‘It would, Zavier,’ Marjory said, a note of urgency in her voice. ‘It’s your father’s dearest wish.’
‘What’s your father’s dearest wish?’ All eyes turned as Amy appeared. Immaculate, gorgeous, wafting expensive perfume, she sidled up to Zavier and wrapped her arm around him. But Zavier barely acknowledged her presence. ‘What did I miss, darling?’ Amy persisted in a low, throaty purr.
‘Nothing,’ Zavier said darkly, shooting his mother a warning look. ‘At least nothing that you have to worry about, Amy.’ And, extracting himself from her clutches, he nodded to the photographer who was hovering on the sidelines. ‘I think we’re wanted.’
Even though she had just checked her make-up, Amy whipped out a mirror from her bag and started dabbing at her lips.
‘Come on, Tabitha.’ Aiden beckoned, but Tabitha shook her head.
‘You go. I’m hardly family.’
‘What’s that got to do with it? Come on.’
But Tabitha was insistent. Immortalising a lie seemed wrong, somehow. ‘The photographer said family only. Please, Aiden, don’t make me feel any worse about this.’
‘You’ll be all right on your own for five minutes?’
‘For heaven’s sake, Aiden, just go. They’re all waiting.’
Sipping on her drink, she watched as they all lined up; it was easy to tell which side they all belonged to. The Chamberses reminded Tabitha of a Mafia movie—all their suits seemed darker, all the men taller, all their hair cut just that little bit more neatly. The fatal combination of money and a perfect gene pool—only Aiden didn’t quite fit in with the masses. His features were gentler, his gestures more expressive than the tight-lipped brooding looks of his relatives. Zavier stood out also. If the Chambers family were a formidable bunch then Zavier was the pinnacle—taller, darker, and, from the reverent way everyone treated him, the most powerful.
‘So you’ve been relegated to the role of bystander as well?’
Startled, Tabitha turned, only then registering that Amy wasn’t up there amongst them.
‘It’s a bit early in the piece for me to start appearing in family albums,’ Tabitha said lightly, somewhat taken aback that someone so famous was actually talking to her.
‘And a bit late in the piece for me; I think I’ve just been dumped.’ ‘Oh.’
‘Bloody Chambers.’ The sob in Amy’s voice was one of raw anguish, and Tabitha watched, startled, as tears slid down the oh-so famous face. With a strangled cry she attempted to run off, but soft grass combined with six-inch heels didn’t make for a dignified exit, and Tabitha cringed as she watched her trip away. ‘It’s the effect I have on women,’ Zavier quipped as he joined Tabitha. ‘They can’t get away quickly enough.’
‘What on earth did you say to her?’ Tabitha asked, even though she knew it was none of her business.
‘Not much. I just pointed out it was pretty stupid for her to be in the family photo when she wasn’t going to be around long enough for the films to be developed.’
‘But that’s horrible,’ Tabitha gasped. ‘Couldn’t you have finished with her in a nicer way?’
Zavier shrugged. ‘Believe me, I tried. Unfortunately she either didn’t want to hear it, or it was beyond her comprehension that a man actually might not want her.’
Tabitha stole a closer look, and knew it must be the former. Zavier had a haughty, effortless arrogance that must be a natural by-product when you were so beautiful. And beautiful just about summed him up: an immaculate prototype that left all others as a pale comparison. No wonder Amy hadn’t wanted to hear it was over. To have known such perfection, no matter how briefly, would ensure a lifetime addiction.