The Divorce Party(2)

By: Jennifer Hayward

That would have been stupid and naive.

She squared her shoulders. He likely did have another prospect in mind. Everything Riccardo did was a means to an end.

“If I ever want to be free to pursue a real relationship with Harry I need Riccardo’s signature on that piece of paper.”

“Oh, come on, Lil.” Her sister’s beautiful face twisted in a grimace. “Harry Taylor might be a decorated cardiothoracic surgeon, Doctors Without Borders and all that lovely stuff, but really? He’s dull as dishwater. You might as well marry him and move back to Mason Hill.”

“He’s also handsome, smart and sweet,” Lilly defended tartly, not needing to tell her sister there wasn’t a hope in hell of her moving back to the miserable existence they’d escaped at eighteen. “I’m lucky to have him.”

Alex waved a hand at her. “You can’t tell me after Riccardo he doesn’t seem like some watered-down version—like grape juice instead of Cabernet.”

“You just told me Riccardo was bad news for me.”

“So is Harry Taylor. He’ll bore you to death.”

Lilly had to steel herself not to laugh out loud, because that just would have hurt too much. “I’m through with men who make my heart pound and my palms go sweaty. It’s self-destructive for me.”

“The particular one you picked might have been... What time were we supposed to have been there, by the way?”

Lilly checked her watch. “A half-hour ago.”

Alex gave her a wicked smile. “Riccardo’s going to love that.”

She squirmed in her seat. She was always late. No matter how hard she tried. Because it was just in her nature to try and squeeze too much into the day, and also because her multi-million-dollar athletes kept waltzing in half an hour late. But Riccardo had never seemed to care what the reason was. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. And that was all.

Alex’s expression shifted. “I talked to David today.”

Lilly froze. Alex talking to their brother back in Iowa only meant one thing. “How’s Lisbeth?”

Alex frowned. “He said she had a really bad week. The doctor is saying she needs that experimental treatment within the next few months if it’s going to do any good.”

Dammit. Lilly twisted her hands together in her lap, feeling that familiar blanket of hopelessness settle over her. Her youngest sister Lisbeth had leukemia. She’d been told three months ago she was out of remission, and her doctor was advocating a ground-breaking new treatment as the one thing that might give her a fighting chance. But the treatment cost a fortune.

“I can’t ask Riccardo for the money, Alex. I know it’s crazy, but I can’t give him that kind of power over me.”

“I know.” Alex put her hand over hers and squeezed. “We’ll figure it out. There has to be a way.”

Lilly pursed her lips. “I’m going to go back to the bank tomorrow. Maybe they’ll let me do it in installments.”

There had to be a way. Lisbeth had to get that treatment.

Tonight, however, she had to focus on survival.

Her hands shook in her lap and her head throbbed like a jackhammer as they turned down a leafy, prestigious street toward the De Campo townhouse. She had taken one look at the beautiful old limestone mansion and fallen in love. Riccardo had taken one look at her face and bought it for her. “You love it,” he’d said, not even blinking at the thirty-five-million-dollar price tag. “We’ll buy it.”

They swung to a halt in front of the home she’d run out of with only a suitcase twelve months ago, when she’d finally had the guts to leave him. It was the first time she’d been back and it occurred to her she was truly crazy making that time tonight. Divorce parties might be in vogue, but did she really want to detonate her and Riccardo’s relationship in front of all the people who’d made her life miserable?

She didn’t have a choice. She scooted over as Tony came around to open the door. Riccardo had been adamant. “We need to end this standoff,” he’d said. “We need to make the state of our relationship official. Be there, Lilly, or this isn’t happening.”