“Could I just,” he began, reaching for her bags.
“No, no you can’t,” I said, slapping his hands away. “Take your luggage and find your hotel. Finley will be able to breathe for herself this week.”
Marco fidgeted, unsure how to grant my demand.
Finley smiled at him with feigned patience. “It’s fine, Marco. Go on. Enjoy your vacation.”
He nodded a few times, both confident and unsure, clearly unsettled at leaving Finley to her own devices for more than a few minutes.
Marco kissed her hand. “Should you need anything, Miss Edson, I’ll be here within ten minutes.”
She pulled away slowly, waving him away, indifferent to his charm.
Marco looked borderline devastated as he collected his baggage and closed the door behind him.
I sighed. “That shit is getting out of hand.”
She smirked, walking the few steps to hug me tight. “You’re just jealous.”
I squeezed her once, and then pulled away. “Does he wipe your ass? Only then would I be jealous.”
Finley laughed, pulling off her gloves and walking down the hall to the piano room. She tossed them on the chaise and sat, relaxing back and crossing her socked feet. Her golden hair fell in soft waves just past her shoulders, shiny and perfect like it should be after the money she’d spent to keep it that way. “Not that he hasn’t tried, my love. You’re right, he would probably breathe for me if he could.”
“Not really. I worry about nothing except what I have to worry about.”
“When do you go back to work? Is Daddy’s board still bitching about your promotion?”
She sighed. “Soon, and yes. How’s Winterland?”
I looked out the window. It wasn’t snowing, but the wind was blowing icy globs from the tree branches. “I think I’ll be ready for the sea.”
She watched me as her red lips pulled to the side. “You don’t look ready.”
I picked the navy-blue polish off my thumbnail. “I feel numb. We’ve tanned on every beach. Skied every resort from Estes to the Alps.”
Finley rolled her eyes, disgusted. “Don’t do that, Ellison. Don’t become a goddamned cliché. The rich girl who is bored with life, surrounded by everyone and no one, feeling all alone.”
“Don’t patronize me. I recall you going through a phase.”
“I shopped and spent a month with you in Barbados. I didn’t fuck my way through it. You’ve always enjoyed your pharmaceuticals—you get that from Mother—but for Christ’s sake, Ellie. Pick a hobby. Get a boyfriend—or girlfriend. Find a cause. Find God. I don’t give a fuck, but don’t whine about having too much money and too many options.”
I wasn’t sure what expression was on my face, but it might have mirrored Finley’s. I covered my eyes, and then sat down on the sofa, leaning back. “Fuck, you’re right. I’m Sterling.”
“You’re not that bad, but you’re one stint in rehab away. You’re not bored, you’re empty. Stop trying to fill up with coke and hash. You know that shit doesn’t work.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “The fuck, Finley. When did you start adulting? You have a ladysitter who stirs your coffee, and you’re coaching me on life choices?”
She stood up, walked the few feet to the sofa, and collapsed next to me, hooking her legs over my lap. She interlaced her fingers between mine. “Betsy OD’d. I don’t want that to be you.”
Finley nodded, rubbing my palm with her thumb. “Nine months ago, she was where you are. We all saw it.”
“You’ve been MIA, Ellie. No one sees you anymore. Except maybe Sterling.”
“We’re going to Sanya next week.”
“I haven’t seen you in six months. Betsy was empty. I don’t want to hear about you being found lying in your own excrement on the floor. This is our sister talk. You’re fucking up. You need to man up and handle it.”
Finley was trying to keep it light, but she quickly wiped her eye.
She nodded. “I know. We’re all fine until we’re not.”
“Come on. You’ve been traveling all day. We’ll run you a hot bath, relax, and order in.”
She smiled at me. “No wonder you’re bored. That sounds dreadful.”
“Fine, take a hot shower, and then we’ll go to dinner and find a bar with a bunch of hot locals.”
The Grove was busy but not packed. Odd for ski season, but I counted us lucky. Finley was dividing her time between her Kir Royale and the surrounding tables, relishing in the curious attention she was getting simply for being beautiful.
“I’ve always liked the men here. They’re a different kind of sexy than what we’re used to. Gruff. I’m liking the beards.”
“Most of them aren’t actually from here.”
She shrugged. “Neither are we.” Her phone buzzed, and she tapped a quick reply, annoyed with whoever had sent the message.
I leaned in, my nearly exposed breasts pressing against the table. Finley noticed, but only allowed them to distract her for a moment.
“Is he in love with you?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Probably. Where did you get that top? It makes your tiny tits look freakishly perky.”
“Please,” Finley said as the waiter dropped off our edamame. “You’re barely a B-cup.”
“Not everyone wants to surgically insert double-Ds, Fin.”
She looked up at the waiter. He began to speak, but she cut him off. “Yes, I want another. No, there is nothing else you can get for us right now. Yes, the edamame is superb. Thank you.”
He nodded and left for the kitchen.
“He’s going to spit in our food,” I said, watching him disappear behind a swinging door.
She breathed out a laugh. “I wasn’t rude. I just made his drive-by efficient.” Her eyes lit up, and she stood, embracing Sterling. “Hello, my love!”
Sterling kissed her cheek, and then again square on the mouth. She didn’t flinch.
He looked into her eyes, shaking his head and smiling. “Fin. You’re beautiful.”
Sterling held the back of Finley’s chair until she sat, and then he helped push her forward. I turned my face as he leaned down, allowing him to peck my cheek.
“Disclaimer … I kissed your sister,” Sterling said, sitting down next to Finley.
She glanced at him, and then at me. “What’s he babbling about?”
“I kind of forced him to kiss me yesterday,” I said, already feeling Finley’s silent wrath. She didn’t want Sterling this second, but he belonged to her. “To get rid of the firefighter.”
Finley’s eyebrows rose, and she looked to Sterling for confirmation. They were an odd pair, between them wearing clothes and accessories that cost more than the average home, but both emotionally and morally bankrupt. Finley might have been able to talk me out of a spiral, but she had a pocket full of people and a closet full of things: all expendable. Sterling loved Finley, but would never beg for her, and preferred to wallow in infinite misery than admit defeat and try to love someone else. We were friends because less than one percent of the world’s population could identify with the sorrow of having too much money and too many opportunities—with the boredom of total freedom of monetary limitations.