Page 36

I’d rushed through the terminals in the newest set of mandated heels—a full inch higher than before, and forced myself to smile as I encountered the rudest of passengers. Adjusting to the constant time zone changes, I was shocked that I’d managed to keep my frustration under wraps, especially since I’d been paired to work with the one supervisor everyone told me was the worst.

“The Hawk.” Miss Connors.

Obsessed with perfection, she scrutinized my every move, monitored my every breath. According to her, the bobby pins in my hair were always “too aligned to the left,” my beverage pouring skills “resembled those of a blind waitress,” and I was not “worthy” of sharing her line that featured so many “trips of luxury.”

She was always around. Always. And no matter how many times I tried to do things “The Elite Way,” she would insist that I was doing things “the wrong way.”

My only reprieve from her came when we checked into our separate hotel rooms. While most of the crew hung out at the hotel bar or left to explore the city, I stayed in my room and collected as many hours of sleep as possible. And no matter how many nights I vowed to dream about something other than Jake, my mind always overruled my intentions.

Images of his kissing and fucking me intruded on my most innocent thoughts, and I still dreamed of the way his lips owned mine. I tried to move on, to take Meredith’s advice and “try someone else,” but no other man quite compared. The attraction was only half as intense, the sexiness of the conversations never came close.

After my alarm sounded for a full five minutes, I rolled across the mattress and turned it off. Then I grabbed the room phone and dialed zero.

“You’ve reached the front desk at the Dallas Airport Marriott!” a woman answered on the first ring. “How may I help you this morning?”

“Could I have a few more coffee pods?”

“Absolutely!” She was too cheery for this time of day. “Decaf or regular?”


“I’ll have someone send it right on up!”

I wrapped myself into one of the hotel’s robes and sat in the corner chair, preparing to slowly wake up and spend the few hours before my next flight watching mindless television, but my older brother’s name suddenly came across my phone’s screen.

I hesitated before answering, not sure whether I should talk to him this early or not.

Brian wasn’t as bad as my sisters or my parents, but he never stood up for me either. He would laugh at their put-downs, but offer me a sympathetic smile right after. He’d fill me in on his life—with no air of arrogance at all, but he would never even try to act as if I was working toward something good in my own life.

Before his call could go to voicemail, I took a deep breath and answered. “Hey, Brian, what’s going on?”

“What’s going on? What’s going on!”


It wasn’t Brian at all. It was my oldest sister, Claire.

“I’ve called you two times a day—every day for the past two weeks, Gillian. And not only have you refused to return the calls or even considered the thought of texting back, you answer right away for Brian. I wonder why that is...”

“Probably because Brian isn’t a bitch...”

“What did you just say?”

“Nothing.” I cleared my throat. “Is something wrong?”

“Brian changed his mind about the proposal. Instead of doing it here at home, he’s going to propose to her in New York since that’s where they met, and he really wants you to be there. So, make sure you’ve taken off from your little job, if you haven’t already, and if we can’t find a suitable hotel, we’ll need to stay in that Lexington Avenue apartment you brag about so much. Have I already mentioned that you need to take off from your little job?”

“My job is not little, Claire.” I snapped. “It’s quite important.”

“Is it?” She laughed. “Because if it’s that important, why isn’t your name listed on the website anymore? Why is it that when I searched for it last week, you weren’t on the list?”

I gritted my teeth, halfway believing the concocted lie myself. “Like I told you before, I was—” I coughed. “I am the fifth junior editor in my department. They only list the top three, and for the umpteenth time, being the youngest junior editor in history at The New York Times is far from being little.”

“You’re right,” she said, somewhat genuinely. “Me and Amy are studying and searching for cures to well-known viruses, Mia is setting milestones in medicine, Ben is winning every case the courts throw at him, and you...” She sighed. “You’re getting paper cuts and making red-lined marks on articles no one reads. So, I guess you’re right, Gillian. Your job is far from ‘little’ after all. It’s nothing.”

“That’s enough, Claire.” My mother was suddenly on the line and I blinked back the angry tears that threatened to fall.

“Gillian, I’m sorry,” my mother said. “We’ve been calling you nonstop once again and we just thought using Brian’s phone this morning was a way to get you to answer. Will it be okay if we have to spend a night or two at your place during his proposal weekend?”

“Depends.” That awful ache that only came when talking to my family resurfaced. “It depends on if you all will stop acting like I’m some type of disappointment.”