A Different Blue Page 50

“Tiffa? These steaks are done, baby. Let's eat,” Jack called out to his wife, who was cackling like a witch, the littlest red-head on her back, the other two in full squirt gun assault.

“We're dining inside, aren't we?” Alice spoke up from under her umbrella. “I can't endure this heat for another instant.”

“We can do both,” Tiffa called, climbing out of the pool without relinquishing the little monkey on her back. “I had catering brought in, and everything is sorted in the flat. Jack will bring the steaks down. Anyone who wants to can come back up here and eat or stay inside where it's cool.”

Jack and Tiffa had also invited a handful of close friends to the get-together, which was a relief to me. The larger group made it easier to be inconspicuous. Most everyone made their way down the circular stairs that connected the roof to Jack and Tiffa's apartment. All of the penthouse flats, as Tiffa referred to them, had private stairs leading to the rooftop pool and gardens. I tried not to think about how much a place like that cost and marveled again at the differences between Wilson and me. He had received a trust when he turned twenty-one, which had enabled him to purchase the old mansion in Boulder City. I had no idea how much the trust was. I honestly didn't want to know, but from the off-hand way Tiffa talked, it was millions. Which might explain the little gasp from Joanna Wilson when she had seen my belly. Millions of dollars? Millions of reasons why she would want Wilson to steer clear of someone like me. I understood, I really did, but it didn't ease the embarrassment I felt for the rest of the afternoon.

The summer sun set late and brought a welcome respite from the desert sun. When the sun went down in Vegas, the heat wasn't just bearable, it was beautiful. I even liked the way it smelled, like the sun had stripped away all the grime and the desert oasis had been washed in fire. Indescribable, until you breathed it in. I didn't think any place in the world smelled like Vegas.

The party moved back up to the roof with the setting of the sun, and I basked in the dark heat, an icy sweet tea in my hand, eyes on the sky, waiting for the fireworks to start. Wilson had been at my side off and on through the evening, and neither of us commented on the awkward moment earlier by the pool. Joanne Wilson was gracious and polite to me whenever circumstances demanded, but I had caught her looking at me several times throughout the evening.

As the hour for the fireworks neared, I trudged back down the stairs for yet another trip to the bathroom – curse my pregnant bladder! – when I overheard Wilson and his mother talking in Tiffa's kitchen. The stairs from the pool ended in a tiled area – a large jacuzzi and a sauna sat just to the left, a laundry room and a large bathroom with an enormous shower to the right. Straight ahead, through a large stone archway lay the kitchen, and though I couldn't see Wilson or his mother, it was impossible not to hear them, especially when I played such a prominent role in the conversation. I stood motionless at the foot of the stairs, listening as Wilson denied any special feeling for me. His mother seemed aghast that he would bring me to an outing where so many would assume I was his girlfriend.

“Darcy. You can't be dating a girl who is expecting, darling.”

“I'm not dating her, Mum. Blue is my friend, and she lives in my building – that's all. I'm just looking out for her a bit. I invited her on a whim.”

“And what's with that name? Blue? It sounds like something Gwyneth Paltrow would pick out.”

“Mum,” Wilson sighed. “I could say the same about Darcy.”

“Darcy is a classical name,” Joanna Wilson sniffed but dropped the subject and resumed her original argument. “It's just a shame that pregnancy comes so easily to those who don't want it and then not at all for those who are desperate to be mothers.”

“I don't hear Tiffa complaining,” Wilson replied, sighing.

“You don't, do you? Is that why she's always got Henry in her arms even though he's three years old and more than capable of walking? Is that why I caught her watching Blue like her heart was broken?”

“That's not Blue's fault.”

“What is she going to do with her baby?” Joanna queried. “Where is the father?”

“I'm sure she plans to keep it. The father doesn't seem to be in the picture, not that it's any of my business, or any of your business, Mum.”

“It's just unseemly, Darcy. You'd think she would be a little embarrassed to accompany you here in her condition.” I felt her disapproval skewer me from my head to my red toenails. I wondered why she was taking my presence so personally. I hadn't known Tiffa wanted children or was unable to have them. I wondered now if it really was hard for her to have me around. The thought made my chest ache. I liked and admired Tiffa Snook. She was one of the nicest and most genuine people I had ever met. I wondered if it was an act, or if she felt the same way her mother did.

I slipped into the bathroom to avoid hearing more, knowing it would only make me feel worse. I had enough money to catch a cab, and although it was probably cowardly, I wasn't going back up on that roof or anywhere near Joanna Wilson, or any of the Wilson's for that matter.

I hadn't asked to come. I hadn't hung on Wilson or pretended a relationship or a status that didn't exist. I hadn't acted “unseemly,” whatever that meant. I used the bathroom and washed my hands, squaring my shoulders as I opened the door. Joanna Wilson stepped through the archway as I exited, and a flash of chagrin crossed her face before she continued up the stairs to the roof.

Prev Next