Page 17 of Marked With Love

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“I don’t mean to be a stick in your ass, but I’m not leaving until I see Morgan. You’re going to get real tired of me. Best decision you can make is to let me in now. If I don’t get in, I’ll have to bring out the big guns.” Not sure what I’ll do to carry out the threat, but the gates start to creak open, so I don’t have to. “Thanks, man.”

At the top of the stone steps, the grim-faced butler holds the door open. “Lady Morgan isn’t here at the moment, but Lady Violette is. She would like to see you in the drawing room.”

“This feels like the inquisition where heads are chopped off if I don’t answer the questions right.”

I swear the butler muttersI wishunder his breath. The drawing room is a fancy room with colorful furniture that looks like it was bought at Louis XIV’s estate sale. Lady Violette is seated in a high-backed chair behind a large mahogany desk. Small spectacles are perched at the end of her nose. Even though she’s seated, she manages to look as if she’s peering down at me.

“I’d sit down, but I think I’d get paint on your expensive chairs. Morgan okay?”

“Is that why you’re here?”

“Yeah, why else would I be here?”

“To return the painting you stole? Louis Bodycomb tried to call the police.”

“Louis’ last name is Bodycomb? Is his first name even Louis?”

A corner of Lady Violette’s mouth twitches up. “Morgan saved you.”

“I should thank her, but I don’t have her number, which is why I’m here.”

“Is her number all you want?”

I look up to see if the guillotine blade is above my head. This feels like a loaded question. “No. I want a lot more, but I’ll start with her number.”



Ramonaand I stare at each other across the table. “You always here this early?” I ask, trying to make small talk.

The police left, taking a very pissed-off Louis with them. He was shouting about some contract which would have to be paid out or I guess I can cut him from the non-compete clause. I don’t know. That’s a George thing.

“Louis wanted me here as a witness and to pull the tapes.” Ramona's tone is flat. I cannot get a read on her to save my life.

“You and him have a thing?”

“God no!” she rushes to say. “He’s a pig.”

“Then you’re cool with the whole firing him thing?” She lets out a long sigh.

“Layla the sous chef is great, but I don’t know.” Her brows furrow together. I can tell she is freaking out but trying to hide it.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” I mean really. It’s a restaurant.

“Food could go out slowly, people could complain and so on.” She closes her eyes, I’m sure coming up with a million other things that could make this place implode.

“You still get paid either way,” I remind her. “I mean, I’m not saying do a shit job, but I am saying don’t lay so much of someone else's business on your own shoulders.” While I appreciate a dedicated employee, I don’t want her to be stressed out about things that she doesn't have control over. There is only so much one person can do, and this mess isn’t all hers.

“Should we call John?” she suggests.

“Oh God, no. I’ll give you a ten percent raise if you don’t.”

“Can you do that?” She cocks her head to the side. I’m sure she’s wondering how a girl with pink hair, smudged makeup still around her eyes, and clothes with a few holes in them is now her boss. I bought them with the holes in them, for the record.

“I think?” She snorts a laugh.

“Louis is a pig. You get a new head chef in Layla. She’s been promoted. Doesn’t sound so bad to me.” I have no clue what I’m talking about, but I’m not laying this mess at this woman’s feet. “I mean woman power. We need more women chefs.”