Miss Perfect

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"So, who is he and why are you keeping secrets from your big sister?" Paige Eames-Caldwell demanded even before Riley could close the door of her apartment behind her. It was sisters' night, and because it was drizzling outside, Paige had opted for an evening of wine and gossip at Riley's apartment instead of heading off to the Top of the Standard. It was Paige's usual hangout besides Soho House in the Meatpacking district. She was also getting over a cold and didn't exactly want to look like how she was looking right now, with her nose slightly tender even underneath her flawless make-up.

It was something they did each week, and sometimes Paige's friends joined them, most of them models, make-up artists, and stylists Paige knew from her days being a supermodel though there wasn't much of a difference to what she was now. She was still a supermodel, though this time, she was married to real estate and investment mogul, Clint Caldwell III.

Riley sometimes felt awkward around Paige's friends, especially when their conversations drifted toward the exclusive parties they attended, which model or celebrity they worked with or bumped into, and who was getting work done. It wasn't that Riley felt like she didn't belong in Manhattan's trendiest spots or hanging out with the hottest crowd. She could hold her own if she had to. But with many of Paige's friends also involved in the movie industry, sometimes it wasn't long before Gareth's name would come up, whether it was some new movie he was in, who he was dating, or where he was currently vacationing. It was usually all Riley needed before she'd say that something had come up, and she had to leave. Once, Gareth had come into the Boom Boom Room and thankfully, it had been Paige who saw him first, and after making their quick exit, both sisters ended up finishing a bottle of wine at Riley's apartment and from then on, the routine stuck.

One night a month, it was just her and Paige. They discovered that it was nice just to hang out somewhere quiet, with only the both of them to keep each other company, with no loud music to talk over and Miss Bailey, Riley's cat, purring by their side.

While Paige hung out with her kid sister one night a month, her husband, Clint, stayed home with their triplets, Thomas, Trey, and Trevor, though he was far from being overwhelmed with babysitting duties. As much as he doted on his three sons, two nannies were available seven days a week, with their living quarters in the apartment building next to their three-story brownstone in SoHo. Clint had his nights out with the boys, too, usually at the Core Club, and during those nights, if Riley wasn't busy, she'd help Paige keep the boys company, building their Lego sets and assembling trains. She loved her nephews like they were her children.

"What do you mean?" Riley asked, trying to act nonchalant. It had been a week since she'd met Ashe—seven days since she'd almost made a fool of herself by showing up at Gareth's hotel room ready for some ex-sex and pretending that she had gotten over him. But the roses on the counter, now trimmed to a dozen from the two dozen Ashe had sent, were the dead giveaway that something was up, and Riley realized that she should have put them away.

"Oh, come on, Ri," Paige said. "Clint stopped by Lee's last night for take-out. Lee told him you were there on a date last week—with some actor. I sure hope to God you and Gareth didn't get back together. After the mess Clint and I had to clean up after Gareth, you should know better than to go back to that asshole."

"It wasn't him."

"So who was he and where did you meet him? And why are you suddenly keeping secrets from me?"

"You don't have to know everything I do," Riley said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "We had some noodles, and that's about it. Is that against the law?"

"No, of course not. But after what Gareth did to you, and the two years it took you to get over him, I'd personally kill him if he hurts you again." Paige sighed and dropped her hands from her hips. "I'm sorry, Ri. I worry about you. Come here and give your big sis a hug."

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