Tempted by a Tiger (Mate Me Book 3)

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Chapter 21

Saturday morning came and Evelyn snuck out of her hotel room. She didn’t want breakfast and all night she hadn’t slept. She spent the night throwing up the expensive seafood dinner her mother insisted they all go out as a family.

“What is the harm Evvy? I know seafood isn’t your favorite, but it is Luke’s,” her mother said dragging her into the expensive restaurant. She knew what the harm had been, her poor stomach couldn’t handle all the fish she’d been forced to eat. Hailing a cab she asked the driver to take her to the Reading Terminal Market. She would find some fresh fruit and maybe get a smoothie to help her stomach. The thought of meat made her want to throw up. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Victor and Jeanie making out against the side of the building. Shaking her head, she laughed. Last night they had been awkward together and knew they were trying to hide their marriage. If they just acted like normal, then her mother wouldn’t be watching them so closely.

The driver dropped her off, and she walked into the market to see the place bustling. Slowly making her way around the market, she did her Christmas shopping for her friends and family. There were stalls of all kinds. Stopping at a counter, she asked for a strawberry banana smoothie. For some reason, she’d been craving bananas. Thankfully, she had an appointment with her doctor’s office in a little over a week. They were booked for next week and the nurse had told her to eat healthy and if anything changed for the worse to go into the ER. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she opened it.

“Hello.”

“Evvy, where are you?” her mother asked.

“I’m at the Reading Terminal Market. I wanted to check it out before we had to set up for the engagement party. I will be back at the hotel by lunch time I promise,” she replied.

“Fine, fine. I need you to find flowers for the centerpieces. The florist I contacted before we came here lost our order!” her mother cried frantically into the phone. Evelyn took a deep breath and smiled. This is what she did best handled crisis.

“Don’t worry, Mom. I will get the things to make centerpieces. Does the hotel have vases we can borrow?” She started to walk back toward the flower stall she’d passed recently.

“Let me ask,” her mother replied, and she heard a muffled conversation happen.

“They said they have a mix of vases. They use them when the hotel hosts weddings.”

“Great, have them place one on each table and I will bring enough flowers and things to fill them,” she told her.

“Thanks Evvy. You are the best daughter. How are you feeling?” She paused when her mom asked.

“I’m fine, why?”

“You seemed upset last night at dinner. I saw you watching Victor and Luke with their girls.”

“I’m fine, Mom,” she lied.

“You are not, but this is a conversation to have in person. I’ll see you when you get back.” Her mom hung up and Evelyn knew her mom could feel her loneliness.

“What can I do for you?” a young man asked, standing in the middle of the flower stall.

“My brother is engaged and we are having a party for him. The florist we’d contacted lost our order for the centerpieces. Now I need a bunch of flowers to put together something for a dozen tables,” she explained.

“Where is it being held?” he asked walking through the buckets of flowers he had on display.

“The Ritz Carlton,” she answered.

“Is it a fancy affair?”

“I think so. Both guests of honor are high-powered business executives,” she replied.

“Then I have the perfect mix. Do you know the bride’s favorite color?”

“Purple.”

“Perfect, here.” He handed her a large bouquet of mixed purple and white flowers.

“There are some moonlight carnations, orchids, Larkspur to add a touch of green and purple pompons,” he explained, pointing to each flower.

“These are beautiful. I’ll have to remember you next time I need flowers,” she replied and paid him for the large amount of flowers.

“Please don’t worry about it. I am glad I could help such a beautiful woman,” he replied, and she blushed.

“You are sweet,” she said with a small smile on her face.

“What are you doing later?” he asked handing her back her card.

“The engagement party and then going back home to Virginia tomorrow,” she answered, and he sighed.

“Too bad, I could show you a good time,” he said, and she laughed.

“Thanks, maybe another time,” she joked and walked off to finish her shopping.

Walking back into the hotel ladened down by her purchases she didn’t see her brother Luke and bumped into him.

“Sorry,” she groaned, trying to hold all her things.

“Whoa,” Luke said and took all the flowers from her arms.

“Why do you have so many flowers?” he asked.

“Mom called in a panic. The florist lost her order,” she explained.

“And so she sent you to get them?” he asked, shaking his head.

“I was already at the Reading Terminal Market. I needed to find a breakfast my stomach could handle,” she shared.

“Not feeling well?” She pressed the elevator button.

“Dinner didn’t sit well in my stomach. I will put all this in my room and then find Mom. Do you know where she is?” she asked stepping onto the elevator.

“In the ballroom where the party is being held. I will bring her the flowers and then I need to pick up my future in-laws from the airport,” he said.

“Thanks and good luck,” she replied. He nodded, and she took the elevator to her room. When she went inside, it surprised her to see the cleaning service had already been through. Setting her things down, she checked her phone and saw her customary text from Anderson.

Have a good time at the party tonight. I’ll see you at work on Monday. Ignoring the text, she went back out of the room and went to find her mom.

Walking into the ballroom she saw the vases set out at each table. They were all tall and thin, smiling she knew exactly what to do with the flowers she’d bought. Her mother was running around the ballroom demanding to know why the tablecloths hadn’t been placed out yet.

“Mom,” she called and her mother stopped. Her mom had the same dark hair and brown eyes. They shared the same body type, short and plump. She was taller than her mom by two inches.

“Evvy. Thank goodness. These flowers are beautiful. Where did you get them?” Her mother hugged her, and she smiled.

“I found a stall at the Reading Terminal Market and asked the clerk to help me pick out flowers. He had them put together in a matter of minutes,” she explained.

“Wonderful. Can you do something about them?” her mother asked looking very frazzled.

“Mom, I’ll do the centerpieces. I want you to go take a shower or go to the spa. Take a break until we do the family lunch with Alexis’ family,” she told her mom, giving her a push toward the door.

“But,” she complained.

“No. Give yourself a break. If you are this crazy at the engagement party, think about what you will be at their wedding. Mom, you need to calm down. It is okay if things aren’t perfect. What matters is that Luke and Alexis are happy and are going to get married. Please take a break,” she said, steering her mother to the door.

“Are you sure you will be okay here with the centerpieces?” Her mom gave her a worried look.

“I’ll be fine. Just go,” she ordered and made a shooing motion with her hand.

“Thank you Evvy. You are the best,” her mother said and gave her a kiss on her cheek. Evelyn turned to the flowers and began to sort them into twelve groups. She wanted each centerpiece to be the same. Playing Dan and Shay on her phone she got lost in her own world for the next three hours until her mother came back to get her for the family lunch.

“Evvy you need to change,” her mother announced pulling her out of her concentration.

“These are beautiful,” her mother said touching a petal on one flower.

“Thanks Mom. Where are we having lunch?”

“In the restaurant here at the hotel. Her parents didn’t want to travel again when they just flew in,” she explained.

“Okay. I’ll meet you there in five minutes,” she promised and kissed her mom on the cheek. Going to her room she threw on a navy blue swing dress with a subtle purple flower pattern on the hem. Slipping on a pair of deep purple capri leggings, she went into the bathroom and fixed her hair. She’d left it curly and added a touch of calming cream to tame the flyaways. For the big party tonight, she would tackle straightening and then curling her hair. She normally didn’t bother with a lot of makeup, but today she put on the minimal amount. Taking one last look, she went down to the restaurant for lunch.

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