A Winter's Rose

A Winter's Rose by Erica Spindler Read Free Book Online

Book: A Winter's Rose by Erica Spindler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Erica Spindler
Bentley had been the model of southern grace and manners; she’d striven to be the perfect daughter, had gone on to be the perfect debutante and sorority sister and, later, the perfect wife with the ideal marriage.
    Perfect wife, perfect life. How often had David said those words to her? How many times had they replayed obscenely in her head while he belittled and ridiculed her? Bentley shuddered and dragged her thoughts away from herself and her nightmare of a marriage and turned them back to Chloe.
    She and Chloe were nothing alike, and yet they were. In the past three days Chloe had charged a small fortune without thinking about it once. With each purchase she had brightened, as if buying things made her feel more whole. And as if looking good somehow validated her existence.
    Suddenly melancholy, Bentley trailed her fingers over the scarred edge of the tabletop. She could be reading herself in Chloe without justification. She could be simply transferring her own faults onto
Chloe because they had been so much on her mind of late. But she didn’t think so.
    She let out her breath in an exasperated huff. All this brooding was nonsense. She should be happy that her time baby-sitting Chloe was passing without incident, and that Jackson seemed pleased. She should be elated. She was proving herself and earning the position at Baysafe that Jackson had promised her.
    Bentley frowned. But she didn’t feel like she’d earned anything. In her heart of hearts, she didn’t feel like she’d done Chloe—or Jackson—any favors.
    Bentley shook her head again and focused on Chloe. She’d stopped to talk to a boy she seemed to know. Bentley drew her eyebrows together, watching as Chloe blushed and giggled, as the boy leaned close and whispered something in her ear.
    The boy looked too old for Chloe and too…experienced. A ripple of apprehension moved over Bentley, and just as she wondered if she should intervene, Chloe motioned at her, said goodbye to her friend and started to the table.
    A moment later Chloe set the drinks in front of Bentley. “Sorry,” she said a bit breathlessly, sliding into a chair. “He’s an old friend.”
    Old being the key word, Bentley thought, studying the youngster’s flushed features. She felt it her duty to question Chloe about the boy, but she didn’t want to raise the young girl’s ire. If Chloe became angry and defensive, she wouldn’t get a thing out of her.
    â€œHe’s cute,” Bentley murmured, taking a sip of her soda. “Do you know him from school?”
    Chloe looked at her, then away. “I go to an all-girls school. Rick’s an old family friend.” She fidgeted with her straw. “Daddy knows him.”
    â€œYou mean, his parents are family friends?”
    â€œYeah, that’s what I mean. The Ables and the Ellerbees have been friends forever.”
    Able. The name belonged to one of Texas’s most prominent families, a family the Ellerbees would socialize with. Reassured, Bentley smiled. “He certainly is a looker.”
    Chloe blushed and lowered her eyes. “He’d never be interested in me.”
    â€œAre you kidding?” Bentley leaned toward her. “Not only are you gorgeous, but you’re rich, too. In Texas, that means you can write your own…” Bentley let the thought trail off as she realized she was reassuring Chloe with the same words her mother had said to her at the same age. The realization left her feeling discomfited.
    â€œWrite my own what?” Chloe asked.
    Bentley looked at the girl and forced a smile. “What I’m trying to say is, you’re a really great girl, Chloe. You’re smart, you’re beautiful, you can be whatever you want to be. Never sell yourself short.” Bentley laughed. “In other words, you’re going to have more boyfriends than you’ll know what to do with.”
    Chloe colored with pleasure.

Similar Books

Close Call

J.M. Gregson

William's Tale

Regina Morris

Worth the Risk

Savannah Stuart

November 9: A Novel

Colleen Hoover

Nicolai's Daughters

Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Higher Ground

Nan Lowe

Sooner or Later

Elizabeth Adler