "You keep secrets and lie just like Father did. That Summerhill trait runs true, apparently."
"I deserved that." Nodding, she exhaled and visibly regrouped. "You have every right to feel that way, but just listen to my side of it. All my life I've lived in the shadow of the Summerhills. Do you know what that's like? Being part of you, but not."
She didn't want to sympathize, but she couldn't help it. Didn't they all feel that way? Like they were a Summerhill but not quite "in?" It'd been their father's fault.
As if reading her mind, Summer said, "I'm not blaming Dad, because he did the best he could."
Dad? Rosalind clutched her hands in her lap, holding in a tinge of jealousy-not because Reginald was Summer's father but because she felt comfortable calling him dad so casually. He'd never been anything but "Father" to any of them. "He could have divorced my mother and married yours."
Summer shook her head. "It went against his code. Mum always said so. He'd made a promise to your mother and he wouldn't break it, even if he loved mine."
"Ouch." Rosalind cringed.
"He did love Mum, in his own way." Summer shrugged sadly. "I know it must be awful to hear it, but it's the truth. Even when he wasn't as accepting of me, there was never any question he loved her."
Despite herself, she said, "He wasn't accepting of any of us. We had a strike against us the moment we were born female."
"I can't believe you're reassuring me, after all this." Summer touched the scarf around her neck.
The scarf she'd given in friendship. She sighed, feeling tired and sad. "Tell me about it."
"I'd heard so much about you girls, and I saw your pictures in the society pages all the time. It seemed like you were princesses, and I just wanted to be one, too. I wanted to be acknowledged as one of you. It's the only reason I wanted the inheritance."