Home > Olivier (Chicago Blaze #9)(5)

Olivier (Chicago Blaze #9)(5)
Author: Brenda Rothert

“This is Olivier Durand.”

“Hi, Mr. Durand, please don’t hang up. This is Sabrina Connor. I’m with Chicago Now online magazine, and—”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

I hang up, then press the button to silence my office phone. Fucking vultures. I can’t wait for something else to come along and steal the media spotlight. I’m entirely over it, and it sounds like Daphne is, too.



Chapter Four





A knock on my bedroom door interrupts my reading, and I sigh heavily as I put my book down and say, “What?”

“Honestly, Daphne, you sound like a surly teenager,” my mother says as she comes into the room. “I know I taught you better manners than that.”

She taught me very little, actually. How to host parties and frequently redecorate the rooms in your three homes aren’t exactly life skills toddlers need to learn. But still, I would have loved to help with those. She blew me and my sisters off, though, leaving us in the care of nannies.

“I’m in the middle of a book,” I tell her.

She glares at me, expression dramatic as always. “It’s two o’clock in the afternoon. What are you doing in bed? You said you’re completely recovered.”

I glare back, because I am completely recovered, but my parents still won’t let me go back to my apartment in the city. It’s been nearly a month since the accident. My bruises and soreness have faded, and all that’s left now is the boot I have to wear when walking for the next couple weeks.

Still, my parents say they’re worried for my safety because of the reporters and photographers trying to get even a glimpse of me.

Give them a glimpse, I keep saying. Let them ask their questions and take their pictures and then they’ll leave me alone. But my parents are extra careful, especially given that my dad was shot at during a political rally a couple years ago. He wasn’t hit, thank God, but one of his aides was, and he didn’t survive.

“I wouldn’t be in bed if I could get out of here and go to work,” I tell my mom. “All I can do is read, so I might as well be comfortable.”

She picks up the book I was reading, which is about how to communicate with people who have PTSD. A substantial number of the homeless people I work with have it, formally diagnosed or not, especially veterans. I’ve been wanting to read this book and a few others for a while, but with the hours I work, I haven’t had time until now.

“What in the world is this?” My mom wrinkles her nose as she looks at the book cover. “Why aren’t you reading that book by Kathie Lee I gave you?”

“I’m not interested in it.”

She huffs out the sigh I’ve become all too familiar with over the years—in which she thinks of herself as a saint for enduring the life of a wealthy white woman with three equally privileged daughters.

“Listen.” She tosses the book onto my bed and sits down on the duvet cover, back perfectly straight as always. “There’s someone downstairs for you.”

“For me?”

I light up inside at the thought that someone—anyone—from my actual life might be here to visit. I left the life of mansions and money behind thirteen years ago when I went to college, and I don’t enjoy even brief visits to my parents’ home that remind me how lavish their lifestyle is.

Staying with them since I was released from the hospital has been awful. I know they mean well, but I’m dying to get back to my cramped 350 square foot studio apartment with a leaky toilet, no working stove and a view of an alley.

“I called her, actually,” my mom says. “She’s a makeup artist. I also had my stylist send over a few outfits.”

“What does this have to do with me?” I ask, brows lowered.

“I want you to look your best for dinner tonight.” She flashes me a smile.

I groan, knowing she’s got something up her perfectly tailored sleeve. It feels like I’m a teenager again, and she’s explaining to me why I have to be on my A-game for an event with one of my father’s big donors or political allies. Or why I have to be a good ambassador for Barrington Enterprises, the company now owned and controlled by Grandma Jo that’s been in our family since the 1800s.

She doesn’t control me anymore, though. It took me a long time to establish boundaries with my family, and I’m not letting go of them.

“I think a T-shirt and Hello Kitty pants is actually perfect for an evening in bed with my book,” I say, smiling back.

“You aren’t having dinner in bed, Daphne. Honestly, stop acting like an invalid. You’ll come down to the dining room like a civilized person, just like you’ve done every night for the past week.”

“I might,” I say, shrugging. “It depends on who you invited and whether I feel like seeing them. If you’re trying to get me and Aiden back together again, don’t.”

She’s examining herself in the mirror hanging over the dresser in the guest room that used to be my bedroom, smoothing her salt and pepper bob.

“It’s not Aiden who’s coming, darling. It’s Olivier Durand.”

My eyes bulge. “Olivier Durand? You invited him over for dinner?”

“I did. Your father’s PR people think it’s a good idea.”

Anger rises up my chest, my face reddening. I’m a thirty-one-year-old woman, but my parents are still trying to run my life. Julia escaped their clutches when she got married, and our younger sister Stella wisely moved several states away. She’s now in medical school in Boston.

“I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for Dad politically,” I remind my mom.

“Oh, don’t I know it,” she scoffs.

My decision to major in social work and take a job working at a nonprofit clinic that serves the homeless has always been a sore spot for my mother. Not that I care. She’s never helped anyone unless there was something in it for her. I grew up wanting to be everything she’s not.

“I appreciate the way you guys have taken care of me,” I say, taking a page from a class I took on how to communicate with obstinate people—always open with a compliment. “But I’m not letting you dress me up like Socialite Barbie. I’ll do the dinner, because I want to thank Mr. Durand for what he did. But I’m wearing whatever I want.”

“Daphne, you won’t fit in,” Mom argues, turning to face me. “The rest of us will be dressed like civilized people and you’ll be wearing jeans with holes in them and one of your socialist T-shirts.”

“Oh, I just bought a new one that says ‘Carry Yourself With The Confidence of A Mediocre White Man.’ How about that one?”

“This is no time for joking,” my mother snaps.

“Who’s joking? It’s in the box over on that chair,” I say, pointing to the ridiculous velvet-upholstered wingback in the corner of the room.

My mom puts her fingertips on her temples, her lips pressed into a terse line.

“Our family is in the national spotlight,” she says tightly. “Just this once, this one time, can you think about your father and just be reasonable? Appropriate?”

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