Laces and Lace

Page 26


Oh, the betrayal.
The sad thing was, she didn’t even cry from the betrayal.
That’s how she knew she didn’t love him, that she had been lying to herself for two years. It was despicable and one of her biggest regrets, but what she hated the most was that she’d allowed him to have so much control over her. She should have told him to shove it up his ass when he didn’t like her breasts. She had accepted them—she loved herself—but she had allowed him to make her feel differently about herself. Wanting to get back her love for herself, she did the only logical thing—went and covered her breasts with tattoos, trying to hide what she’d allowed Ethan to do to her.
Through the white lace, it was easy to see the black and white lotus flowers that decorated her breasts in such an elegant, soft way. In the middle of her right breast was a bright pink breast-cancer ribbon with the words, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” curving under her left breast. She loved her tattoos, she even liked having fake boobs, but she hated why she had them. She thought if she had done them herself, for her, it would have been different, but since she’d done them for Ethan, they were ruined. He wouldn’t even let her pay for them; they were his gift to her.
Another reason she hated them.
Meeting Rachel’s gaze in the mirror, Lacey felt like an asshole. It wasn’t Rachel’s fault. She was trying to help the business, and Lacey was allowing the fact that she was basically putting Ethan’s wishes on display and that he was possibly in town to sour her mood. This was going to be great for business. It was going to show women that, no matter what, they could look sexy in Lacey’s Lace.
“I’m sorry, Rachel. Every time I look at myself, I see Ethan.”
Shaking her head, Rachel said, “You have to stop that. It’s been three years. You can’t let him have this hold over you. You covered his wishes with your own. This is your body, and you have to love it, Lacey.”
“I do love me,” she admitted. “I just hate that I allowed him so much power.”
“He’s gone,” she said, squeezing her hand. “You are Lacey Martin, owner of the hottest lingerie store in the US. You are successful, beautiful, and simply amazing. No one has any power over you.”
Well, that wasn’t entirely true, but Lacey said, “You’re right.”
Rachel smiled as she wrapped her arms around Lacey’s waist, placing her chin on her shoulder. “Now what else is wrong?” she asked, her eyes locking with Lacey’s.
Rachel was one of those women people loved to hate. She not only was married to a successful, star hockey player, but she was gorgeous. She had big brown eyes that were always filled with love and dark brown curls that fell just to her chin in a chic way. Standing in Lacey’s white fifties pin-up style lace set that covered her midsection, Lacey could see that Rachel was thicker than she was when they first met freshman year, but that had a lot of do with the fact that she had been pregnant twice with Lacey’s nephews, Flynn and Zander, in the last six years.
“Nothing, I’m just in a mood,” she said, trying to downplay what was really the problem. She knew she was using the Ethan thing to cover up the real reason she was upset. Why she was always upset when he came to town.
She bit on her lip as Rachel nodded. “You’re always in a mood when the Nashville Assassins are in town.”
How did she do that?
That was an easy question to answer. They had been best friends her whole adult life. No one knew her like Rachel did.
Taking in a sharp breath, Lacey nodded as she looked down at the counter, tears stinging her eyes. She did her best not to mention him. She kept him locked tight in her heart, but as always, Rachel saw right through her. She hadn’t been lying all those years ago when she’d looked him in the eye and said that she would never be the same.
She hadn’t been since she’d watched him walk away, leaving her behind.
“Yeah, I don’t want to hash out all that again, haven’t done it in nine years, and today isn’t the day to do it. I’m sorry for being a bitch. Let’s go do this.”
“Okay,” Rachel said but didn’t let Lacey go like she expected her to. Instead, she held her gaze and said, “You’re not going to lock yourself away all weekend are you?”
Yes. “No, but I’m not going to the game.”
She never missed a Blackhawks home game, except when the Assassins were in town. She didn’t step foot anywhere near the arena when that team was here. She couldn’t chance it. She hadn’t seen him or spoken to him in nine years, and she wanted to keep it that way.
“I know that, but you’re still coming out tonight, right?”
She nodded. “Of course I am. It’s Grady’s birthday. I wouldn’t miss that.”
“Okay, are you going to leave the bitchy attitude at home?” she asked with a teasing smile.
With a smile, Lacey nodded. “I’ll try.”
It was actually harder than she thought to leave her bad mood at home. It seemed like the whole walk toward The Gage, Grady’s favorite restaurant, all Lacey saw were Nashville Assassins hockey jerseys. They were everywhere, the damn purple and black jerseys with the stupid ninja assassin guy on the front that she hated so much, visible at every turn. If Lacey didn’t know the game was tomorrow, she would have thought it was tonight. It honestly made no damn sense. Did the whole Assassins fan base drive up for the damn game? She wasn’t sure, but it sure did fuel her bitchy mood, especially when a familiar number sixteen jersey ended up walking in front of her. That had her breathless and made her walk a little faster and around them toward the restaurant.