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Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 14


“Beck.” Margo clutches onto my arm with caution in her tone. “I don’t think I can go in there.”

Her fingers dig into the fabric of my sweater as the two of us stand in front of the looming building. She looks at it like she’s about to go to a haunted house or some kind of terrible doctor’s appointment and not one of the best places to shop on Fifth Avenue—Bergdorf Goodman.

I pull our bodies out of the way of a zooming bicyclist before the two of us get taken out by a Lance Armstrong wannabe. I bite my tongue, resisting the urge to call out the asshole for riding on the sidewalk instead of on the road.

“It’s just a store,” I remind her, trying to pull her in the direction of the building. We’re already five minutes late for the private personal shopping session I booked for her. Being late is not something I normally tolerate and somehow with her, I keep finding myself being tardy. It annoys me, but that frustration might be left over from our little encounter this morning. She barely brushed up against my cock, and I was hard as a rock.

She gives me a dirty look. “It’s not just a store, this is the store for rich people—people with class. I don’t belong in there.”

I quirk an eyebrow. “Is this you saying you don’t have class?”

Margo pulls her arm from mine, rolling her eyes at me. “I have class, just not Saks or Bergdorf kind of class. That’s for people who grew up in boarding schools and whose families have summer and winter vacation homes.” She looks over at me, a smile tugging at my lips. “People like you.”

She’s not wrong. I did all of my schooling before college at a boarding school. My family has a house in The Hamptons, in Vail and various other properties around the world. I grew up trailing my mother through the aisles of Bergdorf Goodman, wishing to be anywhere but there.

My hand runs over my chin, the slight scruff of facial hair scratching my palm. “Odd. I didn’t know there were qualifications to step foot inside.” We both focus on the large stone building. There are multiple floors to the store, each one housing a different department. And this is only the women’s building. Across the street from us is the men’s.

Margo takes a hesitant step back, causing my attention to move from the building to her. She rakes her hands down her body, seeming to point out her outfit. “The qualifications are that I look like I’m going shopping at Target.” She pulls at the bottom of her oversized sweatshirt, the garment long enough to travel all the way down to her mid-thigh. The sweatshirt and leggings combination is paired with a pair of white sneakers. The shoes seem to at least be new, the white a stark contrast to the dirty sidewalk beneath her feet.

“Well, I told you we had a private shopping session with an associate.”

“I thought that meant I wouldn’t really be seeing anyone. Hence the word private. Now I’m going to have to walk into a store with a bunch of women who will probably think I’m some kind of fixer upper project for you or something like that.”

She has a point, but it doesn’t really matter. Yeah, Margo will probably get some weird looks, but deep down all of those people are most likely miserable inside and would’ve judged even if she came dressed accordingly. That’s just what people at this level do. “Why does it matter what anyone else thinks?” I prod.

“It doesn’t.” She sighs, pushing her hair off her shoulders so it falls down her back. “But it should matter to you. These are your people. Shouldn’t you be embarrassed or something to be seen with someone dressed like a commoner?” She says “commoner” sarcastically, her spunk returning despite her discomfort with her clothing of choice.

Turning so my back faces the building and I’m face-to-face with her, I pull on one string of the hoodie. “Something you need to learn real quick if you’re going to survive here is that everyone else’s opinion of you is bullshit. You can’t give a damn what they think or you’ll be miserable—just like them. It’s why they’ll stare at you a little too long. Why they’ll turn their noses up at you and gossip to their uppity friends. They want to make you feel miserable because that’s how they feel.”

Her eyes soften slightly. She seems to be regaining her confidence, becoming unapologetically herself by the second. “In reality, every single person in there that looks at you like you don’t belong is just pissed because it takes them thousands in clothes, fancy makeup, hair stylists and cosmetic surgeons to look even half as beautiful as you do in a sweatshirt with a minimal amount of makeup on.”

Taking a step backward, I grab her hand and pull us toward the building. We’re no doubt close to ten minutes late at this point. If I were anyone else, they probably would’ve canceled my appointment and moved on to the next person for the day. The stylists make their money based on commission. Waiting around for customers is not the way they earn their paychecks.

My fingers grip hers until we reach the elevators. I press the button and immediately two doors pop open. I pull her inside, finally letting go as the doors close.

I turn to look at her, finding her already watching me carefully. Her eyes jump all over my face. Her lips part and close repeatedly, like she wants to say something but isn’t.

“What?” I question, just now remembering to press the floor we need.

“Nothing,” she mumbles as the elevator begins to rise.

“The look on your face makes it seem like it isn’t nothing but rather something running through your mind.”

Her eyes find the floor as she pretends to be really interested in her white shoes. “It’s just that Beckham Sinclair, the billionaire bachelor”—she teases—“the guy who dates models, actresses and heiresses, called me beautiful.” Her voice sounds whimsical, like she doesn’t believe it happened, which can’t be the case.

Margo is the kind of beautiful that doesn’t go unnoticed. There’s no way she doesn’t realize it.

“I fail in comparison to your usual type,” she continues. It’s mildly irritating how she speaks of herself.

The elevator dings as the door opens. She takes a step forward, even though she has no idea where to go. Before she steps out of my reach, I grab her elbow, pulling her closer to me. The loose fabric of her sweatshirt sleeve bunches underneath my grip. Margo looks up at me, confusion in her eyes. I lean down, holding eye contact as I take a deep breath in.

“You could never fail in comparison to anyone, Margo.”


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