Beneath This Ink (Page 64)

Vision focusing on me, Vanessa lifted a hand to her face and rubbed. “When did I get hit by a truck?”

“It wasn’t a truck so much as a truckload of gin.” I offered her the pills and water. She took them and swallowed dutifully.

She collapsed back onto the pillow. “Oh my God. I feel…this sucks.” She rolled onto her side to face me. “Why did I drink so much?”

“That’s what I’ve been wondering since you showed up last night.” I thought for a moment about telling her about Charlie and Simon and decided that now probably wasn’t the best time. I reached for her phone instead. “You might want to text Elle and let her know you’re not going to make it to brunch.” I paused. “Unless you are planning on going. It’s already ten forty-five.”

She groaned again. “No. Definitely not going. I’m never eating or drinking again. Ever. Never. Ever.”

I smiled. I wished I could take away the hangover, but even I didn’t have a miracle cure. “You’ll change your mind eventually.” I held out her phone, my thumb bringing it to life.

I couldn’t help but read the text message on the screen.

“Who’s Chief Fuckwit?” I asked. “Because he wants to know what the hell happened to you last night.”

She sat up quickly at those words. Too quickly, because she grabbed her head with both hands.

“Shouldn’t move so fast, babe,” I reminded her.

She reached out blindly for her phone, and her reaction had my curiosity spiking.

“Chief Fuckwit?” I prompted.

“Can we talk about that later?” she asked.

Now I really wanted to know. But I took pity on her condition. “Fine.”

She tapped out a text to Elle, who replied immediately to say she had a raging hangover as well.

“Was Elle there last night?” I asked as Vanessa cuddled back under the covers.

“No. But Simon and Charlie were. She seems really nice. From what I can remember through my drunken haze.”

“You’d be right about that. Lee is a good woman.”

“You’re the only one who calls her that, aren’t you?”

“Told you, I like nicknames.”

“Don’t I know it.” Then she started to ask, “So how long were you and her—?”

“It’s ancient history, babe,” I replied before she could finish the question.

But it was the perfect opening to fill her in on what had gone down last night with Lee and Simon. I laid it all out for her. “Holy shit” was her only response.


We both sat in silence for a few minutes, but there wasn’t much we could do about the giant shitstorm that was about to rain down on those two.

“What are your plans for the day?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Sleep and tell myself repeatedly that I’m never drinking again.”

I chuckled, softly, so as not to hurt her head more. “You sleeping in my bed?”

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all. I’ll bring you some lunch later.”

She threw a pillow at me as I stood and crossed toward the door. “Don’t talk about food. It’s just mean.”

I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I made my way downstairs to work on the books and take Huck for another walk. I liked this. A lot. These regular moments that anyone else would take for granted? They meant everything. Even with wild bedhead and grumpy with a hangover, she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.

That was when I realized I was in love with Vanessa Frost.

Your weekend slips by quickly when you spend an entire day in bed. But given the state of my hangover, there was absolutely nowhere else I would’ve rather been—because I was in Con’s bed.

Monday was long, and I spent it gathering my courage and reinforcing my confidence. Archer would be on my side. There was no other acceptable outcome.

I waited for the building to empty out before I strode from my office to Archer’s. I lifted a hand to knock on the closed door, but two voices stopped me.

Archer’s, which wasn’t surprising.

And Lucas Titan’s.

That asshole. I hadn’t responded to Chief Fuckwit’s text, and I’d also forgotten to tell Con after he’d let the question drop. I’d tell him tonight. But first…

I moved closer, trying to catch their words.

But the words I caught were not at all what I expected to hear.

“I finally pried the accounting records out of the hands of the CFO on Friday. I wanted to make sure we were on target for budget, and if we weren’t, how much more we’d need to raise to hit it. And you know what I found when I finally dug into them yesterday? Your CFO had already booked a bequest from a Mrs. Iris Mayes for the month of June.”

My brain stumbled over Lucas’s statement. Iris Mayes? I’d read this morning that she’d died in a car accident on the Fourth of July. She’d been the chairwoman of the Junior League, and her death had been big society news. Her funeral wasn’t being held until Saturday because her huge family had to travel from all over to get back to New Orleans.

Either way, I wasn’t following where Lucas was going with this.

“What’s your point?” Archer’s words were clipped, impatient.

“My point is she died on the Fourth of July, Archer. Not in June when the entry was booked.”

I blinked. That didn’t make any sense. It must have been an accounting error.

Archer’s response supported my thought. “An accounting error, that’s all. Probably got dropped into the wrong month. It’s nothing to get excited over.”