Authors: Olivia Luck
Tags: #Behind Her Smile
Behind Her Smile
Copyright © 2015 by Olivia Luck
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Editing by Jenny Sims
Interior Design and Formatting by
To Bianca and Christine. I wouldn’t have finished this book without you.
utu. Baby’s Breath. Angelic Musings. Three very different names to describe the same thing—a delicate pink varnish that covers my fingernails. Every Monday, I have a standing manicure appointment at Breeze. The manicurist, Meryl, and I play the same game. Perched on a black stool, Meryl clucks over my cuticles and then asks, “How about red today? It goes well with your skin tone.” Pretending to ponder Meryl’s suggestion, I gently retract my hands to tug off my engagement ring and wedding band. “Red would match the gown I’m wearing to the gala next week. Maybe we’ll try it then.” But I never switch my request. Pale, newborn baby girl pink adorns my fingernails week in and week out.
Just once, I’d like to try something brash like fire engine or tangerine. However, I’ve learned those colors are garish and considered inappropriate by the reigning queens of Miami high society. Heaven forbid I make waves.
With a flick of his elegant wrist, David fills the cabin of the luxury sedan with the classical music he prefers. Not a single strand of his hair falls out of place. The crisp corners of his heavily starched white shirt peek out from the edge of a black tuxedo jacket sleeve. David’s French cuffs have his initials, DM, stitched on them, parallel to the cufflinks he purchased on a trip to the south of France. Every angle on David seems to be chiseled from the image of wealth and sophistication—classic bow-shaped mouth, straight, high-bridged nose, and thick lashes framing his ocean eyes. There are no visible imperfections in his appearance. But I know a secret. If it weren’t for the colorist who visits our home each month, flecks of gray would show at David’s temples.
“That dress you’re wearing was quite the sensation.” The aristocratic timbre of his voice works well to seduce potential clients. David Morgan is the driving force behind Morgan Financial, a financial planning service that caters to Miami’s elite. In a way, the smoothness in David’s voice was one of the first things that drew me to him, too.
David knows exactly how to charm his prey. Bestowing compliments on one of my original designs is my biggest weakness. Under his praise, my shoulders straighten. Despite
I still blossom under a compliment from David.
All my life, I’ve wanted to create beautiful garments. I worked tirelessly in high school to get good grades and earn a scholarship to college, and then slung burgers at a fast food restaurant for extra money. Then I got my prize—a partial scholarship to study fashion at the Miami Design Institute. Finally, I went after my dream of becoming the next Coco Chanel.
Life has a heartbreaking way of uprooting dreams, though.
Instead of producing fashion for Bryant Park in New York City, I’ve been relegated to a studio in my home. It’s not so bad, designing for myself. There’s no pressure to please anyone other than my own critical eye. Although my designs aren’t known on the national level, I am able to showcase my wares at society events. This evening I’m wearing a gown that took me a month to create—after the initial conception. Silk. Deep plum twisted bodice and a slit in the A-line skirt to allow a large enough range of motion for dancing. It elongates my lean form, displaying my feminine curves without being overtly seductive.
“Adriana Martinez would like to commission a gown for an inaugural ball,” I murmur. Like my husband, I’ve trained my voice to be gentle, never jarring.
David’s carefully styled eyebrows lift a centimeter—the barest hint of surprise. Adriana is married to Hector Martinez, the king of a real estate empire stretching from Key West to West Palm Beach County. Along with his wife, Hector can be found at every charity gala, important political function, or other event deemed important by Miami society. Now that the former governor of Florida was elected president of the United States, the financially influential Martinez couple will make their move toward Washington, D.C. They were big donors to the president-elect’s political action committee. Seven figure donors. If Adriana wears one of my original designs to an inaugural event, it could be a huge coup for what David calls my little hobby.
“Is that so,” David drawls.
“Adriana will be photographed for magazines and blogs. The exposure could do well for Morgan Financial.” Bravely, I lift my gaze to David, who stares at me impassively. His emotions are getting harder and harder to read with age.
“Hmm. Morgan Financial would be a secondary beneficiary. Your design would be the shining star.” David shifts smoothly in the cream leather seat, now one eyebrow cocked in my direction. My heart thuds in my chest. Is he angry because, for once, a sliver of the spotlight may shine on me? “No matter. Let’s see if you can get yourself invited over to the Martinez compound. You’ll present the idea of a couple’s dinner at our home.”
“Certainly,” I agree. David doesn’t have to convince me on this point. Adriana is one of the most tolerable people David strongly
me to engage with socially.
David’s expression doesn’t betray any underlying irritation that Adriana may garner interest in my work. The tension in my chest abates and I sink further into my seat, good posture be damned. David reaches across the armrest dividing the backseat of the car and places a hand on my forearm. “Soon, you’ll be receiving requests from all over South Florida. My wife, the fashion designer.” His lips flicker upward as though the prospect amuses him. “I support it, so long as your career doesn’t eclipse the time we spend together.”
“No, of course not.”
The diamond tennis bracelet clasped around my wrist pinches my skin, drawing my attention to the glimmering jewelry. David slips two fingers between my skin and the stones, stroking the delicate skin there.
“Do you remember when I gave this to you?” he asks huskily.
“How could I forget?” With my free hand, I finagle David’s hand to entwine our fingers together.
“Remind me,” he teases.
“It was right before we were married. You had the wedding planner deliver it to the bridal suite with a note.” Briefly, my eyes shut as I remember the emotions of our wedding day five years ago. Heady anticipation coursed through my veins that day. Never in my life had I known that type of excitement. I blink my eyes open and find David watching me raptly. A stoic mask conceals whatever he remembers of our wedding. Forcing myself to smile, I tug his hand to my chest where my heart rate has slowed to a gentle cadence.