“I’ve been waiting for you to arrive,” she tells her.
“I’ve been here for twenty minutes, Mother.”
Mrs. Randolph turns to me, her arm around her daughter’s back. “Isn’t it wonderful that our Kennedy has come home, Brent?”
And all I can do is parrot like an idiot. “Yeah . . . wonderful.”
Mitzy steps back, takes her daughter’s hands, and holds them up at her sides—looking her over, judging and evaluating—just like the good old days. “I’m so happy to have you out of Nevada. All those nasty casinos and dust and desert.” She caresses her cheek. “That dry air has wreaked havoc on your skin. I’ll make you an appointment with my esthetician this week—she’s a miracle worker.”
Kennedy gives a resigned sigh. “Thank you, Mother.”
“Now I’ll let you two get reacquainted. I see the Vanderblasts are here and if I don’t spend at least ten minutes with Ellora she’ll work herself into a snit.”
When we’re alone again, I can’t stop staring. Once upon a time she was my best friend. For a hot minute she was more. After that, she hated me. And then she was just . . . gone.
I haven’t seen her for fourteen years, and the last time I did, she sure as shit didn’t look like this.
“Kennedy . . . ?” I whisper, still not entirely convinced it’s her.
She regards me with a tilted head, a cocked hip, and a disdainful smile. “Hello, Dickhead.”
Okay. Now I’m convinced.
It takes a few seconds to recover from the shock, but when I do, I hit the ground smirking. Because if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s give as good as I get.
“Kennedy Randy Randolph.”
Her smile drops like a barrel over Niagara Falls.
“My middle name is Suzanne.”
“I know, but I never did come up with a nickname for you. Though we already considered Randy, didn’t we? It wasn’t a good fit—I’ll keep working on it.”
I shake my head, checking her out all over again. Because now that I know who she is, we’re talking a whole other level of depraved interest.
“Goddamn. You look—”
“Yes, I know.” She sighs, then gazes at her manicure in that bitchy way women do. “Thank you.” There’s not a shred of sincerity in her tone—like she’s heard a million compliments before. Which, with her level of hotness, is possible. Except for one thing.
“What’d you do to your eyes?” I lean in, frowning.
“They’re called contact lenses.”
“Well, take them out. I don’t like them. Your real eyes are incredible.”
Breathtaking, actually—deep, warm brown with flecks of gold. I’d know Kennedy’s eyes anywhere.
“What’d you do to your face?” she asks, folding her arms.
I touch my chin. “I grew a beard.”
“Well ungrow it. It looks like a vagina from a 1970s porn film.”
My lips twitch—because, fuck, the things that come out of her mouth.
That always did.
“I’m starting to get the impression you don’t like me anymore, sweetness.”
Challenge rises in her eyes. “You’re assuming I actually liked you to begin with. You know what they say about people who assume, ass.”
I square off against Kennedy. Game on.
“You definitely liked me. Remember that summer you flashed me your boobs? That has to count for something.”
“I did not flash you my boobs.” She scowls.
“You totally did. They were the first I’d ever seen—made an indelible impression.”
She grinds her teeth. “I jumped in the pool and my bathing suit rode up.”
“I think it was a Freudian Nip Slip. Subconsciously, you meant to do it, because you liked me.”
“I think you’re a pompous bastard. Possibly a sociopath.”
I grin. “Doesn’t mean you didn’t like me.”
Over Kennedy’s shoulder, I catch my mother’s eager gaze on us. She’d be less obvious if she had a spotlight and binoculars aimed our way.
“My mother’s watching us.”
Kennedy places her empty glass on the tray of a passing waiter and picks up a full one. “Of course she’s watching us. For years, her greatest wish was that I’d grow up to bear your spawn.”
I snort. “That’s ridiculous.” Then I glance sideways at Kennedy, gauging her reaction. “Isn’t it?”
“Completely.” She looks me straight in the face. “I could never be with someone like you—you have the maturity of a twelve-year-old boy.”
I raise my glass. “And you have the chest of one.”
I expect her to come back with a clever, biting retort, but she just gestures to me with an open palm. “I rest my case.”
Ironically, my first instinct is to stick my tongue out at her. But I won’t give her the satisfaction.
“Besides,” she adds with a haughty smile. “I’m seeing someone. Maybe you’ve heard of him? David Prince.”
David Prince is a junior senator from Illinois with his eye on the White House. He’s a rock star, the second coming of John F. Kennedy. I bet the entire Democratic Party and a good percentage of Republicans have his picture hanging on their office wall—the same way that poster of a feather-haired Jon Bon Jovi hung on the bedroom walls of all sixteen of my girl cousins’. And two of the boys.
“You’re dating a politician?” I say it like it’s a dirty word, because in my experience politicians are rarely clean.