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Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 50


As we climb the stairs to the event, I feel an immense amount of pride with Margo on my arm. She’s undoubtedly the most beautiful woman here, and I’ll be introducing her to everyone as my fiancée. It doesn’t get better than that. Nothing could ruin the high I’m feeling.

Planning an engagement party in under a week wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t want to wait. I was ready for everyone to know about us. I was on cloud nine when she’d told me she’d be my girlfriend. It meant more to me than I’d care to admit to myself. From the moment I spoke with her in that awful conference room in LA, I’d told myself to be cautious in the coming months. We’d established everything we were on something that wasn’t real. At least that’s what she thought.

Margo slips on one of the stairs, her fingers digging into my black suit as she tries to stay vertical. I wrap my arm around her, making sure she doesn’t fall in front of all the eyes watching us.

“I think I just about face planted in front of all of Manhattan,” she mutters under her breath.

I give a courteous nod to those watching us, holding onto her tightly. “I think all of Manhattan is a little bit of a stretch.” I place my hand over hers. If she goes down, we’ll both go down because there’s no way I’m letting her go. “I’ve got you,” I add.

We near the crowd of people waiting at the top of the stairs. I can feel Margo tense underneath me with anxiety. “I worked very hard to get rid of those nerves,” I tease.

She almost stumbles again, my words taking her by surprise. “You can’t bring that up when so many eyeballs are staring at us.”

My response is lost as we reach the top step. Some of our party enjoy cocktails as they wait for our arrival. Instantly people bombard us, all of them offering their congratulations. We politely thank each of them, some of them being the very same board members who’d encouraged me to settle down not too long ago.

We’re finishing up a conversation with my CTO when I spot my parents coming out of the large doors. “If you could excuse us,” I say, planting my hand on Margo’s waist and steering her toward them. It wasn’t just my need for the world knowing we were together that prompted such a quick turnaround for an engagement party, it was also the fact that my parents were about to embark on a month-long trip abroad. I wanted them to be here to celebrate, especially after what happened at dinner with them over a week ago, so hurrying the planning process seemed like the perfect option.

“I’m ready for a drink,” Margo murmurs as we get closer to my parents.

I chuckle, nodding my head. “Ditto.”

“You look radiant,” my mom tells Margo, pulling her into a hug.

Margo hugs her back, seemingly becoming less nervous speaking with a familiar face. “It’s not too much?”

My mom pulls away, her hands still on Margo’s arms as she shakes her head. “Never, sweetie. This is your night. You can wear whatever you want.”

The two of them begin a conversation as my dad claps his hand down on my shoulder. “I’ve got to hand it to you, Beckham. I’ve never seen you this happy.”

The four of us make our way deeper into the party, my eyes darting around the crowded space looking for a drink for Margo and I. “Yeah?” I ask. I’m easily happier than I’ve ever been and it’s all because of the woman next to me.

“It’s all I’ve wanted for you—your brother, too. For you to be happy. I’m glad you found it with her.” Mom had been insistent that we still invite Carter to the party tonight, and it’d be up to him if he’d come to support Margo and me. I’d much rather him not show up. There isn’t any part of me that wishes for his support. I don’t give a damn what he thinks. I just don’t want him insulting my future wife.

A waiter stops in front of us, smiling at Margo and I. “Champagne for the happy couple?” he asks, offering us crystal champagne flutes.

“Absolutely,” Margo says in excitement, hastily grabbing the champagne from his hand and downing it in one gulp.

I quirk an eyebrow at her.

She shrugs. “Guess I was still a little nervous after all.” She proceeds to take the second glass from the waiter and takes a small sip from what was supposed to be my glass.

The next hour rushes by in a blur. We’re pulled from one group of people to the next, fielding question after question about when the wedding will be, when we plan on having kids, where we plan to honeymoon and everything in between. Margo fields every question with grace. I listen carefully to every answer she gives, taking mental notes on what she envisions for a wedding, cataloging if she wants kids and even finding out a tropical honeymoon is not her dream honeymoon. It’s a long trip to Europe.

Eventually, she gets pulled from me by her friends. We share a kiss goodbye and I tell her I’ll find her in a bit. It gives me time to make small talk with my board and friends that I haven’t caught up with in a while.

I’m navigating through a group of people in search of Margo when a familiar face stops in front of me.

“What a party.” Ruby Robinson comes to a stop in front of me. I should’ve known the press would be here. But I hadn’t expected the person behind the most popular gossip site’s reporter to attend. Maybe it was ignorant of me to not expect her here. She was the one who ran the piece on me with the many women I’d taken on dates in the city in the first place.

“Ruby,” I muse, tucking my hands into my pockets. I have to tread carefully when speaking with her. Piss her off, and she’ll be blasting personal things about me to the entire internet by the time I wake up tomorrow morning. “I wasn’t expecting you here.”

She cocks her head. “That was silly of you. I wouldn’t miss the engagement party for the reformed playboy billionaire of Manhattan.”

Unease sets low in my stomach with the taunting smile she aims my way. She moves a piece of her shoulder length blonde hair off her face, staring at me as she waits for a response.

“Your invitation must have gotten lost in the mail,” I lie, hoping to ease the tension brewing between us.

She watches me carefully. I wish I knew what was going on in that scheming mind of hers. Is she plotting something? With her, it’s likely. I just need to ensure whatever she’s plotting working out in my favor.

“You hurt my feelings, you know.”

The live band stops playing a slower song and opts to play one with a bit more of a beat. The dance floor fills with more bodies as Ruby and I stare at one another in a battle of wits.

My hand runs over my mouth in discomfort. “And how is that?”

“I thought we were close. I figured you’d give me first dibs on running the news of your engagement.”

“It happened quickly.”

“Did it now?”

The tone of her voice has me swallowing nervously. “Yep. Unexpected.”

She hums. “If you say so.” She grabs a drink from a passing waiter, taking a long sip as she stares at me from over the rim. “We’ll be talking later, Beckham. Be careful about making me angry. Something tells me there are little details I know about you that you’d hate for your sweet little fiancée to find out about. Better yet, you’d hate for the entire world to discover.”

My jaw clenches as rage wars inside my chest. “You wouldn’t.”

She begins to back up, already disappearing into a group of people. “You have no idea what I would or wouldn’t do.”

Before I can chase after her and threaten her, she disappears. I’m left with unease and anger coursing through my veins, my brain whirling with what her words mean. I’d like to think—to hope—that her threats are empty, but you can never know with her. That’s the thing about these seedy gossip writers. They have no true moral compass. They only do what’s best for them, what gets them the most views. And I’m afraid that she has something on me that’d certainly catch the attention of many.

A hand presses to my chest, making me flinch.

“Hey, you okay?” Margo asks softly.

I look down to find my fiancée watching me carefully, her eyes full of worry. I try to take a calming breath, to not alarm her more than I already have with the shift in my mood.

My hand clasps hers, holding it against my racing heart. “I’m fine,” I lie. I’m nowhere near fine. My body is coiled tight with tension after my conversation with Ruby. She has information on me that could ruin what Margo and I have begun. I’d do anything to keep her quiet.

Margo’s eyes search my face. She leans in, running her fingers through my hair. “Who were you talking to?”

“Just an old friend.” I’d never considered Ruby a friend, and I’d never be clueless enough to ever consider her one.

“Oh.” Margo shifts her weight on her feet, looking to the group Ruby disappeared behind. “It just looked a little heated.”

I pull her into an embrace, clinging onto her a little too tightly. There’s no way I’ll let the information Ruby is holding over my head get out. I can’t lose Margo. Not now. Not with how I feel about her.

“Your heart is racing so fast,” Margo presses. I can tell by the way she watches me that she knows something’s up, she just isn’t pushing asking why.

A gentle kiss to her is the only answer I give to her statement. I don’t have a good enough excuse to give her, so I opt to stay quiet instead.

Margo pulls away from me, staring at something over my shoulder. Her lips purse slightly. I turn around, following her gaze to figure out what she’s staring at.

My stomach drops.

In the corner, I find Ruby in deep conversation…with my brother.

Fucking hell.

“Now it makes sense,” Margo mutters.

My head snaps to look at her in worry. “What makes sense?”

“You’re nervous because Carter’s here and brought your old friend as his date.”

“They came in together?” I ask tightly. My vision starts to get a little blurry with worry. I need to get out, to gain my composure before I lose my shit in the middle of my own engagement party.

Margo shrugs, not catching on to how much I’m internally freaking out. “I’m pretty sure I saw them walk in together, but I was locked in a conversation with Emma and Winnie. I can’t be positive.”

“Oh.” The tie around my neck suddenly feels too tight. I pull at it, loosening it slightly.

“You look a little pale.” Margo’s cold hand runs over my forehead. A crease forms on her forehead in worry.

“I think I might go get some air. I just wasn’t expecting Carter to show up.”

“Want me to go with you?”

I take a deep breath, trying to pull myself together. I plaster on a calm facade, trying not to worry her more than I already have.

It should be fine. Even if Carter came with Ruby, she wouldn’t tell him anything. She’d come to me before spilling any information she has on me. She’d want to barter and get something out of me before going forward with it.

“No, I’m good. You enjoy your time, babe.” I pull her into me once again, breathing in her familiar scent. I lay a kiss on her lips. “I’ll be right back.”

I walk away as she watches me with a small frown on her face. Guilt weighs heavy on me as I leave her standing there alone. With a few minutes to myself, getting my head together, I’ll come back better as ever. I just need five minutes to figure out what’s happening.

I need a few minutes to figure out how to tell Margo about my lies … before Ruby—or Carter—get to her first.


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