Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 57


I’ve been in boardrooms with some of the most intimidating people in the world, and I’ve never felt the kind of pressure I do right now. Stepping into the penthouse, knowing Margo is somewhere in here ready to either crush my heart or help heal it, has me riddled with anxiety.

I’m ready to lay it all out on the line for her, but I can admit to myself that I’m terrified none of it will be enough. What if she can’t get past the lies I told her to get her here? I’d thought I was telling small white lies that wouldn’t make a difference, but white lie after white lie has piled up. What if that isn’t something she’ll get past?

“Margo?” I yell into the silent space. There’s no sign of her anywhere. The place has been immaculately kept. I can’t help the fear that bubbles in my chest that wonders if she’s left. Ezra had told me she’d been here in my absence, but what if she’d snuck past him to get away.

My throat feels itchy as I take the stairs to her room two at a time. I wasn’t supposed to be back until tomorrow, but I couldn’t waste another second. When she’d texted me that we needed to talk as soon as I got back, there was no way I could stay in San Jose another second longer.

Plus, I had company business to attend there—and personal business. Both were done. I made the deal, and I made sure that Carter won’t ever be bothering Margo or I ever again.

Now I just have to make sure Margo wants to even stay with me, or if she wants to say fuck you to me and our entire family and leave for good.

I’m worried that’s exactly what she’s done when I find her room empty. I race into her closet, some tension leaving my body when I find her belongings all still tucked neatly inside.

Searching the rest of the upstairs, I retreat back downstairs. I hadn’t checked the bedroom we shared because I figured she wasn’t sleeping there. But maybe in my absence she’d decided she liked it better.

If that’s the case and she does end up leaving me, I hope the sheets still smell like her. That I can pretend that her warm body is nestled into mine as I mourn what her and I could’ve been if I hadn’t told her lies.

I’m about to walk into the bedroom when I hear music wafting out from my former office. I stop, wondering if that’s where she’s been hiding. My heart picks up pace at the thought. Because if Margo is in there, it means she’s found the last secret I’d been keeping from her.

It wasn’t always supposed to stay a secret. I’d intended it to be a surprise one day, but not until I knew she was mine. Not for fake, but for real.

If I’ve been taught anything the last few days, it’s that even the most carefully laid plans can backfire. I hesitantly open the door, my suspicions confirmed when my eyes land on Margo working intently on something at a desk in front of the windows.

Even as I step into the room and close the door behind me, she doesn’t look up. The music is too loud. She’s too entranced with whatever she’s working on to notice me. I’d give anything to close the distance between our bodies and bring her into my arms. I want to know what she’s working on, what’s got her so inspired that she hasn’t answered any of my phone calls.

I use her being distracted to my advantage. I lean against one of the pillars, watching her in awe as she works hard at the task in front of her. She shades and erases at the project in front of her. The canvas she works on is massive, far larger than the sketchbook I normally see her work in.

It must be over ten minutes by the time she looks up, the few songs that have skipped by telling me I’ve been watching her for a while. She jumps, almost falling out of her seat when she notices me.

She picks up the speaker system’s remote, turning off the music in the room. In the silence, her whispered, “Beck,” comes out loud and clear.

I’m disarmed by how beautiful she looks. Margo wears one of my dress shirts, the fabric falling to her mid-thigh. She’s got her hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, tendrils of hair spilling out of it. She’s tied a scarf around the top of her head, attempting to keep the flyaways at bay. It doesn’t quite work the way she’s expected. Her hair still looks a mess, but she’s never looked more beautiful.

“I thought you got home tomorrow.” The pencil she was holding drops onto the table. When I take a few steps closer to her, she stands up, blocking my view from whatever she’s been working on.

My heart hammers in my chest, threatening to beat right out of me from nerves. I’m hopeful. Maybe too much at the sight of seeing her still here. Seeing her wear my clothes, I can’t help but let myself hope this is her actually staying. Maybe this is her forgiving me.

There’s nothing I want more in the world than her forgiveness—than to be deserving of her love.

But I want this so bad that if her wants don’t align with mine, she will crush me. I’ve been desperate for her for over a year. Because of that intense need for her, I always held onto the hope of us ending up together one day. That hope will be lost if she leaves me today.

I don’t know how I’d keep going after that. It’s not a thought I even want to entertain.

“I got your text,” I begin, “and made arrangements to fly back immediately after. I couldn’t wait to hear what you had to say. The anticipation of wondering if you’re going to leave me…if I can’t fix this, it’s been eating me up inside.”

She doesn’t relieve me from my stress. If anything, she makes it worse by hesitantly looking around my old office, the one I’d had converted into a studio in hopes that she’d really become mine forever.

“I don’t want to just assume things, Beck, but did you do this for me?”

“Of course,” I answer immediately.

She moves a piece of hair from her face. She doesn’t give me any indication of where this is going to go, making me even more anxious for what’s to come. “When?”

‘After Colorado. After it occurred to me that you may actually one day feel for me what I feel for you.” I think back to the plane ride home where the idea first popped into my head. I’d been determined to make this place feel more like a home to her. I knew she was deserving of a space where she could create art. She’s so fucking talented, I just wanted to give her somewhere deserving of her creative outlet. Her tiny little desk in her LA apartment was terrible. I wanted to do better for her. “I’d come home and put this into place, most of the work being done while we were at the office. I just wanted you to have a space to call your own here. One where you can work on your art. Did I do okay?”

Her eyes gloss over as she watches me carefully. I’m fighting the urge to close the distance and crash my lips against hers. She’s so fucking perfect that she takes my breath away. I swallow, trying to suck in air as I wait with bated breath for her answer.

She looks away from me, her narrow shoulders rising and falling with a deep inhale and exhale. “It’s absolutely perfect. I can’t believe you did all this.” Her eyes scan over the room, landing on one of my most prized possessions.

The sketch she’d drawn of me from the night that’d kept me up many nights as I recalled every moment. For the longest time, I’d kept the picture in the drawer of my desk, pulling it out when I was alone to look at how she’d seen me through her eyes.

I’d obsessed over the drawing. I’d traced over every single one of her pencil strokes, wondering if she noticed the way I looked at her that night. As my eyes memorized every line and shading she’d made night after lonely night, I’d wondered what she was feeling while sketching it.

Surely she felt what I felt. I’d felt so strongly for her so quickly, that I couldn’t imagine her not feeling anything.

It’d been devastating when she left me alone on that beach. I had to steal the picture as proof it happened. To remind myself that while she straddled me, her bare knees in the sand on either side of me, that we had a moment. It was more than a moment—it was insight into everything we could be. Everything we should be.

Hopefully today is the start of that, and not the ending.

She walks over to the picture, stopping in front of it. The tender way she stares at it only fuels the hope brewing in my chest. If she was going to leave me instead of loving me, I don’t see why she’d gaze at the thing that first brought us together with so much adoration. “You had it all this time.”

“I’d snuck into your room and taken it the morning I’d left. I couldn’t leave without it. I needed something to remember the moment on the beach, in case it was the only moment you and I would ever share.”


“I’ve stared at that picture for countless hours. Wondering how you saw me that night, obsessing over all the things I could’ve done differently. If you’d let me kiss you, would you have climbed back in Carter’s bed? If I’d told you that he didn’t deserve you, that he wasn’t faithful, would you have believed me? There are so many things that have gone through my head while staring at the talent of your pencil strokes on that paper. But one thought was always the most present. The desire to watch you draw for the rest of our lives. It was so intense, that the moment I thought maybe the tables were turning after that night at that stupid inn, I knew I had to create a space for you to do it.”

Margo looks away from the picture. There’s still hurt in her eyes when they focus on me. I hate myself for being the reason behind that hurt, for not coming clean to her sooner. I’ll spend every dollar to my name, use every second of the rest of my life to try and win her back if that’s what it takes.

Her lips tremble as she tries to fight back tears. My fingers twitch in my pockets as I do everything in my power to try and comfort her.

The problem here is the person she needs comfort from is me.

“What happens if I can’t forgive you?” she whispers, her attention returning to the drawing.

Her question feels like a stab to the heart. A slow stab with a twist of a knife to really secure the hurt. I don’t even want to go down that road. It’s something I’ve tried not to think about since the moment she learned of the things I’d done to make her mine.

I come to a stop next to her, the both of us staring at the picture in front of us. “Then I will never step foot in this room again. Fuck, if you leave me Margo, I think I’d have to sell this place and find a new city to live in. I can’t look at New York without thinking of you. My heart can’t live here if it’s not living here with you.”

“You were here first,” she states.

I shake my head in denial. “It doesn’t matter. It’s you that loves this city. I just love you. I can’t stay here if you’re not here. It’d never be the same. I’d never be the same.”

She turns to face me. When her hand reaches to hold mine, my heart lets out the smallest glimmer of hope.

“Do you want to see what I’ve been working on?”

“Yes. Forever.”

Margo pulls me toward the desk in the corner of the room. Abruptly, she spins to face me, placing her small hands against my chest. “Wait.”


“Close your eyes.”

I look at her confused, trying to keep a reign on the mix of feelings coursing through my veins. I’m so fucking nervous—but I’m also hopeful. Maybe I haven’t lost her yet. Maybe I’ll find a way to keep my girl and the city she loves forever. I push a strand of hair from her face, relishing in how it feels to touch her again, even if it’s only the smallest caress. “Why do I have to close my eyes?”

Her bottom juts out slightly. “Please. Just do it. I need to do something first. I don’t want you to see.”

I sigh, doing what she’s asked. My eyes seal shut even though all I want to do is watch her every move. I’d open them if I wasn’t terrified of her changing her mind if she caught me peeking. When I hear her small footsteps get further from me, I almost risk peeking, just to see what she’s doing.

“Don’t look until I tell you!” she yells from further away, almost like she was reading my mind.

I groan. “I don’t see the point in this.”

“Just trust me, okay?”

I’ll always trust her. Blindly and without any reason. I just need to get us to a point where she’ll trust me.

There’s a loud rustling sound, and a few other noises I can’t pinpoint until I feel her stop in front of me. Her hands find mine. Her cold fingers squeezing mine as she speaks. “Okay, open your eyes.”

I open them right away, taking a relieved breath when I find her smiling at me. Surely if she’s about to obliterate my heart, she wouldn’t be smiling at me. That’d be a little cruel. Right?

“I’ve been working on this piece from the moment I found this room.” Her cheeks are slightly pinker than they were before she made me close my eyes. The skin around the corners of her eyes slightly crinkles as she stares up at me with excitement—and maybe even some nerves. “I’ve been making it for you.”

When her teeth dig into her lip anxiously, I wonder if I’d ever survive a life without her. If this goes south, if she ends up telling me she can’t love me anymore, I don’t think even leaving this city she loves will be enough to cure my broken heart.

“For me?” I ask hoarsely.

Margo reaches up to cup my cheek. I lean into it immediately, reveling in having her touch me. My heart constricts at the tender look in her eyes. “Yes,” she says. “For you.”

She tugs on my hands, walking backwards toward the desk. She’d lowered it so it now sits flat. A large canvas, one larger than the tabletop sits on top of it. I can’t see what she’s worked on at first, only seeing white canvas hanging off the side.

My steps come to a halt when what she’s drawn comes into view. It’s the most beautiful piece of work I’ve ever seen. My hand comes to my chest, my breath taken away from the sheer talent of the piece of art in front of me.

Her answer to if she’ll ever forgive me—if she loves me—is written all over it.

One side of the picture is a perfectly sketched out photo of her and I back in LA in that terrible, dingy conference room. It’s almost come to perfect life, me sitting on the edge of the table as I spoke to her. I even hold the ugly as fuck balls pen in my hand. Her attention to detail is stunning. I knew she was talented, but this is unfuckingreal.

As breathtaking as that side of the photo is, it’s what’s on the other side that has pulled the air from my lungs. In the picture Margo has drawn herself in a white dress—a wedding dress. It looks like I’m pulling her from a chair onto the dance-floor. There’s a wedding band on my hand that’s outstretched toward her. The picture is drawn in such detail, the colors distinct, that it seems real. I could imagine the exact scenario happening.

It looks more like a photograph than a sketch.

I tear my gaze from the picture to look at her.

She smiles. “I may have lied just a little. I drew the picture for you, but I hope you don’t mind if it goes on display somewhere.”


“It’s going to be the focal point of the exhibition show I’m having—at Camden’s gallery.”


She nods up and down, tears misting her eyes. “I spoke to him. I hope you aren’t mad at me, but I needed to talk to him and know that he wasn’t speaking to me because I’m your fiancée. I put on a dumb disguise and showed him my work. He’d loved it and was shocked when I came clean on who I was. Actually, I think he was upset at first that I didn’t tell him who I was. But it doesn’t matter. I got in, Beck! We’re going to start with one photo. But once I get enough for an entire showcase, he said he’d fit me in for one. And I want this to be the focal point of the entire thing.”

“I’m so fucking proud of you,” I answer. Reaching across, I grab the collar of the shirt on her body and bring her into me. “I knew you’d get it, Margo. You’re so god damn talented. I knew he’d see it.”

“I still can’t believe it,” she whispers between us.

“What you drew…the wedding…does this mean?”

She nods confidently at me, tears coming down her cheeks. “I love you, Beck. Nothing is going to stop me from it. I can’t believe you’ve gone all this time hiding how you felt. I’m sorry I didn’t see it before. That you weren’t the one I spoke to at that bar, but I want to spend forever making it up to you. It should’ve only ever been you, Beckham Sinclair.”

I waste no time pulling her mouth to mine. When our lips collide, I don’t know if the salt I taste is from her tears or mine. All I know is I’m never risking losing her again.


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