“How do you know that’s what she’s going to say?”
“Because that’s what she said the last time we talked.”
“Maybe she’s trying to build bridges or wants to ask for your forgiveness.”
I laugh.Â “Tiresa doesn’t want my forgiveness and she burns bridges, not builds them.”
The phone stops ringing as the answering machine picks up: You’ve reached the White residence.Â Leave a message and one of the crazy kids living hear will return your call as soon as possible.Â Thanks and ta-ta.Â Two clicks sound and then Tiresa’s voice invades my home: “Bella, I need to know what you’re wearing to the engagement party.”
I roll my eyes.Â “I love how she assumes that I am attending, like I can’t wait to celebrate herâ€””
“Shh!” Sands hushes me.
Tiresa continues: “A lot of my business clients and Mika’s attorney friends are invited and I can’t have you dressed in some cheap knit crap from the dollar store.Â So let me know what you have.Â I’m even willing to buy you a decent dress if you don’t have one and you don’t have to pay me back.Â Call me.”Â Click.
I glare at Sands, who shrugs.Â “It’s not the most diplomatic way to build a bridge, but it’s a start.”Â She tries to sound hopeful.
I grab the box of tampons and storm to the bathroom.Â “That’s not a bridge.Â That’s a burn.”
Jae pulls out of the grocery store car park in his Jeep, a grin on his face.Â The orange accident was hysterically funny, but he forced himself to not laugh when it happened, not when it was a laugh at someone else’s expense.
Most of the people he associated with in his former career in the fashion world would sneer at the mishap and the woman involved-especially her.Â Obesity is not attractive and she wouldn’t grace the cover of Vogue anytime soon.Â Yet Jae credited himself for looking past surfaces to find the real person, which is why he was glad to chat up Bella.Â Instead of dismissing her because of her weight, he discovered a woman with a vibrant sense of humor.
It was a leap of faith to leave his comfortable, established career as co-owner of AmandaE Boutiques, but after his business partner and wife, Amanda, divorced, he grew less and less satisfied with the fashion world.Â It was a world where the zingers he just spoke would have gotten him a tight slap across the face or handed apartment keys by models, or slapped on the butt and hustled into the nearest closet by his gay designer friends.
Bella did neither and that was refreshing.Â She assumed he wasn’t hitting on her.Â Refreshingâ€”yeah, that was it.Â Those witty retorts, those sparkling eyes, and when she laughed, she didn’t hold back, as if showing too much emotion was a bad thing (like in the fashion world).Â Bella was the real deal.