Syd led her out to a different path where there was a bench. He sat down and pulled out a cigarette. Riley was surprised to see him light the cigarette and start smoking.
“Syd, I didn’t know you smoked,” Riley said, “It’s a bad habit you know.”
“Well, I can’t be the fiery one without a couple bad habits. One of them is because I speak my mind, Riley Samson,” Syd said taking a puff of the cigarette, “Rex told me something very interesting before and I didn’t feel it was necessary to bring up. Now, however, I saw a little… tryst shall we say, from my bedroom window up there. Well now I feel I need to talk to you.”
“What does Rex know? He barely talks,” Riley said.
“Oh, he may ‘barely talk’ but he sure as hell listens. He also likes to do a little research on any friends we make. Rex has trust issues,” Syd said and then took another puff off the cigarette.
“So what are you part of the mafia now or something? You gonna shoot me for kissing him?” Riley asked. Syd laughed.
“No, I am in a predicament, though, and I thought I would bring it up with you. You see I have decided, I like you. You’re a nice person and you comfort Evan even though we warned him about that slut before,” Syd said waving his hand, “So Rex and I, well we decided you were good friend material and the thing with me is that I’m very loyal to my friends. I don’t want Chris to get hurt, but I don’t want you to get hurt either. There’s where the problem is. Rex says that you are Elizabeth Samson’s sister and we all know Chris hates Elizabeth Samson.”
“Yeah, everyone but me knows why he hates Liz,” Riley said crossing her arms.
“Chris hates Elizabeth because he’s an idiot,” Syd said shaking his head, “I normally wouldn’t call him that but let’s face it, when it comes to family he has no clue.”
Syd took another puff of the cigarette, “He thinks your sister is the reason why his parents aren’t together anymore.”
“She wouldn’t... No, she wouldn’t break up his parents. She hasn’t been here that long. Didn’t he say his parents haven’t lived together for longer than she’s been working here?” Riley asked.
“That’s where we call Chris an idiot. He thinks that if she left, his dad would go back to his mom and they would be a happy little family,” Syd said shaking his head, “His mom tells him that it is his father who left, but let’s face it. His mom was younger than his dad and she got tired of him. It’s not like she hasn’t had her guys on the side. She even tried to get Damon to sleep with her once. Anyway, as you can tell, Mr. Jameson has a thing for younger women. And his mother seems to want younger men now.”
“So why don’t they just get a divorce if they’ve been living separately for so long. That’s probably why Chris thinks they’ll get back together,” Riley said.
“Oh that’s where it’s funny. You see Chris calls Elizabeth a gold-digger, when we all know she doesn’t make enough here to be one and Mr. Jameson doesn’t give her anything. His parents refuse to divorce because they don’t want to split the money and estates in half. They don’t want to pay a lawyer to figure out what they would get, so they figure they should just stay married on paper but seek other lovers out,” Syd said shaking his head, “I honestly don’t know what’s up with why Liz has stayed for so long, but I guarantee Mr. Jameson isn’t going to be parting with his money anytime soon.”
“That’s kind of messed up,” Riley said.
“No kidding, but either way Chris hates Elizabeth and you are Elizabeth’s sister. Let’s do the math shall we?” Syd asked.
“So, you’re saying I should end things before we get too attached,” Riley said frowning.
“Or end them before the proverbial shit hits the fan. Either way if you end things soon you won’t be hurt as bad when it comes out that you are sisters with his enemy,” Syd said dropping the cigarette and stepping on it.
“Are you going to tell him?” Riley asked.
“Hell no, I want you on that trip after the ball. I hate fish,” Syd said with such conviction that Riley let out a laugh.
“But that puts me in a bad place. What if Chris is the love of my life? What if I give up now and regret it later,” Riley said looking away.
“That’s up to you, but at least you know what you’re getting into now,” Syd said with a shrug, “Look Riley, I just don’t want you to get hurt, okay?”
“If I do, I’ll know you warned me,” Riley said, “And you can say I told you so.”
Syd laughed, “Well it’s getting late. I’ll see you tomorrow, Princess.”
Syd gave her a hug and started back to the house. Riley followed him lost in her own thoughts. She knew she had feelings for Chris, but she didn’t know if she was really in love with him. Did she really want to miss the chance at love? Would he really get that mad that Liz was her sister? I mean how stupid would he be to break up with her because he thought her sister was after his father’s money. Riley sighed; she read way too many romance novels. She went back to the room she shared with her sister. Mrs. White was in there putting a new dress in the closet.
“Bringing your dress for tomorrow,” she whispered, “Evan even got a tiara for you to wear, how sweet.”
“You’re the one bringing them in?” Riley asked with a laugh.
“Well I couldn’t let the boys in your room now could I?” Mrs. White asked with a smile.
“Thank you, Mrs. White,” Riley replied.
“I can’t wait to see you in this one tomorrow. It’s a pretty lavender color,” Mrs. White said and gave Riley a hug, “Good night, dear.”
“Sweet dreams, Mrs. White,” Riley replied and watched as she left. She thought about all the guys in her room while they were in New York and had to laugh. Rex must have come in to give her that dress. Riley bet that he saw her and Evan in the room. Chris was in there to surprise her with breakfast. Riley shook her head. At least here Mrs. White was a good cock blocker, Riley thought with a laugh. She slipped out of the dress and put on her sleep shirt before getting into bed. She slept with good dreams of dancing in the moonlight with Chris.
“Oh my god!”
Riley jumped to see her sister standing looking in her closet.
“Riley, they’re giving you jewels now?” Liz asked picking up the tiara and putting it on her head. She looked at herself in the small mirror.
“Oh, that’s Evan,” Riley said shaking her head, “I swear he is too nice. He should have said he was the nice one and not the cute one. He must really want to win.”
“Win what?” Liz asked turning her head from side to side and watching the jewels sparkle.
“They have a bet going on that whoever makes me look the most like a princess can dress me for the ball on Friday,” Riley replied with a shrug. She got up and straightened the tiara on Liz’s head.
“You’re really pretty, Liz. Do you want to wear one of my other dresses today?” Riley asked, “Obviously I have to wear the one Evan got, but you can pick any of the others. I don’t mind.”
“Really? You would share your dresses with me?” Liz asked looking at her.
“Yes, absolutely,” Riley replied going to her closet. She saw the lavender one and smiled. Then she looked through the others, pulling out the first pink one that Rex had given her. It was in a dry-cleaning bag. Mrs. White had them cleaned while she was gone. Riley smiled and handed it to her sister.
“Oh, the Armani one, really?” Liz asked smiling and touching the fabric, “But I really can’t.”
Liz handed the dress back.
“Go ahead, you can wear the matching shoes, too,” Riley said pushing it back to Liz and handing her the heels, “Good luck, though. These heels are really high and hard to walk in.”
“I remember when you were little and I was getting ready for a dance. You tried walking around in my heels. It was so cute,” Liz said putting the heels on, “Wow, these are high. I feel like I’m six feet tall in these.”
“You’ll look gorgeous in the pink. I think it’ll look better with your blue eyes, than it did for my green,” Riley said turning back to put the dress on for the day. It was like a Greek goddess style in lavender. It lightly covered her injured shoulder with loose fabric so it wouldn’t rub it. It went all the way to the floor and had a slit up one side to mid thigh.
“That one is gorgeous, and look at the shoes!” Liz exclaimed. Riley put on the high heeled shoes that laced up her leg.
“Oh, this one is the winner for sure,” Liz said taking the tiara off and placing it on Riley’s head.
“Yeah, but I have to take my hair down and wash it. The stuff they put in it is getting all flakey now,” Riley said taking the clothes back off and throwing on a robe, “I’ll be back to put it on.”
Riley ran off to the bathroom to take her shower and dry her hair. Liz helped her put it up half way so that some of her curls fell down her back. Riley looked in the mirror and had to admit she did look like a princess.
“That is so going to leave a scar,” Liz said looking at the ugly black threads and yellowish red bruising.
“I know, it looks bad doesn’t it?” Riley asked, “I’m just glad I had the guys there to help me. Chris rode with me to the hospital.”
At his name Liz frowned.
“Well, don’t thank Chris too much. He doesn’t do anything unless it’s for his benefit,” Liz said, “He was probably afraid you would sue him.”
“Liz, he’s really not that bad,” Riley said, “He’s kind of nice and not bad looking.”
“Riley Marie, don’t you get sucked into him. You don’t know the half of it. He has been such a prick to me ever since I started here. I can’t wait for summer to be over and to have him out of the door,” Liz said putting a new bandage over her stitches.
“I’m sorry, Liz. I’ll try to get him to be nicer to you,” Riley said.
“Don’t bother. He’ll never change,” Liz said helping Riley get into the dress and heels.
“Thanks, Liz,” Riley said hugging her sister.
“Thanks for sharing. It’s kind of nice to be able to share clothes now that you’re older,” Liz said spinning around in the pink dress, “I just hope Mr. Jameson doesn’t get mad.”
“How could he? You’re gorgeous,” Riley replied and Liz blushed pushing Riley out. They went to the kitchen and Mrs. White clapped.
“I knew that one was going to look great!” Mrs. White said. She looked over at Liz and frowned.
“Doesn’t Liz look great? I told her to wear that one today. You know, just to wear something different,” Riley said smiling.
“Oh, yes, you do look fabulous,” Mrs. White said plastering on a smile.
“I’ll just take the cart in for the guys. Are they in the sun room again?” Riley asked.
“No, I think they’re in the entertainment room. Syd said something about getting you ready for the ball,” Mrs. White said putting one last thing on the cart.
“Oh great, more dancing then,” Riley said shaking her head. She pushed the cart out of the kitchen and towards the entertainment room. When she opened the door all the talking stopped.
“Wow, you’re grace,” Chris said, “Evan that is… wow.”
“I thought the tiara would give it that added touch,” Evan said winking at Riley.
“Alright, Riley, spin around for us,” Rex said, “I may be voting for you, Evan. I like it even more than the one I picked.”
“Plus it covers up my bandage well,” Riley said doing her best runway model walk, almost stumbling once and making them laugh, “Well I’m getting better. I never said I was a model.”
“That’s for sure,” Damon said grinning as Riley glared at him.
“You look great,” Chris said, “How am I going to top this one, though.”
“Oh, you just need to worry how you’ll top mine,” Damon said smugly and taking a sip of his coffee.
“I’m afraid of what yours will look like now,” Riley said.
“Oh, but I would be more afraid of when it comes off,” Damon said wiggling his eyebrows.
“Bad Damon, stop scaring our princess!” Chris said getting some food from the cart.
“Why don’t you turn around one more time for us, Princess,” Damon said earning him a glare from Chris. Riley served the plates to the other guys.
“You guys, I just wanted to say thank you for the dresses. I know it’s not really about me, but I just wanted to thank you guys for bringing the girl out in me,” Riley said, “And no Damon I’m still not going commando even if you do win this week.”
“What?! I would never think that,” Damon replied looking innocent.
“Sure…,” Evan said laughing. They ate their breakfast and then the training began. Syd took the first round of toe stepping, until he decided Riley needed to take her shoes off again. Riley blushed when she stepped on his toes again. It was hard getting used to the older style of dancing. Let’s face it, no one waltz’s at proms or school dances anymore. The only time she saw anyone dance like that was in the movies or on TV. They decided that they would each dance one dance with her and then the regular music would begin and it would be a more modern party. Riley was thankful that she wouldn’t have to suffer too much.