Russian's Ruthless Demand(3)

By: Michelle Conder

‘My sisters,’ she informed Lulu glumly.

Both Olivia and Isabelle had promised to attend the opening night of Glaciers to share in Eleanore’s success but it was fairly safe to say that at close on midnight neither one was intending to show up. Not that Eleanore minded so much about Olivia not showing. She knew Olivia was busy with a new play about to open but Isabelle... Isabelle had the power to promote her to Harrington’s executive team or not and being an integral part of her family’s company was the most important thing in the world to Eleanore. It was what she strove for. It was what she got out of bed for in the mornings. And she’d been hoping that once Isabelle saw the incredible job she had done in designing the ice bar she would see that she was wasting her time redesigning cushion covers in hotel foyers or organising the latest colour schemes in the guest bedrooms, and offer her more.

Lulu put a frothy red concoction with a tiny umbrella sticking out the top in front of her and gave her a look that said she was a bitter disappointment to her friend. ‘I knew a lover was too good to be true. Maybe you need to write it on your list of goals to make it happen.’

Eleanore pulled a face at Lulu’s dig at her need to map her life out. It was her way of keeping her world in order and meeting a man was way down on the list at this stage of her life. ‘I told you once before, career and men don’t mix. Either they become snooty at how many hours I put in at work or they’re so boring they make me want to stay at work for longer.’ She glanced at the drink. ‘What’s this you’ve whipped up for me? After the last one I hope it has a low alcoholic content.’ Especially since she couldn’t remember if her last meal had been lunch or breakfast or dinner the night before.

She’d been running on adrenaline all day and guzzled coffee to keep herself going. Which was probably why she felt both buzzed and completely exhausted at the same time.

Lulu leaned one svelte hip against the bar, enjoying the lull in what had been a madcap night. ‘I’m calling it “Don’t Poke the Bear.” Let me know what you think.’ She gave the icy bar another vigorous wipe. ‘But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should settle down.’ She gave a shiver as if the mere thought were horrifying and pulled her ski gloves back on. ‘But fun? Sex? When was the last time you went out on a date?’

‘Nineteen sixty-five,’ Eleanore deadpanned.

Lulu laughed and pointed her cleaning rag at her. ‘I’d believe that. And it’s exactly my point. You need to get out more. Live a little.’ Having delivered her standard lecture she started lining up more shot glasses on the bar. ‘So where are your esteemed sisters anyway?’

It wasn’t in Eleanore’s nature to be pessimistic but to assume they were stuck in traffic or sitting on the tarmac at the airport was even a stretch for her. ‘Busy.’ She heaved a sigh. ‘Olivia is no doubt auditioning for some play somewhere and this whole drama of the Chatsfields trying to take us over seems to have consumed every one of Isabelle’s waking hours.’ And even now Eleanore could picture Isabelle holed up with the horrible Spencer Chatsfield in some argument.

Probably Eleanore needed to be a little more understanding. Only it was hard to indulge her understanding side when she had been to almost every one of Olivia’s opening nights and every important event in Isabelle’s calendar.

‘Well, that’s good,’ Lulu said briskly. ‘It gives you time to play. And sex will definitely make you feel better.’

Eleanore raised a brow and caught sight of her disgruntled expression in the mirrored wall behind the bar. She thought about texting Isabelle and then changed her mind. What was she going to say? That she was disappointed with her no-show? Her sister would likely frown and ask why. It wouldn’t occur to her that Eleanore had always felt like she was on the outside looking in. It wouldn’t occur to Isabelle that Eleanore questioned her place in the family because Isabelle was always so smart and successful and Olivia so beautiful and talented. And as for sex making her feel better... She rolled her eyes at Lulu’s suggestion. ‘So will a hot bath,’ she said. ‘And a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookies and Cream.’

Lulu waggled a dark eyebrow. ‘But can a hot bath give you a screaming orgasm and then make you a cup of hot cocoa afterward?’

Eleanore sipped her cocktail. ‘If you’ve found a man who will make you a cup of anything after sex I suggest you keep him. Most of the stories I’ve heard are from women who are screaming at their man who rolls over straight after sex and goes to sleep—orgasm not guaranteed.’ Not that she had any personal experience with that. The timing, the opportunity and the desire to have sex just hadn’t come together for her yet.