Sheikh's Hired Mistress(2)

By: Sophia Lynn & Ella Brooke


It was, however, tremendously hard to tell her baby sister no.

“What do I have to do to convince you to let me finish my work?” she asked.

“Promise to let me dress you up and drag you to this party. At least for, like, two hours.”

“One hour. You get me in your world for one hour, and then you have to come home with me and eat Thai food and binge watch something while I design a new wallpaper pattern on my laptop.”

“Your life is a corpse, Lainey.” Emma laughed. She squeezed Laine’s shoulder. “I’ll text you my room number.”

“Can’t wait.” Laine focused back on her screen.

She was going to have to get these orders out in the next hour. She pushed a hand through her hair. Emma would want to do something ridiculous with that, too. Laine would have to keep her from dousing it with glitter or dying it. It was a dark-chestnut, like their mother’s, apart from the shock of stubborn white hair growing from the front edge of her hairline; it had been there since she was twelve. She let it fall over her forehead, as it always did. It helped to cover the scar.

Laine muttered as she corrected the color codes for the bathroom palettes, “Got your work cut out for you with this party, sis. I’d rather fill out purchasing forms…”

***

Just as Laine had expected, waiting at Emma’s apartment were a wall of low-cut evening dresses and a personal dresser to paint and coif Laine until she was so annoyed that despite her natural inclinations, she was about to tell her baby sister to bug off. But at the end of it all, there Laine stood, in all her five-feet-nine-inch glory, with four-inch heels (she’d lost the battle on those, in spite of her complaint that men didn’t want a woman towering over them), in a flowy blue and purple dress that looked like someone had woven it from a pile of soft scarves. The hem was a bit high, and the cut emphasized every curve she could boast of, but Laine had a hard time complaining about the look. She’d certainly never worn anything so sensual before.

“They made that one for my costar in Magnifique.” Emma touched Laine’s hair carefully, so as not to disturb the artistry that had gone into transforming her daily up-do. They’d left strands around her face along with her lock of white hair, with the full effect softening Laine’s usual in-charge look.

“Magnifique?” Laine turned to stare at Emma. “Wasn’t your costar a drag queen?”

Emma laughed and took Laine’s arm as they walked up to the high-rise where the party was being held.

“Remember, it’s a Nihayat Alhaya,” Emma said.

“Do what now?”

“That’s the designer of your dress. People will ask.”

Laine rolled her eyes. It was unlikely any paparazzi were going to be catching any candid photos of her. Not with Emma grabbing their attention.

The party was so many floors up that Laine lost count of how many the elevator had whooshed past. It was like they were going up into the heavens themselves. She wondered, briefly, if they were late, since there was no one else on the elevator, but Emma seemed unconcerned. She just pulled out her compact and checked her makeup. Laine took some deep breaths and tried to be patient. If only this were a business situation. She could work it there, in her best Ralph Lauren and a nice scarf—she loved scarves—and a room full of marks. Laine never walked away from an event like that without at least two or three leads.

Don’t think about all the important people at this party, she told herself. Don’t think about all the people who want to see the stars, not the decorators of the stars. You’ll be home by ten with takeout and a pint of ice cream with some kind of ribbon running through it. Caramel, maybe fudge.

Emma flashed Laine a grin when the elevator stopped and led the way into the lobby. People stood in scattered groups, holding glasses of champagne aloft and occasionally taking some small morsel from the trays being passed around by white-suited waiters. Laine scanned the crowd and filched a skewer of shrimp wrapped in bacon as the waiter whizzed by.

“Where to, Golden Globe?” she asked.

Emma pulled Laine along into the penthouse apartment, which was more like an airplane hangar than an apartment, really. There were only a few pieces of furniture scattered around; instead flat screen televisions mounted on the walls played music and depicted amorphous figures dancing. No one at the party was dancing, but the screens gave the image of movement. It seemed like a waste to Laine. She supposed, though, that people were really here to be seen.

While Emma buzzed from person to person, Laine lifted her eyes from the people to the vaulted ceiling structure and the art pieces hung on the walls. She mentally took notes. She assessed the conversations around her for an in to shift the topic toward design, or at least art. She looked down at the wood floors (hardwood, but not of a quality that would endure a lot of heavy wear and tear). A normal person might be scanning the crowd for favorite actresses and actors, but Laine didn’t spend much time thinking about the shows playing in the background of her work in the evenings. After hovering on the edges of conversations for what felt like an eternity, Laine drifted from her sister toward a tall, strange silver sculpture. She couldn’t tell whether it was supposed to be someone flying or something more risqué.