The day after she wrecked a customer’s makeover because her thoughts were on Mortimer, Shanni met Agnes for lunch. To her surprise, she found herself pouring out her soul.
Agnes’s face melted into sympathy when Shanni spoke of her own heartbreak. Underneath the woman’s harsh exterior was a heart that had been broken not so long ago.
“Now, Shanni my dear,” she said conspiratorially over her toasted french sausage, “I can see that you are not the same timid girl who Mortimer Goth walked all over. You just need to convince yourself of that. I think you need to confront him yourself.”
“Honestly? You don’t think that’s kind of trashy?”
Agnes laughed dismissively. “The line between trashy and powerful is all about style. You’ll do it, and what’s more, you’ll come to my place right afterward to tell me how it went. Trust me. You’ll be the better for it.”
So Shanni found herself the one place she never expected to be: Goth Manor.
It was difficult to even figure out which door was the front door, and the doorbell echoed cavernously inside.
Mortimer answered the door. He might be a high school graduate now, but he looked pretty much the same as he hand in school.
“I wanted to drop by to congratulate you,” she said lamely as he sized her up at the door.
“Come in! Come in! I never expected to see you here. Can I show you around? Would you like to hear about the book I’m writing? Dad has already lined up a publisher.”
Wow. He was hot for her, and he wasn’t even trying to hide it. Then again, he’d always been like that, right up until he snubbed her.
“I was just kind of curious. When I graduated, we had this conversation about older women.” She smiled a sultry smile. She’d gotten a lot better at that since school.
“Oh? Did I say something about older women? Older women are delightful. They have lots of experience.”
Shanni laughed at him.
“Huh?” Mortimer asked. “What?”
“Do you have any idea how sleezy that line is?” Shanni said.
Mortimer looked like he’d been smacked. “What are you doing here? You came here to insult me?”
“I came to see how I felt,” Shanni retorted. “In high school, I would have done anything to get you to like me. Now I have no idea why I cared.”
And with that, she turned around and walked out of Goth Manor and out of Mortimer’s life.
It had been so easy. The magic of her memory of him had stripped away as soon as he’d opened his mouth. What a transparent, skeezy looser. She could do so much better.
That evening, she kept her promise and dropped by Agnes’s estate.
To her surprise, Agnes was outside with Parker Langerak, who was making the most amazing lover’s eyes at her.
“Shanni Sample!” Agnes exclaimed when their eyes met. “You didn’t waste any time at all. Do come inside and tell me all about it. Parker, I had a nice time. I’ll call you.” She headed into the mansion, beckoning Shanni to follow.
“Did I interrupt your date?” Shanni asked awkwardly.
Agnes laughed. “Parker thinks he’s going to get some. I usually just let him decorate the lawn. All men are pigs, but some of them oink louder than others.”
“Now then, I was just going to make myself some spaghetti bolognese. Do tell me the story while I cook.”
So shanni sat at the bar and described the encounter with Mortimer. The idea of Agnes Crumplebottom doing her own cooking was hilarious somehow, but the big mansion was looming, dark, and empty. Clearly the legendary heiress was too much of a tightward to keep a staff.
When Shanni’s story was done, they sat down to dinner at the long formal dining table.
“Now tell me I was right,” Agnes said. “You feel much better now.”
Shanni laughed. She felt like a weight had been lifted from her self-esteem. “Yes, you’re right. I never would have guessed! I feel like a new woman.”
Shanni was a new woman, and everything felt possible.
Anything at all.
Including things she’d never dared to imagine.
(And *drumroll* Agnes is Shanni’s SO number 10!
The shot of Shanni leaving Goth Manor with Mortimer looking after her is actually a cheat scene from when she arrived, not when she left. When Shanni rang the doorbell, for some reason the game decided they both couldn’t stand on the stoop together. So it walked them both out all the way to the garage to greet each other. First Shanni walked the whole way, then Mortimer. But the image was just too good not to use.)